Soviet Strategic Intelligence Deception Organizations AUTHOR Major Edward J. Campbell, DIA CSC 1991 SUBJECT AREA - General SOVIET STRATEGIC INTELLIGENCE DECEPTION ORGANIZATIONS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The KGB's First Chief Directorate uses active measures such as agents of influence, propaganda, and disinformation to promote Soviet goals. Influence operations integrate Soviet views into foreign leadership groups. Propaganda operations take the form of disinformation articles placed in the foreign press. Disinformation operations are false documents designed to incite enmity toward the United States. The Second Chief Directorate is responsible for the recruitment of agents among foreigners stationed in the Soviet Union. The KGB influences these people unwittingly, as most regard themselves too sophisticated to be manipulated. The second deception program is counterintelligence, which aims to neutralize the efforts of foreign intelligence services. It achieves this through the use of non-Soviet double agents and Soviet double agents. Non-Soviet double agents are foreign nationals who have been "turned". A Soviet double agent is a Soviet with access to classified information. These officials may be used as false defectors, such as Nosenko, who was a CIA agent and subsequently judged to be a KGB plant. After investigation, the theory of a KGB deception plot collapsed, but not before hamstringing the CIA and Western intelligence for years. SOVIET STRATEGIC INTELLIGENCE DECEPTION ORGANIZATIONS OUTLINE Thesis Statement. Despite the reduced Soviet military threat, the Soviet Union's strategic intelligence deception organizations will continue to mislead the West. I. Background A. Soviet Strategic Intelligence Deception Organizations B. Soviet Union's Use of Deception II. Role of Soviet Active Measures A. KGB First Chief Directorate 1. Influence 2. Propaganda 3. Disinformation B. KGB Second Chief Directorate III. Role of Soviet Counterintelligence A. Non-Soviet Double Agents B. Soviet Double Agents C. The Nosenko Case IV. Conclusion SOVIET STRATEGIC INTELLIGENCE DECEPTION ORGANIZATIONS Despite the reduced Soviet military threat, the Soviet Union's strategic intelligence deception organizations will continue to mislead the West. Within the Soviet Union, activities that Westerners may regard as strategic intelligence deception fall within the scope of two distinct programs, each of which is conducted by different organizations. These programs are active measures and counterintelligence. Active measures is the Soviet term for a form of political action aimed at foreign public opinion, political elites, and decision makers. Counterintelligence endeavors to neutralize the activity of foreign intelligence and security services. The West has a long record of experience with Soviet intelligence. Since the inception of the Soviet intelligence services, they have suffered from a constant stream of defections and penetrations. These knowledgeable sources have identified many thousands of Soviet intelligence operations. The information they have provided on organization and doctrine is detailed, and covers most facets of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB, the civilian intelligence service) and the Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye (GRU, the military intelligence service). This is especially true of their foreign operations, and displays consistency over time. It is an interesting paradox that the KGB and GRU, those most secret institutions of the Soviet state, are among the best known Soviet organizations to the West. There have probably been more and better sources of information on Soviet intelligence than on any other element of the Soviet government. This is because the KGB and GRU personnel serve and travel abroad, where they have the opportunity to establish and maintain contact with Western intelligence, and they have a better opportunity than most Soviet officials to learn about and become disillusioned with the inner workings of the Soviet system. In evaluating the state of Soviet intelligence deception, however, several distinctions are important. First, Soviet intelligence is only one part of the overall Soviet apparatus for deception. Soviet deception starts at the Politburo. Central Committee departments play a major role, as do various military units subordinate to the Ministry of Defense. Much less information is available in the West about these other organizations than about Soviet intelligence. The Soviet term aktivnyye meropriyatiya (active measures) describes a wide variety of deceptive techniques to promote Soviet foreign policy goals and undermine those who oppose Soviet actions. Within the KGB, the term distinguishes operations intended to influence opinions or policies in foreign countries from more classic espionage or counterintelligence operations. Active measures undertaken by the KGB include agents of influence, propaganda and disinformation. Active measures is not exclusively an intelligence activity, and in this sense it differs from the similar American concept of covert action. There are many differences between active measures and covert action. One is the Soviet ability to mesh overt and covert influence activities through centralized