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Spy Wars

Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games

Tennent H. Bagley
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1np80b
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  • Book Info
    Spy Wars
    Book Description:

    Chosen by William Safire in the New York Times to be the publishing sleeper-seller of the year for 2007.

    In this rapid-paced book, a former CIA chief of Soviet bloc counterintelligence breaks open the mysterious case of KGB officer Yuri Nosenko's 1964 defection to the United States. Still a highly controversial chapter in the history of Cold War espionage, the Nosenko affair has inspired debate for more than forty years: was Nosenko a bona fide defector with the real information about Lee Harvey Oswald's stay in Soviet Russia, or was he a KGB loyalist, engaged in a complex game of deception?

    As supervisor of CIA operations against the KGB at the time, Tennent H. Bagley directly handled Nosenko's case. This insider knowledge, combined with information gleaned from dozens of interviews with former KGB adversaries, places Bagley in a uniquely authoritative position. He guides the reader step by step through the complicated operations surrounding the Nosenko affair and shatters the comfortable version of events the CIA has presented to the public. Bagley unveils not only the KGB's history of merciless and bloody betrayals but also the existence of undiscovered traitors in the American camp. Shining new light on the CIA-KGB spy wars, he invites deeper thinking about the history of espionage and its implications for the intelligence community today.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13478-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Part One A Defector Like No Other

    • CHAPTER 1 Walk-in
      (pp. 3-9)

      When the door opened in front of him, my visitor knew he was being led into a secret CIA apartment. But which of us was really being led? As he took my welcoming hand I had no idea that it was to drag me and my service into a labyrinth so complex that even today, more than forty years later, my successors have still not found their way through its twists and turns.

      On that afternoon in late May 1962 Geneva was at its springtime best. Beyond the open glass door onto a narrow balcony, red flowers glowed in window...

    • CHAPTER 2 Getting Under Way
      (pp. 10-18)

      When the door closed behind Yuri Nosenko I hardly caught my breath before jotting notes on highlights and my initial impressions for a priority cable to Headquarters. It would go with an extra code word to limit its distribution there. This affair was promising enough to merit special security precautions.

      First, I noted, Nosenko gave every indication that he was really a KGB officer. Only an insider could have spoken so easily about secret Soviet places, KGB people unknown to the general public, and secret operations like Popov. This, to me, seemed to establish his bona fides. Second, he had...

    • CHAPTER 3 A Visit to Headquarters
      (pp. 19-27)

      ‘‘Good stuff, I’m really pleased,’’ said Jack Maury, the Soviet Division chief, greeting me in his office on the fifth floor of the bright new CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, which I was now seeing and entering for the first time. ‘‘And it’s a good running start on your assignment here in the fall,’’ he added in his soft Virginia accent—a welcome confirmation that I was still booked to become chief of the division’s counterintelligence section.

      Within hours of Nosenko’s departure for Moscow, Maury had summoned George Kisevalter and me to Headquarters. Because there had not been time to...

    • CHAPTER 4 En Route
      (pp. 28-50)

      Looking down at the clouds over the Atlantic as my five-year-old daughter Christina dropped into sleep at my side, I wondered how she would adapt to her new life in Washington—and how I would, too. My thoughts ran over the life and professional experience that had brought me here and—I hoped—prepared me for the challenges toward which I was flying.

      Like most lives and careers, mine had been bumped into new directions by chance encounters and unforeseen events. But one direction seemed foreordained: government service—and in my time that was bound to be military.

      World War...

    • CHAPTER 5 New Job, Under Clouds
      (pp. 51-62)

      Jack Maury was standing by a window staring out at the gray November sky as I stepped into this dark welcome regarding one of our top spies, Colonel Oleg Vladimirovich Penkovsky. My new job was beginning on an ominous note.

      After only a year and a half that great operation had ended.

      “We don’t know when he was arrested. The last contact was September 6th. Then Penkovsky missed scheduled brushes in mid-September, so it must have been about then. But we didn’t know, so we didn’t call off Greville Wynne’s scheduled business trip to Budapest. The KGB kidnapped him there...

    • CHAPTER 6 Bombshell
      (pp. 63-67)

      ‘‘Here are the traces on that Russian you asked me about yesterday,’’ said the analyst Sally as she slipped into my office brandishing a slim sheaf of papers. ‘‘They’re stuff the FBI passed to us years ago.’’

      I nodded thanks and, without taking the phone from my ear, pointed to my in-box. Sally dropped the papers, waved an apology for the interruption, and hustled away.

      It was late afternoon before I got to the bottom of my in-box. It didn’t matter; I felt no urgent need to scan old FBI reports. They would most likely be typical of the material...

    • CHAPTER 7 Popov’s Ghost
      (pp. 68-79)

      Nosenko’s story of Andrey—his ‘‘most important’’ story—could not be true. The facts of Kovshuk’s trip made that clear. It was possible, of course, that Nosenko had heard of Andrey and separately heard of Kovshuk’s trip and made a false assumption, adding one and one to get three. No matter. It was not to restore an old contact that the KGB had sent one of its key counterintelligence officers away on ostensibly permanent assignment while holding his Moscow job for him.

