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Tiger Trap: Americas Secret Spy War with China Hardcover – June 14, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Wise (Spy) leads readers into the "the wilderness of mirrors that is counterintelligence" for this history of Chinese espionage against the U.S. He reveals how Chinese intelligence has used ethnic Chinese in the U.S. to penetrate American counterintelligence and steal American nuclear weapons data. While Wise explores a spectrum of Chinese spying efforts, from Sun-Tzu's The Art of War to cyberspies, he homes in on two sensational cases, code-named Parlor Maid and Tiger Trap, that epitomize their tactics. Parlor Maid was the colorful Katrina Leung, a Chinese-American double agent who slept with her FBI handlers while stealing their secrets, and Tiger Trap refers to the FBI's operation to expose China's moles inside America's nuclear weapons labs. Wise's conclusion is sobering—"China's spying on America is ongoing, current, and shows no sign of diminishing"—and his book is a fascinating history of Chinese espionage that should appeal to a diverse readership. (June)
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-Publishers Weekly "David Wise has done it again. This time it's China. He's taken us deep into the American efforts to root out Chinese spies here and abroad. As always, Wise is the master - writing with clarity and style abou thte murky and consequential underworld of nuclear espionage."
- Tom Brokaw "David Wise is a master of the nonfiction thriller and, once again, he delivers a fact-filled inside account, with sources named and no one spared, including some very amorous and reckless FBI agents. There is an important message in Tiger Trap -- about the often overlooked threat posed by China's demonstrated ability to dig out America's most important military and economic secrets."
-Seymour M. Hersh "David Wise has given us a rare combination in today's literary world -- a book that is great reading, while at the same time shedding light on a subject whose seriousness should concern every thinking American."
- Jim Webb, U.S. Senator from Virginia, author of Born Fighting, Fields of Fire "Extraordinary. A stunningly detailed history of China's spy war with us - from sexy socialite double agents to "kill switches" implanted offshore in the computer chips for our electric grid. Wise remains the master."
– R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence "Forget Moscow rules, Lubyanka Prison, and KGB assassins. Today’s most threatening web of spies is spun out of Beijing and reaches from Silicon Valley to the Pentagon. David Wise has written a dead-on accurate narrative of major PRC cases against American targets. He names names, details agent tradecraft, and takes you into the courtroom and even a jail cell to witness the final unraveling of these sensational cases. You will never think about Chinese espionage the same way again. " - Peter Earnest, Executive Director of the International Spy Museum
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Espionage writer David Wise writes the Chinese continue to follow the advise contained in the 4th century book, "The Art of War," by military sage Sun Tzu, who advises espionage by "a thousand grains of sand"; that means obtaining small but overflowing pieces of information by a vast number of people acting as little spies sent against the enemy. Moreover, the communist Chinese in the 21st century, unlike the Soviets, are not interested in recruiting agents with vulnerabilities or people motivated by revenge or misfits but "good" people, that they convince with humanitarian motives to help China modernize. So their recruited spies do genuinely believe and want to assist China improve technologically and achieve parity with the West.
This usually translates to ethnic, first generation Chinese immigrants with cultural and familial ties to China. The Chinese government then reciprocates by helping their part-time spies with commercial or business ventures in the United States. This is called guanxi. Thus supposedly the Chinese spymasters don't offer money, and they do not accept walk-in cases -- i.e., volunteers who may be "dangles" (double agents sent by the enemy). Most of the espionage is coordinated by the Ministry of State Security (MSS) or the military intelligence arm of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
Nevertheless, Wise then relates several cases of espionage that challenged those assumptions, resembling not "grains of sand" information but "large fish," predatory espionage resembling the horrendous betrayal of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen to the Soviets. Take for instance the case of "Parlor Maid," the code name of the Chinese-American "triple agent" Katrina Leung. This is an incredible story immersed with as much sex as espionage and betrayal. But it is not a pretty picture, casting a dark shadow of shame, ineptitude, and negligence on the FBI and two of its "veteran," top Chinese counterintelligence (CI) experts -- i.e., FBI agents James J. Smith and William B. Cleveland Jr.
Katrina Leung, not only spied for China for 20 years, but managed to seduce these two FBI agents, who collaborated wittingly or unwittingly with her deception and betrayal. Moreover, had the FBI, the very agency charged with catching spies, been more vigilant, the betrayal would have been deduced and exposed much earlier, limiting the damage to the nation's security.
In fact several red flags were raised in the 1990s that Katrina Leung had been turned against the U.S. but she was protected by her two FBI agent lovers and so the clues were ignored higher up the command ladder. Although guilt was obvious, the Parlor Maid counterespionage operation came to nothing. This case is simply astonishing, and David Wise does a great service to the nation in bringing this incredible "sexpionage" case to light in sizzling as well as blood boiling detail.
