Best Intelligence Organization During the Cold War

Discussion in 'Modern' started by Amsel, Jul 19, 2009.

?

Best Intelligence Agency

  1. CIA

    1 vote(s)
    5.6%
  2. KGB

    2 vote(s)
    11.1%
  3. SIS

    1 vote(s)
    5.6%
  4. MSS

    3 vote(s)
    16.7%
  5. SDECE

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. DGSE

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. BND

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. MOSSAD

    9 vote(s)
    50.0%
  9. HVA

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. Other

    2 vote(s)
    11.1%
  1. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    I am currently reading a very interesting book about the KGB called "Comrade J". It would be interesting to see some opinions and facts about Cold War intelligence agencies.

    Which organization was the best?
     
  2. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Shouldn't that list include SOE? After all, they were the best, in my humble view of course
     
  3. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Amsel, I hope you don't mind. I added a few others to the list. I know you had "Other" but I figured I would actually add some of the more prominent once. Only a few....

    MSS - Ministry of State Security (China)
    SDECE - Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage (France from until 1982)
    DGSE - Directorate-General for External Security (France from 1982)
    BND - Bundesnachrichtendienst (West Germany and now Germany)
    Mossad (Israel)
    HVA - Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (East Germany)
     
  4. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    Thanks Adler, thats much better.
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I voted for the Mossad. It seemed they had productive agents everywhere, where and when it counted.

    The KGB was a very close 2nd.
     
  6. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    The Mossad was quite efficiant it seems. The KGB also had some of the best field operators of any country. It might be that they could take advantage of the more lax societies. It was much more difficult to pentrate the iron curtain. Brutality seemed to go a long ways as well.

    The CIA probably had much better analytical abilities then the KGB but was probably hobbled(and still is) by the congress in their field operations.
     
  7. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    You know, if I'd read the thread title properly, and particularly the bit about COLD war, then I wouldn't have said SOE, like a tit.
     
  8. lingo

    lingo Member

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    As you may remember from my earliest posts, I served in the Intelligence services during the cold war period. I cannot say for sure who was the best as that information is not available to us and each nations files on the subject are too sensitive to reveal for many years to come (in other words when the agents and their moles are safely dead). I can give you a few impressions I gained at the time. The Russians and Americans had huge intelligence organisations, and funding and manpower was never a problem - but they were so big and unwieldy that very often they were working months in arrears of unfolding events. The Americans were every bit as surprised as the Soviets when the Berlin wall was breached. Neither had a single agency, but many overlapping (and competing) agencies wishing to expand its own' empire' at the expense of the whole. Frankly, they each had too many.
    I felt the British punched above their weight - as did many of the western European countries. The Eastern Europeans were also very good at their job - the Czechs in particular. The Israelis are renowned for 'humint' (human intelligence) The Americans for signals 'sigint' and a number of nations are expert at Satellite imagery. An awful lot has happened in the 20 years since I resigned from the Secret Squirrels' and I have been away from the game for too long to give more than the odd and out-of-date impression.
     
  9. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    Great info, lingo. I suspected that the Western Europeans agencies would probably be much more efficiant.
     
  10. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I'm surprised the Stasi has not been bought up. I would consider it an 'intelligence' agency - one which gathered intelligence on it's own people rather than those of another country or power bloc. It created a massive network of informers and amassed vast quantities of data on East German citizens. Rarely can the information-gathering apparatus of a state have been so pervasive and so invasive as the Stasi was...
     
  11. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I think the Soviet (and related) intelligence had the advantage over the West of not having to follow any rules, but I have to give it to Mossad. One screw up could cost them their entire country.
     
  12. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    I've been reading about how the CIA set up its Soviet intelligence network. Formed during the ashes of WW2 a large number of SS and Wehrmacht officers who served in an Intelligence capacity on the Eastern Front during the war were given amnesty from war crimes prosecution to help with this...
    One particular ranking Abwehr officer (Generalmajor Gehlen) was the main go-between for this network and the US Intelligence services in the early Cold War. He remained active until the 1968, from what I understand he enjoyed quite an affluent lifestyle (details are unconfirmed).
    Their base was near Munich, with 3000 ex-German wartime Intelligence staff and operated under the name The South German Industrial Development Organisation throughout the Cold War (and probably beyond).

    It's just interesting that one of the best Intelligence services of the Cold War era was Abwehr and the SS-Sicherheitsdienst, under CIA control of course.
     
  13. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    MI5 had a long reach considering its relitive size but as with nearly all the services, most of the moles and defectors etc had been active some time before the cold war really got started . Positioning was well under way as soon as the defeat of the axsis forces became fairly certain, which was IMO mid 1942.
    As to which was the best each had slightly differing remits so comparing like for like is very hard but as a cold war focused group I suppose MI5 working with the CIA punched pretty good but the CIA was and is the most potant and powerfull
     
  14. lingo

    lingo Member

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    The National Security Agency (NSA) is the controlling organisation in the States.
     
  15. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    No its not lingo its the NRA:)
     
  16. lingo

    lingo Member

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    Oh dear! :oops: My brain cells are diminishing at an alarming rate these days. I must learn to stop relying on a failing memory!
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I'm surprised too. They did alright gathering intelligence in West Germany too. It's easy for a German to pass him/herself off as.. err..a German,maybe get a job in the President's office! Remember why Willy Brandt had to resign.

    The KGB had the advantage of recruiting assets when we were on the same side as them. Men like Klaus Fuchs (the atom spy) and many idealistic Englishmen who thought they were helping the fight against facism.What may have been true in the 1930s/40s most certainly wasn't by the 1950s.
    British intelligence was totally compromised by the 1960s so the idea that it "punched above its weight" is ridiculous. This also lead to a long lasting distrust and souring of the relationship between the British service(s) and those of their closest ally in the United States. Intelligence sharing was curtailed for many years.

    As far as internal security services go MI5,and its allies,including the Republics G-2,, did a proper job on the IRA. Arguably the main reason it finally gave up the armed struggle and comitted itself to the political process. A senior police officer at the time once told me that no significant IRA man could "take a leak without us knowing".

    Steve
     
  18. lingo

    lingo Member

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  19. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    The Stasi has been brought up. The HVA was the foreign intel service of the Stasi.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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