Transatlantic forum; Lth the Secret Services
The British Broadcasting Corporation in collaboration with the national educational radio network presents a trans-Atlantic forum this week. The Secret Service says the speakers are in Washington. David why is a journalist and co-author of several books on the secret agencies. And in London Chapman Pincher the defense correspondent of The Daily Express. The chairman in London is John Tusa. In Britain and America and presumably in nearly every other country in the world there are certain agencies of government which aren't accountable to Congress or to parliament and a secret they're concerned basically with the security of the state with espionage and counterespionage and the gathering of intelligence now because most of their work is and must be secret. We did a great deal about these agencies a lot of fiction is written about them by novelists and thriller writers. But there's not much fact. So what are they. What do they do. And most of all perhaps how do they do it.
Both our speakers are journalists one in London the other in Washington and both of them have succeeded over the years in accumulating a considerable factual knowledge of government agencies in their respective countries. David Wise is a Washington journalist and is co-author of a book about the CIA the invisible government and also a study of spying called the espionage establishment here in London. Chapman Pincher is the defense correspondent of The Daily Express and the author of the new bestselling novel The penthouse conspirators. Now David Wise could you start by defining the agencies we're talking about of course in America the two that Major this bring to mind of the FBI the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA the Central Intelligence Agency and I what is the difference between them. The FBI is a agency of the Justice Department and it's responsible for investigating violations of the federal law most of benighted States and of course among the laws or the espionage laws so it's responsible for catching
spies that are in this country spying against the United States. It's a relatively small agency it has about 7000 agents 16000 persons but many of them a clerical and a budget of two hundred thirty two million dollars which is rather small perhaps less than 20 percent of the CIA budget. Now the CIA does not have internal responsibilities like the FBI which is confined to acting within the borders of this country. The CIA operates overseas primarily and it is a much bigger organization that perhaps has twice as many agents as the FBI but it has a budget that is approaching two billion dollars at the present time which is you know a vast amount of money even and dollar standards. And it is responsible for gathering the information and intelligence that the policymakers from the president might need to make
decisions in the foreign policy area. Now of course we also sometimes hear about some medical secrets of this man in the United States. What exactly do they do. The Secret Service is a division of the Treasury and it guards the president the vice president and their families and under Lou our political candidates as well on the presidential level from potential harm and assassination. It also goes after counterfeiters in this sort of thing we can exclude from this discussion because that has no responsibilities in the field of intelligence and as you know rifle Chapman Pincher the two parallel agencies in Britain and in my five and six all the Secret Service is I think we'll call it now. How do they separate in their functions. Am i 5 all the security. This official name corresponds to the FBI in that it is responsible for catching spies counter-espionage and use of national. But he has no powers of arrest like the FBI. And it wants to arrest anybody it has to call in the police. The Secret Service has its
headquarters in London and it is essentially a branch of the Foreign Office and it's responsible to the foreign secretary. Well that used to be responsible the prime minister that's been changed and its agents some of them are British subjects many of them are foreign nationals recruited abroad. Its agents operate entirely abroad and the Secret Service is but it rarely involved in operations inside this country. The total cost as far as the official figure of both organizations is at the moment about 10 and a quarter million pounds which goes minute sum compared with the figures mentioned by David. It may well be of course that additional money is there to hidden in secret votes and what about the personnel numbers have we any idea how many are involved one is not allowed under the Official Secrets Act to say anything about numbers I can tell you know that for example am I 5 it is smaller than the Belgian counterpart and that the Secret Service has been very considerably reduced
recently because it had to take its share of the economy comes the day rise Can you give some examples of the sorts of situations which the CIA have correctly predicted you know situations where the information has been vital. It's very difficult to talk about a secret agency they don't they don't talk at all about what they do and their failures as they often point out tend to get publicized. A good deal more than their successes. I think that there have been some in some occasions in interpreting for example the various changes in the Soviet leadership I think it's had some successes in that area. The one that Allen Dulles the most famous director of CIA was frequently fond of talking about and this was one success that he did publicized was that they obtained
the entire text of the cruise ship speech in 92 the D6 denouncing stonily very important speech of course and the CIA had. I had been beating the bushes all over the world to get it I was never dead explain exactly how they did obtain it. Very likely for me another Eastern European satellite country. But I think that the focus on you asked a moment ago how well-spent the money is and how good they are and the focus really in this country is on the lack of successes of the CIA for example only recently the raid on Sunday and the prisoner camp in North Vietnam was a spectacular enterprise but there were no prisoners there and the chairman of the front of the Relations Committee Senator Fulbright voiced the suggestion that perhaps our intelligence should have known there were no prisoners there
