The Great Conspiracy
KGB head Krioshkov sought to refute in his announcement, in an
unambiguous way, the testimony of former American Defense Secretary
Caspar Weinberger, which was given behind closed doors at Jonathan
Pollard's trial in 1987. In that testimony, Weinberger blamed
Pollard for gravely injuring U.S. security through the intelligence
material he passed to Israel which reached the hands of the KGB.
claim, which has its source in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency,
continues to serve until today as the main pretext on which the American
authorities base their stubborn refusal to release Pollard, although he
already served more than 15 years in prison.
Americans were not content with the testimony Weinberger gave behind
closed doors. They made sure to leak their arguments to the news
agency UPI [United Press]. On Dec. 14, 1987, a news flash from UPI
landed on the teleprinter terminals of over 400 newspapers and media
sources on five continents. "Russian Moles Penetrated Top
Eschelon of the Israeli Mossad", was the headline of the news
flash. The unidentified source of the information related that the
people in the counter-espionage department of the Central Intelligence
Agency of the U.S. discovered recently that top-secret documents, which
were passed by the spy Jonathan Pollard to Israel, were passed to the
hands of the KGB by two intelligence officers close to Arik [Ariel]
Sharon. In the framework of the deal: information in return for allowing
the Jews of the Soviet Union to emigrate.
to the writer of the news story, American intelligence sources estimated
that the penetration of a Russian mole into the top eschelon of the
Mossad is the hardest blow ever sustained by Western intelligence
services, and that the CIA and FBI are conducting a renewed assessment
on the damage caused by Pollard to the national security of the U.S.
sources in Israel denied the story, calling it "baseless" and
"wicked". From his prison cell in the state of Missouri,
Pollard relayed, via his sister Carol, the following response: "The
story about the Russian moles in the Mossad was manufactured in the
basements of the KGB as part of their psychological warfare, which has a
goal of driving a wedge between intelligence sources in the U.S. and
was wrong about the direction [source] but not about the essence.
The fictitious story about the penetration of a KGB mole into the top of
the Mossad was not cooked up in the basements of the KGB, but in the
well-lit upper floors of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in
Langley, Virginia. This invention was, among other things, destined to
cover up the fact that a Russian mole operated unhindered at the top of
the Central Intelligence Agency, without the organization's heads having
the slightest idea how to locate the mole, whose damage in 1987 was
already discovered and clear.
the in-depth investigation I conducted in preparation for writing a book
about the Aldrich Ames affair, the most senior agent ever to operate for
the KGB in the top eschelon of American Intelligence, a real Russian
mole, the reasons were exposed which I believe moved the Central
Intelligence Agency chiefs and the then-Secretary of Defense Weinberger
to want Pollard's incarceration (then and now) behind bars and bolts
until the end of time.
go back for the moment to the Ames affair. On Apr. 16, 1985,
Aldrich ("Rick") Ames, one of the heads of counter-espionage
in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, entered the Russian Embassy
building in Washington, and handed the reception clerk a letter
addressed to General Androsov, head of the KGB delegation in the U.S, in
which Ames offered to serve as an intelligence agent for the KGB in
return for money.
first Ames asked for only $50,000 for the intelligence information he
supplied, but after the Russians realized that they had come upon a gold
mine, the highest-ranking spy they ever had, they showered on Ames lots
of money, totalling close to $4 million, the highest sum ever paid to a
single agent in the history of world espionage.
June 16, two months after he began to operate as a Russian agent, Ames
passed on to his KGB handler a list including the names of 25 senior
agents which American intelligence had in Russia. Within a short time,
most of them were arrested or neutralized, but some of them were put
under surveillance to discover their connections with the American
handlers. Some of the agents came under pressure from the KGB and became
double agents, serving as a conduit for leaking false information in one
of the biggest con operations in the history of Russian espionage.
practical terms, the treachery of Ames destroyed the entire espionage
system of the U.S. in Russia. All the agents which the Americans
had inside the KGB were eliminated. Among them were KGB General
Dimitri Poliakov, and the manager of the KGB branch in London Oleg
Gordievsky, two of the highest ranking Western intelligence agents in
the top eshelon of U.S.S.R. security.
nine long years Ames served his Russian masters until he was exposed by
the FBI. Nine years. During that whole time, Ames continued to serve in
senior positions in the intelligence system of the CIA and passed to the
Russians quantities of documents which, if stacked one on another, would
reach a height of a five-story building.
