Our Spy War with China
By TARA McKELVEY
Published: August 5, 2011
作 者：TARA McKELVEY
In May 2004, the F.B.I. special agent James J. Smith found himself in an uncomfortable spot: he had to tell a federal judge about an affair he’d had with an informer, Katrina Leung, a San Marino, Calif., businesswoman with “jet-black hair,” while his wife and son were sitting in the courtroom. “Argh!” he later wrote to friends.
2004年5月，联邦调查局特别探员James J. Smith发现自己处于一种令人不安的境地：他必须告诉联邦法官他与情报人员卡特里娜·梁之间的风流韵事，梁有着一头乌黑的秀发，是加利福尼亚圣马力诺的女商人，而此时他的妻子和儿子正坐在法庭上。他随后写给朋友说“啊，真是受不了！”
TIGER TRAP America’s Secret Spy War With China
By David Wise
Illustrated. 292 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt· $28.
292页插图 霍顿·米夫林·哈考特图书出版公司 28美元
Excerpt: ‘Tiger Trap’ (August 5, 2011)
摘录: ‘老虎式陷阱’ （2011年8月5日）
In “Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War With China,” David Wise writes about the ineptitude of American agents. Not only was Smith having an affair with Leung, Wise says, but so was another F.B.I. man, William Cleveland, who was the head of a Chinese counterintelligence squad in San Francisco. Neither seemed to know that Leung was sleeping with the other, nor did they know that she was working for Beijing’s Ministry of State Security. Double argh.
With this case and others, Wise documents not only the adroitness of Chinese agents, but also how China has for several decades “penetrated” the United States, as he puts it. “Penetrate” and “penetration” are two of his favorite words, appearing at least a dozen times, often in connection with Leung, who, despite the fact that she was taking classified documents from Smith’s briefcase during their trysts, was seen as “his prize asset.” Wise’s language, particularly in the descriptions of Leung, gives parts of his book a quasi-pornographic feel.
Elsewhere, Wise sheds light on cultural differences between Chinese and American espionage. As a former C.I.A. officer once told me in Warsaw, the most powerful motive for foreign agents is revenge. Indeed, Wise describes how C.I.A. recruiters have traditionally attempted to tap into the murky, retaliatory impulses of Russians and others, trying to persuade them to share secrets about their governments. In contrast, Chinese intelligence agents steer clear of people who are vindictive, since the agents believe they may become volatile and explosive.
Instead, Wise writes, Beijing’s agents appeal to the altruistic side of human nature, especially among Chinese immigrants, and attempt to manipulate a desire to “help China modernize.” The soft sell seems to work; Wise cites examples of their successful recruits, including a physicist who had worked at the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore labs and said “he had revealed the information because China is ‘such a poor country’ and one of the scientists had asked for his help.” In this way, Chinese agents may have gathered classified information on a prized American possession, the Trident warhead; the intelligence apparently helped their scientists build a miniaturized nuclear warhead.
Throughout the book, Wise, the author of “Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI’s Robert Hanssen Betrayed America,” pays tribute to Chinese espionage skills. He says that “China may be America’s single most effective and dangerous adversary.”
Wise has plenty of evidence to back up his thesis. “Tiger Trap” is based on affidavits, government documents and interviews with more than 150 people, and features a broad cast of characters, ranging from Leung to a bronco-riding counterintelligence specialist and a C.I.A. officer who was also a competitive weight lifter. All of them were in some way caught up in scandal, either as spies or investigators.
Unfortunately, Wise sails through decades of espionage history like a casual purveyor of the obvious, pointing out that “spies are a different breed, they move in a secret world,” and that “in the world of spies, nothing is entirely predictable.” Moreover, he is impatient with narrative devices like plot, character development and setting, relying instead on capital letters (“confidential,” “top secret”) and keywords (“Sex! Espionage! A Chinese dragon lady!”) in an effort to engage the reader. But this reader, for one, felt only a quiet sense of “argh” while struggling through this chaotic account.
Tara McKelvey, a frequent contributor to the Book Review and a 2011 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of “Monstering: Inside America’s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War.”
A version of this review appeared in print on August 7, 2011, on page BR18 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Superior Spies