Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


This is coolbert:

With regard to the last blog about intelligence failures, I have touched upon this subject in passing before. And I have maintained that intelligence as a "business' is just a difficult field to work in.

And that there are two reasons for this. It is useful to refresh one's memory about this.

One reason of course is that your foe, whoever they may be, it using active measures to prevent you from finding out what you want to find out.

And these measures run the gamut from soup to nuts. Security clearances, classifications and controlled access, camouflage, crypto for message traffic using secret communications sources, etc. A whole range of measures can be employed, and are employed, by militaries all over the world to prevent secrets from being obtained by potential foes.

The second reason why intelligence is such a hard "business" is that while preventing you from finding out what you want to find out, your foe or potential foes is at the same time deliberately feeding you deception to fool you. Intelligence analysts always have to be on guard for the possibility that what they are seeing is all part of an elaborate deception scheme.

With regard to deception, here is an interesting observation I have made. Not really sure if this is true, my speculation only. But I would not be surprised if it is the real story. AGAIN, LET ME REPEAT, THIS IS SPECULATION.

In his book, "Beyond Top Secret Ultra", the author, Ewan Montagu, dedicates the book to one Tommy [Tomas] Harris, who Montagu describes as the greatest deceiver of us all.

Montagu was one of the men who formulated very elaborate deception plans that were successful in fooling German intelligence all throughout World War Two [WW2].

Montagu and his colleagues were helped in a massive way by having available to them the contents of the most secret communications of the Germans.

This was Ultra intelligence, the decryption of messages encrypted via the Enigma machine used by the Germans. These deception plans of the British were constantly being evaluated for efficacy by using feedback that allowed the perpetrators to know if their deceptions were working or not.

One of the men who formulated these deceptions was Tommy Harris. The son of an English father and a Spanish mother, and fluent in Spanish, Harris was effective in feeding deceptions to the Germans through the Spanish fascist regime of Franco, Franco being friendly to Hitler all throughout the war.

After the war, Harris ran an art gallery and made a real killing of a fortune selling the long-lost-works-of-art-of-the-masters to wealthy English patrons.

It may be here that Harris perpetrated his greatest deceptions of them all! A skill at deception and the art of deceiving others honed while working at war against the Germans.

It seems that Harris had the knack of finding long lost works of art that were deemed to be very valuable.

Too good of a knack for some.

It was observed that these long lost works of art were all authenticated by a master at authentication, Sir Anthony Blunt, who had worked for British MI5 [counter-intelligence], all throughout the war. A man of the highest repute and standing in British society.

This repute and standing was ill-placed however. It was only decades after the end of the war that it was revealed Blunt had been a Soviet agent from the start and all during the war years he committed massive treachery against his own country.

This did not prevent Blunt from prospering however! Blunt's skills as an authenticator of art were widely sought after, especially by the likes of Tommy Harris.

It may very well be that this is what transpired.

Harris had a legitimate artist paint a work of art. A work of art that closely resembled the style of an old master. Techniques were then used to age the painting so that it would appear to be an old artistic masterpiece of a "master". And Blunt, in cahoots with Harris, would authenticate the "masterwork", which would then be sold to an unsuspecting wealthy patron. A patron who was DECEIVED into believing this was the real thing. A tremendous killing was made by all deceivers!! Of course, as I have said, this is all speculation. Speculation based upon observations of persons in the know.

According to Chapman Pincher, British journalist who has written extensively on espionage matters:

"Many find it hard to believe that a 'gentleman' like Blunt would stoop so low as to be an ordinary criminal . . . There is also some evidence of behaviour of a kind close to forgery. It has been suggested by the art historian Christopher Wright that Blunt, under whom he studied, may have connived at the authentication of paintings knowing them to be fakes . . . In that context the friendship between the art dealer Tomas Harris, who found paintings, and Blunt, who authenticated them, when they were then sold to galleries at high prices, may be significant. Once an individual is committed to treachery, knowing it to be criminal, it may be easier to turn to other crimes"

To see an excellent web site with a very long and detailed account art forgers and their abilities to con and DECEIVE, click here.

Deception and the con game works well both in war and in peace. Practitioners do well regardless of the circumstances. PEOPLE BELIEVE WHAT THEY WANT TO BELIEVE!



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