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The Spy Catchers

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 organisation, 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.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables Preface Acronyms and Abbreviations Glossary Chronology Introduction PART 1: FEDERATION TO THE COLD WAR, 1901-1949 1 Counterespionage or Political Surveillance? Australia's Early Security Intelligence Organisations, 1901-1945 2 Adapting to a New Threat: Postwar Security and Intelligence in Australia, 1945-1948 3 Reacting to the Leaks: British and American Concerns about Australian Security, February-July 1948 4 Under Irresistible Pressure: Chifley Forms a New Security Service, July 1948-March 1949 PART 2: ESTABLISHMENT AND CONSOLIDATION, 1949-1954 5 Building a New Security Service: ASIO under Justice Reed, 1949 6 Trying to Crack 'The Case': The End of Reed's Term as Director-General, 1949-1950 7 Reshaping and Consolidating: Charles Spry Becomes Director-General of Security, 1950-1953 8 Contesting the Cold War: ASIO Confronts the Communists, 1950-1954 9 Watching and Recording: Field Operations against the Communists, 1950-1953 10 Vetting, Checking and Advising: ASIO's Protective Security Role, 1950-1954 11 Keeping Out Undesirables: Overseas Liaison, Refugees and War Criminals, 1950-1955 12 Moving Beyond 'The Case': Counterespionage Operations, 1950-1953 PART 3: PETROV AND THE ROYAL COMMISSION, 1951-1955 13 ASIO's Triumph: The Defection of Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov, 1951-1954 14 Out of the Shadows: ASIO and the Royal Commission on Espionage, 1954-1955 PART 4: EXPANSION AND PROFESSIONALISM, 1956-1963 15 Strengthening the Organisation: Legislation, Politics and Administration, 1956-1963 16 Seeking Comprehensive Coverage: Counter-subversion Operations, 1955-1963 17 Disruption, Propaganda and Exposure: Broadening the Counter-subversion Approach, 1955-1963 18 Searching for Illegals: Counterespionage Operations, 1955-1959 19 Resolving Doubts in the Commonwealth's Favour: Protective Security, 1955-1963 20 Building a Worldwide Network: ASIO's International Connections, 1956-1963 21 Return of the Russians: A Counterespionage Success? 1959-1963 Conclusion Appendix: Protecting the Identity of ASIO Agents: The Case of Mercia Masson Bibliography Notes Index

Promotional Information

With unprecedented access to their hitherto sealed records, this is the first volume of a remarkable official history of ASIO - a revealing and authoritative account of the early years of Australia's national security intelligence service.

About the Author

David Horner is the author or editor of 32 books on military command, operations, defence policy and intelligence.


"This is one of our most important official histories." The Hon. Kim Beazley, AC, Australian Ambassador to the United States of America"

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