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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THE DEMISE OF AN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE

I have just completed reading a book titled “Really inside BOSS – A tale of South Africa’s late Intelligence Service (And something about the CIA)”. Self-published by Pieter Swanepoel, the book provides a brief history of the Bureau for State Security, (BFSS) or BOSS as it came to be known, and its successor, the National Intelligence (NI).

Although English is not Swanepoel’s first language, he has done a good job in describing, amongst others, the origins of the service, the Smit murders, the assassination of Dr Verwoerd and the role played by the CIA in destabilising the National Party government. He also covers some of the difficulties and frustrations an intelligence officer experiences in the course of his duties. He even relates particulars of a “dirty trick” perpetrated by himself in Namibia in the 1960’s.

The main purpose of the book was to discuss some of the allegations made by BOSS informer, Gordon Winter, after he fled South Africa and published a book called “Inside BOSS” in 1981. The acclaimed British historian, Dr. James Sanders, referred to a number of these allegations in his book about South Africa’s intelligence services, Apartheid’s Friends, and this apparently annoyed Swanepoel and led him to provide another view of these events. Although I have not read Winter’s book, I would be prone to accepting Swanepoel’s version as he cross-references to many documents to prove his writing. Additionally, he spent 32-years in that organisation so he knows what he is writing about. In a recent copy of the magazine, Molotov Cocktail, Dr. Sanders described Really Inside Boss as “a fascinating book” and promised to return to it in a later edition of that magazine.

Readers ought however to take note: the book does not cover intelligence tradecraft and can be heavy reading at times. It nevertheless remains an important account on the history of BOSS.

This book is not available at bookstores. Anyone interested in obtaining a copy can order directly from the author at pietswanepoel@gmail.com

19 comments:

He of difficult days said...

There was another book "Gideons spies"

Is it worth anything to read that book?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

“Gideon’s spies” is a very good book on some of the MOSSAD operations, HODD.

If anyone is interested in reading about intelligence/espionage matters, I will post something in the future on some good books I enjoyed on the subject.

Rgds,

Eeben

E Richard said...

Hey Eeben,
I heard a piece on NPR about an off shoot of the ANC, something peoples party. Is this a seriously developing alternative to the ANC in South Africa?
Many in our country feel like the only 2 parties that represent us are lost. Is that what's up with you guys?
Does the NI have an interest in this or do they let legitimate internal politics play themselves out?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A new political party was created in SA, ER. It is known as the “Congress of the People” – abbreviated COPE. It does appear to be a party that has potential to make inroads into the current political environment. Obviously, in any form of democracy it is not a good thing to have one party dominating the playing field – therefore a strong opposition is necessary. COPE may be an important development as it may break the dominating party’s stranglehold over politics.

Traditionally, intelligence services are supposed to allow the political parties to play the field – as long as the policies are not aimed at destabilising the government, ie, the ruling party. That said, I suspect that the current SA intelligence services will monitor what is happening. Will they interfere? I doubt there will be much interference. The battle between the parties will most likely be fought in the media.

Rgds,

Eeben

He of difficult days said...

Jan Lamprecht stated that no "Liberation movement" has ever conceded power peacefully anywhere in Africa. I agree. Do you?

The ANC will not allow itself to be the first "liberation movement" party to meekly submit and meekly surrender power at the polls.

I agree with the sentiment that if the ANC begins to lose power, war on the scale of what we saw in the early 1990s in the Natal region will be a common occurence.

I have reached the stage where I no longer regard the thoughts that SA is heading down the Zim path as mere opinions of Rhodesians but something that is best described as clear and present danger.

I cannot see how, barring a miracle, that the ANC will shakes hands and accept defeat at the polls. This isnt Sweden.

The larger the black middle class becomes, the better it is for whites. The ANC will battle to convince middle class blacks that they have been hard done by whites when they are driving SUVs to work in Sandton

my 2c

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I believe, as most people do, that a strong opposition party is a very good thing, HODD. Furthermore, part of what we are witnessing in Africa is a realisation that times are changing and with that, people’s prospects change as well.

As the size of the middle-class increases, so to do its expectations – and its desire to keep what it worked for. With that also comes a need to be protected from issues such as crime, mindless violence and so forth. When these corner-stones of societal need are not there, people will make their voices heard.

Whereas we are witnessing a change in politics, only time will tell where it will lead to. However, I am hopeful that this once-great country will pull itself together and that it will be soon. I am still convinced that only Africans (of all colours) can solve Africa’s problems. I hope I am right.

Rgds,

Eeben

Censorbugbear said...

Excellent article on Canadian website:

"Ruling party is plunging South Africa into civil war with its greed, malice...'

