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tv   Declassified Untold Stories of American Spies  CNN  May 14, 2022 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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julia really paved the way for this incredible moment of food and pop culture. >> julia child presents the ch chicken sister. >> she was different than anything on television. >> the delicious life of america's first celebrity chef. julia, a cnn film, premieres monday, may 30th, at 8:00 on cnn. as former fbi agent, i had oversight of all 16 of our nation's intelligence agencies. my name is mike rogers. i had access to classified information gathered by our operatives. people who risked everything for the united states and our families. you don't know their faces or their names. you don't know the real stories from the people who lived the fear and the pressure, until now.
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>> you would look at me and see a nice lady, probably very happy person, very outgoing. an older woman, who has a retired life and goes to church. but my life was not normal. it was a lie. everyone thought that i was just a mom. they never knew what i was actually doing because i lied to everyone about who i was. for almost 32 years.
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october 1972, i became a widow. after that, i needed to work. i thought about it and i had spoken foreign languages. i had lived overseas and i had a masters degree. so, i decided to apply for cia. it wasn't that easy, though. they wanted to make me into a secretary. but i said, no, i really wanted to be a case officer. i really wanted to do covert operations. and eventually, i became a cia officers during the cold war.
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>> people today don't realize how serious the cold-war threat really was. i don't think it is an exaggeration that our survival was at stake. they were antithetical to all the values that we held, as a country. we were democracy. they were totalitarianism. we were faith. they were atheism. so, it was a real battle. it was offering what we called a struggle between good and evil. >> let us be aware while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare over individual man, and predict its domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world. >> ronald reagan called them the evil empire. i don't think that was too farfetched.
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the nuclear threat was real. in our relationship with the soviet union, we felt very strongly that we could have gone over the edge. we almost did. >> when it comes to nuclear war or the threat of it, what really matters is knowing what is in your adversary's game plan. >> if our policymakers are operateling in the blind. if they are basing their decisions on their fears, their notions of the soviet union that weren't valid, that could have been really dangerous. so, they needed intelligence on the soviet union. and we he weren't getting it at that time. because our soviet operations were obstructed by kgb
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surveillance. they were always there. so our job was to get human sources undercover, on the ground, in moscow. so we were looking all around the world for soviet recruits who were vulnerable to our approaches, to our who we thought we could turn and we found one in bogota. >> we became aware of him through a telephone tap that cia had on the soviet embassy. >> he was doing things in bogota that showed he might be vulnerable. >> he womanized. he liked parties. he was fast and loose with money. >> all of those things we saw -- ask c and clearly, he was not a real
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communist. he wasn't a true believer. >> so, we arranged for a meeting with him in the turkish bath in the hilton hotel. >> we started talking to him. he wanted a better life. he wanted to do something that he could really believe in. ideologically, he was clearly on our side. he didn't like communism. he believed that the american system was superior. all those things kind of came together. we realized we could make a deal with him and we did. and that was a foreign ministry official for the soviet union. and of course, the first issue that came up, we needed a code name for him. we certainly couldn't refer to him in the cable traffic. it wouldn't be secure. so right from the beginning, he
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became trigon. that was going to be our payoff. that's where he was going to have the access that was going to make a lot of difference. but the big issue was can we handle him after he returns home? >> moscow was considered the most difficult place in the world to operate. >> we had never done it before. how can we operate in moscow under the noses of the kgb? and get our job done without getting caught? in terms of risk, it was life and death.
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[ding] official for the soviet union, and he was scheduled to return to moscow. now, we have got him recruited and the big issue was, can we handle him after he returns home? >> moscow was considered the most difficult place in the world to go out and collect intelligence from agents on the street. >> in moscow, you have to understand that the kgb was all powerful. >> i spent almost 40 years in the kgb. my most important job was to watch my own citizens, and i
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mean, dissidents and people who for some reason or another unhappy, and that was my job. and moscow was a capital of the country, the headquarters of the security and intelligence. we had total control at that time. >> the kgb ran that city, and they had virtually unlimited resources. the number of people that they threw at us in terms of surveillance and technical coverage was unbelievable. >> the kgb kept an eye on all foreigners who came to moscow, plus the soviets who had contacts with the foreign organizations. total surveillance of everyone. >> they were everywhere. they controlled every institution. they had people in every housing block. >> at the time of the cold war,
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the kgb was really a most powerful organization in the world. >> so once trigon went back to moscow, he was in a cooling-off period. he was being alert to any indications that he was under suspicion, and we wanted to do that before we ran the risk of actually operating with him in moscow. if he were captured, it is a question of survival. >> well, all of the traitors in the soviet system would be just sentenced to death. you will not live anymore. >> it was dangerous for our people, too, but we needed that intelligence and trigon was our chance to show that we could operate successfully in moscow. to do that, we had to evade kgb
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surveillance and the one idea that we had was to use a woman. because we knew that the russians did not use women for dangerous operations themselves. >> there were no women in my time in the soviet intelligence or counterintelligence. they were technical personnel, and providing all of the necessary documents and picking up copies and picking up lunch for you and women were thought not quite reliable, so they would pick up only men and not women. >> we thought let's use our male chauvinism against them. find the right woman who is bright and discipline and tough and who can learn the trade craft and buried deeply inside of the u.s. embassy in moscow under deep cover and that was marty. >> in 1975, i was trained in the
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hot summer of washington, d.c. i took russian language and i learned how to spot surveillance on the street. i took covert pictures. >> she was a natural. she had a real aptitude for clandestine trade craft. >> during my training, i read about trigon. in the file i remember reading that trigon believed he could change his system from within. i think that deep down in my heart, i really believed that i could do that, too. because at that time the men in the cia were the case officers, they were the people in the field. but i knew i could do as well as anyone else. >> she was the first woman that we had assigned behind the iron curtain. marty was the breakthrough.
