Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wikipedia Commentary: Yuri Nosenko

Note: These comments refer to a Wikipedia entry as it was in 2013.

This article starts out correctly saying that Yuriy Nosenko was a controversial figure, but states that the reason for that was his contradiction of defector Anatoliy Golitsyn's information. Not so, rather, that his information coincided with Golitsyn's information in several respects. The one apparent contradiction, the case of "Sasha", turned out to be two different persons, an important one in Nosenko's case and a wholly insignificant one in Golitsyn's case. Where their information coincided, Nosenko was almost always right and Golitsyn had only fragments which did not lead to useful identifications and conclusions. Golitsyn's jealousy of Nosenko and clinically diagnosed paranoia were accepted by CI Staff chief James Angleton as valid counterintelligence methodology, and he is responsible for the unprofessional and repulsive mishandling of Nosenko. Angleton then adopted the rest of Golitsyn's universally inaccurate analysis, evaluating all of Cl’s Soviet assets and defectors as under KGB control, which led eventually to false accusations against three outstanding operations officers.

Tennent ("Pete") Bagley is identified as Nosenko’s case officer, but he actually was run by George Kisevalter. Bagley happened to be in the area when Nosenko walked in in Geneva in June 1962, but his Russian was not adequate to handle the case, so Kisevalter was sent out to do it. When Nosenko defected in February 1964, Bagley was in a position in the Soviet Bloc Division to take over the case.

The failure of the KGB to question Lee Harvey Oswald when he defected to the USSR is raised. The fact is that after Oswald tried to commit suicide when he was first denied asylum, the Soviet Minister of Culture , a Khrushchev protégé, Instructed the KGB to leave Oswald alone. Nosenko did not claim review of the Oswald case, but that he had gone to Minsk, where Oswald lived, and brought his file back to Moscow after President Kennedy was assassinated.

FBI asset FEDORA is criticized for having supported Nosenko's bona fides, and FEDORA is described as having been recognized as under KGB control . He was included, of course, in the Angleton/Golitsyn comprehensive negative assessment of all assets and defectors, and the FBI eventually agreed with that, but CIA then reviewed his case after Angleton left and found him bona fide. He continued to report significant, confirmed information for almost 20 more years. He was not under KGB control.

Polygraph tests of Nosenko were carried out by the Soviet Bloc Division to prove him to be under KGB control, not to test his reliability. The conclusion was believed to indicate that he was suspect. As stated here, when he was finally released from isolated imprisonment in late 1967, not in Maryland but in a specially built prison in a CIA training facility in southern Virginia, a polygraph test by Security found him to be bona fide. KGB defector Petr Deryabin, never a general in the KGB, never a CIA agent, as is stated here, continued to believe that Nosenko was a KGB plant. Deryabin was a useful CIA contract employee, but he was dedicated to detail in every respect, and Nosenko had directly the opposite personality and disinterest in much of what existed and went on around him.

It is stated here that Golitsyn claimed that there was a "mole deep in the CIA". Not so, as he was taken to dinner with DCI Dulles soon after his defection and Dulles asked him whether CIA was penetrated by the KGB. Golitsyn said that it was not. Later, he brought up the insignificant "Sasha" case.

The question as to whether Angleton was responsible for our hostile interrogation of Nosenko is answered in part by the fact that he persuaded Bagley not to consider him bona fide.

Any review of the Nosenko case must consult the overt reporting and records of the FBI. The FBI finally was allowed to interview Nosenko, after almost five years, and acquired a substantial amount of significant information from him which was still useful. His use by CIA after 1974 to and lecture to substantial CIA audiences was very valuable. Every Soviet asset or defector since his defection has testified to his bona fides, and described the devastating impact of his defection on the KGB management and overseas assignments.