April 1985, due to financial distress and personal frustration, Ames
entered the Russian Embassy building in Washington and offered, as
mentioned, to serve as an agent for the KGB. This was a daring
step and quite risky. The Russian Embassy, as Ames well knew, was under
continual observation by the FBI. But this was not the only
careless move he made. He acted with an amazing lack of caution,
bringing out large quantities of top-secret documents from the Agency
headquarters in nylon [transparent plastic] bags, without anyone
checking him. Ames failed his routine polygraph test, a standard
check-up given to all intelligence chiefs every few years, without the
matter setting off any kind of red light among the CIA security people.
He drove around in a modern luxury sports car, one of the fanciest in
the Agency parking lot. With the money he received from the
Russians, he purchased a luxury home in a Washington suburb which cost
$600,000. Ames paid for it in cash (!), a procedure almost without
precedent in the American real estate market.
none of all this aroused the suspicion of the preventative security
people at the CIA.
Ames offered his services as a spy, the Russians were surprised and
suspicious. It looked too good. But from the moment that the
Russians were convinced that Ames was a genuine agent and not a double
or a provocateur, they established a special operations team in the
First Direktorat headquarters (the KGB branch dealing with spies outside
Russia) in Yasnovo, southeast of Moscow, whose goal was to carry out
deceptive activities that would divert suspicions from their new man
Ames. At the head of this clandestine team, the existence of which
only three people knew, stood the Assistant Head of the Direktorat,
Lieutenant General Vadim Kirpichenko.
July 1985, when it became clear to the KGB leadership that the collapse
of the American intelligence system in Russia was liable to arouse
suspicions about the existence of a mole, the special operations team in
Yasnovo decided on a deceptive ploy which was sophisticated and
dangerous. On August 1, 1985, Vitaly Yorchenko, a senior KGB man
and the assistant manager of the U.S.-Canada branch in the First
Direktorat, defected to the West from Rome. He was one of the people who
knew best the Russian spy system in the U.S.
who was secretly flown to the U.S. under the auspices of the CIA,
betrayed to the Americans "secrets" of Russian espionage.
The main "secret" which he sold was connected to (what else)
the identity of the Russian mole who caused the collapse of the American
spy network in Russia. According to him, it was a CIA man, whose
code name was "Robert". Central Intelligence Agency
investigators identified him by the clues as Edward Lee Howard, a young
American who was slated to be integrated in the operations system of the
agents in the CIA branch in Moscow, and who was meanwhile discharged
from the intelligence agency after a polygraph test revealed that the
man was mentally disturbed and had a drinking problem.
hours before the FBI team reached Howard's home in New Mexico, the man
succeeded in eluding his pursuers and found shelter in Moscow, where he
remains until today.
joke of fate [the irony of it all]: Aldrich Ames was appointed with the
members of the intelligence team that investigated the
"defector" Yorchenko, and of course he reported on the
proceedings of the investigation to the KGB people in Moscow. It could
be assumed that the Russian intelligence chiefs were hard-pressed to
hide their pleasure at the success of the daring operation and at the
Americans falling for it.
Nov. 2, 1985, some months after he concluded his deceptive operation,
Yorchenko evaded an intelligence agent who was hosting him for an
evening meal in the French restaurant [spelling uncertain] in
Georgetown. Yorchenko went to the restroom, escaped out the back door of
the restaurant and made his way by taxi to the Russian Embassy. In
a press conference arranged for him by the Russian Embassy, Yorchenko
told of being abducted by American intelligence agents who tried to
extract secrets from him. He returned to Moscow a hero and
continued to work at the KGB.
he lives in Moscow and, unlike his colleagues who formerly worked in the
KGB, he avoids all media exposure.