and they didn't. So the men went and they were highly trained highly skilled the greatest men but they went in with no prisoners and the chairman the front missions committee went a little bit further in fact he suggested that. It might even be that it was known that there were no prisoners there now too of course as you can merely see conflict a little bit but I think that it's reasonable to assume that they did not know. Yes isn't there a case to suggest that in fact the intelligence services and the gathering of intelligence always create more political crises and more political problems and the information they produce helps helps them to solve I thinking of the U-2 affair. Yes that was the most spectacular event and I think it had not only created a great deal of difficulty for the United States and the summit meeting collapsed in its aftermath the summit meeting of 1960 because remember Eisenhower went to Paris and was all ready to talk to Khrushchev to
go off and the prime minister Macmillan but that meeting never took place. More than one of two meaningless preliminary sessions. What is the point of that isn't the point. How much risk is it worth taking in the gathering of intelligence. If you know that it may rebound on you politically and give as in this instance an excuse to somebody to break up a political model as you like I think you've got to take the risk there's no doubt you must have the intelligence in these days you must have intelligence especially in days when I was going to last a very very short time and started to anybody short notice with nuclear weapons. So you must have intelligence that obviously are risks but it's surprising to what extent a country which finds you out in something usually doesn't take advantage of it because it suits them not to. There was a case in 1957 when the options when Nasser was there they rounded up the whole of the British secret service in the Middle East they arrested a great number they put several of them on trial. That's quite a case about you remember two of them. But they were only a small
number of the great number involved and it looked as though they were going to make a song and dance about that they never mentioned it publicly. The options that I think is important to what they never did that they why it suited them not to for some other reason. The risk was taken of we had to have intelligence people in the Middle East occasionally they do get cleaned up and you have to take the risk. I would agree entirely with David over his question about the over his point about the triumphs of the in our case the Secret Service and my five being kept quiet. This is a deliberate act and I imagine the United States. They never say when they've had a success. This is partly the rules that you don't let the enemy know that you know as much as you do. But also if I was in this country the agencies are hardly supposed to exist. And I my five is that there's no statutory arrangements on my 5 at all that's why it's you can never find a thing about it. The secret service exists because there's a
vote for it. But. In general they will not say anything about their successes and failures always come out of causing great headlines when there's a spy case. Yes but I was in What About as it were spy cases in reverse of the sort of successes we hear about are the cases of defectors from from the other side now those are almost always intelligence successes of their intelligence successes when you get a case like this this Russian that spied for Britain and for the United States for several years and gave information was absolutely valuable to President Kennedy over the Cuban missile crisis. Their costs are invaluable and they're worth a lot of mistakes I think to have got one passed it was worth quite a lot of mistakes might not have been worth the folks but it was worth quite a few of the lesser fry. Of course there are the Russians and I've got a double take on this which we don't seem to have with them because of their controlled press. And I'm sure they've done this deliberately but they can employ a spy here successfully for a long time on the United States and they get all the value out of
it and they want to just run dry. If he's caught but even if they give him away so that he is caught there's then a spy case and they get an extra bonus there because it makes the example of my 5 year look stupid if this man's been spying here for several years and got away with it. No girlie had been spying all the time they got away with it. And also because they then draw the. Always is drawn the fact that the Americans will say on the British Security's no lovely lunch and our secrets with the mall vice versa if there's a an American debauched David Wise what sort of refinements of equipment are being used now in the intelligence gathering business and you say there are 7000 agents but presumably at the sort of equipment that they have open to them or is in fact much more sophisticated now than it was several years ago. Yes the some of the James Bond type equipment is actually in use. You know Dallas used to tell a story that after seeing one of the
James Bond pictures in which Bond fictionally tracks over the Alps his quarry by the use of a homing device planted in the car. I'm sure you remember that scene in the movie. Homing device a radio beeper and he's able to train with a car by means of this device the most one back to his scientific people at CIA which is headquartered in Langley Virginia across the river from the city of Washington D.C.. And he said Well now look here. If James Bond can do it why can't we and so he set the CIA laboratories to work trying to develop a transmitting device that could be planted in the car of a suspect or someone being trailed. And they did develop such a device but they found out though as Douglas related it was that this was really not much good in urban areas because of all the interference from TV and police radios taxi cabs and whatnot. So that was only good for chasing suspects across country roads which made a rather impractical so in fact they didn't develop it.
