Flawed Patriot


Flawed Patriot

The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey

Bayard Stockton

376 pages


February 2008


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eBook (PDF)
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September 2011


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About the Book

William K. Harvey was the CIA’s most daring and successful field operator during the tense, early days of the Cold War. Extremely intelligent, a dedicated martini drinker, coarse in manner and appearance, both loved and hated, he was larger than life. But just as Harvey reached his zenith, fate and personal flaws caused his swift, dramatic downfall. Bayard Stockton provides a rich portrait of the man, including accounts from Harvey’s family, friends, and former CIA colleagues who have never spoken publicly before.Harvey’s intelligence career began at the FBI, where he hunted Nazi spies. After running afoul of J. Edgar Hoover, Harvey went to the fledgling CIA in 1947. Harvey’s CIA successes included the unmasking of Soviet spy Kim Philby and masterminding the famous Berlin Tunnel that tapped Russian communications. The pinnacle of Harvey’s career came as chief of both ZR/RIFLE, the agency’s political assassination operation, and Task Force W, the group targeted on Cuba. But Harvey was in constant conflict with Bobby Kennedy, who micromanaged operations against Fidel Castro. Harvey profanely insulted the president’s brother during a tense meeting, which led to Harvey’s reassignment to Rome. His alcoholism worsened in Italian exile, and he was forced to retire. He became a nonperson. However, Harvey resurfaced during Senate hearings in the 1970s. When his supervision of the plots to assassinate Castro was revealed, many labeled Harvey the epitome of CIA excess. Harvey’s continuing friendship with Johnny Rosselli, a Mafia figure who had helped the CIA with Cuban operations, opened further questions as some—most notably Robert Blakey, former chief counsel to the House Subcommittee on Assassinations—linked Rosselli to JFK’s assassination.Flawed Patriot cuts through the rumors and inaccuracies surrounding Harvey to show a brilliant but flawed man who was undoubtedly one of the most talented and imaginative officers in the agency’s storied history.

Author Bio

Bayard Stockton was recruited by the CIA in the early 1950s and was posted to Berlin, where he served under Bill Harvey for two years. He left the CIA to become Newsweek’s bureau chief in Bonn and later London. He was also a freelance foreign correspondent in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean. He passed away in 2006.


"With a journalist’s unerring eye for detail and the pen of a novelist, Bayard Stockton has created in Flawed Patriot a significant work of great historical value. Secrecy is the key to national security, but there is a fine line between necessity and hubris. Stockton peels back the musty layers to reveal the truth about incidents long hidden or lied about, teaching us not only about our intelligence past, but about Bill Harvey, the sort of maverick loner whose brilliance and daring protected us, and whose bravery led him to take many of his secrets to the grave. Settle yourself into your most comfortable easy chair. Flawed Patriot is compelling reading."—Gayle Lynds, author of The Last Spymaster and Mesmerized

"Flawed Patriot is the story of Bill Harvey, one of the greatest intelligence officers I have ever known, from his exploits in West Berlin, where I served many years as his deputy, to his death in 1976. Bayard Stockton tells it all, the good and the bad, as he describes the frustrations of the politically charged Cuban operations under Bill’s nemesis, Robert Kennedy, the fruitless assignment to Rome, Bill’s battle with alcoholism, and the depressing circumstances of his retirement from the CIA. Nothing is left out, including the many speculative charges linking him to the assassination of President Kennedy. Flawed Patriot is a must read for serious historians, intelligence buffs, and all those who wish to know the truth about the life and times of this remarkable man."—David E. Murphy, retired CIA Soviet specialist and coauthor of Battleground Berlin: CIA vs KGB in the Cold War

"An insider's detailed study of a complex intelligence operative."—William Hood, former CIA officer and author of Mole: The True Story of the First Russian Spy to Become an American Counterspy

Flawed Patriot is a rich trove of information that will be of particular interest to students and scholars of the Cold War period and its struggles between the American and Soviet intelligence services . . . [the book] has a future as a reference work on a very turbulent period in American history.”—American Diplomacy