Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Commentary: Legacy of Ashes

The overall approach taken by Weiner is to interpret practically any Soviet operation or activity in which CIA was ever engaged as having been a failure, or actually run against CIA by the KGB. He does describe the operationally disastrous acceptance of Golitsyn's paranoid theories for 12 years and mishandling of the Nosenko case, by Angleton and the Soviet Division, correctly, and Helms' failure to oversee their actions.

Legacy of Ashes, Tim Weiner, 2007

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Commentary: Spy Handler

Published over ten years after his retirement and the end of the Cold War, KGB officer Cherkashin makes a good account of his work as case officer for Ames. He also provides authoritative information on a number of operational matters of importance to us. He gives a good description of the compromise of Penkovskiy, consistent with somewhat less detailed reports from reliable sources on the surveillance of Penkovskiy and MI-6 wife Janet Chisholm. He confirms the reporting by reliable sources that Nosenko's defection led to the recall of many KGB officers from their overseas assignments, including his own. He confirms previous reporting on TOPHAT, including some details on the GRU reaction to information indicating that he was reporting to the FBI/CIA. The GRU was reluctant to accept that possibility when it first appeared in Epstein's book, based on information from Angleton or FBI deputy director Sullivan, and on 1979 information from Hanssen, who had not yet been accepted as a reliable source. Ames sealed the matter in 1986. TOPHAT was then brought from retirement, tried, and executed. Yurchenko's "redefection"is described, confirming that the KGB knew that he actually had defected to us, but was able to use his "redefection" for propaganda purposes.

Spy Handler, Victor Cherkashin and Gregory Feifer, 2005

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Commentary: A Secret Life

The handling of Kuklinski's material was not quite as stated here. When the material started coming in from Kuklinski in 1972, in Polish and Russian, it was my assignment, as in the Penkovskiy case, to evaluate the incoming reports, assign them priorities for translation, and provide comment and guidance for further collection to Kuklinski. My first decision was to set up two task forces, independent of one another and unaware of the common source. That meant my interviewing and assigning Polish and Russian speakers. Every report provided by Kuklinski came to me, was translated by the senior Polish speaker I had recruited for the task force, and handed on to the case officer. When he prepared his reply, I added the comment and requirements for advising Kuklinski's next collection of material for us, and my senior translator put that information into Polish. Some of the specific requirements are quoted here. It was regularly necessary to remove Polish words and stamps from the Russian-language documents to maintain the concept of two different sources producing the material. Translation of the documents was prioritized by me, and every translation prepared for publication was reviewed by me before going into the publication process, just as had been the case with my Penkovskiy task force. The language problem which had become apparent in the Penkovskiy document processing was that the Russian language had evolved considerably since most of us had learned the language. Therefore, I decided to disseminate some of the Russian documents in Russian. The problem was that no Russian typists were available anyplace in the intelligence community. When I mentioned that to DCI Colby, and the fact that my daughter had studied Russian, he instructed me to hire her, which happened very quickly. My task force work ended in early 1975, when l was assigned to the CI Staff.

A Secret Life, Benjamin Weiser, 2004

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Commentary: A Look Over My Shoulder

In a review of this book, two of the three themes which Tom Troy cites as important are the Nosenko affair and the influence of Angleton in CIA. He concludes that Helms actually reveals almost nothing that has not already appeared in other public analyses and declassified publications. He raises Helms’ claim that Angleton did not concur in the treatment of Nosenko, and he then refutes that claim, as he well should. Bagley confirms in his book the fact that Angleton did support the handling of Nosenko. The book makes no mention of my 40page memo countering the 900-page case made against Nosenko by Bagley, which i delivered to Helms in March 1966. The next day after I delivered it to Helms, he called and asked if he could pass it to psychologist Gittinger. Of course. A couple of weeks later, Gittinger called and we went out for lunch. We did that a couple of times. Gittinger had interviewed Nosenko and agreed with me. Nosenko stayed in solitary, under much worse conditions than described by Helms. Meanwhile, the new DD/P, Karamessines, cancelled my recent promotion, for having delivered a memo to the DD/P without going through the proper channels, after the chief of the Soviet Division, to whom it had been addressed, ordered that it be destroyed and never mentioned to anyone. I then contacted the DD/P and asked for an interview. At the end of the interview, he restored my promotion and directed me to go to the C/SR Division, apologize, and tell him that my promotion had been restored.

