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Secret Intelligence in the European States System, 1918-1989$
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Jonathan Haslam and Karina Urbach

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804783590

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804783590.001.0001

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“Humint” by Default and the Problem of Trust

“Humint” by Default and the Problem of Trust

Soviet intelligence, 1917–1941

Chapter:
(p.12) 1 “Humint” by Default and the Problem of Trust
Source:
Secret Intelligence in the European States System, 1918-1989
Author(s):

Jonathan Haslam

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804783590.003.0002

In this chapter, Jonathan Haslam demonstrates that in Stalin’s Russia, the vision of intelligence grew out of very recent revolutionary experience and operations against the counterrevolution. These circumstances created an atmosphere in which human intelligence (humint) was nearly always privileged over signals/communication intelligence (sigint/comint)—to the detriment of the Soviet Union’s security. Without an advanced deciphering apparatus in place, Haslam demonstrates how this prejudice for human intelligence emerged despite Stalin’s distrust of secret agents. Stalin’s skepticism of his human intel combined with a crippling deficiency in cryptanalysis at a time when cryptographic traffic was growing exponentially, became the Achilles’ heel of the régime.

Keywords:   Humint, soviet intelligence, human intelligence, sigint, signals intelligence, comint, communication intelligence, cryptography, cryptanalysis, NKVD

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