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Oh, that big 1982 Siberian explosion?
Fort Worth Star-Telegram / The New York Times ^ | 2/3/04 | William Safire

Posted on 02/03/2004 9:13:42 PM PST by Valin

WASHINGTON - Intelligence shortcomings, as we see, have a thousand fathers; secret intelligence triumphs are orphans. Here is the unremarked story of "the Farewell dossier": how a CIA campaign of computer sabotage resulting in a huge explosion in Siberia -- all engineered by a mild-mannered economist named Gus Weiss -- helped us win the Cold War.

Weiss worked down the hall from me in the Nixon administration. In early 1974, he wrote a report on Soviet advances in technology through purchasing and copying that led the beleaguered president -- detente notwithstanding -- to place restrictions on the export of computers and software to the Soviet Union.

Seven years later, we learned how the KGB responded. I was writing a series of hard-line columns denouncing the financial backing being given Moscow by Germany and Britain for a major natural gas pipeline from Siberia to Europe. That project would give control of European energy supplies to the Communists, as well as generate $8 billion a year to support Soviet computer and satellite research.

President Francois Mitterrand of France also opposed the gas pipeline. He took President Reagan aside at a conference in Ottawa on July 19, 1981, to reveal that France had recruited a key KGB officer in Moscow Center.

Col. Vladimir Vetrov provided what French intelligence called the Farewell dossier. It contained documents from the KGB Technology Directorate showing how the Soviets were systematically stealing -- or secretly buying through third parties -- the radar, machine tools and semiconductors to keep the Russians nearly competitive with U.S. military-industrial strength through the '70s. In effect, the United States was in an arms race with itself.

Reagan passed this on to William J. Casey, his director of central intelligence, now remembered only for the Iran-contra fiasco. Casey called in Weiss, then working with Thomas C. Reed on the staff of the National Security Council. After studying the list of hundreds of Soviet agents and purchasers (including one cosmonaut) assigned to this penetration in the United States and Japan, Weiss counseled against deportation.

Instead, according to Reed -- a former Air Force secretary whose fascinating Cold War book, At the Abyss, will be published by Random House in March -- Weiss said: "Why not help the Soviets with their shopping? Now that we know what they want, we can help them get it." The catch: Computer chips would be designed to pass Soviet quality tests and then to fail in operation.

In our complex disinformation scheme, deliberately flawed designs for stealth technology and space defense sent Russian scientists down paths that wasted time and money.

The technology topping the Soviets' wish list was for computer control systems to automate the operation of the new trans-Siberian gas pipeline. When we turned down their overt purchase order, the KGB sent a covert agent into a Canadian company to steal the software; tipped off by Farewell, we added what geeks call a Trojan horse to the pirated product.

"The pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire," writes Reed, "to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds. The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space."

Our Norad monitors feared a nuclear detonation, but satellites that would have picked up its electromagnetic pulse were silent. That mystified many in the White House, but "Gus Weiss came down the hall to tell his fellow NSC staffers not to worry. It took him another 20 years to tell me why."

Farewell stayed secret because the blast in June 1982, estimated at three kilotons, took place in the Siberian wilderness, with no casualties known. Nor was the red-faced KGB about to complain publicly about being tricked by bogus technology. But all the software it had stolen for years was suddenly suspect, which stopped or delayed the work of thousands of worried Russian technicians and scientists.

Vetrov was caught and executed in 1983. A year later, Bill Casey ordered the KGB collection network rolled up, closing the Farewell dossier. Gus Weiss died from a fall a few months ago. Now is a time to remember that sometimes our spooks get it right in a big way.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

