Ron Rosenbaum

CIA Hails One of its Most Pathetic Follies as a Triumph

I have to admit I was stunned to read this astonishingly self-congratulatory declassified memo on the offical CIA website, trying to recast one of their biggest most embarrassing and damgaing failures as some kind of heroic achievment. And pulling the rug out from under themselves in the very same document. I can only assume my favorite website Arts&Letters Daily ( linked to this as further evidence of how incompetent our intelligence agency is.

It’s a long account, written in tones of heroic triumphalism of the building of the Berlin spy tunnel, the one that stretched underground from Allied West Berlin into East Berlin and tapped into Soviet and East German communications at the height of the Cold War.

Listen to the extraordinary dim witted (or blatantly dissembling) author as he congratulates himself and his co-workers:


Over the years, the Berlin Tunnel project has been heatedly debated. Opinions have ranged widely—some favorable, some resentful of its success, some political, and many just plain wrong. Most of the controversy has centered on differing interpretations of net intelligence value of this costly, time-consuming, and technically challenging project. The simple truth, however, is that Leslie M. Gross and his Army Crops of Engineers staff, along with the British sappers, built the tunnel and tap chamber in SECRET!!

Hand salute, gentlemen, hand salute.”

No not hand salute, at least not that kind. To use his deluded caps, IT WAS NOT SECRET!!It’s now widely known that the entire tunnel project was “blown” as they say, made known to the Soviets by a British mole George Blake from the very beginning. Any “intelligence” we obtained from the riduclously expensive tunnel boondoggle was intellligence the Soviets wanted us to know, or disinformation.

And yet look how fraudulently the author presents the controversy over the tunnel:

“Opinions have ranged widely—some favorable, some resentful of its success, some political, and many just plain wrong.”

Um, there’s one opinion missing there, the historically correct one: that it was a pathetic, counter productive failure.

So you have to love that line about “some resentful of its success”. No, you fool, it wasn’t a success, it wasn’t done in secret, it was a titanic failure. It’s hard to believe this omisssion is pure stupidity, or that the intellligence of its officer is representative of the typical “intelligence” agent the CIA employs–although the fact that the agency has been 180 degrees wrong on just about every major issue it’s weighed in on for the past half century–from the Bay of Pigs to Iraq–might suggest so.

What makes you wonder if mere stupidity or something more inept or devious is involved is that the author includes the refutation of his enitre “hail success” “hand-salute” self administered hand job in the footnotes.

Footnote 3 for instance:

“3. Accounts of the tunnel project covering its conception and execution, its compromise by British spy George Blake, and Moscow’s delay in closing it down include: David C. Martin, Wilderness of Mirrors (New York: Harper & Row, 1980); Peter Grose, Gentleman Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994); David E. Murphy, Sergei A. Kondrashev, and George Bailey, Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997); and David Stafford, Spies Beneath Berlin (Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, 2003).”

Do you see that: “Accounts of the tunnel project covering…its compromise by British spy George Blake.”

In other words he acknowledges the tunnel was a monumental intelligence failure (I’ve read all but the last book cited and there’s no doubt the Soviets were tipped off about it).

What kind of idiot writes thousands of words congratulating himself and the CIA for a triumph and somehow ignores the fact that a footnote pulls the rug out from under it.

It reallymakes you despair that the Agency that allowed this piece of supremely deluded account to be declassified, not only continues to make mistakes, not only refuses to recognize them–but because of that is clearly incapable of learning from them.

it would be sad if such a blatant self contradicting piece of pseudo history was not tragic, a symptom of all the more murderous failures.