The following are excerpts from Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism, Copyright © 2013 Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald J. Rychlak. The keyword headings are emendations, provided to help find things faster.
Everyone should read that book.
More: “Disinformation: Inside the Russian-born Science of Influence”, a speech by Ronald Rychlak at the International Spy Museum.
You probably think Mikhail Gorbachev invented the concept of glasnost to describe his effort to lead the Soviet Union “out of its totalitarian state and to democracy, to freedom, to openness,” as he wrote. If so, you are not alone. All of the media and most of the “experts,” even in Western defense establishments, believe that too – as does the committee that awarded Gorbachev the Nobel Peace Prize. Even the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica defines glasnost as “Soviet policy of open discussion of political and social issues. It was instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s and began the democratization of the Soviet Union.” Merriam-Webster agrees. And the American Heritage Dictionary defines glasnost as “an official policy of the former Soviet government emphasizing candor with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings.”
But in fact, glasnost is an old Russian term for polishing the ruler’s image. Originally it meant, literally, publicizing, i.e., self-promotion. Since the sixteenth century’s Ivan the Terrible, the first ruler to become Tsar of All the Russias, all of that country’s leaders have used glasnost to promote themselves inside and outside the country.
In the mid-1930s – half a century before Gorbachev’s glasnost – the official Soviet encyclopedia defined glasnost as a spin on news released to the public: “Dostupnost obshchestvennomy obsuzhdeniyu, kontrolyu; publichnost,” meaning, “the quality of being made available for public discussion or manipulation.”
Thus, back in the days when I was still a member of the KGB community, glasnost was regarded as a tool of the black art of dezinformatsiya, and it was used to sanctify the country’s leader. For communists, only the leader counted. They used glasnost to sanctify their own leaders, and to induce hordes of Western leftists to fall for this scam.
2: The True Meaning of Glasnost, pp. 12-13
Glasnost is one of the most secret secrets of the Kremlin, and certainly one of the main reasons for keeping the KGB’s foreign intelligence archives hermetically sealed. The Cold War is over, but the Kremlin’s glasnost operations seem to be still en vogue. In August 1999, only days after Vladimir Putin was appointed Russia’s prime minister, the KGB’s dezinformatsiya machinery, capitalizing on the fact that he had spent many years in Germany, started portraying him as a Europeanized leader. (The fawning stories neglected to mention that he had been assigned to East Germany, a Soviet satellite at the time.) That same year, I went with my wife - an American writer and intelligence expert - to visit Leipzig and Dresden and tour the menacing buildings that had housed the Stasi (communist East Germany’s political police) headquarters where Putin had, in fact, spent his “Europeanizing” years. We learned that the local Soviet-German House of Friendship - headed by Putin for six years - had in fact been a KGB front, and that the undercover KGB officers running it had simply worked out of operational offices at the Leipzig and Dresden Stasi headquarters. We even sat in Putin’s chair, now a museum piece.
Those prison-like Stasi buildings had been cut off from even the normal and colorless East German life by Stasi guards brandishing machine guns and flanked by police dogs. Yet, even today, the Kremlin still reverentially implies that Putin’s experience in Germany was similar to that of Peter the Great, allowing him to absorb the best of European culture.
At the end of the 2001 summit meeting held in Slovenia, President George W. Bush said: “I looked the man [Putin] in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.” Unfortunately, even President Bush was deceived by glasnost. Putin consolidated Russia into an intelligence dictatorship, not a democracy. By 2003, more than six thousand former officers of the KGB, who had framed millions as Zionist spies and shot them, were running Russia’s federal and local governments. Nearly half of all top governmental positions were held by former officers of the KGB. It was like democratizing Nazi Germany with Gestapo officers at its helm.
On February 12, 2004, Putin declared the demise of the Soviet Union a “national tragedy on an enormous scale.” Nevertheless, most of the world still sees him as a modern Peter the Great. That is the secret power of glasnost.
2: The True Meaning of Glasnost, pp. 13-14
“A man like me is born only once every five hundred years,” Ceauşescu would proclaim, over and over again, after 1972. That was his glasnost and, unfortunately, I was deeply involved in it.
For those who do not remember Ceauşescu, let me just say that he was more or less a Romanian version of the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin - an empty suit who morphed into his country’s president without having held any productive job, who knew nothing about how the real world worked, and who believed that lying to the world and killing off his critics were the magic wands that would keep him in power. Like Putin, Ceauşescu had supervised his country’s political police organization before becoming president. Behind the scenes, Ceauşescu, like Putin, used his intelligence machinery to override party politics as a means to power. Like Putin, he made an effort to detract attention away from his humble and colorless past by making his imperial dreams come true. And, of course, they both ascended the throne driven by the secret ambition to hang onto it for dear life.
After getting my marching orders from Ceauşescu in 1972, I was in Moscow a week later. KGB chairman Andropov greeted me by getting right to the point: “The only thing the West cares about is our leader.” He was famous for not wasting his breath on introductory chitchat. “The more they come to love him, the better they will like us,” he said. Making the imperialists believe our leaders admired them was the most efficacious glasnost tactic for now. It was as simple as that, and it worked, he said. The KGB had already achieved great success in making certain elements in the West admire - even love - “the Comrade” (meaning first Stalin, then Khrushchev).
Andropov’s dark, cavernous office breathed secrecy from every inch of its thick walls, just as his new glasnost did. The velvet window draperies were closed, and the only light came from the flickering flames of a fire inside the fireplace. The chairman’s ascetic fingers felt cold and moist when he shook my hand. He took a seat on the side of the table facing the warmth of the fireplace, not at the head, as Soviet bureaucratic protocol required. His kidney illness had worsened and he needed to keep warm, so as to avoid having to go to the bathroom too often during a meeting.
