Today's intelligence community faces challenges that would have been inconceivable only a dozen years ago. Just as al-Qaeda's destruction of the Twin Towers heralded a revolution in global diplomacy, the events of 9/11 also threw two centuries of spy-craft into turmoil - because this new enemy could not be bought. Gone were the sleepers and moles whose trade in secrets had sustained intelligence agencies in both peacetime and war. A new method of intelligence had been born. The award-winning former Financial Times security correspondent Mark Huband here takes us deep inside this new unseen world of spies and intelligence. With privileged access to intelligence officers from Rome to Kabul and from Khartoum to Guantanamo Bay, he reveals how spies created secret channels to the IRA, deceived Iran's terrorist allies, frequently attempted to infiltrate al-Qaeda, and forced Libya to abandon its nuclear weapons.
Using accounts from ex-KGB officers, Huband vividly describes the devastation caused by the West's misreading of Soviet intentions in Africa, and explains how ill-prepared western intelligence agencies were when the Cold War was replaced by the perception of a new terrorist threat. Benefiting from privileged access to intelligence sources across the world, Trading Secrets provides a unique and controversial assessment of the catastrophic failure of spies to grasp the realities of the Taliban's grip on Afghanistan, and draws upon exclusive interviews with serving officers in assessing the ability of the major intelligence agencies to combat the threat of twenty-first century terrorism.
Mark Huband is a leading authority on intelligence and security issues and an award-winning former journalist, who held the positions of Africa correspondent for the Guardian and the Observer, and Cairo correspondent and later security correspondent for the Financial Times. He has written on subjects ranging from the civil war in Liberia to the emergence of political Islam, and is today the head of a global research firm.
Shortlisted for the Political Book Awards 2014
'...gives a glimpse of what spy agencies actually do and how they are evolving to combat new 21st-century threats.'
'Masterful and astutely argued.'
'Mark Huband has been to all the right places, meeting spies, jihadis and others who live in the shadows. Melding anecdote with analysis, he provides a robust critique of MI6 and the CIA, drawing parallels between Ireland, the Cold War in Africa, Iraq and the 'global war on terror'. Both thought-provoking and gripping, Trading Secrets is the essential book for those who want to understand how the spooks operate and why they get things wrong.'
Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News
'A thoughtful, authoritative and penetrating analysis of the role intelligence has played in the making of foreign and security policy. Mark Huband draws on his relationship of trust with the intelligence world to give a sympathetic but far from uncritical account of intelligence work and the challenges it faces in the information age. A book to read and re-read.'
Nigel Inkster, International Institute for Strategic Studies
'Huband delivers his insights with a wealth of first-hand accounts and titillating statements directly from the 'foot soldiers of foreign policy' ... this, together with a sophisticated account of both their successes and failures in maintaining the power of surprise through uncertainty, is what makes his work valuable.'
LSE Review of Books
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co LtdHardback
Publication Date: 18 Dec 2012
Number of Pages: 224