Nice book review

The Forest Hills Connection, a local e-magazine, on Jan. 11 posted the following review about my book:

“More than a few of us took up walking the neighborhood last year to get some exercise and pass the time under shutdown orders. Mark Fitzpatrick did more than that. He turned up a number of hidden historical treasures on his walks around Tenleytown, AU Park, Forest Hills, Van Ness and North Cleveland Park. He first wrote about them on Facebook, and at his friends’ urging, he wrote a book.

Spies, Bombs, and Beyond: A Walking History of Washington DC’s Tenleytown is a collection of rich, eclectic histories of 70 sites in the area.

Fitzpatrick’s focus shifted to his Tenleytown/AU Park neighborhood and walking-distance destinations when Covid-19 curtailed his retirement career as a cruise ship lecturer on the politics and history of the cruises’ destinations. Before that, he spent 26 years as a U.S. diplomat and then was a director at a London institute, writing books about nuclear dangers.

Fitzpatrick tells Forest Hills Connection that even before the pandemic hit, the Tenleytown Heritage Trail had piqued his interest in local history.

One wonders how many pairs of shoes he has worn out exploring Tenleytown and uncovering local connections to famous figures including Charles Dickens, Henry Kissinger and Kermit the Frog, lesser-known luminaries including a Revolutionary War hero, and some infamous figures, such as the spies of the title.

Fitzpatrick’s favorite chapter is about Kim Philby, the famous double agent, and his connection to Tenleytown. …”

Jonathan Pollard now in Israel, Dec. 31

News that convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard flew to Tel Aviv on December 30 on a private plane provided by Sheldon Adelson deserves a coda to the tale in my book about the Israeli Embassy (story 53). Most of that story was about the Pollard saga, starting with his arrest:

“On November 21, 1985, US Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard and his wife, Anne, tried to drive through the embassy’s security gate by tailgating an Israeli diplomat’s car. The Pollards had realized they were being surveilled by the FBI and the Naval Intelligence Service (NIS, which in 1992 changed its name to Naval Criminal Investigative Service) and wanted to claim asylum. Israeli security guards blocked the car, however, and moments later the feds showed up to arrest the pair….

“Pollard had been spying for Israel for the previous 16 months, providing some 800 publications and more than 1,000 US government cables. Several times a week, he loaded his briefcase with documents for delivery to the Israelis, who copied and returned them. They paid Pollard, who had the codename Hunting Horse, a monthly $2,500 stipend, cash for expensive vacations, an engagement ring for Anne, and other rewards.

“In 1987, Pollard was convicted and became the only person ever to receive a life sentence for spying on the United States on behalf of a country considered to be an ally. Although Israeli authorities initially denied any involvement, they acknowledged in 1998 that he had been an Israeli asset and granted him citizenship. They also unsuccessfully lobbied the US government at the highest levels for many years to seek his freedom. He was a point of diplomatic tension, as well as a dubious cause célèbre for many ardent supporters of Israel….

“In betraying the United States, Pollard offered his services to four other countries besides Israel. Even if he had only spied for Israel, however, most experts say Pollard would still have deserved strict punishment for selling crucial US secrets. He eventually was released on parole in 2015 in accordance with federal guidelines in place at the time of his sentencing. Following his conviction, Israel insisted it stopped espionage activities in the United States.”

Press reports about Pollard’s parole conditions ending on November 20, 2020, and about his arrival in Israel, where he was greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, described it as Trump’s “parting gift” to Israel. There is less to this “parting gift” than meets the eye, however. Five year after he was released from jail, Pollard’s parole restrictions expired. He served his time and met his parole conditions. The only sense in which it was a “gift” is that the Trump Admin could have asked for an extension of Pollard’s 5-year parole travel restriction, keeping his status as a chit for leverage in pressing Israel on settlement issues. But Trump wasn’t pressing Israel on that anyway.

In another sense, the end of the Pollard saga is a gift to Joe Biden, who now will be the first president in 35 years not to have the Pollard case clouding relations with Israel.

“Strolling among spies,” Dec. 18

My book, Spies, Bombs, and Beyond” features today in the Cuba Money Project blog, about efforts to bring a democratic transition to Cuba. Here is the post:

‘A new book takes readers on a walking tour of a Washington, D.C., neighborhood that has been home to everyone from covert agents for the Cuban government to Henry Kissinger and Kermit the Frog.
The book, “Spies, Bombs and Beyond: A Walking History of Washington, DC’s Tenleytown,” was written by Mark Fitzpatrick, a career diplomat, author and historian.
press release about the book states:
“From Indigenous quarries through superpower competition to conspiracy theories like #pizzagate, Washington DC’s Tenleytown and its environs have offered a microcosm of the nation’s history. Oliver Wendell Holmes and Charles Dickens wrote about the town long before its streets and corridors were thick with spies.
“Exploring 70 sites, Spies, Bombs, and Beyond walks readers through the neighborhood, connecting the local to the global and the past to the present. Mark Fitzpatrick examines how diplomacy works and how espionage (sometimes) fails by exploring nearby embassies and the residences of ambassadors and traitors.”

