Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda

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Overview

—Secret instructions written in invisible ink

—Covert communications slipped inside dead rats

—Subminiature cameras hidden in ballpoint pens

If these sound like the stuff of science fiction or imaginary tools of James Bond's gadget-master Q's trade, think again. They are real-life devices created by the CIA's Office of Technical Service. Now, in the first book ever written about this ultrasecretive department, the former director of OTS teams up with an internationally renowned intelligence historian to give ...

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Overview

—Secret instructions written in invisible ink

—Covert communications slipped inside dead rats

—Subminiature cameras hidden in ballpoint pens

If these sound like the stuff of science fiction or imaginary tools of James Bond's gadget-master Q's trade, think again. They are real-life devices created by the CIA's Office of Technical Service. Now, in the first book ever written about this ultrasecretive department, the former director of OTS teams up with an internationally renowned intelligence historian to give listeners an unprecedented look at the devices and operations deemed "inappropriate for public disclosure" by the CIA just two years ago.

Spycraft tells amazing life-and-death stories about this little-known group, much of it never before revealed. Against the backdrop of some of America's most critical periods in recent history—including the cold war, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the war on terror—the authors show the real technical and human story of how the CIA carries out its missions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is absolutely the best I've ever read about the CIA's 'spy-techs'.... A must-read." —-Pete Earley, author of Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy After the End of the Cold War
David Kahn
Stuffed with stories about chemical taggants, forged documents, physical and psychological disguises, software beacons that reveal the location of a cell phone or a laptop...this extraordinary, detailed, accurate book tells more about what spies really do, the risks they run and their schemes to avoid them, than all the James Bond stories put together. (David Kahn, author of The Codebreakers)
Richard Gid Powers
Just amazing! Page after page of jaw-dropping revelations about incredible cases and amazing technology. There has never been anything like this book. (Richard Gid Powers, author of Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover and Broken: The Troubled Past and Uncertain Future of the FBI)
Pete Earley
This book is absolutely the best I've ever read about the CIA's "spy-techs" and the critical role they have played... Painstakingly researched, yet written with a novelist's flair, SPYCRAFT rips back the veils, revealing unfamiliar cases and offering fresh insights into infamous ones. From chronicling the invention of exploding pancakes to wristwatch cameras and quiet helicopters, SPYCRAFT documents how ingenious "techies" turned the CIA's lab into "the greatest toy shop in the world" and proved that if they "could think it —(they) could do it. (Pete Earley, author of Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy After The End of The Cold War and Confessions of a Spy; The Real Story of Aldrich Ames)
James M. Olson
This is a story I thought could never be told. The CIA's super-secret gadgets and technical operations were the difference maker in the espionage wars. Bob Wallace and Keith Melton have done a brilliant job of taking us into this amazing and arcane world. Behind all of us who did the front line spying for the CIA stood some remarkable and unsung heroes, the scientists and engineers of OTS. It was a beautiful partnership. Don't miss this book. Nothing like it has been written before. (James M. Olson, former chief of CIA counterintelligence and author of Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying)
Gary C. Schroen
A must read for anyone interested in the world of CIA clandestine operations. The authors open a door on a hidden area that even those of us who have served in the Agency rarely see. Incredible research and great writing make this a fun ride through the history of this until now overlooked secret world deep inside the CIA. (Gary C. Schroen, author of First In)
Publishers Weekly

Today's CIA is regularly criticized for emphasizing technology at the expense of "human intelligence." In this history of the agency's Office of Technical Services, Wallace, its former head, and academic specialist Melton (Ultimate Spy) refute the charge with exciting content and slam-bang style. The book's chief value is its perspective on the synergy of technology and tradecraft. From WWII through the Cold War and up to the present, the authors say, technical equipment-for clandestine audio surveillance, for example-has been an essential element of agent operations. In the post-Cold War "information society," technology plays an even more significant role in fighting terrorism. Agents remain important, along with their traditional skills. Increasingly, however, they support clandestine technical operations, especially infiltrating and compromising computer networks. The authors persuasively argue that employing and defending against sophisticated digital technology is the primary challenge facing U.S. intelligence in the 21st century. Their position invites challenge, but it cannot be dismissed. 32 pages of photos, over 100 b&w illus. throughout. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Discover magazine
Their tales will leave you shaken, if not stirred.
Library Journal

Modern espionage requires more than a fast car and a shaken martini; it demands suitable equipment with which to gather, store, and transmit information. Wallace, former director of the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS), and H. Keith Melton (CIA Special Weapons & Equipment: Spy Devices of the Cold War), together with Henry Robert Schlesinger (coauthor, Brooklyn Bounce: The True-Life Adventures of a Good Cop in a Bad Precinct), present this well-written account of the ingenious items and procedures developed by the OTS to support field agents. The details of operational activity are as engrossing as the descriptions of the equipment, military and otherwise-e.g., miniature cameras and radios, obscure drugs, tiny weapons, secret compartments, and forged documents-depicted here in 100-plus fascinating diagrams and photographs. Readers can find more photos of such artifacts on the CIA's virtual museum tour (www.cia.gov/about-cia/cia-museum/cia-museum-tour/index.html). Endnotes and a glossary of relevant terms round out the book, which complements Jeffrey T. Richelson's historical The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Suitable for all libraries. (Index not seen.)
—Daniel K. Blewett

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400137145
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/12/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author


H. Keith Melton is a historical consultant for the CIA and the author of several books, including Ultimate Spy.

Henry Robert Schlesinger is a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine.

Robert Wallace is former director of the CIA's Office of Technical Service.

David Drummond has made his living as an actor for over twenty-five years, and he received an AudioFile Earphones Award for his first audiobook, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em.

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Table of Contents

Official Message from the CIA

Sect. I At the Beginning

1 My Hair Stood on End 3

2 We Must Be Ruthless 16

Sect. II Playing Catch-Up

3 The Penkovsky Era 25

4 Beyond Penkovksy 36

5 Bring in the Engineers 53

6 Building Better Gadgets 62

Sect. III In the Passing Lane

7 Moving Through the Gap 81

8 The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword (and Shield) 87

9 Fire in the Arctic 103

10 A Dissident at Heart 110

11 An Operation Called CKTAW 138

Sect. IV Let the Walls Have Ears

12 Cold Beer, Cheap Hotels, and a Voltmeter 159

13 Progress in a New Era 179

14 The Age of Bond Arrives 195

15 Genius Is Where You Find It 232

Sect. V Prison, Bullet, Passport, Bomb

16 Conspicuous Fortitude, Exemplary Courage in a Cuban Jail 249

17 War by Any Other Name 277

18 Con Men, Fabricators, and Forgers 307

19 Tracking Terrorist Snakes 325

Sect. VI Fundamentals of Tradecraft

20 Assessment 363

21 Cover and Disguise 381

22 Concealments 388

23 Clandestine Surveillance 401

24 Covert Communications 420

25 Spies and the Age of Information 443

Epilogue: An Uncommon Service 461

Appendix A U.S. Clandestine Services and OTS Organizational Genealogy 465

Appendix B Selected Chronology of OTS 466

Appendix C Directors of OTS 468

Appendix D CIA Trailblazers from OTS 469

Appendix E Pseudonyms of CIA Officers Used 471

Appendix F Instructions to Decipher the Official Message from the CIA on page xxv 472

Glossary 473

Notes 481

Selected Bibliography 525

Acknowledgments 533

Index 537

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Customer Reviews

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