In September 1967, I wrote another memo, arguing that our handling of Nosenko was totally inappropriate, if not illegal, and that he should be released and his behavior monitored. l delivered that to DCI Helms. He called me to his office the next day and said that he was going to turn the case over to his deputy, Admiral Taylor, who would take it up with Security. Admiral Taylor called me a few days later, I went to his office, and he asked me why the SR and CI leadership would make such a case against someone. I could only refer to the influence which Golitsyn/Angleton had had on them.

As Troy states in his review, Helms never accepted that Nosenko was bona fide, but states in his book that Nosenko was the most challenging operation in his entire career. Before leaving CIA, he gave a medal to Gittinger. When I met Gittinger at the ceremony, he said that the medal actually should have been given to me. All Soviet assets and detectors have testified to Nosenko’s bona tides, and to the devastating impact that his defection had on KGB management and the assignments of many KGB officers overseas. Helms left the Nosenko case in the hands of Angleton. Although the SR Division dealt with Nosenko during his solitary confinement for over three years, the basis for the division’s approach was Angleton’s evaluation of Nosenko, based on Golitsyn’s continuing analysis, his accusations against any new assets or defectors who supported Nosenko, and Angleton’s jealousy of SR Division authority over Soviet operations.

The willingness of Helms to allow Angleton to take charge of anything he was interested in was never more evident than in the Loginov case. This case of a KGB illegal preparing to take over their operations in the US had been running for six years, when his apparent last training assignment, in South Africa, came up in late 1967. The night before CIA intended to turn him over to the South African security service, I was called at home by an officer familiar with the operation, and warned of the plan. The next day, I called DCI Helms and objected that the only reason that a case had been made against Loginov was that he had supported Nosenko’s bona fides. Helms was quite angry, raised his voice and almost shouted into the phone: —”Len, that’s out of my hands, Jim’s handling that”. In other words, if Angleton is 13 doing it, it must be the right thing to do. As in the case of Nosenko, one word from Helms and Nosenko would have been treated more humanely, and Loginov would have continued as a CIA asset, rather than being compromised to the KGB under circumstances which made his arrest and shooting likely. Troy refers to 088, and the fact that Helms and Angleton had served in it -—”with distinction”. The problem in CIA was that the OSS veterans remained in control of most of it, and they stuck together. With 088 veteran Dulles in charge, Helms and Angleton had undisputed authority. Helms had had almost no operational experience before he started to move up the management chain in CIA. An example of his general lack of operational concern and sense of responsibility occurred after we met with Penkovskiy in London in April 1961. Division chief Maury took the three of us to Helms' office to report on the operation. Joe and George made some comments, I summarized briefly the intelligence acquired, and then Maury said that I had evaluated Radio Moscow announcer Belitskiy, whom we had been running since he walked in at the Brussels world's fair in 1958, as under KGB control. Helms threw up his hands and exclaimed that he did not "have time for that!".

That attitude may be reflective of his failure to oversee Angleton’s actions and decisions. Angleton has generally been praised for his performance as our chief in Rome for several years at the end of WWII. However, there is really no way to judge that assessment by his 088 colleagues, and all of the OSS veterans were automatically viewed by CIA as exceptional as a result of their wartime service. A quite different view of Angleton’s wartime and X-2 service in Rome was given me by the senior MI-6 officer on the Penkovskiy case, Harold Shergold (who spoke on the Penkovskiy case in the CIA bubble in March 1998). Shergold had been Angleton’s MI-6 counterpart in Rome, and had nothing at all positive to say about Angleton’s actions there as far as he knew about them. Helms claims that much said about Angleton is unfair, to him and his superiors. Co-author Hood worked for Angleton in the CI Staff, and could hardly take issue with any of Helms’ positive remarks about Angleton without raising 7 questions as to why he, himself, did not take action against any of Angleton’s countless errors in analysis and management. As for his performance in Israel, when I went to Israel after moving into the CI Staff, the Israeli service chiefs were quite critical of Angleton (perhaps making me feel better about being there?). After the millions of CIA dollars which he delivered to them over 20 years, it is not too surprising that they named some woods after Angleton.

Troy refers with extreme negativity to the activity initiated by Angleton against officers of the SR Division, especially those with any Russian- language capability, or background, ending up with destroying the careers of at least four, damaging numerous others. He first evaluated Penkovskiy as a valuable asset, but after Golitsyn's detection in December 1961, he even decided that Penkovskiy had been sent to us by the KGB.

