Tuesday 27 January 2004

Anatoliy Golitsyn: The KGB's Most Dangerous Defector

by Trowbridge H. Ford

The KGB's Anatoliy Golitsyn, like all important Soviet defectors, was most dangerous because he was really a disinformation agent, sent over specifically to suggest false targets, to undermine effective opponents, and to exploit distrust that MI5's Peter Wright, the Soviets' leading spy, was especially cultivating among Western intelligence agencies, helping induce them to adopt their own secret agendas in policy, to target leaders, particularly domestic ones, who would not go along, and to coopt politicians who would. Communist disinformation was intended to confuse the West by means of fabricated messages, fake messengers, and false feedback about what Moscow's real intentions were, and how it hoped to achieve them. Real defectors, like Igor Gouzenko, Yuri Nosenko, and Konstantin Volkov, were rendered useless by similar Soviet counterintelligence which either discredited or disposed of them.

While Western historians, particularly Cambridge's Christopher Andrew, have understandably been most reluctant to discuss Golitsyn's alarms - dismissing them generally as well-intended but wild conspiracy theories which a few paranoid counterintelligence officers, especially the Agency's CI Chief James Angleton, and Wright himself, unfortunately took too seriously, as if intelligence agencies are democracies run by majority rules - when they do, they neither put them in the right context nor discuss the countermeasures the West adopted against them. Instead they discuss Golitsyn's operational claims - the KGB had penetrated the intelligence services, including CIA, of every NATO country, would send false defectors to discredit Golitsyn, and was plotting to kill a Western political leader (Mark Rebling, Wedge, pp. 181-2), though even here they never followed their fallout to their obvious conclusions.

By 1961, with the jailing of Gordon Lonsdale's network, the KGB was now more interested in paralyzing Western counterintelligence capability rather than gaining any new intelligence sources. Lonsdale's network had not really been hurt by its imprisonment because the KGB Colonel was no longer needed to recruit new agents and sources, the Krogers aka the Cohens were no longer needed for receiving, and sending intelligence, and Harry Houghton and his girl friend, Ethel Gee, were now convenient scapegoats who had outlived their usefulness as spies. The real spies, headed by the famous 'K' aka Peter Wright and SCOTT, were in place, and capable of developing new sources of information while individually passing along what they had amassed to Moscow by various means. Wright's over-the-top pursuit of Lonsdale had just cleaned up the network so that it could operate more secretly and efficiently.

When Golitsyn defected in December 1961, walking into the American Embassy in Helsinki where he was serving in the KGB residency, and being taken immediately to Ashford Farm in Maryland for debriefing, it is true that East-West relations were most tense because of JFK's unwillingness to support the anti-Castro Cubans, especially their invasion plans, and Khrushchev's surprise construction of the Berlin Wall in August, what historians have concentrated upon. (See, e. g., Christopher Andrew, The Sword and the Shield, p.177ff.) Actually, though, the really important event was the briefing that the Agency's Inspector General Lawrence Houston gave Attorney General Robert Kennedy in October about its use of the Mafia to assassinate the Cuban leader - what RFK took the strongest exception to, and DDP Richard Helms immediately negated by having Wright return to headquarters to reinvigorate the operation.

RFK's reaction to this most counterproductive news to his crime-fighting crusade, what had started in September 1960 after Lee Harvey's Oswald's efforts as a Manchurian Candidate in the USSR were clearly not panning out, was that the CIA should inform the Attorney General if it ever tried it again, what Helms had no intention of doing, once Wright sorted out the friction caused by his lecture on RAFTER with Angleton, and 'Executive Action' head William Harvey over the forced defection of the Polish Intelligence Service's Michael Goleniewski. Wright indicated that the KGB had been able to intercept the CIA's communications with Goleniewski - something that MI5 knew, but had failed to inform the Agency of - which caused his premature exposure, and flight from his native land. Wright had apparently forced the matter because the Bureau's Al Belmont had indicated that Western counterintelligence was closing in on Lonsdale's network when the head of its domestic counterintelligence suggested that the Krogers might indeed be the Cohens.

