by Trowbridge H. Ford
Nothing is more fundamental in intelligence work than keeping covert operations completely separate from counter intelligence. To help insure that everything goes according to plan, agents, especially in high positions, must be carefully vetted to start out, and must have serious checks on their reliability periodically. There must also be strict observance to the principle of needing to know about serious matters for fear that rumors, loose talk, and ultimately spying with ruin serious operations, possiblity at great cost to not only its agents but more important the host nation itself. And all of this despite appearances has suprisingly become more important and difficult as operations and programs have become more complicated, and integrated, even involving foreign services which might not be so careful in recruiting personnel, making sure that they stay loyal, and carrying out actions.
The classic case which comes to mind when these matter were not observed is when Great Britain failed to keep Soiviet spy, and later MI5's Assistant Director Peter Wright under any kind of control. Wright, son of Admiralty scientist and Marconi Engineer in Chief Maurice Wright, became totally dissaffected during the lead-up to WWII, and started recruiting spies in British government for the Soviets, codenamed SCOTT, while attending Oxford's School of Rural Economy. While adoption of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact stopped his spying, he resumed it as Soviet atomic spy 'K', once Hitler invaded the USSR. Wright's handing over information to his handler Vladimir Barkovsky about an atomic bomb being feasible, and the Anglo-American effort to build one was instrumental in Stalin doing the same.(1) Peter's official job at the time was a Navy scientist, attached to his father's firm.(2)
After the war in 1949, Wright was appointed the Security Service's director of research, to improve its ability to eavesdrop on the Soviet enemy, thanks to the old boys' network of meeting such concerns. In doing so, the Director General of the Foreign Intelligenc Servcice aka MI6 Colonel Malcolm Cumming and the MoD's Chief Scientist Frederick Brundfett overlloked or were unaware of how alienated Peter had become because of his father's alcoholism during the Great Depression - what had forced Peter to study to become a farmer rather than seek an Honours degreee at one of Oxbridge's colleges."The trauma of those events," Peter wrote bitterly, "brought back my ill-health and I was afflicted with a chronic stammer which rendered me at times virtually speechless." (3)
Wright contrasted what had apparently happened to him while similarly inclined youths who could afford to go to Oxford became communists. While he contended that he only learned of the comparison years later while he was tracking them down for MI5, the disparity could not have been missed at the time since Margaret Leigh, a fellow traveller, had not only followed his footsteps in seeking subsidence but also had been obliged to hire him to work on one of her crofting farms in the Scottish Highlands, "Achnadarroch" near Plocktown in Wester Ross. The area had become the center of Celtic Communism ever since liberal Lord Leverhulme had evicted crofters from the islands of Lewis and Harris after WWI. Ms.Leigh had gone to the area after her father, an Oxford don, had died, and she and her mother too could no longer afford to live there.
While Margaret Leigh finally taught Peter to master his stammer, he learned first hand what made real people, not those spoiled by capitalism, become communists, as she and he were forced to move to a farm in Cornwall after they had been evicted in Scotland by another greedy landlord. "They had enjoyed to the full the privileged background and education denied me, while my family had suffered at the capricious hand of capitalism. I experienced at first hand the effects of slump and depression, yet" he added most dishonestly, "it was they who turned to espionage." (4)
If ever one deserved a complete vetting for any position, particularly in the intelligence services, it was Peter Wright, the domestic communist who had soon become one of the world's most important spies. While his father Maurice was denied a comeback in a senior position because of his alcoholic reputation - offered instead a position of an ordinary scientist on a trial basis - Peter went sailing through without any question.
Once working with MI5, Wright, still a traitor, was able to run circiles around his superiors for Moscow's benefit - getting the service to chase the wrong targets when it came to Soviet spies, especially himself, and important people domestically disaffected, and even when someone important was being checked, the persons concerned often escaped because of some unexpected surprise, or some misreading of the situation that he was guilty of. And when the mistakes were finally discovered, Wright was very good at placing the blame on others, especially MI5 Director General Roger Hollis.
