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KGB Material Released By Cold War Project, Available Online 94

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fewer-redactions-than-a-foia-request-about-yourself dept.
pha7boy writes "The Cold War International History Project just released the 'Vassiliev Notebooks.' The notebooks are an important new source of information on Soviet intelligence operations in the United States from 1930 to 1950. Though the KGB's archive remains closed, former KGB officer turned journalist Alexander Vassiliev was given the unique opportunity to spend two years poring over materials from the KGB archive taking detailed notes — including extended verbatim quotes — on some of the KGB's most sensitive files. Though Vassiliev's access was not unfettered, the 1,115 pages of densely handwritten notes that he was able to take shed new and important light on such critical individuals and topics as Alger Hiss, the Rosenberg case, and 'Enormous,' the massive Soviet effort to gather intelligence on the Anglo-American atomic bomb project. Alexander Vassiliev has donated his original copies of the handwritten notebooks to the Library of Congress with no restriction on access. They are available to researchers in the Manuscript Division."
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KGB Material Released By Cold War Project, Available Online

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  • ... two years poring over ...

    Must have been quite the sweaty fellow. :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by abigor (540274)

      I hope you're joking, as that is the correct use of the verb "to pore":

      pore

      1. to read or study with steady attention or application: a scholar poring over a rare old manuscript.
      2. to gaze earnestly or steadily: to pore over a painting.
      3. to meditate or ponder intently (usually fol. by over, on, or upon): He pored over the strange events of the preceding evening.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by SIR_Taco (467460)

        Pun
        noun
        1. the humorous use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or suggest its different meanings or applications, or the use of words that are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning; a play on words.
        2. the word or phrase used in this way.

        verb (used without object)
        3. to make puns.

        Does that help?

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by abigor (540274)

          Not really, as incorrect usage is not the same as punning. Is English your first language?

          • Of course they're not the same, but incorrect usage for the sake of humour seems to me to be a valid variety of pun, and English is my first language. In fact there are enough examples of exactly that to warrant their own classification. [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Boris! What shall we do!

  • What about the communist plot to undermine our great American nation from within by planting their agents in our movie studios? Sad part? That is the extent of my knowledge about 'communist' activities. Mah school hadn't done gave me some book learnin's!
    • by Xarin (320264)

      What about the communist plot to undermine our great American nation from within by planting their agents in our movie studios? Sad part? That is the extent of my knowledge about 'communist' activities. Mah school hadn't done gave me some book learnin's!

      One has to be careful about using movies as propaganda tools. The Soviets used "The Grapes of Wrath" as propaganda to show how the poor were exploited in America. The audience on the other hand came away believing that every poor person in America owned an automobile.

  • And...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday May 15, 2009 @05:58PM (#27973169)

    The executive summary please.

     

  • Call me paranoid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by brasselv (1471265) on Friday May 15, 2009 @06:07PM (#27973259)

    Given the personal history of the powers that be [wikipedia.org] in Russia, I find hard to believe that this guy is given the "unique opportunity" to access or publish "some of the KGB's most sensitive files".

  • So, now we have access to the Boris and Natasha's nefarious plans of the past!

    Where's the 'spyversusspy' tag when you need it!

  • by miletus (552448) on Friday May 15, 2009 @06:20PM (#27973405)
    Here's an article from the Nation that questions some of Vassiliev's conclusions on the Hiss case [thenation.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by daknapp (156051)

      And we all know what a neutral, unbiased source The Nation is!

    • by nbauman (624611) on Friday May 15, 2009 @07:48PM (#27974257) Homepage Journal

      I think the Nation article raises points that stand on their own merits:

      Vassiliv sued John Lowenthal (and lost) for libel over Lowenthal's claim 'that Weinstein and Vassiliev "omit relevant facts" and "selectively replaced covernames with their own notion of the real names." 'that "he never met the name of Alger Hiss in the context of some cooperation with some special services of the Soviet Union."'

      When Vassiliev was asked on the witness stand whether 'he'd ever seen a single document linking Alger Hiss with "Ales"--the code name of a Soviet agent in the 1940s who, Weinstein and Vassiliev insisted, had to be Hiss--he admitted he hadn't.'

  • by Oyjord (810904)
    So, we're supposed to just take the word of a former KGB operative-turned journalist that what he wrote in his notebooks is historical truth? Sorry, till a Western historian gets access to the KGB archives (I personally know a couple who have) and publishes their results in a peer-review, Western historical journal, I won't believe a word I read.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by rezalas (1227518)
      Bullshit. If they had, they would have published by now. Shit or get off the pot sir, people need seats for better reasons than yours.
    • by plover (150551) * on Friday May 15, 2009 @06:47PM (#27973671) Homepage Journal

      These notes help corroborate other facts that have been revealed, such as the massive archive that Vasili Mitrokhin brought over with him at the end of the Cold War.

