National Security in Transition - Book Publishing Aspects in the Bulgarian Practice
(Volume 1, Number 2, Summer 2000.)
Gen. Todor Boyadjiev
The changes initiated on November 10, 1989, in the recent history of Bulgaria embraced all the aspects of the country's social, political and economic life. In the moral and ethical realms, society has begun a painful transformation which continues to this day, with variable success, ten years after the beginning of the transition from a totalitarian to a democratic system.
One of the fields where changes are implemented with the most difficulty is within the sphere of security matters - international, regional, national, corporate, business, and personal, which is understandable since the security complex contains political, economic, military, legislative, public, social, demographic, ethnic, religious, ecological, informational, and a number of other components.
A great lack of understanding was demonstrated when the issue of the secret services was addressed - a fundamental tool for resolving part of the problems in the field of security. The exaggerated politicization of the approach to the question on whether a democratic society needs such institutions, and which form they should take under the new conditions, has a negative effect on the national interest. The public opinion has swung from one extreme to the other. The services, which had been protected under the veil of secrecy, and hailed for their unlimited power and possibilities, the populist bravery of their defenders of socialism, ergo of the public interest, against the "aspirations of world imperialism", were suddenly given a nasty connotation. Political forces have apparently forgotten the elementary fact that these services are a tool for implementing power, not power itself, and that attacking them is reminiscent of the folk tale in which the farmer beats the packsaddle instead of teaching a lesson to the mule upon which the packsaddle sits.
As a result of political machinations, often due to external influences and suggestions, an atmosphere of total or large-scale negation of the role of these services as institutions aimed to uphold the national sovereignty and interests was created. This was not only possible but easily achievable, due to the fact that society was deprived of even the most basic information on the structure, objectives, competencies and functions of these services in a normal democratic state. The public also knew nothing about their role and use in a totalitarian state. This ignorance and lack of information provided great opportunity for manipulation and, in practice, for an attack against the state's defense system, which was in need not of destruction, but reform.
These factors caused a normal and ever-increasing public interest in issues related to the special services, which, on its part, generated a publishing boom in this peculiar area.
As a defensive reaction, the market was literally flooded with memoirs. Professionals of different ranks, qualities and motivation began publishing their memoirs on the activities of the special services. The books, written mainly by domestic authors, were so diverse that the largely uninformed reader was unable to make a competent analysis. Hundreds of books appeared, usually of humble literary merit, in the whodunit genre, which was neglected in the time of the totalitarian state. Only a few could be defined as worthwhile, excepting for some translated titles which have been successful in the international book market.
Among the over 200 existing publishing houses - a figure which seems exorbitant to the author, considering the relatively small Bulgarian market - were those which began to intensely specialize in this genre. Nevertheless, their products include mainly translated materials intended for entertainment purposes.
Some of the leaders among the publishing houses, such as Media Holding - Trud, Atika, Atlantis, Lik, Albatros, launched their own specialized series. Translations appeared of "Origins of Intelligence Services" by Francis Dvornik and "The Anonymous Power" (Die anonyme Macht) by Gert Buchheit, published by LIK Publishing House; "The Mafia in Eastern Europe" (Das neue Mafia - Kartell) by Werner Raith, and "The Dirty Tricks of the Economic Espionage" (Die schmutzigen Geschäfte der Wirtschaftsspione) by Erich Schmidt and Eenboom Jo Angerer (of Atlantis Publishers).
In the "Top Secret" series of Media Holding - Trud in a little more than two years books such as "Spymaster" by Markus Wolf, "My Secret War" by Kim Philby, "Spy Catcher" by Peter Wright, "English-Bulgarian and Bulgarian-English Dictionary of Intelligence and Counterintelligence Terminology", "Victory" by Peter Swizer, "Criminal Russia" by Alexander Maximov, "A Handbook of Intelligence and Security" by Anatoliy Taras, "Mata Hari" by Russell Warren Haw, "Counterintelligence" by Boycho Assenov and Petko Kiprov, "The Intelligence" by authors' panel, "The Encyclopedia of Espionage" by Norman Pollard and Thomas Alain, "Firm Security - Spying as a Trade" by an authors' panel appeared. The last two titles are still in circulation.
