The Spy Wars (page 2)

New York Times Magazine
September 28, 1980

by Edward Jay Epstein

Tennant Bagley, one of the CIA officers who took control of the case, recalled to me that the letter was written in fluent German, and that the author, who claimed to be a high-ranking officer of a Communist intelligence service, refused to divulge his name or even nationality. The mysterious author suggested, according to Bagley's recollection of the case, that there were moles in Western intelligence who would betray him if he identified himself. He therefore proposed helping Western intelligence put "its own house in order," presumably by ferreting out the moles, before he would consider defecting to the West. He signed the letter "Heckenschiitze."

In his initial reports, sent to mailing addresses supplied by the CIA, "Heckenschiitze" rapidly identified seven Soviet spies. These included a British admiralty aide at the Portland Naval Base, named Harry Houghton, who had been supplying the KGB with secret information about United States nuclear submarines; Col. Israel Beer, an Israeli military historian who, in fact, was an Austrian who had emigrated to Israel 20 years earlier, pretended to be an Orthodox Jew and gradually won the confidence of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and other Israeli leaders; and Col. Stig Wennerstrom, the Swedish air attache in Washington, who was actually a general in the KGB

"Heckenschiitze" also provided a document that caused serious embarrassment at the British Secret Service - a purported list of 26 Polish officials compiled by British agents in Warsaw as potential targets for recruitment. This list, "Heckenschiitze" explained, had come from the KGB When Bagley and other CIA officers evaluated the list, the question arose: How could the KGB have obtained such a sensitive document unless it had a mole inside the British Secret Service?

The British intelligence asserted that the names could have been taken out of the Warsaw telephone directory. The denials were so heated that even the usually suspicious Angleton was prepared to believe that the anonymous mole was a dispatched agent attempting to sow discord between the American and British services.

Then, to everyone's astonishment, a researcher in the CIA's Eastern European Division discovered that British intelligence had sent essentially the same list to the CIA a year or so earlier. It now became clear to the CIA officers handling the case that the list had not been lifted from the Warsaw phone book, but from the secret files of British intelligence.

Allen Dulles, then the Director of Central Intelligence, presented this evidence to his British counterpart, and, after several months of investigating those who had access to the list, British intelligence traced the probable leak to the safe of George Blake. Blake, a Dutch-born intelligence officer, had rapidly risen in the ranks of the British Secret Service through a remarkable string of successful recruitments of Communist officers in Germany. Could such successes have been purposely provided by the KGB to enhance Blake's standing?

During his interrogation, Blake admitted that he had spied for the Soviet Union since 1952 and that he had passed virtually every important document the British Secret Service had in its files to the KGB

The depth of this KGB penetration into British intelligence stunned the CIA When the British diplomats Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean had defected to the Soviet Union in 1951, Harold (Kim) Philby, an officer in the British Secret Service, also had come under suspicion and, in the early 1950's, he had been effectively retired. The Philby case was now reopened. Then, after Blake's confession, Anthony Blunt, a former officer in the British security service (MI5), who had retired at the end of the war, was confronted by British interrogators and, in return for a grant of immunity, admitted that he had served as a Soviet mole. (In 1963, Philby defected to Moscow, thereby clearing up any doubts about his loyalties, and about his loyalties, and, then, Blake escaped from prison, and also went to Moscow.

Heckenshulttze next turned his attention to the West German intelligence service, the BND, headed by General Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler's former intelligence chief against the Russia. The BND worked closely with the CIA, which had created it.

"Heckenschiitze" reported in 1959 that he had been told by a high-ranking KGB officer that the BND had been thoroughly infiltrated by Soviet intelligence, and that many of its top officers had been blackmailed by the KGB into cooperating with it. He stated that of the six BND Officers who had visited CIA head quarters in Washington in 1956. and Allen Dulles with met, two were KGB Moles. This lead was specific enough to identify immediately one member of the group, Heinz Felfe.

