Wednesday, March 21, 2001


How the CIA "helped the Soviets with their shopping"

Thomas C. Reed, At the Abyss: an Insider's History of the Cold War (Ballantine Books, New York, 2004).


There could be no clearer delineation between the Old Shoes and the Pragmatists than the matter of the Farewell dossier.*

In the early 1970s the Nixon administration put forth the idea of detente. Henry Kissinger's hopes were that "over time, trade and investment may leaven the autarkic tendency of the Soviet system." He believed that detente might "invite the gradual association of the Soviet economy with that of the world economy and thereby foster interdependence that adds an element of stability to the political relationship."Ý

Leonid Brezhnev did not quite see it the same way. In 1972 he told a group of senior party officials: "We communists have to string along wlth the capitalists for a while. We need their credits, their agriculture, and their technology. But we are going to continue massive military programs, and by the mid-1980s we will be in a position to return to an aggressive foreign policy desihned to gain the upper hand with the West."§

Reagan was inclined to ignore Kissinger's theories of detente and to take Chairman Brezhnev at his word, but all doubt was swept away on July 19, 1981, when the new American President met with President Francois Mitterand of France at an economic summit meeting in Ottawa. In a side conversation, Mitterand told Reagan of his intelligence service's success in recruiting a KGB agent in Moscow Center. The man was part of a section evaluating the take from Soviet efforts to ac-

* The tale that follows is extracted, and in some cases quoted, from unpublished notes by Gus Weiss: The Farewell Dossier: Strategic Deception and Economic Warfare in the Cold war, 2003.

Ý Kissinger on Detente. Harcourt-Brace, 1994.

§: Revealed by the Department of Defense in hearings before the House Commlttee on Banking and Currency, 1974.

{P. 267} quire, and if necessary steal, Western technology. The source, Colonel Vladimir I. Vetrov, was designated "Farewell" by the French DST. He enjoyed an ideal port for viewing the work of the "Line X" collection apparatus within the KGB's Technology Directorate.

Reagan expressed great interest in Mitterand's sensitive revelations and was grateful for his offer to make the material available to the U.S. administration. The dossier, added to the "KUDO" intelligence compartment, arrived at the CIA in August 1981. It immediately caused a storm. The files were incredibly explicit. They set forth the extent of Soviet penetration into U.S. and other Western laboratories, factories, and government agencies. They made clear that the Soviets had been running their R&D on the back of the West for years. Given the massive transfer of technology in radars, computers, machine tools, and semiconductors from U.S. to USSR, the Pentagon had been in an arms race with itself.

The Farewell dossier also identified hundreds of case officers, agents in place, and other suppliers of information and parts throughout the West and Japan. During the early years of detente, the U.S. and the USSR had set up working groups in agriculture, civil aviation, nuclear energy, oceanography, computers, and the environment. The purpose was to start construction of "peaceful bridges" between the superpowers. Working group members were to exchange home-and-home visits. The Soviets thoroughly corrupted this process by inserting intelligence officers into those delegations dealing with technology of interest to them. Farewell made the extent of this subterfuge glaringly apparent. Even one of the Soviet cosmonauts, participating in the joint U.S.-USSR Apollo-Soyuz space flight, was a KGB science officer.*

Aside from agent identification, the most useful information in the Farewell dossier was the KGB's shopping list: its targets for technology acquisition and theft during the coming few years. When the Farewell dossier arrived in Washington, Reagan asked Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey to come up with a clandestine operational use for the material.

During the fall of 1981, one of my NSC associates, Dr. Gus Weiss, was cleared to read the material. He devised a remarkable plan: "Why not help the Soviets with their shopping? Now that we know what

* Even today, a decade after the end of the Cold War, the U.S does not allow intelligence operatives to participate in any similar trade, cultural, scientific, or other group visiting the former Soviet Union.

{p. 268} they want, we can help them get it." There would be just one catch: the CIA would add "extra ingredients" to the software and hardware on the KGB's shopping list. Weiss presented the plan to Casey in December 1981 and Casey took it to the President in January 1982. Notably absent from their meeting were any of the White House's strong believers in detente.

Reagan received the plan enthusiastically; Casey was given a "go." There are no written memoranda reflecting that meeting, or for that matter, the whole project, for many in the intelligence community were concerned about the security of the new, computerized, internal NSC communication system.

Within a few months the shipments began. The Weiss project targeted the Soviet military-industrial needs as set forth in the Farewell dossier. "Improved" - that is to say, erratic - computer chips were designed to pass quality acceptance tests before entry into Soviet service. Only later would they sporadically fail, frazzling the nerves of harried users. Pseudosoftware disrupted factory output. Flawed but convincing ideas on stealth, attack aircraft, and space defense made their way into Soviet ministries.

