Tennent H. Bagley

Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007)

Emily Langer, "Tennent H. 'Pete' Bagley, Noted CIA Officer, Dies at 88," Washington Post, 24 Feb. 2014.

Clark comment: Click for my review of Bagley's book as carried in Journal of Cold War Studies 11, no. 2 (2009): 137-139.

In a review that shows how deeply the Nosenko debate continues to burn in the CIA soul, McCoy, CIRA Newsletter 32.2 (Summer 2007), dismisses this book as the author's attempt "to justify the mishandling of the only important operational assignment he had in 22 years of employment in the Clandestine Service." The reviewer accuses Bagley of resorting "to the same transparently invalid analytical methodology as was used in the original case he made against Nosenko." McCoy argues that "the case against Nosenko, and the painful, unprofessional, fundamentally illegal, disposition of it was actually inspired and stage-managed by [James] Angleton." Bagley, "Letters," CIRA Newsletter 32.4 (Winter 2007): 37-38, takes grave exception to this reviewer's comments and reiterates his argument that Nosenko was a KGB plant.

Ignatius, Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2007, says that Bagley "has gathered strong evidence" that Nosenko "could not have been who he initially said he was; that he could not have reviewed the Oswald file; that his claims about how the KGB discovered the identities of two CIA moles in Moscow could not have been right." Knight, St. Petersburg Times, 18 May 2007, notes that the author "spends most of his book marshalling evidence of Nosenko's inaccuracies and inconsistencies," but "overlooks circumstances that might explain at least some of the discrepancies." Iin the end, Bagley fails to make a convincing case that Nosenko ... was a fake defector."

For Gordievsky, Spectator, 19 May 2007, this is "perhaps the most amazing non-fiction spy book that has ever appeared during or after the Cold War"; it is written by "one of the most respected and knowledgeable experts on Soviet espionage." The author claims "on almost every page that much of what has been written up to now, stated and even asserted under oath by CIA officials, is in fact naive, utterly insensitive, blindly biased, [and] unprofessional."

Thomas, NYT, 3 Jun. 2007, finds this "a provocative new look at one of the great unresolved mysteries of the cold war.... Readers will need to be able to adapt to the mind-set of a counterintelligence officer sifting through the odd coincidences, connecting the dots, to fully appreciate and grasp the case against Nosenko. But this game of real-world Clue is worth it." Chapman, IJI&C 21.1 (Spring 2008), seems to accept the author's presentation as the last word in the Nosenko matter (referring to the "ultimate vindication" of Angleton and others). He is particularly distressed by "the CIA's vilification and denigration of Bagley."

To Wilson, Proceedings 134.2 (Feb. 2008), "[t]he strength of this work is not that it sets the record straight or clears any names associated with the Nosenko file per se, but rather that it explains in minute detail the complexities, pitfalls, risks, impact of individual personalities, and potential controversy associated with most counterintelligence operations and investigations." Schecter, I&NS 24.3 (Jun. 2009), refers to "many black holes and conjectures based on dubious interviews with unnamed KGB insiders" who are likely "part of a continuing process of disinformation."

For a defense of the CIA's position, see: Richards J. Heuer, Jr., "Nosenko: Five Paths to Judgment," Studies in Intelligence 31, no. 3 (Fall 1987): 71-101. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 379-414 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995). [Available as a 300 kb (vice 2.6 mb thanks to Kathrine M. Graham/NMSU) pdf file at: http://intellit.muskingum.edu/alpha_folder/H_folder/Heuer_on_NosenkoV1.pdf]

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