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30 Unavoidable Questions: Yuri Nosenko


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I have been asked by a friend to post the following:

High CIA officials have repeatedly expressed their total faith in Yuri Nosenko as a genuine defector. You can feel the power of that faith in the following certitudes, all expressed in writing or sworn testimony (and cited in the 2007 book Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries and Deadly Games by Tennent H. Bagley):

• "There is "no reason to believe that Nosenko is other than what he has claimed to be."

• "He defected of his own free will and has not sought to deceive us."

• "Anything he has said has been said in good faith."

• If any contradiction appeared in his reporting, it "is in no way indicative of KGB

dispatch."

• Any untruths that Nosenko might inadvertently have told were "not at the behest of the KGB."

• "Any claim we [in CIA] may have left to having served in an honorable and dignified profession dictates that we accept the Agency's judgment in this case - that Nosenko was always bona fide and our colleagues [who suspected him] made a terrible mistake."

Many general reasons have been cited to support such conclusions. Here are some of them:

i) As every intelligence professional is aware, neither the KGB nor any other intelligence service would, all other things being equal, send one of its own genuine staff officers as a false defector into enemy hands. The risk would be too great that he might be influenced or pressured there to tell what he really knows - including the very truth the deception operation was intended to hide.

ii) The Soviet regime sentenced Nosenko to death in absentia and several KGB sources have said that the KGB was looking for him with the intent to assassinate him.

iii) Real KGB staffers are said by insiders to have suffered real punishment as a result of his defection or as a result of their misbehavior uncovered by the KGB investigation of it.

iv) After he was cleared of CIA's suspicions, Nosenko remained in the United States for the nearly forty years remaining in his life, became an American citizen, and helped Western operations against the KGB -- things hardly compatible with a motive to deceive.

v) Later defectors from the KGB have testified to the genuineness of his defection and its damage to the Soviet regime (though none has confirmed details of his KGB career).

vi) Repeated CIA reviews and analyses of the case over thirty years have again and again cleared Nosenko of all suspicion.

vii) CIA insiders have stated under oath that Nosenko has told only the truth as best he could and that nothing he has said contradicts what genuine KGB defectors have reported (though in fact much does).

viii) Nosenko named a lot of KGB SCD officers, and exposed many "cases" - never mind that not one of the KGB spies (or "cases") he revealed was (at the time he revealed them) still active, producing NATO-government secrets, and previously unsuspected by Western counterintelligence -- i.e. not one exceeded what the KGB would willingly sacrifice to build credibility of a false defector.

ix) An official KGB document in the so-called "Mitrokhin archive" tells of the (genuine) defector Nosenko's ranting about questions of his rank. (Never mind that this document contradicted Nosenko's own account of his career and never mind that many documents with false or misleading information are known to have been inserted in official KGB files to hide or obscure sensitive information.)

But these are only generalities. Even if true - which many of the above are not - generalities cannot dispel specific doubts that arise in counterintelligence investigations. It is by their errors of detail, sometimes tiny, that deceivers inadvertently betray their deceit. Given the depth of CIA's faith in Nosenko, one might suppose that it has considered and satisfactorily resolved every such specific doubt. If it has not, its faith rests on shaky ground.

In fact, there is no indication that CIA ever answered the extraordinary and unprecedented number of questions that arose about the defector Yuri Nosenko. Here is a sample of thirty of them, with references to the pages where they are discussed in Spy Wars.

Nosenko claimed that through the entire years 1960-61 he was deputy chief of the American-Embassy section of the American department of the Second Chief Directorate (SCD) of the KGB. It was this post (especially his claim to have there personally supervised all KGB work against the embassy's code clerks and security officer) that gave him access to all the most important information he gave CIA.

1. Why then, while supervising this top-priority work, was Nosenko performing low-level tasks for a different department? (Spy Wars pp. 94-95, 160-62, 235, 250, 280)

[He himself described his activity during this period, handling street-level homosexual provocateurs of the Tourist Department, recruiting homosexual tourists (one as far away as Sofia), helping the Tourist Department chief in meeting a visiting American travel agent, and traveling abroad repeatedly as watchdog for Soviet industrial delegations.]

2. Why did at least three KGB insiders later state that Nosenko never held that position? [They included i) a visitor to that section at the time, ii) a former member of the section itself, and iii) a former head of foreign counterintelligence, Oleg Kalugin.

3. How does one explain Nosenko's many changes of stories about his KGB career, even about when and how he entered service, and the evidence that the stories were false? (pp. 93, 160-62, 235, 248-50) .[Not a single KGB source during or after the Cold War, even among those who insisted that Nosenko genuinely defected, has confirmed the dates and assignments of his claimed KGB career.]

4. How does one explain Nosenko's authoritative claim that, up to the time he defected, the KGB did not recruit any American Embassy code clerk? (pp. 156-59, 241-42)

[in fact that section of the KGB recruited at least one code clerk and there were compelling signs that Nosenko was hiding the truth about two others.]

5. Why was Nosenko unaware of the operational mission to Helsinki during that period of his direct subordinate Kosolapov as part of a promising attempt to recruit an American Embassy cipher clerk? (pp. 157-60, 242)

6. How could Nosenko err by an entire year - and thus destroy his story about holding this job - by reporting i) that under his supervision KGB surveillants had spotted the American Embassy security officer visiting a certain dead drop site in late 1960 and ii) that for many weeks thereafter, as supervisor, he had received regular reports on the KGB's stakeout of that site. (pp. 88-89, 147-50, 186, 203-4)

[The visit actually happened in late 1961, so any stakeout would have been conducted after Nosenko left the job.]

7. Why did Nosenko fail to mention that dead drop visit when he was telling CIA in 1962 about his coverage of the security officer? (pp. 16, 147, 203)

8. If Nosenko was personally watching over the American Embassy's security officer, why did he not know that the officer traveled from Moscow to his ancestral homeland Annenia? (Nosenko himself recognized that his failure to answer this question undermined his whole life story.) (pp. 186-87)

Nosenko preserved and brought to Geneva in 1964 the KGB's authorization for his travel in December 1963 to search for a fleeing KGB officer, Vladimir Cherepanov. (pp. 87, 167-68, 250-51)

9. How did he keep this document and why did he bring it to Geneva, whereas KGB regulations - as Nosenko agreed -- required that it be turned in before the next payday and before any further official travel could be authorized?

10. Why was that travel authorization (signed by the SCD chief Gribanov) made out to "Lt. Col. Nosenko", the rank he claimed, whereas under detailed questioning he admitted having been only a captain (as even the KGB now confirms)?

11. Is it mere coincidence that in 1962, long before this erroneous travel authorization, he was already lying about his rank, then calling himself a major,?

12. Why was it "Colonel" Nosenko's story that a Soviet official journalist tried to peddle to the Western press shortly after Nosenko's defection in 1964? (page 163)

13. And why would Nosenko be sent out to search for Cherepanov if, as suggested in questions 1-7 above, Nosenko was not deputy chief of the SCD's American-Embassy section?