For Harvey, heading the Agency's assassination program in Cuba, Wright made the need of using the Mafia to kill Castro crystal clear after they cleared up the inter-agency bitterness caused by MI5 failing to inform CIA of the risk it took by continuing to communicate, thanks to Soviet RAFTER capability, with Goleniewski by HF radio. After Wright joked about Harvey having missed the original briefing he had given two years earlier on the need (p. 154), as if Harvey had not been working round the clock to satisfy it, as I tried to show in my article about him, Britain's technical expert made it clear that CIA had no option but to use the Mafia again before JFK worked out some disreputable deal with the Cuban dictator, what Britain's Colonial Office had done with the Cypriot leader, EOKA's Colonel Grivas, before MI5 and the Army could assassinate him.

Wright, after informing them how Britain tried to eliminate Egypt's Gamal Nasser during the Suez Crisis - what the MI5 officer had done more than anyone else to make sure worked out to Moscow's advantage - explained that it was now Langley's problem to resolve with the needed personnel, and improved technical means. After Wright ruled out borrowing soldiers from Special Air Service (SAS), though MI6 might agree to the use of retired personnel, he discussed in most suggestive, but deliberately ill-informed ways Sir William Stephenson's use of the Mafia in New York during WWII (p. 161), and how SIS crudely tried to assassinate Nasser with a poisoned dart, as if he were a stand-in for CIA's efforts against Castro, operations Wright claimed he disapproved of during peacetime. "Beyond that, there was little help I could offer Harvey and Angleton, and I began to feel I had told them more than enough." (p. 162) For good measure, though, Wright concluded: "We're the junior partner in the alliance, remember? It's your responsibility now."

Golitsyn's defection six weeks later just reinforced Wright's message. The defector claimed that Khrushchev, despite his leaked denunciation of Stalin at the 20th CPSU Congress, was still seeking world domination. Now that the General Secretary had crushed his competitors for the leadership, he had given Alexandr Shelepin, the new KBG head, the responsibility of determining how to win the Cold War without war, starting with rapid expansion in the Third World. Instead of the communist world being badly divided, and the disarray growing worse by the day, as the faint-hearted in the West were claiming, Moscow had decided to make a viture out of false appearances, what the new organizations to propagate disinformation, especially Colonel Agayants' Department D, and to promote active measures, particularly the KGB's Department 13, were to perform, once General Serov had been transferred out to head the GRU in mid-1959. In light of all this, Andrew still only asserted that the Soviets only started acting on Shelepin's strategy then, in the summer of 1961 when Golitsyn was planning to defect. (p. 363ff.)

To show that Shelepin meant business, the KGB immediately, it seems, had Bodgan Stashinsky, who had apparently killed Ukrainian ideologue Lev Rebet two years earlier, assassinate Stephan Bandera in October 1959 with a similar spray gun in West Germany, the Ukrainian nationalist leader dying like the tied up dog in the experiment. Two months later, according to Golitsyn, Stashinsky was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for the deeds, and started attending an accelerated English language course so that he could carry out an extensive program of "wet affairs" against Western leaders, especially British ones. In June 1960, as the American presidential election campaign was heating up, Shelepin allegedly impressed upon Khrushchev the need of such covert actions because the Pentagon was allegedly gearing up for a first strike against the USSR.

