Questions tagged [espionage]

Method of obtaining information about enemy or potential enemy by stealing their secret data. Espionage is strictly forbidden in most countries and heavily punished as work against the state security, but many countries still perform such actions against others, nevertheless.

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Where is the primary source for the Byzantine Office of Barbarian Affairs?

The Byzantine Office of Barbarian Affairs refers to the agency the Byzantines had to spy and deal with foreign affairs. I've seen this information across many sources (Wikipedia and blogs) but I can't ...
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Are there some concrete examples of the pre-1962 Soviet complaints in re CORONA spy satellites?

According to Pat Norris' book Spies in the Sky (p. 111) until the first successful Zenit flight in summer 1962 the Soviets complained bitterly to America about the CORONA flights. However he does ...
the gods from engineering's user avatar
21 votes
8 answers
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Why did the Soviets not shoot down US spy satellites during the Cold War?

The USSR was not happy with unauthorised overflights, shooting down everything it could, from spy balloons to U-2s. Also, despite repeated US proposals, something like the Open Skies treaty was only ...
the gods from engineering's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
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Did the microwave listening plot ever yield useful intelligence?

In Spycatcher Peter Wright mentions that microwaves can be used to detect sound-waves in a suitable tuned object without the need for it to have an active power source, and that such a device had been ...
Richard's user avatar
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Were the alleged CIA attempts to set up an economic spy ring in Japan in the 1980s disclosed in the Japanese press at the time?

According Brad Williams' book Japanese Foreign Intelligence, which also has a chapter (#2) on CIA's activities in spying on Japan, the CIA tried their hand at economic & tech spying on Japan in ...
the gods from engineering's user avatar
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How did Larry Wu-tai Chin's leak in Oct. 1970 — of a classified document — allow China "to alter [...] volume of anti-U.S. rhetoric in the press"?

In the course of his nearly forty-year espionage career, [Larry Wu-tai] Chin [金无怠] supplied the PRC with information on U.S. intelligence requirements and foreign policy initiatives relating to China, ...
user1147844's user avatar
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What was the Soviet reaction to the revelations about secret US programs like Projects ARTICHOKE, MKULTRA, MOCKINGBIRD, etc., revealed in the 1970s?

I imagine the perception among the party elites in Moscow would have been that all these programs, projects, experiments and so on were initiated with them in mind, and would have inevitably been ...
M. Y. Zuo's user avatar
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Were Russian female spies caught, because they exclaimed in Russian during child birth?

Actor Costa Ronin contends this, but didn't mention any names or evidence. https://youtu.be/PHcafz2Aon8?t=2323
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48 votes
3 answers
11k views

Why were the Allies so much better cryptanalysts?

When I read about World War II, more specifically about the use of cryptography in that war, I get the impression that the Allies were much more successful in breaking the enemy codes than the Axis ...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
411 views

Did German spies operate in Austrian territory up to 1914?

Germany in the years up to and during World War I, had an extensive intelligence network; in the US in particular, even prior to that country's formal entry into the war, they engaged in not only ...
rwallace's user avatar
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Were there any important spies in modern history who had to conceal their true nationality (or culture)?

This often comes up in movies, but I can hardly find any real cases, except for the "Illegals Projects" - but that doesn't seem like high-stake espionage, let alone successful. I'm thinking ...
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Did the US manage to eavesdrop on KMT communications during World War 2?

I was reading How frequently did the KMT use telegrams to communicate; from where (roughly) and to whom?, which contains a quote: Following is a telegram code "dictionary" used by Japan military ...
Flux's user avatar
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1 answer
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Have any spies ever managed to keep their identity secret from their handlers?

Having just started reading up on spies throughout history, I've just realized a new risk I hadn't thought of before, namely that once you've started spying you're at risk of being blackmailed into ...
ConanTheGerbil's user avatar
24 votes
1 answer
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Who was the most successful German spy against Great Britain in WWII, from the contemporary German perspective?

Reading up on this it appears to me many of Germany's spy operations inside the UK were pretty quickly shutdown. I investigated a half dozen spies who were captured by the end of 1942. Dorthy O'...
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8 votes
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What is the context for Glennon's 1956 intelligence gathering trip to the USSR?

In 1956, my father, John J. Glennon (Librarian of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, now the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) was one of the few fluent Russian speakers in ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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How realistic were von Papen's plans to invade Canada using "German cowboys" during the Great War?

While reading biography of Franz von Papen, I've found this hilarious information: Apparently, in attempt to stop Canadian support for Britain, he planned to dress up German and Irish Americans as ...
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Why does the CIA report on the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich refer to it as "Operation Salmon" rather than "Operation Anthropoid"?

SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Source: National Archives I have been researching Operation Anthropoid (the assassination of SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich on 27 May 1942 in Prague, ...
Kerry L's user avatar
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1 answer
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Was The Great Game a war? [closed]

I know that The Great Game was between UK & Russia and done through parts of Asia, Middle East & Europe. I was wondering if the Great Game was basically two empires trying fighting each other ...
Nonus's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Was Robespierre in the pay of the British?

I was looking for interesting books on French Revolution, when I stumbled across this history of British espionage in the late 1700s. The book is several hundred dollars, so I won't be able to procure ...
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Beside the USSR and the Chinese communist history, have there been other counterintelligence operations that turned into large scale witchhunt?