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/263651

Sonny Cox said...

Hi Eben
At the end of the day the ANC will stay in power.
Let's break their 2/3 hold of the political arena.
The DA and COPE can drive the wedge through the middle of their belly.

Thanks for informing the 'uninformed' on the BOSS book.

When will we see someone come out into the clearing with a "SB Book?"

BOSS was formed from their midst...

http://www.citizenalertza.blogspot.com

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It would be a good thing if someone wrote about SB operations, Sonny. But, like with all similar books, it will take someone with courage to write it because you can bet that the old and new politicians will be up in arms in trying to stop any such publication.

But then again, if no-one writes it, some of our history will most certainly be lost.

Rgds,

Eeben

Sonny Cox said...

"Really Inside BOSS" barely touches the tip of the iceberg.

It does however make interesting reading.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I believe there is much more that could have been said but that was still classified, Sonny. I also believe that many of us know that the CIA was very active in replacing the NP government with an ANC government.

Maybe this will encourage others who worked on the CIA to discuss some of the operations undertaken.

Rgds,

Eeben

Dingo said...

BEFORE ANYONE COMMENTS FURTHER ON MY BOOK: "INSIDE BOSS" (PENGUIN 1981)I SUGGEST THEY READ IT.
PIET "SWANNY" SWANEPOEL HAS SELF PUBLISHED A BOOK ABOUT BOSS IN WHICH HE ATTACKS ME (AND MY BOOK)GREATLY. OF COURSE HE WOULD, BECAUSE I EXPOSED SECRETS ABOUT BOSS.
AND DEAR OLD SWANNY DID NOT LIKE THAT BECAUSE HE WAS THE ULTRA LOYAL HEAD OF THE "WHITE SUSPECTS SECTION" OF BOSS.
I SAY "DEAR OLD" SWANNY, BECAUSE I ALWAYS LIKED HIM TREMENDOUSLY WHEN HE AND I WORKED TOGETHER.
AND STILL TO THIS DAY I ADMIRE HIM. HE'S A BRILLIANT INTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE. SO HE KNOCKS ME? SO WHAT!WE SPIES UNDERSTAND THINGS LIKE THAT.signed Gordon Winter 24-4-09

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Getting a comment from one of the legends of the SA Intelligence War is indeed an honour. Thank you for posting it, Gordon. I must hasten to add that I did not comment on your book except for stating that I had not read your book and that I had seen the documents Piet cross referenced to. But I also understand where you are coming from. And those days when all and sundry were working at creating divisions amongst us were indeed difficult. (By the way, when I met Piet last year, he also spoke very highly of you…)

My wife also worked for Johnny Johnson (long after you had left) and as a “fellow Johnsonist” sends her best wishes to you.

If I may ask: Are you still trying to get your pension from this bunch – or is that just a rumour?

Rgds,

Eeben

alanh2 said...

Hi Eben,

Did not have much time for SADF's so called Military Intelligence (isn't the phrase a misnomer?)during the 70's and 80's. Nor for those individuals tasked with collecting and analysing said information.

With respect to Lara's issues I can only concur with Robby's comments - too deep for me.

As a national service conscript and (later) ACF member my primary objective was to stay alive and to hell with the semantics.

alanh2 said...

Hi Eben,
Appologies if you have received multiple posts. Seem to be loosing my broadband signal.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The phrase is a complete misnomer, Alanh2. Like you, I also realised that there were those who wanted the pose but not the responsibility that went with it. But, I do admit there were some really smooth operators in the real covert world – not those who imagined they worked in a covert environment.

I had a smile at your comment about staying alive – I think we all felt that way…

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

No problem, Alanh2. As Telkom users, I think we all suffer the same frustrations.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alex said...

Hey Eeben,

I was just wondering if I could take you up on your offer of some good recommendations on intelligence-related books? Since most of those available in the UK cover the UK and US intelligence communities, anything you know of that's related to South African or other intelligence and security services would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Alex

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I pulled some out of my book case Alex and hope this will help with your reading:

1. Aquarium – Viktor Suvorov (Grafton)
2. The Black Agent – Laurent Gally (Penguin)
3. Hit Team – David Tinnin (Futura)
4. Secret Warfare – Bruce Norman (Dorset)
5. Memoirs of a Spy Master – Markus Wolf (Pimlico)
6. Gideon’s Spies – Gordon Thomas (Pan)
7. The Stasi Files – Anthony Glees (Free Press)
8. By way of Deception – Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy (St Martins)
9. The Intelligence War (Salamander Books)
10. Inside the KGB – Aleksei Myagkov (Valiant Publishers)

When you are done, I will pass you some more titles.

Rgds,

Eeben