Sunday, July 14, 2013

Book Commentary: Mole

The last chapter focuses on Nosenko, presenting the negative case against him as was developed in the CI Staff while Hood was executive officer there. Emphasis is placed on Golitsyn's report that there was a KGB agent in "the highest echelons of US intelligence", after his having told DCI Dulles that there was no such penetration. Eventually, it turned out that the penetration ("Sasha") was a low-level support asset in Berlin who had already come under suspicion and been dismissed by CIA before Golitsyn defected.

Nosenko's report of the disinterested reaction of the KGB to Oswald's defection is strongly belittled, as was often the case. Once again, Oswald's suicide attempt and the reported instruction of Culture Minister Furtseva that he not be interviewed by the KGB are not taken into account. That he was no doubt monitored in Minsk by local security is certain, and Nosenko apparently did report that. The author makes a comment which should have been given more attention in the Nosenko case: "But obvious clues are rarely the best explanation of counterintelligence problems". A good point made about Nosenko's sometimes contradictory reporting is that he might originally have been meant to be a long-term deception agent, but after Kennedy's assassination, the KGB decided to take action at once to remove any suspicion of Soviet responsibility for that. Even then, the confusing recollections or memory lapses of Nosenko do not fit the consequent argument that Nosenko had been a KGB officer prepared or intended in any respect to be a deception agent deliberately dispatched by the KGB. Nothing to support such an argument has appeared from an asset or defector in the 50 years since his walking in to us in 1962, entirely to the contrary.

Mole, William Hood, 1982

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