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The Wilderness of Mirrors Revisited: How I got here
Sierra Times ^ | 15 August 2001 | J.R. Nyquist

Posted on 06/10/2002 7:45:55 PM PDT by bat-boy

Twenty years ago I was browsing in a book store for something different to read. As chance would have it, I happened upon David C. Martin's "Wilderness of Mirrors." It was about James J. Angleton, head of CIA counterintelligence and a KGB defector named Golitsyn.

Here was something worth knowing about. The subject touched on the essentials of spycraft, global strategy and leadership. The title was intriguing. So I bought the book and read it cover to cover. It was easier to follow than I thought, given the intricate subject matter. Obviously, Martin was deeply skeptical of Angleton and his favorite KGB defector, Major Anatoliy Golitsyn. Golitsyn had defected to the West in December 1961 bringing dark news of high level Soviet agents (i.e., "moles") inside NATO and the CIA.

Golitsyn had worked in Soviet counterintelligence. It was obvious that he had memorized many top secret NATO documents. How could he have seen these documents? Simply put, the West was thoroughly penetrated by communist bloc agents. That was the obvious answer, but a politically unacceptable one.

To make matters worse, it seems that Golitsyn did not show proper respect for the CIA's sophomoric methods. This did not win friends and influence people. The first public personification of Golitsyn offered to Americans adds color to this picture. Alfred Hitchcock's movie, entitled "Topaz," was based on Golitsyn's defection. Golitsyn is quite negatively portrayed in Hitchcock's movie as contemptuous and arrogant.

As I read Martin's book I did not think so much of Angleton's misjudgments and missteps, or Golitsyn's contagious paranoia. These epiphenomena are no doubt produced by longstanding emersion in intelligence work. I had no reason to distrust Martin's points about too much suspicion in the wrong place. What bothered me was the dismissive attitude toward Golitsyn.

Imagine a police detective without feelings of suspicion. How could he do his job? The same applies to counterintelligence officers. Certainly, some allowances must be made, and some attempt is long overdue to come to grips with the reality of Russian/communist penetration of American institutions. Martin seemingly had little sympathy in regarding those concerned with a real threat. I was intrigued that in his view, the danger came from the CIA, from men like Angleton. Okay, yes, there is some truth here. But one must go further, I thought.

As an example of the way Martin treated Angleton, consider the following passage: "Whether or not the KGB ever succeeded in penetrating the CIA, it had at the very least infiltrated Angleton's mind. Hadn't two of his chief mentors been Kim Philby and Anatoli Golitsyn?"

Kim Philby had defected from the West to East, Golitsyn had defected from East to West. It was somewhat clever of Martin to bring these contrary elements together. But it wasn't altogether honest.

Such was the tenor of Martin's writings about Angleton and Golitsyn. Martin took a negative view of Angleton for believing -- rather than suspecting -- there was a mole high up in the CIA. Martin said that Angleton "had taken suspicion and turned it into reality."

Surely there was more to the story than this. I did not trust Martin's judgments because of the heavy handed anti-Angleton rhetoric. As a general rule I prefer to read the words of people involved directly in historical matters. Never dismiss someone entirely without giving them a full hearing. And never dismiss somebody because they are flawed or imperfect. That would leave us all in the position of dismissing everyone.

Three years after I read Martin's book I stumbled upon Anatoliy Golitsyn's book, "New Lies for Old." Finally, I could read the other side of the story and form my own opinion.

Golitsyn's book is actually about strategy, psychological warfare and how to organize the implements of deception (of higher, intellectual warfare). Various tricks are discussed in the book. One trick is that of pretending to be at odds with those you are secretly allied with. Another trick is to reorganize your society and declare your own defeat in order to disarm an opponent. These tricks are thoroughly discussed by Golitsyn, who is blessed with analytical and strategical understanding.

After reading Golitsyn's portrayal of Soviet long range deception strategy I did not believe, even for a minute, that the Russians could successfully execute such elaborate strategies as Golitsyn described. As fascinating as the book was, as full of vital ideas, I did not think that any secret strategy could survive without exposure. Even if the West did not believe in a long range Soviet deception plan, once Soviet history began to move in the direction outlined by Golitsyn everyone would do a double-take, think back to Golitsyn's writings, and say to themselves: "Someone told us all about this years ago."

The fact that Golitsyn had predicted a fake Soviet collapse, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the communists giving up power in the Soviet Union, would make it clear to the Russian strategists that any such plan would be recognized and thwarted.

