Monday, July 12, 2010

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold ... to a place getting rather chilly.

It's somewhat striking what makes it into news stories and what doesn't. First read the obit that reporter Pete Early wrote about a KGB defector, Sergei Tretyakov, whom he also wrote the biography for (“Comrade J.: The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War”). Then read the New York Times obit. Or the Telegraph Obit. Or the second Telegraph Obit. Or the AP Obit. Mostly the same, but small, significant differences. Only the last story mentions this remark by Tretyakov's wife:
"Helen Tretyakov said her husband warned U.S. authorities when he defected that Russia was expanding deep-cover operations. 'He was aware that the part of the SVR budget for supporting illegals [deep cover moles smuggled into the U.S.] increased dramatically in the 1990s...' "
Which coincides nicely with Obama's rise to power.

The cause of death is being unofficially reported as "natural", but you may note that the FBI is investigating his death, and it happened on June 13, only weeks before the Russian spies were arrested.  Personally, I'm putting my money on Putin exacting revenge.  It's going on all over the world right now.

What's somewhat touching about this story is that Tretyakov defected because he could no longer tolerate the evil in Russia, and he loved freedom. Would that I could say the same thing about Obama and his ilk.

Side note: Tretyakov names Strobe Talbot under Clinton as a "very valuable intelligence asset". During Clinton's presidency, I always suspected Talbot of being a spy for the Soviets. Call me prescient. Now I'm calling Obama a spy for the Russians. Call me daring.
"[Sergei Tretyakov] rose quickly through the ranks to become the second-in-command of the KGB in New York City between 1995 to 2000. As such, he oversaw all Russian spy operations against the US and its allies in New York City and within the United Nations.
"Sergei was called “the most important spy for the U.S. since the collapse of the Soviet Union” by an FBI official in my book. Unfortunately, because much of what he said is still being used by U. S. counter-intelligence officers, it will be years before the true extent of his contribution can be made public — if ever."
"I was struck at how different Sergei was from U.S. traitors. Walker and Ames were motivated by greed and money. ...Sergei often told me that Americans were naive because they took freedoms for granted and did not understand how unique our lives here are compared to life in an oppressive nation, such as Russia..."
"Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the KGB had a list of three main adversaries: (1.) The United States (2.) NATO and (3.) China. After the KGB was disbanded and the SVR was formed, Sergei said a new edict came down announcing that the SVR had three main targets: (1.) The United States (2.) NATO and (3.) China.
“What changed?” he asked, laughing.
"...Ms. Tretyakov gave the cause of death as coronary arrest, and that she had asked her husband’s friends not to reveal the fact of his death until an autopsy could be performed under the supervision of the F.B.I. ..."
"...he delivered 5,000 top-secret cables to American intelligence officials and, in debriefings by the F.B.I. and C.I.A., provided detailed information about Russian operations in New York, including the names of contacts.
“My defection was the major failure of the Russian intelligence, probably in its whole history,” Mr. Tretyakov told NPR, the public radio network, in 2008. "
"...He said he switched sides because he had lost faith in the leaders who succeeded Mikhail S. Gorbachev. “I saw firsthand what kind of people were and are running the country,” he wrote, saying he believed they had enriched themselves and a handful of cronies. “I came to an ultimate conclusion that it became immoral to serve them.”
"...In a caustic aside, he noted that he had never met with the former Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, a former K.G.B. officer, partly because they worked in different parts of the world, and partly because Mr. Putin was “never successful in intelligence,” and therefore never worked at headquarters. “He was always kept in a provincial K.G.B. station in a low and unimportant position,” he said.
Mr. Tretyakov also said that he defected so that his daughter might have a better life.
“No one recruited me,” he wrote. “No one pitched me. No one convinced me to do what I did.” He theorized that American intelligence officials never approached him because he was seen as an old-style K.G.B. officer.
Mr. Tretyakov emphasized that he had not defected for money and had never asked to be paid for his services. On the contrary, he said, his career in the S.V.R. was flourishing, and by defecting he gave up substantial assets in cash and real estate in Russia.
...To Mr. Earley, Mr. Tretyakov described his work with several operatives he recruited or placed. The recruits included a former member of the Canadian Parliament, a top-ranking verification expert at the International Atomic Energy Agency and a former United Nations official whom Mr. Tretyakov said he installed in the Oil for Food Program, created to allow Iraq to sell oil but not acquire weapons.
That former official, he said, diverted some $500 million from the program to the government of Boris N. Yeltsin and Mr. Putin. the time he turned his coat had been running all Russia's espionage operations at the UN for two years.
...He named Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary of state under President Clinton, as an "extremely valuable intelligence source" who had been "tricked and manipulated by Russian intelligence". Talbott has always denied any wrongdoing. Tretyakov also said that Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister who died in 1978, had been a KGB target, though he did not confirm whether she had been secured as an informant for the spy agency.
...It was shortly after he started providing information, for example, that American agents began surveillance of the ring of "deep cover" Russian spies who were recently arrested (though since his death Tretyakov's widow has said her husband was responsible for revealing their identities).
...His wife said he had died of a heart attack, though an autopsy has been carried out under FBI supervision. Before he died Tretyakov, for one, did not think he or his family had anything to fear, saying: "We don't think that it's in the interests of the Russian government to come after us."
...He said he unmasked dozens of foreigners working as Russian agents, including several ambassadors and UN representatives, but despite the sweeping accusations, no one cited by Tretyakov has been charged with espionage. Critics accused him of exaggeration, and until his death Tretyakov continued to use his name and lived more or less openly.
"...His widow, Helen Tretyakov, told the station he died of natural causes. She said she announced his death Friday to prevent Russian intelligence from claiming responsibility or "flattering themselves that they punished Sergei."
Helen Tretyakov said her husband warned U.S. authorities when he defected that Russia was expanding deep-cover operations.
"He was aware that the part of the SVR budget for supporting illegals increased dramatically in the 1990s," she told WTOP. The SVR is the Russian intelligence agency that succeeded the KGB after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
However, she said there was no direct link between his information and the 10 people arrested last month as Russian spies near Boston, New York and Washington.
"It wasn't him who disclosed the names of these people," she said.
...Tretyakov said he found it immoral to continue helping the Russian government.
"I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not very emotional. I'm not a Boy Scout," Tretyakov said. "And finally in my life, when I defected, I did something good in my life. Because I want to help United States."

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