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SPYCRAFT: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda (2008) / The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception (2009)

In Archive, CIA, Espionage, Surveillance on April 16, 2015 at 10:47 PM


Who’s spying on you? And how are they doing it?

Spycraft offers an unprecedented look at the CIA’s most secretive operations and the devices that made them possible.

In the first book ever written about CIA’s ultrasecretive Office of Technical Service, the former director of OTS Robert Wallace (a real-life Q, straight out of the James Bond films), teams up with internationally renowned intelligence historian H. Keith Melton to give readers an unprecedented look at the devices and operations deemed “inappropriate for public disclosure” by the CIA just two years ago. Spycraft reveals how the CIA carries out its life-and-death missions against a backdrop of geopolitical tensions – including the Cold War, the Cuben Missile Crisis, and the War on Terror.

More relevant than ever given the news about Edward Snowden and the NSA, concerns about privacy rights, and organizations like WikiLeaks, Spycraft is an important and revealing primer on the fundamentals of high-tech espionage.


Wilson Rothman/Gizmodo:

I asked both of the authors how they were allowed to release a book filled with spy secrets, and they admitted it had not been easy. By Wallace’s account, the CIA tied it up for 18 months. Melton says it’s more like two years, and that at one point the CIA deemed the work “the most damaging book on espionage ever to be published,” and “a virtual primer on espionage.” As you can tell, the CIA eventually consented to the book’s publication, more or less intact.

“At one time, all this material would have been classified secret or higher,” Wallace says. “But given the change in technology that has occurred, the time that has passed and the fact that the primary target, the Soviet Union, no longer existed, these stories could be written down to fill a major void in American intelligence literature.”

In truth, the reason it can be declassified is that espionage involves totally different kinds of machines now, mainly laptops and BlackBerrys, and instead of needing microphones and cameras, agents need software to “listen” to chatter in the ether.

I asked Wallace if there was a secret room at CIA headquarters where all the gadgets hung from the wall, his answer was even better: there are multiple rooms, one for each department: the guys who did disguises and forged documents had one, the guys who did secret listening devices had one. “It was like going on a Hollywood tour,” he says, only as OTS director, he was the guy giving the tours, to visiting congressmen and other senior Washington staff.



*LeakSource Exclusive: First time “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception” has been made freely available online. Enjoy!

At the height of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency paid $3,000 to renowned magician John Mulholland to write a manual on misdirection, concealment, and stagecraft. All known copies of the document — and a related paper, on conveying hidden signals — were believed to be destroyed in 1973. But the manuals resurfaced in 2009, obtained by former director of the CIA’s Office of Technical Services Robert Wallace and espionage historian H. Keith Melton, and were published as “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception.”

Mulholland’s writing was part of the secret MKULTRA program, whereby the CIA sought methods and materials “capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.”


Related Links:

OpAcousticKitty: CIA’s Secret Experiments to Turn Cats Into Spies

FLASHBACK: CIA Heart Attack Gun (1975)

CIA: A Study of Assassination (1953)

CIA “Family Jewels” Report (1973)

Camp King & Project ARTICHOKE: CIA & Former Nazi Doctors LSD Interrogation/Behavior Modification on Soviet Spies During Cold War

Inside the Company: CIA Diary – Philip Agee (1975)

CIA Travel Advice for Undercover Operatives Re: Airport Screenings & Infiltrating EU

  1. […] > SPYCRAFT: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda (2008) / The Officia… […]


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