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Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekend Reminisce: Little Brushes with Treason's Salesmen

The more I read about Snowden, the more I am convinced he participated in a sophisticated Russian/Chinese intel operation. He is not, in my view, some heroic whistleblower. Whatever one might think of NSA activities at home, and the Obama misadministration's grotesque and criminal misuse of the NSA, FBI, DOJ, IRS, DEA, ATF, USPS, BLM, EPA, CIA, and so forth, running to the Russians and the Chinese, enemies of democracy and liberty, and blowing apart a zillion dollars worth of legitimate intel gathering by the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, is tantamount to treason. I won't budge from that position. I say this although my stomach churns when Obama, Holder, and Kerry talk about protecting national interests and secrets.

OK, let's talk about the lighter side of the treason business.

In my three plus decades of assignments, I had my own little run-ins with the purveyors of treason. A few I can't discuss, but a couple are long enough in the past, and, perhaps so stupid, nobody will mind if I do.

One of my first was in New York. Working for Ambassador Walters at the US Mission to the UN, I served mostly in the Third Committee, which handled all sorts of social issues, most notably human rights. By far, the most contentious of the Committees, it was the one where the Reagan administration had decided to take a stand on Soviet abuses of human rights and to push back against the leftist agenda of increasing social and economic "rights" at the expense of traditional civil and political ones. Our stance put us at odds with the Soviet bloc, of course, but also with many of the Europeans, and nearly all of the so-called Non-Aligned.

There was one large Latin American country which recently had elected a leftoid government. That country's Ambassador to the UN and his staff were decidedly of the "progressive" variety. On paper, however, they were still a friendly country; I invited one of their new officers out for lunch. The lunch went fine, although it got a bit tense when we discussed the MidEast, Castro, Western "imperialism," and the "nonaligned. A few days later, he invited me to lunch, basically a repeat of the first meal, with one little difference. He had the impression that my willingness to see him twice in two weeks meant I was for sale, or at least rent.

While we drank our coffee after the meal, he launched a sales pitch for treason. He proved not the most subtle of barkers.

"OK. We now know each other, and you know what I need from you."

"No, what do you need?"

"You know, you know." He arched his eyebrows.

"I don't know. What do you want?" I was getting the feeling that this was going in a weird direction.

"You work for Walters, right"

"Yes."

"I need his secret documents."

I thought he was joking and laughed, "Sure, you need his 'secret documents'. How many do you need?" I sipped my coffee, and then stared at him over my glasses.

"Yes, here is the list." He handed me a paper that had on it, no kidding, a typed tasking for me, "Provide all secret papers."

I wish I had kept that paper, but handed it back, and said, "How about another cup of coffee, instead?" He got up with one of the angriest expressions I have seen, and stormed off--without paying for the lunch to which he had invited me. We never spoke again. I reported this weird encounter and, I assume, the people who needed to do so kept an eye on this odd bungling, budding spy.

Another "brush with treason" came when I was working on the US delegation to the summer UN ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) session in Geneva, Switzerland. Geneva is a beautiful city, but deadly dull. There are only so many times that one can take a walk along the lakefront, look at the millionaire stores, or go for a drive in the countryside.

We worked long hours at the ECOSOC; under Reagan, we were aggressive on the social and economic front pushing resolutions praising the private sector, calling on countries to encourage private entrepreneurs, trying to bat down absurd resolutions against Israel, rooting out the Marxist/progressive slant that certain countries sought to slip into definitions, etc. It was fun.

We initially had not realized how seriously the Soviet bloc took the Third Committee, the Human Rights Commission, and the ECOSOC sessions; those were the places where the propaganda campaigns were tried out, where slogans were introduced, where the lefties tried to alter the very meaning of the language used in international law and discourse. We were pretty good; we had a solid cadre of very conservative, very well-read FSOs who spoke a range of languages, had a great grasp of history, and were convinced that the USA could beat the USSR. All were big fans of Ronald Reagan and would have done anything for him. Everybody was an excellent public speaker, speech-writer, drafter, and joke-teller. Quite frankly, we ran circles around the Soviet-bloc types who generally did not respond well to humor--especially at their expense. The Soviets, the dour Lavrov among them, were not amused, and tried a variety of tactics at the Human Rights Commission and the ECOSOC to knock us off our game. One was the KGB "Rabbi," a funny story I will tell in a subsequent post, and another was bringing in some some intel talent from both the Soviet Union and the bloc countries.

