Deception Operations Generally

Po - Z

Popov, Dusko. Spy/Counterspy: The Autobiography of Dusko Popov. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1974. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1975. [pb]

Clark comment: Popov was agent "Tricycle" in the XX System. What his role was during a mission in the United States in 1941 remains controversial, especially in relation to the Pearl Harbor controversy.

Pforzheimer says that Popov's "autobiography makes pleasant and informative reading about the life of an unusual double agent." His comments about his relations with the FBI "should be read with some caution." To Constantinides, Popov offers "a rare first-hand account of double agent operations and deception of the XX Committee from the agent's vantage point."

The following comment is taken from a posting in the newsgroup, signed by Ernest Volkman:

"Popov's memoir, a mix of truth, half-truth, and outright falsehood (like many intelligence memoirs), should be approached with caution. Newly-declassified papers reveal the real story of Popov's 1941 mission.

"Briefly, Popov was dispatched by the Abwehr to the United States with a 'shopping list' of intelligence the Germans wanted, concealed in a microdot. J. Edgar Hoover took an instant dislike to Popov, a moral degenerate, and thus did not spend too much time analyzing the material contained in Popov's microdot. His animus also balked a plan by MI6 and MI5 to use Popov as a deception agent against the Abwehr in the United States.

"In any event, among the items the Abwehr mentioned in the microdot was a request that Popov collect intelligence about Pearl Harbor. Hoover did not wonder why the Germans would want information about Pearl Harbor. He did pass on the Popov material to both Army and Navy intelligence, but, regrettably, both those agencies also failed to demonstrate any curiosity about the German interest in Pearl Harbor -- a military base far removed from any possible German military interest. Obviously, the Germans were doing a favor for their Japanese allies; tragically, nobody in American intelligence asked the next obvious question: why were the Japanese interested in detailed intelligence about Pearl Harbor?

"It should be noted that throughout 1941, the FBI (which in those days had foreign intelligence responsibilities) and the military intelligence agencies were aware of extensive Japanese intelligence operations directed against Pearl Harbor. (Indeed, the FBI was running a covert wiretap on the Japanese consulate in Honolulu, recording much information on the activities of Japanese agents working under diplomatic cover). The Americans concluded that all the Japanese spying was routine; i.e., Tokyo long had demonstrated an acute interest in Pearl Harbor, headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, so there was nothing to be alarmed about. Unfortunately, American intelligence failed to properly interpret the clues that in late 1941 unmistakably indicated that the Japanese were collecting intelligence preparatory to an actual attack on the installation. This conclusion was just one of a series of blunders that permitted a Japanese striking force to sail near Pearl Harbor undetected and launch a surprise attack that caught the Americans totally unaware."

Public Record Office. Intro., Mark Seaman. Garbo, The Spy Who Saved D-Day. London: 2000.

According to Anderson, Intelligencer 11.2, most of this book, "with the exception of a first rate introduction by Mark Seaman,... is developed from a report by Garbo's MI5 case officer, Thomas Harris.... This is a great read for anyone interested in counterespionage and, in particular, the exploitation of double agents." See also, Juan Pujol, with Nigel West, Garbo (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1985).

Pujol, Juan, with Nigel West. Garbo . London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1985. Garbo: The Personal Story of the Most Successful Double Agent in World War II. New York: Random House, 1986.

According to Wheeler, IJI&C 2.1, this is a "valuable contribution to filling a gap in knowledge about the British MI-5 'Double-Cross System' of World War II.... Pujol, codenamed 'Garbo' by MI-5 and 'Arabel' by the Germans,... becomes the most successful double-agent in the vast Fortitude deception operation, 1943-1945." Although he believes it to be a "valuable source," Sexton cautions that "Chapters 5, 7-10 by West are marred by egregious errors." Campbell, I&NS 2.2, is also critical of West's contribution, specifically of what he sees as extraneous detail and unnecessary mistakes.

See also, Public Record Office, Intro., Mark Seaman, Garbo, The Spy Who Saved D-Day (London: 2000).

