In the midst
of a blinding snow storm, a short stocky man, bundled in
a heavy overcoat, arrived at the American Embassy in Helsinki,
Finland. He matter-of-factly identified himself as a consul
at the Soviet Embassy, and then asked to see Frank Friberg.
The request, coming from a Soviet stranger, immediately
set off alarm bells; Friberg was the CIA station chief.
The procedures for dealing with a
potential defector were immediately put in effect. After escorting
the Russian visitor to an isolated room, the marine guard
alerted the desk officer at the embassy, who relayed the Mayday
message to the CIA station. Within minutes, Friberg rushed
down to meet this Soviet "walk in". The stranger came right
to the point. He identified himself as Anatoli Golitsyn, a
major in the KGB. To leave no doubt in the mind of his CIA
counterpart, he handed over a sheath of secret documents from
the files of the Soviet Embassy in Helsinki. He said he would
make further information available about the Soviet espionage
apparatus if the CIA immediately arrange his safe passage
to the United States, along with that of his wife and daughter.
It was an extraordinary offer. Friberg
asked the Russian if he would consider returning to the Soviet
Embassy and acting as an agent in place for the CIA.
Golitsyn was adamant. He replied he
would not survive if he returned. The KGB had means of identifying
CIA agents in place-- and he could disclose them after he
was safely in America.
Friberg realized that he was suggesting
that there was a serious leak in the CIA. Unable to persuade
him to work as a mole, he asked how much time he had to organize
Golitsyn replied that he had to be
out by Christmas day. After that, his wife and daughter would
be expected back in Moscow, and Soviet security personnel,
who were being rotated over the holiday, would be back on
active duty. This gave Friberg a maximum of forty-eight hours.
In Washington, the frantic search
through the CIA's central registry of records produced only
a single "trace" on Golitsyn. Peter Derebian, a KGB officer
who had been stationed in Vienna before defecting in 1954,
had mentioned him to his CIA debriefers as a KGB officer who
might be potentially disloyal to the Soviet Union. Before
this lead could be followed up in Vienna, Golitsyn had been
recalled to Moscow.
The CIA had been given now a second
chance. The Soviet Russia division authorized his immediate
evacuation from Helsinki. No matter what diplomatic complications
it would cause, it wanted to get this KGB officer in the palm
of its hand, and use him to identify, and possible approach,
other potential defectors in the Soviet diplomatic Corp.
On Christmas day, a US air force courier
plane landed at Helsinki's snow-covered airport. Servicing
military attaches stationed abroad, such flights are routinely
exempted from foreign customs and immigration inspection.
This was, however, not a routine training mission. While the
plane waited on the runway, a car pulled up beside it. Its
passengers, who carried no luggage, quickly boarded the plane.
Among them were Golitsyn, his wife and daughter. Minutes later,
the plane was airborne again, en route to West Germany.
The first round of interrogations
took place at the US Army defector center outside of Frankfurt.
Golitsyn was required to write out by hand his entire career
in the KGB from the day he joined in 1948 to the day he defected--
listing all the positions he held, promotions he received
and KGB officers with whom he came in contact. Unlike most
previous defectors, who had field agents with limited knowledge
about the central apparatus of the KGB, Golitsyn claimed to
have been assigned to the KGB's headquarters in Moscow and
also to its "think tank", the KGB institute, where intelligence
operations were related to overall Soviet strategy.
To determine if his story was true,
Golitsyn was next strapped into a stress-analyzing machine,
used by the CIA as a lie-detector , and relentlessly quizzed
about various details of his story -- a process known in the
CIA as "fluttering". After each session, counterintelligence
experts also compared each bit of information he provided
with what was already known. By the end of the first week,
the CIA was fully persuaded that he was a bona fide defector
who had indeed held the positions in the KGB he claimed. Arrangements
were then made to bring him and with his family to the United
In February 1962, in an isolated and
heavy-guarded CIA compound overlooking the Choptank River
in Talbot County, Maryland, he began an extensive debriefing.
To the amazement of his debriefers, he not only revealed knowledge
of a wide range of secret NATO documents -- but he identified
them by their code numbers. He explained that for convenience
the KGB used the NATO numbering system to request specific
documents, which would than arrive from its source in France
in 72 hours.
President John F. Kennedy, apprized
of the Golitsyn revelations, then dispatched a personal courier
to Paris, with an "eyes only" letter for President Charles
De Gaulle. In it, he warned that the KGB had penetrated French
A few weeks later, six French intelligence
officers, handpicked by De Gaulle, arrived in Washington.
They carried with them specially-devised ciphers that by passed
the normal channels of French intelligence, and kept their
very presence in the United States a secret from even their
own embassy. Their tape-recorded interrogation of Golitsyn,
who they code-named Martel, took 14 days, and left them in
a paralyzing quandary.
