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Spying & Espionage

Date: 06-13-09
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Oleg Kalugin, Peter Lance

Former KGB agent and intelligence expert Oleg Kalugin (book link) provided an insider account of what it was like to be a spy working both in the US and behind the Iron Curtain. Reflecting on his remarkable career as a Soviet intelligence officer, which spanned over three decades, Kalugin said, "I was the youngest officer to take over a major unit inside the Soviet intelligence. I was the youngest general in the history of the KGB."

He detailed his journey to America in the early 1950's and how much of the spy work during that era was working with Americans who sympathized with the ideals of the Soviet Union. "Those were people driven primarily by ideology," Kalugin observed, "and there were lots of sympathizers to the Communist cause." However, in what he called the "crucial year" of 1956, things changed dramatically. That year, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev revealed the brutal practices of previous leader Joseph Stalin and it resulted in mass disillusionment of the Americans who had previously sympathized with the Soviet way of life. From then on, most of the American spies recruited by the Russians would be motivated by money, such as famous cases like John Walker and, later, Robert Hanssen.

Kalugin, himself, became disenchanted with the Soviet Union when he returned there and was faced with what he called "an either / or choice." This began when one of his American assets, whom he had recruited years earlier, moved to the USSR, believing it to be worker's paradise. Upon arriving, he quickly realized that was not the case and spoke out to his fellow workers about his disappointment. Suspected of being a spy, the KGB investigated him but could find no proof. Despite this, they set him up for a different crime and sentenced him to eight years in jail. Because Kalugin has recruited the man originally, he was transferred to domestic spying where "now the targets were the people of Russia, unhappy, disenchanted, disillusioned." His job consisted of finding these people and "putting them in jail or psychiatric institutions," a task which he said "revolted me."

Fitzgerald v. Lance

In the first hour, investigative reporter Peter Lance talked about the efforts by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to kill the paperback release of his book, Triple Cross. "This is an unprecedented attempt by a sitting US official to pulp, or kill, a book," Lance declared. He revealed that Fitzgerald has sent 32 pages of letters to his book's publisher and, most recently, called the entire tome a "deliberate lie masquerading as the truth." Thankfully, Lance said, that his publishers have stood behind him and the publication of the book will go forward despite the outside pressure and threats of lawsuits from Fitzgerald.

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Atmospheric scientist Oscar van der Velde (www.lightningwizard.com) captured this sprite, as it is called, in Barcelona, Spain on the night of June 5th. Sprites are brief flashes of colored light, lasting only 3 to 10 milliseconds, that happen high above powerful thunderstorms. First discovered in 1989, scientists are still unclear as to what causes the eerie phenomenon. More at LiveScience.

Bumper Music

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