Halpern's father Hennoch Halpern was an Austro-Hungarian and a prominent Zionist prior to the First World War, working with David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett. He emigrated to the US in 1909, where he remained involved in Zionist causes until his death in 1965.
Samuel Halpern was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and received his undergraduate degree from City College of New York in 1942. He pursued graduate studies at Columbia University and George Washington University and also attended the National War College.
OSS and CIA career
His career as an intelligence officer began in 1943 when he joined the research and analysis branch of the Office of Strategic Services, in the Far East division. During World War II, he served in India, Ceylon and Burma. Halpern served in the Office of Strategic Services and the Strategic Services Unit before joining the CIA.
From 1947 to 1959, he was with the the agency's Far East division. From 1959 to 1961, he was deputy chief of operations and executive officer for the Tokyo Station, and, from 1961 to 1964, executive officer for the CIA's Task Force on Cuba. After attending the National War College from 1965 to '66, he became executive assistant to the CIA's deputy director for plans. In that role, he served successively under Desmond FitzGerald, Thomas Karamessines and William Colby. His last appointment was a deputy chief of the division responsible for debriefing Americans with information on foreign affairs.
- "Jim looked at me real hard," Halpern recalled with a laugh, "but I told him, 'I'm not going to muck up your desk.' The Israelis never approached me."
At the inaugural meeting of the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence in April 1979, Halpern presented an essay on clandestine collection (spying) which argued, in Roy Godson's summary, that "collection capabilities had been seriously damaged by the Freedom of Information Act, the Congress, and the attitudes and guidelines adopted by recent Directors of Central Intelligence.
- Office of Strategic Services
- Strategic Services Unit
- Central Intelligence Agency
- Association of Former Intelligence Officers
- Colloquium on Analysis and Estimates
- Colloquium on Counterintelligence
- Colloquium on Clandestine Collection
- Colloquium on Intelligence and Policy
- Colloquium on Intelligence Requirements for the 1990s
- NameBase HALPERN SAMUEL
- Interview with Samuel Halpern, Cold War, The National Security Archive, accessed 30 November 2012.
- DEATH OF NOTE, Weekly Intelligence Notes, Association of Former Intelligence Officers, 7 March 2005.
- Seymour M. Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb, Faber and Faber, 1993, p.146.
- Obituaries, Washington Post, 12 March 2005.
- Roy Godson, ed., Intelligence requirements for the 1980s: Elements of Intelligence, National Strategy Information Center, 1983, p.13.
- Ralph Edward Weber, Spymasters: Ten CIA Officers in Their Own Words, Rowman & Littlefield, 1999, p.114.