C-SPAN Booknotes
Anthony Cave Brown: Treason in the Blood
Program Air Date: January 15, 1995
For more information about this program, visit www.booknotes.org
BRIAN LAMB, HOST:: Anthony Cave Brown, who was St. John Philby?
ANTHONY CAVE BROWN : He was Kim Philby's father, a character in this book in his own right. He was recruited at an earlier age into a very privileged and elite class, the Indian civil service, to rule the Indian subcontinent, went out to Punjab, became disenchanted with the raj and--as it was known, and entered into the service of King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. I am...
LAMB:: Let me interrupt just to say the picture that we're showing, St. John Philby is the older man.
BROWN:: St. John Philby was much older in that photograph, but in his younger years, he was very much like Kim Philby, his son.
LAMB:: Standing right next to him.
BROWN:: Standing right next to him, yes.
LAMB:: Go...
BROWN:: But you'd...
LAMB:: Go back to what you said, all these little terms. What was the raj?
BROWN:: The raj was an Indian term for the body of laws by which the Indians governed themselves, and gradually it became the appellation for the Britons who ruled India at around about the turn of the century.
LAMB:: Where was St. John Philby born?
BROWN:: St. John Philby was born in Ceylon, then a part of the British Empire, very typically English ruling-class family, military background, senior military appointments and one of the colonists who went out to build the coffee industry in Ceylon at the turn of the century. They were an upper-middle-class family of repute Danish origin going back to the 16th century, and much admired in quarters through which they moved.
LAMB:: What years did he live?
BROWN:: What? St. John Philby?
LAMB:: Yes.
BROWN:: He was born in 1885 and he died in 1960 in Beirut.
LAMB:: And just a quick capsule of--during his lifetime, what did he become?
BROWN:: In the service of the British government overseas he became, in turn, a revenue assistant in Punjab, in India. He then went out to what is now Iraq during World War I to become a political officer with the invading British armies in Iraq. He was then detached from the political service in what was then Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq--detached from there to go on a special mission by camel across the Arabian Desert to a little-known Arabian prince called Ibn Saud, who later became king of Saudi Arabia. St. John Philby's mission there was to arrange for Ibn Saud's tribesmen, of whom there were many thousands, to rise and provide a flank guard to the advance by Lawrence of Arabia in the advance on Damascus and Jerusalem.
LAMB:: What year is this?
BROWN:: This was 1917, 1918, 1919, in there. As such, he became--St. John Philby became second only to Lawrence himself in his prominence as an Arabist. He returned to London at the end of the war and was then appointed again as minister of internal security in the state of Iraq, a term which was then brand-new and which meant in Arabic `the cliff.' St. John Philby was one of the people who rapidly fell off that cliff. He found himself disaffected--seriously disaffected with the British government and its various policies toward the Arab states and the Balfour Declaration and that sort of thing. But his career was saved by Winston Churchill, of all people, who appointed him as political agent to the first king of the first state of Jordan. In other words, I think he must have been King Hussein's, the present king's, great-grandfather. He remained there in that appointment until about 1926, when, again, some of his disaffection began to show itself and he was found to have been in unauthorized--what they called unauthorized correspondence with Ibn Saud, who was still the ruler of what is now Saudi Arabia. Unauthorized correspondence carried with it the connotation of espionage. That is to say that he was using the information which he gained in the course of his post, his work for the British government--he passed that information to Ibn Saud. Ibn Saud was then bent on becoming the principal ruler in all the Middle East and he was very close to success at that time. He'd already occupied the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and he was about to march on the Red Sea port of Jeddah. In all those activities, he was quite vitally assisted by St. John Philby, who was able to advise him about how far--that is, Ibn Saud--how far Ibn Saud could go in occupying all Arabia without incurring the wrath of the British government, which was then the principal power in the Middle East. From that appointment, he became what was virtually principal adviser to Ibn Saud in foreign affairs, a position that he enjoyed for the next many years up until 1953, when Ibn Saud himself, his great friend, died. They were, in fact, very great --close, personal friends, and that friendship is very reminiscent of this business of what happens when the wise man from the East meets the powerful and titanic man from the West. It was quite a moving friendship in many ways.
LAMB:: Let me ask you this overall question. If I'm watching you talk about this book and I'm an American --of what value--you're talking about a world that a lot of people don't understand. What's the impact on America of these two men?
BROWN:: The impact was this: that in 1934, Ibn Saud's treasury was in danger of going bankrupt and he decided for the first time to permit infidels, foreigners, Westerners into Saudi Arabia in order to prospect for the minerals there. There were huge quantities of--King Solomon's mines were there, there was a huge --whole mountain ranges of quite high-grade iron ore. There was also oil. King Ibn Saud wanted to sell the oil concessions, but he was uncertain who he should sell them to, and under a certain amount of pressure, he did agree to sell them to the British government. However, St. John Philby was anxious, as always, to do his own government in the eye, managed his affairs so that the oil concession went to the American company Standard Oil of New Jersey--Standard Oil of California as it was then. Subsequently, of course, that became the Arabian-American Oil Company, and as the State Department described that company in some testimony, it was, as it remains, the richest commercial prize in the history of the planet. That modest maneuver on the part of St. John Philby, in regard to the oil deposits in Arabia, brought revenues worth trillions to this country. And as they say in oil circles, it made America rich or perhaps richer.
