Confessions of a spy (Pete Earley) [1997]

Jag hittade den här boken i ett antikvariat i en gränd i Valletta. Det var mitt på dagen, och jag hade några timmar innan vår buss skulle gå. Luften utanför var kvav och jag hade inget annat att göra, varför jag gick igenom alla böcker på stället och pratade en stund med den mycket trevlige och påläste ägaren. Han kände till historien om Ames men hade inte hunnit läsa boken… Varför denna tanke-akrobatik? Jag försöker komma ihåg var jag hörde talas om Aldrich Ames – jag har för mig att Noam Chomsky nämnde det i något av hans tal, men jag kommer inte ihåg var och när, eller framförallt vilket i sammanhang. För de som inte känner till det är Ames kanske den mest kände dubbelspionen i CIA’s historia. Hans avslöjanden för KGB ledde till avrättandet av många av CIA’s bästa sovjetiska källor. Efter en lång och utdragen utredning arresterade man honom 1994. Journalisten Pete Earley har fått ta del av hela historien dels med Ames’ egna ord och dels via samtal med gamla KGB-toppar. Ames är tämligen öppen med det mesta (inklusive sitt privatliv) utom enstaka detaljer som han inte avslöjar, och som Earley endast ibland lyckas ta reda på med hjälp av andra källor.

Boken är läsvärd av flera skäl. Dels är det en värdefull inblick i underrättelsearbetet på högsta nivå i de bägge stormakterna, och dels en rörande personlig berättelse av en man som är fullständigt (?) ärlig med läsaren i sina analyser av sina motiv (oftast girighet) och handlingar. Det kanske är lätt, rentav renande, att öppna sig själv när man vet att man sitter bakom galler på livstid. Angående motiv, slås jag av att Earleys bok insinuerar, bl.a. genom citat från familjebekanta och kollegor, att Ames’ hustru, Rosario, var den som drev den timide och kuvade Ames vidare i sina förräderier. Ett märkligt ställningstagande som är en av få saker som kontrasterar med Ames egen version (och hans stora ansträngningar att rentvå henne och övriga familjen och ta på sig själv all skuld). Det är viktigt att minnas att Ames kommentarer om hur långt efter Sovjetunionen befann sig militärt (se citat nedan) måste ses i ljuset från den totala amerikanska paranoia och kommunisthysteri som rådde. För en amerikansk läskrets skulle dessa avslöjanden, om de kom ut under kalla kriget – mitt bland missile gaps, body counts, och McCarthyismen, vara världsomvälvande. Men inte ens svenska läsare känner troligen till exakt hur ojämlika supermakterna egentligen var. Även i våra historieböcker står det om den jämna kapprustningen som närmast tvingade bägge sidor att satsa vansinnessummor på militär utveckling för att inte halka hopplöst efter. Men det räcker förstås med att ta närmaste atlas, och titta på var de båda supermakterna hade sin inflytelsesfär och vilken av dem som kunde jämna flest länder med marken utan att behöva bry sig om några konsekvenser (rentav hävda att ”förstörelsen var ömsesidig” / ”the destruction was mutual”). Resten kan ni lista ut själva.

By the time I left New York, I was really beginning to change how I perceived the agency and intelligence. Beginning with TRIGON [en källa, min anm.] and later with Arkady Shevchenko, we were getting really good – and I mean first-class – political information about the Soviets. We were getting really top-notch military information from Tolkachev and Polyakov, too. I mean we were getting it all. Don’t forget we also had our spy satellites sending us back intelligence. And do you know what all of this data – from human agents and the satellites – kept telling us over again and again and again and again? It told us that we were disproportionally stronger than the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. It told us that Soviet forces couldn’t compete with us. The bottom line was that with only the most minor exceptions, we were consistently superior militarily to the Soviets. It didn’t matter whether we were talking about our bombers, our nuclear warheads, our megatonnage, our missiles – in every damn area – whether it was the quietness of our submarines, the quality of our aircraft avionics, the training of our pilots – everything you could think of – we were light-years ahead of them. The only military advantage the Soviets had was bodies. They had more men.