But I cite this as an example of the fact that the CIA on a smaller scale. DAVID They now use I think it's in regular use. Don't let the Russians use it to a very small bleep device like that. Which of course is inaudible to the ear but can be picked up by a receiver for bugging files secret files they'll fit one of these minute things in the metal tag of a phone and if they want to check one of the files taken out of a building on top of some of their suspect they just have a receiver at the door. Yes that's it as the guy goes out. Bleep bleep bleep. There was a case here a few years ago where a Russian spy ring was broken up by the FBI in New Jersey across the river from him. And the they call it a high official colonel in the KGB the Soviet intelligence service and at the time the FBI surrounded the various Russians who were positioned in several places around a parking
lot across the George Washington Bridge and they discovered that the Russians had all sorts of gadgets with them. One of them had what looked like a hearing aid but turned out to be a microphone others had miniature radios and transmitters a very sophisticated camera equipment for copying documents which was what the ring was doing. And so it's perfectly apparent that and of course CIA does have an assistant director in charge of developing of applying scientific techniques the latest technology to ask a question. There was a department here for that. Which actually strange to say is listed in one of the government books. What's in this that has some electronics division but it is quite clear it's connected with defense. But now you want to have done that. Is this really what the Secret Service the intelligence business is about or what is in fact the key step in the getting of information from other countries. Getting your agent in the country is concerned. CHAPMAN Well the real major breakthrough which I'm sure David is going to mention began was
of course the satellite photographic satellite which is which is made an enormous difference to the whole game of gathering intelligence. This is made the man on the ground less necessary because there are certain aspects of intelligence which you'll never get a satellite. And one of the things that governments always want to know about other governments is that intention is not what they're actually doing. You're really just looking at that to see what they intend to do with what they have that they are developing. So when you look at the way to get intense is the fellow on the ground and how do you recruit him. This must be a very difficult business is they getting the right man. Yes well occasionally of course you can get somebody like we had a man who turned out the rather dreadful character but Im on call George Blake who had been born in Egypt and lived in Holland and in Germany and he was a brilliant linguist and these people must be linguists to pose in a foreign country. But they can sometimes be put straight to work but normally one has to recruit agents from foreign nationals. People are prepared to work for money often for some reason they object. The
political regime there and the ideal thing is to get a person of course in the position himself to get the information. Our person is usually referred to as a defector in place when he is working for you. The other side and then he can give you information of course if you get somebody that's in there. What would correspond to the cabinet office here. Well then you can get information real information about intentions intentions about the government's intentions of the Russians intentions of East Germans. David Wise would you agree that this first step in the chain is still perhaps the most important one get your agent on the spot. I think despite the electronic revolution and espionage that would still be true although I think it leads into another point which is whether or not the agent will be believed. I think that the famous spy who fought the Germans who was the right to the British ambassador during World War Two and Cicero a Cicero you know as he was known by his code name did in fact obtain the date and place of the Allied invasion of
