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The Fourth Man: The Hunt for a KGB Spy at the Top of the CIA and the Rise of Putin's Russia Hardcover – May 17, 2022
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We think we know all the Cold War’s greatest spy stories. The tales of America’s greatest traitors have been told over and over. However, the biggest story of them all remains untold—until now. Rumors have long swirled of another mole in American intelligence, one perhaps more damaging than all the others combined. Perhaps the greatest traitor in American history, perhaps a Russian ruse to tear the CIA apart, or perhaps nothing more than a bogeyman, he is often referred to as the Fourth Man.
Blowing the lid off the biggest spy story in decades, Robert Baer tells the full, gripping story for the first time. After arrest of KGB spy Aldrich Ames, the CIA launched another investigation to make sure there wasn't another double agent in its ranks. Led by three of the CIA’s best spy hunters, women who devoted their lives to counterintelligence, its existence was known only to a few. They began methodically investigating their own bosses and colleagues, turning up loose threads, suspicious activity, and shocking intelligence from the CIA’s best Russian asset. In the end, they came to a startling conclusion that, whether true or not, would shake American intelligence to its core, setting the stage for a cat-and-mouse game with enormous geopolitical stakes. Spies and moles may seem like bygone cold war history, but with Russia again a misunderstood belligerent power, the skeletons America would rather keep hidden are emerging, and as Robert Baer shows in this thrilling masterwork of investigative reporting, they matter as much now as ever.
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"A gripping and mind-bending read."―Daily Beast
"Fascinating stuff from one of the best experts on this in the business."―Jim Acosta, CNN
About the Author
- Publisher : Hachette Books (May 17, 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0306925613
- ISBN-13 : 978-0306925610
- Item Weight : 1.08 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.55 x 1.25 x 9.35 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #33,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Baer is relaying the findings, gripes and bitterness of a CI investigator who felt she has solved a master spy case, but no one listened to her, and she and her team got booted from CIC. It’s sort of a righteous revenge book where no one comes out looking good. After reading through the beginning chapters, the CIA and DO come across as so incompetent and petty that you wonder what’s the point of having a CIA at all? The Agency REALLY looks bad in this book. Milt Bearden even worse as Baer relates the shocking things Bearden did to shut down intelligence collection on the Russians after the Soviet Union fell.
The book is a confusing mouse maze of increasing counterintelligence paranoia where anything is possible—‘it could be this or it could be that’, ‘is this Russian agent good or bad’, etc that it’s hard to keep up and makes your head spin. Unfortunately, this is the modern-day version of Angleton’s Monster Plot and the “Sick Think” that permeated the Agency during his time. I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone interested in a CI career—it will just discourage and disillusion you not to get involved with the mess.
But also, the book could serve as required reading for Russian intelligence service’s CI 101 course to show the hundreds of ways they can mess with the minds at Langley to twist the Agency into a knot. I’m surprised PRB let it go because it really makes the Agency vulnerable. I wouldn’t want to be in CI after this because the Russians are going to have a field day. However, remember no one comes out looking good—the book shows that Russian intelligence has a problem of their officers finding out bits and pieces about cases they aren’t cleared to know and pass those tidbits on to the CIA. Bigot lists, it turns out on both sides, don’t mean these are the ONLY people who have access to a case—word leaks out.
At some point after the Rick Ames investigation and arrest in 1994, Paul Redmond asked a CI specialist named Laine Bannerman (who had just been kicked out of CIC by the Chief) to head up a special investigation unit looking at whether all the agent losses in 1985-86 showed if there was more than just Ames spying. She forms a team and they begin to create a CI matrix of who had access to what that might point to who else may have been a spy in the Agency, along with rumors or questionable intel here and there from Russians spying for the CIA. To say a counterespionage investigation is sensitive is an understatement. At the end of their findings, she gives a briefing—which is a lynch point of the whole book—and it’s the weirdest thing and I don’t understand why Baer takes it at face value and doesn’t question it.
In a locked, secretive vault, Bannerman presents her findings to her boss, Paul Redmond; Ed Curran the head FBI Agent at the CIA (he was Chief, Counterespionage Group); Bill Lofgren who was the head of CE Division (Russia), and a senior security officer. She walks this group through the CI matrix, and lo and behold, the info points to none other than Paul Redmond as the Russian spy. What’s wrong with this picture? If you think someone is a master spy—you don’t tell that spy that you know. Also bad form to tell your boss who assigned you the project that, guess what, it’s you who’s the bad guy. What kind of PAR does she think she’s going to get from him after that? Now say if Rick Ames, pre-arrest, was in that briefing, he’d probably be on the next flight out of Dulles straight to Moscow. Paul didn’t go anywhere. I think he realized that Sick Think was starting to take over and kicked them out of CIC. There is precedent. When DCI Bill Colby found out Angleton told the French Angleton’s suspicions that Colby was a Russian spy, that’s when Colby kicked Angleton out of the Agency in 1974, thus finally ending over a decade of paralyzed operations against the Soviets and the DO could breathe again (but turning their backs on CI).