Nosenko in 1962 volunteered information that his boss Kovshuk had traveled to the United States five years earlier to restore contact with a KGB-recruited American cipher-machine mechanic codenamed "Andrey." [it became evident that the real reason for Kovshuk's travel was to exploit the KGB recruitment of a CIA officer.] (pp. 67-71, 185)

14. Is it mere coincidence that just when Nosenko was telling CIA about Kovshuk's trip, the two KGB officers closest to him in Geneva, his sole KGB companion there, Yuri Guk, and his hotel roommate Kislov, were precisely the two KGB operatives who had worked with Kovshuk on that trip?

15. Why did Nosenko, having read Kislov's KGB file, certify to CIA that Kislov had no connection with the KGB? (pp. 65-67)

16. Why did Nosenko in 1962 say (and repeat) that "Andrey" was recruited in "1949¬1950" but later, in 1964, report that he himself had been in the KGB (entered 1953) while "Andrey" was still in Moscow?

17. Nosenko told CIA in 1962 that he had personally participated in the KGB Moscow attempt to recruit CIA officer Edward Ellis Smith. Why then did he in 1964 deny any knowledge of the name or the case? (p. 188)

Other questions:

18. Why did he refer in 1962 to KGB relations with the Finnish president, but then in 1964 deny any knowledge of it? (p. 186)

19. How does one explain Nosenko's mention in 1962 of the name "Zepp" - which at that moment was of intense interest to KGB counterintelligence - and his failure to recognize the name by early 1964? (pp. 15-16, 150-55, 162, 203)

20. If Nosenko was really in Geneva in 1962 and 1964 as the security watchdog of a Soviet conference delegation, as he claimed, why did even his KGB bosses say, after the Cold War, that he had gone there for other, "serious operational purposes"? (pp. 5, 237, 253)

21. How does one explain Nosenko's inability to describe even the most routine KGB procedures? (pp. 83-86, 191-92, 251-55)

22. How come this eleven-year veteran of KGB CI operations was unable to disclose to the U.S. a single KGB spy who at the time of uncovering, i) was still active and ii) had current access to US or NATO-country official secrets and iii) had previously been unsuspected by Western counterintelligence?

23. Is it true, as Nosenko authoritatively reported, having heard it from three different KGB authorities directly involved, that it was by chance Moscow surveillance of British diplomats that the KGB first learned of the treason of CIA's great spy Oleg Penkovsky? [KGB authorities have since denied it and suggested that the source was a mole.] (pp. 2I-22, 86-87, 235, 243)

Nosenko highlighted to CIA in 1962 that the KGB first uncovered Pyotr Popov, CIA's spy in the GRU (Military Intelligence) by chance surveillance of an American diplomat mailing a letter in Moscow in late January 1959. (pp. 11-12, 16-17, 24, 68¬75, 189, 241-43)

24. How does one equate this with the KGB's later admission that the GRU chief was fired from his post as a result of Popov's treason, almost two months before the letter mailing?

25. Or with the fact that KGB surveillants spotted Popov meeting CIA twice, at least two weeks before the letter mailing?

26. Or with the KGB's admission, in a book published in Moscow in 2000, that it had earlier recruited Edward Ellis Smith, the CIA officer who had supported the Popov case in Moscow?

Nosenko claimed inside knowledge about Lee Harvey Oswald in the Soviet Union, having participated in early decisions when Oswald defected to the USSR and later having read the KGB file on Oswald. Later, the KGB chairman at the time and other KGB veterans denied it and stated that Nosenko was lying about this. (So too did the House Select Committee on Assassinations after interviewing Nosenko many times in 1977-78.) (pp. 83-86, 95-96, 191, 210, 249)

27. If Nosenko did not have his claimed access to the Oswald case and did not really study the KGB's file, where did he get his information? And why does he continue to make that claim to this day?

After the Cold War much was learned about a previously unknown SCD department for operational deception, which was actively handing false sources to Western intelligence services to mislead them. It was learned that this department was closely supervised by Nosenko's sponsor General Oleg Gribanov. And that among its officers were Nosenko's friend Yuri Guk, who was meeting Nosenko before and after each CIA meeting in Geneva in 1962 (pp. 6, 9, 66, 236); Aleksandr Kislov, who was rooming with Nosenko in Geneva in 1962 (p. 7, 66, 70-71, 235, 236); and Vladimir Chelnokov, who took him along on an operational mission to Odessa in 1960 (p. 235).

28. Why did Nosenko not report on the existence of this department?

29. Why did Nosenko not tell that his close KGB associates at various times were members of it?

30. Is it mere coincidence that Nosenko replayed to CIA in 1962 each of these specific cases that six months earlier had been compromised to the Americans by KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn?

i) Vassall (pp. 14, 24, 97, 179, 187, 189, 206, 261)

ii) Preisfreund (pp. 25, 28, 158-59)

iii) Belitsky (pp. 17, 25, 179)

iv) Kovshuk's "trip" to Washington (pp. 24, 65-66, 69, 75-78)

v) Nine others including a Canadian and a French ambassador and a French businessman (pp. 4, 14, 25, 165, 206).

While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?

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It seems to me that not just the statements about and by Nosenko are of significance, but his treatment by JJAngleton after his defection from the USSR. Angleton was the one in the CIA who never bought Nosenko's bona fides, and allowed him to be incarcerated for a matter of years as he tried to break him down. During this time, JJA also was involved with the WC, and refused to allow them to talk with Nosenko. Ironic, in that Nosenko was making statements that validated what the WC wanted to believe -- that LHO was a nobody, of no interest to the KGB. Why did Angleton do this?

If we are looking at the larger picture of the coverup involving the WC, as well as possibly the conspiracy itself, as JJA also had access and power to information about LHO prior to the assassination, we can view the Nosenko case as vital to our understanding of the assassination.

In addition, it is possible that Nosenko was only given a certain level of information about LHO, so that what he said was the 'truth', but only a part of the whole truth about the KGB's interactions with LHO.

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It seems to me that not just the statements about and by Nosenko are of significance, but his treatment by JJAngleton after his defection from the USSR. Angleton was the one in the CIA who never bought Nosenko's bona fides, and allowed him to be incarcerated for a matter of years as he tried to break him down. During this time, JJA also was involved with the WC, and refused to allow them to talk with Nosenko. Ironic, in that Nosenko was making statements that validated what the WC wanted to believe -- that LHO was a nobody, of no interest to the KGB. Why did Angleton do this?

If we are looking at the larger picture of the coverup involving the WC, as well as possibly the conspiracy itself, as JJA also had access and power to information about LHO prior to the assassination, we can view the Nosenko case as vital to our understanding of the assassination.

In addition, it is possible that Nosenko was only given a certain level of information about LHO, so that what he said was the 'truth', but only a part of the whole truth about the KGB's interactions with LHO.

"While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?"

My question is: If Lee Harvey Oswald was a pathetic homicidal lone nut case, then what does Nosenko have anything at all to do with the assassination?

BK

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I have been asked by a friend to post the following:

I have just skimmed this list, and was struck by the ascending level of absurdity.

21. How does one explain Nosenko's inability to describe even the most routine KGB procedures? (pp. 83-86, 191-92, 251-55)

Pull the other one, mate. It's got bells on.

22. How come this eleven-year veteran of KGB CI operations was unable to disclose to the U.S. a single KGB spy who at the time of uncovering, i) was still active and ii) had current access to US or NATO-country official secrets and iii) had previously been unsuspected by Western counterintelligence?

