Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Commentary: For the President's Eyes Only

This is the best book written on CIA by an author who was not previously a CIA officer, overwhelmingly correct and complete in its description of the higher-ranking CIA leadership and significant operational activities. It is even more comprehensive, thorough, and accurate than many books actually written by previous CIA officers.

For the President's Eyes Only, Christopher Andrew, 1995

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Commentary: Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA

In 1968, when Colby was appointed chief of the Soviet and East European Division, he points out that his responsibility was to collect intelligence on the countries "behind the Iron Curtain", while James Angleton's CI Staff was carrying on an "unrelenting campaign" to frustrate the KGB operations against the United States. It is stated here that Angleton worked closely with the FBI. Not so. He had denied the FBI information from KGB defector Yuriy Nosenko from 1964 on, and tried unsuccessfully to get the FBI to accept the paranoid reporting and analysis by KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn.

Colby found the SE Division and the CI Staff to be in almost total conflict. The CI Staff considered all of CIA's Soviet assets and defectors (except Golitsyn) to be under KGB control , suspected several CIA staff officers of working for the KGB, and doubted the existence of a Sino-Soviet split.

While Colby was being briefed on this new job, before taking over the SE Division, he received a message from Helms that the president wanted him to return to Vietnam. And he did.

As Executive Director to DCI Schlesinger when he took over in 1973, Colby tried to get Schlesinger to remove Angleton, along with the other senior CIA officials Schlesinger was replacing. He refused to that, but allowed Colby to shut down the Operation CHAOS mail-intercept program, transfer the Israel-CIA relationship to the Near East Division, and terminate the CI Staff responsibility for liaison with the FBI. A possible reason for Schlesinger’s being unwilling to remove Angleton is said to be his "undoubted brilliance”.

The term "brilliance" has appeared in descriptions of him in other books, with no examples given, but the history of his performance as chief of the CI Staff reveals no examples of decisions or actions which support that description. Quite the opposite, every important judgment and operational decision he made of CIA's Soviet assets, defectors, and suspected foreign intelligence and government officials was wrong. As the officer assigned to review the entirety of his operational decisions and evaluations after his departure, I identified no brilliance—quite the opposite—only serious mistakes affecting the national security of the US and allied countries negatively in several respects. When a later biography of him stated that practically every course he took at Yale ended up with the grades "D" or "F", the reference to "brilliance" seemed even more contradictory.

Colby's conclusion after becoming DCI, and finding Angleton’s "brilliant" analysis impossible to follow, with his evidence not adding up to his conclusions, he "looked in vain for some tangible results" of the CI Staff and "could not figure out at all what the Staff was doing. The devastating damage of the Staff decisions and analysis to operations against the USSR, to national security, was real and increasing. When Colby confronted Angleton with his decision to alter the counterintelligence responsibility, remove Israel from the Staff and transfer Angleton to other work, Angleton refused to accept those changes, but was removed from the CI Staff by Colby after a news article exposing many of domestic affairs"—Angleton's essentially illegal activities, was published a day or two later.

Angleton’s tenure of the CI Staff for over 20 years , with unjustified responsibility for CIA relations with Israel and liaison with the FBI, and some operational activities which should have come under the jurisdiction of other CIA elements, is explained in large part as having been authorized by his former OSS colleagues, Helms and Dulles. After that, his personality played a large part. Having been a poet, later a fly fisherman and orchid grower, and alcoholic to the point of requiring time off for treatment, his sensitivity to the paranoid influence of Golitsyn is not too surprising.

Angleton was imaginative, a gifted speaker, insightful, and friendly. When he encountered questions or comments in an operational or analytical discussion which countered his own position, he would often say that there was information about the matter which he could not expose to his interlocutor or audience, as is stated here. Like several of his OSS colleagues, he had little or no experience with clandestine operations, so his evaluation of operational developments, asset behavior, defectors, and case officer handling and assessment of assets generally was dependent on factors which originated in his personality rather than in actual counterintelligence aspects which were gradually gaining in confidence and comprehension as CIA involvement in clandestine operations and liaison relationships advanced over time.

Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA, William Colby and Peter Forbath, 1978

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review: The KGB in Europe and the West: The Mitrokhin Archive

The voluminous KGB documents with which Mitrokhin defected provided definitive information on KGB defectors Anatoliy Golitsyn and Yuriy Nosenko, confirming Nosenko's bona fides even more absolutely than other KGB defectors, all of whom gave that same information.

It is reported here that Golitsyn correctly identified a CIA employee whose names started with "K", who had worked in Berlin as being a KGB asset, but inaccurately gave his KGB codename as "SASHA", which conflicted with Nosenko's report of another KGB asset as being "SASHA". The three codenames actually assigned to Aleksandr (nickname ”Sasha") Kopatskiy (alias Orlov) by the KGB are stated in Mitrokhin's documents. Golitsyn is described as having provided “leads to a number of Soviet agents", but actually provided only vague and mostly garbled leads, such as the one which eventually led to Kopatskiy, another, to a British Navy employee, which remained unresolved until Nosenko's report on him, and one on a French official, which led to an arrest, but not of the individual described by Golitsyn! Golitsyn is identified as having persuaded CIA CI Staff chief James Angleton "of a series of increasingly extravagant conspiracy theories" such as that the KGB was engaged in a "gigantic global deception" , that the Sino-Soviet split was a charade, and that the Czech "Prague Spring" was also a KGB deception. It is concluded that the KGB did not realize that Golitsyn's defection would "infect a small but troublesome minority of CIA officials with his own paranoid tendencies". Mitrokhin's documents confirmed that the KGB had taken drastic corrective and defensive action to counter the damage done by Golitsyn's defection.

The February 1964 defection of Nosenko is described as having been considered a serious setback by the KGB, but was "wrongly concluded" by his CIA debriefers to be a KGB plant. The discovery of over 40 bugs in the US embassy in Moscow, thanks to Nosenko's reporting, is cited. CIA’s mishandling of Nosenko is attributed to CIA believing "tragically" in Golitsyn. Tennent Bagley, the CIA officer who oversaw the Nosenko case, is quoted as having said that Nosenko made things sound less sinister” than Golitsyn did, so Golitsyn’s "version was simply superior”. While Nosenko was being "appallingly mishandled" by CIA, the KGB was making plans to kill him and Golitsyn.

Mitrokhin's documents completely discredit Golitsyn's (and Peter Wright's) primary accusation against a foreign politician, UK's Harold Wilson. Wright is described as having gone on and devised "several conspiracy theories of his own”. The conclusion here is that Angleton and Wright, "with a penchant for conspiracy theory", "were seduced by Golitsyn's fantasies", which is exactly what Angleton's universally false evaluations and accusations, and the corresponding content of Wright's book (”Spycatcher”)" demonstrate.

The KGB in Europe and the West: The Mitrokhin Archive, Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, 1999

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Commentary: Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games

This book is an imaginative and theoretically expanded version of the "1000 page" paper written by the author in an effort to question the bona fides of Nosenko after he defected in February 1964. The first counterattack on his paper was my memo to the DD/O in March 1966, and his paper (and this book) was totally disproven in October 1968.

The theme of this work is stated clearly in its first paragraph, as Bagley first met Nosenko:

"As he took my welcoming hand, I had no idea that it was to drag me and my service into a labyrinth so complex that even today, more than forty years later, my successors still have not found their way through its twists and turns.”

The problem with that declaration is that it is entirely false. It is true that Bagley, guided by Angleton, did create a complex of invalid theories and assumptions which dragged CIA's Soviet operations and counterintelligence into a labyrinth. Their successors, however, found their way out of the Nosenko aspect of it in October 1968, when Nosenko was found to be a bona fide defector. The remainder of Bagley's book is a summary of the unsubstantiated arguments he made against Nosenko's bona fides from 1962 to 1967.