LAMB:: By the way, where are you from?
BROWN:: Well, I'm a Briton. I was born in Britain.
LAMB:: And where do you live now?
BROWN:: And I live in Virginia and have done since 1975. How long is that?--1975 to the present day.
LAMB:: What have you done over the years for...
BROWN:: I've been doing books. This is my 10th book and almost all on the same type of subject, just...
LAMB:: What's the "Bodyguard of Lies"?
BROWN:: The "Bodyguard of Lies" is an account of all the intelligence operations which went into the D-Day operation in Normandy on the 6th of June of 1944. It was that book that brought me to Washington in the first place, although I'd been here as a correspondent on many occasions in the past, ever since 1960--the Cuban missile crisis brought me here, first of all.
LAMB:: Who'd you work for then?
BROWN:: I was with one of the London dailies, The Daily Mail, in London. But the thing that caused me to take up residence here was the Freedom of Information Act, which had just been introduced when I was working on "Bodyguard of Lies." And the title derives from one of Churchill's statements in World War II, that truth in war is so precious, she should always be protected by a bodyguard of lies, hence the title. The principal element in that book, "Bodyguard of Lies," was the--first of all, I managed to obtain knowledge of and break that story about the breaking of the German codes, Ultra, which came from a connection of mine here in Washington. The other big thing was, of course, the cover and deception plan for D-Day, the plan by which Eisenhower was able to misinform and thereby outwit the mind of Hitler about where, when and how we were going to land, a very important book. It's still regarded as, I'm glad to be able to say, a classic these days. Then it was an authentic best-seller.
LAMB:: This book combines the story of St. John Philby and his son, Kim Philby.
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: Has that ever been done before?
LAMB:: Is there new information in this book?
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: Where'd you get it?
BROWN:: Where did I get it? Where does one ever get it? You just wander around in a disconsolate fashion interviewing people until you finally find the man that you've been looking for all these years.
LAMB:: The reason I ask that--one of the things in one of your notes in the back is that Rufina--is that the way you pronounce it?
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: His fourth wife--Kim Philby's fourth wife showed you his unpublished memoirs or some papers that he has?
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: Has that ever been--anybody ever written about that before?
BROWN:: Well, they were sold just recently by Sotheby's, so to that extent they are now in the public domain. At the time that I saw them, which was 1990 and 1991--I was there twice in Moscow--they had not been--they were not in the public domain at that time. And curious enough, it was the KGB, the Soviet intelligence service--the old Soviet intelligence service--their offices which arranged the meetings with Rufina Philby. They went very well for about--and she, in turn, introduced me to more of Philby's colleagues in Moscow. A very good connection, indeed.
LAMB:: Now...
BROWN:: She made a great fortune out of these things, as you probably know, when she sold them at auction in Sotheby's in London.
LAMB:: How much?
BROWN:: I think about in July of--oh, probably a quarter of a million pounds, around about--What?...
LAMB:: Four hundred thousand dollars.
BROWN:: Four hundred thousand dollars, which is a fortune by her standards.
LAMB:: We've got to get back to that eventually, but Kim Philby--what impact did he have on the United States? And when did he live?
BROWN:: Well, he lived between 1912--he was born in India--in British India, in the Punjab, and he died in May of 1988--quite recently--in Moscow. He was a chip off the old block, very much his father's son, first--in regard to his intellect, which was an extraordinarily polished and developed brain--trained classically, educated at Trinity College in Cambridge, which has got to be one of the oldest universities--or the oldest colleges in the world. But at a very early age he became addicted to Bolshevism, and after some adventures in Vienna he was, in fact, recruited at the age, I think, of 19 or 20. He was recruited into the Soviet intelligence service as a secret agent. His job: to penetrate the British secret service at the highest levels and, if needs be, to spend his lifetime doing so. Kim's communism wasn't unknown in either Oxford or Cambridge, and he had great difficulty in fulfilling his Soviet mission and did so only in 1941, when, for reasons that are not clear, the British Intelligence Service did, in fact, decide to employ him in a very important position. We'd just recently broken the German intelligence service's ciphers, codes, and this was providing us with information about what was going on inside Germany on a very large scale. The area which he was assigned to was the Iberian Peninsula--Spain, Portugal, the Spanish and the Portuguese empire territories, Portuguese and Spanish North Africa--where we were going to land a very large number of troops--the United States and Great Britain--in 1942. So he controlled one of the active theaters, a place where the intelligence services met eyeball-to-eyeball, a very dangerous place. And his principal job was disinformation. This he was a master at, not only...