Throughout the book, there are strange statements with no explanations and background, and lack of a lot of details. But this is explained at the end of the book when Baer thanks his editor for making a “dry counterintelligence investigation” into a “fast-paced mystery.” Really? Baer, via Bannerman, is accusing a respected Agency officer of being a Russian spy thus harming his reputation, but his editor wants to make the book into a sensational spy thriller.
But even then, the book is something that only insiders who were there at the time and knew the characters would understand, as it’s rather gossipy, but certainly not in a fun way. It’s airing really dirty laundry. Note to any current senior ops officer—all the secret things you work on and do, along with all the names and info about agents will be written about in a plethora of books in the future. The book assumes you already know who the cast of characters in the madness are. It neglects to explain to the outside reader their full bios, like all the awards and senior government positions beyond the Agency that Redmond was entrusted with after he retired.
It also neglects to mention that under Redmond’s leadership as ADDO/CI after the Ames case, CI was greatly enhanced throughout the Agency via a robust counterintelligence training and awareness program that increased buy-in to CI. This included advanced CI courses for the whole Agency that had a wait list of six months to get into. Ironically, through no input of Redmond, the course looked at the Angleton years and how innocent people were accused of being spies—all with the goal of never again but understanding the importance and need for counterintelligence. Also during that time, the dreaded Financial Disclosure Form started where everyone had to report their entire financials on a yearly basis. Why would a “spy” want to enhance counterintelligence in the place he is operating in? Doesn’t make sense. When FBI’s Robert Hanssen sat on a committee to decide whether or not Special Agents should be required to take polygraphs, his recommendation was no. That makes sense.
A lot of retired senior Agency people wouldn’t talk to Baer, a former Agency officer, about the ‘fourth man’ investigation for his book. Some did talk to him at the beginning, but then cut him off. Interestingly, who did talk to him was Redmond and even advised Baer the term “double agent’ used throughout the book is not the correct terminology. I can see Redmond wanting to talk shop with Baer because Redmond was passionate about CI, CI history and cases. He adored the Mitrokhin files and always said how upset he was that Bearden turned away Mitrokhin because all he brought over was old KGB files. Redmond understood the value of looking at CI history. He would also get genuinely angry whenever he saw someone doing something stupid operationally or CI-wise. He didn’t suffer fools, he was not a suit nor a bureaucrat. Looking back through my off and on interactions with him over the past three decades, I don’t see anything that would lead me to think he was anything but a loyal, dedicated Agency officer and a legend who was passionate about and supported good CI.
The book implies the FBI did an investigation of Redmond back in 2006, but obviously nothing happened. At the end of the book, an FBI guy says a rather arrogant remark to Baer about the FBI having all sorts of evidence on Redmond—but won’t say what it is leaving doubt in the reader’s mind. It reminds me of when I was in CIC and an FBI agent also assigned there came to tell me that a person working for me had previously done something wrong and to be leery of the person. But the Agent wouldn’t tell me what it was this person did. I thought it was odd and unethical to plant doubt like that. I didn’t know what to do so I asked him what he had done. It turned out to be a big nothing-burger. Just like this book.
Without offering any spoilers, THE FOURTH MAN is a straightforward account of the decades long—and perhaps still ongoing--search for what may be the most damaging spy ever to have betrayed U.S. secrets to Soviet/Russian intelligence.
You’ve heard of the notorious spies, Howard, Ames and Hanssen—well, that’s not all. Baer gives us the rest of the story.
Baer makes a highly persuasive—some may say compelling—case that the betrayals of U.S. secrets by Edward Lee Howard, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen are dwarfed by the long-term and comprehensive looting of America’s crown jewels by a so-called Fourth Man inside the CIA.
If what Baer reports is true, the Fourth Man systematically destroyed the CIA’s stable of Soviet/Russian spies and left U.S. policymakers blind to Kremlin plans and intentions as Vladimir Putin began his rise to power.
What’s best about the case that Baer builds in THE FOURTH MAN is that it is based not on Baer’s own views, but on a meticulous inquiry by a small team of dedicated CIA counterintelligence officers. The facts and arguments Baer lays out in his well-organized narrative are, for the most part, those of insiders who had direct access to the CIA’s most tightly guarded Russian secrets.
And, unlike the typical journalistic treatment of real-life spy stories, THE FOURTH MAN benefits from the fact that Baer served personally with many of the story’s key players during the years in question and could claim a passing acquaintance with many of the lesser figures. As an astute and accomplished CIA insider, Baer is able to put the book’s mass of conflicting and often bewildering evidence in proper context.
Also welcome in THE FOURTH MAN is a level of humility, compassion, and even-handedness that I would not have expected to see, based on Baer’s past works.
THE FOURTH MAN is a story of historic importance, seriously told, yet with Baer’s unique flair. The book is Bob Baer at his entertaining best and deserves the wide audience it is bound to receive.