Benjamin Weiser

 

Weiser, Benjamin. "Ex-Aide to bin Laden Describes Terror Campaign Aimed at U.S." New York Times, 7 Feb. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

Testifying on 6 February 2001 in the trial of four men charged with participating in a terrorist conspiracy led by Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl told "how he helped ... bin Laden move money and arms to terrorist groups in Africa and the Middle East."

[Terrorism/01/Gen]

Weiser, Benjamin. "The Ghost of Iran-Contra Comes Back to Haunt the CIA." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 9-15 Sep. 1991, 31.

On 9 July 1991, Alan Fiers, Jr., former head of the CIA's Latin American task force, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of "unlawfully withholding information from Congress about his knowledge of the Iran-contra scandal and ... agreed to cooperate with independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh's investigation. Fiers's decision gave new life to Walsh's probe."

[CIA/90s/90-92; GenPostwar/80s/Iran-Contra]

Weiser, Benjamin. "An Imperfect Spy: Clair George's Secret Life in the CIA." Washington Post Magazine, 17 May 1992: 10-17, 25-29.

Weiser has tried hard to understand Clair George and others like him; regrettably, such is a task in which few will succeed.

[CIA/90s/90-92; GenPostwar/80s/Iran-Contra][c]

Weiser, Benjamin. "Man, 85, Avoids Jail Time for Giving Military Secrets." New York Times, 30 May 2009. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 29 May 2009, a federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Ben-Ami Kadish to a $50,000 fine on his guilty plea of "conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of Israel."

[Israel/U.S.Relations/Kadish]

Weiser, Benjamin. "Nixon Lobbied Grand Jury to Indict Hiss in Espionage Case, Transcripts Reveal." New York Times, 12 Oct. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

The Justice Department has released about 4,200 pages of grand jury records from the investigation of Alger Hiss. The documents include the 51-page transcript of then-Congressman Richard Nixon's appearance before the grand jury on 13 December 1948.

[SpyCases/U.S./Hiss]

Weiser, Benjamin. "The Once and Future Spy Mission." Washington Post, 2 Nov. 1991, A15.

[CIA/90s/90-92]

Weiser, Benjamin.

1. "Polish Officer Was U.S.'s Window on Soviet War Plans." Washington Post, 27 Sep. 1992, A1ff.

2. "A Question of Loyalty." Washington Post Magazine, 18 Dec. 1992, W9 ff.

Polish Col. Ryszard Kuklinski escaped to the United States in 1981, "shortly after he had given the CIA advance warning of Jaruzelski's plans to crush Solidarity." He had spied for the West for almost 10 years, focusing primarily on the Soviet Union. Excerpt carried in American Intelligence Journal 14, no. 1 (Autumn-Winter 1992-1993): 61-70.

[CIA/80s/Kuklinski][c]

Weiser, Benjamin. A Secret Life: The Polish Officer, His Covert Mission, and the Price He Paid to Save His Country. New York: PublicAffairs, 2004. New York: PublicAffairs, 2004. [pb]

The paperback edition includes a brief addition to the "Postscript" noting Kuklinski's death on 11 February 2004 and the return of his ashes to Poland.

Clark comment: This may be the best book on human intelligence ever published. The people -- on both sides of the case officer/spy tandem -- are real people. The author allows their humanness to come through in both their words and actions. The dilemmas faced by Kuklinski and his handlers are presented in such a way that even those who have never had to face such decisions can readily understand and even identify with the potential harm that could come from a wrong move. The use of tradecraft -- the excellent use of tradecraft -- by the CIA officers and Kuklinski is carefully blended into the fabric of the story and is not overstated. Tradecraft is given the appropriate appearance of being little more than a normal part of the life of those who have to live by what otherwise would be rather strange-seeming activities. As Tom Troy says in Studies 48.2, "A Secret Life is a joy to read. Col. Ryszard Kuklinski is a hero, and Benjamin Weiser has written a great book about him." See also, my review in Defense Intelligence Journal 16.2 (2007): 155-156.