LAMB:: What kind of a guy was he?
BROWN:: He was built very much like his father: squat, but extremely attractive, very facile, but not so facile that it would lead you to suspect him of anything. He was in many ways a master of the art of acting because he managed to conceal what he really was, which was a Soviet secret agent, effectively, for the next 40 years without anybody really ever catching a whiff of what his real activities were, and it was that that made him so dangerous. He trained an entire generation--the earliest generation of foreign counterespionage people who came over from the United States and thereby made some very important contacts, not the least of which was James Jesus Angleton, the head of the--who became head of the foreign counterespionage service, of which, curious enough, Ames was a later member.
LAMB:: Aldrich Ames.
BROWN:: Aldrich Ames, yes.
LAMB:: Just...
BROWN:: Now this was a very important appointment because in due course he was sent as head of the British secret service in the Americas, which meant that he was responsible for the service in all its operations in the Western Hemisphere. He was based here in Washington, and it's one of the curiosities that the place where you go for lunch, just around the corner here, what's the name of that hotel?
LAMB:: Hotel Bellevue.
BROWN:: The Bellevue Hotel, yes.
LAMB:: It's right across the street.
BROWN:: Right across the street--that was the place where Walter Krivitsky, the one person in the United States who did know Kim Philby's name and did know the truth about his allegiances, was murdered in 1941--early 1942.
LAMB:: Who was he?
BROWN:: Walter Krivitsky was one of Stalin's sort of super-agents, super-spies overseas, and he had defected to the United States in about 19--the time of the great purges, in about 1938. Krivitsky was giving evidence about the identifications of Soviet agents in the West, up here on the Hill, and the Russians evidently feared that he would name the Cambridge Five, amongst others--Hiss was another one, I gather, that was being bruted about at the time. Well, Krivitsky spent the night in that Bellevue Hotel in room 421. The next morning, the chambermaid found him shot dead in his bed. The windows of the room were locked from the inside and the door was locked from the inside so, of course, great thought was given about how it was that the assassin got into the room and how he got out of the room, locking the doors from the inside. That has never been figured out by the FBI or anybody else. The FBI was called in and so was the Washington Police. So these were--as you can see, the Russians were quite prepared to employ murder, assassination in a foreign capital, an Allied capital, in order to protect the identity of these particular agents.
LAMB:: You mentioned Alger Hiss.
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: Also you mention in your book that--again, another Whittaker Chambers connection--was it Krivitsky that stayed at the farm?
BROWN:: No, that was Krivitsky's wife.
LAMB:: They'd stayed at Whittaker Chambers' farm up here in Maryland?
BROWN:: That's right. She took sanctuary there after her husband's assassination, and there were curious connections which were never really proven or understood down in Berryville and sort of the Virginia area. But the importance of that Bellevue murder operation was very great at the time because the British Intelligence Services brought Krivitsky to London to what is known as debrief him, to try and establish what it was that he knew. And he did, in fact, identify one of Philby's colleagues, Maclean--Donald Maclean--sort of semi-identified him and identified various others. He was then sent back to this country by the British in a submarine, curiously enough, and it was on the morrow of his arrival in this country that he was executed by these gunmen who got into the room at the Bellevue Hotel. So that's where you lunch, my friend, and...
LAMB:: Not every day.
BROWN:: Not every day, no.
LAMB:: Once in a great while. But, you know, another thing you learn early in your book is that this little book that you can now buy for about $3.95 in a bookstore has something to do with where Kim Philby got his name.
BROWN:: Yes, but the Rudyard Kipling's "Kim" was one of the most infectious novels of its time, perhaps the most infectious. It produced the notion of complete loyalty to the crown: the young officer on the frontiers of the empire, serving India and England for the common good, as it was regarded. "Kim" became very famous and affected--infected an entire generation of young Englishmen with these notions. It's an extraordinarily romantic story and beautifully written, of course, because it is by Rudyard Kipling. And Kim, whose real name was Harold Adrian Russell Philby--his father nicknamed him Kim. It appears that St. John Philby was quite close to Rudyard Kipling, and certainly, they all sort of grew up and worked in the same area, Lahore, in the Punjab. Kim became first Kimbo when he was born and then Kim. And that appellation stayed with him for life, throughout the British secret service, throughout his association with what is now the Central Intelligence Agency, throughout his intelligence operations on behalf of the British, the American and the Russian governments simultaneously in the Middle East. He became known to all as Kim. When he reached Moscow he became known to Semichastny, the head of the Soviet intelligence service, as "Keem" and he went to his grave "Keem" Philby. Rarely has such a nickname attached itself to a man of his distinction for life because he was distinguished in the peculiar way that spies sometimes acquire distinction.
LAMB:: You write--this is a big book.
BROWN:: It is a big book.
LAMB:: How long did it take you to write it?
