American Diplomacy

August 2005

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Book Review Editor’s Note

This special "Intel Issue" reflects the explosion in intelligence historiography and the cornucopia of declassified Soviet and American documents covering the Second World War and the Cold War that began following the end of the Cold War (1989) and the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), and which accelerated after the intelligence failures leading to 9/11. The revelations of the Venona files (in 1995)—the nearly three thousand decrypted telegraphic cables U.S.-based Soviet agents sent to Moscow during World War II— corroborated many of the findings based on the operational files of the KGB (and its precursors) and the confessions of defectors such as Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers. The complicity of Alger Hiss, Julius Rosenberg, Theodore Hall, Klaus Fuchs, and other Soviet agents is no longer in doubt. The lax internal security of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations facilitated Stalin’s ideologically-motivated agents’ (a number of whom were recruited out of and assisted by the Moscow-controlled Communist Party USA) extensive penetration of nearly every key U. S. government agency, including high-level positions in the departments of State and Treasury, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the Manhattan [atomic bomb] Project, Congress, and even the White House.

Nearly a generation of CIA declassification of OSS records (available at the National Archives) and oral history interviews with OSS veterans have produced a never-ending flow of books on the "shadow warriors," two of which are reviewed here. Also included in this issue are reviews of often neglected works on naval and military intelligence during the critical stages of World War II and the height of the Cold War. Our "lead review" examines the invaluable service of a CIA officer who "handled" the most important agent in American intelligence history — Oleg Penkovsky — the "spy who saved the world." In the coming months, more intelligence works will be reviewed in these pages, especially those focused on covert operations, terrorism, Soviet espionage in America, and more recent challenges to the intelligence community in the post-9/11 era.

What Spies for Admiral Nimitz?
Review by Robert Love

Spies for Nimitz: Joint Military Intelligence in the Pacific WarSpies for Nimitz: Joint Military Intelligence in the Pacific War. By Jeffrey M. Moore. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institue Press, 2004. Pp. xxviii, 300. $29.95 cloth.)

"Moore is clearly more at home explaining the complex inner workings of JICPOA (Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area) than relating its achievements to any broader understanding of the conflict with Japan." "

Business and marketing expert and State Department and Pentagon consultant Jeffrey M. Moore intended this book to focus "on the true nature of military intelligence—what it is, where it comes from, and how it can used" and to draw useful lessons from that study.

The title is misleading. Admiral Chester Nimitz employed few "spies"—other than the coast watching service in the South Pacific—and JICPOA (Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Area, the subject of this book, was far from "joint" and dealt with only the Pacific Ocean Area and not with General MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Area, which was served by a separate intelligence organization. In addition, Moore’s understanding of the prewar period falls prey to bunkum spread by the late Rear Admiral Edwin Layton and the late British historian John Costello concerning Admiral Richmond K. Turner and Commander Joseph Rochefort. Once the narrative turns to the war years, however, Moore’s command of the material improves.

Despite the importance of codebreaking to the outcomes of the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, Moore presents no evidence suggesting that Nimitz in-fused the Pacific Fleet intelligence organization with any great sense of urgency thereafter. Surprisingly, he lacked curiosity about awaiting his fleet in the South Pacific at Guadalcanal and seems to have allowed subordinates to enlarge the intelligence bureaucracy in Hawaii at an almost glacial pace, abetted by an occasional prod from the Navy Department in Washington. That important relationship is beyond Moore’s interest, which is to describe the functioning of what was, in effect, a tactical intelligence collection and dissemination center. Mostly what JICPOA did was to collate intercepts, capture enemy documents, reconnaissance photography, and a handful of POW interrogations into useful format which was distributed to tactical commands of four major campaigns: the Gilberts-Marshalls, the Marianas, Palaus, and Iwo Jima-Okinawa.

Moore adduces considerable evidence to demonstrate that JICPOA accom-plished its mission efficiently, with the exception of the blunders attending Iwo Jima. Although he largely exonerates JICPAC from that fiasco, one wonders if the experience burdened the increasingly dim view taken by Admirals Nimitz and Spruance of the planned invasion of Kyushu. Military and naval intelligence is populated with some of the more eccentric uniformed iconoclasts imaginable, but Moore’s account largely ignores the influence of personality, commenting merely that JICPOA’s longtime commander, General Twitty, was a "flexible leader." The least satisfactory and least readable part of the book is the final chapter on "Conclusions and Lessons Learned," which is a model for any of the hundreds of equally useless Washington reports produced by the cottage industry dedicated to "improving" intelligence.

Afflicted with some unusual notions—"Alfred T. Mahan was an American naval philosopher during the age of sail," for instance—Moore is clearly more at home explaining the complex inner workings of JICPOA than relating its achievements to any broader understanding of the conflict with Japan. He thoroughly exploited official histories, a few interviews, and some archival sources, although it is not clear where some of those primary sources are located. These shortcomings notwithstanding, Spies is the only documented study of Pacific theater intelligence during World War II and, therefore, an essential feature of any library on the struggle with Japan.

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Dr. Robert Love is a Professor of History at the United States Naval Academy and the author of the two-volume History of the U. S. Navy and a forthcoming study of Cold War and New World Order: America and the Powers since 1945.

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