Mark Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick has served at U.S. embassies in South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Austria. He also held senior posts at the State Department in Washington.
His website states:
“As a diplomat for 26 years, Mark wrote hundreds of reporting cables (all in the name of whoever was ambassador, and some of which came to public light through Wikileaks).”
One chapter in his book is dedicated to the stories of several people who spied for Cuba, including Gwen and Kendall Myers. See “Espionage: The Myers case 10 years later.” Fitzpatrick writes:

Kendall seemed to have had a midlife crisis after he hit and killed a teenager at a time when he was divorcing his first wife. He started working for Cuba in 1979 after a two-week visit there at the invitation of a Cuban agent he had met at a Georgetown soiree. At the time, Kendall was working in an unclassified job at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI). (This was the year that I joined the State Department and was myself attending classes at FSI.) Later he applied for an intelligence position at the State Department at the suggestion of the CuIS.
At times, the couple passed information to their Cuban handlers at the Giant Food supermarket at Wisconsin Avenue and Newark Street and other grocery stores by exchanging shopping carts. This required letting the other side know beforehand what groceries they wanted.

Earlier today, Fitzpatrick agreed to answer a few questions about his work.

Cuba Money Project: Is part of the attraction of Washington, D.C., the fact that it’s a city of intrigue, a place where even today we can imagine that spies and double agents could be our next-door neighbors?

Fitzpatrick: For political junkies, Washington is the center of the universe, the epicenter of superpower politics. This confluence of power also means it a center of intrigue, all of which makes Washington, D.C., an alluring city. In researching the history of my corner of the city, I was surprised to learn how many spies lived in and near DC’s Tenleytown and how much espionage was conducted from its streets. A few blocks away from my wife and me, for example, is the house where notorious British double agent Kim Phliby lived from 1949 to 1951. I tell his tale in my book, along with that of his fictional daughter, created by novelist Daniel Silva, who had her living on my street, in a house that sounds much like mine. So yes, it is easy to imagine that spies could be a next-door neighbor.

Cuba Money Project: As a former diplomat, how do you see the cases of such people as Kendall Myers and Ana Belen Montes? Do you have any sympathy for either one? Can we learn anything from their cases?

Fitzpatrick: I never can understand why officials who take an oath of allegiance would break that oath. The reasons commonly cited for betrayal – lucre, ideology, despair and excitement – are wholly outside my own frame of reference. The more I read about turncoats like Kendall Myers and Ana Belen Montes, the more disgust I feel. My own sacrifices as a Foreign Service Officer were minimal, but I know colleagues who lost their families and their health because of service to the United States. Many also lost their lives. For Myers and Montes to use their government positions to assist the enemy betrays those sacrifices. Over the years, I have personally disagreed with many of the policies of my government, but when I was an official, after making my case internally, I saluted and carried out the decisions of my chain of command. The Myers and Montes cases remind us that some people choose a very different response. In my book, I called the Myers couple “liberals gone bad.” This is nothing pejorative about liberals; I count myself as one. On the other end of the political spectrum, FBI turncoat Robert Hannsen was a conservative and a member of Opus Dei. The lesson I draw is that traitors can come in all political persuasions.

Cuba Money Project: Do you have any sense for how Cuban espionage in Washington, D.C., has evolved over the years? Are Cuban spies and their operatives as active as ever?

Fitzpatrick:. I am not able to give a good answer to the question about how Cuban espionage has evolved over the years. When I started the research that became my new book, I expected that most of the spying cases involving Washington would have been hatched in the Kremlin. But I found cases also involving Japan (before WWII), Israel, India and, of course, Cuba. Among the latter, I only studied the three cases explored in my book: Kendall and Gwen Myers, Ana Belen Montes, and Jennifer Miles. I am sure that Cuban agents continue to be active. Much of their activity is directed at the Cuban exile community, centered in Miami, rather than Washington. No doubt that Cuban agents are also engaged in cyber espionage, as is the case with other U.S. adversaries. I would not be totally surprised if another case came to light like that of Myers and Montes.’