BROWN:: Oh, you know, I signed the contracts in October of '88. I started work almost immediately, but I've been living with it for some considerable time beforehand because I did the biography of Philby's boss, the legendary Sir Stewart Menzies, Churchill's spymaster. So I've been living with it through that time. I'd worked with Philby, of course, between '58 and '63--no, '62 in Beirut, so I knew a great deal about this man.
LAMB:: Did you ever meet him, by the way?
BROWN:: Yes, I did. I worked with him very closely.
LAMB:: You worked with him?
BROWN:: Oh, yes, in the great capitals of Arabia, the Middle East and that sort of thing.
LAMB:: With Kim Philby.
BROWN:: Oh, yeah.
LAMB:: For how long?
BROWN:: Well, I went ashore with the US Marines in Lebanon in 1958 and there he was. He was well-known to us all. There he was, sitting there on the terrace of the St. George Hotel drinking his vodka and V8. So we all went to see him because, of course, he was the great authority--greatest living authority perhaps in many ways, on the politics of the Middle East. And this talent he acquired from his father, who was...
LAMB:: And his father was still alive in '58.
BROWN:: Still alive at that time, yes.
LAMB:: And lived in Lebanon.
BROWN:: Lived in Lebanon, in exile from Saudi Arabia. He'd offended the Saudis, as one can easily do.
LAMB:: In 1958, did anybody in public know that Kim Philby was a double-agent or did they know--did he have a public profile in '58?
BROWN:: Yes, you know, you saw him...
LAMB:: In this country?
BROWN:: You saw him yes, in the Middle East we used to see him every day more or less. In this country his name was known to the people whose business it was to know these things. He had already been publicly exonerated of the charge that he was a Soviet secret agent by the foreign secretary, then Harold Macmillan, in the House of Commons. An allegation had been made against him that he was, in fact, implicated in other espionage matters and so the British government found it necessary to exonerate him, and then promptly re-employed him in the British Intelligence Service in Beirut.
LAMB:: And there was a case that I read in your book that Harold Macmillan stood up on the floor of the Commons and exonerated...
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: ...Kim Philby from being a spy.
BROWN:: Yes, a Soviet spy.
LAMB:: And after--yeah, not...
BROWN:: But he didn't exonerate him from having been a British spy. I mean, I don't think he would go that far. However, he was quite--it is not clear that anybody really understood, either in Washington or in London, where Kim Philby's loyalties really lay. He was regarded as being not quite a--at this stage in his life not quite lily white, as they used to say in the CIA.
LAMB:: Now how much personal interaction did you have with him when he was alive?
BROWN:: Oh, I was of another generation, much younger man. He was in many ways, a snob--a terrific snob, so that I wasn't quite in the same class. I wasn't at Trinity College; he was. But I must...
LAMB:: At Cambridge.
BROWN:: At Cambridge, yes. But amongst his contemporaries, they had very close interaction. The CIA kept lists of those people with whom he was closely connected, and one of those lists came into my possession. I quote it in the book where, of all the people--they were all of exactly the same social grouping and age particularly. He was very conscious of the fact that I might be a watcher, street eyes, as they used to call people who watched Kim Philby, younger members of the British Intelligence Service.
LAMB:: How many times was he married?
BROWN:: He married a Viennese Jewess, he married--well, he entered into a relationship with an English country woman of good birth and good background, as they used to say. But he didn't--she bore him four children, but he didn't marry her for some reason or other connected with the Soviet service until long after the war, when he was almost forced to marry her by the possibility that he might be exposed to the British Service as having Soviet connections.
LAMB:: Let me just show the audience these two pictures...
BROWN:: Yeah.
LAMB:: The one up on top is of?
BROWN:: That's the Viennese girl that he married in order to give her the protection of his passport, and also it was she that arranged affairs so that he met his recruiting officer in the Soviet intelligence service. She was a young Austrian Communist.
LAMB:: How about down here?
BROWN:: And this was his common-law wife, Aileen, who used to ride the hounds of--extremely well-known, a very prominent family. He married her in order to give him the protection he felt that she could provide to him as cover in the British Service. They did not marry--although she bore him four children, they did not marry until quite late. As I recall, it was around about 1949 or so that they got married, and they did so only because people were becoming aware of the fact that she was his mistress rather than his wife and that he had four illegitimate sons by her. So it felt prudent the two of them should marry.
LAMB:: You write, as I started to say earlier, I wanted to ask you this: As I read it, I kept trying to follow the path through all this. Did you ever get lost in this thing?
BROWN:: Yes, many times.
LAMB:: So it's not unusual when you're reading this to say, `Hold on. You got another couple of chapters to go before you figure this out'?
