[ISN] The Farewell Dossier

From: William Knowles (wk@private)
Date: Tue Feb 03 2004 - 03:49:44 PST

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    Forwarded from: Anonymous @ c4i.org
    February 2, 2004
    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 C.I.A. 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 - détente
    notwithstanding - to place restrictions on the export of computers and
    software to the U.S.S.R.
    Seven years later, we learned how the K.G.B. 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 François 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 K.G.B. officer in
    Moscow Center.
    Col. Vladimir Vetrov provided what French intelligence called the
    Farewell dossier. It contained documents from the K.G.B. 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 70's. In effect, the U.S. 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 U.S. and Japan, Weiss counseled against
    Instead, according to Reed - a former Air Force secretary whose
    fascinating cold war book, "At the Abyss," will be published by Random
    House next month - 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 K.G.B.  
    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
    twenty 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 K.G.B. 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 K.G.B. 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.
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