Genesis for the plot of another book – INNER LOOK

The genesis for the third book in the Josh Haman series, INNER LOOK was the nagging question in the back of my mind is how bad did the treason of Walker/Whitworth hurt the U.S. Military during the Vietnam War?  What we know now is:

  • Walker and Whitworth were providing code keys to the Russians during that time
  • On the USS Pueblo the North Koreans captured KY-7 machines intact that used those same code keys to encode and decode messages.  The KY-7 was one of the standard encryption/decryption machines used by the U.S. Military
  • The North Vietnamese intact captured KY-7s from the South Vietnamese

Rather than destroying the keys, history says Walker falsified the destruction records and turned over the keys to the Soviets.  Assuming that is accurate, two questions come to mind…  One, did the Soviets have access to a working KY-7 from the North Vietnamese?  And, two, how fast did they get the keys?

For me, it is logical to make the assumption that the answer to question one is yes and the answer to number two is within sixty days.  From there, the question is how did that affect the war in Vietnam?  Did we lose more planes and pilots because of their treason?

Why?  Because the Soviets and their North Vietnamese allies would have had access to U.S. Air Force Air Tasking Orders and Navy carrier air wing strike plans.  The plans have details on the target, transponder codes, times on target, route, ordnance load, etc.

So another question arises, did the Soviets pass the decoded messages or their content on to the North Vietnamese or did they just sit, observe and stash away the analysis for future use in a war with the U.S.  If their is an analysis in the public domain that covers this, I could not find it.

All of the above is to provide some context for the background of INNER LOOK.  I started with the hypothesis that the Soviets were reading our mail in much the same way as the Allies were reading German messages during World War II.  In the book, Marty and Josh are assigned to a team to conduct that analysis but also to make sure that Walker and Whitworth were the only traitors.  As we know now, this was the period in time when Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanson were betraying Soviets who had turned against their masters.

The plot of INNER LOOK is driven by the need to  make sure that there are no more Walkers.  Josh and Marty, because they both had lived through leaks of classified information during the Vietnam War, are pretty sure there are more traitors because Marty finds more evidence while serving as an advisor to the Filipinos hunting members of the Moro National Liberation Front in the Philippines.  So the hunt, which starts in D.C. and takes them to Argentina, is on.

Marc Liebman

June 2013