You must understand that this reporting was consistent in the intelligence community starting right after World War II and going up to the collapse of the Soviet Union. We did our job. We consistently drew a picture of a Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact that never would decide to fight a war against us. And yet, decade after decade, the political leadership in both parties ignored that intelligence. They were committed to running around screaming, “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” Every administration pushed the Soviet threat. Every administration misread it. Every administration overestimated it. It wasn’t just Reagan, it was Carter before him and Ford before him and Nixon and JFK before him. Why? Why did they do this? Because it was good politics! No president wants to be seen as being weak on communism and that translates into being strong on defense. Americans had to be Number One no matter if the other superpower was incapable of striking back. I read TRIGON’s reports, and those diplomatic cables showed a feeling of helplessness among Soviet policymakers. They believed that they were under terrific pressure. Their cables were filled with statements about how the Soviets felt that they were losing in every way. They knew they were falling behind – were being passed by the United States economically and militarily. And yet Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford and later the Democrats all blustered about a resurgence in Soviet aggressiveness and military power. The Russians are notorious for blustering and then backing down. We knew this.

TRIGON died. He gave us fantastic political intelligence and it cost him his life. What good did it do? Not one damn bit of good, because none of it mattered. That was the CIA’s dirty little secret. Every White House ignored what the evidence overwhelming [sic] showed was true. They preferred to push the myth. When I left New York City, I knew that much of what I was doing was for nothing. Soviets were risking their lives to tell us information that our leaders didn’t want to hear and refused to use. I knew it, and I began to realize that much of what we were doing really was just part of a silly game.

Det är förvisso sant att det är ”good politics” – ett tillstånd av semi-hysteri gör det lättare för en regering att driva igenom policys som en sansad, fredstida befolkning skulle kämpa emot. Men då bortser man från att politiken och retoriken till stor del är en charad som speglar de mäktigaste intressena i samhället. Det är därför jag alltid blir skeptisk när man försöker förklara historiska skeenden med att de berodde på den tidens ideologi. (Det verkar osannolikt att Ames inte skulle vara medveten om hur stort inflytande t.ex. energi- och vapenindustrin har på ett lands utrikespolitik, men jag vill peka ut det ändå.) Men citatet är också ett exempel på cynismen som grodde hos honom med åren, och den nära personliga relation många kontakter hade.

A lot of the barriers that should have stopped me from betraying my country were gone. The first barrier was [the idea] that political intelligence matters. It doesn’t. Our foreign policy is conducted in such a massively internal and political way that there is virtually no chance of any outside influence altering it. […] the truth is that no one in our government really pays attention to political intelligence because there are too many other agendas.

Detta är knappast sant. Utan den säkra vetskapen om hur långt före USA faktiskt befann sig militärt och industriellt, hur skulle man vågat agera som planetens ägare? Ames ger inga exempel på ”other agendas”.

Ames would later tell the FBI and CIA that the KGB never told him why it had decided to have the extra Soviets meet Rick [Aldrich Ames, min anm.] for lunch. But during one of my trips to Moscow, I spoke with Viktor Cherkashin, and he claimed credit for the idea. ”We knew the CIA often gave its officers polygraph tests, and one of the questions it always asked was ‘Have you recently had any unofficial contact with KGB or GRU [rysk militär underrättelsetjänst, min anm.] officers?’ The lunch was done to give Ames an alibi or excuse if he indicated deception when asked that question. He could honestly say that three Soviets had surprised him while he was eating lunch one day with a potential recruit. We were trying to help protect him.”

Ett exempel på hur intimt bekanta och sammanflätade de bägge underrättelsetjänsterna var (är).

Yurchenko said he was exhausted when they reached the safe house, but he was too excited to sleep, so Rick and and FBI agent began debriefing him. One of his first revelations was that the KGB rezident in London had been recalled to Mostow and put under house arrest because he was suspected of being a British spy. ”I knew instantly that he was talking about Oleg Gordievsky, and my first thought was, Jesus Christ, we’ve got to do something to save him! We’ve got to get a cable to London and tell the Brits. And then I realized that I had given the KGB Gordievsky’s name. I was responsible for his arrest! This is how compartmentalized I was. While talking to Yurchenko, I was consumed by the need to get more information to help save Gordievsky. I genuinely was worried about him. Yet at the same time, I knew I had exposed him.”

 

By the time I left New York, I was really beginning to change how I perceived the agency and intelligence. Beginning with TRIGON [en källa, min anm.] and later with Arkady Shevchenko, we were getting really good – and I mean first-class – political information about the Soviets. We were getting really top-notch military information from Tolkachev and Polyakov, too. I mean we were getting it all. Don’t forget we also had our spy satellites sending us back intelligence. And do you know what all of this data – from human agents and the satellites – kept telling us over again and again and again and again? It told us that we were disproportionally stronger than the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. It told us that Soviet forces couldnät compete with us. The bottom line was that with only the most minor exceptions, we were consistently superior militarily to the Soviets. It didn’t matter

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