Allan Newell returns once again to discuss Sarah Emma Edmonds, Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, honeypots, and the acoustic kitty. Also a pop quiz on spy terminology plus pop culture!

Music: “Shhh, It’s a Military Secret” by Glenn Miller



15 Responses

  1. loved the scenes in The interview, where they keep misspelling the honeytrapping into honeydicking.
    Not really spie stuff but funny!

  2. Sneakers is my fave spy movie, although it falls under Con/Heist as well, I suppose. Is this secretly a 2-parter? I feel it ended rather abruptly, and no mentions of Mission: Impossible or Get Smart, and certainly no mentions of all the nifty spy gadgets and possible causticity thereof!

    1. And there are a number of pics of movies above that weren’t mentioned during the episode (not to mention the key plasticine press “nifty spy gadget”). Please? 🙂

  3. My grandpa, of the snake nightmare fame, was in the RCMP before CSIS was formed and tracked a Russian spy around Canada. It’s the coolest story. He and his team had several cars and they would take turns trailing him, switching license plates or adding things onto the cars like something tied to the roof. They would race ahead on side roads to intercept him, but he eventually got over the border into the US and they had to stop trailing him. They ended up trashing all the cars because they drove them so hard over dirt roads. My grandpa’s version is longer and more interesting.
    He did a lot of cool stuff during his time as an RCMP officer.

  4. I’m a bit miffed that you guys did not talk about Kim Philby that much. Him and the Cambridge Spy Ring were so much more caustic, and so much more interesting, and so much more connected to everything you talked about than Klaus Fuchs, or the Rosenburgs.

    Philby was a Russian spy who rose to become basically the head of MI6 during the Cold War. As a member of MI6 he was responsible for sending agents in to spy on the Russians. As a Russian double agent, he was then telling the Russians where they were, and getting lots of them captured and killed. He was also connected through MI6 to the CIA and was leaking info about American spies to the Russians as well. When he was finally discovered, he and his family managed to escape into Russia as well. It was a HUGE deal. Fuchs may have released some data on nukes, Philby caused the entire western intelligence system to be turned on its head.

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was originally a book, and not a TV show. It was written by John Le Carre, which is an alias for David Cornwell who was an MI6 agent who was outed directly by Philby. TTSS was his fictionalized story about the Philby betrayal, and draws close parallels to what trying to track him down was like.

    Phiby even wrote his own memoir from Russia that describes what happened and why, called My Silent War. It’s a bit of a propaganda piece in that he was clearly being handled by Russian agents when he wrote it, but everyone who knew him out in the west who’s read it has claimed that it is factually a true book, but emphasis and the absence of some details are there.

    Philby even stole the name Kim from Rudyard Kiplings spy novel of the same title that talks about the early spy game between Russia and Britain that went on in India, “the Great Game”.

    So yeah, prime opportunity for some serious caustic spy stuff very clearly missed. I know Alan spent a lot of time doing his research on Fuchs and the nuclear spies, but it feels like such a missed opportunity.

  5. I love me some espionage really enjoyed this one guys thanks.

    On the subject of one time pads I came across an interesting phenomenon.
    Number stations.
    Radio stations set up to broadcast coded messages to agents in the field at set times in heavy code. The perfect answer of how to send instructions to an agent without giving him away. Broadcast the instructions over a wide area so there is no way for the other side to know who the intended recipient is. And all the agent requires is their one time code pad and a portable radio.
    The best thing about these stations is how incredibly creepy they sound.
    Most are just a voice reading out a string of numbers in a droning monotone but others used odd methods of identifying which message was intended for which agent.
    On “the gong station” each sequence of numbers would be proceeded by a series of oddly discordant chimes while my favourite had the messages identified by a child’s voice singing nursery rhymes .

    Heres a bbc article with a couple of creepy examples attached

  6. My mother, step father, sister and myself all sat down to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy when it was new. I fell asleep out of boredom, and awoke some time later (movie still going) to find my entire family had fallen asleep as well. Most boring movie I’ve ever seen.

    1. He was nearly mentioned: there was a brief reference to spies being taken out by radiological means near the start, but they never came back to it. Perhaps it was cut for time or content reasons. The recent investigation in the UK seems to be pretty clear about who- they think -dunnit.