The Fourth Eye

Introduction, Cold War Technology & Conclusion

Warner, M. (2014). The Rise and Fall of Intelligence: an international security history. Washington, Georgetown University Press.

Chapter 4 in The Rise and Fall of Intelligence



  • “The skills needed to “do” intelligence have diffused around the world and across societies; they can literally be purchased online….intelligence has traded uniqueness for ubiquity.” P. 1
  • “Intelligence in its essence pertains to the ways in which sovereign powers create, exploit, and protect secret advantages against other sovereignties…these sovereign actors seek to reduce risks, to mitigate threats, and to create and use opportunities to win and preserve what they see as their interests…they are locked in a struggle in which the rules are unsettled.” P.2
  • Spying is cheaper and safer than war or less risky than alternatives.
  • Intelligence is more than eavesdropping, “it became a synonym for espionage, but it also cme to mean any sort of information that decision makers might need to select a course of action. It also came to mean the overall system that manages the states’s espionage (and counter espionage) function, it’s collection of secrets and nonsecrets for minister and commanders, its interaction with friendly intelligence services, and the work product of these functions. In short, those secret activities had become systematized as intelligence, in both a professional and an institutional sense, and they worked collectively – if not always consciously – for strategic effect.” P 3
  • Ancient spy craft – Sunzi in China and Kautilya in India
  • Intelligence a hobby of kings and commanders, a stable of popular culture and a proper subject of academic discourse.
  • Intelligence activities should not only be examined as a set of organisations and processes but also as the interactions between decision makers and subordinates and adversaries.
  • Intelligence should be viewed as a reflexive activity, one involving complex, disproportionate and inherently unpredictable interactions and outcomes.
  • Intelligence is a way of mitigating potential disaster and perhaps, of guiding the future.
  • “Intelligence is not an end in itself. It supplements other measures, seeks to fill in their gaps and extend their reach.” P. 6
  • “there exist few things as well known and as misunderstood as intelligence.” P. 6
  • “The explosive progress of technology during the Industrial Revolution made the craft of war and spying into an industry…”p. 8
  • We are learning to live as if constantly under observation.
  • Groups and orgs and states now have to adapt to a torrent of data, with little oversight and fewer scruples.
  • “Intelligence is a business that should not be glorified. It carries physical and moral costs, even when performed in a just cause. ..As Sunzi argued over two thousand years ago, he who blinks at not disrupting his whole state to fight a war but is too fastidious to pay spies when he needs them is neither prudent or humane.” P. 9