BROWN:: Yes. Well, first of all, you're dealing with a huge canvas. I mean, it starts in 1885 and it goes through to 1988, when Philby finally died. That's the point when you've got two World Wars. You've got an enormous political development such as the Russian revolution up to a point; you've got the whole question of the early years of the Cold War; you've got the whole question of the development of the CIA as an instrument of world power; and then you've got, finally, the British loss of the Middle East, partially at least through what Kim had to tell the KGB. They've always claimed that his dispatches to them were of the highest importance politically, so it seems reasonable to suppose that he was pretty much aware of all the joint Anglo-American policy decisions in regard to military and economic political operations in the Middle East.
LAMB:: Again, he ended up dying in Moscow.
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: But how many years did he live his last years?
BROWN:: Well, he vanished from Beirut. They were going to arrest him or there were signs that he was going to be arrested. He vanished in January of 1963, and he did vanish. Nobody knew quite where he was for the coming six or eight months, when he did surface in Moscow and made a statement about the reasons why he had `betrayed a generation,' as it was known at the time. That was in July of 1963, and in that same year, very little was heard of him again for 25 years. During that period, he was serving in the Soviet intelligence service.
LAMB:: So for 25 years in Moscow we didn't hear about him.
BROWN:: Very little. There was mutterings and sputterings and things of that description for quite a long time, but nothing which enabled anyone to get a picture of how this man was living, what his work was or anything like that. He was, in fact, the authentic Soviet secret agent at work in the Lubyanka in Moscow.
LAMB:: What's the Lubyanka?
BROWN:: The Lubyanka's the headquarters of the Soviet service.
LAMB:: Now you talk a lot about Pushkin Square.
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: Where is that?
BROWN:: Pushkin Square is--you know, it's sort of equidistant between the Lubyanka, which is near the Kremlin, and his residence, which was at a place called Patriarchs Pond in Moscow. We subsequently found out where it was he was living and how he was living.
LAMB:: Did you go there when you were...
BROWN:: Yes, many times. I mean, that's where I did all my interviews with--well, I spent about two weeks there, I suppose, in his apartment there.
LAMB:: Who's still living connected with the Philby name?
BROWN:: Well, he's got--to my certain knowledge, he has two sisters and they're still about, but I think they've changed their names. In any case, I made no attempt to see them because, while it might have been desirable that I did so, first of all, I couldn't find them, but more particularly, the whole question of the Philby case, the Philby affair, the spy case of the century, as it was known at the time, shattered that family to such a degree that I felt that it would be more compassionate if I lay off them. I knew what I wanted to know and that was the end of the affair. Then, of course, there was Kim Philby's own children. He had five, one of whom, incidentally, was named after George Washington, the American president. Harry George Philby was so named after Harry Truman and George Washington, keeping with...
LAMB:: Why?
BROWN:: The reason was, you know--well, he was a high-ranking British official in this country…
LAMB:: Kim Philby was.
BROWN:: Kim Philby was, yes. And...
LAMB:: For how many years?
BROWN:: Oh, not very long. It was about sort of 20 months, something to that order.
LAMB:: And he was assigned to the embassy.
BROWN:: He was a press secretary at the embassy here, and his actual job was to liaise between the British Intelligence Service, which was then a frightfully important thing, and the CIA, which was then forming.
LAMB:: What years again?
BROWN:: This was 1949, 1950 and 1951--half of 1951. And he felt--you know, since his newborn boy might be appropriate to name him as a tribute to two of America's most illustrious presidents. He did that at his father's suggestion, by the way. Father wrote to him and said, `You really ought to call the boy George Washington Philby.' But he thought that was going too far, so he called him Harry George Philby.
LAMB:: Let me ask you about a couple little things because...
BROWN:: Yeah.
LAMB:: ...time moves so fast. Graham Greene--here's a picture of...
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: ...Kim Philby and Graham Greene. Where was this taken?
BROWN:: That was taken in Patriarch--the house in Patriarch's Pond.
LAMB:: Graham Greene on the left.
BROWN:: Greene on the left, Philby on the right--on the occasion of Graham Greene's state visit to Russia. He was very popular with the Soviet government.
LAMB:: And where was Graham Greene from?
BROWN:: Well, he was in the British Secret Service; he was an Englishman; he was a rising young novelist at the outbreak of World War II. He became very closely attached to Kim Philby, and Kim Philby to him. But nobody's completely sure where that affection developed and how long it really lasted.
LAMB:: Politically sympathetic?
BROWN:: Yes. Oh, very much so, yes. But Graham Greene was very hostile to some of the policies of this country. At around about the time of McCarthyism and then into the Vietnam War, he was--of course, that was where the--"The Quiet American," the character that he invented in the Vietnam War, arose--was his observations in regard to a certain American diplomat in Saigon during that war.
LAMB:: There's other little things: the third man. There were--you keep referring to whether or not Kim Philby was the third man.
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: What does that mean?