The production and transportation of oil and gas was at the top of the Soviet wish list. A new trans-Siberian pipeline was to deliver natural gas from the Urengoi gas fields in Siberia across Kazakhstan, Russia, and Eastern Europe, into the hard currency markets of the West. To automate the operation of valves, compressors, and storage facilities in such an immense undertaking, the Soviets needed sophisticated control systems. They bought early model computers on the open market, but when Russian pipeline authorities approached the U.S. for the necessary software, they were turned down. Undaunted, the Soviets looked elsewhere; a KGB operative was sent to penetrate a Canadian software supplier in an attempt to steal the needed codes. U.S. Intelligence, tipped by Farewell, responded and - in cooperation with some outraged Canadians - "improved" the software before sending it on.

Once in the Soviet Union, computers and software, working together, ran the pipeline beautifully - for a while. But that tranquility was deceptive. Buried in the stolen Canadian goods - the software operating this whole new pipeline system - was a Trojan horse.* In order to

* An expression describing a few lines of software, buried in the normal operating system, that will cause that system to go berserk at some future date (Halloween?) or upon the receipt of some outside message.

{p. 269} disrupt the Soviet gas supply, its hard currency earnings from the West, and the internal Russian economy, the pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines, and valves was programmed to go haywire, after a decent interval, to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds.

The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space. At the White House, we received warning from our infrared satellites of some bizarre event out in the middle of Soviet nowhere. NORAD feared a missile liftoff from a place where no rockets were known to be based. Or perhaps it was the detonation of a small nuclear device. The Air Force chief of intelligence rated it at three kilotons, but he was puzzled by the silence of the Vela satellites. They had detected no electromagnetic pulse, characteristic of nuclear detonations. Before these conflicting indicators could turn into an international crisis, Gus Weiss came down the hall to tell his fellow NSC staffers not to worry. It took him another twenty years to tell me why.

The Farewell countermeasures campaign was cold-eyed economic warfare, put in place to inflict a price on the Soviet Union for corrupting the lofty ideals of detente. While there were no physical casualties from the pipeline explosion, there was significant damage to the Soviet economy. Its ultimate bankruptcy, not a bloody battle or nuclear exchange, is what brought the Cold War to an end. In time the Soviets came to understand that they had been stealing bogus technology, but now what were they to do? By implication, every cell of the Soviet technical leviathan might be infected. They had no way of knowing which equipment was sound, which was bogus. All was stlspect, which was the intended endgame for the entire operation.

As a grand finale, in 1984-85 the U.S. and its NATO allies rolled up the entire Line X collection network, both in the U.S. and overseas. This effectively extinguished the KGB's technology collection capabilities at a time when Moscow was being sandwiched between a failing economy on one hand and an American President - intent on prevailing and ending the Cold War - on the other.

Gorbachev was infuriated at his agents' arrests and deportations, for he had no idea that American intelligence agencies had access to the Farewell dossier. At a meeting of the Politburo on October 22, 1986, called to debrief his associates on the Reykjavik summit, he ranted that the Americans were "acting very rudely and behaving like bandits."


If Reed's allegation is correct, could the CIA have had a hand in the Chernobyl explosion?

Mossad and the CIA also sold the bugged Promis computer software to the Communist bloc: bugs.html.

KGB Veteran Denies CIA Caused '82 Blast

Moscow Times, Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004. Page 4

By Anatoly Medetsky

Staff Writer

A KGB veteran said a new U.S. book that credits the CIA with causing a powerful explosion on a Soviet natural gas pipeline in 1982 is off the mark. An explosion did take place, but it was caused by poor construction, not by planted software.

"What the Americans have written is rubbish," said Vasily Pchelintsev, who in 1982 headed the KGB office in the Tyumen region, the likely site of the explosion described in the book, "At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War."

The book, written by Thomas Reed, a former Air Force secretary who was on the National Security Council at the time, says the CIA arranged for bugs to be built into pipeline software that was transferred to the Soviet Union through a KGB network.

The United States was trying to prevent the Soviet Union from exporting gas to Western Europe and took advantage of KGB efforts to steal Western technology, Reed writes.

"In order to disrupt the Soviet gas supply, its hard currency earnings from the West and the internal Russian economy, the pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire, after a decent interval, to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to pipeline joints and welds," the book says.

The result was an explosion so powerful that it was seen from space, it says.

Pchelintsev said the book appears to be referring to an explosion that took place about 50 kilometers from the city of Tobolsk, in the Tyumen region, in April 1982, even though the book said it occurred in the summer.

The region at the time was seeing a boom of pipeline construction to transport natural gas to domestic and Western consumers and also fits the book's description of the site as being in the Siberian wilderness.