two weeks after Yorchenko, the simulated defector, returned to Russia,
FBI agents arrested Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish officer in the
intelligence system of Central America, after discovering that he passed
American intelligence documents to his handlers in the Israeli Embassy
who was abandoned by his [Israeli] handlers, handed to his investigators
a detailed confession of his deeds. According to his admission (which
was leaked wholesale by the FBI to American papers), over a period of 18
months he passed to Israel around 1000 documents which included
information on weapons deals with Arab countries, reports on
non-conventional weapons stockpiles and missiles in the Middle East, and
terror activities against Israel. Among them apparently were
documents which reached Central American intelligence from Russian
his duties as head of the Russian counter-espionage of the Agency, Ames
had full access to all material in the investigation of Pollard. He was
very familiar with some of the information sources in Russia. They were
the people Ames had betrayed to the KGB a few months earlier. He
understood that it would be possible to hang the guilt on Pollard for
the elimination of those agents, if a way could be found to explain how
the Russian material got from Israel back to Russia. Was the idea
born in the mind of Ames, or on the desk of the special investigating
team established in the Agency to investigate the collapse of the
American spy network? This is not clear. But there is no
doubt that the leak published in the UPI in 1987 about the
Israeli-Russian "connection" had its origin in American
intelligence sources. The American investigating team had a hard
time believing that there was a Russian mole in the inner sanctum of the
Agency. They refused to believe that one of "our boys"
sought for traitors in every possible place. Except under their own
noses. Even when Ames was exposed by the FBI, the head of the CIA
investigating team, Ms. Jeanne Vertefeuille, claimed that Ames, whom she
knew well in their joint work, sold secrets to the Russians for monetary
gain because of the criminal extravagance of his wife, a beauty from
the fact that it took the Americans nine years to expose the mole at the
top, when all the signs pointed to the existence of a Russian agent at
the top, indicates more than just rottenness in the system and blight in
the thinking of the American intelligence system.
exposure of Ames caused deep shock in the American public, but the real
lessons were not internalized and not acted upon. Ames served as a pawn
in the great power game in which, as much as this doesn't sound [sic -
"may sound"?] strange or parodoxical, the KGB and the CIA are
on the same side of the divide!
KGB and the Soviet security establishment, in opposition to the position
of Gorbachev, sought to continue creating an image in the West of a
strong world power with its military forces steadily increasing in
strength, in order to protect their privileges and to slow down the
process of compromise and disarmament. The security establishment
also believed that without the military might, the framework of the
empire would crumble and would bring about the break-up of the Soviet
Union, as indeed actually happened.
American security establishment, on the other side, had a clear interest
in continuing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in a build-up of
military might which did not add one ounce to security, but filled the
coffers of the security industry's tycoons with all their branches.
The yearly report published each year by the Central Intelligence
Agency, on the military strength of the U.S.S.R., filled an important
function in determining the arms policy and the arms budget of the U.S.
security establishment of the Soviet Union, via the top-secret
ministerial committee of disinformation, made very efficient use of the
American agents who were betrayed to them by Ames. Some of these
agents "were doubled" by the KGB through enticements or
pressure, and served either knowingly or innocently as conduits for the
Russians to leak to the CIA false information which magnified the
military strength of the Soviet Union.
like something taken from one of John Le Carre's novels? Here is a
quote from the closing comments and conclusions of the combined
investigating team which dealt with the lessons of the Ames affair,
written by Agency head John Deutsch: "...Ames' activities provided
the Russians with an opportunity to influence the policies of the U.S.,
by the fact that they fed information to the policy-setters of the U.S.,
through the double agents under their control, [information] initiated
as they chose... The members of the team estimate that the reason the
Russians invested effort in 'guided imagery' came from their desire to
prove to us that they are still a serious world power and that their
weapons research and development system is well-established and
all-powerful... I estimate that as a result of the leaking of 'the
directed information' by the Russians, we exaggerated our estimation of
the strength of the Russian far beyond their real power."
this is still not the most amazing part. The same investigating
team under the general monitoring authority of the Agency, determined on
Oct. 31, 1995 that the CIA succeeded in locating a great number of
reports from Russian sources which contained clear disinformation.
In spite of this, the head of the CIA passed several dozen (and perhaps
hundreds) of reports like these to the U.S. President and the Pentagon,
as material which was verified [as authentic], without indicating in any
way that it involved material suspected as disinformation!
we hear from the manager of the Central Intelligence Agency, Deutsch:
"One of the most troubling findings which the investigating team
uncovered relates to the fact that American intelligence sources did not
inform the leadership [of the country] that extremely sensitive material
which was brought to their attention was obtained from agents under
reasonable suspicion that they were controlled by the Russians."
findings"? A funny term in light of the severity of the
subject. How would the Israeli media respond if it were revealed
that the Mossad passed to the Israeli Prime Minister dozens of
intelligence reports from a Syrian agent, knowing that the reports
contained disinformation cooked up by Syrian intelligence, without
revealing it to the PM?