One intel operative I remember quite well was a very "sophisticated Bulgarian," whom I thought looked like Peter Lorre. Our folks had warned me about him. He clearly was tasked with getting to me. He would lose no opportunity to get close and try out some "humor," usually some badly translated Bulgarian joke which did not make much sense in English. He wanted to talk about human rights, my latest speech, how he had once visited Israel, how the Bulgarians had saved their Jewish population from the Nazis, how much he liked American jazz and blues . . . perhaps I would be interested in going to a jazz concert, he knew a few girls, etc. I avoided him.

One Saturday, however, Peter Lorre trapped me in a nice French restaurant, CafĂ© de Paris, where I had slipped away to have a bistec ala parisienne, and read the International Herald Tribune, while my wife shopped at the H&M. He had followed me. Sitting down at my small table, with no warm-up, no chit-chat, he bluntly insisted that I go fishing with him on the lake. He had rented a boat; we would be out all day just the two of us. Adjusting his glasses, looking at his watch, he insisted that I had to go with him "Right now!"

I put down my IHT, and asked, "Why would I do that?"

He was getting nervous, "I have an interesting proposition for you."

"I see. Well, let me tell you that I am not homosexual. I am not in debt. My salary is just fine. My wife has not left me. I don't have or want a mistress. I am not interested in children or prostitutes. I am not in trouble with my career. I vote for Reagan. I think Communism is the same as Nazism. You cannot blackmail me. You cannot buy me. You have no proposition that I would find interesting unless you're defecting. My steak is getting cold. My wife will be here soon. I am going to have to tell her that I have to go back to the Mission, ruining my day off, to write a report to our security people on this conversation with you." He glared at me, got up, slapping the table with his hand, spilling my water, ruining the IHT--never let it be said that I have not suffered in the battle against Communism.

Peter Lorre did not bother me again. Others on our delegation had much more colorful encounters than mine with the Soviet intel squads, but those are their stories to tell, not mine.

Ah, the good ol' days . . .

48 comments:

  1. The entity which is the most likely to threaten the health and freedom of the people of the United States is, at this moment, our own government linked with the 5th column news media. Do you really trust a transparently corrupt Obama administration, or a second Clinton one to not attempt to exploit what amounts to a 1984 level of surveillance to take out it's political enemies? Remember when Hillary "accidently" ordered all the FBI files on congressional Republicas? I'll trade off going back to 1980 levels of domestic surveillance with it's much greater domestic political security in exchange for less insight into present day Russian and Chinese tactical thinking.

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    1. I thought V. Foster took the fall for all that?

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  2. I love these "Inside Baseball" stories.

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  3. fantastic story! :)

    - reader #1482

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. You know Mr. Mad, the sad thing is how many actually went for such clumsy gambits. Speaks more about us than them. Speaking of memories, I have vague one of a Soviet leader giving a joint presser or some sort of talk in East Germany.. Anyway he was sitting down abd his new german shoes still had the price tag on the soles. I think it was Andropov.

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  6. Oh, forgot to add I agree completely with your first paragraph above.

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  7. Mr. Mad, you are a wonderful story teller. Thank you. Your blog is my first click every morning and has been for some time. I have to reassure myself that not everyone in the world has gone crazy, just most.

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  8. Fantastic speech. Almost too good for life ... the kind of thing I always wish afterwards that I had said.

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    1. OH, no. I said it. I had practiced it many times in my head. I had even written it down and had it in my wallet just in case I couldn't remember it.

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    2. I should also note, it was not the first time I gave this speech.

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    3. It had not occurred to me to doubt it.

