"The Rock," as Angleton called Raymond Rocca, was a
tall, bearded man in his early sixties, who shuffled
around with the same slight stoop as Angleton's. He
also had two giant Cattleya orchid plants, no doubt
from Kensington Orchids, flanking his front door. "They
are prize winners," he said, as he ushered me into his
suburban hose in Fall Rivers, Virginia. Even though
he was just recovering from a serious heart operation,
he agreed to see me on Angleton's recommendation. He
had served under Angleton almost his entire career in
intelligence. He had been first employed by Angleton
in the OSS at the end of World War II in Italy to keep
track of the fragmentary intelligence reports taken
from German, Italian and Vatican archives, clues to
who did what during the war would prove invaluable in
the postwar in determining who could were the targets
of blackmail and coercion. Then, he followed Angleton
to the CIA. When Angleton organized his counterintelligence
staff, he became his Head of Research. Here he was took
charge of what Angleton called "the serials;" the pieces
of information left over from previous cases, which
might someday fit into other jigsaw puzzles. When Angleton
was fired from the CIA in January 1975, he was also
Angleton had told me during our tour
of Kensington Orchids that I could not "even begin to
understand" the role of the KGB defector Nosenko unless
I first acquainted myself with a Soviet operation in
the nineteen-twenties called " The Trust," He then recommended
that I see "The Rock" who had, according to Angleton
"pieced it together with monk-like devotion." "The Trust,"
Rocca explained, lighting up a professorial pipe, was
a clandestine organization that operated in the Soviet
Union from 1921 to 1928. Its official title was the
Monarchist Union of Central Russia. Supposedly, its
purpose was to overthrow the Communist regime in Russia
and restoring the Czarist Monarchy. Since its headquarters,
and cover, was a municipal credit association in downtown
Moscow, it became known among anti-communist conspirators
outside of Russia as "The Trust."
Anti-communist exiles in Europe
first heard of the existence of this resistance organization
in September 1921 from a Soviet official named Aleksandrovich
Yakushev. On his way to an international lumber conference
in Oslo, he slipped away from his delegation and contacted
a leader of the anti-Communist movement in Estonia.
He explained to him that though he was outwardly working
for the Communists, he, and other high officials of
the Soviet government, had come to the conclusion that
Communism was infeasible in Russia. He also confided
that they had formed a group, The Trust. He claimed
that it had been so successful in recruiting government
officials disillusioned with Communism that it was now
the underground equivalent of a government-in-exile,
with its members infiltrated in all key ministries,
including the secret police. He then asked to be put
in touch with other leaders of the anti-Soviet movement
abroad, suggesting that The Trust would act as the "service
organization" for them inside Russia. It would arrange
through its network of collaborators smuggle out whatever
secret document these exile groups needed.
Within a year, this offer was relayed
to exile groups in Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Helsinki--
and accepted. The exile groups outside of Russia received
secret documents on the Soviet economy which they then
passed on to Western intelligence services, which paid
them handsomely for the information. This triangular
trade in secrets-- from The Trust to the exiles to west
intelligence-- continued for six years. The Trust also
furnished fake passports and visas for exiles to smuggle
themselves, or their relatives, in or out of Russia.
It also delivered arms and supplies to their partisans.
It even contracted to undertake sabotage and assassination
missions for them in Moscow and Petrograd. One by one,
all the exiled leaders came to accept The Trust. So
did the intelligence services of France, Germany, England,
Austria, Sweden and Finland.
But what did this anti-Soviet group
have to do with NosenkoŚ or the JFK assassination, I
Rocca held up his hand, asking for
patience. "The Trust was not an anti-Soviet organization,
it only imitated one." In reality, he continued, the
Trust was a creature of the Soviet secret police. Its
purpose was not to overthrow Communism, but to manipulate
real anti-communist organizations into misleading the
"What of Yakushev?" I asked.
Rocca explained that he was a "dangle."
A "dangle" is someone who feigns disaffection to his
government and, like bait, is put in the path of opposition
intelligence services. Yakushev, under the control of
the secret police, was able to offer precisely the kinds
of help--especially in saving relatives-- that the exiles
were most likely to be enticed by into the trap. Since
the secret police was running the show, it could guarantee
the success of the smuggling and assassinations. It
also staged sufficient dramatic encounters, such as
car chases and gun fights, to lend a convincing air
of reality to the masquerade. (It even arranged tours
of the "underground" for emigre writers through carefully
staged "Potemkin villages.")
The deception succeeded in neutralizing
most of the anti-Communist exile groups, and luring
back into the Soviet Union leading anti-Communists,
such as Sydney Reilly and Boris Savinkov, who were arrested,
given show trials and executed. As an added bonus, it
earned enough money from the sale of secrets to eleven
western intelligence services to finance all the activities
of Soviet intelligence for a decade.
I found it difficult to comprehend
how Soviet intelligence could deliver secret documents
to its enemies. Wasn't the loss of this information
damaging to the Soviet Union? Rocca replied that it
was "disinformation," or, as Rocca defined it, data
which is purposefully supplied to an enemy to mislead
him. It can be either fabricated or factually accurate
information, or a mixture of both. Its aim, in any case,
is to provoke one's opponent to make the wrong move.
In peacetime, it can be a means for achieving a geopolitical
end. Whereas Clausewitz defined war as policy accomplished
by "the sword in place of the pen," Rocca viewed disinformation
as the replacement of the sword with the pen -- albeit
a poison one.
In the case of the Trust, Soviet
intelligence, under orders of Lenin himself, presented
to western intelligence services a picture of dire Soviet
economic weakness. The message was that Communism was
all but over, and that Russia was moving of its own
accord towards a capitalistic system. The implication
was that western intervention in the Soviet Union was
unnecessary. By making it appear that this information
was stolen by dissidents, Soviet intelligence made it
that much more credible to the West.
When the deception began to wear
thin in 1929, Soviet intelligence ordered the head of
the Trust, Edward Opperput, to himself "defect" to the
West in Finland. Opperput then confessed to Finnish
interrogators that The Trust was a sham organization
from the start. His revelations had the calculated effect
of demoralizing the exiles and sewing confusion among
the western intelligence services that had depended
on The Trust for its information about Russia. This
final coup accomplished, Opperput re-defected to Russia,
and returned to his duties in the Soviet secret service.
He was a "dispatched defector."
Rocca explained that in the intelligence
business defectors were defined as either "bona fide"
or "dispatched" depending on who controlled their actions.
If a defector chose to change sides, and by doing so
sincerely put himself under the control of American
intelligence, he was "bona fide." If a defector only
pretended to change sides, and remained under the control
of the KGB or another hostile intelligence service during
his contact, he was "dispatched." "Was Nosenko thought
to be a dispatched defector?" I asked. I assumed that
this was the bearing that The Trust had on the Nosenko
"He could have been dispatched,"
Rocca answered, almost casually." He delivered a message
to the CIA about Oswald that could have been disinformation
cooked up by the KGB." He discussed the issue entirely
in the conditional tense, as if it was nothing more
than a hypothetical case.
"But was there any evidence that
he was dispatched?"
Rocca lit his pipe, and shook his
head. "Ah now you're talking about operational data.
I was never involved in that. I thought you just wanted
a historical perspective." It was clear that the seminar
on the trust was over.