Tag Archives: Espionage

Cold War and the Battle of the Pens

“Were there similarities between the literature on both sides of the Iron Curtain?”

“Definitely. And the phrase itself is an interesting place to start. It is commonly assumed that the term was first used by Winston Churchill in a speech in Fulton, Missouri on March 5th 1946, but in Patrick Wright’s book “Iron Curtain” (2009) he traces the origin to 18th-century theatre. The iron curtain was a safety curtain that came down between the stage and the audience in case of fire. It was the divide between stage and audience and the whole political rhetoric of cold-war literature and its narrative discourse was marked by this profound opposition between self and other, good and evil, democracy and tyranny.”

“The idea of theatricality was the very essence of cold-war literature and discourse—the manipulation of language and information, the difference between appearance and reality, and the way the information was projected to the audience didn’t necessarily have roots in reality.”

[...]

“There wasn’t a definitive “end of cold war” response in Soviet literature because the dissident literature, samizdat (self-published) and tamizdat (published over there), proliferated gradually. In the 1980s the Western spy novels all featured good guys from the West and bad guys from the East and they were still very popular. Margaret Thatcher read Frederick Forsyth’s “The Fourth Protocol” (1984) four times. But by this time there was also a huge influx of “real” fiction, serious literature reflecting on the reasons for the cold war and near nuclear disaster, the metaphysical opposition of East and West—post-modernism. This was a natural response to the cold-war situation, given the manipulation of language and the pervading atmosphere of counter-intelligence.”

Read More: http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2014/03/quick-study-olga-sobolev-cold-war-literature

The Racket

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. … I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. … In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” Smedley Butler, Major General, U.S. Marine Corps.

Smedley Butler inspired my novel The Black Vault:

In the 1930s a group of wealthy industrialists plotted to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt and replace him with a puppet dictator. The coup failed because of moral reservations of a single man: Smedley Butler.

Sock Puppet Social Media Friends

“The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.”

Propaganda program “will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.”

The military “stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.”

More: http://m.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com

Unbreakable Codes

image

The Voynich Manuscript (1400-1500s)

Few encrypted texts are as mysterious – or as tantalizing – as the Voynich manuscript, a book dating to either 15th- or 16th-century Italy and written in a language no one understands, about a subject that no one can figure out, and involving illustrations of plants that don’t exist. Plus it’s got Zodiac symbols, astrological charts, illustrations of medicinal herbs, and drawings of naked womenbathing while hooked up to tubes.

The manuscript’s 246 calfskin pages were perhaps meant for alchemy or medieval medicine, but no one knows for sure. What we do know is that it’s written in a language distinct from any European language, and follows a pattern unique to its own. The alphabet ranges from 19 to 28 letters, with an average word length consistent with Greek- or Latin-derived languages, but is missing two-letter words while repeating words at a much higher rate than other European languages. All told, the book has 170,000 characters in it, written from left to right, and there are no punctuation marks.

William Friedman, one of the 20th century’s greatest cryptographers, couldn’t figure it out and suspected Voynich was a constructed, artificial language. (With no Rosetta Stone to help translate.) German computer scientist Klaus Schmeh suspected a hoax, and also suggested the manuscript’s original language could have been encoded in a much larger set of “meaningless filler text.” But there’s no system for separating out the real text from the junk. Linguist and computer scientist Gordon Rugg also concluded the manuscript was a hoax.

Knight has been wrestling with Voynich for the better part of a decade, on and off. Recently, he and University of Chicago computer scientist Sravana Reddy discovered that the word length and frequency and the seeming presence of morphology – or the structure of word forms – “and most notably, the presence of page-level topics conform to natural language-like text.”

The problem is that no one seems to know where to go next.”

More unbreakable codes: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/codes/

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com

How technology shapes espionage

“So, we’re constantly looking and trying to figure out who are the intelligence officers and who are they meeting with? So, covert communications is the way that a spy passes information secretly to the handler, or the handler passes requests and other information back to the spy.  …

The way information is stored now makes it not only easier to use, but makes it far more vulnerable. If we can penetrate a network, we have everything. We own the kingdom.

So now, where throughout history spies stole the information and technology was used to convey it, it’s now just flipped around. The spy is now often the person that is simply the conveyor of the gadget that penetrates the network, because we now select spies, not by access to the secrets that they personally can get, but the access to the networks. So the person that maintains the network or the person that hypothetically buys the office equipment, such as the printers, could embed a chip into the printer and the printer, when they plug it into the network, now infects the entire network and now you’ve got a virus in the entire network. Now the human is the carrier of technology, as opposed to the technology being the carrier of small bits of information. How information is stores determines how vulnerable it is.”“The digital world has changed everything we know about espionage.”