A government commission that investigated the incident blamed it on two construction violations, Pchelintsev said. First, workers failed to put a bend in the metal pipe to protect it during sharp seasonal changes in temperature. Second, they did not equip it with weights to keep it down in the area's marshland.

During a warm April day, the pipe surfaced from the swampy ground and expanded from the heat, Pchelintsev said. As the chill set in again at night, it shrank and snapped, producing a spark. A stroke of fire went sideways and hit a parallel natural gas pipeline 12 meters away, causing it to ignite as well.

The ensuing blaze was huge but no one was hurt, Pchelintsev said. Pilots of planes flying over the wilderness spotted the flames and reported them to the Tyumen airport, whose authorities alerted the KGB. The incident was not disclosed until the publication of Reed's book, which was released March 9 by Ballantine Books.

The damaged pipelines supplied gas from the Urengoi deposit to the large industrial city of Chelyabinsk, which was left without natural gas for a day, Pchelintsev said. The damaged sections were rebuilt in one day, he said. Chelyabinsk is about 550 kilometers from Tobolsk.

The damaged pipelines were not part of the Urengoi-Uzhgorod pipeline, which supplied gas to Western Europe, he said.

Pchelintsev said he knew of no other gas explosions in the Tyumen region that year and he, as head of the KGB there, was in a position to know.

Gazpromavtomatika, a company that installs software for pipelines, said it had no information on any explosions in 1982, and no employees from that time on its staff who could comment.

Another KGB veteran, Mikhail Leontyev, confirmed Reed's claim that the KGB had a network of undercover agents who sought to get hold of Western high-tech equipment banned for sale to the Soviet Union. But he said the secret purchases were thoroughly checked.

But Leontyev said the book was wrong about when the KGB set up its Directorate T for going after Western research and development. It was 1918, not 1970, he said. {end}

Soviet spies steal a Trojan Horse - causing a gas explosion; KGB Veteran Denies CIA Caused '82 Blast

Cold War hotted up when sabotaged Soviet pipeline went off with a bang

Sydney Morning Herald, February 28 2004

By David Hoffman

The former US president Ronald Reagan approved a CIA plan to sabotage the economy of the former Soviet Union, which resulted in "the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space" a Reagan White House official says.

The CIA covertly transferred technology containing malfunctions, including software, that later triggered a huge explosion in a Siberian natural gas pipeline in mid-1982, Thomas Reed, a former air force secretary, then a member of the National Security Council, writes in a new memoir.

Reed says the pipeline explosion was just one example of "cold-eyed economic warfare" the CIA carried out, under its director William Casey, during the final years of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

The US was trying to stop western Europe from importing Soviet natural gas, and there were also signs that the Russians were trying to steal Western technology. A KGB insider then gained access to Russian purchase orders and the CIA slipped the flawed software to the Russians.

"The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space," Reed recalls in At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War, to be published next month.

"While there were no physical casualties from the pipeline explosion, there was significant damage to the Soviet economy," he writes. "Its ultimate bankruptcy, not a bloody battle or nuclear exchange, is what brought the Cold War to an end.

"In time the Soviets came to understand that they had been stealing bogus technology, but now what were they to do? By implication, every cell of the Soviet leviathan might be infected. They had no way of knowing which equipment was sound, which was bogus. All was suspect, which was the intended endgame for the entire operation."

The CIA learnt of the full extent of the KGB's pursuit of Western technology in an operation code-named Farewell Dossier. Portions of the operation have been disclosed earlier, including in a 1996 paper in Studies in Intelligence, a CIA journal. The paper was written by Gus Weiss, an expert on technology and intelligence who served with Reed on the National Security Council and was instrumental in devising the plan to send the flawed materials to the former Soviet Union. He died last year.

In January 1982 Weiss proposed slipping the Russians technology that would work for a while, then fail. Reed said the CIA "would add 'extra ingredients' to the software and hardware on the KGB's shopping list".

"Reagan received the plan enthusiastically," Reed writes. "Casey was given a go."

The sabotage of the gas pipeline has not been previously disclosed, and at the time was a closely guarded secret. When the pipeline exploded, Reed writes, the first reports caused concern in the US military and at the White House.

"NORAD [North American Air Defence Command] feared a missile lift-off from a place where no rockets were known to be based," he said. "Or perhaps it was the detonation of a small nuclear device." However, satellites did not pick up any telltale signs of a nuclear explosion. "Before these conflicting indicators could turn into an international crisis, Gus Weiss came down the hall to tell his fellow [National Security Council] staffers not to worry."

The Washington Post
CIA plot led to huge blast in Siberian gas pipeline
By Alec Russell in Washington
(Filed: 28/02/2004)



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