BROWN:: Well, Kim Philby had recruited two of his colleagues at Cambridge: one was Guy Burgess; the other one was Donald Maclean. Both became important Soviet secret agents, and the object behind this Soviet development of these men was that they would rise from these exquisite colleges into the upper reaches of the British civil service. They would enter the Foreign Office. They would become ambassadors, knights of the realm, lords, peers--all that sort of thing, all the while being Soviet secret agents. There were five such men altogether of whom Burgess-- more important than the supposed--Donald Maclean was clearly a vital--of course, he became chief of the American desk at the Foreign Office in London.
LAMB:: Maclean and Burgess had a relationship...
BROWN:: Maclean and Burgess had a relationship. Yes, they did.
LAMB:: ...together?
BROWN:: They were brought together through a curious sort of secret society in Cambridge called The Apostles and had much to do with each other then and with Lord Rothschild, the heir to the banking fortune, and Kim Philby and St. John Philby and indeed, the whole--the high levels of the Foreign Office were in some way or another connected with this group of five. They'd all been educated together. They'd grown up together. They come to high places together. They fought in the same World Wars together. They have much the same political and social attitudes.
LAMB:: Why did they turn against their country?
BROWN:: A combination of youthful idealism--it was quite commonplace in those days for young Britons of privileged birth to become Communists. But once having become a Soviet secret agent, it was a job not just for a weekend or for a month or even for a year but for life. You were committed. And if you sought to re-defect, to return to the causes of Britain or the United States or wherever it was, chances were that you would either be liquidated, as was Kravitsky around the corner here, or your employers would be informed about your activities during the last 10, 20 or 30 years or whatever it was, which could often lead or could quite easily lead to jail sentences and things of that description. But once they got their tentacles into you, you were finished if you tried to act in any independent way. What did happen-- you've touched upon--these things are almost theological in their complexity, and I try to keep them simple. But it's no more possible for me to keep them simple in my conversation with you than it is in writing this book. That's why it took so long, four and a half years of trying to simplify and make sense of a matter of almost theological complexities. You must remember you were dealing with a situation which very much like the religious wars of the 16th, 17th centuries--that collision between capitalism in the West and communism in the East.
LAMB:: But you then in the fairly--in the middle of the book start the discussion about James Jesus Angleton that we showed earlier and it's a face--matter of fact, I showed one picture. I want to get the one that was taken over in South Kensington in London. And that Kim Philby had a tremendous impact on his life.
BROWN:: Yes. Yes.
LAMB:: Now, tell us more about him.
BROWN:: I think it's true to say that Philby destroyed Angleton's existence. Angleton was the son of a wealthy American-Spanish--American father, Spanish mother who joined the old Office of Strategic Services. That was the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency. During World War II--went to London, was trained by Philby in the arts and crafts of counterespionage in the Iberian Peninsula. He was admitted to what was virtually a brotherhood. This whole group of men became a brotherhood, simply and solely because they had acquired the ability to read the German supreme command's ciphers. That ability was political power on a scale which most people have never experienced before and are unlikely to have experienced again. Secret intelligence is political power on the grand scale. And so Angleton joined the club. They became great friends. How far their friendship went and what it entailed is anybody's guess.
LAMB:: Did Angleton ever write about it?
BROWN:: Never.
LAMB:: When'd he die?
BROWN:: He died in--a year to the day before Philby did.
LAMB:: Did you talk to him?
BROWN:: I did, at great length, yes.
LAMB:: Did he tell you what the relationship was?
BROWN:: He did tell me, but I'm afraid I forgot all about it because it was a drinking session in the Madison Hotel around the corner here. He was a huge and heavy drinker. Here, too, was, in a way--was a classicist, a Yalie, so that he had much in common with Philby's peculiarities, of Philby's turn of mind. And what we cannot establish--this is where it starts to get that theological complexity of which I complained before. What we can't establish is how much Angleton knew about Kim Philby's loyalties.
LAMB:: Was Angleton loyal to this country?
BROWN:: There, again, we can't be sure.
LAMB:: Is that where you are controversial on all this?
BROWN:: Very. Angleton was investigated internally by the Central Intelligence Agency at a very high level. There were three investigations: one to establish the nature of the operations that he ran within the counterespionage department at the Central Intelligence Agency, the art department into which Ames went.
LAMB:: Aldrich Ames.
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: Explain who he was for those that might not...
BROWN:: Well, he's the man who's just recently been found to have been a Soviet secret agent himself.
LAMB:: The biggest in the history of America?
BROWN:: No. Yes and no. Who can really assess these things? The problem with the Ames case is that he was entirely venaled. Unlike these fellows, this was all ideological. You know, it was like a religion, a faith, a belief that was implanted at youth and stayed with them for life, in many cases. The problem about Angleton is this: He was investigated--very high-level investigations went on for a period of about eight years: one, to establish whether he was himself a Soviet secret agent; two, whether or--how he ran his department and the objectives, policies that he pursued within that department; and the third one was a history of the activities of Angleton and the espionage department of the CIA. Done by men who are expert in that particular arcane, Byzantine activity. They were all retirees. They were all brought in from the outside so that they couldn't be contaminated by this group and this mass of affections and relationships which grow up in that game. They sat down independently and they arrived at the conclusion, one, that Angleton was not a Soviet secret agent. But can you imagine the effect that it must have had on Angleton's reputation when it was even suspected that he might be a Soviet secret agent? The second thing was the nature...