The betrayal as well as the bungling and ineptitude of several FBI agents in this and other cases is highly disturbing. But the ineptitude does not stop with the FBI. The pusillanimity of the Justice Department in prosecuting those spies who actually did get caught is likewise troubling and blood boiling, as is the leniency extended by those judges who presided over those defendants who were prosecuted. Many of these guilty defendants in the end were simply slapped on their wrists!
Much of the espionage was and continues to be conducted to obtain nuclear secrets from the United States. Another FBI operation, code-named "Kindred Spirit," was undertaken to identify a spy in Los Alamos who revealed the secret design of the W-88 warhead of the Trident submarines in the 1990s. This warhead was and remains one of the most powerful and most advanced nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. As part of the submarine strike force, the warhead is one of the most survivable of the retaliatory triad of nuclear deterrence strike capability of the U.S. The FBI investigated Wen Ho Lee and his wife Sylvia Lee but the operation was bungled and led nowhere. It was later expanded to operation "Sego Palm" but this investigation also led to no arrests.
Operation "Tiger Trap" (after which the book is titled) is another CI operation bungled by the FBI in which the guilty culprit once again got away with nuclear secrets. One successful operation was that launched against CIA traitor Larry Wu-Tai Chin who, after spying for the Chinese for 30 years, finally made a mistake that led to his arrest. He was successfully prosecuted and committed suicide in prison. Several other cases are described with varying degrees of success for the FBI and the security of the nation.
Perhaps the most troubling of all is the chapter on the silent, ongoing cyber espionage war launched by the Chinese against the U.S. and the West. It proves, once again, that "the end of history" mentality that prevailed immediately after the collapse of Soviet communism is dangerous to our security. China's invisible and up to now invincible cyber spies are described in great detail, chilling information that few Americans are aware of or understand. The author elucidates the serious menace posed by the cyber spies and computer hackers that the Chinese have unleashed against America, not only against U.S. agencies but also various targets from the Pentagon to vulnerable infrastructures from computer networks to energy sources and water supply. Underscoring this topic, this morning's headlines in the BBC News reads (January 14, 2013) "'Red October' Cyber-attack found by Russian Researchers," and a related commentary by a cyber expert reads, "Viewpoint: Stuxnet shift the cyber arm race up a gear." What the articles failed to say is that the main culprit is China, probably followed by Russia. So Western experts are finally taking notice, and at least the BBC in the media is reporting the dangerous trend.
Unless the U.S. and its allies rise to the challenge this up-to-now silent but ominous Chinese cyber espionage war portends a dark future for the survival of freedom, unless the West at least takes defensive action.
After reading this momentous book, one cannot help but wonder how this nation prevailed over the Soviets in the 20th century -- and now, more apropos, how it will survive the Chinese onslaught of conventional as well as cyber espionage or the possible cyber wars of the future, wars that may be fought with computer hackers sitting quietly at their computer terminals wreaking havoc and mayhem, even death and destruction, on the West in the 21st century! Knowledge is power, and this excellent book provides at least introductory knowledge of a subject that Americans up to now have been blissfully ignorant. This book can be at times exasperating, frequently thrilling, but in the end it is a disturbing wake up call to action. I avidly recommend it.
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is the author of "Cuba in Revolution -- Escape from a Lost Paradise" and numerous articles on communism, espionage, and the Soviets, including "Stalin, Communists and Fatal statistics."
* Much of the book seems to be a little simplistic. Perhaps I have read too much John Le Carre, but things never seem simple. When do you tell the truth, when do you lie, and are their facts that you want the other side to know about? Are you wiling to send a little good information to sugar-coat the bad? Are you willing to send a lot? What can you overlook?
* To take David Wise at face value, we have to believe that the FBI has employed some of the most incompetent and clueless agents you can imagine. Or we have to believe that the Chinese secret services are extraordinarily crafty and understand Americans (hyphenated or otherwise) quite well. Or we have to ...
In other words, what you believe out of reading Tiger Trap is very dependent upon what you believed before you started. Do you think the FBI is incompetent enough to allow a counterintelligence agent to be spied upon for years by a Chinese spy he is having an affair with? Or do you believe the the FBI is shrewd enough to allow a Chinese agent to steal documents for years out of her lover's briefcase---documents they wanted the Chinese to have all along?
I don't know the answer. But as I read the book I had the feeling I was reading one dimension of a multi-dimensional story.
* I found the narrative to be a bit jumpy, and leap to some conclusions that I was not quite ready to follow along with. While Wise certainly did a lot of research and gathered a lot of facts, he drops the ball on sorting this information into a coherent story, and provides little or no guidance on evaluating mutually exclusive information.
In summary, while the book certainly exposed me to quite a bit that I hadn't read before, I walked away unsure what to make of it. The tales are confusing and convoluted enough that I believe the author owes the reader a little more hand holding and explaining instead of presenting facts.