An early, best example of this occurred when MI5 loused up exploiting leads defector Igor Gouzenko supplied about Soviet spying in North America, particularly who was the spy, codenamed Elli. As Chapman Pincher has stated in his latest, and undoubtedly last effort to cover up Wright's handiwork, Treachery: Betrayals, Blunders, and Cover-ups: Six Decades of Espionage Against America and Great Britain: "It was an inexcusable gaffe by Peter Wright - later the self-styled 'spycatcher' - and the other counterintelligence investigators of the Hollis case to have failed to read the biographical books by Roger's well-known brother, which were on the shelves of many libraries." (5) There was then continuing mention of Wright's and other counterterrorists' gaffes which just compounded problems while making ways for Hollis to be made to fit the puzzle.
In doing so, Pincher left out almost all of what Wright really did of importance, though the book is a most hefty one, and the absences seems most deliberate since Peter wrote much about it himself, especially his getting American counterparts, particularly Agency ''Executive Action' Director William KIng Harvey, his boss Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, and the National Security Agency's Deputy Director Louis Tordella, to do his and the Soviets' bidding, especially when it came to getting rid of Presidents Fidel Castro, and ultimately President Kennedy. There is no mention of these key operators on the American scene in Pincher's book who got going after Castro, thanks Wright's 1959 briefing on how to get such troublemakers (6), and its renewal after the Bay of Pig fiacso (7) despite Attorney General Robert Kennedy' s order that it stop. When the President himself reiterated the order after the settlement of the Cuban Missile Crisis. these very officials took the lead in seeing that JFK was assassinated.
As Wright told Harvey after the second meeting when he thought that the Brits were holding back on their continuing role in the world: "I've told you, Bill. We're out of that game. We're the junior partner in the alliance, remember? It's your responsibility now." (8) Not only did Harvey take it to heart when it came time to get rid of the President in Dallas at the expense of the Cuban Revolution and Castro - what only Governor Connally's wounding turned the coup into a cockup - but he resumed it in 1968 when it came time to keep America's nose to the grindstone in Vietnam by seeing to the killing of Martin Lurther KIng, and Robert Kennedy, the only peacemakers who could change the scene (9) Harvey, as the covert leader of The Plumbers, helped arrange the assassinations apparently of potential troublemakers former Alabama Governor and President LBJ to Nixon's re-election in 1973 (10)
While Wright retired in 1976 - especially since his major surrogate Harvey had died, apparently killed to keep the lid on his secrets in light of the Watergate scandal - his legacy of the West pursuing the wrong policies, and chasing the wrong suspects lived on, thanks to efforts by Arthur Martin and Stephen de Mowbrary in mining the continuing false leads of Soviet double agent Anatoliy Golytsin. He had long helped Wright chase down the wrong agents, and now his complaints about alleged Soviet agents of influence in New LIes for Old came in most handy when the Iran-Contra conspiracy decided to get rid of the Soviet regime at alleged agent Olof Palme's expense. The assassination went off like clockwork, but the coup in Moscow failed because of all the spying by the Soviets' new spies, particularly the Agency's Rick Ames, the Bureau's Robert Hanssen, and the Mossad's Jonathan Pollard. Instead of Armageddon, though, we got Gorbachev, and the end of the USSR.
