Spy

Photo of the Day

Eddie Chapman (1914-1997) aka Agent ZigZag – double agent.

Agent Zigzag

Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began.

Chapman was also an army deserter, career criminal, safecracker, con artist, thief, triple agent and, in all fairness, one of Britain’s most unlikely heroes. He was a Northern lad with a champagne appetite and beer budget. Sure, Eddie loved fast cars, faster women, and fast living. What he didn’t have was cash to satisfy those tastes.

However, Chapman did know where to get it in amounts large enough to keep him in Bentleys, champagne, expensive tobacco and tailor-made suits. The answer, for a spirited young man with a taste for adventure and distaste for anything remotely resembling convention, was simple. He joined the British Army, deserted and headed for the bright lights and dark deeds of Soho, epicentre of London’s  underworld, made a few contacts, stole anything worth stealing and began a grand scheme to get as much cash as possible without the tiresome necessity of honest work. Why stand in line on payday when he could blow the safe instead?

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Photo of the Day

Gertrude Bell, third from left, was flanked by Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence on a visit to the Pyramids in 1921. Credit The Gertrude Bell Archive, Newcastle University.

‘Queen of the Desert’

Gertrude Bell Scaled the Alps, Mapped Arabia, and Midwifed the Modern Middle East

In a picture taken to mark the Cairo Conference of 1921, Gertrude Bell – characteristically elegant in a fur stole and floppy hat, despite being on camel back – sits right at the heart of the action. To one side is Winston Churchill, on her other TE Lawrence.

Bell was his equal in every sense: the first woman to achieve a first (in modern history) from Oxford, an archaeologist, linguist, Arabist, adventurer and, possibly, spy. In her day, she was arguably the most powerful woman in the British Empire – central to the decisions that created the modern Middle East and reverberate still on the nightly news.

Yet while Lawrence is still celebrated, she has largely been forgotten.

Newspaper articles of the time show she was known all over the world. The minutes of the Cairo Conference record her presence at every key discussion but not one of the men mentions her in their memoirs. It’s as if she never existed

How to chart the life of an Englishwoman — an explorer, spy, Mountaineer, translator, and archaeologist — who’s been all but written out of colonial Middle Eastern history? Luckily Gertrude Bell was a prolific letter writer” and “early photography enthusiast and— she left behind some 1,600 letters and over 7,000 photographs. It was an interest in archaeology that helped propel Bell’s many trips into the desert, beginning in 1900 to Palmyra. She nurtured the ambition of being the first to discover and document a site. Early in her travels, she recognised the importance of photographic documentation, along with notes, drawings, rubbings and casts. Bell was a complex, fascinating woman who was pivotal in the tangled history of the modern state of Iraq.

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Photo of the Day

Mansfield Smith-Cumming

That Time M16 Agents used Semen As Invisible Ink

C WAS THE original M, the first head of the Secret Service and the prototype of James Bond’s boss. The initial, standing for Cumming (not Chief) and always written in green ink, was the mark of an eccentric character. In fact, Captain Sir Mansfield Cumming, who founded what became MI6 in 1909 and ran it until his death in 1923, was the stuff of which fictional spymasters are made.

He carried a swordstick, wore a gold-rimmed monocle and possessed a “chin like the cut-water of a battleship”. He had an “eye for the ladies” and took children for rides in his personal tank. He enjoyed gadgets, codes, practical jokes and tall tales. Cumming was so pleased to discover that semen made a good invisible ink that his agents adopted the motto: “Every man his own stylo”.

The gloriously named Captain Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming would become the first head of England’s Secret Service in the late 1800s, but his own life as a spy, as he freely admitted, was pretty inglorious and he was much better suited to coordinating other people than being out on the field himself.

There are three separate incidents in which Smith-Cumming created serious issues while trying to commit espionage.

On one occasion he was caught in a consulate trying to get some letters that were being used for blackmail, and professed himself astonished because the people questioning him were disrespectful “even though he’d taken off his hat.” On another, he tried to have a conversation with a German spy despite speaking no German, spent most of it consulting a phrase-book in a panicky fashion, and only afterwards realised that they both spoke French.

My favourite, though, is the fact that he and a fellow spy once tried to book a quiet room with a source, but mistook a brothel for a hotel. The madam, faced with two men wanting a private room who said they were not interested in having a woman sent to them because they were waiting for another man, assumed they were dangerous homosexuals about to take part in a highly illegal act, threw them out and called the police.

He would go on to be a highly reputable intelligence head; he’d test the mettle of new recruits by stabbing himself in the (wooden) leg with a knife and seeing if they winced.

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Photo of the Day

Robert Philip Hanssen, spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States for twenty-two years from 1979 to 2001.