Nov. 1, 1995, Tim Weiner, the expert in intelligence affairs for the
_New York Times_, wrote: "The Agency admitted that it passed to the
White House and the Pentagon information about the Soviet Union which
originated with agents that the Agency knew or suspected were controlled
by Moscow. The Agency preferred to protect the agents rather than to
reveal the truth to the nation's leaders."
Nov. 2, the _New York Times_ wrote in an editorial: "An
intelligence agency that knowingly misleads its government with false
information fed to them by the adversary has gone totally out of all
it's hard to talk about a mistake made by handlers, an error of judgment
by those making the assessment, or loss of control. We're talking
here about a deliberate policy that was intended to pass to the White
House and the Pentagon information which was clearly false, but which
served in a clear way both the White House and the Pentagon, and also
the Agency heads, and mainly the Moloch [insatiable god] of the security
American Professor Franklin Holzman, a world expert in security budgets,
determined that the exaggerated estimate of the Central Intelligence
Agency of the military expenditures of the Soviet Union in the years
1979-1988 caused the U.S. to spend a needless sum of $500-800 billion.
just that meanwhile, Jonathan Pollard continues to rot in his prison
cell, and to pay the price big-time for Ames' treason. In this
dreadful power struggle, Jonathan Pollard was also a little pawn.
But like all the little pawns involved in the giant wars, they always
pay the price. To the end and with no time off.
facts from other sources:
This article by Carmel may be a reprint; it is referred to by _Moment
Magazine_ Editor Hershel Shanks back in Dec. 1995. ("Whose Crimes?
Pollard's or Ames's?")
like Carmel, quotes a UPI report from Dec. 1987 which names Pollard as
supplier of "highly sensitive American intelligence
information" which found its way to the Soviets via "a Russian
mole [who] has infiltrated the Mossad". But Shanks suggests a
plausible source for the fiction. A week later, he writes, "Shabtai
Kalmanowitz was arrested as a Soviet mole inside Israeli intelligence.
The assumption is that the Soviets sacrificed Kalmanowitz to protect
Ames and to provide a cover for the information that Ames had supplied
to his Soviet superiors. In short, Kalmanowitz linked Pollard to the
problems in the CIA's Soviet bureau." (Note that this was public
knowledge back in 1995. Yet 5 years later, Pollard is still serving time
for these crimes, with no chance of parole or pardon.)
notes a significant difference in government disclosure of the security
damage caused by Ames, as opposed to Pollard. Within a few years, the
American press was filled with details of Ames' treason, including the
agents who lost their lives. After 15 years and the opening of KGB files
to researchers, the U.S. public still has no clue of what damage Pollard
caused, although it is insisted to be quite severe.
Besides the glaring examples mentioned in Carmel's article, where CIA
investigators managed to miss warning signs in Ames' behavior, there are
more problems (detailed in a psychological assessment of Ames published
by the U.S. Army Defense Department, part of their Employee Security
Guide): Several incidents are noted where Ames left classified
materials in public places, brought unauthorized personnel to restricted
areas, kept classified documents at home and in an open office safe. He
would store secret material on his laptop computer - including his
messages to his KGB handler! - and loan it out to colleagues, including
his boss. He failed to file proper reports on money he spent and people
he met. His alcoholism made him unable to function on many occasions
during at least 20 of the 31 years he worked for the CIA. Yet he was
entrusted with one of the more responsible positions at the Agency. Go
Actually, someone did go figure. British journalist Phillip Knightley
came to the conclusion that the CIA - KGB clashes showed that they
"often had more in common with each other than with the governments
that employed them." ("The KGB vs. the CIA: The Secret
Struggle", PBS "Red Files" online)
He also asserts that the greatest Soviet spy of them all, known only by
his code-name "Percy", was never caught. The major achievement
of this American scientist at the Los Alamos facility was to slip the
Soviets the plans for the atomic bomb in 1948, a bit of news that came
to light as the KGB opened its archives and former KGB officials began
to brag about past exploits. Percy's second achievement was to vanish
into thin air: "the KGB says that he is still alive and well today
" somewhere outside the U.S., while the FBI claims there
never was a "Percy". His third achievement was to
trigger the "Red Scare", an impotent effort by embarrassed
U.S. security agencies to flush out any more undetected
"percies". Meanwhile, the Americans had a major spy
going through sensitive CIA and FBI files: Kim Philby, Britain's
intelligence liaison officer who was betraying both his country and the
U.S. to the Soviets.
here we find an interesting parallel to the Ames-Pollard connection.
