Member Profile | FocusFeatures.com
Beyond Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Other Moles, Double Agents and Traitors
Posted November 29, 2011 to photo album "Beyond Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Other Moles, Double Agents and Traitors"
In TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDER, SPY, no one is what they appear, especially with a suspected Soviet mole at the very center of the Circus. But turncoats, traitors, moles, double agents, and sleeper cells are nothing new in the world of espionage.
Oleg Penkovsky: Western Hero or Soviet Spy?
Oleg Penkovsky; Peter Wright’s revisionist history
Oleg Penkovsky, a turned Soviet agent, suffered the fate so common for double agents. Once you’ve lied to one side, how can anyone believe you? In 1960, Penkovsky, a disgruntled Soviet attaché, attempted to pass information to the West, with little results. He handed off packages with sensitive information about Soviet missiles first to American students, then British businessmen, then Canadian diplomats, and no one from the CIA bothered to follow up. Supposedly the one CIA operative sent to liaison with Penkovsky was drunk and could barely speak Russian. Finally, Penkovsky found a way to the West through agents at MI6. As a member of the State Committee on Science and Technology, Penkovsky traveled frequently outside the USSR as a trade delegate. In 1961, Penkovsky met with CIA and MI6 agents in a London hotel. He told them that not only was the USSR “definitely not prepared at this time for war,” but also their whole nuclear arsenal was woefully underdeveloped. During 50 hours of briefings over a three-month period, Penkovsky disclosed endless pages of essential strategic information. Indeed Penkovsky’s intel both provided knowledge about the Russians planting missiles in Cuba, and gave President Kennedy a factual basis for standing up to them over those missiles. It’s believed that Jack Dunlap, a KGB agent working in the CIA, betrayed Penkovsky. On October 20, 1962, a KGB team searched Penkovsky’s apartment, turning up the camera he used to photograph government documents. He was quickly tried and shot to death on May 16, 1963 –– according to one source, he was burned alive, with his death filmed as a warning to other potential traitors. Or that is how it seemed. In the 1980s, an MI5 agent Peter Wright was tasked with officially reviewing the Penkovsky case. The more he dug, the more suspicious he became. Three things seemed fishy: the fact that Penkovsky tried so hard, with three different attempts, to contact the CIA; the fact Penkovsky couldn’t identify any Russian moles operating in the US or UK; the nature of his documents, many of which were originals, not copies. In his 1987 exposé, Spycatcher, Wright then asked “why should the Russians have sent Penkovsky as a disinformation agent, if such he was?” His answer was that the Russians wanted the US to underestimate Soviet nuclear capabilities, especially as concerned their arsenal of ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles). And as for Penkovsky? Supposedly he was retired after a show trial, after which he lived a quiet life.