William Safire writes for The New York Times.safire@nytimes.com


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Russia
KEYWORDS: 1982; cia; coldwar; communism; communists; computers; doubleagent; embeddedsystems; espionage; farewelldossier; farwell; francoismitterrand; godsgravesglyphs; kgb; methane; naturalgas; pipelineexplosion; piracy; presidentreagan; reagan; ronaldreagan; russia; safire; siberia; sovietunion; spies; stuxnet; teachyatosteal; technology; theft; trojanhorse; vladimirvetrov; williamjcasey; williamsafire; worldwariii; worldwariiistory
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1 posted on 02/03/2004 9:13:43 PM PST by Valin
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To: Valin
Sometimes they're NOT bumbling fools.
2 posted on 02/03/2004 9:14:40 PM PST by Valin (Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.)
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To: Valin
Interesting.
3 posted on 02/03/2004 9:27:11 PM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: Valin
There are many war stories from the Cold War that we will likely never hear. I will say that the same is true for the current war against terrorism (WWIV) that is being waged.
4 posted on 02/03/2004 9:29:56 PM PST by weegee
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To: Valin
I live in an area where a disproportionately high number of people are intelligence analysts or have some other connection with intelligence work. Several of them have separately told me that there are reasons we only hear about the CIA's failures. For one thing, they want the bad guys to think the CIA is run entirely by bumbling jerks, so they will be underestimated; they don't try to cover up most of the snafus. Also, some of the so-called mistakes aren't mistakes at all. The successes are never publicized.
5 posted on 02/03/2004 9:31:01 PM PST by Capriole (Foi vainquera)
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To: Valin
Reagan set them up the bomb.
6 posted on 02/03/2004 9:36:14 PM PST by Brett66
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To: Brett66
That's a keeper. :)
7 posted on 02/03/2004 9:40:36 PM PST by explodingspleen
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To: weegee
As I've said before much of this war is being fought waaay below the radar screen. Much of it is being fought by mid-level bureaucrats(little gray men) sitting in small cubicles at various federal depts. following the money trail.
8 posted on 02/03/2004 9:43:41 PM PST by Valin (Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.)
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To: Valin
Duping the Soviets - The Farewell Dossier



"We communists have to string along with the capitalists for a while. We need their credits, their agriculture, and their technology. But we are going to continue massive military programs and by the middle 1980s we will be in a position to return to a much more aggressive foreign policy designed to gain the upper hand in our relationship with the West."
Leonid Brezhnev. Remarks in 1971 to the Politburo at the beginning of détente.

http://www.videofact.com/english/farewell_dossier.html

9 posted on 02/03/2004 9:49:11 PM PST by Valin (Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.)
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To: Valin; Grampa Dave; NormsRevenge; BOBTHENAILER; Dog; Dog Gone
Great story!
10 posted on 02/03/2004 9:50:12 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Valin
Bump
11 posted on 02/03/2004 9:57:21 PM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi Mac ...... /~normsrevenge - FoR California Propositions/Initiatives info...)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
When was Red Storm Rising written, maybe it was a secret explosion as you think.
12 posted on 02/03/2004 9:58:33 PM PST by dts32041 (I am voting for grid lock, and a defender of the constitution.)
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To: Valin
"The pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire," writes Reed, "to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds. The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space."

Gotta love it. Good find Valin.

13 posted on 02/03/2004 10:01:22 PM PST by SAMWolf (Elevators smell different to midgets.)
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To: dts32041
Found this at Amazon.com

Publisher: Putnam Pub Group; (August 1986)

14 posted on 02/03/2004 10:41:35 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: dts32041
Red Storm Rising. August 1986.
15 posted on 02/03/2004 10:41:46 PM PST by DeepDish (This space for rent.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Valin
Great Story!

By the time his second term as president was underway, President Reagan had all types of Trojan Horses underway for the Russians.

Remember the mean ole Bear lost in Afghanistan and basically everyplace they should not have been.
16 posted on 02/03/2004 10:51:49 PM PST by Grampa Dave (John F' Kerry! You are not John F. Kennedy!)
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To: DeepDish
All your computer chip are belong to us.
17 posted on 02/03/2004 10:53:56 PM PST by GOPyouth (De Oppresso Liber! The Tyrant is captured!)
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To: GOPyouth
Gosh! I lose out to ernest at the beach by 11 seconds and you want all my chips. LOL
18 posted on 02/03/2004 11:11:55 PM PST by DeepDish (This space for rent.)
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To: DeepDish
HeHe!

I got an AMD64 under the hood!
19 posted on 02/03/2004 11:14:38 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Still puttering along with 500Mhz slot A on a FIC SD-11. I am green with envy. I live in dial-up territory, so the speed of the box is not an issue.

As far as tricks played on the Soviets go, I always liked the tap the navy put on a cable in the Arctic Ocean which linked the Northern Fleet bases. The Sovs thought that line so secure that they hardly ever bothered to encode anything. Go Bubbleheads!
20 posted on 02/03/2004 11:46:55 PM PST by DeepDish (This space for rent.)
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