Bagley's initial concern regarding Nosenko's bona fides is the fact that many of the cases cited and comments made by Nosenko related to matters which Golitsyn had already reported on, although more vaguely and without concrete investigative or arrest results. The only case Golitsyn did report in detail sufficient to identify a KGB agent was of a French officer in the NATO press office, though the person arrested had not started working for the KGB until several months after Golitsyn's defection! The conclusion that Nosenko somehow was sent out by the KGB to divert Golitsyn's leads has no validity whatsoever—there is not one case which both reported on which was not better reported by Nosenko.

The only valid case of genuine overlap is the report here that Golitsyn had studied the file of the Soviet interpreter/ Radio Moscow announcer whom the KGB had run against us in Brussels and again in London in April 1961, when our polygrapher cleared him. Nosenko confirmed that, and I had already reported the polygraph as wrong in April 1961-that Belitskiy was a KGB plant.

In reporting identities of KGB spies in Western countries, Golitsyn is credited with two NATO officials—actually only one, a Frenchman, a Norwegian intelligence official—untrue, he cited the wrong one, a Canadian ambassador—who died during interrogation, a former CIA principal agent—not so, a minor support agent, and some highly placed French officers—not at all-none of his accusations led to any identification. Most-of his vague, inaccurate, and meaningless accusations came after he had reviewed numerous CIA documents, and then documents of the British , French, and Canadian services. Typical of his reporting was on a Canadian who was in and out of government assignments, who went on reporting to the KGB for 20 years because Golitsyn's "lead" was so vague.

The basic error in the author's analysis of Nosenko's reporting was the assumption that KGB officers should all report in the same way, no matter what their personal backgrounds and experiences. In fact, we had little background to go on in evaluating KGB officers, as we had only a couple of defectors as examples. The author goes back to the 20's and 30’s to come up with assumptions of KGB behavior in the 60's. Then WWII KGB operations and operations springing from immediate postwar disorganization and uncertainty. It is hardly worth re-analyzing every aspect of the author's presumptive treatment of every major element of Nosenko's reporting—it should be reexamined based on the fact that Nosenko was found to be bona fide after over three years of solitary confinement. It would require another book. The first step would be to discount everything which Golitsyn reported—only the Frenchman in the NATO press office is to his credit, and then only by chance. ls indefinite, but relevant information on Belitskiy helps. His denial that there was a Sino-Soviet split is the best reason for ignoring his theories/reporting. From the Nosenko standpoint, the fact is that every defector and asset with any KGB background has testified that Nosenko was a bona fide KGB defector.

The approach in this story is that all assets or defectors who supported Nosenko's bona fides were under KGB control. In the almost 50 years since then, none of them has ever been demonstrated to have been under KGB control. There is a recurrent, underlying assumption that there was a KGB penetration of CIA who was responsible for our loss of Soviet intelligence assets. No such penetration was ever found, nor supporting evidence developed , during the period of Nosenko's incarceration, or subsequently relevant. It is argued that Nosenko identified no KGB penetration, but it was his information that identified Vassall in the British Admiralty staff, not Golitsyn's, the U.S. army sergeant controlling the DOD classified documents station at Orly Airport, and more important, the argument that Golitsyn had reported the technical penetration of the American embassy was, like almost all of Golitsyn's information. too vague to get results. It was Nosenko's precise reporting on the location of wiring and microphones which led to discovery of the KGB technical equipment. The final conclusion of this argument was that Nosenko probably would redefect, which then led to his being placed in solitary confinement for another two years.

The author then denigrates, belittles, even insults, anyone who disagreed with his intricate conclusions about Nosenko and Golitsyn. As the first person to have reviewed his “1000 pages", and found them a complicated series of sometimes contradictory conclusions and assumptions, I am described as “a reports handler". Well, reports handlers are automatically Cl analysts—evaluating the bona fides of an asset by the information he reports. In my case, I had the same operational training the author did, then spent over two years running South and North Korean operations in Korea. Running operations against the USSR definitely was different, but working as the officer responsible for exploiting the intelligence potential of Popov, Artamonov, and Penkovskiy, and others was immediately informative.

