Haviland Smith was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Dartmouth College and the University of London. He was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1951 and served three years in the Army Security Agency. He attended the Army Language School in Monterey, Calif., where he studied Russian. After the Army, he spent two years in a Ph.D. program in Russian regional studies at London University and did odd jobs for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Smith went on to join the CIA as a staff officer, subsequently serving in numerous leadership posts in Prague; Berlin; Langley, Va.; Beirut; Tehran; and Washington, D.C. In Prague, he was station chief; in Langley, he was branch and group chief; in Tehran, he served as deputy station chief; and in Washington, D.C., he was the station chief. During that 25-year period, he worked primarily in Soviet and East European operations, recruiting and handling agents or managing that process. His only ventures outside the Soviet operations arena were as chief of the Counterterrorism Staff and as executive assistant to the deputy director of Central Intelligence.
Smith worked closely with the FBI in joint Soviet operations beginning in l964 and again in the 1970s. During his headquarters tour in the 1970s, he lectured extensively to FBI training courses at Quantico and to FBI field offices, as well as to U.S. military intelligence organizations, initially on CIA recruitment operations against the Soviets and later on counterterrorism operations.
Since his retirement in 1980, Smith has lived in Vermont. He writes and lectures extensively in the Northeast on the CIA, the Middle East, the intelligence process and terrorism. He has written hundreds of op-eds for newspapers in Vermont and throughout the Northeast, including The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant and The Boston Globe. His work has also been published by Nieman Watchdog and American Diplomacy.