"On Monday, federal prosecutors accused 11 people of being part of a Russian espionage ring, living under false names and deep cover in a patient scheme to penetrate what one coded message called American “policy making circles.”
An F.B.I. investigation that began at least seven years ago culminated with the arrest on Sunday of 10 people in Yonkers, Boston and northern Virginia. The documents detailed what the authorities called the “Illegals Program,” an ambitious, long-term effort by the S.V.R., the successor to the Soviet K.G.B., to plant Russian spies in the United States to gather information and recruit more agents.
The alleged agents were directed to gather information on nuclear weapons, American policy toward Iran, C.I.A. leadership, Congressional politics and many other topics, prosecutors say. The Russian spies made contact with a former high-ranking American national security official and a nuclear weapons researcher, among others. But the charges did not include espionage, and it was unclear what secrets the suspected spy ring — which included five couples — actually managed to collect.
Experts on Russian intelligence expressed astonishment at the scale, longevity and dedication of the program. They noted that Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian prime minister and former president and spy chief, had worked to restore the prestige and funding of Russian espionage after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dark image of the K.G.B.
“The magnitude, and the fact that so many illegals were involved, was a shock to me,” said Oleg D. Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who was a Soviet spy in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s under “legal” cover as a diplomat and Radio Moscow correspondent. “It’s a return to the old days, but even in the worst years of the cold war, I think there were no more than 10 illegals in the U.S., probably fewer.”
I’m not sure why experts on Russian intelligence would express “astonishment at the scale, longevity and dedication of the program.” Russia has been spying on the U.S. since the 1940’s. Did we really think that it would stop just because the cold war got put on the back burner?
That’s why I’m underwhelmed when I hear stories like this. There are spy satellites, NSA listens in to just about every mobile phone call, the internet is scanned regularly by intelligence agencies, and there’d be nothing surer than that the CIA, Mossad, MI5 etc. have their own spies in Russia.
It’s all rather hypocritical when one country accuses another country of spying, when they’re doing the very same thing themselves. Take the log out of your own spies eyes, and they might even be able to spy better.
The difference is that they haven’t been caught yet. I also wonder if the CIA would have bothered exposing the spies, or just used them for disinformation if they had their way. The good old honest FBI probably have a different ethos I suppose.
Nevertheless, it’s always been easier in more open societies such as the US, for foreign agents to remain undercover and work their way into policy positions. The human aspect of spying is harder for the U.S. to carry out in other countries just because they are often more closed societies. Russia still is, though not as much so as during its days as the USSR.
And, I don’t draw an equivalence between all nations, and thus between all spying operations. There’s a difference between nations and ideologies which intend global harm and those which do not. There is real need for good intelligence from nations such as North Korea, China, Iran, and even Russia, but it’s hard to get.
I’m sure that Russia has had some success in their espionage operations. Back when I was in the USAF going to missile school, I recall that a few years after the U.S. had developed the Minuteman-I ICBM, some news came out about the new ICBM system from USSR. It looked remarkably similar to our entire operation. Some of us commented that ‘well, they probably sent a few guys through this very school.’ We were just hoping that they’d also copied all the safeguards.
When the USS Pueblo spy ship was captured by North Korea, it was a great propaganda coup for them. Now, the ship sits in a North Korean harbor and is one of the few “tourist attractions” to which visitors are taken. (For tourists, it’s a mandatory visit.) But the bad thing was that the ship was defenseless. Had it been well armed, it might have escaped.
In most public circumstances that is true. However various governmental agency’s in most western countries tend to be highly protective of “state secrets” and of organizational secrecy. That’s why you have the NSA, CIA, Military forces, FBI and a whole swag of other Agencies all holding various pieces of classified information, some of which is even classified even from the other agencies within the government itself. The spy operations therefore are likely to be “policy” spy operations of an expanded scope, generally covering a wider range of issues.
So no matter if the parliamentary or public displays are more open in our societies, the overall and rather deliberate bureaucratic organization or more correctly dis-organization of information can potentially make spying by other countries more difficult to coordinate and cost more money, a lot more money. However the downside is of cause that it can also hinder your own investigations due to lack of coordination between agencies, such as sadly occurred concerning Osama Bin Laden before 9/11/01.
With a closed society, there is most likely to be less of an amount of disorganization resulting in more focused and potentially less overall monetary costs, but “higher stakes” in gaining the information required as you stated.
The Russians are coming? The Russians are here. America is infested with more Russian spies than at any point in history, say former intelligence agents who spoke with The Post. “I would say there are a few thousand here,” said Boris Korczak, a former double agent who worked for the CIA, spying on the KGB from 1973-1980. That’s because each mole is a long shot, and the Russians want to maximize their odds. “Out of 1,000 spies, one or two will perform, will get access to our nuclear secrets,” Korczak said.