Few people realize that, when war is elected to settle disputes, one's comrades are just as dangerous as their enemies due to counter-intelligence operations. Allegations are often made to settle ...
George Chen's user avatar
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Is there a Chinese Intelligence Agency? Why is it not well known? [closed]

I'm curious to know why we never hear of an intelligence apparatus of China, as we do of CIA or KGB or FSB (Russia). British MI5/6, Mossad even Indian RAW make headlines or at least one finds them ...
kmansoor's user avatar
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1 answer
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How did the development of unbreakable and asymmetric encryption change warfare?

Modern encryption is generally considered mathematically impossible to break, unlike well-known historical instances like the Enigma. Additionally, asymmetric encryption negates the need to ensure ...
taway's user avatar
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7 votes
5 answers
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Have voice actors ever been used to impersonate military or political officials to trick the enemy into doing something? [closed]

I am mostly referring to WW2 and cold war when embedded spies could have impersonated officials on low levels to carry out orders which were never issued.
user3596375's user avatar
3 votes
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What were the names of the spy rings besides Culper during the Revolutionary War?

I want to know the names of spy rings beyond the Culper spy ring, that operated during the American Revolutionary War. Beyond just the name, it would be helpful to know where the spies operated as ...
capnleigh's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
688 views

What intelligence successes did the Axis have in WW2?

Most of us are aware of multiple Allied intelligence victories in WW2. But no such things about the Axis? Were they that inefficient? I have read various theories how Abwehr members were themselves ...
f444ran's user avatar
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2 answers
335 views

What was British spy Greville Wynne supposed to be selling?

I'm researching a history of the British hippy movement. I've interviewed an old hippy who claimed that he traveled to India along the hippy trail in a vehicle that had been converted for British spy ...
marchanti's user avatar
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2 answers
590 views

How efficient was the (Cold War) Red Scare? [closed]

How many spies were really caught in the Red Scare? We all know about the Red Scare and how damaging it was to many Americans and their families. However, given that the Cold War was so filled to the ...
Dzvfars Fdszvfvf's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

As many Germans fled Nazism, did some spies mix in?

Many German citizens fled Germany in the 1930s to escape persecution or discrimination. Some among them got jobs in the industry, or other potentially sensitive positions. Albert Einstein obtained ...
nic's user avatar
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Who was the highest ranking spy ever? [closed]

I wonder who was the highest ranking government official working knowingly and clandestinely for a foreign government. Two nominations are possible: Traitors A citizen of country X working ...
sds's user avatar
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What is the source of the claim that Enigma codebreaking efforts shortened the Second World War by years and saved millions of lives? [closed]

Since the release of the film The Imitation Game, it has been widely asserted that The cracking of Germany’s Enigma code shortening the war by two to four years and saving an estimated 14 ...
orome's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
2k views

Did a forged seal ever seriously compromise a political or military operation?

Wax and clay seals have always struck me as a rather imperfect security mechanism. Better than nothing, of course, but imperfect. So I was interested to learn that Los Alamos National Laboratory's ...
two sheds's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
900 views

How were middle ranking Nazis known to the allies before the end of the war?

According to Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding near the end of WW2 the allies created a large database ... known as CROWCASS, of war criminals which they intended to target once victory was achieved. ...
Tea Drinker's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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Security of war documents/letters during revolutionary war?

I was wondering the security of such documents. Documents like letters written by the British generals to each other communicating about their next battle tactic against the Americans. See this link. ...
Faahmed's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
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Why did America not know about Soviet espionage in manhattan project

I was watching PBS documentary Behind Closed doors. According to that documentary Churchill and Roosevelt were not really sure if Stalin really understood about 'the new kind of weapon' when they ...
Surya Gaddipati's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
11k views

What would be a typical rank for KGB intelligence officers spying abroad in the 1980s?

What would be typical ranks of KGB officers spying in the West during the 1980s? I know some Western spies were recruited by the KGB, that after defecting to the Soviet Union got/had ranks in the KGB ...
Baard Kopperud's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
491 views

The original Lord Haw Haw's life in exile (Ireland)

I am writing a biography about my great uncle "Capt Tom Smith" who fought in WW1, WW2 and the Spanish Civil War During recent interviews the name Norman Baillie Stewart (wiki link) keeps cropping up ...
stephenmyall's user avatar
19 votes
8 answers
8k views

Is there any research explicitly contradicting facts in Suvorov's "Icebreaker" book series claiming that Stalin intended to attack Hitler in 1941?

Viktor Suvorov is a somewhat famous ex-GRU spy who defected and wrote a series of books. The most (in)famous and sensational were a series of books on World War II, starting with "Icebreaker", which ...
DVK's user avatar
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12 votes
5 answers
4k views

What was the first spy agency?

Who started the first official spy agency in the world? By spy agency, I mean a dedicated team under the control of a ruler, who specialize in intelligence gathering and counter espionage. Something ...
Sardathrion - against SE abuse's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
1k views

During the Sengoku-jidai, what were shinobi (aka ninja) used for?

During the Japan Sengoku-jidai, several clans of shinobi were recruited by various war lords to help their military campaigns. What were they primarily used for? Was it covert espionage, ...
Sardathrion - against SE abuse's user avatar