The key proviso here is that anyone Nosenko fingered does not count IF that person has previously been SUSPECTED by Angleton or one of his minions.

This guy has got to be kidding. Angleton suspected everyone, so there was no one that Nosenko could name who had not previously been suspected by the molehunters

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It seems to me that not just the statements about and by Nosenko are of significance, but his treatment by JJAngleton after his defection from the USSR. Angleton was the one in the CIA who never bought Nosenko's bona fides, and allowed him to be incarcerated for a matter of years as he tried to break him down. During this time, JJA also was involved with the WC, and refused to allow them to talk with Nosenko. Ironic, in that Nosenko was making statements that validated what the WC wanted to believe -- that LHO was a nobody, of no interest to the KGB. Why did Angleton do this?

If we are looking at the larger picture of the coverup involving the WC, as well as possibly the conspiracy itself, as JJA also had access and power to information about LHO prior to the assassination, we can view the Nosenko case as vital to our understanding of the assassination.

In addition, it is possible that Nosenko was only given a certain level of information about LHO, so that what he said was the 'truth', but only a part of the whole truth about the KGB's interactions with LHO.

"While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?"

My question is: If Lee Harvey Oswald was a pathetic homicidal lone nut case, then what does Nosenko have anything at all to do with the assassination?

BK

This seems to be another example of the perception of LHO to the WC and the truth about LHO that Angleton knew and wanted to hide from the WC.

Let me rephrase your question -- if Nosenko had nothing to do with the assassination, and his statements echoed what the WC wanted to hear, why did Angleton go out of his way to imprison him and keep him away from the WC?

And, as far as Nosenko being a 'genuine defector', suppose that he was truthful to the extent of information that he knew, without necessarily realizing he did not have access to all the information available. Therefore, he may have thought he had all the answers and come across as a braggart, when, in fact, he did not.

We in the west tend to think like cowboys; everything is black and white. Russians think in shades and nuance. They made a fool out of Angleton.

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It seems to me that not just the statements about and by Nosenko are of significance, but his treatment by JJAngleton after his defection from the USSR. Angleton was the one in the CIA who never bought Nosenko's bona fides, and allowed him to be incarcerated for a matter of years as he tried to break him down. During this time, JJA also was involved with the WC, and refused to allow them to talk with Nosenko. Ironic, in that Nosenko was making statements that validated what the WC wanted to believe -- that LHO was a nobody, of no interest to the KGB. Why did Angleton do this?

If we are looking at the larger picture of the coverup involving the WC, as well as possibly the conspiracy itself, as JJA also had access and power to information about LHO prior to the assassination, we can view the Nosenko case as vital to our understanding of the assassination.

In addition, it is possible that Nosenko was only given a certain level of information about LHO, so that what he said was the 'truth', but only a part of the whole truth about the KGB's interactions with LHO.

"While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?"

My question is: If Lee Harvey Oswald was a pathetic homicidal lone nut case, then what does Nosenko have anything at all to do with the assassination?

BK

This seems to be another example of the perception of LHO to the WC and the truth about LHO that Angleton knew and wanted to hide from the WC.

Let me rephrase your question -- if Nosenko had nothing to do with the assassination, and his statements echoed what the WC wanted to hear, why did Angleton go out of his way to imprison him and keep him away from the WC?

And, as far as Nosenko being a 'genuine defector', suppose that he was truthful to the extent of information that he knew, without necessarily realizing he did not have access to all the information available. Therefore, he may have thought he had all the answers and come across as a braggart, when, in fact, he did not.

We in the west tend to think like cowboys; everything is black and white. Russians think in shades and nuance. They made a fool out of Angleton.

I tend to agree with the points Pamela's raised. All of what people first knew about Nosenko, the general public, not government officials, was way after the fact, and carefully controlled. So, in a sense the CIA, "owned Nosensko." In the sense that nothing that was released for public consumption was in contravention with what the Agency wanted to be known. The official view regarding the Agency, is that Nosensko's account of his knowledge of Oswald and his KGB file, was full of holes from the beginning.

My response would be that neither the CIA nor Nosensko were, "reading from the true script." But that is an opinion. Both John Newman and Joan Mellen have documented the importance of the CIA's Soviet Realities Section and its relationship in regards to Oswald.

I do know that Angleton's attempts to collect diaries alone and showing up after the deaths, of Win Scott and Mary Meyer makes me distrust anything he ever said, about Oswald or the assassination for that matter, including his testimony under oath.

It is also part of the factual record that Angleton and the FBI's Alan Belmont met before their interactions with the Warren Commission to "corroborate each others statements," if that doesen't smack of subterfuge, I don't know what would.

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While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?

It is a fact that it was long ago proven, to the complete satisfaction of objective observers like Cleveland Cram and Stansfield Turner, that Yuri Nosenko was a bona fide defector.

The questions that remain today, as Pamela indicated, do not relate to Nosenko's bona fides, but to the bona fides of those who kidnapped, tortured and falsely imprisoned him.

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It seems to me that not just the statements about and by Nosenko are of significance, but his treatment by JJAngleton after his defection from the USSR. Angleton was the one in the CIA who never bought Nosenko's bona fides, and allowed him to be incarcerated for a matter of years as he tried to break him down. During this time, JJA also was involved with the WC, and refused to allow them to talk with Nosenko. Ironic, in that Nosenko was making statements that validated what the WC wanted to believe -- that LHO was a nobody, of no interest to the KGB. Why did Angleton do this?

If we are looking at the larger picture of the coverup involving the WC, as well as possibly the conspiracy itself, as JJA also had access and power to information about LHO prior to the assassination, we can view the Nosenko case as vital to our understanding of the assassination.

In addition, it is possible that Nosenko was only given a certain level of information about LHO, so that what he said was the 'truth', but only a part of the whole truth about the KGB's interactions with LHO.

"While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?"

My question is: If Lee Harvey Oswald was a pathetic homicidal lone nut case, then what does Nosenko have anything at all to do with the assassination?

BK

This seems to be another example of the perception of LHO to the WC and the truth about LHO that Angleton knew and wanted to hide from the WC.

Let me rephrase your question -- if Nosenko had nothing to do with the assassination, and his statements echoed what the WC wanted to hear, why did Angleton go out of his way to imprison him and keep him away from the WC?

And, as far as Nosenko being a 'genuine defector', suppose that he was truthful to the extent of information that he knew, without necessarily realizing he did not have access to all the information available. Therefore, he may have thought he had all the answers and come across as a braggart, when, in fact, he did not.

We in the west tend to think like cowboys; everything is black and white. Russians think in shades and nuance. They made a fool out of Angleton.

I tend to agree with the points Pamela's raised. All of what people first knew about Nosenko, the general public, not government officials, was way after the fact, and carefully controlled. So, in a sense the CIA, "owned Nosensko." In the sense that nothing that was released for public consumption was in contravention with what the Agency wanted to be known. The official view regarding the Agency, is that Nosensko's account of his knowledge of Oswald and his KGB file, was full of holes from the beginning.

