"Spooks - The Private Use of Secret Agents" - Jim Hougan

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"Spooks - The Private Use of Secret Agents" - Jim Hougan

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:48 pm

I am tempted to transcribe this whole damn book. I am re-reading it and still being blown away by details I forgot about -- I intended to take notes the first time through, but it was just so engrossing I devoured it.

Still, let me begin the deluge with one anecdote that strains credulity, but please note this is actually real

Pg 89

In yet another, even more bizarre, instance, four moonlighting Dade County deputy sheriffs attempted single-handedly to topple the government of Haiti in 1960. Shooting their way into the Palace in Port au Prince, the deputies successfully took control of one wing and most of the Palace's exits. Unfortunately, they were unable to grab Papa Doc (who'd barricaded himself in another wing) and could do no more than hold down the fort, tour the torture chambers, and pray that the dictator would die of a heart attack. Outside, battalions of Haitian soldiers and Ton-Ton Macoutes massed behind flame trees and tanks, waiting to learn the fate of their leader. The stalemate might still be going on had not the deputies dispatched a servant from the Palace to buy cigarettes. On his way back the youth was questioned by a group of frightened generals who wanted to know how many companies were holding the Palace. [b]Told that there were only four guys from Miami, the generals rallied their forces to the sticking point, stormed the Palace and retook it.

The fate to the deputies has never been learned, thought they've achieved a kind of immortality at the State Department: whenever officials gather to discuss options for resolving conflicts with intransigent dictators, someone invariably jokes that "it may be time to call out the Dade County Sheriff's Department deputies."


The book is an absolutely monumental piece of original research. Instead of smugly judging the spooks from an archival distance, he met them all face to face and asked some very ballsy and well-calculated questions. Jim Hougan has done a lot of footwork in the service of real history.
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Re: "Spooks - The Private Use of Secret Agents" - Jim Hougan

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:50 pm

Warning, graphic

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pg 103

We may be tempted to believe that Mrs. Spindel's search for her husband's "real" identity, and her efforts to understand the "real reasons'' for his incarceration, are merely the delusions of a widow who can't face the truth. But I don't think so. Bernard Spindel was was arrested and indicted 207 times. And the only conviction he suffered in all his forty-seven years was the one alleging that he intended to provide information that others intended to use in the commission of a crime. It's obvious that someone wanted Spindel badly.

When I wrote that Spindel's conviction was ironic, I did so because he was responsible for eliminating more bugs and wiretaps than anyone in history. Trained by the Army Signal Corps as a wireman extraordinaire during World War II, he served as an intelligence officer until the end of the conflict. Turned down in his application for employment with the CIA, he became a private detective. In 1955 he joined the New York City Anti-Crime Commission as a technical advisor and quickly infuriated New York City police.

The commission, established in the wake of sensational revelation about police shakedowns and protected rackets, was an ad hoc citizens organization established to fight corruption. Spindel contributed in two areas. First, he showed how corrupt police were making private purchases of eavesdropping equipment and using it during off-duty hours to extort money and services from prostitutes, pimps, bookies, and heroin traffickers. Secondly, Spindel led an investigation that established the existence of a massive wiretapping operation that blanketed the entire East Side of the city; and that, moreover, police and special agents of the telephone were selling the information obtained from it. More than 125,000 subscribers were involved, including the United Nations, various consulates, socialites, corporations and businessmen (although the actual purpose behind the meta-tap was never fathomed.)

Having become the Serpico of both the NYPD and Bell Telephone company -- a dangerous move for a wireman -- Spindel plunged into the intrigues of the Dominican Republic. In the late 1950s, when Spindel arrived on the scene, the island had been ruled for more than twenty-five years by General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, a dictator of such perverse and monstrous proportions that State Department officials, notorious for their circumspection, saw fit to compare him to Dracula in their communications. A vain and vicious mulatto who affected blond face powder and resorted to "conking" his hair, Trujillo was the acknowledged inventor of the pornographic "snuff flick." Until his assassination in 1961, he was reputed to be the world;s most barbaric torturer, a connoisseur of other people's agonies. It was not enough to execute those who plotted against him: their eyelids must first be sewn to their brows, electric wires inserted into their ureters and colon and then pushed together so that an arc of flame passed between them. Even his sensual inclinations tended towards the bizarre and sadistic: a place procurer was responsible for delivering groups of forty women to his bed room three nights a week, receiving 10 percent of all public-works projects for his efforts -- while other couriers roamed the country in search of virgins to be deflowered. In the wake of his assassination, heart-shaking films were found in the palace by rebels.

...excessive description of contents follows...

...The films, made at the expense of politicial prisoners and their families, ad been a source of entertainment for Trujillo and selected guests at palace soirees. Nor was Trujillo said to have been the works of his regime: that honor goes to Johnny Abbes Garcia, chief of the island's Servicio Intelligensia Militar (the Military Intelligence Service, or SIM).
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