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>> then, it became show time. and i became the person i had trained myself to be. when i arrived in moscow on november 5th, 1975, as that lufthansa airplane landed, it was cold and the snow was piled on the side of the runway. when they opened the door, i put on my heavy coat and i looked out at the front of the airport and i thought you have committed yourself to two years here
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whoa. in 1975, i was assigned to moscow to work with a cia covert agent called trigon, but before i began to work with him, the
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most important job i had was to establish myself as a low-level administrative person within the embassy. i went to my house. i bought a car. i did whatever it was that young women in moscow would do. and that was the role i wanted to sell to my colleagues in the embassy as well as to anyone watching me outside of the embassy. because i knew that the kgb could be anyone there. >> the kgb surveillance looked like ordinary russians. they had a good mix of young, old, well-dressed, bum-like people. and they made a point of mixing
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up the profiles to make it hard for us to get a fix on them. >> well, the kgb could be anyone. that is just the matter of the imagination. kgb provided the people with all the necessary equipment and camouflage if they needed it. no problem. >> the kgb owned the city, and they followed everyone everywhere. so i didn't want to be anyone -- anyone noticed, so that no one suspected that i was eventually going to be working with trigon. but i also was just trying to be who i was. you have to present a person that you can sustain, and i was flirty marty.
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i drank jarlsburg beer and enjoyed the social scene in moscow, and that is what filled the kgb camera. i was selling that role to them, and that took maybe three or four months. >> marty was comfortable in moscow, and so we realized that now was the time to begin operating. let's see if they will ignore her and not surveil her, because we needed somebody free to get to trigon and somebody to get black as we call it. >> going black in moscow means that you get out without surveillance following you. so, to verify that i was without surveillance following me, i wore my sr 100, a radio receiver of the single radio frequency the kgb surveillance teams used
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to communicate between themselves. and i had a wireless earpiece, and i would listen as i drove away from the embassy. and when i was with a man, i could hear on the sr 100 as the kgb reported to one another the location of this man. but when i went out by myself, i would hear absolutely nothing. they weren't following me. >> our next step, we needed a communications plan for trigon. the trade craft that we devised
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to work with trigon in moscow was primarily dead drops. a dead drop is a pre-cased hiding place where an agent can put down a concealed package. mark a signal, and then the other comes and picks up the package, and marks the signal to indicate that the package had been recovered. the risk of dead drops is to avoid having the two people together at any point, but they have to be done extremely discretely and extremely carefully. espionage is not a game. it is serious and it is life and death and people get killed on both sides. >> in order to make dead drops, you have to show up at a certain place at a certain time. knowing that trigon would not have a schedule of deliveries,
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the only thing that we could determine to do was to drop a concealed message inside of a cigarette lighter through the fly window of his car. in the lighter, there was a schedule of drops and locations where he would find the next drops. putting a drop into an agent's car is more dangerous, because that car has an identity attached to it. you can look at the license tag and look it up and say, trigon owns that car. trigon's car was parked in front of an apartment building and there were always people out on the street. and it was so very scary like walking on the lighted stage. you knew everybody was watching you. ur business to do more.
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i was next to a cia covert agent's car, and there were always people out on the street. it was so very scary, because that car has an identity attached to it. you can look at the license tag and look it up and say, trigon owns that car.
