Revealed: The Secret KGB Manual for Recruiting Spies

2017/12/30 14:37:59

The document is from the Cold War. But the material it teaches is still being used today by Vladimir Putin’s clandestine cadres.







By Michael Weiss for the Daily Beast, Dec 27, 2017


This is the first of a three-part series based on never-before-published training manuals for the KGB, the Soviet intelligence organization that Vladimir Putin served as an operative, and that shaped his view of the world. Its veterans still make up an important part of now-Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power base. All were trained in the same dark arts, and these primers in tradecraft are essential to an understanding of the way they think and the way they operate.


U.S. intelligence operatives understand this only too well. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN earlier this month Putin is “a great case officer,” suggesting he “knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president”—that is, the president of the United States.


“I am saying this figuratively,” Clapper went on, when asked to clarify his remark. “I think you have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instinct of Putin has come into play here, and he’s managing a pretty important ‘account,’ if I could use that term, with our president.”


The first installment of this series, directly relevant to the question of how Putin’s minions played members of the Trump campaign, looks specifically at the use of third parties to target individuals and organizations. Read Part 2 here; and Part 3 here.


Not many outside The Professor’s rarefied circle, knew who he was or what he studied or where he came from. No doubt that was part of his appeal. In his mid-fifties, he spoke of himself with a braggadocio not uncommon to unheard-of academics insisting that they’d been heard and heeded around the world. He’d “served prominently,” one online biography explained, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of his native Malta, where he’d also advised the Ministry of Education. He’d been an election observer in a Central Asian autocracy. He’d worked for the kinds of institutions one remembers, if one remembers them at all, as interchangeable word jumbles of faux-gravitas: The London Academy of Diplomacy; The Euro-Mediterranean University of Slovenia.


The Professor had also attended confabs hosted by Kremlin-financed think tanks in Russia and spoken on appropriately vague topics such as “economic and international cooperation.” He’d once even claimed to have had a brief private audience with the Russian president himself, although his own assistant didn’t buy that. The Professor, she said, was too “small-time” for such world-historical encounters.


Maybe. But somehow he knew that the Russians had intercepted “thousands” of emails belonging to a U.S. candidate for the White House long before the rest of the world did and he relayed this information to a young, inexperienced campaign adviser to a rival candidate, with whom he’d struck up a rapport while both were traveling in Italy. At first The Professor was uninterested in the American. Then the American explained his promising new role back in New York in a presidential campaign and The Professor became very interested.




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In fact, five days after the American was named publicly as one of the candidate’s top foreign policy hands in an interview with a major U.S. broadsheet, The Professor met him for lunch in London. By now the American had taken to referring to The Professor as “a good friend of mine” in his communiques back to campaign headquarters. The Professor opened doors, introducing him to Russia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom and to a Russian woman mistakenly or purposefully misidentified as a “niece” of the Russian president.


From here, The Professor’s interaction with the American diminished. The woman who wasn’t a niece or any relative of anyone that important, together with a third man, a program director at one of those Kremlin-financed think tanks in Russia, henceforth led the discussion via email and Skype about a prospective liaison between members of the U.S. presidential candidate’s campaign (possibly the candidate himself) and the Russian leadership (possibly the Russian president himself). If such a liaison happened, it’d have to happen in Moscow or a “neutral” city.


True, The Professor was still on hand to advise his good friend as to who exactly in the Russian government in Washington or London the American might speak with about arranging such a sensitive rendezvous. But the semi-anonymous Maltese’s work as a go-between was done. The Russians would take it from here.


[…] ... arned-his-spycraft-part-1

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