coordination of party, government, and ostensibly private organizations dealing with foreigners. Despite interagency coordination mechanisms, the United States is too pluralistic to achieve full coordination between all the overt and covert means of exercising influence abroad. Other major differences are in scope, intensity, and importance attributed to active measures and covert action, and in immunity from legal and political constraints.1 Agents of influence, which are a most important part of active measures, are developed and exploited far less systematically by American intelligence, perhaps because this activity does not fit neatly into the sharp organizational separation between overt and covert activities that distinguishes the American intelligence system. A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) study lists the long-term, strategic objectives of Soviet active measures as: "To influence both world and American public opinion against United States military, economic, and political programs which are perceived as threatening Soviet objectives. "To demonstrate that the United States is an aggressive, `colonialist,' and `imperialist' power. "To isolate the United States from its allies and friends and discredit those that cooperate with it. "To demonstrate that the policies and goals of the United States are incompatible with the ambitions of the underdeveloped world. "To discredit and weaken United States intelligence efforts -- particularly those of the CIA -- and expose United States intelligence personnel. "To create a favorable environment for the execution of Soviet foreign policy. "To undermine the political resolve of the United States and other Western states to protect their interests from Soviet encroachments."2 The KGB's First Chief Directorate (Service A) is the current designator for the component that began as Department D (for Disinformation). It was subsequently redesignated Department A (for Active Measures), and then upgraded in bureaucratic status to Service A. Although its operations are varied, a former intelligence officer who specialized in covert active measures classified this activity into three broad categories: influence, propaganda, and disinformation.3 Influence operations integrate Soviet views into leadership groups. The agent of influence may be a well- placed, "trusted contact" who consciously serves Soviet interests on some matters while retaining his integrity on others, or an unwitting contact who is manipulated to take actions that advance Soviet interests on specific issues of common concern. The KGB takes a person who tends to agree with the Soviet position on at least one significant issue, such as opposition to some element of United States policy, and then seeks ways to motivate and help that person become a successful advocate on that issue within their own circle of influence. The KGB offers a variety of tangible and intangible rewards, often exploiting a person's ego and desire to influence policy, rather than greed. One usually successful ploy with persons visiting Moscow is to arrange a private meeting with "a very senior advisor to the Central Committee," who is actually an officer of Service A. The potential agent of influence is briefed on the "real" Soviet position and asked to serve as a private channel of communication between the Soviet leadership and the person's own government, party, or organization.4 A different type of influence operation is covert financial support to parties, political candidates, or organizations that support positions advantageous to the Soviet Union. Propaganda operations often take the form of articles supporting approved disinformation themes and then placed in the Western and Third World press. The activity is covert as there is no attribution of Soviet origin. The newspapers and magazines are often conservative or moderate publications; insertion of material in left wing publications can usually be handled openly by the Novosti office, or through communist party and front group contacts. The insertion is sometimes made through controlled agents; it may also be done, however, by "trusted contacts" developed on the basis of common interest on some limited issue, or anonymously by mail. Once a story appears in one area, a variety of methods are employed to ensure it is replayed in other countries. Disinformation operations are best illustrated by the example of forgeries. Sometimes they are complete fabrications. More commonly, however, they are modified versions of actual United States government documents. The doctored portions are designed to incite enmity toward the United States. Another common disinformation technique uses witting or unwitting agents of influence to disseminate false stories that serve Soviet interests. In addition to the Service A officers at KGB Headquarters, it is reported that about 50 Service A officers are under cover in the Novosti headquarters in Moscow. These officers were responsible for preparing and directing the placement of disinformation articles in the foreign press and the fabrication of books for distribution abroad.5 Novosti is the news service that provides feature articles about the Soviet Union to foreign media. It's activities have expanded greatly since a l973 report that