My response would be that neither the CIA nor Nosensko were, "reading from the true script." But that is an opinion. Both John Newman and Joan Mellen have documented the importance of the CIA's Soviet Realities Section and its relationship in regards to Oswald.

I do know that Angleton's attempts to collect diaries alone and showing up after the deaths, of Win Scott and Mary Meyer makes me distrust anything he ever said, about Oswald or the assassination for that matter, including his testimony under oath.

It is also part of the factual record that Angleton and the FBI's Alan Belmont met before their interactions with the Warren Commission to "corroborate each others statements," if that doesen't smack of subterfuge, I don't know what would.

Agreed. Add to that JJA's knowledge of and information about LHO while he was in the USSR as well and especially when he was in Mexico City, info that was withheld from Win Scott, and we find ourselves asking if we are looking at one of the culprits of the assassination; certainly to the extent of LHO ending up as the patsy.

It is little surprise that so many documents relating to LHO's stay in the Soviet Union and his trip to MC are still being suppressed by NARA.

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Every blue moon or so our faith in our fellow man is renewed when we encounter someone entitled to be called the Real MCoy.

In this case his name is Leonard:

It would take another book, and access to classified CIA and FBI records, to assemble and record all of the relevant information which proves unequivocally that the author [Tennent (Pete) H. Bagley] is wrong in every one of these assertions which constitute the foundation of his wearying self defense.

http://cicentre.com/BK/review_spywars_mccoy.html

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I have been asked by a friend to post the following:

Always a pleasure to run across an Angletonian "elicitation." So just who was that "friend," John, Edward J. by any chance?

I have asked Edward J. Epstein several times to join the Forum but he has declined the offer. He is no friend of mine. This friend is a great JFK researcher who supplies me with a great deal of relevant declassified documents. For example, see the thread on Frank Sturgis.

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  • 8 years later...
On 4/24/2009 at 9:11 AM, John Simkin said:

I have been asked by a friend to post the following:

High CIA officials have repeatedly expressed their total faith in Yuri Nosenko as a genuine defector. You can feel the power of that faith in the following certitudes, all expressed in writing or sworn testimony (and cited in the 2007 book Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries and Deadly Games by Tennent H. Bagley):

• "There is "no reason to believe that Nosenko is other than what he has claimed to be."

• "He defected of his own free will and has not sought to deceive us."

• "Anything he has said has been said in good faith."

• If any contradiction appeared in his reporting, it "is in no way indicative of KGB

dispatch."

• Any untruths that Nosenko might inadvertently have told were "not at the behest of the KGB."

• "Any claim we [in CIA] may have left to having served in an honorable and dignified profession dictates that we accept the Agency's judgment in this case - that Nosenko was always bona fide and our colleagues [who suspected him] made a terrible mistake."

Many general reasons have been cited to support such conclusions. Here are some of them:

i) As every intelligence professional is aware, neither the KGB nor any other intelligence service would, all other things being equal, send one of its own genuine staff officers as a false defector into enemy hands. The risk would be too great that he might be influenced or pressured there to tell what he really knows - including the very truth the deception operation was intended to hide.

ii) The Soviet regime sentenced Nosenko to death in absentia and several KGB sources have said that the KGB was looking for him with the intent to assassinate him.

iii) Real KGB staffers are said by insiders to have suffered real punishment as a result of his defection or as a result of their misbehavior uncovered by the KGB investigation of it.

iv) After he was cleared of CIA's suspicions, Nosenko remained in the United States for the nearly forty years remaining in his life, became an American citizen, and helped Western operations against the KGB -- things hardly compatible with a motive to deceive.

v) Later defectors from the KGB have testified to the genuineness of his defection and its damage to the Soviet regime (though none has confirmed details of his KGB career).

vi) Repeated CIA reviews and analyses of the case over thirty years have again and again cleared Nosenko of all suspicion.

vii) CIA insiders have stated under oath that Nosenko has told only the truth as best he could and that nothing he has said contradicts what genuine KGB defectors have reported (though in fact much does).

viii) Nosenko named a lot of KGB SCD officers, and exposed many "cases" - never mind that not one of the KGB spies (or "cases") he revealed was (at the time he revealed them) still active, producing NATO-government secrets, and previously unsuspected by Western counterintelligence -- i.e. not one exceeded what the KGB would willingly sacrifice to build credibility of a false defector.

ix) An official KGB document in the so-called "Mitrokhin archive" tells of the (genuine) defector Nosenko's ranting about questions of his rank. (Never mind that this document contradicted Nosenko's own account of his career and never mind that many documents with false or misleading information are known to have been inserted in official KGB files to hide or obscure sensitive information.)

But these are only generalities. Even if true - which many of the above are not - generalities cannot dispel specific doubts that arise in counterintelligence investigations. It is by their errors of detail, sometimes tiny, that deceivers inadvertently betray their deceit. Given the depth of CIA's faith in Nosenko, one might suppose that it has considered and satisfactorily resolved every such specific doubt. If it has not, its faith rests on shaky ground.

In fact, there is no indication that CIA ever answered the extraordinary and unprecedented number of questions that arose about the defector Yuri Nosenko. Here is a sample of thirty of them, with references to the pages where they are discussed in Spy Wars.

Nosenko claimed that through the entire years 1960-61 he was deputy chief of the American-Embassy section of the American department of the Second Chief Directorate (SCD) of the KGB. It was this post (especially his claim to have there personally supervised all KGB work against the embassy's code clerks and security officer) that gave him access to all the most important information he gave CIA.

1. Why then, while supervising this top-priority work, was Nosenko performing low-level tasks for a different department? (Spy Wars pp. 94-95, 160-62, 235, 250, 280)

[He himself described his activity during this period, handling street-level homosexual provocateurs of the Tourist Department, recruiting homosexual tourists (one as far away as Sofia), helping the Tourist Department chief in meeting a visiting American travel agent, and traveling abroad repeatedly as watchdog for Soviet industrial delegations.]

2. Why did at least three KGB insiders later state that Nosenko never held that position? [They included i) a visitor to that section at the time, ii) a former member of the section itself, and iii) a former head of foreign counterintelligence, Oleg Kalugin.

3. How does one explain Nosenko's many changes of stories about his KGB career, even about when and how he entered service, and the evidence that the stories were false? (pp. 93, 160-62, 235, 248-50) .[Not a single KGB source during or after the Cold War, even among those who insisted that Nosenko genuinely defected, has confirmed the dates and assignments of his claimed KGB career.]

4. How does one explain Nosenko's authoritative claim that, up to the time he defected, the KGB did not recruit any American Embassy code clerk? (pp. 156-59, 241-42)

[in fact that section of the KGB recruited at least one code clerk and there were compelling signs that Nosenko was hiding the truth about two others.]

5. Why was Nosenko unaware of the operational mission to Helsinki during that period of his direct subordinate Kosolapov as part of a promising attempt to recruit an American Embassy cipher clerk? (pp. 157-60, 242)

6. How could Nosenko err by an entire year - and thus destroy his story about holding this job - by reporting i) that under his supervision KGB surveillants had spotted the American Embassy security officer visiting a certain dead drop site in late 1960 and ii) that for many weeks thereafter, as supervisor, he had received regular reports on the KGB's stakeout of that site. (pp. 88-89, 147-50, 186, 203-4)

[The visit actually happened in late 1961, so any stakeout would have been conducted after Nosenko left the job.]