In October 1999, the Pueblo was towed from Wonson on the east coast, around the Korean Peninsula, to the Nampo on the west coast. This required moving the vessel through international waters. With no Carrier Battle Group available in Korean waters no attempt to recapture the Pueblo was made. This move was done just before the visit of U.S. presidential envoy James Kelly to the capital Pyongyang. The present location of Pueblo is on the Taedong River in Pyongyang, next to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. It is currently the only American naval vessel held in captivity in the world. It is used by North Korea as one of its tourist attractions.
On January 5, 1968, Pueblo left Yokosuka, Japan in transit to Sasebo, Japan from where she left on January 11, 1968 headed northward through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan. She left with specific orders to intercept and conduct surveillance of Soviet naval activity in the Tsushima Strait and to gather signal and electronic intelligence from North Korea.
On January 20 at 5:30pm a North Korean modified SO-1 class Soviet style sub chaser passed within 4000 yards (4 km) of the Pueblo, which was about 15.4 miles southwest of Mayang-do at a position 39°47’N and 128°28.5’W.
In the afternoon of January 22, the two DPRK fishing trawlers (Lenta Class) Rice Paddy 1 and Rice Paddy 2 passed within 30 yards (27 m) of Pueblo. That day, a North Korean unit made an assassination attempt against the South Korean President Park Chung-Hee, but the crew of Pueblo were not informed.
According to the American account, the following day, January 23, Pueblo was approached by a sub chaser and her nationality was challenged; Pueblo responded by raising the U.S. flag. The DPRK vessel then ordered her to stand down or be fired upon. Pueblo attempted to maneuver away, but was considerably slower than the sub chaser. Additionally, three torpedo boats appeared on the horizon and then joined in the chase and subsequent attack. The attackers were soon joined by two MiG-21 fighters. A fourth torpedo boat and a second sub chaser appeared on the horizon a short time later.
The ammunition on Pueblo was stored below decks, and her machine guns were wrapped in cold weather tarpaulins. The machine guns were unmanned, and no attempt was made to man them. Only one crew member, with former army experience, had ever had any experience with .50 cal. machine guns.
The North Korean vessels attempted to board Pueblo, but she maneuvered to prevent this for over two hours and a sub chaser opened fire with a 57 mm cannon, killing one member of the crew. The smaller vessels fired machine guns into Pueblo, which then signaled compliance and began destroying sensitive material.
Radio contact between the Pueblo and the Naval Security Group in Kamiseya, Japan had been ongoing during the incident. As a result, Seventh Fleet command was fully aware of Pueblo’s situation. Air cover was promised but never arrived. The Fifth Air Force had no aircraft on strip alert, and estimated a two to three hour delay in launching aircraft. The USS Enterprise was located 510 miles south of the Pueblo, yet its four F-4B aircraft on alert were not equipped for an air-to-surface engangement. Enterprise’s captain estimated that 1.5 hours were required to get the converted aircraft into the air. By the time President Lyndon Johnson was awakened, Pueblo had been captured and any rescue attempt would have been futile.
Pueblo followed the North Korean vessels as ordered, but then stopped immediately outside North Korean waters. She was again fired upon, and a U.S. sailor, Fireman Apprentice Duane Hodges, was killed. The ship was boarded by men from a torpedo boat and a sub chaser.
There was dissent among government officials in the U.S. regarding how to handle the situation. Rep. Mendel Rivers said the Pueblo should be returned immediately while Senator Gale McGee said the U.S. should wait for more information and not make “spasmodic response[s] to aggravating incidents.”
USS Pueblo in North Korean custody on Jan 26, 1968 (CIA Lockheed A-12 Imagery)
On December 23, 1968 the crew was taken by buses to the DMZ border with South Korea and ordered to walk south across the “Bridge of No Return”. They are released one-at-a-time, 15 seconds apart across the Bridge of No Return in the Joint Security Area of the DMZ in Panmunjon, Korea. Exactly eleven months after being taken prisoner, the Captain led the long line of crewmen, followed at the end by the Executive Officer, Lieutenant Ed Murphy, the last man across the bridge.
It’s just politically incorrect to expose some of them.
You don’t need a Ph.D. to find holes in peoples’ backgrounds. When things just don’t make sense. When they use multiple identities and move around across international boundaries with multiple passports. When their academics don’t add up.
A lot of people have problematical personal finances [unexplained sources of income]. But it gets papered over.
Just look at the money from Occidental Petroleum / Armand Hammer.
In 1995, Bill Clinton released into the public domain the Venona papers. They showed clearly the Soviet infiltration into the United States government during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Read everything you can find on Venona. Visit both google and Amazon.
Read “Major Jordan’s Diaries”; it’s on-line; you can just download and print it. You will be shocked.
That was what we know, in retrospect, about Soviet infiltration in the past.
Now we are getting glimmers of Soviet infiltration in the present.