Helms cites nothing accomplished by Angleton, and there is, in fact, no operational or CI decision in the record which can be cited as evidence of his counterintelligence, or even his intelligence, capability or achievement. —-The best of his work is still classified. Well, I wish I could think of something classified, unclassified, whatever, to cite as support to his reputation, but I cannot. The only exception which comes to mind is my analysis of cosmonaut Gagarin’s interpreter’s (Belitskiy) bona fides, which Angleton asked me to discuss with him, apparently ending up with his agreement, but the acting SR Division chief called me up to his office and reprimanded me as being wrong—until a KGB detector confirmed the fact seven months later. If he did learn something from Philby, CIA will never know it, as none of the countless memos he dictated after meeting with Philby has ever been found.

He did set up the Anglophone CI committee, which was a useful means of getting to know, and coordinate with, officers of other government CI agencies. Helms denies that Angleton’s policies brought Soviet operations to a halt, but having been directly in the middle of them, i will deny that — detectors and potential assets were turned down in large part, and overseas stations were warned that the KGB had a large disinformation and deception program under way—totally untrue, as it turned out. Helms says no one in CIA ever raised any doubts, or criticized, Angleton—well, then, he forgets my memos on Nosenko and doubts raised by officers in the SR Division at the working level who were at serious risk if they expressed themselves other than to one another. Helms makes no mention at all of the fact that Angleton gave Golitsyn several hundred classified files on operations and personnel. Those files were recovered by my staff in 1975, from Golitsyn’s house in eastern New York (including my own personnel file).

Particularly puzzling to me is the absolute absence of any mention by Helms of the highest- ranking Soviet officer ever to work for us—two-star General Polyakov, (TOPHAT) from 1961 with the FBI until 1985 for us. He was identified in several books before Helms wrote his. There also is no mention of a KGB officer who worked for us, and the FBI, from 1961 to 1985—Kulak, (FEDOBA) also identified in several books previously. in both cases, the FBI CI chief, Nolan, evaluated them as under KGB control while I was in the CI Staff. Angleton had concurred in those assessments. In both cases, I received FBI agreement in 1975 to send CIA analysts to the FBI to review their reporting. In both cases, those analysts concluded that the two assets were bona fide, as their continued reporting for the following ten years indicates.

The SR Division chief, Murphy, and deputy, Bagley, were in complete agreement with Angleton in this case as well, and one of my later deputies in the CI Staff who told C/SR Murphy that Poiyakov was bona tide was dispatched the next day to an assignment in Africa! As Troy concludes, Helms’ (and Hood’s) obscuring and defending of Angleton’s actions is a major blot on Helms’ career and reputation. No detail at all is provided by Helms to justify his praise of Angleton’s performance in CIA, and my own 20 years in the middle of our Soviet operations and CI Research and Analysis left me with nothing to commend in that respect except the interview with him in 1961 of my negative analysis of the case of Gagarin interpreter Belitskiy mentioned above (and his aid in getting Artamonov under CIA control). After Angleton declined reassignment in December 1974 (he was never fired), he called me in and told me, with an arrogant and hostile look on his face, how he had straightened Bagley out when he came to him in June 1962 boasting of having dealt with the most valuable defector ever—Nosenko. That is why an excellent article by Samuel Halpern and Hayden Peake: "Did Angleton Jail Nosenko" (arguing that he did not) essentially loses its well- argumented validity--the fact is that the decision that Nosenko was not bonafide was Angleton's alone, and, after acceptance by the Soviet Division, resulted in his brutal handling for the next three and a half years. He certainly did not order the savage handling of Nosenko by the Soviet Division, but he gave them the reason for conducting a hostile interrogation a of Nosenko. Documents found in Angleton's personal files following his retirement show that he, and Helms were kept fully informed of Soviet Division treatment of Nosenko. One word to Helms from counterintelligence chief Angleton would have changed the Soviet Division interrogation methodology, starting with removing him from the absolutely unjustified, if not illegal, imprisonment of him in solitary confinement for over three years.

A Look Over My Shoulder, Richard Helms and William Hood, 2003

Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Commentary: The Secret History of the CIA

This was Trento's second book, the first having been co-authored with his wife, Susan Trento, and former CIA officer William Corson. When he came to CIA to say that he was writing about Artamonov/Shadrin, l was assigned to advise him, and met several times with him and his wife. Some of the information he acquired then was used in this book.