A former Nazi Officer, Felfe, was the deputy chief of West German counterintelligence. Like Blake, Felfe had risen to his high Position through a series of "successes." West German security Police immediately placed Felfe under close surveillance, andcaught him transmitting secrets. The surveillance led to the arrest of a number of other moles in West German intelligence, including Hans Clemens, the man in charge, ironically enough, of the surveillance team inBonn. (Felfe, after being convicted of espionage, was traded to East Germany for a group of West German spies.)

A classified 1973 review of the memoirs of General Gehlen by Angleton's deputy, Raymond Rocca, termed the Felfe case a "crushing defeat" for the BND and concluded that the West German government had been "thoroughly penetrated".

"Heckenschiitze" finally decided to defect to the United States in 1960, after more than 30 months

service as an anonymous mole. His reason: The KGB had found out about certain documents that he had sent to the C-I-A. and asked his help in tracking down the leak. "Heckenschutze" now knew that there was a leak in American intelligence. On Christmas Day, he arrived with his wife at the American military mission in Berlin, and was met by a contingent Of CIA officers. He identified himself as Michael Goleniewski, the vice chairman Of Polish military intelligence. He further informed the Americans that he had hidden away a cache of documents in Warsaw.

When the CIA retrieved these documents, it found thousands of pages of polish and Soviet military bulletins containing United States military secrets that could only have come from high level sources in NATO and the United States Defense Department.

Goleniewski was given an Office in Washington, where he worked with his debriefing Officers attempting to "elaborate," as he put it, the various clues. He believed, for example, that he could pinpoint the leak in the CIA that had betrayed him. He revealed that Polish intelligence had known about a 1959 CIA plan to recruit a Polish diplomat in Switzerland .

The C. I.A. did not pursue the lead, according to Goleniewski. They spent, he claimed, "only a few hours" on this subject, and never brought it up again.

Before the debriefing could be completed, Goleniewski presented the CIA with still another surprise, He informed his case officers that "Goleniewski had merely been a cover name he had used in Polish intelligence. His real name was Grand Duke Aleksei Nicholaevich Romanoff. He further explained to the bewildered men from the CIA that his father, Czar Nicholas, had secretly escaped from Russia to Poland after the Bolsheviks had seized power, Goleniewski told his astonished audience that he was now heir to the Czar's fortune.

When news Of these disclosures reached Richard Helms, then Deputy Director for Plans, he realized that the CIA, had a potentially embarrassing Problem on its hands. Goleniewski had been the most productive agent in the entire history of the C-I-A-, revealing more than a dozen Soviet moles; the CIA, however, could not be put in the position of supporting his wild claim to the Czar's fortune. In 1964, the CIA severed its relations with its former spy.

Almost exactly one Year after Goleniewski had defected in Berlin, a KGB security Officer named Anatoli Golitsin defected from the Soviet Embassy in Helsinki, Finland, and was taken by the CIA- to Washington, where he was turned over to Angleton for questioning.

Even though he held a relatively low rank in the KGB, he said he had attended Moscow staff meetings in which the penetration of Western intelligence services was discussed. Like Goleniewski, he suggested that the KGB had infiltrated its moles in the C. I A., the British Secret Service, NATO, and French Intelligence, Indeed, much of the data that he furnished on this mole complex seemed to parallel that provided earlier by Goleniewski. Golitsin asserted additionally, however, that the KGB had managed to place Its agents in France in cabinet level positions close to de Gaulle.

This Golitsin leads focused suspicion on the French Deputy Prime Minister, but they were insufficient for French intelligence to take any action. Golitsin demanded an immediate payment of $1 million for his information, and received a substantial portion of it from the CIA

According to Philippe de Vosjoli, who had been the liaison between the CIA and French intelligence in Washington, and was brought in on the case, Golitsin insisted that at least six French intelligence officers were Soviet moles. After Golitsin provided clues that fit two colonels in French intelligence, both were allowed to from the service.


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