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.