Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Commentary: Widows

When Trento came to CIA to ask for someone to assist him in writing up our relationship with Artamonov, l was designated to assist him. Although my secretary in the Soviet Division , handling the processing of reporting in the late 60's, was the wife of another major figure in this book, John Paisley, I had no part in the section dealing with Paisley.

The first case he discusses is James Kronthal, whom he identifies as a KGB agent. That is not true. After his suicide in 1953, his history was thoroughly reviewed, and the conclusion, supported by his suicide letter (being homosexual was part of his suicide decision), was that he had not been a KGB asset in any way.

The problem with evaluating Trento's writing is that it is a series of theorized, imagined, or even false, statements. The latter is a good example of what the author uses as "evidence" or reasoning for his conclusions—the allegation that defector Deryabin provided information "unmasking" two KGB penetrations of the German BND—Deryabin did say that there were two penetrations, but had no detail at all on who they might be, so they continued to work for the KGB for another seven years after Deryabin's defection. One of the totally unfounded theories at this point is that the Polish defector who did identify the BND penetrations returned to KGB service after defecting to the US in early 1961! The allegation that Cleve Cram was to do a review of the case against Angleton is also nonsense—he was assigned to do the history of counterintelligence, which Angleton had basically turned down when made that offer by Colby. Cram was not selected or appointed by the new CI Staff but by the DD/O. The description of David Sullivan's behavior in the Office of Strategic Research, which John Paisley headed for a while, is far from the truth. He had no relationship with either the Soviet Division or the CI Staff, until the Soviet Division asked OSR for an analyst who could provide advice on complicated and technical reporting and Sullivan was assigned. Had he worked with the Soviet Division previously, he would have had to work with me, as I was the Division officer responsible for coordinating with OSR.

The FBI sources in the KGB and GRU, FEDORA and TOPHAT, are again described as having been identified by the FBI as under KGB control. These assessments were not shared by CIA after Angleton left the CI Staff, and CIA continued running them and evaluating their information as accurate for several more years. The TOPHAT reporting was reviewed by CI Staff officers in 1976 and found to be valid. The negative evaluations of FEDORA and TOPHAT bona fides by FBI CI chief Nolan and Angleton proved wrong over time.

The reference to Kissinger in the CKTRIGON cable supposedly reporting his discussion of the START talks with ambassador Dobrynin departs again from the truth. It is stated that the cable was an NSA intercept—not so, according to Sullivan's report, after taking the cable to NSA for analysis. And I never had any suspicion that Kissinger might have compromised CKTRIGON, nor any question of his loyalty as a result of Goleniewski's reporting eight years after he defected in 1961. The compromise of CKTRIGON was not known until six years later, when Koecher was discovered to have been a KGB agent while transcribing CKTRIGON's reporting. Again, the report of the handling of the cable citing Kissinger as revealing US SALT strategy is filled with assumptions and allegations. The translated cable was not shown to Sullivan by me, only the print from the original negative, and Soviet communications permitted NSA no analysis which would show whether a particular cable had been sent. Koecher was never given operational details on Soviet Division cases—even his transcriptions were essentially anonymous. There was no direct identification of CKTRlGON—he could be identified only by the information in his reporting which revealed his location and knowledge, which is why his reporting continued for some time after Koecher turned over his reports to the StB/ KGB.

The report of Sullivan's polygraph and its involvement of me lacks important facts. The totally false impression following the polygraphing was that I had been a party to Sullivan's passing CIA information to Senator Jackson. That is why DCI Turner demoted me in 1978. That demotion was removed and my rank restored in 2001, after Sullivan had provided me a full report of the facts relating to his relationship with Senator Jackson and the details of my request to him to have the original cable checked by NSA, and after I sent his detailed report to CIA from my job in Europe.

The case built up piece by invalid piece, making the case that Paisley was a KGB asset is utter nonsense. Everything that has no absolutely clear explanation, or could be somehow used to support that outlandish theory, is taken as evidence against him, then tied to other imaginative suspicions to support that case. There has never been any evidence whatsoever, from internal or FBI investigations, or from the reporting of our internal KGB assets or defectors, to suggest in any way that Paisley reported to a hostile intelligence service. His death was surely the consequence of the miserable life which he had come to lead, and the absence of any basis for looking ahead and seeing his life change for the better. Should there be any serious question as to whether the body found and identified as him is truly Paisley, DNA tests today would settle it.

The next case taken up in this book, Artamonov/ Shadrin, is the case l was designated to discuss with the Trentos. The author had already previously cast doubt on the report of KGB defector Yurchenko that Shadrin was killed by accident when captured in Vienna in December 1975. That fact was confirmed later by a KGB officer who had been involved personally in the incident (who is now a US citizen). That should remove any credibility of the last chapter here on Shadrin, a long concoction of another totally factless plot of which Artamonov was supposedly a KGB tool. There are even reports here of his having been seen later in Moscow! The authors present a photo in the book which purportedly shows Artamonov at a funeral in Moscow—a photo obviously either prepared by the KGB or happening to have someone in it with some similarity to Artamonov.

Widows, William R. Corson, Susan B. Trento, Joseph J. Trento, 1989


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