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Against All Enemies: An American's Cold War Journey Paperback – August 7, 2013
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But let me be clear, while I never took the term "Betrayal" personally, I can professionally accept that many in the military and intelligence fields will never forgive Jeff his transgressions. I'm not one of them, but then, I've always approached investigations knowing the people I chased were at a disadvantage, sociologically speaking. They had flaws in their character that they were not able to overcome with common sense and intellect. The best criminals are very bright, but deem themselves brighter than those who follow society's rules.
I first met Jeff at a party when we were both assigned to Goodfellow AFB in Texas. I was an OSI Agent who was dating someone within his circle of friends and co-workers. Some time later, he came to my office to make a report of a contact with persons from a criteria country, as was the requirement at the time. Jeff and I were never friends. Merely acquaintances. I theorize that my suddenly becoming a peripheral part of his life, served to heighten his paranoia that he was being watched.
When his world began to unravel, because of his clearance being pulled, my office was made aware that his commander had some concerns. When Jeff fled to Mexico City, both my supervisor and I were convinced Jeff had been involved in espionage and defected. Oddly, getting anyone in the OSI Counter Espionage hierarchy to accept it, or for that matter, even entertain the notion, was like trying to break into Fort Knox. I've always felt that valuable time had been wasted with this ridiculous infighting and in the end circumstances bore that out.
I knew a lot about Jeff's history even before I read this book, but it was nice to know the whole story - taken with a healthy dose of professional skepticism with regard to motive. In the end, criminals always try to assign motives to their acts that serve to try and mitigate the moral and legal ramifications. In this case, it appears Jeff is pretty honest. There were things he cared about and things that didn't really matter. The things he cared about were inconsistent with his military service. What he didn't care about, didn't matter. He'd follow his own conscience, right or wrong. In my mind, he was wrong, but that was a long time ago and I'm satisfied it's over.
So, about the book. As a former OSI agent, it's refreshing to know that everything I've tried to impart to military members from the top down was proven true. Spies are not our enemy. WE are our own enemy. When we "gift" the enemy with golden eggs of intelligence information, we have only ourselves to blame. Despite being told 'ad-nauseum' that the telephone was our biggest vulnerability, military members and civilians in the military were promiscuously divulging intelligence information that did irreparable harm. Nothing has changed. We now know, based on revelations about the NSA that intelligence gatherers have always viewed the telephone as a virtual fountain of intelligence information. The only difference now is, we are spying on our own for purposes that we have yet to understand. I fear we will one day learn that lesson too.
The lesson Jeff learned - and I find myself a little amused by - is that the spy is loathed most, by the masters they serve. In this case, Jeff chose to serve masters that events have shown to be the equal of any of the worse human rights violators in history. But, like many in the "peace" movement, socialism has had some perverse appeal to their psyche, allowing them to overlook that which common sense suggested had always been true.
My 4 star rating of this book should not be seen as an endorsement of Jeff or a forgiveness of his crimes. Forgiveness isn't mine to give and I understand his less-than-fair portrayal of my old organization, the AFOSI. His use of the term "Kidnapped" is simply a ruse to engender sympathy. He was caught and brought to justice. It wasn't perfect, but one has to admit, it was well deserved.
It's an interesting read. One that should be recommended to military members and civilian employees of the military, if only to highlight intelligence vulnerabilities and motivations for espionage. For these reasons, I recommend it.
And, because I understand Jeff, perhaps better than he understands me, I hope it does well.
AFOSI Special Agent, Retired.
He had a horrendous childhood with a philandering father and little to eat and therefore dropped out of high school when he was seventeen to join the Air Force where he seemed alienated as well. As he told the author of Seduced by Secrets (published in 2008), he had access to top secret documents before he could drink! By the time he arrived in West Berlin in 1982 to work at the 6912th Marienfelde division of the National Security Agency, he was a nineteen year old who knew such good German that his colleagues called him "Duden" (the name of the German grammar book). While there he felt his work wasn't appreciated. It didn't take long before he took a step of no return. After an evening alone drinking too many beers in several West Berlin bars, he made the somewhat rash decision to defect to East Germany by simply walking over the border at Checkpoint Charlie and ringing the bell.
Even though this book is 700 hundred pages long, it reads like a thriller. It will make you cry, it will make you laugh and it will make you turn the pages. Carney is adept at creating memorable scenes from his childhood, from his time in the Air Force, his time as an East German spy and from his time in prison. He has an amazing memory and re-creates these scenes in vivid detail. For example, when his father moved the family from Ohio to Florida, he was such a deadbeat that young Carney had to find a job at the age of 16. He nourished himself by rationing out peanut butter on bits of cookies. The rest of his earnings went to the family of five.
Carney also vividly re-creates his somewhat unique experience in divided Berlin. After he defected, the Stasi insisted that he return to his job and become a mole for them delivering information from his listening post job. Carney complied and started crossing the Berlin Wall by riding his bicycle to a hole in the wall in Eiskeller, a suburb north of Berlin. Sometimes his handlers would dress him up as an East German soldier and he'd climb over the wall to meet them. He comments that these episodes were often so risk-filled and heart-pumping that he had to take a shower to wipe of the adrenaline.
When Carney gets transferred to Goodfellow Air Force base to become an instructor, the reader begins to see a lonely Carney collecting material for East German foreign intelligence. While this would have seemed a good time and place to stop spying, Carney works just as hard to please his masters. He even goes out of his way to make contact with them through an impromptu weekend flight to Germany to meet with his case officer who was on vacation.
At each stage in Carney's journey he either seeks out counseling or undergoes psychological evaluation. Unsurprisingly, he is seen as paranoid while he is spying for East Germany. But unlike other servicemen who sold out their country for money, Carney's seems to have had psychological reasons and his case officers manipulated him adeptly to use him for there own purposes.
When prosecutors asked why he did what he did, Carney then replied "out of boredom." In another interview, he thinks it was "revenge." When interviewed in 2006 he stated that he was a young man worried about the hidebound Air Force finding out about his homosexuality and he got drunk on the evening he crossed the border. In the era of Wikileaks and Edward Snowden it becomes tempting to find more noble reasons to pass on documents about the war scare. Clearly, there were multiply reasons for defecting and defectors themselves often really don't know why. There is no doubt that Carney regrets what he did almost every day.
Once Carney really defects in 1985 and establishes himself in East Berlin with the help of Uncle Stasi, his life begins to normalize. He is given steady work spying on the US Embassy (later with a $ 100,00 mark budget to remodel the office!) and he meets a man who moves in with him. At this stage, the reader senses more humanity and warmth in the book. Even so, it wouldn't be very long before the Berlin Wall falls and his comfortable world falls apart. Just two years after the wall comes down, six Office of Special Investigation officers kidnap him near his apartment and the game is over. (We never learn what happened to his live-in boyfriend after he was arrested)
When Carney finds out that his former case officer betrayed him and handed his file to Western intelligence he is enraged. The betrayer felt betrayed. The fiercely loyal MfS no longer existed and he was on his own.
The book should appeal to everyone who loves a good spy story (even though it's all true) and should be a valuable document for intelligence agencies everywhere as they try to understand what causes a spy to betray his or her country.