In its wake, London was most anxious to keep the lid on how it had helped create the Cold War, and extend it far beyond anyone's expectation. Of course, the biggest efforts were to quash suspicions of Wright having been Moscow's most important spy, and agent of influence, as Pincher's lifelong work demonstrated. Wright's helping give the Soviets importand spies, and the bomb was ignored as much as possible by researchers (11), while continuing to pursue the dead end leads that he had provided. (12) Even poor Pincher sounded quite happy with his endless wild-goose chases, ending his tome on this note. "...I would elect to repeat it in preference to any other prefession. It continues to excite and entrance, with new mateerial continuing to reach me from sources in Russia and elsewhere." (13)
Still, the British intelligence services, it seems, had such a bad record in the post-Cold War period that they increasingly had to call in others, especially the Mossad, to clean up the mess. While MI5, with help from the British Army's Force Research Unit, did manage to get the Provisional IRA to agree to a permanent ceasefire, sign the Good Friday Agreement, and then disarm, it was at considerable cost. MI5 agent William Perkins aka the future Director General Jonathan' Bob' Evans apparently arranged sabotaging the Chinook helicopter flight going to a intelligence meeting in Scotland where more generous terms for the Provos were on the table, killing the 25 intelligence officer who favored it.(14)
Increasingly, though, MI5 and M16 relied upon the resident kidon to do the dirty work, whether it be getting Britain more supportive of Israeli interests, stopping damaging blowback from ill-considered regime-change efforts in the USSR or Saddam's Irag, and taking out politicians successfully who were feared to exploit it. The assassinations which come to mind are those of Dr. David Kelly, Royal Cadet Stephen Hilder, German politicians Jurgen Möllemann, Scottish politician Robin Cook, and former KGB whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko.(15)
To stem the flow of any damaging blowback, former MI5 agents Annie Machon and David Shayler were allowed to publsih Spies, Lies & Whistleblowers. It was a recitation of much of which Wright was famous for, and much in his manner. Shayler, stating many times during his vetting that he showed his dedication for wanting to save the world, by repeatedly publishing extracts from Spy Catcher while it was under injunction in 1988 not to do so (16), and Annie illustrated her case against the Security Service's illegal activities for over 80 years by citing what Wright did while there.(17) "It is clear that there are officers within MI5 and MI6 who are working to their own agenda," she concluded, "rather than the protection of this country, its people and its democracy." (18)
They made it quite clear that the agenda should be Washington's.They were postive that Libya's Gaddafi was behind the Lockerbie bombing, and claimed that Libayn intelligence officers had offered him milllsions to speak out against the evidence, and campaign for the release of suspects al-Megrahi and Lamin Fhimah.(19) Actually at this time, MI5 was helping Gaddafi's agents interview Libyan refugees in London about what they knew, and were doing, helping render the biggest problems to where the American could deal with them.(19) MI6 also worked with the Libyans to set up a mosque in some undisclosed European citry, most likely Hamburg, to get wind of what Al-Qaeda was planning. Then Shayler claimed most unconvincingly that MI6 had tried unsuccessfully to assassinate the Libyan leader.
The disparity between fact and appearance was even more in evidence when they talked about the role of the Mossad in Britain, like their claims that the Security
Service really did not come to grips with the IRA (20) . They made it quite clear that MI5 should have prevented the bombing of the Israeli Embassy and Balfour House in London on July 26, 1994. Instead the bombings went ahead because of alleged MI5 mistakes, and convenient fallguys, Samar Alami and Jawed Botmeh, were imprisoned for the crimes. Actually, MI5's failure was deliberate to help open the door for an official Mossad presence in the kingdom - what they even lied about when Director General Eliza Manningham-Buller allowed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.(21)
In sum, the book was a trail run, carried out by Shayler, and recounted by Machon, of what whistleblowers could expect if they tried to clear up the disparity - something which seemed likely with the heads of the key agencies, especially MI6's Director General Sir John Scarlett, apparently just going along with whatever the Prime Minister called for. The brutal killing of Soviet whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko was the example of the warning being acted upon whether it wa just another Mossad killing or whether MI6 was now getting its hands dirty in assassinations. The radioactive polonium-210 which slowly killed him could have come from either Britain or Israel. Litvinenko was just the kind of whistleblower - a covert agent who was threatening another who would listen about KGB operations during the non-nuclear showdown when Palme was assassinated, and about Soviet spies in the West, particularly Italy's agent of influence Romano Prodi (codenamed UCHITEL).