      While they may not be 100% accurate, I'm expecting they'll likely be 90% or better. His previous writings have mostly dovetailed with the Mitrokhin Archive.

      Yes, Vassiliev is prone to exaggeration and self-aggrandizement, (men of power frequently are) but these notes are not the only glimpse into the KGB's archives.

      • by pha7boy (1242512)
        CWIHP - www.cwihp.org - also has quite a few of the Mitrokhin notes. just click on the link on the front page.
  • Considering Alexander Vassiliev's (not sure where the double "s" came from in )rep and lack of any verifiable evidence to the validity of the data, I see this nothing more than a lengthy and uninspiring work of fiction. He is just using his ex-KGB cred to prop up his book business.
  • I am curious if the former USSR has released something like this, especially with Putin basically still at the head; two things: first, how much of this document is black-lined at this point? Second, isn't it pretty obvious anything that isn't is an attempt to tell us what they want us to believe?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Phizzle (1109923)
      These days, it is a lot easier to publish freely in Russia than in USA - the stuff on the shelves in Moscow and Piter is way more unshackled than the things you will find at your average American Barnes and Noble. Plus, why would KGB bother redacting a work of fiction? They didn't bother with Vasiliev's prior work.
      • by Zordak (123132)
        I'm curious to see what analysis leads you to the conclusion that the Russian press is more free than the U.S. press. Please do elaborate.
      • by Yokaze (70883)

        You must be joking or living behind a rock. Just google for the keywords journalists russia [google.com].
        Journalists (or lawyers) critical of the regime, local administration or the oligarchs land up faster dead than reporters in Iraq. Most often, the police doesn't even bother to fake a investigation, despite the murder happening in public. Guess why they don't investigate, and why the murder happens in public.

  • #1
    If it is really secret then don't write it down, forget it and never talk about it, not even your colleagues and heavens forbid your superiors.

    #2
    If it is really secret but also really important that it should be preserved and you are absolutely 'put your life on the line' sure about it then make sure you spread enough 'information'. Preferably related to it but meaning the opposite and meaning the same but unrelated to it, the quantity of misinformation counts the most.
    Do so in at least in the main stream

  • by kevin_conaway (585204) on Friday May 15, 2009 @09:13PM (#27975027) Homepage
    If this interests you, check out the book, The Sword and the Shield [amazon.com] which is compiled from the notes of a KGB archivist who smuggled documents from KGB archives for about 20 years.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't have mod points with which to thank you for that. (Holy shit, the real Mitrohkin Archive is available online!)

      So in lieu of mod points, anyone who enjoys the story will also enjoy Stephen Coonts' (of "Flight of the Intruder" fame) fictionalized version of the story in his novel Liars and Thieves [victoria.tc.ca].

    • by haaz (3346)

      When I saw this post, I immediately thought of the The Sword and the Shield and the follow-up book, The World Was Going Our Way, which was about the KGB's Third World plans. But it turns out this was not from Vasili Mitrokhin. As an amateur historian, I look forward to exploring this stuff.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 15, 2009 @10:21PM (#27975543)

    Former KGB operative and defector Yuri Bezmenov said most KGB agents were not involved in "James Bond" type espionage over atmioc secrets etc. Ideological subversion was the primary focus:

        On Demoralization & Destabilization

    "YURI BEZMENOV: Ideological subversion is the process which is legitimate and open. You can see it with your own eyes.... It has nothing to do with espionage.

    I know that intelligence gathering looks more romantic.... That's probably why your Hollywood producers are so crazy about James Bond types of films. But in reality the main emphasis of the KGB is NOT in the area of intelligence at all. According to my opinion, and the opinions of many defectors of my caliber, only about 15% of time, money, and manpower is spent on espionage as such. The other 85% is a slow process which we call either ideological subversion, active measures, or psychological warfare. What it basically means is: to change the perception of reality of every American that despite of the abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community, and their country.

    It's a great brainwashing process which goes very slow and is divided into four basic stages. The first one being "demoralization". It takes from 15 to 20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years required to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy exposed to the ideology of [their] enemy. In other words, Marxism-Leninism ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generation of American students without being challenged or counterbalanced by the basic values of Americanism; American patriotism....

    The result? The result you can see ... the people who graduated in the 60's, dropouts or half-baked intellectuals, are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, and educational systems. You are stuck with them. You can't get through to them. They are contaminated. They are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern [alluding to Pavlov]. You cannot change their mind even if you expose them to authentic information. Even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still can not change the basic perception and the logic of behavior."

