The worst spy disaster in Western history arguably involved Kim Philby and his Cambridge ring of spies, although the leaking of our ISIS source to the Russians has the potential to top that.
During the war, British spy Nicholas Elliott pulled off a major coup, helping German Erich Vermehren of the German Abwehr and his wife defect. According to Ben MacIntyre’s book “A Spy Among Friends,” Vermehren provided lists of Germans willing to oppose Hitler, as well as the inner workings of the German spy agency. Hitler dismantled the Abwher, but by the time he rebuilt it, it failed to uncover D-Day details.
But Elliott blabbed it all to fellow spy Harold Adrian Russell “Kim” Philby, a highly ranked British intelligence officer who secretly was in league with the Russians since his days at Cambridge. Philby made sure that the list of German anti-Nazis was safely placed in Josef Stalin’s hands. By the end of the war, when the Americans and the British came looking for those who opposed Hitler, they found thousands of them had been slaughtered, not by the German dictator, but by Soviet spies. It helped facilitate the rise of East Germany and the repressive Stasi that maintained a brutal form of communism until the Berlin Wall crumbled.
Time and time again, Philby moved smoothly through the British “old boy” spy network, made up of the country’s upper crust, at Mi-5 and Mi-6, at cocktail parties. Anything that England learned, the Russians subsequently discovered, and moved in for the kill. Philby ordered the torture and death of many a Russian spy for the West, such as Konstantin Volkov and his wife.
Think I’m saying Donald Trump is Kim Philby? That’s clearly not the case. Philby was a slick, odious man who seemed to relish turning names over to death squads, more interested in power than ideology. He was more like ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin. No, Trump is more like naïve Nicholas Elliott, British spies, American CIA agents, and anyone else who gossiped about their spy work over drinks with Philby. They are who Russia calls “useful idiots” for a reason.
So now we know that Israel had a spy within ISIS, feeding us great information. Or we once did. Many speculate that after we “declassified” the source to the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavarov (who defends Bashir al-Assad at every turn, including covering up his gas attack), our source inside ISIS was liquidated. This is the very reason why U.S. intelligence agencies are highly reluctant to share information with the White House. Ever wonder why ISIS goes soft on Russia and its Syrian ally Assad, killing more Americans and our NATO allies? Meanwhile, Richard Spencer’s torch-wielding white supremacists chant “Russia is our friend.”
Think I’m being biased on the subject? Think again. I’ve attacked Obama for labeling ISIS “the J.V. team.” I’ve been called out, by name, in the L.A. Times for criticizing Hillary Clinton for her lax email security. But this is far worse.
Sometime this summer, when a bridge blows up killing a host of commuters, or a rogue with an easily accessible AK-47 guns down a slew of partygoers on holiday, or a stadium is destroyed thanks to a crude bomb, you remember who made it all possible: our number one enemy (ISIS) and those we shared our source with (our number two enemy), and how our source was burned.
John A. Tures is associate professor of political science at LaGrange College; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JohnTures2.