REVIEW: The Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency


By W. Thomas Smith, Jr. New York, NY: Checkmark Books, Facts-on-File, 2003. 282 pages.


An encyclopedia is defined as a comprehensive reference work containing full, complete, in-depth, thorough, wide-ranging, all-encompassing, accurate, exhaustive, articles on numerous aspects of a particular field, usually arranged alphabetically. Thomas Smith's entry into the field falls short on nearly every count, save it is alphabetically arranged. A journalist and onetime adjunct professor of journalism at the University of South Carolina, Smith takes a less than scholarly approach to his task and begins by characterizing the CIA as "the government's incarnation of the world's oldest profession."

The assortment of entries he has assembled is incomplete and filled with too many errors of fact. Examples of the latter include: saying that Churchill gave Sir William Stephenson the codename INTREPID (Churchill did not and INTREPID was not his codename); labeling Kim Philby a double agent who became a communist at Cambridge (both are incorrect); claiming that the "December 1975 issue of Counterspy published . . . the name, title, and home address of the Athens CIA Chief of Station (COS) Richard Welch;" identifying SMERSH as an assassination element of the KGB; claiming that FBIS is sometimes called the Foreign Broadcasting Intelligence Service and that it is the "CIA's broadcast journalism arm;" calling Mossadegh the head of the de facto government of Iran (it was elected); stating that Jonathan Pollard applied to the CIA while in law school (he did not go to law school); describing Robert Hanssen as a double agent, claiming that his espionage career began in 1985 (it began in 1979), and failing to mention his GRU approaches; calling James Angleton the "unofficial founder of CIA CI" (nor was he the official founder, for that matter), and alleging that he was "allowed to bug the residences and office telephones of high ranking officials . . . as he saw fit;" and claiming that the Signal Intelligence Service began "decoding the [VENONA] messages on 1 February 1943" (that happened much ..

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