The French intelligence secrets Golitsyn
had provided came from the highest echelon of the French government.
When the list of those having access to them was narrowed
down, suspicion was focused on both the head of French counterintelligence
and De Gaulle's personal intelligence advisor.
Golitsyn then dropped another bombshell.
He told of a KGB plan he had help draft in Moscow to use the
French intelligence service to spy on missile sites in the
American Midwest. French intelligence officers would be ordered
by Paris to use their contacts to gather data -- for the benefit
De Vosjoli initially was openly incredulous
of this allegation. It not only implied that the KGB controlled
French intelligence, but that it would blatantly use its officers
to spy on the United States. His first reaction was that Golitsyn
was a "plant", dispatched by the KGB for the express purpose
of disrupting US-French relations. Several months later, however,
he had to abandon this theory. He received an order from Paris
to begin organizing French spy networks in the United States.
The mission would be to ferret out secret data about American
missile bases. De Vosjoli could not believe his eyes: it was
the very order that Golitsyn claimed he had seen a year earlier
in Moscow. Since he knew that France itself had no need for
such information about US bases, he queried Paris for further
clarification. The answer instructed him to implement the
plan without further delay-- or questions.
At this point, he realized that Golitsyn's
assertion , as implausible as it first seemed, was correct.
The KGB had penetrated French intelligence. He refused the
order. In Paris, a top official, who was identified through
Golitsyn's leads as a member of a spy ring, code-named Sapphire,
was thrown from a window-- and died. When well-connected friends
in Paris then informed de Vosjoli that this was done on orders
of French intelligence to protect others in the ring. He then
attempted going out of his normal reporting channels to General
De Gaulle himself, but to no avail. By November 1963, he realized
his own life was in jeopardy and he sought the protection
of the CIA.
Golitsyn, the source who had caused
all this turmoil, was becoming throughout this period increasingly
more difficult to debrief. He was an angry, short-tempered
man with no patience for matters that he considered trivial.
He prided himself on being a historian of Soviet foreign policy.
His interrogators, on the other hand, needed to test every
petty detail in his story. This led to constant friction.
The Soviet Bloc Division seemed mainly
concerned in having Golitsyn identify the KGB officers working
under cover as diplomats at each embassy. He was tediously
shown over one thousand snapshots of Soviet diplomats, usually
surreptitiously taken, and asked if he recognized them. Then
Golitsyn refused to look at any more photographs, shouting
at his debriefers, "What good is knowing all the names in
the KGB. .. if you don't understand what they do?". He insisted
that they should be debriefing him on strategy-- not personnel.
The interrogators let him finish his tirade, then, returned
to the snapshots. Their job was to identify officers of the
KGB, not delineate its geopolitical strategies.
Then, when these photo sessions were
over, Golitsyn was asked whether he would be willing to go
abroad and personally contact former KGB acquaintances on
behalf of the CIA. He refused, explaining "The KGB knows all
your operations in advance". To prove his point, he ticked
off a number of examples of CIA attempts to recruit Soviet
diplomats in Switzerland and Austria which the KGB had had
The debriefers showed little interested
in this assertion; instead they implied his debriefings were
coming to an end. Golitsyn then demanded to see the President
of the United States. When informed that such an audience
was impossible, he became even less cooperative, and asked
permission to go to England..
By the end of his first year, the
CIA had concluded that they had "squeezed" Golitsyn of all
the information he knew. In early 1963, it arranged to send
him to England to be "resettled" under a new identity.
Stephan De Mowbray handled his case
there Before his defection, Golitsyn had worked at KGB headquarters
in the northern European espionage division, which included
England. He had prepared his defection by memorizing English
as well as French documents. Many of these came directly from
the files of MI-5, the British equivalent of the FBI. For
example, he quoted verbatim from a secret report on the breaking
of a Soviet code by British intelligence. As it turned out,
one of his interrogators had written the report. When he rechecked
the "bigot list"-- which identifies all those with access
to the report, he found that it had been circulated is to
only the top executives officers of MI5. How then could have
Golitsyn seen it in Moscow?
The only answer was that one of these
executives had provided the KGB with the report. The search
for that tainted executive, which would continue for over
a decade, began with the setting up of a secret unit, called
innocuously "The Fluency Committee". The members included
De Mowbray and six other counterintelligence officers drawn
from both MI-6 and MI-5. Their sole job was determining who
was the mole. As these investigators evaluated the clues from
Golitsyn and other sources, they gradually eliminated most
of the names on the Bigot list. There remained two prime suspects--
Sir Roger Hollis, the Director of MI-5, and his deputy,Graham
Mitchell. Both were put under surveillance.
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