Eisner, Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2004, comments that "this well-done biography ... reveals the passions and tensions faced by Polish leaders under the thumb of Moscow during the 1970s and '80s. Weiser has produced a fascinating portrayal of Kuklinski, who decided that the best way to serve Polish nationalism was to become a spy for the West." The author's "lively narrative describes Kuklinski's nine years working for U.S. intelligence, converting interviews and a mountain of documentation into a page-turner."

For Jajko, Intelligencer 14.1, this is "a lucid, tightly organized book" and "a magnificent tale." The author's "narrative flows smoothly, explaining clearly and concisely all the main events of Colonel Kuklinski's double life without descent into tedious detail."

Troy, Studies 48.2 (2004), says the author's "riveting account .. of Kuklinski's life as a spy is superb; it should be 'must reading' for anybody interested in intelligence matters, the Cold War, or simply a good read.... Weiser never introduces extraneous material, embellishes the story, or speculates about what people were thinking, saying, and doing.... Col. Ryszard Kuklinski is a hero, and Benjamin Weiser has written a great book about him."

To Fischer, IJI&C18.1 (Spring 2005), this book offers insights into CIA tradecraft in "denied areas." However, Weiser approaches Kuklinski's story "from a human-interest angle and with a strong desire to recount the life of a courageous man to whom his Polish countrymen and Americans owe a debt of gratitude."

Chapman, IJI&C 18.2 (Summer 2005), reminds us that this "book was the first to detail the secret tradecraft used to run an agent deep inside the Iron Curtain in the face of competent counterintelligence police." This review is worth reading as an essay on the subject of its title: See Robert D. Chapman, "Patriot or Traitor?" International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 18, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 364-374.

For Hansen, JIH 5.2 (Winter 2005), Weiser's "is an important work done by a writer who ... has a fascinating way of telling an ex[c]iting story." Arnold, AIJ 24 (2006), finds the book "more engaging and much easier to read than many biographies that examine complicated and covert lives." In addition, Weiser "offers much to students of HUMINT tradecraft."

Szalacha, I&NS 22.2 (Apr. 2007), calls Weiser's work "an eminently readable volume that tells a controversial story in a relatively straightforward fashion." In what seems to be a rather strange interpretation, the reviewer thinks that A Secret Life "was written with an eye to glorifying the CIA as an institution, rather than to praise or vindicate Kuklinski."

Weiser's remarks to a CIRA luncheon on 6 October 2004 are well worth reading. See "Speech by Ben Weiser," CIRA Newsletter 26, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 3-14.

[CIA/80s/Kuklinski; CIA/Components/Tradecraft]

Weiser, Benjamin. "A Secret Warsaw Pact with the U.S. in the Cold War." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 21-27 Feb. 1994, 18-19.

In an "extraordinary intelligence effort coordinated by the CIA," the United States acquired "advanced Soviet weapons from Warsaw Pact countries" during the 1980s. Poland was "the most significant collaborator in the program," but Romania also was a source and one deal in 1987 involved the purchase of 12 T-72 Soviet battle tanks from Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

[CIA/80s/Gen; OtherCountries/Poland]

Weiser, Benjamin, and Michael Wilson. "Suspect Placed Love for Russia Before His Son, Prosecutors Say." New York Times, 1 Jul. 2010. [http://www.nytimes.com]

In Federal District Court in Manhattan on 1 July 2010, the only one of four defendants allowed bail was Vicky Peláez, who "the government concedes lived under her own name.... Peláez is a veteran columnist for El Diario La Prensa, a newspaper in New York. Her husband, known as Juan José Lázaro Sr., postponed his request for bail." The second couple, known as Richard and Cynthia Murphy of Montclair, NJ, were denied bail. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis "said he was not confident that they would not flee." Similar detention hearings in Boston and Alexandria, VA, were "postponed as lawyers asked for more time to prepare their arguments for bail."

CNN, "Alleged Russian Spy Confesses, Officials Say," 1 Jul. 2010, reports that the suspect known as Juan Lazaro "has admitted that he worked for Russia's intelligence service," according to court documents. Prosecutors say "[h]e allegedly told federal agents that he was not born in Uruguay, that 'Juan Lazaro' is not his real name, that his house in Yonkers, New York, had been 'paid for by the "Service"' and, although he loved his son, he would not violate his loyalty to the 'Service' even for his son."

Return to Weis-Weiz