Spies of the West - by The Covert Spy Shop .com
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Controversial Director of the CIA from 1973 to 1976. Colby, a former O.S.S. agent, took control of the agency during a difficult time: criticism of the CIA had led to a congressional investigation, and Colby was forced to reveal many of the agency's secrets. He testified before Congress in 1975 in the wake of various leaks that that the CIA had been engaged in coups and attempted assassinations abroad, spying on U.S. citizens, and conducting controversial drug and mind-control experiments. His candor before Congress angered many CIA veterans, but others credit him with restoring the agency's credibility in the post-Watergate era.
His revelations may have contributed to his forced resignation in 1976. In 1996, he apparently drowned while canoeing on a Maryland river.
A prominent U.S. Communist Party leader in the 1930s who inwardly rejected the cause, then volunteered his services to the FBI. Childs became a key FBI mole inside CPUSA, making 52 trips to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and meeting with Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and other top Soviet leaders. For more than 30 years, he and his brother Jack provided the FBI with detailed and valuable information on Soviet affairs, including crucial perspective on the Sino-Soviet split and inside information on Soviet attitudes toward U.S. Cold War policy.
His story largely unknown, Childs died in 1991 at the age of 89.
Director of the CIA during its heydey, from 1953 to 1961, as the CIA became a major factor in U.S. Cold War policy. An officer with the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) during World War II, Dulles increased the CIA's involvement in covert actions worldwide, presiding over CIA-backed coups in Iran and Guatemala, among other involvements. By the time John F. Kennedy became president, the Dulles-led CIA had become a key player in the U.S. executive branch.
The disastrous CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs was his downfall: the fiasco badly damaged the CIA's reputation and became a very public embarassment to Kennedy, who blamed the agency. Dulles was forced to resign in 1961. He died eight years later.
An ex-Nazi intelligence officer who went on to found the Gehlen Organization, a freelance espionage group in West Germany funded by the United States. During the war Gehlen had been in charge of military intelligence on the Russian front; his knowledge of the Soviet military and network of informants made him highly valuable to the West when the war was over. With U.S. backing he founded the Gehlen Organization and established a wide-ranging network of spies inside the Soviet bloc -- some even within the East German intelligence service. His work was so successful that West Germany made his organization part of the government; it was subsumed into the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), of which Gehlen himself was named President.
He served as BND chief until 1968, when his government reputation was tarnished by the discovery that a top lieutenant was a Soviet double-agent. He remained a legend in intelligence circles, though, until his death in 1979.
A rare Western mole inside the KGB. Gordievsky began spying for the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6) in 1974, when he was a KGB agent stationed in Copenhagen. Apparently, he decided to switch sides in the Cold War because he was disillusioned by the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1985 he was appointed to head the KGB station in London. But that same year he was betrayed by the Soviets' mole in the CIA, Aldrich Ames. Summoned back to Moscow and accused of spying, Gordievsky maintained his innocence. The KGB kept him under close surveillance but he managed to contact British intelligence and escape to the West. He is the only known survivor among Soviet double-agents betrayed by Ames.
Defected to Canada in 1945 and provided the first definitive proof that the Soviet Union was involved in a large-scale effort to infiltrate its former wartime allies. A cipher expert with Soviet Military Intelligence (GRU), he provided documents implicating Soviet spies in Britain, Canada, and the United States. Gouzenko lived the rest of his life in Canada. More defector than spy, he nevertheless holds an important place in the history of Cold War espionage.
J. Edgar Hoover
Not usually thought of as a spy or spymaster, FBI Director Hoover was in fact in charge of counter-intelligence within the United States. A fervent anti-communist, Hoover used all his considerable power to identify real and imagined "reds." The FBI successfully infiltrated the U.S. Communist Party and launched massive background checks of government employees to identify potential subversives. But Hoover was not satisfied, and in 1956 he launched COINTELPRO, a campaign of domestic espionage that included wiretapping, burglary, threats, and miscellaneous "dirty tricks" directed at anyone Hoover thought a danger to the nation. This turned out to be a very broad spectrum: anti-war demonstrators, pacifists, anti-nuclear activists, and most notoriously, civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. COINTELPRO damaged Hoover's reputation but he remained FBI Director until his death in 1972.
