Chapter 20 - Taking on the Intelligence Wars and the Soviet Espionage Threat

rejected this course and his Cheka became an all-intrusive secret police and intelligence organization dedicated to enforcing Communist dogma and blueprints through deception, mass terror and gulag concentration camps. It was also used to facilitate the spread of this Communist vision abroad.

Roots and Apparatus of Soviet Intelligence. Though the name changed from the Cheka (under Lenin) to the NKVD (under Stalin) to the KGB (under Soviet leaders from Khrushchev to Gorbachev), the KGB was the primary “counter-revolutionary” action arm of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The KGB preceded and was comparable to Hitler’s Gestapo and the SS and their concentration camp system that assured the Fuehrer (leader) and his National Socialist (Nazi) German Workers Party total control of the expanding Third Reich. The KGB assured the Communist Party and its maximum leader absolute power and privilege over all aspects of thought, domestic life and global reach. Its system combined police, espionage, general intelligence, counter-intelligence, and deadly gulag camp functions unchecked by democratic parliaments, laws, free press, or civil rights standards. It waged permanent unrestricted civil war to neutralize potential anti-Kremlin dissidents and groups within the Soviet Union and in “fraternal” parties including the Communist Party of the United States. Until the fall of the Soviet Union seven decades later, the KGB, supported by GRU military intelligence, and Soviet front organizations, was the key international instrument of Soviet espionage and “active measures” operations. Its activities in diplomacy, trade, “peace,” “labor,” “religion,” and “science” channels were marked by deception, propaganda, disinformation, forgeries, and extensive subversion including pro-Communist “wars of national liberation.”

Reagan’s Countermeasures and Public Diplomacy. Reagan’s 1980 Platform and his range of official presidential directives including on U.S. intelligence objectives and organization sought new U.S. realism about the Soviet Cold War challenge as “Team B” had in 1976, and applied long-dormant Western freedom principles and strengths to counter the totalitarians. While many covert U.S. programs no doubt remain classified, other described U.S. intelligence assessments of covert Soviet activities were in redacted form (to protect sensitive intelligence sources and methods) to permit U.S. public exposure. A new U.S. Active Measures Working Group and new components of the Administration’s interdepartmental groups—all coordinated by the National Security Council—took on the task of assessing and maximally exposing the Soviet practices. These unprecedented U.S. public diplomacy efforts, coordinated with key U.S. allies, produced detailed public statements, testimony, briefings, and reports as reviewed in this and earlier chapters on a wide range of topics. The topics included Soviet military power; arms treaty violations; support of the “nuclear freeze” (versus Reagan’s proposed deep reductions); and propaganda against U.S. defense modernization and the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Other topics included the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; Soviet support of pro-Communist proxies and fronts in Latin America (as in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Grenada) and Africa; and Soviet suppression of Polish, Baltic, and other Eastern Europeans’ rights and independence.

Distribution, Impact, and Insights. The Reagan Administration’s public information/diplomacy products were distributed and briefed in the U.S. to Congress, academia, media and the public by the White House and the Departments of State and Defense, with the U.S. Information Agency forums, publications, and broadcasts playing a key role abroad. The pressures created by U.S. and Allied de-masking of Soviet intelligence practices became an unexpected and insoluble problem for Soviet leaders unaccustomed to direct challenges to their deceptions and secrecy. They were forced to engage in truths they had evaded for decades and that Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempts at “glasnost” (opening) and “perestroika” (restructuring) could not resolve without raising expectations and adding fatal risks to the Soviet system. Reagan’s public exposure of Soviet Cold War practices was a powerful, if still greatly underestimated, “soft power” lever to help fatally undermine, corner, and ultimately collapse the authority of the Soviet Union’s Marxist-Leninist ideology, and the Communist Party state and empire.

1. Historical Context: The Soviet Intelligence Legacy and U.S.-Soviet Intelligence Asymmetries—1918 to 1981

The Soviet intelligence objectives and programs that were confronted and ultimately defeated by Reagan’s unprecedented new U.S. Cold War strategy are best understood in the historical context of the irreconcilable U.S. and Soviet ideologies and historical experiences that shaped the Cold War.

[Book pg. 484]