While the Soviets constructed the Berlin Wall to defend better against such a possibility in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, it was one day too late from preventing Stashinsky fleeing to the West where he quickly spilled the beans to a West German court about what Moscow was up to. Stashinsky's confession, though, especially since there were no witnesses to the stairway sprayings, could have been clever disinformation to prime Western countermeasures which Moscow could take advantage of. "According to Anatoli Golitsyn, who defected four months after Stashinsky," Andrew added vaguely, "at least seventeen KGB officers were sacked or demoted." (p. 362) Of course, Golitsyn was put next to Igor Gouzenko, the famous cipher clerk who tried to spill the beans on Soviet atomic spying, on the KGB's death list for the trouble he caused. (p. 367)

With this message, and these credentials, it was hardly surprising that CIA went overboard about anything Golitsyn claimed. While Harvey was busy seeing that anything Castro might come in contact with was sprinkled with some toxic, exploding, or disorienting substance (For more on this, see Senate Select Committee with Respect to Intelligence Activities. Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1975.), Helms took Golitsyn's serials about moles within CIA most seriously. The problem that Peter Karlow had consequently with the Agency was just the tip of the iceberg. (See Mark Riebling, Wedge, pp. 180-4.)

After the JFK assassination, when Nosenko defected to dampen suspicions of Soviet involvement for his own benefit, as Golitsyn had predicted, CIA was most eager to discredit not only him but anyone attempting to corroborate what he was claiming. Angleton was given the Special Investigations Group under the leadership of Scott Miler to go after targets Golitsyn provided, thanks to FBI feedback. Before it was through, it had discredited another Ukrainian nationalist, CIA's contract agent-handler in Berlin Igor "Sasha" Orlov aka Alexander Koptatsky; Orlov's handler Paul Garbler, Moscow Station Chief who used to play tennis with SIS officer George Blake in Korea, who possibly betrayed Oleg Penkovsky during the Cuban Missile Crisis; Richard Kovich of the Soviet Division who might have compromised Colonel Pyotr Popov during the Berlin Tunnel operation, and Kovich's chief, David Murphy, who was also suspected of betraying Andrew Yankovsky's network in North Korea, while throwing a cloud of suspicion over the Bureau's only important spies, Aleksei Kulak aka Fedora, and Dmitri Polyakov aka Top Hat. "Perhaps Golitsyn had been planted," Reibling belatedly confessed, "to discredit all future KGB sources, no matter who they were" (Emphasis his, p. 225.), a possibility that Andrew would not even entertain. (p. 185)

While Agency CI was pursuing Golitsyn's false leads, he concentrated on getting to higher-ups, ultimately the President, to inform them of the need of fixing Shelepin's strategy, starting with Castro's Cuba. Khrushchev had just appointed Alexandr Alexiev, with the KGB chief's approval, Soviet ambassador to Havana because of his rapport with the increasingly isolated, island nation, and in May, Alexiev sold the idea to Castro of installing Soviet nuclear missiles as the only way of saving his revolution from American aggression. (Jon Lee Anderson, CHE Guevara, p. 523ff.) Golitsyn's mission was to see that the missiles were removed, and the strategically-useless island regime with them. While the defector was able to see RFK about the need, DDP Helms would not let him see the President. After the settlement of the Missile Crisis, Helms saved this task for himself, forcing his way into the Oval Office with allegedly conclusive evidence of Cuba's expansive intentions just before JFK left Washington on his fatal Texas trip. The President ignored Golitsyn's warnings via Helms about monolithic communism at this peril.

At the same time, the defector was creating similar disarray among British intelligence services, what Wright had already anticipated through "the grapevine" when MI5's Arthur Martin informed him that Golitsyn was telling all. (Spycatcher, p. 163ff.) Of course, the Security Service gobbled up his 10 serials, especially about Cambridge's "Ring of Five", like manna from Heaven, leading, thanks to additional hints from Venona decrypts, to the exposure of Sir Anthony Blunt, the Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, and Ultra's John Cairncross who had already fled to Rome, though they had long since stopped spying for the Soviets. Golitsyn fingered homosexual clerk John Vassall, who had been passing NATO secrets from Lord Carrington's office to the Soviets, and confirmed UB officer Michael Goleniewski's claim that George Blake had compromised the Berlin Tunnel Operation. Then there were murkier claims about David and Rosa, who had already been conveniently declared Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, being, in fact, Tess and Victor Rothschild, who had worked with MI5 during the war, and now was head of research at the Shell Oil Company.