      So whydidKovshuk travel to Washington?

      He had not gone alone—another sign that his mission was...

    • CHAPTER 8 Defection
      (pp. 80-91)

      ‘‘Come in, Pete. There’s news,’’ said David Murphy over the internal phone line. I hurried along the corridor to the corner office of the chief of the Soviet Russia Division.

      It was 23 January 1964, eighteen months after George Kisevalter and I had said farewell to Yuri Nosenko. Meanwhile, Jack Maury had been assigned abroad, Howard Osborne had held the post for a short time, and in August 1963 David Murphy had taken over as division chief. His appointment added hugely to the professionalism of CIA’s operations against the USSR. He had a keen interest in and deep knowledge of...

    • CHAPTER 9 Impasse
      (pp. 92-102)

      Yuri Nosenko and his CIA companion stepped off the plane at the New York airport that six weeks earlier had been renamed for the assassinated John F. Kennedy. He was welcomed by CIA security officials, spared any customs or immigration formalities, and escorted to the gate for his onward flight. In Washington he was bundled into a waiting car and driven to a split-level house in suburban northern Virginia that would be his home and workplace for a period of initial debriefing and settling in.

      Only a few people knew that questions had arisen about his bona fides. The officers...

  6. Part Two Deadly Games

    • CHAPTER 10 ‘‘Guiding Principle’’
      (pp. 105-111)

      For more than forty years before Yuri Nosenko’s advent in Geneva Soviet State Security had been sending out false defectors and handing fake sources to those they perceived as working against their rule or opposing their objectives from abroad.

      To tighten the Communist Party’s clutch on power at home the Chekists set out aggressively to attract, neutralize, and criminalize dissidents under their power. They created fictional movements, ostensibly militant and treasonous, that would attract potential regime opponents and put them under an all-seeing eye and controlling hand. They dispatched emissaries abroad in the name of these invented ‘‘resistance movements’’ to...

    • CHAPTER 11 Deceiving in Wartime
      (pp. 112-117)

      Fighting along huge fronts after smashing into the Soviet Union in June 1941, the German army needed intelligence from behind the Soviet lines so absolutely, so urgently, that it took its spies wherever and whenever it could find them.

      German intelligence units selected candidates among the hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war and deserters to their side, trained them for missions, and then parachuted them or infiltrated them behind the battle lines. Some carried radio transmitters. Some went on short missions with instructions to come back through the lines, others to reestablish themselves in Soviet society.

      Through the four...

    • CHAPTER 12 Postwar Games
      (pp. 118-132)

      As the Soviet armies moved westward over the territory the Germans had taken, they faced the task of reimposing their rule over people who had been living outside it for years.

      For this task Stalin now strengthened State Security’s military-security component and gave it a new name that he is said to have coined personally: ‘‘Smersh,’’ short forSmert’ Shpionam,‘‘Death to Spies.’’ In every recaptured town Smersh, using the NKVD troops at its disposal, arrested and interrogated those suspected of collaboration with the German occupiers, shot or hanged most of them, and deported their families eastward. Whole towns and...

    • CHAPTER 13 Symbiosis: Moles and Games
      (pp. 133-144)

      The KGB has from its earliest days given top priority to penetrating the staff of Western intelligence services—planting ‘‘moles’’ in the enemy camp. As a result, they have similarly raised aggressive counterintelligence operations to the same top priority, for moles and deception feed off one another. Lacking the other, one may fail, even die.

      The interaction takes many forms. Games, for example, can produce moles. Again and again through the years the KGB put out lures to draw hostile intelligence officers into dangerous or compromising situations where they might be pressured into cooperation. And once recruited as a mole,...

  7. Part Three Hidden Moles

    • CHAPTER 14 Dead Drop
      (pp. 147-155)

      Nosenko’s accounts of the KGB’s watch over the American Embassy security officer in Moscow, John Abidian, were baffling.

      In 1962 Nosenko told CIA that this watch was so important that it called for his personal supervision as deputy head of the section. The KGB tailed Abidian wherever he went and Nosenko kept a close eye and guiding hand on the surveillance. Because Abidian had succeeded Popov’s CIA handler Russell Langelle as Embassy security officer the KGB hoped thus ‘‘to catch another Popov.’’ (We thought this a far-fetched and unlikely supposition.) In the event, Nosenko told CIA, this blanket coverage had...

    • CHAPTER 15 Code Clerks
      (pp. 156-162)

      ‘‘We never recruited any American code clerk in Moscow,’’ said Yuri Nosenko in 1962 with the authority of having personally supervised such KGB work for two years. Even before he started that job at the beginning of 1960, ‘‘the closest [the KGB] got to recruiting communications people was Andrey’’—the cipher-machine mechanic whom he had exposed in our first 1962 meeting and labeled as the Moscow KGB’s most important American recruit.

      Joe Westin had reasons to doubt this. Of the members of our section Joe was the most dogged and determined. Put him on a track and nothing could dampen...