E. Howard Hunt
Known chiefly for his role in the Watergate scandal, Howard Hunt was an early operative for the CIA, playing a key role in the 1954 Guatemalan coup. Hunt then moved on to a series of other posts before resigning from the agency in 1970. Shortly afterward, he became covert operations chief for President Nixon's White House staff. In this role, he ordered the infamous, bungled burglary of the Democratic Party's headquarters in the Watergate office complex. The operation was a disaster. It led to Nixon's resignation. It was also a major embarrassment for Nixon's Republican Party, and for the CIA, which was coming under increased Congressional oversight. Hunt spent 33 months in prison for his part in the Watergate break-in. He now writes spy novels.
CIA dirty tricks maven who operated for most of his life under the cover of a miliary attache. Lansdale began covert operations work in the Phillipines, where he organized a campaign against leftist guerillas. Lansdale was an early CIA operator Vietnam, as well, helping to establish the government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. In the early 1960s he was assigned to "Operation Mongoose," the CIA plan to overthrow or assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro. Some reports credit Lansdale with the idea of recruiting "gangster elements" to kill Castro. Others cite Lansdale as the source of a bizarre plan to convince Cubans that Castro was the anti-Christ.
Lansdale moved on to other posts in Latin America before retiring quietly in 1963.
A highly-successful spy for the CIA, code-named Trigon, who held a high-ranking position in the Soviet Foreign Ministry. He is believed to have passed hundreds of classified documents to the CIA between 1974 and 1977, when he was caught taking pictures of classified materials. After his arrest he agreed to confess, then retreived a pen to sign the confession. Inside the pen was a poison pill. He swallowed it before Soviet agents could stop him and died on the spot.
A colonel in the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) and one of the greatest Western intelligence coups of the Cold War. Penkovsky had grown disillusioned with the Soviet system and feared Premier Nikita Khrushchev would lead his country to nuclear war, so he volunteered his services to British and American intelligence. He was trained in the use of the Minox camera and from 1961 to 1962 photographed crucial secret documents on Soviet missiles and military capability and passed them to the West. Some of these documents helped the United States identify the Soviet missile buildup in Cuba.
Penkovsky eventually fell under KGB suspicion, and despite efforts to arrange his escape, he continued his work and was arrested in 1962. After a show trial, he was executed one year later.
One of the highest-ranking Soviet military intelligence (GRU) officers ever to spy for the West. As a GRU colonel in 1961 Polyakov volunteered his services to the FBI and the CIA, revealing the identities of Soviet agents working in the United States. Apparently motivated by an ideological hatred of the Soviet system, Polyakov continued working as a mole inside Soviet intelligence for 20 years, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant general. He provided important information on Soviet missiles, nuclear strategy, and chemical and biological warfare programs.
Betrayed by CIA mole Aldrich Ames, he was arrested in July 1986 and executed.
Francis Gary Powers
U.S. Air Force U-2 pilot who was shot down while on a surveillance mission over the Soviet Union. This incident proved to be an enormous public relations debacle for the United States-- which, at first, denied that Powers' plane was on a spy mission. Powers' capture was a source of consternation in the United States; many intelligence professionals felt he should have used his suicide pin, which was hidden in a silver dollar and contained a potent shellfish toxin. Instead, he was subjected to an elaborate show trial and eventually confessed. It was an enormous propaganda coup for the Soviets.
Powers was sentenced to 10 years in captivity but served only two before he was released to the United States in a spy exchange for Soviet spy Rudolph Abel. He died in a 1977 helicopter crash while working as a pilot for a Los Angeles television station.
The highest-ranking Soviet diplomat to defect to the West. An Under-Secretary General at the United Nations in 1974, Shevchenko attempted to defect to the United States but was persuaded to stay in his position and pass secret information to U.S. intelligence. According to his memoirs, Shevchenko, who worked closely with Leonid Brezhnev and Andrei Gromyko, had grown disillusioned by communism and the hypocrisy and corruption of the Soviet leadership. He provided U.S. intelligence with details about Soviet policy-making and KGB infiltration of the United Nations.
Worried that the KGB suspected he was a spy, Shevchenko defected in 1978. His family was recalled to Moscow.
Kaarlo Rudolph Tuomi
U.S.-born Soviet military intelligence (GRU) officer who turned double-agent for the West. Tuomi moved to the Soviet Union at an early age and eventually was recruited by the KGB to return to the United States as an undercover spy. He entered the United States from Canada in 1958, posing as a businessman from Chicago and using the name Robert White. But the FBI apprehended him shortly after he entered the country and he agreed to became double-agent, providing the FBI with insights into Soviet intelligence practices.
Tuomi's cover was blown in 1963 when he was refused to answer a summons to return to the Soviet Union. After that, he disappeared, perhaps given another identity by the FBI.
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