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    4. We all had rehearsed different versions of THE speech.

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  9. Great stories. Not much opportunity for efforts at recruitment in Africa!

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  10. And nowadays we have, instead of the Bulgarian Peter Lorre, our own president leaning over to the Russians and whispering that he "will have much more freedom after the election." I'll bet he didn't even get a boat ride from Medvedev for his treason.

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  11. Love it!

    Now, on to the promised Lavrov story....???

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    Replies
    1. hear hear!

      - reader #1482

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  12. Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooore!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  13. Might some other diplos have had a dance with Mr. Lorre so to have a taste of the game? Innocently, of course.

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  14. Seems rather inept. Think I'd be insulted that they didn't send someone with a Bond-ian level of subtlety and skill in either case. Lousy table manners and I bet their suits were ill fitting as well.

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    1. As he said, "He is not for turning".
      Simple.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQ-M0KEFm9I

      leaperman

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    2. Nice turning of the phrase. Thanks for the youtube link. It is still gratifying to hear it.

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  15. Are you sure it was not your own side testing you out?

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    Replies
    1. That would help explain the incompetence, wouldn't it?

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  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSXYHqs0KPo

    Reflect on those who gave their life

    leaperman

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  17. Holy crostoli! In Guangzhou, when I was new at post, every time I walked out a skinny guy in pinstriped trousers approached me with an offer to exchange money on the black market. After rebuffing him several days in a row, I noticed he never approached anyone but me--including a few touristy types who think they're the dare anything and laugh in the face of danger kind (you get to recognize the type, at least down in the lowly consular cone). I suspected he was probably some kind of agent, and when back at AmConsul Guangzhou, I wrote a lengthy description of the guy for the benefit of US Diplomatic Security. A couple of days later, I didn't see Mr. Pinstriped Pants, and after that, he seemed to have disappeared into thin air.

    Another time, the Chinese obligingly drove the senior colleague whose briefcase I was carrying to a meeting in a distant county. The driver introduced hmself as Wang, but when he stopped at a tollbooth, he pulled out an ID which gave his surname as Liu. That evening, when I left the guest house for a stroll, he insisted on accompanying me --"The dialect's too hard". During the walk, I casually addressed him as Mr. Liu, and he got very, very, very flustered. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Gong An Ju apparently hadn't counted on an American JO being able to read as well as speak their language. Needless to say, Diplomatic Security got yet another name to add to its files.

    And, BTW, when I hear of someone who urges the current edition of the FSI to stress speaking and downplay reading skills in hard languages, I wonder if he's been compromised by the Gong An Ju.

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  18. "we had a solid cadre of very conservative, very well-read FSOs who spoke a range of languages"..........Yes, that must have been a very long time ago.

    Todays requirements-under 30, ability to tweet, preferably female, ability to speak English desirable, Ebonics acceptable.

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    1. Add, well trained in "sensitivity".

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    2. Agreed, most job descriptions run to several hundred words of blather these days, with the always obligatory.....we are equal opportunity employers.....opening the competition to candidates of questionable morality, patriotism, and skill, but they all have a university degree equivalent to a 1970 high school diploma.
      I present to you Chelsea Manning amongst others, courtesy of Blow-job Clinton (one of your respected statesmen-spit)

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  19. Replies
    1. Seems like a million years ago. Reagan's successors have sure made the days seem long.

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  20. When a government becomes so totalitarian that it sets to spying, and in mass and in great detail, on it's own people like they were all subjects, if not criminals, it is not doing so on their behalf. Only the most mindless of sheeple could think so. The Stasi wasn't in EaA/Gropestapo molesting little girls and grandmas at our airports and largely giving middle easterners a pass. I don't think the federal government has stopped a single attack, and has caused quite a number (Fort Hood, Boston, Benghazi, Navy Shipyard, Mexican invaders who kill so many and most every day), with their gross willful dereliction. I don't care how many times Herr Hussein Obama and other N-Stasi-A supporters and apologists and lackeys tell me that's Holy Water they are spraying on my leg to keep me safe, I know that it's something very different - and it smells to high Heaven. There is no doubt in my mind that the Founding Fathers, to a man, would despise the NSA at least as much as they despised King George, probably more. If there were justice in the world, Snowden would be living it up in the White House and Obama and all his N-Stasi-A criminals would be in hiding, maybe somewhere in North Korea, in a dark cave. subsisting on grass.