    • CHAPTER 16 Connections
      (pp. 163-174)

      After Nosenko defected CIA began to hear from within the Soviet establishment about what an important piece of luck had fallen into its lap and what a severe blow had been dealt to the Soviet side.

      Until now the Soviet regime had been quick to vilify and belittle the importance of those who defected from its ranks. Now, strangely, it set out not to mitigate but to emphasize its loss.

      In France a Soviet journalist named Korolev, who could not have acted without KGB sponsorship, offered to the magazineParis Matchan article on ‘‘the greatest defeat the KGB had...

  8. Part Four Confrontation

    • CHAPTER 17 Crunch Time
      (pp. 177-182)

      The expression on Dave Murphy’s face reflected that he knew I had come in to present him a problem—one he had hoped would simply go away.

      I confirmed his apprehension. ‘‘We have to do something about Nosenko,’’ I said. ‘‘The debriefing is winding down. There’s not much water left in the well. Almost every day it looks more like we have a bad one on our hands. The time has come, Dave. We’ve got to decide what to do next.’’

      Dave took no pleasure from this. He was aware of the mounting mass of anomalies in Nosenko’s reporting and...

    • CHAPTER 18 Face-off
      (pp. 183-194)

      Every defector to American Intelligence is required—and every defector from the KGB expects—to submit to a polygraph test as part of the process of gaining acceptance by the American government. This presented an occasion to confront Nosenko with his lies and contradictions, with the aim of clarifying them or learning what they were hiding.

      CIA was in a bind. We had the attorney general’s authority to hold Nosenko for questioning, but it was implicit that this would be for a short time—perhaps on the order of two or three weeks. But that would not allow sufficient time...

  9. Part Five Too Hot to Handle

    • CHAPTER 19 Head in the Sand
      (pp. 197-208)

      In June 1966 the earth began to move under the Nosenko case. The resultant tsunami swept away all the doubts and cleared Nosenko’s path to acceptance and success in America—for the KGB.

      The first tremor came one Sunday morning with the ring of a telephone at Richard Helms’s house. The caller, in accented English, identified himself as a KGB officer on an operational mission in Washington and anxious to take up contact with CIA. Helms agreed that CIA would meet the caller at his designated place and time.

      Helms was then in the process of taking over as director...

    • CHAPTER 20 Lingering Debate
      (pp. 209-220)

      After they had decided once and for all that Nosenko genuinely defected and was telling the truth, CIA insiders spread the happy word that they had received ‘‘convincing’’ confirmation from later KGB sources.

      ‘‘All of the KGB defectors since 1964—who were in a position to know about the Nosenko case and whose bona fides have been absolutely verified by the CIA—have strongly supported Nosenko,’’ they told an investigative journalist in the 1980s. They numbered ‘‘more than fifteen in all’’ and were ‘‘uniformly incredulous to learn from the Americans that Nosenko was ever doubted.’’¹ An official CIA spokesman was...

  10. Part Six Late Light

    • CHAPTER 21 Hiding a Mole, KGB-Style
      (pp. 223-230)

      Out of sight of other Russians, a man maneuvered himself close to a CIA officer and offered information. He revealed himself as a KGB officer from the American Department of the KGB’s counterintelligence directorate, working against the American Embassy in Moscow. He could answer a question that was nagging CIA—how its spies in Russia had been caught—and he was willing to stay in secret contact in Moscow.

      Was this Yuri Nosenko coming from KGB service against the American Embassy, telling CIA in Geneva how the KGB captured Pyotr Popov and Oleg Penkovsky?

      No, this was a quarter-century later...

    • CHAPTER 22 The Other Side of the Moon
      (pp. 231-237)

      In my school days I had an astronomy textbook with the memorable and categorical statement, ‘‘We will never see the other side of the moon.’’ That’s what I used to think during the Cold War about the ‘‘other side’’ of our Cold War encounters with the KGB.

      Then, in late 1991, the dissolution of the Soviet Union offered an unexpected opportunity to see the other side. I seized it and sought contact with former Soviet intelligence and counterintelligence officers who might now talk more freely about a past we had lived through as adversaries. I found them, and in friendly...

    • CHAPTER 23 Boomerang
      (pp. 238-246)

      Deception is a potential boomerang. If its intended dupe is alert and detects the fraud and looks into its purpose with open eyes not blinded by assumptions and desires, he may see the very truth it was designed to hide.

      This truism—with all its ‘‘ifs’’—is vividly illustrated by Operation Bodyguard, the Allies’ deception of the Germans about the time and place of the impending landings on D-Day, 1944. The stakes were gigantic. On this hoax depended the success of the landings, and on the landings depended at least the duration and perhaps the outcome of the whole Second...

  11. APPENDIX A A KGB Veteran’s View of Nosenko
    (pp. 247-255)
  12. APPENDIX B A Myth and Its Making
    (pp. 256-264)
  13. APPENDIX C Self-deception—Bane of Counterintelligence
    (pp. 265-277)
  14. APPENDIX D Glossary
    (pp. 278-290)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 291-306)
  16. Index
    (pp. 307-313)