These problems really came to a head when Washington and London decided again to overthrow the government in Beijing after the massive, Pentagon-made
earthquake in Sichuan in May 2008 failed to cause regime-change as its designers, Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman hoped.(22) As they stated in The Nuclear Express, Communist China was such an unstable regime that a serious disaster would probably lead to its overthrow by its growing, increasingly dissatified middle classes. "Those 'youngsters' are turning fifty now, and they are building a new society via the Internet and their world markets. Their turn may soon come, a generational clash that may make the 1960s in the United States seem tranquil." (23)
The problem was no longer being able to cause mayhem in China, but exploiting it - what required somehow putting in place when its new President and Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party were selected, a leader who could exploit any new disaster with devastating effect. The outline of the plan was made by the new DCI, Leon Panetta, and was agreed to in Washington when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited there, with all the diversions necessary to hide that something new in the Special Relationship was emerging, especially removing the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. As in the Palme assassination, London would supply the key player, MI6 agent of influence in China, Neil Heywood, who would help make the necessary arrangements for CCP boss in Chongqing, Bo Xilai, to join its new Standing Committee, and succeed Hu Jintao as its next President. Outsider John Sawers, a specialist in regime change and nation-building, was made MI6's DG to hide suspicions that anything earthshaking was afoot.
While affairs were going along quite nicely in China, a surprise in London and Washington occurred which set off alarm bells - just what Machon and Shayler had hoped to avoid with their warnings. High-flying computer and encryption wizard Gareth Williams went off the rails again, and threatened to expose what the FBI had done. Williams, apparently a Welsh nationalist, had not even been properly vetted when he joined the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) sigint agency, and his attempts at spying with Daniel Houghton - while he was working temporarily with MI6 - had been overlooked because he was such a whiz at breaking into any computer, and reading its coded messages.Williams was brought by America's National Security Agency (NSA) into catching the Manhattan ll 'sleeper cell' - noted for difficulties that sultry Anna Chapman caused - what put Williams back into the spying business, apparently for the Russians.(24)
When Williams expanded his work by decrypting the Afghan Log, and handing it over to Julian Assange's Wilileaks for release to major media outlets without redacting the names of personnel involved, NSA decided to dipose of him when he came to its Fort Meade headquarters, looking for more information to back up exposure of America's plots. It was then that he ingested some poison which caused a slow, painful death, apparently the notorious death cap mushroom. The lurid accounts of his death were all illustrations of just what a mutli-purpose murder it was. Difficult to know how he died, who was responsible for it, where did it start, and when it was completed, etc., all intended to make a convincing solution almost impossible.
And when Gareth's partner in dicphering the Afghan Log - St. John's College, Oxford's senior lecturer, and GCHQ's expert on mastering colloquial German Gudrun Loftus - indicated that she was planning to take his place in divulging secrets, she was murdered in an even more mysterious way - falling down the stairstairs backwards from the landing where the College's Senior Common Room was located early one October morning in 2010, and apparently when she was having an early morning meeting with someone apparently interested in her plans, but really only a British covert agent to finish her off..(25) .The Thames Valley Police (TVP), as expected, did little to investigate the unexplained killing, as it only investigates them if the next o kin call for it, and covert government allows it. Jerry Loftus made no call for one.
Now, the questions are about what Williams and Loftus were collecting, for whom, how did the interested spying agency find out about it, and what action it took about it. Seems that Williams was decoding Foreign Office and British Intelligence Services communications, particularly to China, and recording them on his laptop and/or his MP3. They showed the deep operation that Heywood was engaged in, and explained why the British securocrats were most interested in recovering when his body was finally discovered. Seems the material was being collected for the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), but since neither Williams nor Loftus made it out of the UK, the Chinese had little idea of what the plans were which made them willing to take such unprecedented risks. Apparently, like with Rick Ames et al. in the Palme plot, they thought likely results were worth it.
How the MSS more about what was afoot seems to rest on what Professor Steven Rawlings, a world-famous astrophysicist, and Don at St. Peter's College, Oxford, suspected about the Loftus murder, and what he learned in China while trying to get the massive Square Kilometer Array (SKA) space telescope built. Rawlings was addicted to the Inspector Morse novels about crimes around Oxford, and he soon thought had murder at occurred at the college, St. John's, which was apparently never used in any way in the series.
