The Sword and the Shield by KGB insider Vasili Mitrokhin provides a fascinating look from the other side of the Cold War’s espionage efforts. All told, we have confirmation of many suspected and disputed items, along with some new surprises.
For instance, Julius Rosenberg (codename ANTENNA and LIBERAL—yes, really) was guilty as hell of spying during the Manhattan Project. So was his wife Ethel, as well as David Greenglass (BUMBLEBEE and CALIBRE) and Klaus Fuchs (CHARLES). However, the big fish was Theodore Hall (MLAD, formerly Ted Holtzberg), a kid who wasn’t recruited by the KGB but came to the Soviets on his own initiative.
Also, MLK really did have Communist contacts (such as his consigliere Stanley Levison). However, when he wouldn’t denounce American imperialism as they suggested, the KGB cleverly portrayed him first as a sellout and later as a martyr.
The revelations we’ll focus on here were about rumors spread by the KGB’s “active measures” disinformation program; many of which are believed to this day.
The USA invented AIDS
Operation INFEKTION was to make the USA look bad, especially among the Third World, and to draw heat off of the Soviet biological weapons program
Probably the most successful anti-American active measure of the Gorbachev era, promoted by a mixture of overt propaganda and covert action by Service A, was the story that the AIDS virus had been “manufactured” by American biological warfare specialists at Fort Detrick in Maryland. An East German, Russian-born physicist, Professor Jacob Segal, claimed on the basis of “circumstantial evidence” (later wholly discredited) that AIDS had been artificially synthesized at Fort Detrick from two natural viruses, VISNA and HTLV-1. Thus fortified by spurious scientific jargon, the AIDS fabrication not merely swept through the Third World, but took in some of the Western media as well. In October 1986 the conservative British Sunday Express made it its main front-page story. During the first six months of 1987 alone, the story received major news coverage in over forty Third World countries.
The Kremlin backed off of Operation INFEKTION later, but useful idiots abroad embellished it with propaganda efforts of their own:
The AIDS fabrication, however, was swiftly followed by other, equally scurriious anti-American active measures in the Third World, some of which also seduced sections of the Western media. Among the most successful was the “baby parts” story, alleging that rich Americans were butchering Third World children in order to use their bodies for organ transplants in the United States. In September 1988 a motion in the European Parliament condemning the alleged trafficking in “baby parts,” proposed by a French Communist MEP, passed on a show of hands in a poorly attended session.
HIV—the AIDS virus—mutates at a regular rate. Scientists have traced it backwards, determining that the first of four major strains likely entered the human population around the 1920s. Randy Shilts documented the early stages of the AIDS epidemic in And the Band Played On. He speculated that the American phase of the epidemic may have begun in 1976, during a large, international bicentennial party in New York. Then it spread like wildfire through gay hookup culture, particularly the bathhouses. Still, he describes a few known cases in the 1960s, even in the USA.
Nixon cancelled the American bio-weapons program, something which would’ve made him a much better Nobel Peace Prize candidate than Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and The Lightworker, who won for not being George W. bush. Advanced gene-splicing technology didn’t exist until the 1990s. Only agribusiness has done much with it lately, or at least as far as we know.
Olympic athletes threatened
As Mitrokhin put it, “The attempt to stir up racial tensions in the United States remained part of Service A’s stock-in-trade for the remainder of the Cold War.” Well now, who would’ve guessed? Unfortunately, it remains the stock in trade of cultural Marxism even now.
Before the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, for example, Line PR officers in the Washington residency mailed bogus communications from the Ku Klux Klan to the Olympic committees of African and Asian countries. Among the racial taunts devised by Service A for inclusion in the mailings was the following:
THE OLYMPICS—FOR THE WHITES ONLY!
A grand reception awaits you in Los Angeles!
We are preparing for the Olympic games by shooting at black moving targets. In Los Angeles our own Olympic flames are ready to incinerate you. The highest award for a true American patriot would be the lynching of an African monkey.
Blacks, Welcome to the Olympic games in Los Angeles!
We’ll give you a reception you’ll never forget!
This and other active measures on the same theme made front-page news in many countries. When Attorney-General William French Smith denounced the letters as KGB forgeries, Moscow predictably feigned righteous indignation at Washington’s anti-Soviet slanders.
Despite a stilted style that doesn’t quite seem characteristic of Fraternity Tri-Kappa, some believed it was real, and a few countries didn’t send their teams. That one was also a “take that” for the previous American boycott of the Olympics in Moscow, a symbolic effort spurred by their invasion of Afghanistan. Eventually, we were making a real effort by supplying arms to Afghan rebels. Even so, given recent history, we should’ve just told the Afghans to deal with it themselves.