One report on Berlin operations refers to a request to HQ for a book on a German religious sect, the Weisenbergers, who dominated a town where air defense personnel lived. I spent all day at the Library of Congress looking for the book and never found it, which left the case officer believing that there had been no effort to find it.

When he came to me at headquarters to say why he had needed the book, and called attention to some reports relating to the Soviet SA-2 system, I told him that we already had the SA-2 manual (and parts) from an asset in Indonesia, as the Soviets had sold the system to Indonesia. The case officer was stunned , considering all of his assets who had been lost trying to collect on the system. The problem, of course, was that the Eastern European Division had never revealed to the Soviet Division that they were running such an operation.

Trento makes an odd mistake in reference to the defection of Artamonov/Shadrin. Instead of the information I gave him regarding getting Artamonov out of Sweden quickly to avoid his being returned to the USSR during an imminent visit by Khrushchev, and get him into American hands, he invents the explanation that we did not want the U.S. navy to control him. First of all, defectors are CIA responsibility, and the coordination with the navy was going on from the beginning of the defection. Trento then comes up with the fantasy out of nowhere that Artamonov was sent to us by the Soviet Navy commander as a messenger to calm our anxieties that the Soviet Navy wanted to start a war with us! Trento attributes this to Soviet Minister of Culture Furtseva, whom he identifies as directing the KGB to support a group of Soviet leaders planning to unseat Khrushchev. This theory was never confirmed in any respect throughout CIA collection of information on the Soviet Union to date!

Trento then comes up with another totally unfounded theory—that Soviet KGB defector Golitsyn was dispatched by the KGB in December 1961 to convince Cl Staff chief Angleton of a number of theories and allegations, which were to handicap CIA operations against the Soviet Union for over 12 years. That happened, but the cause was Golitsyn's paranoia and Angleton's wish to dominate Soviet operations and become the counterintelligence leader of Western intelligence and security services. It is difficult to imagine the unfounded origins of these Furtseva and Golitsyn theories, but in the Golitsyn case, it is also hard to imagine his having been able to do more damage than he could have done if he had been sent out. He produced very little useful information, but Angleton fell into Golitsyn's paranoia for his own professional reasons, the real problem being that Angleton was not supervised by Helms or any other 00/0 or director, even when he denied the existence of a Sino-Soviet split.

In his comments on the Penkovskiy case, Trento refers to Penkovskiy's mentor and protector, Chief Marshal of Artillery Varentsov (not Varentov) as commander of the Soviet ICBM program, which he never was. Once again,Trento comes up with a theory that Penkovskiy was sent out by “conservative elements of the Soviet power structure" to help get Khrushchev removed from power. The information he provided supposedly was controlled by that "Soviet power structure", when it was in fact determined by the requirements which we gave him to provide us information responding to our national intelligence objectives. There was never the slightest indication that Penkovskiy was being controlled by anyone in the Soviet leadership, all the way to his trial and execution in May 1963.

More nonsense on Penkovskiy is the assertion that we asked the DOD for all of its questions on the Soviet strategic missile program. There is no way on earth that we could have expected to answer such questions, and as the officer who prepared all questions and requirements guidance for Penkovskiy's information collection, such questions would never have been on the list which I provided to Kisevalter and the other officers who met with Penkovskiy. He had no contact whosoever who could answer any such questions; this additional invalid identification of Varentsov as chief of Soviet ICBM. And supposedly, Penkovskiy gave us information which helped to guide U-2 flights over Cuba—totally false—what he gave us told us which missiles were being deployed in Cuba and when they would be ready for launch. The account of State Department security officer Abidian becoming involved in passing of information from Penkovskiy also is false; Abidian checked one deaddrop—as Trento states, but that was all he had to do with the case. Again, the unsupported theory that Penkovskiy may have been sent out to deliver a message to the West has no factual support whatsoever. Trento treats Nosenko as an agent dispatched by the KGB, with no special explanation —just assuming that he was sent out to deny that the USSR/KGB was behind the killing of President Kennedy by Oswald.

