Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Russia Again

Beloved Followers,

I know.  Months have passed.  It has been a long winter here in Florida.  My major accomplishment seems to have been the repackaging of the first novel of The Landau Trilogy, The Hedge Fund, with new covers and a very readable format.  Available on Amazon Books, at Haslam's in St. Petersburg, around the struggling planet.  The two successor volumes, Wet Work and Comanche Country, are also available on Amazon even as we work on final details.  One reader responded to The Hedge Fund by observing that he got so excited as he read that he was afraid the cops would move in and arrest him. Get the novel and see how you feel.

Another reason I haven't been writing these blogs is that the conventional media, from the on-air comedians to CNN to The New York Times to The Washington Post have been covering the early months of the Trump presidency so comprehensively, so acutely, that nobody seemed to need me.  It did surprise me that outrage and astonishment are so general here at Moscow's involvement in our affairs.  This has been standard operating procedure probably since the Thirties.  In 1992 Scribners published a book of mine, The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA, that tracked in detail the involvement of Carmel Offie and Frank Wisner, the socialite director of operations in the early Agency.  Wily and utterly self-serving, it would become clear afterwards that Offie was under the control of the KGB all along.  Throughout those same Cold-War years, as Richard Helms confided to me during several long interviews, most of the information the CIA was processing came through the headquarters of General Reinhard Gehlen, once Hitler's intelligence chief and subsequently our pick to handle secrets for the Bundesrepublik.  Gehlen, as it developed, was completely penetrated by the KGB.

At Richard Helms' insistence I managed to corner James Critchfield, who had been the CIA officer posted in Gehlen's Apparat in Bonn.  Critchfield spoke no German, and a lot that was going on clearly went by him.  Definitely an inside operator, Critchfield would reappear in my book Bobby and J. Edgar for having been spotted, reportedly, both in Dealey Plaza and later in the basement of the Ambassador Hotel the evening Bob Kennedy was murdered.

One week in 1997 I joined a group of perhaps a dozen American writers on intelligence as the guests of the KGB retirees association in Moscow.  Over discussions at dinner I discovered that these Soviet spymasters were more than conversant with all these background details.  Intelligence stalwarts around Langley were not, and were shocked when The Old Boys appeared.  Currently, however, it is on the must-read list there for officers-in-training.

So Russian intelligence has been interested and involved in our business for quite a while.  That they would land on Donald Trump, with his many bankruptcies, cannot be much of a surprise.  Given The Donald's devouring feelings of inadequacy, how could they go wrong?

Meanwhile, the rest of us mostly lie there like an unwilling patient whose appendix is about to burst.

Cheers.  Burton Hersh