“Let the gullible fools believe you want to perfume your communism with a dab of Western democracy, and they will clothe you in gold,” Andropov declared. The creation of the image of the “new Ceauşescu” should be planted like opium seeds - patiently but tenaciously, one by one by one. We should water our seeds day after day until they bear fruit. We should promise that more openness and Westernization will be forthcoming, if only the West helps our new “moderate” Ceauşescu to defeat his “hardline” opponents at home.
Some two hours later, the KGB chairman concluded our meeting as abruptly as he had started it: “I’ll lay you a million to one that the West will swallow it.”
When I left the Lubyanka (KGB headquarters), I took with me a devious glasnost plan for image reconstruction. Ceauşescu followed it to the letter. He rebaptized the Grand National Assembly, Romania’s version of the Supreme Soviet, as “Parliament,” added a few religious leaders to it, and declared it the country’s governing body. Of course, it remained the same rubber-stamp organization Romania had had before. Next, Ceauşescu publicy called for the Communist Party to reduce its influence on the administration and the economy of the country. That was another inspired glasnost trick. Then Ceauşescu staged a simulated economic decentralization, instituted dual candidates for local elections, and announced a campaign against corruption and drunkenness.
That done, Ceauşescu created the national position of “president,” endowed it with broad governing powers, and awarded himself the post.
To impress the religious, Ceauşescu even marched behind a metropolitan of the church and a clutch of priests at his father’s funeral. Lastly, he developed a specialty of telling anti-Soviet jokes.
It worked like a charm. Bucharest became an East European mecca, filed to the brim with Western journalists and politicians eager to get a closer look at the man who had dared to change communism for the better. A celebrity was born.
Western businessmen rushed to Bucharest, hoping to get in on the ground floor for a slice of the new Romania. Of course, most of them had been lured there by my undercover DIE (Romania’s foreign intelligence service) operatives, who went to great lengths to pamper them during their stay. Gradually, my undercover officers became expert at “rewarding” the “friendly” visitors by setting up interviews for them with Ceauşescu, inviting them to lavish banquets held in Romania’s picturesque monasteries, carousing with them at all-night parties and finding them compliant girlfriends. Or even by involving them in profitable businesses.
Today, no one remembers that Ceauşescu was once Washington’s fair-haired boy. Contemporary political memory seems to be increasingly afflicted with a kind of convenient Alzheimer’s disease. But two American presidents went to Bucharest to pay Ceauşescu tribute, when none had ever gone there before. To cap it all off, my lord and master began a royal junket around the free world to sell his image - the United States, Japan, France, Italy, the Vatican, Finland, West Germany, Spain, Portugal, Egypt, Jordan, and the Philippines, to mention only a few of his hosts.
On all of these trips, Ceauşescu kept me at his right hand. He now religiously believed that glasnost, not Marxist ideology, was the magic wand that would make his ambitions a reality.
In 1978, I accompanied Ceauşescu on his fourth and most triumphant trip to Washington, and I was next to him when he took a historic drive throughout London with Queen Elizabeth in the British royal coach. Few now remember it, but a steady stream of front-page articles on Romania appeared in the United States, Great Britain, and Western Europe at that time, extolling Ceauşescu’s new “Westernized Communism.” The tyrant was portrayed as a new breed of communist ruler, one the West could do business with. Romania seemed a normal country - a place where people could criticize their government, visit monasteries, listen to Western symphonies, read foreign books and even point to their stylish first lady.
We were also quite successful at filling Western media airwaves with the new image of Ceauşescu. The truth is, the Western media are quite easily manipulated, for they often craft their stories from press releases and tend, on the whole, to be indiscriminate about the nature and reliability of their sources. Our information fit quite well with the general mood of Western acceptance of Ceauşescu as a Westernized communist. In the West, his position generally seemed a plausible and historic breach in the Iron Curtain, and almost no one stepped up to check the facts and contradict us.
2: The True Meaning of Glasnost, pp. 14-17
In 1982, Yuri Andropov, the father of the modern Soviet dezinformatsiya era, became ruler of the Soviet Union itself, and glasnost became a Soviet foreign policy as well. Once settled in the Kremlin, the former KGB chairman hastened to introduce himself to the West as a “moderate” communist and a sensitive, warm, Western-oriented man, who allegedly enjoyed an occasional drink of Scotch, liked to read English novels, and loved listening to Beethoven and American jazz. In reality, Andropov did not drink at all, for he was already terminally ill from a kidney disorder. The rest of the portrayal was equally false – as I well know, having been quite well acquainted with Andropov. As for “moderate,” any head of the KGB necessarily had hands drenched in blood.
In the brief span left to him, the cynical Andropov focused on projecting his new image and promoting his protégé, a vigorous and callous young professional communist who was busy honing the same moderate image for himself — Mikhail Gorbachev.
Gorbachev introduced himself to the West exactly as Andropov had: a cultured sophisticate and aficionado of Western opera and jazz. The Kremlin has always known that this picture holds particular charm for the gullible West.
Gorbachev is thought to have been recruited by the KGB in the early 1950s while studying law at Moscow State University, where he spied on his foreign classmates. As long as the KGB archives remain sealed, we will not be able to learn more details about those years of Gorbachev’s life. But we do now know that after graduating from the university, Gorbachev interned at the Lubyanka, the state security headquarters, where he came under Andropov’s influence. Both had begun their careers in Stavropol. Andropov got Gorbachev appointed to the Soviet Politburo, and one Gorbachev biographer even describes him as Andropov’s “crown prince.”
Meanwhile, the West’s admiration for Ceauşescu’s gl
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