Small Wars Journal


Milton Bearden's Requiem for a Russian Spy

Wed, 06/27/2012 - 7:45am

In an article in Foreign Policy, Milton Bearden, former CIA case officer and station chief in Pakistan from 1986-1989 during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, writes a requiem for the spy that was his Karla.

On the second-to-last day of March, Leonid Vladimirovich Shebarshin, the former head of the KGB's foreign intelligence arm and chairman of the KGB -- for a single day in the turmoil of the August 1991 coup attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev -- died in his central Moscow apartment, apparently taking his own life. ...

His death marks the end of an era, the passing of one of the most thoughtful, cultured, and effective leaders of the redoubtable Cold War KGB. He was a master spy, a central figure in the tumultuous half-century contest between the CIA and the KGB, and a true believer in the Soviet dream until the very end. He never wavered; he never apologized.

Family Divisions Over Suicide Bombing Targeting CIA

Mon, 01/30/2012 - 8:34pm


From the Washington Post:

A Jordanian double agent’s suicide bombing of the CIA base in eastern Afghanistan received days of media coverage. The CIA had been tricked into welcoming one of al-Qaeda’s own onto the agency’s base, enabling him to detonate a vest laden with explosives.

In October 2010, the CIA released results of the agency’s internal investigation into the Khost province attack, fueling another round of stories that Jennifer Matthews, a CIA operative, was partially responsible. Matthews and her team, the report concluded, failed to follow the agency’s procedures for vetting informants. 

One of Matthews’s severest critics was her uncle, Dave Matthews, a retired CIA official who had helped inspire his niece to join the agency. Now Gary Anderson, Matthews's husband, and other relatives who once agreed not to speak with the media are breaking their silence to talk about Matthews’s life and death and about how her promotion to a perilous CIA posting has divided them.