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

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