Wright, of course, made such a meal of Golitsyn's serials, ultimately even claiming that MI5's DG Roger Hollis was one, that the Security Service was made the laughing stock of Moscow before it was through, even Oleg Gordievsky so reporting to Michael Smith, author of New Cloak, Old Dagger (pp. 62-1), much to Andrew's discomfort. Actually, the pursuit of the serials was the least damaging of the feedback that Wright provided, though, since he used them to see that any associates, even innocent ones, were exposed, and discredited, thanks to technical assistance DDP Richard Helms provided after the Dallas assassination, creating a witch hunt.

More important, Wright used the suspicion of Rothschild to make sure that he supported his program to develop new scientific means of spying, what the Soviets desperately wanted, to pursue Golitsyn's leads about what was allegedly locked up in Moscow's safest safes - i. e., the KGB special file on British intelligence, the index at headquarters on Britain's moles, who in SIS had betrayed "Buster" Crabbe's diving mission when Khrushchev came visiting on the cruiser Ordzhonikidze, who stole Wright's own "Technics" Document, and the like. (p. 278).

Finally, Wright used Golitsyn to confirm that the Soviets had killed the thriving Labour leader Hugh Gaitsell somehow with lupus disseninata when he visited the USSR in 1963 to see that its top agent of influence, Harold Wilson, would be the next Prime Minister. (Actually, Gaitsell was quite sick at the time, so sick that he could have only contracted lupus erythematosus at the Soviet Embassy in London as he never left the country.) Gaitsell's doctor, like Wright, was apparently so surpirsed by his sudden demise that he volunteered his suspicions of foul play to MI5, causing Wright, Martin and Angleton to get involved to prove that the Soviets had done it. (p. 362) (Apparently, the doctor, a counterintelligence specialist, got in touch with the Security Service anytime an important patient died of an unexpected disease.)

The Vietnam War just added fuel to this destructive process against Anglo-American intelligence, one which would only abate with Watergate, and its fallout. While Nixon was being forced to resign after the understanding he reached with his Chief of Staff, General Alexander Haig, that he would receive a pardon to escape criminal prosecution, Helms, Harvey, Angleton, Miler, Director Hoover, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, E. Howard Hunt, and William Colby, with their most secret files, departed the Washington intelligence scene too. In the process, though, President Gerald Ford, America's only appointed chief executive, was able to arrange the false legend, thanks to Colby's candor for which he was canned, that his predecessors were responsible for CIA's worst dirty tricks, especially its assassination efforts.

In London, the weakened Heath government, racked by civil unrest because of its too vigorous pursuit of subversion at home and in Northern Ireland, gave way to a suspect Wilson administration. Martin had long since departed from MI5 because of its failure to pursue vigorously enough alleged moles within its ranks, though Wright did stick around long enough to see Margaret Thatcher replace Heath as Conservative Party Leader in Febraury 1975, and the culmination of Golitsyn's undoing of the PM, Wilson resigning in March 1976 despite assurances by the new DCI George Bush that there was no such plot against him. Wright's final contribution to the campaign had been to claim that Wilson was working for the KGB's Vaygaukas through cutout Joseph Kagan, a Lithuanian emigre turned shady businessman. The only evidence for this claim was the fact that Wilson's friend and benefactor sometimes played chess with a Soviet diplomat who was also a KGB agent. (Lewis Baston, Sleaze, 83)

Incredible as it may seem, Golitsyn's network was revived, once Thatcher and Reagan got their rabid anti-communism campaigns together after the hiccup caused by Argentina's seizure of the Falklands. Just as Washington was giving up on its tough economic sanctions against the USSR, what risked doing the greatest damage to NATO because of how it effected British interests, its submarines started operating in Swedish waters contrary to the policy and knowledge of Stockholm's new statsminister, Olof Palme. The British Prime Minister approved every intrusion, according to Ola Tunander's Harsfjarden (p. 13), complementing what Reagan had agreed to the US Navy doing off the Kola peninsula the previous year. (Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Blind Man's Bluff, p. 315ff.) Sir Keith Speed, a former Navy Minister under Thatcher, and Caspar Weinberger, Reagan's SOD, admitted as much in March and April 2000 interviews for the Swedish TV2 program Striptease.

