There have been many articles and publications entitled “Espionage for Dummies” published over the years such as this comical one by the Guardian about itching powder et al but none that are literally true like the article referred to below.

This is a fascinating extract from an article in the Boothbay Register. The article is called “Boothbay man invented spy gadgets during 20-year CIA career” and is the first of a two-part profile on Boothbay resident Henry C. Rowe written by Bill Pearson and published on Friday, September 4, 2015. Boothbay is in Maine, USA.

‘Henry Rowe of Boothbay got a surprise in the mail a few days before his 83rd birthday. On July 6, he received a letter from his son who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. The letter contained a Washington Post article about the book “The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Cold War Story of Espionage and Betrayal.” In Christopher Rowe’s letter he asks: “Dad, does this look familiar?”

The novel is a story about how a Soviet spy saved the United States $2 billion in engineering costs. The novel also mentions how a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent avoided KGB surveillance using an inflated doll. The device is called a “Jack-in-the-Box.” The device has a special meaning to the Rowes. They both worked for “The Agency.” And it was Henry, a 20-year CIA veteran, who created it.

“My task was to enable someone to be in two places at the same time,” Henry Rowe said. The device is stored in the agent’s brief case. Once inflated, “The Jack” would spring from the case and appear as if the agent was in the car. “The book doesn’t mention my name, but there was only one in the world like it. And that’s mine,” he said.

According to Rowe, the device fooled the KGB for seven years. On this particular night, the doll developed a slow leak and remained inflated for about 30 minutes. The KGB agent reported seeing the American’s head on the car dashboard. Hoffman used details from a circa 1981 KGB report that an American agent apparently vomited in his car.

“It stated the agent’s head was on the dashboard. Now move ahead 25 years,” Henry Rowe said “The Kremlin (Soviet Union) has crumbled and we (U.S.) got into the KGB files. Somebody decided to check on a certain diplomat and on a certain date which showed he got sick in the car. He wasn’t sick. It was the dummy, of course,” he said.’

The sixty four dollar question is, were the KGB dummies?

This article was first published on 6th September 2015.

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