    Excellent series of videos with Yuri on YouTube. These should be required viewing in schools.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHgYPDvQFU8&feature=related [youtube.com]

    http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:dW8vp_7B-00J:brianakira.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/videosyuri-bezmenov-on-soviet-subversion-of-the-free-world/+A+person+who+is+demoralized+bezmenov&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us [74.125.47.132]

    • by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:26PM (#27975919) Homepage

      This contradicts everything else that is known about KGB, however it is consistent with American propaganda that pretty much projected their own image on propaganda efforts of others -- real or imaginary.

      • by Vidar Leathershod (41663) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @04:37AM (#27977217)

        Nice unsourced statement. You are conveniently attempting to ignore, much like the early leftist fans of Stalin, the reality of the situation. Our institutions of learning and higher learning *were* purposefully infiltrated by the Soviets in order to take us out from within. It's the same modus operandi that the Scientology folk have used on a larger scale, and like Scientology they also targeted Hollywood. Unfortunately for us, they were more successful.

        Our popular culture is filled with people who are devoid of independent thought. Some, like Pete Seeger, eventually disowned Stalin, but many didn't, and a lot of damage was done. Seeger still sells the communist line, and look who he works with: School Children. Upstate New York's public radio is headed by a man who could sing you all the old "Labor songs" without reading them off a sheet.

        You can show them revenue figures from the 1980's that showed tax revenue almost doubled, and they will still claim that the tax cuts caused the increase in the deficit, and that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. The truth of course is that both groups got richer. If confronted with facts and figures, they will retreat into the rich got disproportionately richer than the poor, so it's "not fair". It's complete class warfare, and it's been pounded into them their whole lives.

        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          Our institutions of learning and higher learning *were* purposefully infiltrated by the Soviets in order to take us out from within. It's the same modus operandi that the Scientology folk have used on a larger scale, and like Scientology they also targeted Hollywood. Unfortunately for us, they were more successful.

          Or maybe Communist ideas were popular among intellectuals to begin with, yet your politicians preferred to blame everything on "foreign spies". That is, before starting to promote blatant anti-intellectualism.

          • Or maybe Communist ideas were popular among intellectuals to begin with, yet your politicians preferred to blame everything on "foreign spies". That is, before starting to promote blatant anti-intellectualism.

            "Lenin's war on his intellectual foes, whom he had described in letters as 'lackeys of capital,' gained force on June 1, 1922, when he signed a new penal code into law. It effectively gave the government the right to kill anyone who threatened to destabilize the new power won by Soviet workers and peasants, i.e., the one-party state."

            "The lists arrived in Lenin's hands by mid-August - he drew up the list of philosophers himself - and arrests began. An Aug. 31, 1922, article in the government newspaper Pravd

            • by Alex Belits (437) *

              You mean, they sent people who hated them them to promote Communist ideas abroad?

              Or are you just googling for anything that is supposed to make Communists look bad, and pretending that it's a relevant argument?

      • Welcome, Stalin Apologist...

        After reading some more of your posts, I see that this is a hobby of yours.

        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1227031&cid=27945215 [slashdot.org]

        And there's my source, where you decry American propaganda for creating "myths" about Stalin regarding his purges.

        Let me guess, you think the Gulag Archipelago was American propaganda, too? And now you are here, sticking up for your fellow collaborators and trying to influence useful idiots. Nice.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHgYPDvQFU8&fe [youtube.com]

        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          Welcome, Stalin Apologist...

          Actually I hate Stalin and Stalinists -- at the extent that it's possible to hate dead people. However history is about studying facts of the past, not producing creative writing about it. Ex: 300 movie is not history.

          Let me guess, you think the Gulag Archipelago was American propaganda, too?

          No, it's a vaguely autobiographic work of fiction that only American propaganda worker would use as a source for anything but literary criticism.

          • Actually I hate Stalin and Stalinists -- at the extent that it's possible to hate dead people. However history is about studying facts of the past, not producing creative writing about it. Ex: 300 movie is not history.

            No, it's a vaguely autobiographic work of fiction that only American propaganda worker would use as a source for anything but literary criticism.

            Right. And the source is so fictional that the KGB tortured people to get their hands on it. And that's also why it's corroborated by Soviet records...

            From Wikipedia:

            "The sheer volume of firsthand testimony and primary documentation that Solzhenitsyn managed to assemble in The Gulag Archipelago made all subsequent Soviet and KGB attempts to discredit the work useless. Much of the impact of the treatise stems from the closely detailed stories of interrogation routines, prison indignities and (especially in

            • by Alex Belits (437) *

              Right. And the source is so fictional that the KGB tortured people to get their hands on it.