The unknown American and British intrusions into the Stockholm archipelago in October 1982 recalled the Soviets' U-137 going aground off Karlskrona before Palme regained power. The new intrusions created a chorus of disapproval against the new statsminister, defense experts in London and Washington, especially Milton Leitenberg, and Gordon McCormick, universally clamoring that he was permitting Moscow's U-boats to use Swedish waters for offensive purposes, and allowing them to escape undetected when threatened with exposure. The effect of the NATO disinformation campaign was dramatically demonstrated when Swedish public opinion, fearful of Soviet intentions, tripled in only three years.

To legitimize the campaign against Palme, CIA's Scott Miler, MI5's Arthur Martin, and MI6's Stephen de Mowbray, now retired, persuaded Golitsyn to publish his latest thoughts about KGB disinformation, New Lies For Old, even providing an introduction to strengthen its Sisyphean message (p. xvi), and published both in England and America in 1984. According to Wright, de Mowbray, SIS's handler of Golitsyn, kept alive their claims of KGB penetration of the Security Service. (p. 202ff.) Golitsyn now saw Moscow's cycle of deception entering a new, most dangerous phase in which the Soviets' leading agent of influence threatened to achieve what Eurocommunists, social democrats, and misguided fellow-travellers were vaguely attempting, based upon the classic communist "false flag" recruitment technique.

Thanks to Golitsyn's alleged experience in the NATO section of the Information Department of the KGB's FCD during 1959-60, he slowly developed a tale of betrayal, especially in Scandinavia, centered around this claim: "A KGB agent was planted on the leadership of the Swedish social democratic party" (p. 55), whose interests Moscow was willing to promote by selected assassination, as Stashinsky did to Bandera on Shelepin's orders (ibid.), and the Soviets did to Afghan President Amin in 1979. (p. 164) Along the way, Golitsyn used other social democrats, like Finland's Herta Kuusinen and Mauno Koivisto, as substitutes for this agent's dangerous policies of "Finlandizing" the whole of Europe.

It was only three hundred pages later, though, that the reader discovered that the culprit was, in fact, Palme (p. 349), the social democrat who threatened to make Soviet stooges out of all of Scandinavians for Moscow's strategic purposes, what "Leader" (p. 282ff.) and "Timo" (p. 285ff.) allegedly had only been able to achieve within Finland, though they seem fictions invented by the author for dramatic effect. According to Golitsyn, Palme made himself so indispensible to statsminister Tage Erlander, thanks to his recruitment by Novosti's bureau chief in Stockholm, N. V. Nejland (p. 287ff.), to pass along messages to Moscow, for which he was paid, that Erlander intended for the American and British ambassadors, that he replaced him. Novosti was the leading organ of Shelepin's disinformation campaign. (p. 46)

It was little over a year later on February 28, 1986 that Golitsyn got what he wanted, Palme's assassination, neutralizing at the strategic level the "...political damage caused by communist agents of influence and their disinformation." (p. 363) This was despite the statsminister's most vigorous efforts to show that he was not a Soviet stooge, even sacking his foreign minister, Lennart Bodstrom, when he dismissed the idea of Soviet submarine intrusions. Apparently, London and Washington took Golitsyn's claims more seriously than the statsminister's actions. In the end, the libel judgment in January 1986 against Private Eye, for denying two years earlier American Ambassador to Helsinki Mark Austad's claim that all Scandinavians were Soviet stooges, had provided the former CIA agent ample reward for repeating Golitsyn's warning.

