Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Commentary: Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames

Right after Ogorodnik (CKTRIGON) was arrested and committed suicide in KGB hands in Moscow, in July 1977, DCI Turner sent me a memo directing me to investigate his compromise, and come up with a conclusion in two weeks. When I started to work on it, reviewing Ogorodnik's production, which was no longer coming automatically to the CI Staff, as it would have in Angleton's days, I ran onto the disturbing cable cited here which appeared to report Kissinger's briefing the Soviet ambassador on US strategy for the SALT talks. In spite of that startling diversion, I went on with the investigation, which included visiting our translation/transcription team , which eventually turned out to harbor the Communist penetration which compromised Ogorodnik. That was Koecher, a Czech who had entered the US in 1965, was hired by us in 1973, and was not exposed by a Czech defector for another seven years. Had I even learned of his background, it is doubtful that I could have persuaded Security/FBI to conduct an investigation of him, including another polygraph examination. Since it had nothing to do with Ames, it is not quite clear why it appears here.

Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames, Pete Earley, 1997

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Commentary: Wedge

There is a good discussion of the contradictory reception of Golitsyn and Nosenko by CIA and the FBI, the FBI correctly accepting Nosenko as bona fide and doubting Golitsyn's theories and conclusions. However, in referring to Golitsyn's statement about CIA penetrations, it is not correct to give Golitsyn any credit in that respect. When first asked, including in a private meeting with DCI Dulles, whether he knew of any KGB penetration of CIA, he said he did not. He later came up with his "Sasha" lead, which led to false accusations against three case officers , but eventually turned out to be a low-level operational support agent in Munich and Berlin. But "Sasha" had been dismissed by CIA some months before Golitsyn defected. Nosenko is referred to as having duplicated Golitsyn's report on KGB technical penetration of the US embassy in Moscow. The significant difference is that Golitsyn's report was followed up by technical experts searching for such microphones in the embassy, but found none. In his report, Nosenko pointed out that the microphones and wiring were hidden behind the pipes and radiators of the heating system. The search was made and the microphones found. Nosenko has been blamed for not having reported on the microphone systems being installed in the new embassy building, but when the technicians tracked the wires to the roof of the existing embassy, they found another set of wires installed to support microphone installation in the new embassy building. They were buried in a similar manner to those in the old embassy building, but even more deeply embedded in the reinforcing cables.

The reporting on our replacement of Angleton and his staff operationally has little accurate objective information in it. it starts off saying that we wanted to reopen the KITTY HAWK operation, which was never so. The new staff came into it with no warning at all, only that Artamonov was scheduled to meet the KGB in Vienna in December 1975. We met with the FBI, whose case it was, to work out the plan for the meeting. We were described as having had no CI experience, although the Analysis element of the new staff was composed almost entirely of officers who had served in the Soviet Division CI Branch , and all had been involved in the major Soviet operations for up to 20 years. As Angleton had never cut the Soviet Division in on the operation, but turned it over to Security, it seemed time to place it back in the Clandestine Service by getting rid of the Security officer involved. The FBI objected when we met to discuss the operation, so he stayed on for the Vienna trip. There was no indication in the record that Angleton opposed Vienna at all, but the last meeting having taken place in Canada three years ago should have aroused our suspicions. At that point, Angleton had tried to use the meeting to prove his totally unjustified suspicions of the RCMP counterintelligence chief. There was no CIA conclusion that KITTY HAWK had been a provocateur, whether FBI thought so or not.

The ironic aspect of the CIA/FBI relations at that time was that the FBI decided that FEDORA and TOPHAT were under KGB control. By that time, we had asked the FBI to let us review the intelligence that TOPHAT had provided, to evaluate his bona fides. They agreed, and-we sent two of our most experienced CI analysts to the FBI to work for several days on their files. They returned with the conclusion that he was bona fide, a conclusion with which the FBI did not agree and which left them angry. TOPHAT continued to work for us very productively in Moscow, in Rangoon, and during his two tours in New Delhi. Not quite the KGB approach. FEDORA also continued to report reliably, although he was close to leaving New York after his second assignment and going into retirement.

There is an odd reference to the Kampiles case, stating that our photo analysts found the Soviets evading the KH-11 collection operation and that the FBI tracked down Kampiles. It was our asset in the GRU in Athens who identified Kampiles as having delivered the manual to the Soviets. The reference to Koecher, who compromised Ogorodnik (not Ogorodnikov), our asset in the Soviet Foreign Ministry , is of interest from the standpoint of just when the FBI began suspecting him. Koecher had been in the country for 8 years when we hired him in 1973 as a translator, (and polygraphed him with no deception indicated) but the FBI is said to have started their case against him in 1982—a little late for us, as he compromised Ogorodnik in 1977.

Wedge, Mark Riebling, 1994

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Commentary: Case Closed

Regarding Nosenko's statement that the KGB had sent a cable to him in Geneva giving a phony reason for his returning at once to Moscow, the author makes the sensible argument that if he had been dispatched by the KGB, the KGB would surely have made a cable readily available to support his statement.

Case Closed, Gerald Posner, 1993