LAMB:: But wouldn't he be used to this? I mean, in that sense of the job that...
BROWN:: No. You know, Angleton was a pretty illustrious fellow, a pretty august personality. I mean, he was number three in the Central Intelligence Agency in many ways. He operated completely independently from the rest of the institution.
LAMB:: Was the CIA director afraid of him?
BROWN:: I can't tell you that. I can't answer that. You'd have to go ask Helms. Helms was his boss and patron for most of his life. So all in all, when Angleton was fired by William E. Colby, he was fired for a minor case. But behind that lay a very serious matter indeed, and it's never been finally resolved whether Angleton was completely loyal to this country. They did make one finding against him. This has never been revealed, but they did find that he'd acted apparently in the interests of the Soviet Union over an important espionage--his knowledge of an important espionage case in Germany, one that had many repercussions.
LAMB:: At what time, though?
BROWN:: 1960, 1970, in there. But as I've already explained to you, you know, these matters get terribly Byzantine, and he who does not know all the facts--you know, poor, average human being such as myself--he who does not know all the facts shouldn't sit in judgment. There are games within games within games within games, and everything's embellished, of course, in a riddle.
LAMB:: Let me ask you, though, a couple quick things. What are your conclusions about a number of things--is this country well served by its intelligence community?
BROWN:: Oh, brilliantly. It took a long time to get there, but brilliantly so.
LAMB:: I mean, in other words, as we sit here today, the CIA is a good operation, in your opinion?
BROWN:: Yes, I think it is. And I think you've got your share of klutzes, you know, the sort of person that should not be there, but most of those fellows really are high-grade--very high-grade men who've devoted themselves to the secret service of their country, and as such, usually are people of impeccable bearing.
LAMB:: Did you ever serve the British Intelligence group?
BROWN:: Never. No, I never...
LAMB:: You've never worked for anything like that?
BROWN:: No, as a correspondent they used to ask me to do a little spying for them--you know, go and see the number of MiG fighter pilot planes on--Habbaniya airport in Iraq, or ask President Nasser this question or that question. But this was the limit of it. We were all approached in that sort of way at that time. But to be employed by the British Intelligence Service, absolutely not, no.
LAMB:: Where were you born?
BROWN:: Bath in Somerset, an old, rather pretty Georgian town.
LAMB:: Where did you go to school?
BROWN:: I went to school in Luton, a town in Bedfordshire, which was quite close to my father's work at that time. And that was a grammar school. It wasn't one of the illustrious universities.
LAMB:: Are you still a British citizen?
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: You intend to remain so.
BROWN:: I do.
LAMB:: How long do you expect to live in the United States?
BROWN:: Oh, I married an American, so...
LAMB:: When?
BROWN:: This was in Paris in 1978.
LAMB:: Do you have a family, children?
BROWN:: By a previous marriage.
LAMB:: How many kids?
BROWN:: Two.
LAMB:: And when you are dealing with intelligence like this, do you get a lot of unsolicited phone calls when people know you're working on somebody's reputation?
BROWN:: Well, I'm really not working on anybody's reputation. I'm working on a set of historical facts. You see, secret intelligence really is the obverse side of ordinary, day-to-day politics. It's the secret side of great events. And I'm not very much concerned with people's reputations, unless it becomes necessary to do so, as in this case. I've had to pay a lot of attention to the conduct of office--of people like Angleton. I never get any phone calls simply because I've got an unlisted number and I don't think anybody really believes that it's worthwhile giving me strange calls and that sort of thing.
LAMB:: What's the most effective tool that you have then when you go after a book like this? And what I'm talking about are...
BROWN:: Well, it's a basic knowledge. Basic knowledge went back to the question of "Bodyguard of Lies," which was...
LAMB:: What year did you put that book out?
BROWN:: That was 1975. The events which I described occurred in 1944. And I built up a very wide range of people engaged in political warfare, secret intelligence, that type of activity at that time. And that was the generation which handed on the sword to the ones like Philby and Angleton became representative of.
LAMB:: Did Kim Philby hurt his own country, Britain, or his own, you know...
BROWN:: Of course, that's the old question of the value of espionage itself.
LAMB:: And did he hurt the United States in any way?
BROWN:: Yes. To the extent that it was grievous. It was very, very serious indeed. He was in a position--well, let me roll back a minute. Allen Dulles once said that to be effective, the Secret Service must be secret.
LAMB:: Who's Allen Dulles?
