Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Commentary: The Spy Who Saved the World

Before the authors started writing this impressive book, they called me to visit them in the CIA office where they were working—since most of their reference material was classified. They just asked me to provide them with a list of those persons most able to provide them details of the operation and the impact of Penkovskiy's reporting. That was the last time I spoke to them, as l was leaving at once to accompany my wife on her assignment to Europe.

One puzzling thing that comes up in the book is the report that Kisevalter was born in the North Caucasus—that has appeared in other books, but he was actually born in St. Petersburg, as stated in "CIA Spymaster", essentially his autobiography.

As stated, my primary function with the Penkovskiy operational team was to provide the guidance as to what Penkovskiy should try to collect for us. That meant conducting liaison with MI-5, MI-6, and the British Defense Department. After each meeting with Penkovskiy, it was a matter of debriefing the team to see if there was anything timely or critical which needed to be forwarded to HQ at once, then briefing the team on matters to be taken up in the next meeting. After the September meetings in Paris, the British team leader, Shergold, told me that he wanted me to come to London, interview their Russian speakers, and set up a translation task force. When I sent that proposal to HQ, a message came back saying that the team was to be set up at HQ under my direction. Upon returning to HQ after the April meetings in London, I interviewed our Russian speakers and set up a translation team in Central Building; the second MI-6 case officer, Mike Stokes, was assigned as my partner, with the official title of MI-6 deputy station chief, and stayed with me for over a year.

That function was to review Penkovskiy's incoming documents, assign them priorities, review the translations, and take them to HQ for processing into reports. After reports were published, it was my responsibility to react to customer requests to use the information in finished intelligence, which meant visiting the agencies making the requests and assuring that their use of the information was not a risk to Penkovskiy's security, and that everything he had reported was included in their analysis.

The chapter " Return to London" omits an unpleasant operational development which was to reappear later in Paris to impact adversely on MI-6/CIA relations. When I arrived in London about a week before the second series of meetings started, in July 1961, to coordinate with MI-6, COS Wisner called me in and asked me to look at a HQ cable . The cable accused MI-6 of trying to steal the operation in Moscow, when the MI-6 station chief there wore a recognition signal so that Penkovskiy could, and did, identify him as a reliable contact.

Wisner asked for my opinion, and I replied that this was unhelpful nonsense. He thanked me and I left. When our team got there for the meetings, Wisner called for a meeting in the Carleton Gardens offices where we were meeting. The team met and Wisner asked Bulik to make his case. After he finished, Shergold responded. Wisner then thanked both of them and called the meeting over.

Another unfortunate complication arose when certain senior officers in HQ thought Penkovskiy should be polygraphed, in spite of the large volume of high- quality information he had already provided in the first series of some 20 meetings. The entire team opposed that for that reason. Also, the interpreter for cosmonaut Gagarin, who was visiting London, Belitskiy, had been recruited by us in Brussels in 1958, and had just been polygraphed. Asked to review his reporting, I concluded that he was under KGB control, in spite of the strong opinion of the polygraph operator and case officer that he was bona fide. MI-6 knew of my opinion, which did not help give them a strong feeling for the polygraph. (My Belitskiy analysis was not accepted by HQ until Golitsyn and Nosenko walked in and confirmed it in January 1962/June 1962!)

The report of Penkovskiy's being spotted walking down the Champs Elysees as the three-man American team sat at a café having a glass of wine is not quite right. When I saw him coming, I alerted Bulik, who, after he knew Penkovskiy saw him, got up and walked into an alley beside the café. Penkovskiy followed him, and after a few minutes, Bulik came back out, but Penkovskiy did not.

The awards which Quentin Johnson brought out from HQ for George and Joe were meant primarily to reassure George of our faith in him just before he was to be removed from the operation. .Ioe protested that an award also should be given to me, and Johnson said that would happen later. It never did. Some months after the operation ended in October 1962, my chief and l were given awards for preparation and dissemination of the Penkovskiy production. My involvement in the operational

team was never recognized until Shergold came to HQ in March 1998 and spoke about the operation to a full house in the HQ auditorium. When he started by identifying the team members, he gave my name and characterized me as “the unsung hero of the operation". In the "Circle of Treason", Vertefeuille and Grimes, is the statement: "The operational development by the CIA and its British partner, SIS (Special Intelligence Service), to capitalize on the opportunity has rightly been termed the most successful in the history of espionage". It remains a mystery after these 50 years as to why the “unsung hero" of the "most successful operation in the history of espionage" has never received from the CIA any recognition for that achievement!

The Spy Who Saved the World, Peter S. Deryabin and Jerrold L. Schecter, 1992

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