PolySciFi Blog

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Spy Game

This case study from the CIA into the life and times of A. G. Tolkachev, a United States spy in Moscow, is very long, but fascinating. It contains a lot of operational details about espionage in the late 70's and early 80's, including the more-than-slightly-alarming information that handwriting analysis seems to have been a big part of evaluating potential spies. A few of the stranger details:
Before the first personal meeting with Tolkachev, one of his handwritten notes had been passed to the CIA’s Office of Technical Service (OTS) handwriting experts for analysis.
As part of this process, every case officer went to great lengths to establish a routine that took him to various parts of the city on a regular basis, to do shopping, run errands, take part in recreational activities, go sightseeing, take the children out, walk the dog, and so forth. These routines were carefully constructed to try to bore the KGB surveillance teams, to the point where they would be moved to other, presumably more productive, targets.
Guilsher, while still in the vehicle, changed out of his western clothes and made himself look as much as possible like a typical, working-class Russian by putting on a Russian hat and working-class clothes, taking a heavy dose of garlic, and splashing some vodka on himself.
In November 1983, Tolkachev asked that he not be called at home to set up unscheduled meetings, because the phone was now located in his son’s room and it was his son who always answered the phone. Although the CIA could defeat KGB surveillance, defeating the habits of a typical teenager was more than either it or the agent could manage!
It's good to know that CIA agents splashed vodka on themselves to resemble working-class Russians. Here's hoping KGB agents dunk their heads in a bucket of Budweiser.


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