Rankin, Nicholas. Churchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception, 1914-1945. London: Faber & Faber, 2008. A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Peake, Studies 53.3 (Sep. 2009) and Intelligencer 17.2 (Fall 2009), finds that this "is very good reading and provides an intimate look at the use of deception and those who made it work." It "gives a new perspective to the history of [] warfare and deception." For Aftergood, Secrecy News, 9 Mar. 2010, this work "is surprisingly colorful, with an endless stream of strange, offbeat and sometimes appalling anecdotes that the author has culled from his extensive reading and research." Freedman, FA 89.3 (May-Jun. 2010), calls A Genius for Deception a "page-turner." To King, NIPQ 26.2 (Jun. 2010), this is "both an entertaining and often surprising account."

Reit, Seymour. Masquerade: The Amazing Camouflage Deceptions of World War II. New York: Hawthorn, 1978. London: Hale, 1979.

Constantinides: The author discusses more forms of deception than just camouflage, but he "is best when writing of matters strictly defined as camouflage or concealment." Only a few of the incidents covered are new. The book is basically an introduction to the subject.

Smyth, Denis. Deathly Deception: The Real Story of Operation Mincemeat. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Peake, Studies 54.4 (Dec. 2010), and Intelligencer 18.2 (Winter-Spring 2011), finds that the author presents "new details" in this "important, well-written, and soundly documented history of Operation Mincemeat." Nevertheless, "[f]or the most complete story, however, Macintyre [Operation Mincemeat (2010)] should also be consulted." For Ausberry, Military Review (Jan.-Feb. 2011), this "is a captivating book." The author "narrates the story of the operation in its entirety while simultaneously describing the essential role that British intelligence played in scrutinizing the particulars of the plan." See also, Ewen E.S. Montagu, The Man Who Never Was (1953).

Sommer, Mark. "Getting the Message Through: Clandestine Mail and Postage Stamps." Military Intelligence 18, no. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1992): 35-38.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Mathtech. Office of Research and Development. Deception Maxims: Fact and Folklore. Washington, DC: January 1981.

Constantinides: "This is a commendable piece of work, high in quality and presented in language devoid of any pretension or scholarly jargon." It does not pretend to be the final word on the subject; "it is, rather, a pathfinding work."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Mathtech. Office of Research and Development. Thoughts on the Cost-Effectiveness of Deception and Related Tactics in the Air War, 1939-1945. Washington, DC: March 1979.

Constantinides: "The air war that is covered is really the RAF bomber offensive in Europe and in essence just night bombing.... The main conclusion and lesson, that wartime deception was cost-effective, is equally applicable to current military conflicts."

Wheatley, Dennis.

Wheatley was one of the earliest members of the London Controlling Section (LCS), the body that coordinated British deception activities during World War II. He has written two books that touch on his deception work, the more recent of which is much fuller in detail.

1. Stranger than Fiction. London: Hutchinson, 1959.

Constantinides notes that only a small section of this book deals with deception activities and then without specifics.

2. The Deception Planners: My Secret War. London: Hutchinson, 1980.

Constantinides says that this work is a "detailed first-hand account of the LCS and its personnel and work.... Wheatley contributes good character sketches of his colleagues in LCS and clarifies boundaries of responsibility ... between LCS and Dudley Clarke's A Force in the Mediterranean and the Middle East." Lacking from this work are mentions of the roles of Ultra and of the United States in deception operations.

White, John Baker. The Big Lie. New York: Crowell, 1955. London: Evans, 1955. The Big Lie: The Inside Story of Psychological Warfare. Winchester, UK: George Mann, 1973.

Wingate, Ronald. Not in the Limelight. London: Hutchinson, 1959.

Constantinides notes that the author was at one time deputy in London Controlling Section (LCS), the group that planned and coordinated British deception in World War II. Nevertheless, only one chapter in this book deals with the deceptions with which he as involved. "Much of what he relates has become better known, but ... the book is still a good, concentrated exposition on deception."

Young, Martin, and Robbie Stamp. Trojan Horses: Deception Operations in the Second World War. London: Bodley Head, 1989. London: Mandarin, 1991. [pb]

From publisher: "From North Africa to Normandy, from the jungles of South East Asia to the shores of Sicily, a small group of deception planners, aided by experienced soldiers and civilians, turned their attention to outwitting the enemy. A subtle combination of guile, disinformation and illusion was intended to persuade the enemy to commit his men and resources in the wrong place and at the wrong time, by such means as dummy tanks and guns and more sophisticated deception, culminating in the triumph of the D-Day landings."

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