But three years after reading Golitsyn's book, in 1987, I was jolted into a new awareness. As a graduate student in political science I was reading through the defector literature. I was thinking of specializing in this area, and was working under a professor who later ran for president of a former Soviet republic. At this moment I happened upon a book, published in England in 1982, entitled "We Will Bury You." It was written by a Czech general named Jan Sejna, who had also worked closely with KGB General Dmitri Mironov, named by Golitsyn as one of the chief architects of Russia's long range deception plan. What made me sit bolt upright in my chair, was the fact that Sejna offered comfirmation of the existence of a long range communist bloc strategy.

According to Sejna the Russian strategists were thinking of dissolving the communist bloc alliance in order to lull the West into a false sense of security. On page 108 of Sejna's book he wrote: "To this end we envisaged that it might be necessary to dissolve the Warsaw Pact, in which event we had already prepared a web of bilateral defence arrangements, to be supervised by secret committees of comecon."

Having sat for a year in graduate seminars, listening to people who would soon work at the Rand Corporation presenting papers on the spread of communism, I suddenly realized that I'd been listening to a slew of young duffers. I'd heard so many judgments from scholars and "experts" that flew in the face of logic and reason I began to suspect human rationality itself. Had they not read this books? Had they not investigated this important point of corroboration between two defectors from differenent communist countries? If Golitsyn was right (and here he was confirmed by another defector in one part of his story), then there was a long range Soviet plan and, to the bargain, it was an article of faith -- pure and positive -- on the part of my academic brethren that no such plan could exist or did exist.

One must always be a little afraid of smug certainties.

It was this sudden merging of direct experience of our political science elite and defector testimony that jolted me out of my smug and very American frame of mind. I then became determined to read everything, consider every angle in order to test Golitsyn's overall thesis regarding a Soviet long range strategy to deceive and conquer the West. I had to know if there was something more out there to back this up.

That was more than two years before 94 percent of Golitsyn's 1984 predictions about the communist bloc came true.

Perhaps, with Angleton, I too am lost in the Wilderness of Mirrors. You may think so. You may even shake your head at me. Perhaps I am a crank, as many would say. One must always remain open-minded, since truth is difficult and we are poor observers and philosophers of it. That is my ultimate position. No mere mortal has a lock on truth

I will write more of this fascinating subject, and where it led me, in my next column.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Russia

1 posted on 06/10/2002 7:45:56 PM PDT by bat-boy
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2 posted on 06/10/2002 7:50:38 PM PDT by WIMom
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To: bat-boy
Ya know they did this to the Russian expats in France after WWI.
Created soviet controlled anti-soviet organizations and lured the expats back within the USSR. Woe unto them then.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility.

3 posted on 06/10/2002 7:51:01 PM PDT by tet68
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To: tet68
It's not out of the realm if you look back on history.

Unfortunatly, many Americans (if they give it a thought at all) believe that the United States, as a "superpower", cannot be conquered. Plus many have never been more than 50 miles from their homes and just cannot grasp the reality that every one in the world "loves" us.

History is filled with nations filled with this arrogance that had their heads handed to them on a platter.

Semper Suo

4 posted on 06/10/2002 8:03:24 PM PDT by bat-boy
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To: bat-boy
Are you kidding? It was almost conquered in the year 2000 from within.
5 posted on 06/10/2002 8:05:49 PM PDT by tet68
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To: bat-boy
I liked the stuff about William King Harvey in the "Wilderness" book. There's a tough problem re: CI. If you make it a career track, you may get people like the firefighters who themselves become arsonists and set fires - the more spectacular the better. OTOH if CI is not a career track, you may get few top people, and the good people you get may not give their best, just hang on for the ticket punch. Re the existnce of an "ubermole" at the CIA - could such a person have protected Ames for so long?
6 posted on 06/10/2002 8:11:27 PM PDT by 185JHP
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To: tet68
Ain't that the truth. Semper Suo
7 posted on 06/10/2002 8:12:11 PM PDT by bat-boy
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To: 185JHP
The American Intel community has been messed up for quite a long time. I've been reading articles about the shortcomings for years. So if you have an organization that is that hosed, then yes, I think an "ubermole" could protect Ames for a long period of time.

Semper Suo

8 posted on 06/10/2002 8:18:12 PM PDT by bat-boy
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To: bat-boy
It isn't paranoia if you have real enemies, this is just twisted enough to be truthful.
9 posted on 06/10/2002 8:49:21 PM PDT by dts32041
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