7. Why did Nosenko fail to mention that dead drop visit when he was telling CIA in 1962 about his coverage of the security officer? (pp. 16, 147, 203)

8. If Nosenko was personally watching over the American Embassy's security officer, why did he not know that the officer traveled from Moscow to his ancestral homeland Annenia? (Nosenko himself recognized that his failure to answer this question undermined his whole life story.) (pp. 186-87)

Nosenko preserved and brought to Geneva in 1964 the KGB's authorization for his travel in December 1963 to search for a fleeing KGB officer, Vladimir Cherepanov. (pp. 87, 167-68, 250-51)

9. How did he keep this document and why did he bring it to Geneva, whereas KGB regulations - as Nosenko agreed -- required that it be turned in before the next payday and before any further official travel could be authorized?

10. Why was that travel authorization (signed by the SCD chief Gribanov) made out to "Lt. Col. Nosenko", the rank he claimed, whereas under detailed questioning he admitted having been only a captain (as even the KGB now confirms)?

11. Is it mere coincidence that in 1962, long before this erroneous travel authorization, he was already lying about his rank, then calling himself a major,?

12. Why was it "Colonel" Nosenko's story that a Soviet official journalist tried to peddle to the Western press shortly after Nosenko's defection in 1964? (page 163)

13. And why would Nosenko be sent out to search for Cherepanov if, as suggested in questions 1-7 above, Nosenko was not deputy chief of the SCD's American-Embassy section?

Nosenko in 1962 volunteered information that his boss Kovshuk had traveled to the United States five years earlier to restore contact with a KGB-recruited American cipher-machine mechanic codenamed "Andrey." [it became evident that the real reason for Kovshuk's travel was to exploit the KGB recruitment of a CIA officer.] (pp. 67-71, 185)

14. Is it mere coincidence that just when Nosenko was telling CIA about Kovshuk's trip, the two KGB officers closest to him in Geneva, his sole KGB companion there, Yuri Guk, and his hotel roommate Kislov, were precisely the two KGB operatives who had worked with Kovshuk on that trip?

15. Why did Nosenko, having read Kislov's KGB file, certify to CIA that Kislov had no connection with the KGB? (pp. 65-67)

16. Why did Nosenko in 1962 say (and repeat) that "Andrey" was recruited in "1949¬1950" but later, in 1964, report that he himself had been in the KGB (entered 1953) while "Andrey" was still in Moscow?

17. Nosenko told CIA in 1962 that he had personally participated in the KGB Moscow attempt to recruit CIA officer Edward Ellis Smith. Why then did he in 1964 deny any knowledge of the name or the case? (p. 188)

Other questions:

18. Why did he refer in 1962 to KGB relations with the Finnish president, but then in 1964 deny any knowledge of it? (p. 186)

19. How does one explain Nosenko's mention in 1962 of the name "Zepp" - which at that moment was of intense interest to KGB counterintelligence - and his failure to recognize the name by early 1964? (pp. 15-16, 150-55, 162, 203)

20. If Nosenko was really in Geneva in 1962 and 1964 as the security watchdog of a Soviet conference delegation, as he claimed, why did even his KGB bosses say, after the Cold War, that he had gone there for other, "serious operational purposes"? (pp. 5, 237, 253)

21. How does one explain Nosenko's inability to describe even the most routine KGB procedures? (pp. 83-86, 191-92, 251-55)

22. How come this eleven-year veteran of KGB CI operations was unable to disclose to the U.S. a single KGB spy who at the time of uncovering, i) was still active and ii) had current access to US or NATO-country official secrets and iii) had previously been unsuspected by Western counterintelligence?

23. Is it true, as Nosenko authoritatively reported, having heard it from three different KGB authorities directly involved, that it was by chance Moscow surveillance of British diplomats that the KGB first learned of the treason of CIA's great spy Oleg Penkovsky? [KGB authorities have since denied it and suggested that the source was a mole.] (pp. 2I-22, 86-87, 235, 243)

Nosenko highlighted to CIA in 1962 that the KGB first uncovered Pyotr Popov, CIA's spy in the GRU (Military Intelligence) by chance surveillance of an American diplomat mailing a letter in Moscow in late January 1959. (pp. 11-12, 16-17, 24, 68¬75, 189, 241-43)

24. How does one equate this with the KGB's later admission that the GRU chief was fired from his post as a result of Popov's treason, almost two months before the letter mailing?

25. Or with the fact that KGB surveillants spotted Popov meeting CIA twice, at least two weeks before the letter mailing?

26. Or with the KGB's admission, in a book published in Moscow in 2000, that it had earlier recruited Edward Ellis Smith, the CIA officer who had supported the Popov case in Moscow?

Nosenko claimed inside knowledge about Lee Harvey Oswald in the Soviet Union, having participated in early decisions when Oswald defected to the USSR and later having read the KGB file on Oswald. Later, the KGB chairman at the time and other KGB veterans denied it and stated that Nosenko was lying about this. (So too did the House Select Committee on Assassinations after interviewing Nosenko many times in 1977-78.) (pp. 83-86, 95-96, 191, 210, 249)

27. If Nosenko did not have his claimed access to the Oswald case and did not really study the KGB's file, where did he get his information? And why does he continue to make that claim to this day?

After the Cold War much was learned about a previously unknown SCD department for operational deception, which was actively handing false sources to Western intelligence services to mislead them. It was learned that this department was closely supervised by Nosenko's sponsor General Oleg Gribanov. And that among its officers were Nosenko's friend Yuri Guk, who was meeting Nosenko before and after each CIA meeting in Geneva in 1962 (pp. 6, 9, 66, 236); Aleksandr Kislov, who was rooming with Nosenko in Geneva in 1962 (p. 7, 66, 70-71, 235, 236); and Vladimir Chelnokov, who took him along on an operational mission to Odessa in 1960 (p. 235).

28. Why did Nosenko not report on the existence of this department?

29. Why did Nosenko not tell that his close KGB associates at various times were members of it?

30. Is it mere coincidence that Nosenko replayed to CIA in 1962 each of these specific cases that six months earlier had been compromised to the Americans by KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn?

i) Vassall (pp. 14, 24, 97, 179, 187, 189, 206, 261)

ii) Preisfreund (pp. 25, 28, 158-59)

iii) Belitsky (pp. 17, 25, 179)

iv) Kovshuk's "trip" to Washington (pp. 24, 65-66, 69, 75-78)

v) Nine others including a Canadian and a French ambassador and a French businessman (pp. 4, 14, 25, 165, 206).

While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?

Dear Mr Simkin,

Thank you very much, indeed, for posting this list of illuminating questions from Tennent H. Bagley's excellent book, "Spy Wars".

--  Tommy  :sun

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On 4/24/2009 at 9:11 AM, John Simkin said:

I have been asked by a friend to post the following:

High CIA officials have repeatedly expressed their total faith in Yuri Nosenko as a genuine defector. You can feel the power of that faith in the following certitudes, all expressed in writing or sworn testimony (and cited in the 2007 book Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries and Deadly Games by Tennent H. Bagley):

• "There is "no reason to believe that Nosenko is other than what he has claimed to be."

