Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Undercover with FBI Counterintelligence

November 1994

Next day at one p.m., Howard met me in my hotel lobby.  It was raining again; we cut around the corner to a sub-level restaurant called Kropf.   

"So how'd it go with your literary agent?" I asked.

Howard had planned to phone her after we'd parted the night before to discuss National Press's plan to scrap the balance due on his advance. 

"Oh, yeah, I want to tell you about that." 

A waitress took our order, the lunch special, speck and sauerkraut. 

"She tore into Joel Joseph," said Howard.  "She told him that she's fed up, that everyone knew there'd be legal problems when we started, and if they didn't pay up she'd do them for breach.  Yeah, she was really tough."

"What did Joel say?" 

"He said, 'I hear you.'  No real commitment.  I said to my agent, 'Why were you so tough?'  She said, 'It's my job.'  Man, all I want is to see my book published.  She asked Joel, 'Are you going to publish or not?'  And he said, 'I don't want to say anything over the phone because I've been advised by the ACLU that my phones are tapped, so I'll Fed Ex you’.” 

Howard shook his head in disgust.  "As if the FBI couldn't open a Fed Ex.  It's obvious, Joel has F-D." 


"Yeah, F-D," said Howard.  "Federal Disease.  I've seen it happen, many times." 

"Federal Disease?" 

"Yeah, it's when the feds turn up.  It makes people nervous, jumpy.  They get scared.  Joel's definitely got F-D." 

This took us into the FBI.  Howard told me they would still love to capture him. 

"After all this time?" I asked. 

"It's an institutional thing," said Howard.  "I embarrassed the FBI.  I escaped before their eyes.  I'll tell you this, the FBI agent who hauls me in will get promoted to GS-16 overnight."   

Clear skies greeted us outside Kropf.  We walked across the river to Zurich's old town.  I asked Howard if he thought he was being watched by Russians looking out for his safety. 

"No," said Howard.  "If anyone's following me, it would be Swiss Intelligence, to see what I'm up to, but I doubt it.  My lawyer once made representations to Switzerland, and the answer we got back was, We have no interest in Mister Edward Howard." 

We nipped into a tearoom for Viennese cream cakes.  

Howard voiced a thought about Jonathan Pollard, the American who spied for Israel, got caught, convicted, and imprisoned. 

"My KGB friends laughed so hard," said Howard.  "They thought the Pollard episode was the funniest thing they'd ever seen." 

"They've got Pollard down in Marion, Illinois," I said.  "He hangs out with John Walker and Edwin Wilson." 

"I wonder where they'd put me if had a chance?" said Howard.  

I suggested Leavenworth. 

Howard snickered.   

Back at Hotel Savoy, we found a cozy corner on the mezzanine for a final session on Spy’s Guide; an outline and appendices. 

"You've got to do a chapter on tradecraft for the traveling spy," I said. 

Howard concurred. 

"And what about the things every spy should carry on the road?" I added. 

Howard nodded.  "Why not." 

"Do you ever carry a weapon, Ed?" 

"Never.  I'm not a weapons man.  I only know what they taught us at The Farm:  use a briefcase, or anything else you can grab." 

Next:  False identity documents, and how they could be purchased on the Russian black market.   

"I could get you a genuine Russian passport for $500," said Howard.  "It only takes a month.  You know, I've got another book idea." 

"Yeah?  What?" 

"How to Sell Government Secrets.  A handbook for double-agents." 

I laughed.  "Cool.  Is that the title?" 

"No," said Howard.  "I'd call it Spy’s Cookbook." 


"It would drive the CIA and the FBI nuts."  Howard grinned.  "I've already worked out the chapters."

"Let's hear it.  Mind if I take notes?" 

I scribbled while Howard dictated an outline.  

Chapter One: Making the Decision to Turn. 

Chapter Two: Formulating the Plan and Valuing Your Information. 

Chapter Three:  Making the Approach. 

Chapter Four: How to Negotiate. 

Chapter Five: How to Hide your Money. 

Chapter Six: Secure Communications. 

Chapter Seven:  The Weakest Link ("A Woman"). 

Chapter Eight:  Getting Caught, Deny Everything, Admit Nothing.  

"Gee, Ed, you've really thought this through." 

"Yeah," said Howard.  "I'll include cases where guys screwed up:  Boyce, Walker, Pollard, Ames.  Espionage is a dangerous game, like playing with heroin.  If they ever got their hands on me, they'd probably hold Spy’s Cookbook up in court and say, 'See, he must have done it.'  It would probably get me an extra twenty years--ha, ha, ha!" 

Howard rarely laughed, let alone crack his own joke.  

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