Robert Philip Hanssen, spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States for twenty-two years from 1979 to 2001.

The FBI’s Robert Hanssen Betrayed America

FBI agent Robert Hanssen, code name Grayday, spied for Russia for twenty-two years in what has been called the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history.”

Robert Hanssen betrayed the FBI. He betrayed his country. He betrayed his wife. He betrayed his children. He betrayed his best friend, offering him up to the KGB. Most of all, he betrayed himself.

Those who betray must always fear betrayal. It happened to Robert Philip Hanssen a little after 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, just five weeks shy of his planned retirement from the spy game. Ten armed FBI agents shivered in the cold as they watched Hanssen walk up to a “dead drop” code-named Ellis, a spot under a bridge in a quiet suburban Virginia park where he hid a plastic garbage bag full of secret U.S. documents. As he emerged from the woods of Foxstone Park, the agents, guns drawn, surrounded fellow FBI spy catcher Bob Hanssen, clapped handcuffs on his wrist and began reading him his Miranda rights.

Some FBI men plunged into the darkness, backtracking along Hanssen’s path to recover the bag. Not far away, in nearby Arlington, another team of agents were covertly watching a second drop site called Lewis, to see if Russian intelligence officers showed up to reclaim a package Hanssen had not picked up.

It contained $50,000 in $100 bills that the FBI believed was the payment for Hanssen’s purloined material. When the Russians didn’t show, the agents collected the cash as evidence.

Hanssen seemed thoroughly shocked and surprised by his arrest. But he was not nearly as shocked as the FBI. When Hanssen’s arrest was revealed, FBI Director Louis Freeh called his alleged double dealing the “most traitorous actions imaginable” against the U.S. and warned that the damage could prove “exceptionally grave.”

It was one of the worst failures of American intelligence ever and a brutal humiliation for the FBI, which had not caught on to Hanssen for 15 years.

Says an investigator inside the case: “This guy almost committed the perfect crime.” The intelligence community launched a deep probe into exactly what Hanssen may have turned over to Moscow during those years, but a colleague believes he “gave the whole bleeping thing away.”

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Photo Of The Day

Betty Pack— born Amy Elizabeth Thorpe. Wedding portrait of Amy Thorpe, 1936. January 1936, Betty caught the attention of MI-6 and became an “asset” – someone the Secret Intelligence Service could – and did – reach out to. As a diplomat’s wife, and a natural seductress, Betty had the ways and means to access powerful men and their military and government secrets.

Betty Pack— born Amy Elizabeth Thorpe. Wedding portrait of Amy Thorpe, 1936. January 1936, Betty caught the attention of MI-6 and became an “asset” – someone the Secret Intelligence Service could –and did –reach out to. As a diplomat’s wife, and a natural seductress, Betty had the ways and means to access powerful men and their military and government secrets.

Sexpionage

Code Name Cynthia

Also Known As:

Elizabeth Pack

Judy Brackett

Betty Pack

Betty Thorpe

 She hid Secrets in her Negligees, never wore Knickers and Seduced Countless Men to help Britain Win the War

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe Pack was one of the most successful female spies of her time, arguably any time – yet her story has rarely been told.

A fundamental rule of intelligence work is that one must not mix love and work when dealing with any intelligence target. The relationship can become dangerous to one or both of the parties if an agent develops genuine affection for a target. In wartime, this rule is even more critical, and if the agent is operating in hostile territory, the rule of avoiding romance is paramount. In spite of that, one agent broke this essential rule in wartime and lived to tell—a remarkable woman by the name of Amy Elizabeth Thorpe.

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, Family and friends called her Betty, was a glamorous American socialite, born in Minneapolis, raised in Washington, DC, who helped the Allies win World War II. She had lots of derring-do exploits, helping the British obtain an Enigma code-breaking machine, ingeniously stealing ciphers from an embassy safe that were crucial to the successful invasion of North Africa. Time magazine, in her obituary, called her a ‘blonde Bond’ who used ‘the boudoir as Ian Fleming’s character used the Beretta.’ She lived a consequential, exciting, and intriguing life.

Cynthia and her husband travelled to European and South American posts, where she conducted a series of foreign intrigues with assorted admirers. She once wrote in her diary, “I love to love with all my heart, only I have to appear cool. Life is but a stage on which to play. One’s role is to pretend, and always to hide one’s true feelings.”

Betty found that marriage and motherhood left her unfulfilled and empty. She longed for adventure and romance, and as she strayed from her husband she felt she was always searching for her one true love. In her quest, she was introduced to a top British diplomat who quickly recognized Betty’s impressive powers of seduction. In the mid-1930’s Betty was groomed for a career in espionage against the backdrop of a world preparing for massive conflict. Over the course of World War II, Betty identified, pursued, and seduced many powerful men, including top-ranking Polish and Italian commanders. Through her series of intense love affairs, Betty uncovered privileged intelligence that would help the Allies break the top-secret codes and ciphers of the enemy troops.