• "He defected of his own free will and has not sought to deceive us."

• "Anything he has said has been said in good faith."

• If any contradiction appeared in his reporting, it "is in no way indicative of KGB

dispatch."

• Any untruths that Nosenko might inadvertently have told were "not at the behest of the KGB."

• "Any claim we [in CIA] may have left to having served in an honorable and dignified profession dictates that we accept the Agency's judgment in this case - that Nosenko was always bona fide and our colleagues [who suspected him] made a terrible mistake."

Many general reasons have been cited to support such conclusions. Here are some of them:

i) As every intelligence professional is aware, neither the KGB nor any other intelligence service would, all other things being equal, send one of its own genuine staff officers as a false defector into enemy hands. The risk would be too great that he might be influenced or pressured there to tell what he really knows - including the very truth the deception operation was intended to hide.

ii) The Soviet regime sentenced Nosenko to death in absentia and several KGB sources have said that the KGB was looking for him with the intent to assassinate him.

iii) Real KGB staffers are said by insiders to have suffered real punishment as a result of his defection or as a result of their misbehavior uncovered by the KGB investigation of it.

iv) After he was cleared of CIA's suspicions, Nosenko remained in the United States for the nearly forty years remaining in his life, became an American citizen, and helped Western operations against the KGB -- things hardly compatible with a motive to deceive.

v) Later defectors from the KGB have testified to the genuineness of his defection and its damage to the Soviet regime (though none has confirmed details of his KGB career).

vi) Repeated CIA reviews and analyses of the case over thirty years have again and again cleared Nosenko of all suspicion.

vii) CIA insiders have stated under oath that Nosenko has told only the truth as best he could and that nothing he has said contradicts what genuine KGB defectors have reported (though in fact much does).

viii) Nosenko named a lot of KGB SCD officers, and exposed many "cases" - never mind that not one of the KGB spies (or "cases") he revealed was (at the time he revealed them) still active, producing NATO-government secrets, and previously unsuspected by Western counterintelligence -- i.e. not one exceeded what the KGB would willingly sacrifice to build credibility of a false defector.

ix) An official KGB document in the so-called "Mitrokhin archive" tells of the (genuine) defector Nosenko's ranting about questions of his rank. (Never mind that this document contradicted Nosenko's own account of his career and never mind that many documents with false or misleading information are known to have been inserted in official KGB files to hide or obscure sensitive information.)

But these are only generalities. Even if true - which many of the above are not - generalities cannot dispel specific doubts that arise in counterintelligence investigations. It is by their errors of detail, sometimes tiny, that deceivers inadvertently betray their deceit. Given the depth of CIA's faith in Nosenko, one might suppose that it has considered and satisfactorily resolved every such specific doubt. If it has not, its faith rests on shaky ground.

In fact, there is no indication that CIA ever answered the extraordinary and unprecedented number of questions that arose about the defector Yuri Nosenko. Here is a sample of thirty of them, with references to the pages where they are discussed in Spy Wars.

Nosenko claimed that through the entire years 1960-61 he was deputy chief of the American-Embassy section of the American department of the Second Chief Directorate (SCD) of the KGB. It was this post (especially his claim to have there personally supervised all KGB work against the embassy's code clerks and security officer) that gave him access to all the most important information he gave CIA.

1. Why then, while supervising this top-priority work, was Nosenko performing low-level tasks for a different department? (Spy Wars pp. 94-95, 160-62, 235, 250, 280)

[He himself described his activity during this period, handling street-level homosexual provocateurs of the Tourist Department, recruiting homosexual tourists (one as far away as Sofia), helping the Tourist Department chief in meeting a visiting American travel agent, and traveling abroad repeatedly as watchdog for Soviet industrial delegations.]

2. Why did at least three KGB insiders later state that Nosenko never held that position? [They included i) a visitor to that section at the time, ii) a former member of the section itself, and iii) a former head of foreign counterintelligence, Oleg Kalugin.

3. How does one explain Nosenko's many changes of stories about his KGB career, even about when and how he entered service, and the evidence that the stories were false? (pp. 93, 160-62, 235, 248-50) .[Not a single KGB source during or after the Cold War, even among those who insisted that Nosenko genuinely defected, has confirmed the dates and assignments of his claimed KGB career.]

4. How does one explain Nosenko's authoritative claim that, up to the time he defected, the KGB did not recruit any American Embassy code clerk? (pp. 156-59, 241-42)

[in fact that section of the KGB recruited at least one code clerk and there were compelling signs that Nosenko was hiding the truth about two others.]

5. Why was Nosenko unaware of the operational mission to Helsinki during that period of his direct subordinate Kosolapov as part of a promising attempt to recruit an American Embassy cipher clerk? (pp. 157-60, 242)

6. How could Nosenko err by an entire year - and thus destroy his story about holding this job - by reporting i) that under his supervision KGB surveillants had spotted the American Embassy security officer visiting a certain dead drop site in late 1960 and ii) that for many weeks thereafter, as supervisor, he had received regular reports on the KGB's stakeout of that site. (pp. 88-89, 147-50, 186, 203-4)

[The visit actually happened in late 1961, so any stakeout would have been conducted after Nosenko left the job.]

7. Why did Nosenko fail to mention that dead drop visit when he was telling CIA in 1962 about his coverage of the security officer? (pp. 16, 147, 203)

8. If Nosenko was personally watching over the American Embassy's security officer, why did he not know that the officer traveled from Moscow to his ancestral homeland Annenia? (Nosenko himself recognized that his failure to answer this question undermined his whole life story.) (pp. 186-87)

Nosenko preserved and brought to Geneva in 1964 the KGB's authorization for his travel in December 1963 to search for a fleeing KGB officer, Vladimir Cherepanov. (pp. 87, 167-68, 250-51)

9. How did he keep this document and why did he bring it to Geneva, whereas KGB regulations - as Nosenko agreed -- required that it be turned in before the next payday and before any further official travel could be authorized?

10. Why was that travel authorization (signed by the SCD chief Gribanov) made out to "Lt. Col. Nosenko", the rank he claimed, whereas under detailed questioning he admitted having been only a captain (as even the KGB now confirms)?

11. Is it mere coincidence that in 1962, long before this erroneous travel authorization, he was already lying about his rank, then calling himself a major,?

12. Why was it "Colonel" Nosenko's story that a Soviet official journalist tried to peddle to the Western press shortly after Nosenko's defection in 1964? (page 163)

13. And why would Nosenko be sent out to search for Cherepanov if, as suggested in questions 1-7 above, Nosenko was not deputy chief of the SCD's American-Embassy section?

Nosenko in 1962 volunteered information that his boss Kovshuk had traveled to the United States five years earlier to restore contact with a KGB-recruited American cipher-machine mechanic codenamed "Andrey." [it became evident that the real reason for Kovshuk's travel was to exploit the KGB recruitment of a CIA officer.] (pp. 67-71, 185)

14. Is it mere coincidence that just when Nosenko was telling CIA about Kovshuk's trip, the two KGB officers closest to him in Geneva, his sole KGB companion there, Yuri Guk, and his hotel roommate Kislov, were precisely the two KGB operatives who had worked with Kovshuk on that trip?

