December 11, 2007

Spycraft in Russia

Ion Mihai Pacepa, high level defector and formerly the KGB"s top man in Romania, spins the intriguing tale of George Blake and other Russian "illegal officers" undercover in the West. Here's a taste:

The concept of the illegal officer was—and still is—unique to Russian intelligence, and it constituted an extremely closely guarded secret. In 1964 I became a deputy chief of the Romanian espionage service, the DIE[2], but it was not until eight years later, when I became responsible for supervising Romania’s illegal operations, that I understood how little I had known about this super-secret intelligence discipline until then. Brigade U, as the illegal component was called, was so hush-hush that the location of its headquarters was known to only four outsiders (one of whom I had just become). Its officers never set foot inside any other Romanian intelligence organization. When assigned abroad, the illegal officers were not handled by the legal residencies but by other illegal officers run out of Brigade U headquarters. It was a state within a state, entirely self-contained.

President Putin’s new Cold War has moved the illegal officer to the forefront again. The Russian daily Vzglyad (The View) reports that George Blake—an alleged Briton who now lives in Moscow—has published a new book, Transparent Walls. The forward of this book was signed by Russia’s spy chief, Sergey Lebedev, himself. “Despite the book being devoted to the past, it is about the present as well,”[3] Lebedev writes. I am sure he is correct.

New information coming out of Moscow confirms to an informed eye what I have long suspected. Blake, a former senior officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service known to us, at the top of the bloc’s intelligence community, as the “spy of the century,” was in fact a Russian from start to finish. In other words, he was one of the KGB’s own, an illegal intelligence officer dispatched to the U.K. during World War II, who caused more damage to the West than any other spy, ever.

Posted by dan at December 11, 2007 12:54 AM