Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Revisiting Ghost Stories

This post is more of a mental note to myself and others like me who seem to be losing our minds with the relentless torrent of Trump bullshit.

There is ample evidence to suggest that Putin managed to turn Trump against the USIC. The total extent of collaboration between them is being investigated by Mueller et al. and hopefully in the process all the evidence will be reviewed and a clear picture of events obtained.

Looking at this purely from the perspective of a war between intelligence communities in Russia and the US is helpful as it allows us to distill out some of the biggest pieces in the puzzle.

The last major public victory the USIC achieved against RIS was when 10 Illegals were picked up during Operation Ghost Stories. There is very little clarity in the FBI's public information releases as to what the exact targets of these 10 illegals were. Two sets of illegals (Chapman and Murphy/Guryeva) were allegedly targeting people in the US political spectrum.  Some of the others were using their positions to identify IC recruits in US undergraduate colleges.

It also does not appear that this was a ring - as in the agents were not clustered or operated in a fashion that supported each other beyond their cover identities. There was only one point where Chapman and the Murphys/Guryevs touched - Chapman was intimate with a USMC linguistic cryptologist turned realtor named Bill Staniford and the Murphys/Guryevs were his accountants. (I am unsure how much the FBI has really screened Staniford [2]).

This means that the only way the FBI could have uncovered so many at a time, is if there had been a high level defection from the SVR Illegals directorate.  In Russian press accounts of the events, Col. Alexander Potoyev [1] was proposed as the source of the leak and Russian audiences were promised that a "Mercador" was sent to take care of things. (Ramon Mercader was the name of the NKVD agent who killed Trotsky). Reports also mentioned two unnamed agents of RIS escaping to Russia before the FBI got them.

The part that bothers me about this, is that none of the Illegals caught had very deep legends. The legends were barely one layer deep. If the FBI (or RCMP or anyone else) had just followed up on one of the identities, they would have discovered the lack of backstopping. This suggests to me that whatever this group was - they were not the deeper

There was a suggestion by Bill Gertz that the "ring" was actually a support structure for one or two deeper Illegals inside the NSA's Fort Meade facility. But that too was never confirmed by other sources.

The captured Illegals were exchanged for four US spies in Russia. One of those exchanged was Sergei Skripal. As far as most of the world was concerned - the matter ended there. For the USIC - there was a victory - an SVR illegal organization that was attempting infiltration was contained. And for the Russians there was pain - an expensive operation had just been terminated on unfavorable grounds.

I fear Ghost Stories left behind a wounded lion, one that swore to even the score in a way that few of us could imagine.


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