CIA Analyst Thomas F. Troy; Historian of Agency's Early Years

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thomas F. Troy, a longtime Central Intelligence Agency officer who wrote an authoritative history of the spy agency's early years, died July 30 of cancer at his home in Bethesda. He was 89.

Mr. Troy joined the CIA in 1951 and was an analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He spoke Arabic and traveled throughout Egypt and other African countries as well as Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey and Israel during his years with the agency.

He also compiled a history of the CIA's founding while working at the agency in the 1970s. After several years, he received clearance to publish the study, "Donovan and the CIA: A History of the Establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency," independently under his own name.

The book described the career of William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan, who founded the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, and how the OSS evolved into the CIA by 1947. Mr. Troy interviewed many figures from the agency's early days, and his work is considered a definitive record of the CIA's founding.

"He was a first-rate intelligence analyst and a widely recognized scholar on Gen. Donovan, the Office of Strategic Services and the origins of CIA," agency spokesman Mark Mansfield said.

Mr. Troy's historical study received the National Intelligence Study Center's award for "best book of the year on American intelligence" in 1981.

In 1996, Yale University Press brought out his second book, "Wild Bill and Intrepid: Donovan, Stephenson, and the Origin of CIA," which drew on interviews with British intelligence chief William Stephenson, a legendary World War II spy known as the "man called Intrepid."

According to a Washington Post book review in 1996, Mr. Troy revised "the founding myth of the agency" by showing that Donovan, of the OSS, received more support from British intelligence services than was previously known. The CIA, therefore, "was not the brainchild of a lone bureaucratic gunslinger but the offspring of an Anglo-American liaison."

Mr. Troy also published a newsletter, "Foreign Intelligence Literary Scene," for several years, highlighting historical and literary developments in the intelligence world. It was among the first newsletters of its kind.

In it, Mr. Troy once criticized what he considered faulty reasoning behind a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court decision granting the CIA authority to shield its confidential sources from public scrutiny. He supported the effect of the decision but took issue with Chief Justice Warren Burger's assertion that the ruling was based on "legislative history."

Mr. Troy found that no such history existed. He was "no bleeding-heart critic of the Central Intelligence Agency," a 1986 Post article reported. "It's just that he can't abide bad history."

Thomas Francis James Troy was born July 28, 1919, in Cleveland and moved as a child to Oakham, Mass. He graduated from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., in 1941 and joined an Army program studying the Arabic language at Princeton University. He also served in the Middle East with the Army Airways Communications System during World War II.

Mr. Troy received a master's degree in political philosophy from Fordham University in New York in 1948 and worked as a radio newscaster, freelance writer and college teacher before joining the CIA.

He had lived in Bethesda since 1968 and was a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Garrett Park. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a past Washington chapter president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, a group that opposes anti-Catholic discrimination.

Mr. Troy contributed articles and book reviews to The Post, Commonweal and intelligence publications and was the founding editor of Foreign Intelligence Book Series, a company that published 19 works on intelligence.

Last year, Mr. Troy spoke about the OSS at a conference observing the 60th anniversary of the CIA, and he has been featured in documentaries and television interviews. At the time of his death, he was working on a biography of William Wiseman, who was the British intelligence chief in the United States during World War I.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Elizabeth Cashman "Liz" Troy of Bethesda; eight children, Thomas F. Troy Jr. of Toledo, James Troy of Olney, Catherine Franklin of Seattle, Ellen Bouchard of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jane Trebilcock of Healdsburg, Calif., and Mary Troy, Maggie Zimmerman and Ann Pottker, all of Bethesda; four sisters; a brother; and 23 grandchildren.

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