Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kim Philby, The Observer Connection And The Establishment World Of Spies

Robert McCrum looks back on the notorious British traitor and spy Kim Philby and the old boys club.

One of the darkest and most enthralling British espionage stories of the 20th century turns 50 this month, still resonant with sinister meaning. It was on 1 July 1963 that the British government finally admitted what it had known for some time: that Harold Adrian Russell Philby – "Kim" to friends and family – was not merely living in the Soviet Union as a defector and a Russian spy, but was actually the fabled "third man". Later this archetype of treachery would become known, in the words of his biographer, as "the spy who betrayed a generation".

Philby was perhaps the most lethal double agent in the annals of British espionage. As a member of the Cambridge Five spy ring and a secret servant of the Soviet intelligence services, Philby was responsible for the betrayal of countless national secrets as well as the brutal elimination of many British agents.

At the same time he was a member of the British establishment, with a distinguished literary father and friendships with prominent English literati, such as Graham Greene, as well as with high-flying US spooks such as James Angleton, later to become head of the CIA. If ever there was a member of the club – two, as it turned out – it was Kim Philby, OBE.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Note: James Angleton rose to become the head of Counterintelligence in the CIA, but he did not serve as the director. Also, although Ian Fleming was a young journalist for Reuters prior to World War II, he was working as a stockbroker when he was recruited to serve in British naval intelligence. He was not, like Graham Greene, a "prominent English literati."    

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