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The Perfect Spy


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Todd Leventhal, the Minister of Disinformation wrote: Bugliosi quotes one of Oswald’s friends when he lived in Fort Worth, Texas, George de Mohrenschildt, who wrote: “I never would believe that any government would be stupid enough to trust Lee with anything important … an unstable individual, mixed-up individual, uneducated individual, without background. What government would give him any confidential work? No government would.”

The Perfect Spy

Once a year, in honor of Queen and country, a group of English gentlemen, all active or retired members of the British Secret Services, meet together, dine exquisitely, drink extensively and consider the scholarly proposition espoused by one of their own.

The orator’s topic is usually geared towards enhancing the power, position and prestige of their service, which has a heritage that spans centuries as well as continents.

At one such conventional reunion, held at some private London club or secluded Jamaican estate sometime after the end of the Second World War, the honor of addressing the gathering was bestowed to Ian Fleming, the former chief assistant to the director of British Naval Intelligence.

Fleming’s contemporaries received a lecture entitled: A Study of the Characteristics of the Ideal Secret Agent.

In a somewhat crude literary fashion similar to the style of a Raymond Chandler novel, Commander Fleming developed the theme that the type of agent needed to fight the Cold War had to possess certain pre-requisite qualities before he could be keenly and silently trained in the crafts and techniques of the professional spy.

Physically fit, healthy, confident, witty, cynical, sensible and deeply complex, the ideal agent is well read, liberally educated, logical and intuitively familiar with the scientific method of inquiry and analysis. He knows the rules, figures the odds and is generally lucky and adept at games. He has a natural knack for details, names, faces, dates and numbers and has meticulously refined research skills mastered. Although he gives the impression that he distains paperwork, he is in fact, a patient, neat and skilled administrator.

As one who prepares himself well for assignments “in the field,” he is capable of carrying out programmed, compartmentized instructions with absolute discretion, speed and precision. A technician who can operate and repair mechanical tools as well as the latest electronic devices, he is dependable in the clutch and can ingeniously improvise when necessary, with highly tuned senses and a physical and mental discipline that is strictly adhered to, he has a methodical approach to problem solving and loves competition and achievement in the face of adversity. Although he doesn’t behave outrageously, he is softly lethal and very much for breaking the rules to get an assignment completed.

As one who enjoys traveling meagerly, he is capable of operating at top efficiency in vastly divergent climates, terrain and cultures. Fluent in a number of languages and dialects, he is a man of the world, at home abroad and able to penetrate the topmost echelon of politics, commerce and society. Socially acceptable in dress and manners, he possesses sufficient charisma to take him anywhere in the world but is enough of an outsider to maintain complete objectivity and loyality. Not one to accept brides or submit to blackmail, he is as much of an autonomous blunt official instrument in the field as he is an anonymous grayfaced executive in the city.

Although Ian Fleming was describing the type of agent needed to fight the cold war of the second half of the twentieth century, he seemed to be paraphrasing Sun Tzu, who wrote about the type of secret agents needed in ancient China.

“We select me who are clever, talented, wise and able to gain access to those of the enemy who are intimate with the sovereign and members of the nobility. Thus they are able to observe the enemy’s movements and to learn of his doings and plans. Having learned the true state of affairs they return and tell us. Therefore they are called living agents.”

“These are people who can come and go and communicate reports. As living spies we must recruit men who are intelligent, but appear to be stupid; men who are agile, vigorous, handy, and brave; well versed in lowly matters and able to endure hunger, cold, filth and humiliation.”

David Atlee Phillips, who was seen talking with Lee Harvey Oswald in the lobby of a Dallas office building in the summer of 1963, was at that time responsible for the monitoring of the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City and for keeping tabs on the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) “in the hemisphere,” which would ostensibly include the continental United States, where Oswald had established the one-man New Orleans chapter of the FPCC. Shortly after being seen with Phillips, then operating under his cover name of “Maurice Bishop,” Oswald reportedly traveled to Mexico City and visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies there.

After being publicly identified as the mysterious “Maurice Bishop,” and retiring from the CIA, Phillips founded an association of former intelligence officers and wrote a number of books, including an autobiography – Nightwatch – 25 Years of Peculiar Service, the fictional Carlos Contract, and a book on promoting careers in the intelligence profession.

While Oswald and Phillips at one time both lived in the same Fort Worth, Texas neighborhood, Phillips was a pretty senior CIA officer, one who primarily used cut-outs and middle-men as case officers to handle pawns like Oswald, unless he wasn’t really a pawn at all.

In his book on Careers in Intelligence, Phillips notes some of the attributes needed to be a good intelligence officer, and shows how there are many different jobs in the field, including analysists, case officers and of course, spies.

One of the attributes needed for a career in intelligence is a military background, and Oswald as well as his brother, enlisted in the service before graduating from high school, with Oswald finishing his education and getting his high school diploma while in the Marines.

The one thing that Phillips mentions is NOT really a requirement to be a good intelligence officer, was a college degree, since he rose to the rank of the Director of the Western Hemisphere division of the CIA – the third highest rank, without a college degree.

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