Following the removal of Angleton, rather, his decision not to be reassigned, Trento states that we, the new CI Staff, wanted to reactivate the KITTY HAWK operation, the FBI operation involving Artamonov being run by a KGB officer who volunteered to cooperate with CIA in 1966 if we would have Artamonov serve as his agent. That is not true. The Soviet Division was unaware of the operation—it had been run by the FBI with the participation of a CIA Security officer—Angleton refused to bring in the Soviet Division because he suspected there was a mole there. The new CI Staff was completely surprised to learn of the operation, that Artamonov had met with the KGB once in Montreal in 1971 and once in Vienna . The latter meeting had been in 1972, and there had been no meetings since. We then found that the Montreal meeting was used by CIA and the RCMP to check whether RCMP C/CI Bennett was a KGB agent, as Angleton had said—Bennett was to be told about the operation, then RCMP surveillance would watch to see if any KGB officers appeared to observe the operation. Bennett was told the meeting was to take place, but afterwards, no decision about the operation was made—even though the RCMP C/CI remained in place, theoretically knowing that the FBI /CIA were running Artamonov. When we found out about the operation in March 1975, we learned that a meeting of Artamonov with the KGB was to take place in Vienna in December 1975. We met with the FBI to work out a plan for monitoring the meeting. They refused to allow surveillance, not unreasonable, but accepted that we could send out an officer to maintain contact with Artamonov and his wife during the meeting. In spite of the exposure of Artamonov to the suspect RCMP CI chief, the latter was still considered an asset of the KGB.

Trento then comes up with another fairy story, that Artamonov was returning home on purpose, and the KGB was giving him its assistance for cover purposes. That does not quite explain why they chloroformed him to death on the way to Bratislava after picking him up at the Vienna Votivkirche meeting place. Trento repeats the assumption that the US consulate was located in view of the Votivkirche, so surveillance was not needed. While the consulate is only a couple of hundred yards across the square, its windows are not on the square. Not that surveillance would have been of any help. Trento goes on to claim that his nonsensical story about the Artamonov meeting with the KGB in Vienna was a KGB-Mossad scheme. The bottom line to his imaginative tale is that the KGB officer who ran the KGB office which was handling the Artamonov case, and had gone to Vienna to help kidnap Artamonov (after "promoting" him to colonel and giving him $1,000) has actually been a US citizen for about nine years, and contradicts Trento in every respect. The KGB defector of 1985 who identified the RCMP DC/CI as a KGB agent (not C/CI Bennett), also told the story of Artamonov's death, exactly as known from the naturalized KGB officer who was involved in the kidnapping/murder of Artamonov.

Another truly unfortunate aspect of the Artamonov case involves the CIA accusation against Bennett. That was one of the first cases which came to the new CI Staff attention, as we attended a meeting of the Anglophone CI group, CAZAB, just before moving into the staff, and the accusation against Bennett came up in that meeting. We immediately started a review of that accusation, found it unfounded, and went to Ottawa to advise the RCMP chief and deputy. However, they said that they had started their own investigation, and were very suspicious, but when CAZAB met again in Melbourne the following year, they said they had ended their investigation. The suspicion ended completely when a KGB officer who defected in 1985 said that the KGB penetration of the RCMP had been Bennett's deputy—Brunet. The new CI Staff mistake is not having followed up the operational losses which the RCMP had suffered and come up with another suspect—hopefully Brunet. Even had we done so, of course, the possibility of convincing the FBI that their operation was compromised was not that likely. A significant fact which our limited CI Staff experience had kept from us was that the KGB had met only one of their other sources in Canada, an army recruit who appeared to be under KGB suspicion. Had we known that, we might have speculated that the KGB had a special reason for meeting someone in Canada—an RCMP penetration (but not Bennett).

Trento's worst departure from the truth probably is his account of the CI Staff after Angleton's retirement several months later. The new CI Staff did not undertake any action intended to discredit Angleton, and certainly the commissioning of Cleve Cram to do the Angleton CI Staff history had no such purpose. In fact, Cram worked directly with Angleton to acquire accurate information on Angleton's involvement in particular actions of the CI Staff. And the new staff officers had nothing to do with Cram's work except to provide him whatever we could find relating to past CI Staff activities in which he was interested. We never saw his long history of the Angleton CI Staff. It was handled on an “Eyes Only" basis. The study on Angleton by Petty was done well before we new staff officers got into the staff, and we were not involved in evaluating the study, Trento wrong again. Contrary to Trento, we had nothing to do with the Boyce and Kampiles cases. Trento makes a common mistake, confusing the responsibilities of Security, the FBI, and CIA counterintelligence.

The Secret History of the CIA, Joseph J. Trento, 2001