    I see the N-Stasi-A for what it is, something far more odious to liberty than even a lawless Obama weaponized IRS. I see the IRS as a very nasty little 4 foot shark, but the N-Stasi-A as a vampyroteuthis Infernalis, lit. "Vampire Squid from Hell", ramming it's blood sucking peeping tom pervert tentacles into every part of American personal communication they can get those ever growing and increasing tentacles into, to suck dry all remaining individual privacy and speech freedoms as they regard every American as presumed guilty until never proven innocent.

    By contrast to all that, Snowden is incidental and be the issue here, only a footnote.
    Do you want to live as Lions and Foxes or Mice and Sheep ?

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    1. I think the best part of this was the "its/it's" confusion. That pushed it from standard fare into true kookdom.

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  21. Spent ten years in DSS. Best story I've got is from when I was doing sec-equip logistics for the new embassy build in Beijing. I was coming down for breakfast and found half of the civilian install team(which I was working with)standing around in the garden talking with a couple of seriously hot caucasian women. Claimed to be on a layover with their pilot-friend who was sitting with them. Silly as it sounds I pegged them for Russians after a couple of words. No biggie, as Bejing has a large (formerly white) Russian colony.
    Anyhow, we're all talking they're taking group pictures with their cameras, etc.
    Thought about for a minute or so and remembered seeing them(and their male friend) in the place a few times. So while we're all being friendly, I excused myself, went back upstairs and brought my camera down.
    I insisted that they take a few photos of everybody with my camera, heh, heh, heh.
    Got to work turned in a contact report and lent the security guys my camera. Next day photos on the wall with caption - suspected Russian agents. Report all contact.
    Never saw them again in that garden... Kinda sorry 'cause they were the first hottie round-eyes I had seen in a while.

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  22. You should have checked with your superiors and security to decide if they wanted you to tacitly accept the offer, then start feeding them BS information...though I suspect "The Agency" had their own FSO operatives in place for this very purpose.
    Have you ever wondered how many actually accepted the offers?

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    1. We were told not to try that game.

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  23. tru-dat, Dip, tru-dat, besides iwas just a lowly STS, what did I know about that stuff.

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  24. My experience is nil but I did read Bob Baer's book and his account of how, when he was ready to retire, he requested another CIA officer with language skills like his. (Turkic languages). The CIA sent him a female officer with skills in detecting sexual harassment. No languages.

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  25. I am frankly past caring whether Snowden was a mole or a stooge or both. He did us a valuable service.

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    1. This.

      Our government is out of control. I am much more concerned by the activities of my own government than the activities of anyone else at the moment. This does not go anywhere good.

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    2. Patriot missiles could be used to shoot down American civian aircraft. That doesn't mean we should tell the world the full capabilities of the Patriot missile.

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  26. Reader #14 here with an OT story (but I don't see any other way to submit items of possible interest):

    http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Western-conspiracy-to-end-Jubilee-rule/-/1056/2325870/-/11gqxduz/-/index.html

    So, Dip, what do you think? Is there anything to this other than third-world paranoia?

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  27. I have often wondered... I worked some ten years ago for a design firm. Another design firm corrected us to do some work for them designing an enormous resort near Beijing. Huge. The contact was a Chinese business man. But the resort was owned by the Chinese government and could only be used for foreigners, and only if expressly invited to stay. No one could just book a room, either on their own or through a travel agency. And there was a huge, uh, entertainment "villas." Basically, this was one enormous brothel run by the government for the "entertainment" of foreign guests of the government.

    So, I often wonder evey time some new deal is struck with the Chinese, whether the person is being blackmailed or lured by some honey pot promise...

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