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Photo Of The Day

Robert Lee Johnson.

Robert Lee Johnson.

A Most Valuable Spy

This is the story of Robert Lee Johnson, a sergeant in the United States Army stationed in Berlin. Johnson has such a hatred of the army that he risked everything to hurt the country he was tasked to serve. He finally got his wish of revenge and it came during the cold war, as an association with the Russian KGB turned a run of the mill NCO into one of the most infamous spies in history.

The meeting had not gone well, the man gloomily reflected as he was driven out of East Berlin. His head was still heavy after a few too many snifters of cognac. The American’s ambitious scheme to build a life and career in Moscow had sputtered to an unforeseen halt; the only concession the Russians had made was to invite him back for another meeting in two weeks’ time. The three KGB representatives he had talked to didn’t seem very enthusiastic about his offer to defect from the US Army.

The date was 22 February 1953. It was George Washington’s Birthday, a holiday for all American troops stationed in Berlin. The drunken man being shuttled out of East Berlin in a Soviet car was Robert Lee Johnson, a 31-year-old sergeant in the United States Army. Most competent intelligence services would have considered the Army clerk useless, dismissing him as an embittered bureaucrat with a grossly inflated sense of self-worth. Nine years later he would, through a combination of luck and circumstance, become one of the most destructive spies the KGB had ever implanted into the US military.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: CIA People Virginia Hall of Special Operations Branch receiving the Distinguished Service Cross from General Donovan, September 1945.

Photo: CIA People
Virginia Hall of Special Operations Branch receiving the Distinguished Service Cross from General Donovan, September 1945.

WANTED

The Limping Lady

The Nazi secret police were hunting her. They had distributed “wanted” posters throughout Vichy France, posters with a sketch of a sharp-featured woman with shoulder-length hair and wide-set eyes, details provided by French double agents.

They were determined to stop her, an unknown “woman with a limp” who had established resistance networks, located drop zones for money and weapons and helped downed airmen and escaped POWs travel to safety. The Gestapo’s orders were clear and merciless: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.

Virginia Hall’s origins began in Baltimore where it soon became evident that she had no intention of heading down the road of life to housewifedom. After a year at Barnard and another at Radcliffe, she was off to Europe in 1926 to finish her education at the Sorborne in Paris and the Konsularakademie in Vienna.

Then came a series of frustrating attempts to join the Foreign Service. She did not do well in her first examination, so she decided to gain experience and try again while working for the State Department as a clerk overseas. It was while in Turkey, in December 1933, that she lost her lower leg in a hunting accident. After recovering at home, she was fitted with a wooden prosthesis that had rubber under the foot. She then returned to her clerk duties, this time in Venice, Italy, where her Foreign Service dreams ended: She was told that Department regulations prohibited hiring anyone without the necessary number of appendages.

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Panty sniffers

Nathan_panty_sniffer

Panty sniffer number one has a thing for American government employees’ underwear. He just can’t get enough of it. The more he sniffs the more he is shocked that skid marks not only exist but in some cases are downright disgusting. He considers that he is doing the American public a service by revealing the details, ( the dirty, smelly details ). He rejects the title ‘Panty Sniffer’ which suggests that he is in some way perverted for having a fixation with other people’s underwear and that he is a criminal for rooting around in other peoples dirty laundry searching for stains and other unsavory marks.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo by Walery/Hulton Archive/Getty Images The infamous Dutch spy Mata Hari, real name Margarete Geertruida Zelle, who was born in Leeuwarden the Netherlands and became a dancer in France is performing the Dance of the Seven Veils. (1906

Photo by Walery/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The infamous Dutch spy Mata Hari, real name Margarete Geertruida Zelle, who was born in Leeuwarden the Netherlands and became a dancer in France is performing the Dance of the Seven Veils. (1906

Who Was Mata Hari?

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Face of the day

Pippa Doyle

Pippa Doyle

One of New Zealand’s most secretive military organisations has opened its high-security doors for a 93-year-old woman.

Tonight, it was a meeting of war heroes when New Zealand’s Victoria Cross winner Willie Apiata kissed 93-year-old Pippa Doyle, one of the great if unknown secret agents of World War II.

Apiata was in the audience as Pippa – otherwise known as Phyllis Latour Doyle – received France’s highest decoration: the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur, the Legion of Honour (knight class).

 DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ TOP HONOUR: The Legion of Honour medal which was presented to Pippa Doyle.


DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ
TOP HONOUR: The Legion of Honour medal which was presented to Pippa Doyle.

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