Excerpt of The Asset's Exclusive Interview with Calder Walton, general editor of the Cambridge History of Espionage and Intelligence: What You Need to Know About Russian Spying
The Max Bergmann here for more of the asset podcast please go to our patriarch page at. Www W. W. dot patriots dot com slash asset podcast that's Pat R. E. N. dot com slash acid podcast. You'll hear the a full interviews with our roster experts and analysts you'll also get more exclusive content from the acid team like our interview with the Chairman of the House. Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff F. R. Y.. Event reacting to Robert Morris testimony and upcoming episode following the mysterious trail of Dead Russians around the twenty sixteen election and a whole lot more. Don't don't miss out sign up today at. WWW dot patriots dot com slash asset podcast. We know for a fact that Putin welcomes any attempt to stir up and divide domestic. US politics and the NRA trae would be one example one way of doing that of dividing American society so Putin isn't reaching out to the NRA oray because he likes the NRA. It's just a a means to an end of sewing divisions within the US and that's true today forbidden benefits straight from the KGB. Playbook by Max Bergmann in this is the asset. I'm here with Colder Walton. He's a professor or at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where he helps run the applied history project. He is also the general editor of a multi volume Cambridge history of espionage and intelligence which will be a landmark study of intelligence due out. I think in a few years He's also writing a book about British intelligence from the Second World War through the Cold War or to cyber warfare today and he's the author of Empire Secrets British intelligence. The Cold War and the twilight of Empire seems quite topical to today's topic. Doc Colder thanks so much for joining me. Thanks for having me. It's great to be with you so there's so much I wanNA talk to you about I figured I'd start actually actually with Vladimir Putin's KGB background and and you know this is often used a sort of shorthand in the past by American leaders by Secretary of State. Colin Powell saying when I look at Vladimir Putin I see KGB What do you think about that? Assessment Assessment. And and. How do you think kid I talk about Putin's KGB background what do we know about it and then how do you think that sort of shaped his outlook to to running Russia? Well those those western leaders that comment on Putin's KGB background are absolutely right but Whereas in the West we sort of use that in many anyways as a perhaps a term of derision sort of saying oh he's just the KGB officer of course For for Putin. And the people in the Kremlin at the at the moment this is actually she a badge of honor that they're proud of their KGB history so Putin himself was in the KGB in the nineteen eighties He as I understand it was so eager to to join the KGB that he Tried to sign up before he was I think when he was sixteen sixteen years old and was told to go away and come back when he was The age of eighteen. So this is someone who saw his future career in the secret world of the KGB and in the KGB. We know he was posted to East Germany Dresden We can assume fairly Safely that that he was Went through the KGB Trade Cross School where he would have learned among other things About so called active measures so he would have been trained in that. There's no evidence I'm aware of that. He actually took to pardon any active measures but he certainly would have known about them He he claimed that he Ran An illegal network at some point when he was with the KGB in the one thousand nine hundred. But I'm I haven't seen any corroborating evidence of that that might be more orifices boast on his part but then absolutely crucially he was In the KGB station in Dresden at the end of the Cold War and he saw all the Soviet Union collapsed around him. And this He's he has the described that he he phone back to Moscow to ask for backup As the the the crowds were swarming around around his station. KGB Station in Dresden And in his own in woods Moscow was silent. There was no reply This collapse of the Soviet system and the KGB in particular already left a lasting impression on Putin He has called the collapse of the Soviet Union. The greatest Geopolitical Strategic Not Jake Disaster In the twentieth century and really it is explained so much about Him and the people that he surrounds himself within the in the Kremlin how they look back at the KGB With pride they see Russian intelligence today It's it's foreign intelligence agency the S via and its domestic security service the FSP Putin sees them as the proud as of the KGB They Embark on the same kind of trade craft skills as the KGB but at the same time Russian intelligence inst- Today has updated old. KGB Trade Cross for the Multan digital age and so when Putin came to power I mean he was was the head of the FSP In the late nineteen nineties and then becomes prime minister and then eventually president Emperor was there did he. I assume he empowered the intelligence services in a way that wasn't happening in the nineteen eighteen. Ninety S. That's right I think it's been an incremental empowerment of the FSP and the ESPN. I forgot the exact date but there was a Some legislation passed in Russia that allows them to pursue Legally pursue assassinations abroad. I think that was in the early two thousands and that is a striking example of how the SVR in the FSB are pursuing these these these types of trade craft which always existed in the history of the KGB but perhaps never so expressly as they do. Now there's a legalistic outlook for the F. B. An empowerment an SVN That allows them to hunt down. Russian Shen traitors at home and abroad as they see at traitors and eliminate them Putin has said In the last few years that he wants to see the Russian traitors quote choking to death end of quote and certainly a lot of evidence of that happening around the world but we'll the domestically in Russia and abroad were vocal Putin critics Tendency to Meet early deaths and you mentioned the term active measures is being sort of a key part of the KGB playbook. I was wondering if you could sort of unpacked the term. What does it mean exactly active active measures and what what sort of goes into that? Yeah so I think useful way of understanding it for The listeners would be to think of it in terms of and what we in the US or the UK would call covert action so this is Part of what all intelligence major intelligence agency's do That's to say not just collecting intelligence but actually influence operations so in the US we call it. Covert action in Britain nowadays. It's called effect operations. So this is an in Russia historically From the nineteen twenties onwards it's been called active measures. So this is this is to influence world events in one way or another Favorable talk to your country's advantage so I think a useful way of thinking about Russian active measures Soviet activated in Russia. Today is to think think of them on a a a spectrum of influence operations so on the one end you've got Perhaps propaganda Disinformation leaking stories favorable To Soviet Union or Russia today in the press Nowadays in the digital domain that would be creating false Internet accounts on twitter and so on So they're sort of Propaganda media manipulation one end. I think somewhere in the middle there would be Bribery operations of influence operations over foreign dignitaries or politicians and again this is really as old as intelligence itself blackmailing them Either with money All the KGB infamously famously deployed honey traps thanks so sending in Often beautiful women to Seduce Western politicians. But it doesn't necessarily need to be And along those lines it can be simply Getting compromising material Kompromat over a target and then at the other extreme on this spectrum from the way I think about it would be At the most extremist estimations or Wet work wet operations as the KGB. He called it. So that is influencing foreign affairs by getting rid of an opponent eliminating. So that's how I think is useful to hear the full one hour long interview with calder. Walt please subscribe to our Patriot. Patriotic Dot com slash asset podcast. Thank you. The `send is a production of the Center Center for American progress. Action Fund protect the investigation and district productive fall. Woody Woodhall Max Bergmann Andrea purse executive producers and Peter Osborne senior producer. The asset is written by Max Bergmann and the good people at the Moscow project. Jeremy bannock Talia dessel and CNN Garelli and the team Eh. Protect the investigation and Paul would he would hall and his cohort at district productive learn more about Russian interference in the two thousand sixteen presidential election. Go to the Moscow Project DOT. Org please subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast APP and please leave a rating and review. Have you thank you Jim Briscoe. We see what is going on in the US. Now God nobody's accusing us anymore of interfering in the US election now. They're tasing Ukraine.