Novosti ". . . exchanges information with 101 international and national agencies, 120 publishing firms, more than 100 radio and television companies, and more than 7,000 of the world's largest newspapers and magazines. It maintains bureaus and correspondents in 80 countries. [Novosti] claims an annual transmission to foreign media of 60,000 literary pieces and more than 2 million photographic printings."6 The personnel of these components "...have become the Soviet Union's main resource for learning about Western intellectual prejudices and spreading disinformation that plays on these prejudices. The exposure given to them in the United States is so great as to effectively give the Soviet Union a voice in the United States domestic political process... [They) participate as speakers at nuclear freeze rallies, make regular appearances on American television, attend academic conferences, serve as visiting fellows at United States university centers, sit on the editorial boards of United States academic journals, and contribute frequent op-ed articles for United States newspapers."7 The Second Chief Directorate, which is much larger than the first, is responsible for internal security and the recruitment of agents among foreigners stationed in or visiting the Soviet Union. It has a range of departments working against foreign diplomatic personnel stationed in the Soviet Union, departments to cover foreign journalists and students living in the Soviet Union, a department for foreign tourists, as well as a variety of other units.8 It is the foreign diplomats and journalists stationed in Moscow who are most interesting from the standpoint of Soviet deception. The Second Chief Directorate views its' mission as being aware of, if not controlling, all contacts between foreign diplomats or journalists and Soviet citizens. A large percentage of the Soviet contacts of diplomats and journalists in Moscow is reporting to the KGB. The Second Chief Directorates has very effective control over the entire environment is which foreigners live and work and move socially in Moscow. The KGB controls what information and impressions foreign diplomats and journalists receive, both officially for the government and unofficially through personal contacts. In this way, it can, when desired, manipulate what the embassies and journalists report back to their home countries. The KGB system is not perfect by any means, but when one considers how many of our impressions of what is happening in the Soviet Union are ultimately based on embassy or journalistic reporting, there is certainly cause for concern. This aspect of active measures has received insufficient attention, as neither diplomats nor journalists are prone to question the validity of their own reporting. While some may acknowledge that they could be targets for influence operations, most regard themselves as too sophisticated to be manipulated by the KGB. An article by Stephen de Mowbray, "Soviet Deception and the Onset of the Cold War," is an excellent case history that illustrates this problem. De Mowbray examined British government documents to determine the basis for the government's optimistic judgment in 1943 about the post-war policies that would be pursued by the Soviets. He concludes: "Information from one Communist source was accepted as independent confirmation of information from another Communist source... The lesson of the period from 1943 to 1945 is that we should reassess the extent to which our knowledge of, and opinions about, the Communist world are derived from sources controlled or inspired by the Communist authorities themselves."10 The second major Soviet program related to deception is counterintelligence. Counterintelligence aims to neutralize the efforts of foreign intelligence and security services. Double agents and provocateurs are among the standard methods used. In most cases, they serve tactical counterintelligence objectives, such as the identification of hostile intelligence personnel, methods, and information requirements. Double agents and false defectors may, however, also be used to pass disinformation to foreign intelligence services and thus serve broad, strategic deception goals. All double agent operations are run by the KGB, often the Second Chief Directorate. The GRU is not authorized to run double agents. If the GRU learns that one of its agents has been doubled against it, direction of the case is supposed to be turned over to the KGB. GRU sources have advised that, in practice, if the KGB is not already aware of the problem the GRU may terminate the operation rather than inform the KGB. In examining the role of double agents in deception during peacetime, it is useful to distinguish two categories of double agents. The two categories are the non-Soviet double agent, and the Soviet double agent. Most Western intelligence agents working against the Soviet Union are not Soviet nationals. They are Western or Third World nationals, who, for one reason or another, have dealings with Soviets. Their principal task is to report on the Soviets they meet in an effort to identify likely recruitment targets, but some of them may also elicit information or make observations of positive intelligence interest.11 When such an agent is doubled by the KGB, the