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Winterbotham nodded slowly. “You’re feeding them worthless information.” “Not …” Taylor trailed off. Winterbotham read his face in an instant. Taylor may have had his talents in this world, but concealing his thoughts was not among them. “Andrew,” Winterbotham said mildly, “if we’re going to be working together, it goes without saying that I’ll require your full confidence.” Taylor frowned. “Of course,” he said, but he didn’t look pleased. He cleared his throat. “Not exactly worthless,” he said. “And that’s where it gets tricky. We can’t simply feed them worthless information, or they’d realize that their spies have been compromised. No, Harry, the intelligence has to be true, at least for the most part. If Canaris loses faith in his spies, the jig is up, as they say—and we’ll need the operation to be in good working order as the war goes on. Whenever we send troops back to the mainland, next year or the year after, we’ll use Double Cross as our ace in the hole. We’ll make sure Hitler expects the landing to be exactly where it won’t be.” “So you’re sending true information?” Again, he could see Taylor hesitate. “It’s extremely delicate,” Taylor said then. “Yes, the bulk of the information is true. But of course, we don’t want to help our friend Canaris too much, or he might just win the war. We walk a very fine line here, Harry. Sometimes we provide intelligence of some value—it’s a sacrifice that has to be made. Sometimes we put a bit of a spin on the truth. If there’s an accident at an airfield, we’ll let one of their spies take credit for it, claiming sabotage. Sometimes we’ll manufacture something out of whole cloth that will seem, to reconnaissance planes, to be real. We have all sorts of people working for Double Cross. All sorts. Chess champions. Musicians. Crossword puzzle enthusiasts. Illusionists—magicians. Once we used mirrors to make one tank look like thirty. And they believed it.” Winterbotham whistled. Taylor nodded, finally satisfied with the effect he had created. “But you must appreciate the fragility of our situation,” he went on. “We have all sorts of fictions, mixed in with the truth, going out over these little suitcase radios. All it would take to raise suspicion is one Abwehr agent that we missed—just one—sending a report that goes against everything else. If one single agent slips through our trap, Harry, the whole operation could be

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A Gathering of Spies - Excerpt  

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