Re: [CT] [Analytical & Intelligence Comments] RE: The Dismantlingof a Suspected Russian Intelligence Operation
Date 2010-07-02 14:48:58
To firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
I’ll send him a response back.
Clearly, either an old UK or Aussie cold warrior who understands the risk
and knows the Great Game.
Strobe and Gore (as VP) were agents of influence of the KGB.
I shutter to think how many Obama appointees are reporting to the enemy.
Fortunately, Biden is too dumb to be reporting to anyone.
From: Sean Noonan
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 2010 07:28:08 -0500
To: CT AOR; EurAsia Team
ReplyTo: CT AOR
Subject: Re: [CT] [Analytical & Intelligence Comments] RE: The Dismantling
of a Suspected Russian Intelligence Operation
Christopher John Ward (Dr) sent a message using the contact form at
For the authors.
Please accept my sincerest congratulations on a most comprehensive and
comprehensible paper. As a retired counterintelligence expert (sorry
not to be able to tell you more by law), there are a few comments I
would like to address perhaps in the form of a description or my
world-view concerning Russian intelligence operations abroad.
Firstly , it concerns me greatly that the mainstream press appears to
have problems with the situation in Russia. I served through the
greater part of the Cold War and became aware of the number of times it
nearly became ” hot,” in fact many more times than revealed in history
books. In the early 1980s, there was no hint that the USSR would implode
but I held the view then that even if communism was renounced as the
doctrinal basis for Soviet actions, the West would still have to content
with a fairly formidable power and certainly one that would continue
with imperial pretensions first directed under the Czars especially a
desire for warm water ports.
The disastrous wipeout of the Soviet/Russian economy after the fall of
the Berlin Wall and the events of 1991 in Moscow led to so-called
assistance from the West, principally the US, to transform the command
economy of Russia and introduce free-market principles. Under the
auspices of the Clinton administration, a seemingly experienced team
went to Moscow to assist the Russians. The true story of that adventure
put me in mind of post- Civil War US history, when the South was
invaded by carpetbaggers. That scandal had two interesting players on
the US side namely, Vice-President Al Gore and Strobe Talbott, about
whom some of my FBI acquaintances had deep misgivings, more latterly
solidified by Comrade J, the SVR defector. There was also a
Congressional Enquiry which was not widely publicized: it can be found
The chaos of those years was bound to lead to authoritarian leadership.
In a mirror image of what happened to the Weimar Republic in Germany
(which produced Hitler), Russia could not continue under Boris Yeltsin
and when it was announced that a somewhat obscure former KGB lieutenant
colonel Vladimir Putin would replace him as president, I became as
curious as any Russia watcher. Because I write under several different
names, I don’t expect to get any credit for the term – the
“Putinization” of Russia which I described as a process of consolidation
of power and a shakeout of vested interests. It was known for years that
the Russia maffiya was under the control of the KGB and the corruption
that went with the old Soviet nomenklatura was replaced by perks and new
corruption for the siloviki, which became the basis of Putin’s power. By
my estimation, the consolidation of Russia under Putin, which I
described as Putinism, was complete half way through his second term of
president. In many respects, with freedom of religion and toleration of
free enterprise up to a point, Russia differed from the Soviet Union.
However, while many institutions of the communist regime were removed
or overhauled, the intelligence services were not affected to any great
deal, despite a great deal of wishful thinking in the West and
sleight-of-hand in Moscow: it was always business as usual. The GRU,
which was always underestimated by Western services continued unchecked
and unreformed and Putin increased their budget, built a new
headquarters and announced the identity of George Koval to the press as
one of the key GRU agents who had penetrated the US nuclear program. I
read about the case of the so-called baseball spy with incredulity
because his name is barely mentioned in any book concerning the spy
rings focused on the US government and the Manhattan project. It was
distinctly out of character for a former KGB officer to laud the GRU.
The division of the KGB into the SVR and FSB doesn’t require any comment
from me because it was all pretty public and many of the same old names
cropped up in new positions. I was retired by then but old spy catchers
rarely fade away: they become disenchanted and sometimes feel betrayed.
I find it quite astonishing as well as alarming that for years, there
have been reports both official and unofficial that the level of Russian
espionage against the West exceeded Cold War levels. Indeed, Joseph
Farah’s G2 has a regular who is closely connected with UK intelligence
and the message has been the same. From what I have been able to
ascertain, the principal focus of legal rezidencies has been to collect
scientific and technical information but influence operations and work
among emigres apparently continues.
I am not in a position to judge why the illegal ring was wound up at
this time. Surely, when Pres. Obama was having a cheeseburger with
Dmitry Medvedev recently, he knew that the FBI had closed the trap and I
wondered idly why he didn’t bother to ask the Russian President about
the levels of espionage and perhaps give him a gentle warning. As
anybody involved in counterintelligence is aware, illegal espionage
rings are expensive, time-consuming and resource hungry and require a
high degree of professionalism and patriotism. It is fairly obvious that
the legal residency of the SVR was used to service special needs of the
illegal network, using brush contacts and dead drops. Judging by the
number of people rounded up, this was more than one illegal network and
fairly obviously, the FBI, probably in conjunction with NSA managed to
intercept messages and conduct high quality surveillance on suspects,
including those from the Russian mission at the UN. It will be
interesting to see whether the US Department of State asks for the
quiet removal of the official who serviced in the ring in New York. In
my view, officers from the Illegals Directorate are usually fairly
difficult to identify and leaving them in place is a calculated risk.
In summing up, I have to agree with everything you have written about
the case but the fact remains that the US public, along with most of the
Western world, has failed to see that the Russians still have grand
objectives and that espionage is a key tool in gathering critical
information and influencing opinion. The Russians intend to become a
great power but they will not be able to match the US. On the other
hand, they are making overtures to all their old allies from the days of
the Soviet Union and adding a few new ones.
I will not pretend to be a wiseacre about George W. Bush and the global
war on terror. I watched it happen live on TV on that dreadful day, 9/11
and my heart went out to former acquaintances in the US as well as
friends. The much vaunted `peace dividend,’ which saw drastic reductions
in the size of security and intelligence organizations after the Cold
War was deemed to be over and won, produced a massive loss of
experience and coverage, which can never be completely replaced. It is
to the credit of the FBI that their counterintelligence staff rounded up
10 out of the 11 suspects. There has been much talk about US
intelligence organizations failing to “join the dots” about 9/11 and
subsequent terrorist activity and I hope that it is possible to persuade
some of those arrested to confess their crimes and for
counterintelligence to carefully delineate everything they got right in
this instance. The fringe dwellers of the press and media are doing
their best to laugh at this particular case which reveals their total
ignorance of firstly the Cold War and why the US and its allies
confronted the UtSSR and secondly, the almost total triumph of the left
in airbrushing history. I am quite sure that it will be publicly
demonstrated that this case had it all in the vernacular, brush
contacts, dead drops, surveillance, plenty of film and the material to
illustrate that the SVR still uses the same training methods and
tradecraft as the KGB. I continue to be astounded by the number of
so-called experts who believe that this illegal network was somehow
superfluous to requirements and their product could be gained through
Google or by other means. Yet anyone with a background in intelligence
knows full well why illegal networks are established and maintained.
Lastly, US illegal networks in Russia have usually been compromised
either by traitors at home or the thoroughness of the KGB. I doubt that
it is any easier today.