The description of the actions of the new Cl Staff officers in 1975 Is quite incorrect. The author was most critical of the officer brought in to review the Nosenko case, alleging incorrectly that significant information of the previous staff officers had been discarded. Also, that the FBI NICKNACK information was properly handled by Angleton. Not so—Kalaris did go to Switzerland to report a penetration of the air force there, whether or not Hood had done so previously. And a code clerk in Austria who had been working for the KGB for five years was finally identified to the Austrians, arrested, and imprisoned. The author then invents a scheme in which he works out within the KGB a deception operation involving Nosenko. Part of this scheme ls based on KGB officer statements following the collapse of Communism which the author believes to support his theory.

The negative evaluation of Nosenko's bona fides is based on what the author had learned and concluded over the years about KGB officers' behavior and KGB operational techniques—no KGB officer would behave and be so uncertain of important facts as Nosenko was. However, if Nosenko had been trained and sent out by the KGB to be a deception agent, would he be so forgetful and inaccurate about KGB organizational and procedural matters?

The report of BW analyst Kuron's having been an asset of the East German HVA as of 1981, when I had been dealing with him and his chief, Tiedge, for three years, comes as no surprise, and recalls the mysterious loss of an HVA officer who had walked in to us. The defection of Tiedge to the KGB, three months after my retirement, also is an unpleasant reminder in this book. Tiedge tells his story in his 1998 book published in Berlin, "Der Ueberlaeufer"--“The Defector".

One thing which is confirmed here is that there were four French intelligence officers and a former French security agency department chief working for the KGB in the early 60's, which Golitsyn theorized, but, as usual, could provide no facts identifying them or the subjects on which they reported.

Comment: A standard statement in most books which report on the replacement of the Angleton staff in 1975 was that the new officers had no experience. Well, Kalaris had been a COS twice, Sternfield was an experienced field case officer, and I had had 20 years as a reports officer (CMO) after two years of operations in South Korea. Every COS has had Cl experience, which involves every operation which he oversees. So does every case officer. In my case, I believe that every CMO is a Cl officer—every report he handles must be considered from the Cl standpoint:

  • What is the probable access of the source?
  • Is the source reporting what he has access to?
  • Is the source reporting information to which he should not have access?
  • Is the source reporting information which is false, inconsistent with known information, incomplete, or "accidentally" illegible?

Using those principles, I made evaluations three times which were countered by polygraph findings, but which later turned out to be correct (Belitskiy, Artamonov, and a Finnish man, also in 1961, who claimed falsely to be receiving information from a Soviet scientist). My formal presentations on Nosenko and Loginov, disagreeing with the Angleton CI Staff, were correct, and my positive conclusions on FEDORA and TOPHAT , disagreeing with the Angleton Cl Staff and the FBI CI Staff, also were correct. In no case was any evaluation of bona fides which I made found later to be incorrect, in my 20 years as a CMO and three years as DC/Cl Staff.

So those who did have/claim CI experience and competence in the FBI were wrong about FEDORA and TOPHAT and I was right. Angleton's Cl Staff was wrong about Artamonov/Shadrin, Nosenko, Loginov, FEDORA, TOPHAT, NICKNACK, accusations against three clandestine operations officers whom they falsely accused of being KGB assets, officers they falsely accused in the Canadian RCMP and Norwegian military service, and accusations they made against the Soviet Division chief and deputy chief, and—Angleton himself. Angleton actually went to France and told the internal security chief that the former CIA Soviet Division chief was a KGB asset! The French security chief repeated that to me when I met him in Paris in 1976.

The truth is, in fact, that the new CI Staff was right about every bona fides judgment it made, including those of the Angleton CI Staff that the new staff reversed, as well as the key bona fides decisions made by the FBI Cl Staff. On the other hand, it is difficult to come up with any correct bona fides assessment made by the Angleton CI Staff, going all the way back to his assuming leadership of the CI Staff in 1953.

Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games, Tenent H. Bagley, 2007