Soviets can achieve standard counterintelligence goals such as identification of Western intelligence personnel and methods, and tieing up limited Western intelligence facilities in fruitless activities. The KGB may also use a non-Soviet double agent as a channel for disinformation. It is likely to be tactical counterintelligence disinformation, such as misleading information on the functions or vulnerabilities of Soviet officials, or it may be a political line to support an active measures campaign. It is unlikely to be a carefully crafted deception to mislead intelligence analysts about strategic weapons systems, as the KGB recognizes that such a deception would have little chance of success. The non-Soviet source simply does not have plausible access to valuable, classified information from the Soviet Union. If a non-Soviet source did obtain such a windfall from one of his Soviet contacts, the credibility of the information and the source would certainly be subjected to extremely close scrutiny. The KGB occasionally permits, and in some cases will provoke, Western intelligence services to recruit Soviet nationals who do not have regular access to highly classified information. Journalists, low level trade officials, and many scientists are examples of categories of Soviets who do not have regular access to classified documents, who work or travel abroad, and whom the KGB might run as double agents. This category of double agent has several advantages from the viewpoint of a KGB officer planning a deception operation. Through such an agent, the KGB can seek to determine how Western intelligence services communicate with agents inside the Soviet Union; this is an important KGB counterintelligence goal. As a Soviet national with a variety of personal contacts, such an agent could develop a plausible explanation for obtaining whatever information the KGB may want passed to the adversary. Soviet nationals involved in any form of organized opposition to the regime are especially attractive to the KGB as double agent candidates. It is standard practice for counterintelligence services to take the initiative in organizing underground or dissident groups under their own control. The KGB has enjoyed immense success with this type of deception. Another counterintelligence category concerns Soviet officials in sensitive positions with access to highly classified, documentary information. The KGB might use such officials as double agents or false defectors. If this is accurate, how much valuable, classified, documentary information is the KGB willing to sacrifice to establish the bona fides and credibility of a double agent? It is possible that the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) best Soviet agents have actually been KGB plants deceiving the United States government. The main case at issue has been Yuri Nosenko, a KGB Second Chief Directorate officer who was a CIA agent in place for two years before he defected in Switzerland in 1964. After debriefing by the CIA, Nosenko was originally judged to be a KGB plant dispatched to the West on a twofold mission: to divert the investigation of important KGB agents partially identified by a previous KGB defector, including an alleged penetration of CIA; and to deny KGB involvement with Lee Harvey Oswald, a former United States Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union, then returned to the United States, and who had assassinated President Kennedy several months before. There were many implausible elements and contradictions in Nosenko's story, and the circumstantial evidence against him appeared very strong.12 The Nosenko case became the centerpiece of a "master plot" theory with wide ramifications. Some believed that the KGB planned the Nosenko defection and monitored its results with the aid of a high level penetration of the CIA comparable to Soviet agent Kim Philby in British Intelligence. Those who believed in the existence of such a well-placed penetration assumed that virtually all CIA operations against the Soviet Union were actually under KGB control or at least known to the KGB. Especially suspect were several other well-placed penetrations of Soviet intelligence who seemed to be supporting the information provided by Nosenko. This enormously complex case was eventually subjected to a comprehensive re-evaluation with the finding that Nosenko was actually not under Soviet control.13 The atmosphere of suspicion created by the master plot theory, however, and the feeling of helplessness from thinking that operations against the Soviet Union may be fruitless until the penetration is identified, caused serious damage to CIA's Soviet operations. Several published accounts of the Nosenko case suggest that the original assessment of Nosenko as a KGB plant was correct, and that the subsequent re-evaluation was the product of bureaucratic expediency and wishful thinking. Although the Nosenko case still elicits disagreement among those who were professionally involved in this controversy, many former believers in the theory of a KGB master deception plot have genuinely modified their views. The theory led, logically, to certain predictions. When these predictions failed to materialize, doubts about the theory grew. The predictions and actual results were as