15. Why did Nosenko, having read Kislov's KGB file, certify to CIA that Kislov had no connection with the KGB? (pp. 65-67)

16. Why did Nosenko in 1962 say (and repeat) that "Andrey" was recruited in "1949¬1950" but later, in 1964, report that he himself had been in the KGB (entered 1953) while "Andrey" was still in Moscow?

17. Nosenko told CIA in 1962 that he had personally participated in the KGB Moscow attempt to recruit CIA officer Edward Ellis Smith. Why then did he in 1964 deny any knowledge of the name or the case? (p. 188)

Other questions:

18. Why did he refer in 1962 to KGB relations with the Finnish president, but then in 1964 deny any knowledge of it? (p. 186)

19. How does one explain Nosenko's mention in 1962 of the name "Zepp" - which at that moment was of intense interest to KGB counterintelligence - and his failure to recognize the name by early 1964? (pp. 15-16, 150-55, 162, 203)

20. If Nosenko was really in Geneva in 1962 and 1964 as the security watchdog of a Soviet conference delegation, as he claimed, why did even his KGB bosses say, after the Cold War, that he had gone there for other, "serious operational purposes"? (pp. 5, 237, 253)

21. How does one explain Nosenko's inability to describe even the most routine KGB procedures? (pp. 83-86, 191-92, 251-55)

22. How come this eleven-year veteran of KGB CI operations was unable to disclose to the U.S. a single KGB spy who at the time of uncovering, i) was still active and ii) had current access to US or NATO-country official secrets and iii) had previously been unsuspected by Western counterintelligence?

23. Is it true, as Nosenko authoritatively reported, having heard it from three different KGB authorities directly involved, that it was by chance Moscow surveillance of British diplomats that the KGB first learned of the treason of CIA's great spy Oleg Penkovsky? [KGB authorities have since denied it and suggested that the source was a mole.] (pp. 2I-22, 86-87, 235, 243)

Nosenko highlighted to CIA in 1962 that the KGB first uncovered Pyotr Popov, CIA's spy in the GRU (Military Intelligence) by chance surveillance of an American diplomat mailing a letter in Moscow in late January 1959. (pp. 11-12, 16-17, 24, 68¬75, 189, 241-43)

24. How does one equate this with the KGB's later admission that the GRU chief was fired from his post as a result of Popov's treason, almost two months before the letter mailing?

25. Or with the fact that KGB surveillants spotted Popov meeting CIA twice, at least two weeks before the letter mailing?

26. Or with the KGB's admission, in a book published in Moscow in 2000, that it had earlier recruited Edward Ellis Smith, the CIA officer who had supported the Popov case in Moscow?

Nosenko claimed inside knowledge about Lee Harvey Oswald in the Soviet Union, having participated in early decisions when Oswald defected to the USSR and later having read the KGB file on Oswald. Later, the KGB chairman at the time and other KGB veterans denied it and stated that Nosenko was lying about this. (So too did the House Select Committee on Assassinations after interviewing Nosenko many times in 1977-78.) (pp. 83-86, 95-96, 191, 210, 249)

27. If Nosenko did not have his claimed access to the Oswald case and did not really study the KGB's file, where did he get his information? And why does he continue to make that claim to this day?

After the Cold War much was learned about a previously unknown SCD department for operational deception, which was actively handing false sources to Western intelligence services to mislead them. It was learned that this department was closely supervised by Nosenko's sponsor General Oleg Gribanov. And that among its officers were Nosenko's friend Yuri Guk, who was meeting Nosenko before and after each CIA meeting in Geneva in 1962 (pp. 6, 9, 66, 236); Aleksandr Kislov, who was rooming with Nosenko in Geneva in 1962 (p. 7, 66, 70-71, 235, 236); and Vladimir Chelnokov, who took him along on an operational mission to Odessa in 1960 (p. 235).

28. Why did Nosenko not report on the existence of this department?

29. Why did Nosenko not tell that his close KGB associates at various times were members of it?

30. Is it mere coincidence that Nosenko replayed to CIA in 1962 each of these specific cases that six months earlier had been compromised to the Americans by KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn?

i) Vassall (pp. 14, 24, 97, 179, 187, 189, 206, 261)

ii) Preisfreund (pp. 25, 28, 158-59)

iii) Belitsky (pp. 17, 25, 179)

iv) Kovshuk's "trip" to Washington (pp. 24, 65-66, 69, 75-78)

v) Nine others including a Canadian and a French ambassador and a French businessman (pp. 4, 14, 25, 165, 206).

While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?


I'm bumping this fascinating list for Paul Brancanto, and for anyone else who has decided to forego reading the excellent book from which it came.

Thanks again to John Simkin for posting it on the forum back in the day!
 

-- Tommy  :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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On 2/2/2018 at 10:31 AM, Thomas Graves said:


I'm bumping this fascinating list for Paul Brancanto, and for anyone else who has decided to forego reading the excellent book from which it came.

Thanks again to John Simkin for posting it on the forum back in the day!
 

-- Tommy  :sun


Well, what do you say?  Shall we start discussing these thirty questions one-by-one?

I'm "up" for it, James DiEugenio, Paul Brancato, Bill Simpich, ... or whomever has the gonads and the stamina.
 

LOL

--  Tommy  :sun

 

edit:  Before we "get into it" on the individual questions, here's some background information on what Bagley did and went through for those of you who, unfortunately, happen to agree with CIA's ultimate "take" on Nosenko.  It's from the very beginning of Bagley's 35-page PDF, "Ghosts of the Spy Wars" (2015).

 

"The history of Cold War espionage—KGB vs. CIA—remains incomplete, full of inaccuracies, and cries out for correction. It received a big infusion after 1991 by the opening of some files from both East and West, but that left the more biting questions unanswered—like those pertaining to still-unknown moles inside Western governments and intelligence services. Those undiscovered traitors still hover like ghosts over that history.

I saw and had a share in some doings of the first half of the Cold War. The facts and events of which I write here are all part of the public record and have been officially cleared for publication, like my own books Spy Wars and Spymaster. 1 Tennent H. Bagley , Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007) and Spymaster: Startling Cold War Revelations of a Soviet KGB Chief(New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013). [Google Scholar]But details are easily forgotten, so pulling some out from their present context and getting a glimpse of the ghosts lurking behind them may be useful. In the future an alert journalist or historian, inspired by some new revelation, may remember one or another of these old ghosts and dig deeper to lay them to rest.

Most of the ghosts I stir up here still hover undetected because back in the second half of the 1960s the CIA changed its mind and decided that the deeply-suspected KGB defector Yuri Nosenko had, after all, genuinely defected and had been telling CIA the truth. 2Throughout this article I treat Yuri Nosenko as a sent KGB plant, deceiving the Americans. The CIA's official position since 1968 has been the opposite. For some insight into the debate, see the Appendix. [Google Scholar]

That change of mind began in 1967, five years after Nosenko first appeared to the CIA. By then the CIA's Soviet Bloc (SB) Division had concluded, on the basis of years of debriefing, interrogation, investigation, observation, and analysis, that the KGB's Second Chief Directorate (internal counterintelligence) sent Nosenko to CIA with the aim (among others) of diverting leads to its spies in the West that CIA had been given a few months earlier by the genuine KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn. The SB Division summarized its reasons in a 439-page report, one copy of which they apparently mounted in a 'notebook.'

