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The KGB’s State Department Spy

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There have been some very interesting developments in the story of Sergei Tretyakov, the former deputy resident at the New York office of the SVR, which is the latest incarnation of the Russian KGB. What’s especially strange, however, is how the US press have been stumbling over one another ignoring the story that the number two man at the State Department was a spy for the SVR.

A short time ago I reviewed the book Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War by Pete Earley. The following commentary concerns some later developments on what was in the book and in my review. You might want to read the review first, then pick up your reading here.

To thumbnail it for you, Nelson Strobridge "Strobe" Talbott III, former Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 to 2001,was identified by the SVR as a "special unofficial contact," a dedicated term that the SVR uses to identify its key intelligence sources, people who knowingly feed information, sometimes classified, sometimes not, to their SVR handler. There are other specific terms used to identify sources who unwittingly or unknowingly feed information, and another specific term for those who commit outright espionage by stealing documents or equipment to pass on to their handler. "Special unofficial contact" is a person who knowingly and willfully passes on inside and/or classified information with the full awareness that it's being passed to the handler's foreign security services. I quote: "Inside the SVR, that term was used only to identify a top-level intelligence source who had high social and/or political status and whose identity needed to be carefully guarded. For example, Fidel Castro's brother Raul Modesto Castro Ruz had been recruited by the KGB during the Krushchev era as a SPECIAL UNOFFICIAL CONTACT and worked secretly for the Russians …" Talbott was apparently quite vain, and easily stroked into giving up information. Further, the SVR used the term "'11-2' source," which is the "… same designation used by the SVR to identify sources in its network who were 'trusted contacts' (spies)."

The big question here is why is the US media ignoring this situation? Could it be that they’ve already decided to bury this story? This is page one, above the fold material, folks. The number two man at the US State Department accused publicly of being a shill for the Russians, and nobody’s talking about it? More importantly, why hasn’t Talbott been hauled in?

Strobe Talbott’s academic credentials are in the rarefied atmosphere, no doubt. But like many who’ve spent their lives with little or no connection to the dirty side of international politics, he’s apparently clueless as to how treacherous, dangerous, and downright deadly it can be. And I’m not throwing stones. I can’t smile and shake a guy’s hand while stabbing him in the back, so I wouldn’t fit in Talbott’s world, either.

Talbott comes from the cookie pusher side of international politics — martinis, black tie dinners, smiles, and handshakes. My background is more of the mud and blood and beer side, to steal Johnny Cash’s line. Naturally, we see things a little differently. Mostly like night and day. His purpose as a cookie pusher is to advance cordiality and friendliness between nations, or at least a mutual understanding, if cordiality can’t be reached. Mine was more of the “do it to them before they do it to us” school. Or, as somebody once said about me, “He’s a graduate of the Two-By-Four School of Diplomacy. First, hit ‘em upside the head with a two-by-four. Once he has their attention, then he talks.”

Talbott’s background includes a lengthy career in journalism. He’s written several books. He’s also an egghead, having been Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and is currently president of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., a think tank, which is a polite way of saying it’s an egghead institution. With his education and background, it’s obvious I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt by saying he doesn’t know the dangers involved. Realistically, he couldn’t not know the dangers involved.

I, on the other hand, was enlisted swine in the Army, but I managed to score a few good assignments, including US Army Pacific Headquarters in Hawaii; Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters when it was still at the Pentagon; the Defense Attaché Office inside the US Embassy, Amman, Jordan; US Army Intelligence Agency Headquarters at Fort Meade, MD, which was absorbed by the National Security Agency (NSA), also located at Fort Meade, shortly after my arrival there; and I was assigned to NSA Field Station, Sinop, Turkey. So I think I know more than the average bear when it comes to talking intelligence and espionage.

One of the first things you learn is that in the intelligence business, you’re guilty until proven innocent. If there is even a hint of treachery or wrongdoing, one of the first things they do is pull your security clearance. Of course, there are exceptions, for instance when a former President admitted smoking pot. Pot-smoking, theft, adultery (oops, there’s another one!), graft, the inability to manage one’s money, accepting payment for the use of government property (another oops!), all these mean immediate suspension of your security clearance. Next, they pull you from your job and begin the painstaking job of investigating you. The suspect then remains banished to the equivalent of Siberia until s/he’s either cleared or charged. Even if you’re no longer officially connected to the US government, you’re hauled in until you’re cleared or charged.

So the question is, folks, why hasn’t Strobe Talbott been investigated? Or even called in for a friendly chat? Stay tuned to this station for further developments.

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About Lou Novacheck

  • Franco

    If it’s mostly all true, and it can’t make it to the MSM, what does that tell us about the state of affairs in the US?

  • bliffle

    Strobe Talbott????

    You’re not kidding, are you? This is the first I’ve heard of it. I’m amazed, and then I’m double-amazed that this hasn’t been widely discussed.

    I look forward to reading more.

  • Cannonshop

    Hmmm… could it be that the MSM’s giving him the benefit of the doubt due to his political affiliations, or is it that they simply see this as “Dog bites man”, aka something so expected and expect-able (I know it ain’t a word) that it’s simply not newsworthy?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    If a fellow with a name like Strobe Talbott III was a for real spy for the Russians, someone might say “isn’t it about time to release Jonathan Pollard and go after the real enemies of the country?”