              Libel can get you pretty heavy penalties anywhere in the world.

              And that's also why it's corroborated by Soviet records...

              What? It never was.

              "One of the noteworthy elements of Solzhenitsyn's analysis are the seemingly outlandish claims of Soviet brutality, which subsequently turned out to be true - or which in some cases turned out to be more outrageous than Solzhenitsyn had originally stated. For instance, Solzhenitsyn claimed that the Gulag system was so voracious that between 1930 and 1939, a quarter of the population of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) was shipped to the Gulag. Post-Soviet scholarship has confirmed that the figure was even higher.[5] This one, seemingly unbelievable event, was reported by Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago, to skepticism in the West."

              GULAG was a prison system, it was not made specifically for politically-related crimes, or had some outrageous mortality rate. It was harsh because it involved hard labor, however that was the extent of it for most of the prisoners (including Solzhenitsyn himself).

              It seems to me the only reason you may hate Stalin is the negative publicity he gave the Soviet system.

              I's not the only reason, however that's pretty much the only thing Americans know that is true about him.

    • by lawpoop (604919)
      This guy, Yuri Bezmenov, is nothing more than a Russian Curveball ( Curveball is the Iraqi spy who fed bullshit to the US, telling the Bush administration what they wanted to hear, in exchange for money). His thesis is Freeper porn. All he's saying is exactly what rabid anti-communists want to believe -- our society is being penetrated on every level by communist ideology. It's a nightmare paranoid fantasy. He;s telling you want you want to hear. In short, it is a crock of shit.

      No, Russia was not concern
      • by Phrogman (80473)

        Well this guy defected right? I imagine its better from his point of view to increase his apparent knowledge by feeding Authorities in the US exactly what they want to hear, and puff up his own importance. Its entirely possible he had little to trade when defecting, but since the Soviets were the great unknown its probably easy for him to bullshit his way into establishing a massive plan that only he knows the details on.
        Intelligence is always a case of weighing the information from a source like this and c

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        I get it. He's wrong because you *think* he is wrong. Never mind that you have no actual knowledge of events during that era, or that declassified materials on both sides have shown it to be true. Believing it would upset your liberal worldview, which tells us that the Soviets were only interested in espionage for the purposes of self-defense against the capitalist imperialist overlords.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lawpoop (604919)
          No, he's wrong because his story is a supernatural story. It's a fairy tale, a story with a moral. These super-powerful spies ( spies! ) are able to perform a kind of mind-control by 'programming' college students by exposing them to certain professors. These spies have supernatural abilities -- the ability to program -- not convince, not indoctrinate, but program people because they took World History 101 with Professor Finkelstein. Never mind all of the television and movies that these American kids watc
          • Fantastic. So I guess those people who became entrapped in cults weren't brainwashed either?

            In any case, the things he is referring to can also be classified as indoctrination. But I am sure you will self-document that as "pretend" also. You set up so many straw man arguments you should be a wikipedia reference.

            There is ample documentation of Soviet activity in a manner described by this man. Where is your documentation? Oh, wait, you are just another sympathizer who spent far too much time believing w

            • by lawpoop (604919)

              Fantastic. So I guess those people who became entrapped in cults weren't brainwashed either?

              So a few people have joined cults; therefore the whole United States was brainwashed by the KGB via university professors. Brilliant.

              • You have still not refuted his statements with documented facts. Probably because you can't find a source, but it doesn't give you adequate standing to besmirch the man's character. You not liking what he said does not make it untrue.

                • Brainwashing is indeed a fantasy. There hasn't been a single psychological experiment that supports the notion that large-scale brainwashing is feasible. Since cults contain a minuscule set of Americans, it is not possible to extrapolate from cults to American society.

                  Quite frankly, every time I hear someone talk about brainwashed Americans, it is in the context of others not hating enough the communists, socialists, fascists, islamo-fascists and other boogiemen du jour. These people cannot fathom how someo

  • Whatever the KGB was doing in the US, the US was trying to do the same in the Soviet Union. Spy vs Spy. It is still going on today. The real point is what was the long term strategic impact of these efforts by both sides. Clearly very little of substance. The Soviet Union got atomic bomb a year or two earlier, but to think their physicists and engineers were incapable of designing and building one is sheer fantasy. The CIA did not hasten the fall of the Soviet Union: it did it all itself.

  • "How much polonium [wikipedia.org] do you take in your tea?"

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.

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