Several specialized magazines also emerged, dedicated mainly to security problems and to the equipment used - signaling, protective, fire-prevention, special intelligence tools. Especially worthy of mention are "Business Detective" and "Security".
In 2000, the first CD-ROM appeared, which collected several thousands of secret and top secret documents from the archives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Interior and the Defense of Bulgaria, and of the Politburo of the Bulgarian Communist Party, and which have been declassified during the last few years and are directly related to the participation of Bulgaria in the Warsaw Treaty - "Bulgaria in the Warsaw Pact". For obvious reasons, this CD became highly popular among historians and researchers, not only in Bulgaria but also in a number of other countries. The formal presentation of this CD was held, along with the presentation of the book "The Intelligence", during the International Conference on the theme "The Cold War and the Balkans" which took place in Plovdiv at the end of May, 2000.
As a reaction to the changes and the manipulation of public opinion through the exploitation of the public's lack of information, there emerged also several professional associations and open civil societies oriented towards security matters.
Some of these guild-like organizations are the "Association of the Retired Intelligence Officers", the "Association of the Retired Counterintelligence Officers", the "Military Intelligence Officers Club", the "Red Berets' Association", etc. As a rule, these are closed organizations, where membership is allowed only to former officers - military or civil - of these services.
One of the open organizations, an NGO of a purely civil character, which brought together professionals and intellectuals from many fields who participate in the processes of public opinion-making, is the "Bulgarian Euro-Atlantic Intelligence Forum" - BEAIF.
In addition to specific programs in the field of security, some of these organizations are also involved in publishing books in the same field. At the BEAIF's initiative, and in cooperation with different Bulgarian publishing houses, the memoirs of Kim Philby, the book "KGB and the Power" by Army General Filip Bobkov, former First Vice-Chairman of the KGB, the memoirs of the last USSR Intelligence Head, Gen. Leonid Shebarshin, under the Bulgarian title "Life Seems Hard Only in the Evenings", the book of Dennis McCarty and Philippe Smith, "President's Bodyguard Agent", "Raising the Curtain" by Gen. Vadim Kirpichenko, "The Mafias Against Democracy" by Admiral Pierre Lacoste, "The Intelligence", and "Firm Security - Spying as a Trade" have been published.
As mentioned above, due to the informational vacuum that existed for years in this sphere, there is now a great interest among readers for such titles. The lack of serious readers is reflected to a considerable extent by the quality of the selected and published titles. Unfortunately, most books still belong to the area of mass culture.
A positive trend is shown by the fact that many of the books within the large number of titles already outlined contain a serious, thorough, and in a number of cases even academic approach to the elaboration of different aspects of the special services and their activities.
It should be mentioned here that the fundamental work "The Art Of War" of the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Zi has had three different printings within a short period. The book "The Intelligence" became a bestseller and its initial print run was sold out within less than two weeks - an excellent achievement for the Bulgarian book market.
Also published were interesting titles such as "The Bulgarian Special Services - Looking Towards A Unified Europe", "The Spies' Plot - Do We Need Secret Services?", "A History of Espionage", "Private Guard Activity", and many other books written by Bulgarian authors.
In conclusion, it could be said that, though this is not a purely Bulgarian phenomenon, the readers' increasing interest in literature related to the special services is one of the indications that society as a whole is beginning to readjust its conceptions of these institutions and its understanding of this peculiar activity; that the public is rejecting political manipulation and assuming a more sober, analytical and evaluative approach to these issues.
Such a state of affairs inspires hope that these services will find their appropriate and recognized place within the defense organs of the new democracies.
Below is a brief review of the CD and some of the books by Bulgarian authors dealing with the special services' activity, which have been published in the last two years.