J. Edgar Hoover was gay
To discredit FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in the eyes of the public
The introduction states:
The KGB was among the first to spread stories that Hoover was a predatory homosexual.
The chapter “Political Warfare” provides the dirty details. Other than forging documents to make him look bad, we have the following item:
A third line of attack deployed by Service A against Hoover was to accuse him of being a homosexual. The truth about Hoover’s probably severely repressed sexuality is unlikely ever to be known. Later, much-publicized claims that he was a gay cross-dresser whose wardrobe included a red dress and boa, which made him look like “an old flapper,” and a black dress, “very fluffy, with flounces, and lace stockings,” which he wore with a black curly wig, rest on little more than the discredited testimony of a convicted perjurer, Susan Rosenstiel, who claimed to have seen Hoover so attired. Nor is there any reliable evidence that Hoover and his deputy, Clyde Tolson, who shared his house, ever had a homosexual relationship. […]
The later commercial success, admittedly in a more prurient period, of fanciful stories of Hoover at gay transvestite parties suggests that in fabricating stories of his homosexual affairs in the late 1960s Service A had hit upon a potentially promising active measures theme. DeLoach was later depressed to discover how readily such stories were accepted as “undeniable truth:”
“Tell us about Hoover and Tolson,” people would say.
“Was it obvious?”
“Did everyone know what was going on?”
This might actually be true. Whether or not he and Clyde Tolson were roommates and co-workers, or something more, has been the subject of much speculation. One item (as mentioned) was from the wife of liquor magnate Lewis Rosenstiel, featuring J. Edgar getting a handjob in drag. Another was by journalist Pete Hammill, relating some Mafia gossip; the buzz was that they were using compromising pictures of him to get him to back off.
So that’s interesting, but pretty much hearsay; not the sort of evidence that would stick in court. Still, the KGB certainly added fuel to the fire. It matters little now, but it’s still a debate similar to the “confirmed bachelor” status of Ernie and Bert on Sesame Street.
The moon landing was a hoax
The Soviets did have a first-rate space program, and quite possibly could have landed on the moon first if not for top-level personality clashes and engineering problems with the N1 launch vehicle. So, they tried to make the public think that American astronauts never landed on the moon and all the funding was diverted to the CIA. This makes the Soviets epic sore losers, almost as bad as Al Gore.
This one isn’t documented in The Sword and the Shield, but the KGB is considered the source of some of the moon landing hoax rumors. The basic concept is found in a 1960 memo:
If necessary, the necessary documents should be forged using the existing samples… To work out and implement measures on blowing the cover of several scientific, commercial and other institutions, used by the CIA for its spy activities. In particular, to carry out such measures with regard to the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration” [NASA] and the “Informational Agency” of the USA [U.S. Information Agency (USIA)].
Whatever role the KGB had, lots of people in the tinfoil hat crowd ran with the story and elaborated on it. Capricorn One, a fictional movie about a faked Mars mission, added to the speculation too.
I don’t have the space (if you’ll pardon the expression) to go into all the reasons why the Apollo footage was not a special effects job, but I’ll leave you with one of them for now. For that to happen, hundreds—if not thousands—of people would’ve had to be in on the secret: the astronauts themselves, filmmakers, people to feed Mission Control fake data, and so forth. The launches were seen by the public. Aside from Mission Control, the Apollo missions were monitored carefully by both the Soviets and amateur radio enthusiasts, following the voice and telemetry all the way to the moon and back.
Remember that this was during a Presidential administration that couldn’t cover up a third-rate burglary. Thus far, there’s no real evidence that the USA didn’t land on the moon, not even a deathbed confession.
All told, getting the truth for once is like a breath of fresh air. It would be great if all the major powers, in the interests of history, would declassify everything (with the exception of weapons programs) prior to 1960 or at least 1950. Until then, we have to rely on insider accounts like this, as well as leaked documents, to fill in the missing pieces of history.
I would’ve liked to see Mitrokhin describe more about ideological subversion efforts; it’s there, but not in great detail. Fortunately, we have the revelations of Yuri Bezmenov, another KGB insider, to give us a better look at that.
The USSR was a powerful government talking a great game about peace and progress, while spinning events and even resorting to outright lies. I wish I could say that Western governments never did anything like that, but that wouldn’t quite be true. As we can see, it’s quite surprising how easily these propaganda efforts were launched into in the public memespace and took on a life of their own. In some cases, the so-called mainstream media bought into it and even embellished it.
The MSM themselves have been as guilty as hell of their own “active measures”. Quite recently, they came out with the “fake news” anti-concept; that’s quite a case of psychological projection! Let us not forget as well that individuals, private organizations, and other groups with great wealth and power also make similar efforts to conceal their wrongdoing and keep the public in the dark.