follows: Since Nosenko was "known" to be under KGB control and the purpose of the Soviet operation was also "known," it was felt that a hostile interrogation would succeed in breaking him and gaining a confession. It didn't. Similarly, it was believed, a hostile interrogation would break a confessed KGB illegal who had been arrested in South Africa. That, too, was unsuccessful. A proper counterintelligence analysis and security investigation would identify a KGB penetration of CIA Soviet operations who was being built up or protected through this KGB deception; no such penetration was discovered despite very extensive investigation. Since the KGB would want to limit the cost to itself from the information it was giving away, it was judged that investigation of leads to seemingly well-placed KGB agents would show these agents had recently lost their access or, for some other reason, were expendable to the KGB. However, investigation showed them still in place and producing valuable information for the KGB. Similarly, there were tantalizing leads to Soviet agents who could not be fully identified by Nosenko; investigation of these leads, it was believed, would lead to a dead end, so the KGB had really sacrificed nothing. In fact investigation of these leads did identify valuable KGB agents.14 As the years passed and other Soviet sources originally thought to be under KGB control or at least known to the KGB continued to pass large quantities of extremely valuable information, the theory of a grand deception collapsed of its own weight. Whether Nosenko had other personal motives for exaggerating, concealing, or fabricating information is still unresolved. The question remains, however, how much valuable information the KGB will give away to establish a credible deception channel. If the stakes are high enough, they may, of course, sacrifice whatever is required to do the job, though post-war experience provides little evidence of KGB willingness to give up much at all. Cases in which Western intelligence has received significant positive intelligence through agents subsequently determined to have been under the control of the KGB are distinguished by their rarity. If there is one thing that is more important to the Soviets than deceiving the enemy, it is protecting their own security.15 The Soviet Union has two quite separate and distinct programs relating to strategic intelligence deception: active measures and counterintelligence. There is clearly central direction on key issues of national strategy, these different forms of deception are implemented by different organizations, often motivated by different goals, conditioned by different circumstances and different obstacles to effective implementation, and follow different historical traditions. Owing to this diversity, many generalizations about Soviet capabilities are likely to be misleading. In forming expectations and evaluating fears about Soviet deception, it is important to specify at all times exactly what kind of operation one is talking about. Failure to do so has been a major source of confusion in discussion of Soviet deception. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. The most extensive treatments are U. S. Congress, "Soviet Active Measures;" Schultz and Godson, Dezinformatsia; Barron, KGB Today, Chapter VI; John Barron, KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents (New York: Reader's Digest Press, 1974, Chapter VIII; Ladislav Bittman, The Deception Game (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Research Corp., 1972); U. S. Congress, House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, "Soviet Covert Action: The Forgery Offensive," 96th Congress, 2nd Session (Washington, DC: GPO, 1980); Clive Rose, Campaigns Against Western Defence (London: Macmillan Press, 1985) 2. U. S. Congress, House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, "Soviet Active Measures," 97th Congress, 2nd Session (Washington DC: GPO, 1982) p. 33. 3. Bittman, The Deception Game, p. 20. 4. U. S. Congress, "Soviet Covert Action," p. 83. 5. Bernard Gwertzman, "Fake Books as International Weapons," New York Times, January Il, 1976, p.20E 6. External Information and Cultural Relations Programs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Washington, DC: USIA Office of Research Assessment, 1973), pp. 36-37. 7. William C. Green, "Soviet Disinformation and Strategic Deception Concerning its Nuclear Weapons Policy," Report No. 4, Contract No. N6227l-82-M2200 for Naval Postgraduate School, February 1984, pp. 30-32. 8. Barron, KGB Today, pp. 113-17. 9. Ibid., Chapter VI. 10. Stephen de Mowbray, "Soviet Deception and the Onset of the Cold War," Encounter, July-August 1984, p. 24. 11. Harry Rositzke, The CIA's Secret Operations: Espionage Counterespionage and Covert Action (Pleasantville, NY: Readers Digest Press, 1977) 12. David Martin, Wilderness of Mirrors (New York: Harper and Row, 1980), Chapter 7. 13. Andrew Boyle, The Climate of Treason: Five Who Spied for Russia (London: Hutchinson, 1979) 14. David Martin, Wilderness of Mirrors (New York: Harper and Row, 1980), Chapter 7. 15. Golitsyn, New Lies for Old (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1984), pp. 21-22 and 42.
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