During his colorful career with the Central Intelligence Agency, William King Harvey was known as “America’s James Bond.”

In the future, historians may refer to the 1931 Terre Haute Wiley High School graduate by second nickname.

“Flawed Patriot: The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey,” a new biography by Bayard Stockton published by Potomac Books, may be the closest we shall come to learning the truth about the distinctive career of a talented and secretive man.

The author knew his subject well, having served under Harvey for two years in Berlin during the early 1950s.

Born in Switzerland, Stockton left the CIA to become Newsweek bureau chief in Bonn and later in London. He spent many years overseas as a freelance correspondent and authored several books about government and politics.

For two decades, Stockton made his home in Santa Barbara, Calif., writing and teaching at Santa Barbara Community College. He also hosted a local radio talk show.

Those experiences were sufficient to permit Harvey’s widow, Clara Grace “C.G.” Harvey, and daughter Sally, to entrust Stockton with discreet knowledge and material. The author also relied on numerous other sources, many who had never spoken previously about touchy topics.

Beginning with Harvey's birth on Sept. 13, 1915 in Cleveland, his early childhood in Danville, Ind., his high school days in Terre Haute and his college years at Indiana University, “Flawed Patriot” discloses some surprising and very personal information.

Foremost in Bill’s life was his mother, Dr. Sara King Harvey, esteemed professor of literature at Indiana State Normal and Indiana State Teachers College from 1921 through 1956. A single mother, Dr. Harvey brought her only child to Terre Haute in 1923.

Sally Harvey-Koelpin, now assistant professor of education studies at DePauw University, explained that the bond between her father and her grandmother was so strong that Bill usually called his mother “Sally.”

The biography does not dwell on Bill's youth, noting only that he graduated from high school at age 15 and, quoting from a background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation divulging that, during his Wiley years, Harvey was “a brilliant boy” who “did not participate in athletics but had a strong and healthy physique” and was “a real leader possessed of a healthy confidence and self-assurance … not conceited.”

The biography did note the close relationship between Bill and Terre Haute attorney Benjamin F. Small, a father-son-like liaison initially revealed several years ago in this column based upon conversations with his widow, who died in early October 2000.

According to C.G. Harvey, Bill retained every letter he received from Small and reread some of them frequently. Though not noted by Stockton, Small became dean of Indianapolis Law School, later Indiana University Law School at Indianapolis.

The primary purpose of Stockton’s book was to probe the life of the CIA’s most daring and successful field operator during the early years of the Cold War and one of the most fascinating spymasters in modern American history. The inquiry also focused on exploring controversial rumors which surfaced after Harvey’s death.

“Extremely intelligent” and a “dedicated martini drinker,” Harvey often was profane in manner and coarse in appearance. But, while in the FBI during World War II, he may have been the lead officer on the German counterespionage case that provided material for the Oscar-winning motion picture, “The House on 92nd Street.”

Later he singlehandedly fingered Kim Philby, one of his associates, as a Soviet spy.

As chief of the Berlin Operations Base (BOB), he masterminded “Harvey’s Hole,” the tunnel under the Berlin wall which permitted the U.S. to tap into Russian communications. For that work Harvey was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

Back in the U.S., Harvey was chief of ZR/RIFLE, the CIA’s political assassination operation. During he early 1960s, he frequently was at odds with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who he accused of trying to micromanage operations about which he knew little. Bobby’s persistent effort to deport Mafioso Johnny Rosselli enraged Harvey since Kennedy was aware that Rosselli had been recruited by the CIA to participate in anti-Castro plots

In Harvey’s eyes, Rosselli was a patriot. The sometimes heated conflict with the Attorney General resulted in Harvey’s reassignment to Rome and his ultimate retirement.

To save himself from exile, Rosselli revealed his CIA link to the press. As a result, both Harvey and Rosselli testified before Sen. Frank Church’s Committee on Assassinations during the summer of 1975. Both met their fates the following year.

Harvey died June 9, 1976, of a heart attack in Indianapolis. Rosselli’s dismembered body was found Aug. 7, 1976, in an oil drum in Dumfoundling Bay, near Miami.

Harvey’s friendship with Rosselli and his dislike of Bobby Kennedy provoked Robert Blakey, chief counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, to suggest that Harvey might have been involved in President Kennedy’s assassination. Stockton tries to address that topic extensively and objectively.

Soon after her husband’s death, C.G. Harvey sought to clear the record. As a CIA operative, she was in a position to do so. Agents were not permitted to share secrets with their spouses unless that spouse was an agent. Because she had signed a CIA secrecy oath, C.G. was denied a chance to publish her version. Loss of pension was a suggested penalty.

Author Stockton submitted his manuscript of “Flawed Patriot” to the CIA Publications Review Board and, in the Preface to his book, wrote:

“The changes that the CIA’s PRB required were primarily semantic in nature: names, cryptonyms, locations, and the like. Some of the deletions insisted upon were of names, designations, job titles, and locations that have appeared elsewhere in print, in some cases many times over … . Some true names of former colleagues who had granted permission to use their names in the clear, and officers now dead, were ‘redacted’ by the PRB, in its wisdom … .

“When it came to crunch time, the board opted for ludicrous deletion rather than common sense. To back up its edict, the PRB reminded me of my obligations under the secrecy oath I took well over fifty years ago.

“The PRB asked for no substantive changes or deletions in material dealing with the CIA operations.”

If the author was restricted by the CIA’s PRB, he faced another insurmountable hurdle several months before the book was published. Stockton died in Santa Barbara on July 21, 2006, at age 75.

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