During World War II Hemingway organized a private spy network, which he jokingly called the Crook Factory, and gathered information about Nazi sympathizers on the island. But in a secret, 124-page report on Hemingway, the FBI—which feared his personal prestige and political power—expressed resentment at his amateur but alarming intrusion into their territory, and unsuccessfully […]
Why then does the American public still consider all spies to be demons? Why does the public make no distinction between technical spies like Julius Rosenberg stealing useful knowledge and tactical spies like Kim Philby destroying human lives? Perhaps it is because the American public is misled by the American secrecy system. The secrecy system is a bureaucratic monster that classifies vast quantities of information as secret, making it impossible for the ordinary citizen to see the difference between important and unimportant secrets.
Corporate espionage takes many forms and is known by a number of names. At its most benign, it’s “competitive-intelligence,” which is the kind of information gathering that George Chidi describes in Inc. On the other end of the spectrum is the far more exciting—and illicit—line of work seen in Richard Behar’s 1999 story about the pharmaceutical industry. Here are five stories that delve deep into the murky world of corporate information gathering.
The story of an astrologer who claimed in a 1941 keynote address that the stars indicated Hitler would invade the United States from Brazil and eventually be defeated. The astrologer, Louis de Wohl, was actually an agent for the British government: What no one realized was that de Wohl’s lecture was pure propaganda from the […]
When your wedding doubles as a covert operation. A look at the complications of CIA marriages, and how secrets often lead to separation: The Fredericksburg woman divorcing her husband laid out all the messy details, including the most secret of them all. Her husband, she wrote in now-sealed court documents, is a covert operations officer […]
The evolution of how we recruit and train spies—starting with the OSS in the 1940s—and our changing expectations of what the job entails and what motivates those who sign up: I remember him saying something like: “This is the only thing in the Army that you can volunteer for and then get out of if […]