    Can’t have that, now, can we? That would be justice.

  • Lou Novacheck

    The only problem with Pollard is that they didn’t hang the bastard.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Lou, the only problem with your logic is that Pollard was never convicted of anything close to treason. He accepted a plea bargain which the government reneged on at the last minute.

    If you want Pollard hung, get him convicted. If you go on such a campaign, you’ll find yourself in the filthiest of company.

    In the meantime, he is a hero here in Israel. Lots of us understand who our real enemies are, and they understand that our real enemies infest the White House and State Department like so many cockroaches. If you don’t believe me, start from this story, and then go to my analyses of events in the Middle East, about ninety-five articles worth. The real reasons that Pollard rots in jail are that Jew-haters in the American government want vengeance, and people who benefit from his imprisonment, like Shimon Peres, want him there.

    In the meantime, I’d stick with going after fish that really stink – like this Talbot character.

  • Lou Novacheck

    Pollard was caught being a traitor to the US. Period. He confessed to being a traitor to the US. Period. Plea bargain doesn’t equal innocence. He’s a traitor to this country. I don’t care what you think of him outside this country, but the fact that you consider him a hero says a lot about where your loyalties lie. You’re Israeli, I would expect you to be loyal to Israel. Yet you expect me not to be loyal to my country. Pretty hypocritical, aren’t you, Ruvy?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    No, Lou, I don’t expect you to be loyal to your country. But being loyal to your country means, in part, respecting the principles of due process that are inherent in its governance. Had Pollard been convicted of treason, he ought to have been hung, or given the sentence that the law provides for.

    But he wasn’t. And he served the time he was supposed to serve for what he did confess to. Unlike other spies who confessed to similar crimes, he yet rots in jail. What I think of him is irrelevant to the fact that Pollard rotting in jail is not a triumph for your justice system.

  • Lou Novacheck

    You’re obviously refusing to deal with reality, Ruvy. The guy was caught. He confessed. What part of that don’t you understand?

    You say the US didn’t stick to their side of a bargain. Well, neither did he. He took an oath when he took his job. He crapped on his oath.

    And a famous Chief Justice of our Supreme Court said something like, “The law is what you get in the courtroom. Justice is what you get in the alley.”

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I never said that Pollard was a wunderkind or an angel. He crapped on his oath, like you said. For that, he deserved jail time.

    It is not even clear that what he did was done out of belief. Unless, I am wrong, he was on some kind of drug, and his Israeli handlers were happy to “pay” him. His initial impulse might have been patriotic, but evidently there was more than mere patriotic motives behind his behavior.

    As I said, Pollard was no angel.

    He cleaned up his act in jail, but that is not the point. The sentence he was given was not proportionate to the crime he was convicted of AND OTHER SPIES CONVICTED OF SIMILAR CRIMES, HAVING PLED DOWN FROM TREASON AND HAVING DONE WORSE DAMAGE TO AMERICAN SECURITY, are now walking free.

    That is reality, Lou, whether you like it or not. And this reality is a perversion of justice – a perversion of American justice. Or, if you consider justice what is meted out in the back alley, his continuing to rot in jail is a perversion of the American legal system.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I don’t expect you to be loyal to your country. That shoulda read “I don’t expect you to be DISloyal to your country.”

  • Lou Novacheck

    This discussion is pointless. Have a nice life.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    You started an argument, and walked away in a huff because you couldn’t argue me down.

    You made my day, Lou. Thanks!!

    Have a nice life.

  • Nobody can argue you down, Ruvy…

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Nobody can argue you down, Ruvy…

    From you, Chris, that is a compliment – even if you didn’t mean it to be…


  • No, Ruvy, it’s not.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I’ll let you “win” that “argument”, Chris….


    And now back to the evil spies for the Russkies.


  • Ruvy, I’m wondering if Lou’s unwillingness to continue your argument is because it would involve him saying things he cannot say.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    A lot of things stink about the Pollard imprisonment, especially the fact that other spies who did far more damage than he did are now walking around free.

    Pollard did wrong, and should have been imprisoned. But in the end, it was Caspar Weinberger, a Jew-hater as well as a bad policy maker, who insisted on the government breaking its deal to imprison him for however many years the plea bargain called for. He and a clique around him in the government insisted that Pollard rot in jail.

    Israeli leaders themselves are not sainted heroes in this mess either. Peres, now state president, was the prime minister of the unnamed country in the Iran-contra scandal of the eighties and he made money off information that Pollard sent him.
    So, guess who else wants Pollard to rot in jail?

    But none of this is relevant to Lou’s present article – except that double loyalties are now quietly imputed to American Jews, partly over the Pollard affair, and partly over the “sting operation” by which Dr. Lawrence Franklin was supposed to incriminate two AIPAC employees by feeding them information at the behest of the Feds. For whatever reason, Franklin dropped out of the deal and had to take the fall – now he is in jail.

    But it appears that the Russian spy is a good ol’ WASP – just liked a couple of others who really damaged American intelligence when they were uncovered.

    There is indeed more here than meets the eye.