Originally published 07/09/2013
The world has been somewhat surprised by recent reports of the National Security Agency's massive electronic spying operations around the globe. But they're not the only ones with their ears to the proverbial ground. Just about every nation is engaged in some sort of electronic espionage. Russia, for example, still has an array of massive listening stations, ready to snoop on whoever's talking.It's a legacy of the Soviet Union, which ran one of the largest of those electronic eavesdropping networks as it tried to gain any intel it could on the U.S. and its allies. Those old Soviet eavesdropping stations still exist. Some are rusting away in former Soviet countries. Others are still operational.Intelligence historian Matthew Aid just got ahold of a recently declassified CIA document listing the locations of 11 KGB strategic radio interception stations throughout Russia and the rest of the old Soviet Union....
Originally published 07/06/2013
Ethel Sings: Espionage in High CWalker Space Theater46 Walker StreetNew York, N.Y.The summer of 2013 is the 60th anniversary of the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, accused of selling American atomic secrets to the Soviet Union from about 1943 to the early 1950s. Even though it was later proved that they were guilty, the pair remains political celebrities today.Ethel Sings, by Joan Beber, is a moving drama about the couple, who died in their mid-30s (Ethel was 38, Julius 35), leaving behind two small children, Michael and Robert. Their case brought on several rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, several delays of execution and even a last minute plea to President Dwight Eisenhower. Beber paints a fine portrait of the couple, who went from joining the Communist Party to organizing labor and political rallies to espionage. They were, like some other ultra-liberals of the era, convinced that world was in better hands with the Soviets than the Americans. So they decided to do what they could to help the Soviets. That was their downfall.
Originally published 05/23/2013
Anya Schmemann, is the director of editorial strategy, and the director of the task force program, at the Council on Foreign Relations.Last week, Russia expelled an American diplomat, accusing him of being a spy for the CIA. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said that U.S. Embassy Third Secretary Ryan Fogle had been caught red-handed with disguises, spy equipment, and wads of cash, trying to recruit a Russian agent.The episode -- complete with cheap looking wigs, fake glasses, a compass, a street map, and a laughable "Dear Friend" letter -- seemed straight out of the Cold War.For me, it caused a wave of nostalgia and catapulted me back to the 1980s when I was an expat child in Soviet Russia.Our family moved to Moscow in 1980, at the height of the Cold War, when President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev faced off across a great iron divide. My father was an American reporter, a fluent Russian speaker, the son of a Russian Orthodox priest, and the grandson of White Russian refugees, and he was instantly considered highly suspicious.
Originally published 04/23/2013
Peter Pomerantsev is a television producer and nonfiction writer. He lives in London.
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