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The CIA Keeps (Our Enemies’) Secrets Secret

July 8th, 2014 - 1:34 pm

  Vasili Mitrokhin, a top KGB archivist, defected to Great Britain in 1992 with thousands of pages of KGB documents he had hand-copied and hidden for decades.  British intelligence organized the material, and gave copies to all the allied countries in which the documents showed KGB activity, including descriptions of recruited agents and some of their names.  As you can imagine, this was quite an explosive story, and countries like Italy and India made the material public.

The release of the Mitrokhin documents had some interesting consequences.  In Italy, for example, several journalists wrote “confessions” in advance of the release, saying “yes, I spent lots of time with Soviet spies, and they may have claimed I was working for them, but I really wasn’t.”  Funnily, most of those journalists were not named by the KGB officers in Italy, but the evidence of guilt was suggestive.

The CIA got the Mitrokhin files on Americans, which interested me and other writers, and I filed a joint FOIA request along with Steven Engelberg, now running ProPublica and then a reporter at the New York Times.  The CIA refused to release the material, claiming it belonged to a “third party” (presumably the Brits).  And they haven’t budged in the past twenty years.  The Brits are now publishing translations, but our guys are still stiffing those of us who think the Mitrokhin documents should be in the public arena.

Maybe the CIA is still ashamed that they sent Mitrokhin away when he tried to give us the file.

So that’s why I’m totally on Mr. Scudder’s side.  And yet another reason why I take a dim view of our so-called intelligence community.

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Top Rated Comments   
QUOTE
But CIA just said there were no such documents, so what could they do?
END QUOTE

Wait ! If the documents are no longer there, your non-disclosure agreement refers to nothing
SO
you can talk !

Please tell us !

20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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I'm sure its more than simple incompetence and a$$ covering. Think moles, continuing. What else would explain the CIA's anti-America slant the last two decades?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think the US Intelligence Agency first and foremost must focus on the protection of American interests, and on counterterrorism above all, and use "ALL possible means" to eliminate the Islamic terror masters and their allies anywhere in the world.
The Intelligence Agency should declines to provide any information to the public about where they operates, and how it selects targets...etc. And it must grant absolute immunity to government employees for actions taken within the scope of their employment. and must protect and safeguard against the corrupt law all those who planned and waged the wars in the interests of the United States, which is in the end to protect U.S. National Security and America's vital interests around the world!
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
QUOTE
But CIA just said there were no such documents, so what could they do?
END QUOTE

Wait ! If the documents are no longer there, your non-disclosure agreement refers to nothing
SO
you can talk !

Please tell us !

20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was going to ask facetiously who the CIA works for -- but the answer is a given: The CIA works for the CIA.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Michael, are these new Mitrokhin documents material in addition to what appears in the book(s?) that was published several years ago?
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
yes. they are country-specific rather than general stuff about how the KGB works, etc.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
We knew some cia agents during the late 80s in Bulgaria. Trust me. They were NOT America's best & brightest. One guy spent most of his time in his office throwing darts at the wall. When he got a big promotion, everyone was joking that it was because he actually hit the dart target once. We do need agencies like the cia, but their glaring failures are multitude. How do you miss the end of the cold war, the soviet invasion of afghanistan, the 9/11 hijackers, several spies in their midst & the arab spring? Any idiot that looked at the news or had a brain could figure out what was gonna happen. One good cia story. In 1988, some big Bulgarian dissident was supposed to be met by the cia here. The fools had NO idea that the communist gov't had declared him persona non grata & had kicked him outta the country 3 months before the cia team arrived to visit him! I had a copy of the article explaining this on my desk at the Anglo-American school where I taught & was laughing about it when one cia agent arrived to pick up his kid. He had NO clue that this had happened! In fact, he asked me if he could borrow the newspaper article from CA. Such is the cia....
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
seems so, doesn't it? things in Germany nowadays, for example, reinforce your point.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow. Whatever could be the logic of not wanting to make something public that weakens our enemies?

Unless maybe someone could connect some dots to the person refusing to release the documents which makes said person not look so good.

Just sayin'
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
The sad origin of this situation seems to be, IMVVHO, that the C.I.A. has become much, much too bureaucratic. It's simply too big, too many employees, too much of just about everything, all over the place.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
This question is off topic, but Professor Ledeen, can you recommend a good book or two on the Italian CP's structure and activities during the 1930s and 1940s? I am working on a novel and need that history for a secondary character's back story.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
the good books i know of are in Italian, is that ok?
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, unfortunately I only speak English.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment

The Intelligence community circles the wagons anytime it feels threatened, imagined or not. Unfortunately there are serious questions to their actions and law breaking these last few years, in addition to what they have been doing since the 50's. There are dozens of open secrets; assassinating foreign leaders and overthrowing governments.
Labeling documents as secret is a national past time, a growth industry involving dozens of government and private entities. It is bureaucracy on steroids.
Attempting to change status Quo of anything labeled secret calls down the thunder in an agency still believing they are permitted to operate outside the law.

20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
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