BROWN:: Allen Dulles was the director of Central Intelligence Agency at the time that Philby was here--great friend of Kim Philby's. So Philby knew the identities of all the key officers in the CIA and the British Intelligence Service and the French and the German and everybody else who were about to fight the Cold War, which gave the Russians an immense advantage from the start. The second thing is he knew a great deal about the codes and ciphers and methods of signaling so that the Russians had job of intercepting those communications were greatly assisted by Philby himself. They could see at a time when World War III seemed to be both imminent and inevitable, he was in such a position that he knew what we were doing. He was reading portions of the American war plans, Strategic Air Command war plans. And the question about the early formation of NATO and the rearmament of Germany and Japan, who until recently had been--he was very closely acquainted with all the weft and warp of strategy, tactics and policies as they were at that time. And as such, it could have been deadly had war broken out, as was expected in 1953, or it was estimated that world war would break out in 1953.
LAMB:: You write that General MacArthur's--about his assertions that Philby, as well as Burgess and Maclean, that you talked about...
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: ...the three in that group, had betrayed the plans and the order of battle of the US 8th Army in Korea to the Communist intelligence services and that 30,000 men had been killed, wounded or captured through that betrayal.
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: Did those...
BROWN:: I think that illustrates what I've just said. The whole question in government and especially in their alliances, there are one or two positions which are of the utmost importance, where the occupants of those desks read everything from every side, and Kim Philby had that position. Now the relationship between the British government and the United States government was extremely close at that time. Once again, the British were assisting and advising the Americans on the establishment of their own intelligence, foreign intelligence and security services. They were launching on a very large scale joint operations in all corners of the globe against the Soviet Union. There was a great deal of war planning. Don't forget that at that time Britain had a very large navy. It had the world's second-largest air force, second only to the Strategic Air Command. And the army available to Britain was a particularly good one, which could be deployed very rapidly in Europe and the Middle East and that sort of thing. So that the intimacy started by Eisenhower and FDR had--the intimacy between those secret arms of government had strayed over into the Truman administration. As late as 1949 there was still a British military mission stationed within the Pentagon to arrange affairs should war break out or to engage in joint planning. Now Philby occupied that position and he was still sitting there with the stuff going across his desk when the Korean War broke out. Nobody could be quite sure at that time whether this was going to--what the opening shots of World War III--it seemed very probable that they were. You must remember that the United States--Truman declared a state of national emergency when the Chinese suddenly attacked across into Korea, as they did late--or midway through that campaign. Philby knew these things. He was in a position to advise his Soviet friends in Washington about the most innermost decisions of the two governments here in Washington, as represented on the one hand by the State Department or the Pentagon and on the other hand by the British Embassy or British Joint Staff Mission. Now I want to stress something about that Korean business, whether the information that he passed to the Russians resulted in the deaths of all these men. It's the opinion of Dean Rusk, who was an eminent State Department official of the times, that everything that was decided in the Truman administration was made known to the British government in the person of the ambassador up there on Massachusetts Avenue, and that in turn found its way very rapidly to the intelligence services at the Kremlin. They in turn passed it to Peking and there to their representatives in North Korea at that time. This has never been proven. It's much suspected and with every justification. But William Manchester, who was MacArthur's biographer, managed to contact Philby in Moscow and placed these questions before him. Philby naturally denied that anything he'd done while he was in office in Washington in any way caused the destruction of the or the near destruction of the US 8th Army there; that he was responsible for the deaths of 30,000, 50,000, 60,000--these numbers are quite freely booted around. But in the end, the conclusion was that through Philby, the Soviet government learned enough about the deployment, the limitations of the force, the lengths and breadths of the strategy in Korea to be able to launch the Chinese counteroffensive at the right place, at the right time with the right weight and with terrible destructive force. If my opinion was asked for--and it often is on this case--I would say that Philby did, in fact, provide the Soviets with that type of information.
LAMB:: At the end of your picture section, you have a picture of his fourth wife and the casket in 1988.
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: In the end, did Kim Philby believe--at the end--in communism? And what kind of a send-off did...
BROWN:: That's an excellent question because the weird thing about ideological warfare is that: Can a man sustain it for life? Can maintain the beliefs of his youth right throughout his middle years to his deathbed? And in the case of Philby, he did not sustain his conviction that the bright ism of the future was communism. He never turned against Marxism, but he did turn against the Soviet form of communism. And here, again, we meet the ultimate enigma in the Philby case, and that is: Who was he working for at the end of his life?
LAMB:: Is there a movie in this book?
BROWN:: Yes.
LAMB:: When?
BROWN:: Well, United Artists have got it. They bought it even in manuscript form. So I imagine--Daniel Day-Lewis is supposed to be taking the lead part and Hugh Whitmore is doing the script.
LAMB:: This is the book. This is the cover, "Treason in the Blood," the story of H. St. John Philby and his son Kim Philby by Anthony Cave Brown. And we thank you very much.
BROWN:: Good to be here.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1995. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.