The Spy Catchers: The Official History of ASIO, 1949-1963

The Spy Catchers: The Official History of ASIO, 1949-1963

Language: English

Pages: 736

ISBN: 1760290424

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For the first time, ASIO has opened its archives to an independent historian. With unfettered access to the records, David Horner tells the real story of Australia's domestic intelligence organization, from shaky beginnings to the expulsion of Ivan Skripov in 1963. From the start, ASIO's mission was to catch spies. In the late 1940s, the top secret Venona program revealed details of a Soviet spy ring in Australia, supported by leading Australian communists. David Horner outlines the tactics ASIO used in counterespionage, from embassy bugging to surveillance of local suspects. His research sheds new light on the Petrov Affair, and details incidents and activities that have never been revealed before. This authoritative and ground-breaking account overturns many myths about ASIO, and offers new insights into broader Australian politics and society in the fraught years of the Cold War. The Spy Catchers is the first of three volumes of The Official History of ASIO.

The Exile (Ryan Kealey, Book 4)

The Fractal Prince (Jean le Flambeur, Book 2)

The Last Man

Games of State (Tom Clancy's Op-Center, Book 3)



















aircraft for service on Australian domestic air routes. The Americans stated they had detained Maley on the basis of ‘completely reliable’ information that put him under the ‘excludable classes’ of the US Internal Security Act.53 Maley himself told the press that he had probably been detained because the Americans ‘thought he was a Communist’, but he denied that this was the case, although he refused to comment on whether he had ever engaged in political activities in Australia.54 The fervently

agencies throughout the world, and replies to this correspondence were often handed to the ASIO officers, sometimes in the presence of CPA members, by the lift operator, who delivered mail within the building. The intelligence gained by this operation was of very high quality, but ASIO succumbed to the temptation to use some of it in a ‘spoiler’ type operation—an operation designed to distract, disrupt or embarrass the CPA. A significant party crisis developed in mid-1958 over the expulsion of a

Melbourne, 30 September 1947, NAA: A6122, 223). 54 Fifth Venona Release, vol. 3, p. 294. 55 Ibid., pp. 36–7. 56 A later Venona decrypt showed that neither of the Moores identified by ASIO were correct and, further, that Moscow Centre had no interest in the correct Moore (ibid., pp. 157, 159). By September 1952 MI5 and ASIO had identified the correct Moore—one Stuart Henty Moore (memo, Richards to Assistant RD, 12 September 1952, ASIO records). 57 Report, Gamble, ‘Espionage and Aspects of

113 See, for example, Note for File, Director B2, 12 March 1963, ASIO records. 114 Memo, DG ASIO to RD ACT, 6 September 1965, ASIO records. 115 Memo, DG ASIO to RD Qld, 12 August 1968, ASIO records. 116 Interview, J.C. Griffiths, 17 March 2009. 117 Cherkashin with Feifer, Spy Handler, p. 70. 118 Hruby, Dangerous Dreamers, p 228. 119 Cherkashin with Feifer, Spy Handler, p. 73. 120 Memo, 11 April 1962, ASIO records. 121 Transcript, ‘Evidence of Sir Charles Spry’, 27 February 1976, NAA:

comprehensive list of CPA members, and also to develop procedures for vetting people who might need access to sensitive information. Vetting became a major ASIO preoccupation. Next, ASIO needed to deal with the threat of subversion. ASIO and the Government believed that the CPA, on behalf of the Soviet Union, was engaged in a long-term campaign to undermine the public’s confidence in the Australian democratic system and ultimately to overthrow it. Based on the statements of CPA officials, this

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