More important, Rawlings' dealing with his Chinese counterpart Professor Jun Yan, Director of the National Astronomical Observatories, led to some discussions about the Heywoods, Neil in China, and Ian, another Oxford astrophysicist at Oxford. While Rawlings and Yan were discussing ways to see that the SKA telescope was built in the southern hemisphere - the UK dropping out as a possible site early, and then Beijing followed suit - they apparently gossipped about what the high-flying Bos were accomplishing in Chongqing and Oxford. Ian - apparently a relative of Neil's and possibly even his brother, though I had been unable to reach him by calling his listed phone number since my calls are cut off before the number even finishes ringing (26) - must have played a role in getting the Bos' son Guagua into Bailliol College, and Rawlings must have helped out too.
It isn't hard to imagine that they had discussed the Loftus and Williams killings too - what had led to Rawlings' increasing mental deterioration - and that the MMS's Director Geng Hui Chang put together a good picture of what was planned by Neil and Bo at the next elections of the CCP. Bo's wife Gu was obliged to make Neil come to Chongquig in November where he was poisoned in no uncertain terms with potassium cyanide - a compound which is easily determined in the deceeased because of its effects on the body - and which she prevented any discovery of by getting Neil's wife to agree to immediate cremation. Beijing explained away Neil's murder successfully as a natural one until a Chinese blog said in early March that it was murder, though not mentioning the Bos' role in it.
Neil's death just made Rawlings more convinced than ever that a muderous plot was going on, and when a dinner was held St. John's College in January, he apparently not only claimed afterwards on the way home that Loftus had been murdered, but also that his long-time friend accompanying him, Dr. Dewinter Sivia, another of its lecturerers, had apparently helped cover it up, if not had done it himself. In the ensuing struggle, Rawlings was killed. While the TVP was obliged to investigate the most suspicious death as a possible murder, the case soon collapsed after Rawlings' wife, apparently after some persuasion by the security services, dismissed it as an unforunate accident between friends, going back to their undergraduate days at Cambridge. Just the other day, the case was closed.
The scandal is an incredible reminder of how best to run intelligence services, at least to avoid their most serious pitfalls like little or no vetting of agents, ignoring independent counter intelligence, overplaying the role of covert operations and surprises, and just plunging ahead with reckless abandon when serious blowback starts occurring, etc., and to depict it for the public would require all the writing skills of a Colin Dexter and the acting ones of another Inspector Morse.
1. For a biography of Wright's loife, see: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/08/29/mi5s-peter-wright-secret-spy-doubel-agent-and-agent-provacaterur-3/
2. Peter Wright, Spy Catcher, p.4.
3. Ibid., p. 13.
5 Pincher, p. 20.
6. Wright, op. cit., p. 154.
7. Ibid., p. 153ff.
8. Quoted from p. 162.
9. Trowbridge H. Ford, "Manchurian Candidates: Mind-Control Experiments and The Deadliest Secrets of the Cold War," Eye Spy, Issue Eight 2002, pp. 50-5.
11. See, for example, how Christopher Andrew made out that 'K' was, in fact, his handler Vladimir Barkovsky in The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, Index, p. 689.
12. Wright, op. cit., p. 179ff.
13. Pincher, op. cit., p. 635.
16. Machon and Shayler, pp. 21-2.
17. p. 8.
18. p. 378.
19. pp. 122-3.
21. For the lies, see pp. 234-5.
22. For more, see: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012(01/19/sichuan-earthquake-did-pentagon-completely-confuse-china-about-what-it-was-up-to/
23. Reed and Stillman, p. 329.
24. For more, see this link: http://codshit.blogspot.se/2010/10/why-americas-nsa-and-britains-gchq-had.html
25. For more, see: http://codshit.blogspot.se/2010/11/gareth-williams-and-gudrun-loftus.html
26. The number I have been calling is this: +44 01865 273535. And his connection, it seems, on Linkedin is closed.