From: http://m.technobuffalo.com/2012/11/26/interview-spy-historian-h-k-melton-explains-how-tech-changed-spying-forever/

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com

The battle for your thoughts

“We have this position where as we know knowledge is power, and there’s a mass transfer as a result of literally billions of interceptions per day going from everyone, the average person, into the data vaults of state spying agencies for the big countries, and their cronies – the corporations that help build them that infrastructure. …

The people who control the interception of the internet and, to some degree also, physically control the big data warehouses and the international fiber-optic lines. We all think of the internet as some kind of Platonic Realm where we can throw out ideas and communications and web pages and books and they exist somewhere out there. Actually, they exist on web servers in New York or Nairobi or Beijing, and information comes to us through satellite connections or through fiber-optic cables. 

So whoever physically controls this controls the realm of our ideas and communications. And whoever is able to sit on those communications channels, can intercept entire nations, and that’s the new game in town, as far as state spying is concerned – intercepting entire nations, not individuals.”

More: http://rt.com/news/assange-internet-control-totalitarian-943/

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com

Spying, it’s a women’s world

image

“On a moonlit night in June 1943, Noor, fresh from spy school at Beaulieu, was the first female radio operator ever to be dropped into Nazi-occupied France. As part of a network of agents responsible for sending intelligence back to England, “Madeleine” was equipped with a transmitter/receiver device, weighing about 30 pounds and fitting into an ordinary suitcase. With German wireless direction-finding vehicles — typically disguised as laundry and baker’s vans — regularly circling round, she had to be constantly vigilant, always finding surreptitious new locations and never staying on air for long. It was also crucial that she gave the unwavering impression of being completely French, never uttering a word or displaying a gesture that might give her away. For emergencies, she had four pills: Benzedrine, in case she needed to stay awake for a long spell; a sleeping pill, to drop in an enemy’s drink in a tight spot; a drug to induce stomach disturbance; and of course cyanide, to be bitten if she chose to die rather than endure torture or interrogation.”

More: http://www.salon.com/2012/11/08/the_spy_game_no_men_need_apply/?mobile.html

Jack King “A new King of thrillers”: http://www.SpyWriter.com

Espionage and Surveillance State in the Elizabethan Age

“We think of the surveillance state as a modern development, something conjured up by novels such as Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent or George Orwell’s 1984, or by real-life stories of Stalin’s Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany. But spying is one of the world’s oldest professions, as the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Bible attest. Well before the 20th century, many states were doing all they could to monitor their citizens’ activities as closely and comprehensively as possible.

England in particular has a long history of spying on its own people. It is no accident that in Hamlet, Shakespeare portrays the Danish government specializing in espionage and double-dealing. In Act 2, scene 1, the court councilor Polonius teaches a henchman how to spy on Polonius’ own son, Laertes, in Paris, instructing him “by indirections find directions out.” Moving as he did in court circles, Shakespeare was evidently familiar with intelligence operations in Elizabethan England, some of which involved several of his famous contemporaries—certainly Francis Bacon and possibly Christopher Marlowe. Under such spymasters as Lord Burghley and Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s court pioneered many of the techniques and practices we associate with international espionage to this day, including code-breaking and the use of double and even triple agents.”

More: http://reason.com/archives/2012/11/24/the-elizabethan-cia

Jack King “A new King of thrillers”: http://www.SpyWriter.com

The end of espionage thriller?

Can’t find a decent espionage thriller these days? Don’t blame it on Perestroika. Blame it on not reading SpyWriter Jack King:

“The end of the Cold War created a problem  for espionage thriller writers and moviemakers. They faced loss of a built-in backstory needing no explanation, a whole set of strong but realistic motivations for extreme behavior, a pre-fab cast of bad guys, and weighty, global stakes underlying all the action. Perestroika left a generation of writers searching for new conflicts and settings and plot devices.

Today I think the growth of surveillance technology will increasingly create a similar problem for fiction writers. It’s a staple of thrillers and science fiction to have the hero on the run—hounded by the government, evading the police—either because the hero is mistaken as someone bad or because the government is evil. And the government baddies use every technology at their disposal to locate and track their target, while the hero uses tricks and hacks to escape detection.

But the whole cat and mouse game is starting to look kind of problematic, because it’s getting harder to sustain a plausible “man on the run” scenario in the face of surveillance technology.

I like a good airport thriller or science fiction read, and for several years I’ve noticed this problem cropping up: it’s the near future (or later), the hero or heroine is on the run, and I find myself thinking, oh please, if they really had all the advanced technologies featured in this story, they’d certainly have more impressive surveillance capability! We may have more than that ourselves in couple years the way things are going.”

From: http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-national-security/will-increasing-surveillance-change-fiction

Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com

The subtle difference between a “spy” and an “intelligence agent”

Q: “What exactly were you doing in the U.S.? What is it called? Spying?”

A: “It’s the same thing the American special services are doing in Russia. The English word “spy” may refer to what the Russians call “spy” or “intelligence agent.” It depends on how you look at it. It’s no accident that, in the Soviet Union, the good guys were called “intelligence agents” and the enemies were called “spies.” …

“intelligence does not work against specific people. It’s not permanent and assignments can change. As a secret agent, you work for the good of your country. Crimes may be committed against specific people, but intelligence is a patriotic business.”

More: http://indrus.in/articles/2012/10/19/russian_spy_reveals_his_secrets_18485.html