Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, an American Spy; Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards: U.S. Counterintelligence and Covert Action

In This Review

Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, an American Spy

By Tim Weiner, David Johnston, and Neil A. Lewis
Random House, 1995
308 pp. $25.00
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Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards: U.S. Counterintelligence and Covert Action

By Roy Godson
Brassey's, 1995
342 pp. $24.95
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Having a "CI," or counterintelligence, mentality was for quite some time in the intelligence community regarded as a professional and indeed personal defect. As the Aldrich Ames case tragically revealed, however, that was an error of monumental proportions. Tim Weiner and his co-authors, New York Times correspondents all, have written an excellent journalistic account of the Ames saga, relying on the public record and interviews. There is an instructive, dismal chronicling of how the directorate of operations at the CIA protected a mediocrity, allowing him to become a devastatingly destructive traitor. Also instructive is the account of the CIA's unwillingness to come to grips with the implications of this case, including what it says about the folly of relying on lie detectors to plumb human nature.

Roy Godson's more scholarly and theoretical book provides a useful complement. Covert action has as bad a name as counterintelligence once did, and the author attempts to rehabilitate it. Much of the effort here is taxonomic -- describing principles of both covert action and counter intelligence -- and necessarily general, albeit well illustrated with historical examples. Both books are noteworthy contributions in a world in which spies play a significant and perhaps growing role.