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The Spy in Moscow Station: A Counterspy's Hunt for a Deadly Cold War Threat Hardcover – April 30, 2019
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“In the cat and mouse, twists and turns and tradecraft of modern technical espionage and counter-espionage (and now the field of Cyber and Information Warfare), Eric Haseltine’s book once again reminds us of the high stakes and brilliant personalities involved in the relentless and often life and death struggles around intelligence and national security. The lessons of this book are to be neither naive nor complacent, especially against a determined and capable adversary.”
―Admiral William O. Studeman, U.S. Navy (Retired), former Director NSA, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence and CIA
“A thrilling narrative from a context of advanced technology and secrecy. The story is quite entertaining and the lessons are utterly enduring.”
―Admiral Eric T. Olson, U.S. Navy (Retired), former Commander, United States Special Operations Command
“Real life spy-vs-spy page turner whose lessons are important today.”
―Bruce Schneier, internationally renowned security technologist and bestselling author of Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World
"All the power and intrigue of a cinematic thriller...An immersive, dramatic, and historically edifying work." ―Kirkus
About the Author
- Publisher : Thomas Dunne Books (April 30, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250301165
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250301161
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.24 x 1.03 x 9.58 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #322,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is a clanging alarm, urging US, NATO and other countries’ intelligence communities to recognize and prioritize the latent and often underestimated threat posed by the sophisticated and aggressive Russian special services, which after every operational success dare for more (see the interference in the US elections, Litvinenko and Skripkal poisoning, cyber attacks on nonmilitary objectives, recent Portuguese or Austrian spy cases, etc).
Surprisingly, at the center of this story is an “…old-school patriot…”, and a „legend of NSA” - Mr. Charles Gandy, who was sent to Moscow in 1978 (with Soviets denying travel visa since they knew who he was), to help investigate the disappearance of some US agents from communications security point of view.
It began with evidence of a technical penetration in form of a (false) chimney antenna of US embassy in Moscow clearly intended to pick up signals from a bug or data implant.
Intended to gather intelligence the device was, apparently, the (technical) spy from the title and its presence on US soil (concealed inside embassy) was the result of both innovative Russian technology (still underappreciated) and determination and US „...technology arrogance...”, disturbing negligence and “interagency mistrust” as author later revealed in his book. The fact is not new but here Mr. Haseltine told us the story (or maybe the stories) behind the story!
However, after “chimney to nowhere” antenna discovery and evaluation, plus many professional claims and assertions, NSA R9 team had no further luck in producing any proof for security leaks in Moscow embassy in subsequent trips.
This was enough to ignite an open warfare between Mr. Gandy (NSA) and State or CIA officials, a classic example for “interagency mistrust”. Chapters 6 (“Obstacles”) &7 (“Who Hates Whom”) are full of such unwanted examples and conflicts between different agencies.
But the US was not the only victim of KGB’s technical penetration. In January 1983, French DST also discovered sophisticated bugs in their teleprinters sent from Moscow (I believe “Farewell” tipped off the French in this case). Those devices were installed in 1976 and 1977 and were collecting “ultraclassified cable traffic between Moscow and Paris”.
Finally, to have a complete picture, on pages 84-85 the author revealed “the Soviet part of the story” mentioning the discovery “…in Soviet installations in US of more than 50 various special electronic devices…” used for the very same scope as those in Moscow embassy.
Chapter 10 - “A Wife in the Wrong Place at the Right Time” is one of the most interesting, revealing the discovery by a motivated young NSAer named Mike Arneson (who left, disgruntled, NSA in 2000 and later authored over 150 patents or patent applications) of Soviet implants in the “ubiquitous” and “lonely” IBM Selectric III typewriters in July 1984 used by State Department employees in Moscow embassy during 1976-1984.
The discovery seemed not to impress too many from US Department of State or even CIA (DS&T) as author’s competent and sharp analyses showed in chapter 12 - “Putting the Smoke Back in the Gun”. According to the author, apparently, GUNMAN bugs were not responsible for the CIA HUMINT compromises, but for collection of “…a significant amount of information on US positions…” on SALT or INF arms negotiations (page 225) send by TS cables.
As we didn’t have enough surprises, in last chapter - 13 (“Lessons About the Russians for Today”), we have even new disclosures: NSA discovered only 16 out of 30 implants in typewriters and those missed maybe belonged to “…a fifth generation that went undetected”.
When I started “Author’s note” section, I thought that the story finally ends, but I was wrong. Unlike many other books on these subjects, this one doesn’t stop with just the descriptions of the incidents or nature of different relationships among institutions and key persons, but also offers thoughtful prescriptions on how and when to respond to the ever-present Russian threat in Moscow or in different world capitals. Eventually, the need to have real leadership is also real.
Thankfully, US is still quickly adapting and fighting back with adequate responses, often after someone heard „... the screaming” of intelligence community, as the late LTG Faurer (former DIRNSA in 1984 when GUNMAN implants were discovered) recognized and advised on page 247.
Apart of the 13 chapters, you can find no photo galleries, but there are a useful author’s note, acknowledgments and notes sections. There is also a comprehensive index that closes the book. A minor drawback in this study, I consider, is the lack of any illustrations; I found this aspect a little bit strange which makes the reading sometimes dull.
Mr. Haseltine’s invaluable work provides us with a revealing and often times disturbing guide to these old but always new clandestine conflicts fought in the shadows and also (re)opens our eyes on exploited vulnerabilities and makes clear that this kind of war was and will be forever. Recommended!