Europe. But it wasn't believed. And similarly the if you study the days before the attack on Pearl Harbor you find that there were many indications that the Japanese were going to attack the United States installations and these were simply not know and only pay much attention to them. And then more recently in 1962 when the U-2 plane was flying overhead and over Cuba before it spotted the MTR. Intercontinental Ballistic intermediate range ballistic missiles in Cuba that precipitated the Cuban missile crisis. Prior to that it had picked up say it was anti-aircraft missiles. But the logical conclusion that the sames were being put in place to protect strategic missiles was not one that was officially transmitted to the president by the CIA but the information was there but the conclusion in that instance wasn't drawn and I think it's impossible to
transmit everything to the prime minister of the president in your case. I mean he just couldn't cope with it and somebody somebody on the line to digest all this and decide what is important to give to the president. I don't see many situations where they get some hair raising tale like this and I say well let's go with that. We can get a bit of confirmation because we don't they're wrong about this. And then of course it can be too late. And there have been cases like that here. You know I'd like to say a word here that we've been concentrating so much on the problems of gathering information. I think that there's another function of the CIA which has really gotten it in the most hot water the most difficulty which should be mentioned and that is that it gauges not only in the gathering of intelligence but its plans division engages in political action that may range any anywhere from. Pouring money into the recent election in Chile which the CIA did incidentally through American business firms in an effort to defeat the end a and unsuccessful effort to actually overthrowing the government as was
attempted in the Bay of Pigs invasion where the CIA trained Cuban exiles and unsuccessfully under Kennedy attempted to invade the island and topple Castro. In one thousand fifty three they say I was responsible for overthrowing most of Dec as the premier of her and the 1050 more of the CIA staged a coup in Guatemala. There have been other episodes of Bay of Pigs of course was the most notorious where this was attempted. And I'm sure there been other cases where it has succeeded. Was this political action. When they say the CIA that has created the most controversy because this is not gathering intelligence this is trying to shape of thence in a way that the CIA and perhaps in some cases people to whom the CIA reports people would be. This was also tried against Sukarno incidentally which I had something to do with publicizing for the first time. You say the CIA did with a great deal of confidence. How do you know that the CIA did I miss a thing which we all very readily say about almost any surprising political coup any
anywhere in the world but I mean is it really. Absolutely well attested that the CIA was behind these. Yes and the ones I've mentioned it as well attested. And it's interesting I mentioned Indonesia at the very end of that in the late 19th 50s when the CIA sent pilots over there to fly for a rebel group against a carno and one of the pilots was captured his name is Alan Lawrence Pope of Miami Florida and he was captured at the time he was captured President Eisenhower said well you know in any war you'll get soldiers of fortune but of course we had nothing to do with it. John Foster Dulles the secretary of state took the same position in fact as I have pointed out in the book because I wrote it. He pope was a c I was running for the CIA and this is no longer the man I had and in the case of Guatemala Iran and of course the attempt at the Bay of Pigs to overthrow Castro is well documented and in fact President Kennedy himself publicly took responsibility for the attempt at the Bay of Pigs. But why should the CIA allowed to do this why why was this written into the CIA's terms of
reference and action to start with the because it seems a very obvious unavoidable clash. Yes I think in the first place that it was not specifically written into the law that said CIA at the National Security Act of 1947. But the law had some vague language in it about it may from time to time perform such other duties as the president the National Security Council may direct. Now other duties has in fact included on occasion overthrowing governments. I'm sure it's equally true that the CIA is often blamed for things that it does not do and is not in a position to deny those things because it says nothing but the fact is that under that loophole in the law the orders were issued back under Truman in the late 1940s permitting the CIA to take political action although Truman himself set up the CIA and was the president at the time. Later wrote publicly that he had no idea that the CIA would be getting into this kind of activity.