Cold War Technology


  • This article compares the relative strengths of each side of the cold war – the Anglo-Americans with signals intelligence and the Soviets through spies, where there was all pervasive surveillance at home
  • With these strengths each, “gained a degree of certainty about their adversaries’ intension and capabilities and a working confidence that their s ide could emerge from even a surprise attack to destroy the other.”
  • The FBI sponsored a film The House on 92nd Street, depicting Nazi spies and American special agents tracking them. The Germans in the film were trying to collect information on the Manhattan project. Atomic spies were safe in the film, but not in reality.   Spies had given Stalin key information.
  • Soviet spies penetrated assistant secretary of the Treasury (Harry Dexter White) senior aides in the White House and State Department (Lauchlin Currie and Alger Hiss), multiples in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) (Duncan Lee and Maurice Halperin), the Cambridge Five had penetrated the Foreign Office (Burgess and Maclean) SIS (Philby and Cairncross, the latter was also at Bletchley Park) and MI5 (Blunt) – so Moscow understood Ultra and that code breakers posted danger to Soviet communications.
  • “ Soviet penetrations of the British and American services ensured that Western efforts to gather intelligence on the USSR, as they resumed or started on new efforts to wards the close of World War II, would initially prove futile…Soviet moles, moreover, soon neutered the rapidly growing Anglo-American SIGING effort against the Soviets (Philby and William Weisband.
  • Atlee viewed Security Service with suspicion since MI5’s work against the Left, within a year had replaced the DG with a police constable, Sir Percy Sillitoe – a reminder that security services answered in “democracies to the nation, not just the party in power” p. 138
  • Like MI5, the SIS was also publicly unacknowledged and with no statutory mandate.
  • 1946 name change from GC&CS to GCHQ, moved to Cheltenham from Bletchley Park, led by Sir Edward Travis from 1942-1952 and then Eric Jones who stayed till 1960 – it made codes and broke codes
  • The US dependence on the UK bothered people like Lieutenant General Hoyt Vandenberg, who told Congress in 1947, that America should never, “again find itself again confronted with the necessity of developing its plans and policies on the basis of intelligence collected, compiled and interpreted by some foreign government.” P. 139
  • “At first NSA was a hybrid – a civilian organization under a uniformed commander who answered to the secretary of defence.” P. 141 – “The United States had thus created something new in history – an intelligence agency designed specifically to make the signals intelligence system serve senior policy makers from multiple departments as well as combat commanders in the field.” P. 142
  • FVEY agreement of March 1946 committed code breakers from the US and UK “to share almost everything from the raw take to their finished analytical products and the equipment, services and secrets that fed into their production.” 143
  • There were exceptions, but this phrase was oft-used “It is the intention of each party to hold such exceptions to the absolute minimum.”
  • “Cooperation between the British and American systems meant that Soviet espionage against one of them often gave Moscow secrets from the other as well.” P. 144
  • “US Army Security Agency leaders briefed GCHQ on their Venona cryptanalysis coup well before telling their own countrymen in the FBI. The British in turn used insights from Venona to insist that their Australian intelligence partners tighten security and follow MI5 guidance in the counterintelligence field. The creation of ASIO in 1949 sprang directly from this intervention.” P 145
  • U2 reconnaissance aircraft contributed greatly to the strategic intelligence on Moscow’s capabilities. To call Soviet bluffs or discount them without serious risk of war.
  • Sputnik trigged, “a frenzy of satellite development”. The CIA’s CORONA “birds” took pictures from space, and the navy’s GRAB satellites collected Soviet radar emissions.
  • “hitherto unimagined quantities of data to be turned into intelligence.” Expansion of interpretation capabilities moved into “an industrial-scale activity” p 153
  • “The collection and analytical revolution also shifted the centre of gravity of the trans-Atlantic intelligence alliance.”
  • SIGINT, imagery and analysis had been influential at the operational level in WWII, now in the Cold War it became influential at the strategic level as well.”
  • Soviets ran spies in NATO HQ (Rainer Rupp, 1977) can in Willy Brandt’s office (Gunther Guilaume) forcing Brandt’s resignation in 1974
  • The West got spies of their own, 3 inside GRU – Protr Popov, Oleg Penkovsky and Dmitriy Polyakov
  • Internal mistrust within agencies, “must surely rank as some of the most exquisite side effects of the Soviet’s wartime espionage prowess. P. 160
  • In July 1961 the NSA received 17000 reels of magnetic tape from collection sites.
  • The perilous standoff of the cold war, “perhaps the most dangerous phase in the history o the world” where super powers had nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert, war could come with terrible swiftness.
  • “Intelligence helped to stabilize this perilous standoff. With the impetus provided by the Korean War, both sides learned much about the others arsenals and realized that there remained enough mystery about their adversary’s strategy and targeting to make brinksmanship existentially dangerous. “p. 164
  • “Technology made American intelligence better but not always smarter.” P. 165



  • Today we can all live like case officers in Moscow…The most intrusive collection techniques are now being mastered by people with few incentives to restrain themselves in their use.” P. 333
  • “Intelligence agencies in Communist lands did not merely uphold the law; as the eye and ears of the Communist Party, they were the law.” P. 335
  • “Ultimately, democratic ideals married to modern intelligence in the West helped undermine Communist party regimes.
  • Signals intelligence needs drove major advances in computers, which in turn had evolved in WWII and the early Cold War to break machine decipherment, itself a by-product of code breaking in World War I….the two efforts together helped create the Internet.: p. 336
  • “The shadowy and marginal realm called intelligence now affects our daily lives.” P. 336
  • “the digital revolution has in some places undermined democratic control by creating collection capabilities that outstrip the rules of governance written for earlier technologies…Online connections to people everywhere might finally make of us one truly global village. Yet human freedom takes a net loss when everyone has to live like a case officer in Moscow, constantly guarding a modicum of privacy.. “ p. 337
  • “Forgetting the past of espionage and intelligence is a way of making room for both old and new lies and for violence. Intelligence in the future should always have to pass this test: Does it try to deal in truth, or does it serve lies?


Leave a Reply