January 11, 2011
Mark Stout, SPY Historian
The breadth of espionage-related history scholarship is apparent in two recent articles featuring the work of the International Spy Museum’s Historian, Dr. Mark Stout and its previous Historian, Dr. Thomas Boghardt. Both appear in the journal Intelligence and National Security.
Stout explores Iraqi intelligence with Kevin Woods of the Institute for Defense Analyses in an article entitled “New Sources for the Study of Iraqi Intelligence during the Saddam Era.” Their research used repositories of documents captured from the Iraqi intelligence services during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (See here and here.) The documents already available paint a picture in many ways reminiscent of the intelligence services of the totalitarian Soviet Union. Moreover, these and forthcoming documents may enable important research on Iraq and on the role of intelligence services in totalitarian states. The article also includes the text of an intelligence assessment of Iran completed by the Iraqi General Military Intelligence Directorate on the eve of the Iran-Iraq War and commentary by Woods and Stout on that estimate. The estimate portrays an Iran still in chaos from the revolution of 1979 and helps us better understand why Saddam imagined that he could get away with invading his much larger neighbor.
Dr. Boghardt’s work forms an important part of another article in the journal, Dr. Nicholas Hiley’s “Re-Entering the Lists: MI5’s Authorized History and the August 1914 Arrests.” Hiley takes on one of the legendary triumphs of Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, namely that immediately upon the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 it captured all 21 German agents working in Britain. Most recently a variation of this story appears in Dr. Christopher Andrew’s Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5. Drawing on a variety of sources, including Boghardt’s book (based on research in German archives) about German intelligence operations in Britain, Hiley argues that this oft-repeated and inspiring story simply is not true.
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