Thursday, July 29, 2010

Before the CIA, the Pond?

I am not so sure I believe that this organization was around as the sole intelligence agency prior to the CIA. Keeping the OSS in mind.
What this may have been was an attempt to run a private spy agency. Away from the eyes of other intelligence agencies. Through corporations. Using private citizens. The official story of the Pond, is likely not the real story, but some sanitized version of reality.
Keeping that in mind, read on....

What Zoltan Pfeiffer, a top political figure opposed to Soviet occupation, his wife and 5-year-old daughter did not know as they were whisked out of Hungary in 1947 was that their driver, James McCargar, was a covert agent for one of America's most secretive espionage agencies, known simply as the Pond.

Created after ww2, the Pond existed for 13 years and was shrouded in secrecy for more than 50 years. It used sources that ranged from Nazi officials to Stalinists and, at one point, a French serial killer.

It operated under the cover of multinational corporations, including American Express, Chase National Bank and Philips, the Dutch-based electronic giant. One of its top agents was a female American journalist.

The Pond, designed to be relatively small and operate out of the limelight, appeared to score some definite successes, but rivals questioned its sources and ultimately, it became discredited because its pugnacious leader was too cozy with Sen. Joseph McCarthy and other radical anti-communists.

Created by U.S. military intelligence as a counterweight to the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, ( making all the headlines pure nonsense) it functioned as a semiautonomous agency for the State Department after World War II and ended its days as a contractor for the CIA with links to J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.

The organization counted among its exploits an attempt to negotiate the surrender of Germany with Hermann Goering, one of Adolf Hitler's top military leaders, more than six months before the war ended; an effort to enlist mobster Charles "Lucky" Luciano in a plot to assassinate Italian dictator Benito Mussolini; identifying the location of the German heavy water plants doing atomic research in Norway; and providing advance information on Russia's first atomic bomb explosion.

The Pond, he wrote in a declassified document put in the National Archives, had a mission "to collect important secret intelligence via many international companies, societies, religious organizations and business and professional men who were willing to cooperate with the U.S. but who would not work with the OSS because it was necessarily integrated with British and French Intelligence and infiltrated by Communists and Russians."

I find that paragraph so interesting....

Some more

The Hazards of Private Spy Operations
(this piece contains a fair bit of spin to downplay the operations of this outfit)
For all that anyone knows the Pond could still be in operation today.


  1. Hey Penny,...Nice work. When I was active in S.E.Asia and the Pacific. I was invited to visit a bunch of middle-aged guys working the Thai-Burmese Border. They were getting around the FEMBA (Forward Edge of the Main Battle Area) between the Karen freedom fighters and the SLORC (State Law and Order Council) AKA; the evil Burmese Junta headed by Ne Win. Well, after debussing a mile down the hill that this scruffy dump sat upon, I entered the town and was immediatley the focus of sideways glances from all and sundry - yep, this was an Intel' town! If you were not local you were spook! Anyway, I followed the directions I had been given, asked a few locals which back-street here and there and low; I found myself standing in-front of a grubby little office. Above the entrance of which was a sign announcing he Offices of 'Christians In Action': A Medical Aid Resource for Struggling Peoples. No shit! They were actually good guys (of the jovial old soldier strain), they were all surgeons and they stitched up and helped a lot of badly hurt and sick people. If only that was de rigeur.


  2. hey veritas!

    interesting tale.

    When I put this one up, I had the Laurel Canyon stuff ringing through my head. (Dave McGowan)

    Here is how the military industrial complex was able to infiltrate business and operate for the benefit of intelligence agencies and put forward a government agenda.

    If you notice in the second linked article from the CIA, the writer mentions the use of private intelligence groups leading up to the attack on Iraq, but cites them as a failure.

    What bullshit. this private group fed the US gov. the exact intelligence they wanted and they needed to start the war.

    Therefore not a intelligence failure, but a job well done.

    Which was why I called it largely a spin piece.

  3. This is the part I am refering to

    "The Pond joins a long list of intelligence organizations over the past 60 years—the paper mills of the early Cold War, the Gehlen organization in its early years, and more recently the Iraqi National Congress are all candidates for inclusion on this list—that have been able to peddle tainted intelligence because their operations were insufficiently transparent in Washington."

    The Iraqi intelligence group had plenty of oversight in my opinon.
    Which is also why I contend that private intelligence, such as "the pond" is very much ongoing.

  4. Penny,

    Thank you for your perspecive on the spy agency "The Pond". I've been doing some research, and am surprised how little information there is about it. Most of what I have found are simply repeats of the Associated Press report in 2010 and the article from the CIA (which is mostly about the problems the Pond's leader had with the rest of the intelligence community, and mostly seem to be an attempt to discredit him). According to those stories, the existence of the Pond seems to have been known to the public since sometime in 2008 when some of its former leader's files were given to the National Archives by the CIA. It appears that the AP was trying to get more info by filing an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act, but that seems to be where the story ends. So, for the past 4 years now the mainstream public has known the Pond existed...but still knows almost nothing about it. I find that very strange and interesting. If you or anyone reading this has found any more info on the Pond please email me at I'm fascinated. Thanks!