But then the tide shifted. A reports-and-requirements (R&R) officer of the Division, alerted to the notebook's existence by a colleague, 3 The colleague was Richard Kovich, who though not involved in the (closely-held) handling of Nosenko, had been subtly seeking for a year or more to learn—and had evidently found out—the dire assessment of Nosenko's bona fides and his situation. [Google Scholar]got hold of it and, without checking with his Division superiors, drafted a forty-page paper and three memoranda for higher Agency supervisors, pleading that his Division's position on Nosenko as set out in the notebook was wrong, mindless, and indefensible. He urged that it be reconsidered 'by a new team of CIA officers.'

This evidently launched the Agency's re-review of the case, with new interviews of Nosenko by others, culminating in a 1968 report by security officer Bruce Solie that exonerated Nosenko and led to his acceptance as an advisor to the Agency's anti-Soviet operations. 4Tennent H. Bagley, Spy Wars, pp. 197–220. [Google Scholar]

THE MCCOY INTERVENTION

The SB R&R officer who started the process, Leonard McCoy, was later made deputy chief of CIA's Counterintelligence Staff (under a new CI Staff chief, previously unconnected with anti-Soviet operations, who had replaced James Angleton). There, he continued fiercely to defend Nosenko's bona fides 5 See, for example, Spy Wars pp. 218–219 and its Appendix A with its endnote 3. Also, Leonard McCoy, “Yuri Nosenko, CIA,” CIRA Newletter, Vol. XII, No. 3, Fall 1983. [Google Scholar]and, in the guise of cleansing unnecessary old files, destroyed all the CI Staff's existing file material that (independent of SB Division's own findings) cast doubt on Nosenko's good faith. 6As testified by CI Staff operations chief Newton S. ('Scotty') Miler in a handwritten memorandum which is in the files of T. H. Bagley. [Google Scholar]

Not until forty-five years later was McCoy's appeal declassified and released by the National Archives (NARA) on 12 March 2012 under the JFK Act 'with no objection from CIA.'

McCoy opened, as we can now see, with his own finding and with a plea: 'After examining the evidence of Nosenko's bona fides in the notebook,' he wrote, 'I am convinced that Nosenko is a bona fide defector. I believe that the case against him has arisen and persisted because the facts have been misconstrued, ignored, or interpreted without sufficient consideration of his psychological failings.' The evidence, he said, is that Nosenko is 'not a plant and not fabricating anything at all, except what is required by his disturbed personality.' He recommended 'that we appoint a new judge and jury for the Nosenko case consisting of persons not involved in the case so far' and proposed six candidates.

According to McCoy, it was not only Nosenko's psychology that should determine his bona fides, but also his reporting. 'The ultimate conclusions must be based on his production,' McCoy asserted, specifically claiming to be the only person qualified to evaluate that production. Certain of Nosenko's reports were important and fresh, he stated, and could not be considered KGB 'throwaway' or deception, as the notebook described them.

In reality, however, the value of Nosenko's intelligence reports had not been a major factor in the Division's finding. It had judged him a KGB plant on the basis of the circumstances of the case (of the sort listed in the '40 Questions' of the Appendix). McCoy did not explain—or even mention—a single one of these circumstances in his paper, so his arguments were irrelevant to the matter he pretended to deal with.

His was not a professional assessment of a complex counterintelligence situation but, instead, an emotional plea. He referred with scorn to his superiors' 'insidious conclusions' and 'genuine paranoia' and called their analysis 'very strange, to say the least.' The case against Nosenko, he wrote, was based on (unnamed) 'assumptions, subjective observations, unsupported suspicions, innuendo, insinuations [… and] relatively trivial contradictions in his reporting.'

Nosenko's failure to pass the lie detector test, McCoy asserted, 'rules out Nosenko immediately' as a plant—because the KGB would have trained him to beat it. He dismissed (unspecified) findings as 'trivial, antique, or repetitive' and cited one which 'borders on fantasy. … In fact, it is fantastic!' (sic—with exclamation point). 'I cannot find a shred of solid evidence against Nosenko,' he wrote, 'The case would be thrown out of court for lack of evidence.' Closing his paper he asked, 'What kind of proof do we need of his innocence, when we call him guilty with none?'

McCoy used as argument his speculation about what the KGB would or would not do. His paper was studded with untruths, distortions, and unsupported assertions like those cited above—all designed to discredit any doubts or doubters of Nosenko's bona fides. For instance, he judged the defector Pyotr Deryabin, a former KGB Major of more than ten years' experience, to be 'not experienced.' When Deryabin decided that Nosenko was a KGB plant, wrote McCoy, he was making a 'snap judgment … after having been briefed on the mere facts of the case.' In reality, Deryabin had spent years reviewing and commenting upon the full record of this and related cases, listening to tapes (and correcting the transcripts) of every meeting with and debriefing of Nosenko—and had then personally questioned Nosenko in twelve long sessions.

McCoy told the demonstrable untruth that Nosenko 'damaged the Soviet intelligence effort more than all the other KGB defectors combined' and that 'no Soviet defector has identified as many Soviet agents.'  Had Nosenko not uncovered William Vassall as a spy, McCoy wrote, certain secret British documents (shown by Golitsyn to be in KGB hands) 'could have been assumed to come from the Lonsdale-Cohen-Houghton net' —though they could not conceivably have been. He said that Sgt. Robert Lee Johnson 'would still be operating against us' had Nosenko not uncovered him—though by then, in fact, Johnson had already lost his post and his wife was publicly denouncing him as a Soviet spy. McCoy asserted that it was Nosenko who identified Kovshuk's photo whereas Golitsyn had made the identification. He confused two separate KGB American recruits, following Nosenko's line and successfully hiding the active, valid one. And he made uncounted other equally unfounded assertions.

But by then the Nosenko case—the CIA's holding of a suspected KGB plant—had become a thorn in the side of the Agency leadership, an 'incubus' and 'bone in the throat,' as Director Richard Helms put it. So the CIA happily accepted McCoy's authority and as a result many KGB moles were never identified.

Let's have a look at some of these ghosts."

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Edited by Thomas Graves
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On 4/24/2009 at 10:42 AM, William Kelly said:

"While an objective observer tries to answer each of these thirty questions in a manner consistent with his answers to the other questions, a thirty-first question will have occurred to him. How could so many questions - even a fraction of this number - have arisen about any genuine defector?"

My question is: If Lee Harvey Oswald was a pathetic homicidal lone nut case, then what does Nosenko have anything at all to do with the assassination?

BK

Bill,

With all due respect, in answering your question, "What does Nosenko have to do with the assassination?," I would point out to you that Nosenko was a false defector sent here to mislead us into believing that the KGB hadn't interviewed or monitored an alleged "crazy and dangerous looking" Marine Corps radar operator familiar with the U2 spy plane, even though said "crazy and dangerous-looking" guy was allowed to live in the USSR (a few blocks from a KGB training school) for two and one-half years.

--  Tommy  :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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