The best example we have of this which is on a small scale but quite a notorious one was of course during the visit of Khrushchev and got him on the cruiser I think it was the odds on the kids too. Yes that was the name of the commander crab the frog inspected the bottom of the boats in order to try and find out some intelligence information about the Russian radar. Now this was definitely organized by the Secret Service because the man who went down to the hotel with crabby remember crab disappeared after this had no been found again although I think his body was found later. But the man who went down with him signed his name in the hotel book where they stay and he signed a touch for an office and this caused a tremendous problem for the prime minister. And he was that unusual fellow when I last spoke. Yeah that's right I'm ready. That's right but of course the prime minister knew nothing whatever about this and neither did the foreign secretary and this was an example of the Secret Service doing something quite of its own bat which could and did indeed have great political repercussions.
But now other things we could have embarrassing political repercussions obviously it is embarrassing to be caught spying against countries of any sort. Embarrassing enough to be called spying against a. Friendly country. But what about the business of which one of you mentioned earlier spying regularly and thinking it necessary to spy regularly on the activities the diplomatic activities of friends jump into how do you justify this. Well I think it goes on all right and I think there are instances where one needs to do it in the national interest. The best example I can think of at the moment whether it's going on I don't know I can only guess is the SALT talks that are going on have been going on in-house think in Vienna. We know what the Americans have told us what's going on but we can we ever be sure that that is all. I'm not sure what one would like to do and what one hopes people are doing and perhaps successfully is trying to find out by other means in other words by our own private intelligence we have been speaking of spying on friends. You know there's a tremendous uproar in the United States right now over disclosures that the
army over the past few years has been spying. On civilians. And not only on civilians but on some very prominent political figures including Adley Stevenson Jr. the son of a former presidential candidate who is now United States senator a congressman. Several newspaper reporters in Chicago and other political and civic leaders. And it's absolutely appalling according to a report that was published quite recently something like 18000 civilians there are dossiers compiled by the army on these people as potential potential troublemakers. Well I mean intelligence is engaged in this kind of thing in a democracy. I think it raises real real questions of how can we control our intelligence. The data is all you know by the pool so that British intelligence might be spying on the talks in Vienna between America and Russia. No I'm not worried about that because. I know that every country does it that has the technical facility to do it the United States has an agency that few people have heard of or uninterested in this field called the National Security Agency and it is
more secret in a way than the CIA and that's the electronic spy agency. And I'm perfectly convinced that it monitors all traffic coming out of the embassies of all countries friendly and unfriendly and neutral coming out of Washington going back to their embassies and attempts to crack their codes and has an elaborate equipment to do so. The comparable organization in Britain as you probably know is called by the bomb is titled government communications headquarters. It's basic Cheltenham and of course they do all this monitoring but not as a sponsor and said these are essential parts of the activities of the state which we have to live with and put up with. I approve of them. They would rise. I think the problem as I said earlier is not the need for intelligence. No decision can be made without information which is really another name for intelligence. The problem is how do you control this in a democratic society and I do believe that a representative government is the best form of government as Winston Churchill said yet devised except for all the others that have been tried. And I do think that there's a tremendous problem of
how you fit in a secret intelligence agency into a democracy. It's the problem of control over it making sure that its activities are. Controlled by the responsible political leaders the people who are elected by the people that they don't go off on their own. And I think this has been the real problem in this country it's a problem you can never make the two totally compatible in my view a democracy and an intelligence agency which I do think we have to live with it. Would you agree that I agree entirely with that that control is the difficulty. But when when you think of the enormous effort that the Soviet Union is putting into something and espionage I mean it's far bigger than any effort being made by the United States. One has to do something to rebut it. And on that cautionary note I think we will and thank you very much David Wise in Washington. And Chapman Pincher in London transatlantic forum was produced in London by the British Broadcasting Corporation and in collaboration with the national educational radio network taking part in the program with David Weiss who spoke from Washington. And
- Transatlantic forum
- Lth the Secret Services
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: XF-71-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- APA: Transatlantic forum; Lth the Secret Services. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3t9d8r86