Philby learned of the super-secret Venona Files, the code-breaking
success that allowed the U.S. to identify Soviet agents in the West.
But using it for Soviet benefit would tip off the Americans to a leak.
The solution: to sacrifice a less important Soviet spy by letting him
take the blame for the damage done by Philby. The fall-guy?
Julius Rosenberg and his wife Ethel, who are remembered today for being Jewish
traitors as much as for being American Communist traitors.
the KGB asserts the Rosenbergs were minor couriers never provided any
valuable secrets, the USSR allowed the FBI to think that they were
super-spies, even perhaps in contact with "Percy" (a prototype
of the mythical "Mega" that Pollard supposedly worked with?).
The FBI for their part were looking for a way to hide the existence of
Venona, and decided that their own progress in exposing KGB networks
could be nicely covered by a phony report of KGB identities wrung out of
the Rosenbergs. But they refused to "confess". U.S. prosecutor
Myles Lane was determined to "break this man Rosenberg" by
threatening him with the death penalty. The judge did one better, by
sentencing both Julius and Ethel to the electric chair. One
little-publicized fact of history is the worldwide call for President
Eisenhower to grant the Rosenbergs clemency in a case of unusually harsh
punishment, a call which was ignored (as in Pollard's case).
In both cases - Philby/Rosenberg and Ames/Pollard - the U.S. and the
USSR had a common interest in allowing innocent parties to pay the
penalty for covert activities by other agents. They no doubt
rationalized the injustice by reminding themselves that the sacrifices
were actually guilty of spying, even if they weren't guilty of the
crimes laid at their door. While we know that Pollard's spying wasn't
even for the same country as Ames, appearances were contrived to make
him seem like a latter-day Rosenberg. (Weinberger's public comparison
of the Pollards to the Rosenbergs was no coincidence.) It is
doubtful that the Rosenbergs ever harmed U.S. security, given the
assessment by the KGB. It has always been clear that Pollard never
harmed U.S. security either. But both were conveniently available
to paste such charges on, to protect "national" interests
which overrode their rights to fabled American justice.
there's the kid-glove treatment of the real spies, until incriminating
evidence became too public to continue. Like the strange Aldrich
Ames story, the suspicious behavior and the damage trail of Kim Philby
were inexplicably overlooked by his country. No doubt greater
things were at stake that outweighed simple national loyalty. In
both cases, the eventual exposure of these men's treachery did nothing
to clear the names of those who had taken the blame for their crimes.
Nor were the lessons from the Philby affair or the "Percy"
debacle ever internalized - instead, the witch-hunt known as the
"Red Scare" was launched in search of communist spies... and
not least, Jewish communist spies in the tradition of (grossly
overrated) Julius Rosenberg. Concurrently, the phobia grew
concerning all American Jews having a potential dual loyalty to Israel
-- what we can call the "Blue and White Scare", a hunt for
Jewish zionist spies in the tradition of (totally misrepresented)
Jonathan Pollard. The Red Scare became a farce which hurt many
citizens innocent of any disloyal activities. The casualty toll of
innocents from the Blue and White Scare is likewise mounting, with no
end in sight.
The White House Press Secretary released a press
statement (Feb. 22, 1994) when Ames was arrested, but inexplicably
presented him as a "mid-level employee of the CIA" working in
the "counter-narcotics center" since 1991. The FBI
report names him as Directorate of Operations with the Soviet/East
Europe Division, and it was open knowledge that Ames had been with the
Agency for over 30 years. Either this was sloppiness of a magnitude that
should have cost the Press Secretary his job, or it was conscious
An FBI report (Apr. 21, 1997) says that Ames came under suspicion at the
CIA as early as 1989, when he began to flaunt his sudden wealth. After
the first year, however, this rival agency faults the CIA with giving
"inadequate attention" to this indicator.