Of course, Golitsyn's published views had helped tip off Moscow what the West was planning in Stockholm, explaining why Vitali Yurchenko "defected" to the CIA in August 1985 to check on the bona fides of its Aldrich "Rick" Ames as a Soviet spy in the double-agent Operation Courtship, and why, after being briefed by defector Gordievsky about current operations, he rushed without authority, thanks to the assistance of fellow spy, the FBI's Robert Hanssen, to the Soviet Embassy in Washington two weeks before the statsminister's shooting to inform Moscow of its timing. On the day of the assassination, KGB Chief Viktor Chebrikov even gave an unprecedented press conference in Moscow, warning the West that all its double-agent operations had been rolled up. For good measure, the KGB closed down its residency that night in Stockholm to make sure that neither the Agency nor Sweden's Security Service gained any damaging feedback while it was being carried out, making it such an isolated act that it almost defied solution.

When Stockholm duly failed to provide a solution to the most expert operation, something that only elite special forces were capable of, Golitsyn's disinformation became highly dangerous, explaining why MI5's DD Anthony Duff did a flip-flop over the appearance of Spycatcher. While Wright was finishing the manuscript, and trying to find a publisher, Duff went to unprecedented lengths, even going public in the press, to stop him. It was only when Britain's High Court was hearing the appeal for an injunction against publication in the UK that Duff suddenly gave up the fight, as Mr. Justice Scott noted: MI5 had taken no steps to prevent the importation of copies from America, or the publication of books with similar complaints of the Security Service. (Smith, note 18, p. 285)

The reason was clear - MI5 could take comfort in what Wright was now most wrong about. Britain was no longer the junior partner in operations that Harvey had previously conducted -having provided the assassin, apparently Captain Simon Hayward aka Captain James Rennie, the Ops Officer of the 14 Intelligence Company's South Detachment, in the Palme shooting - and the Security Service had clearly done more with Golitlsyn than its former Assistant Director had claimed. Duff was most willing to take the heat for all the failed operations, and the too vigorous pursuit of alleged subversives in return for this refusal of British help to CIA's assassination program: " ' They don't freelance, Bill ', I told him. ' You could try to pick them up retired, but you'd have to see Six about that.' " (p. 161) About the defector, Wright, retired for over a decade, added: "Although MI5 avoided the excesses of the CIA, Golitsin was still badly handled. He was allowed to think himself too important. All defectors should be treated at arm's length, and made to earn their keep, and as little feedback as possible should ever be given them.... Right from his first visit to Britain in 1963, we opened up to Golitsin, and I was responsible for that as much an anyone." (p. 315)

Under the circumstances, CIA understandably felt obliged, after a decent interval to dim recollections, to come to Golitsyn's defense, Riebling claiming that he had proved a real Cassandra in New Lies for Old when it came to the Soviet Union! (p. 407ff.) Despite all the harsh criticism by reviewers, Riebling contended, Golitsyn had predicted all the important changes which led to the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev to power, and the transformations which led to the collapse of the USSR: "This person's analysis of events in the communist world had even been provided to the Agency on a regular basis. But the American intelligence community had chosen not to listen - and the roots of that willful deafness could be traced back, ultimately thirty years, to a series of developments that caused a clash of mind-sets between CIA and FBI."

The contortions and contradictions that Anglo-American intelligence services went through to deny Golitsyn's extensive use were repeated in how London was forced at the same time to handle the Captain Simon Hayward matter. After SIS had been forced to set him up on a drug smuggling charge in Sweden because of opposition by 'Steak Knife', the British Army's most important mole among the republican paramilitaries, to his use in operations against arms shipments from Libya for the PIRA, culminating in the capture of Eksund at the end of October 1987, Margaret Thatcher was sacked three years later as Prime Minister because of its fallout.