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but, i leaned up against the car and i just tucked it in the little front window. when i put the lighter in the car, i heard the lighter fall to the floor and i knew that he would find it. we knew that trigon then could begin to communicate regularly with us. >> there were an awful lot of people who believed that women did not belong in this business, but marty was the perfect choice. she was a tough, disciplined, superb case officer. her trade craft was impeccable, and she was the right person at the right time. before trigon returned to the soviet union, he asked whether we would provide him l-pills. lethal pills for him to have and use to commit suicide in the
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event that he was arrested. because he knew that he would face a long and brutal interrogation, and he didn't want to have to do that. >> we were taken aback by that and we didn't want to be a party to a potential suicide, and so we put him off. and he would keep coming back to us and became very insistent. i don't think that we had any choice, because we didn't want to lose him, but we really had to proceed, because this is a really valuable operation. >> the first package we devised to trigon was on may 1st. >> we have a variety of concealment devices. and the concealment devices can look like a piece of brick or a dead bird or dog excrement that can lie there undisturbed
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without attracting attention. >> i would put that package down to him next to lamp pole, and trigon would have a sketch of the area, and know what number the lamp pole was, and i would leave the area, and he would come to pick it up. inside would be the spy materials, the package contained a black fountain pen which had the reservoir of poison in the barrel. and second black fountain pen where he had his miniature camera. the site was along a road that ran through this park, and i got to where i was to place this package and i saw no one. so i put the package down, and walked then to the embassy. an hour later trigon came to
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come pick up the package. i was relieved that we had come through on that promise. now, trigon had the l-pill and the pen with the camera in it, and he could start communicating with us regularly. trigon worked in classified areas in the ministry of foreign affairs where he saw all the telegrams sent from every soviet embassy around the world. and he could photograph the documents right there in his office with this miniature camera. >> it was indescribable when we first got our packages from trigon. he was producing intelligence that went right to the president's desk. it went right to the secretary
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of state henry kissinger, and they loved what they were getting from trigon and he was right on target for our most serious concerns about the soviet union. >> only from a position of strength can we negotiate a balanced agreement to limit the growth of nuclear arms, and minimize the threat of nuclear confrontation. >> at the time, the soviet union and the u.s. were locked in a dreadful conflict over nuclear weapons. >> we were trying to engage in arms control talks, and we were fighting for our country's security. >> even with treaties, people still had a button to push if things got to that point. so what is in your adversary's mind was highly important. when you are gaining the
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intelligence from a covert agent about that adversary, then you have got the advantage. and he could read what anatoly dobrinyn, the ambassador in washington, d.c., was saying about his meeting with american officials. >> what are the negotiating positions? who're their what are their views on arms control? how much can we trust them? is he reporting correctly back to moscow or isn't he? trigon confirmed that for us. and so we really struck gold with trigon in moscow. >> trigon and i never met. but i remember once i went to put down a package in the woods and i looked up and a long ways
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away like across two streets there was a man standing there. and i thought, that's trigon waiting for the delivery of his package. he's as curious as i was. i knew that i could not leave that package there on the ground without watching it. so i sat down in a bush and i drew my legs up close under me and i waited for him to come into the woods. as he walked down the path he was about four feet away from me. my heart stopped when i saw him as i was afraid he would see me sitting there in the bush, but he didn't see me. he walked to the package and picked it up and left a package in the same place for me. that night, i was as close to
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him as i would ever be. >> we were running with trigon for a little bit over two years. it was unbelievably productive. until about the spring of '77. >> in april, i went to pick up a dead drop as i always did in the same place near the lamp pole. nothing seemed different about that drop, so i put the package down for trigon, and then, well, i had been instructed after an hour or so to go back to check to make sure that he had picked it up. the package i put down was still there. it was devastating. you know? because we had to say what
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happened? why isn't he there? is he sick or something happened to him? >> who knows, because there are a lot of innocent reasons why he might have missed a dead drop. but we were very worried that trigon was gone. are you haunted by your cable service? have you noticed strange, frightening fees on your monthly bill? do you experience feelings of dread when you pass by your cable box? if the answer is yes... who you gonna call? directv stream. now save $30 over 2 months. meet three moms who each like to bank their own way.
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trigon was extremely well placed sitting there in the foreign ministry of the american section with access to the secrets and to see the quality of the intelligence that he was able to provide to us, it was mind boggling and it was an effective and efficient operation, until he missed a dead drop. whatever it was that happened, it really was kind of suspicious. we were hoping against hope that the operation was still valid. we weren't ready to give up on trigon. this was a very valuable operation. we didn't want to lose it by seeing ghosts or seeing problems that the didn't really exist so we had to go forward.
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>> he always had a schedule of several drops many months down the road. so he had the next scheduled drop. >> this drop we went into it knowing that there could be problems, but we really had to proceed. >> it was july 15th. i left my apartment about 7:00 that night. i was to arrive at the dead drop site at 10:00. the dead drop location was supposed to be on the bridge over moscow river on a railroad bridge over moscow. before i went, i drove for two and a half hours around moscow. i was wearing the sr-100 to make sure that i had no one following me.
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about 9:00, i parked. i walked through the park and i stopped and i sat on park benches. i looked around and i saw no surveillance. i walked up to the rail road bridge where the site was located, and i saw across the street three men. they turned and walked into the path that headed into the cemetery. i thought, well, they may be just casuals out for a walk. so i continued to the bridge. i walked up the 47, 48 steps to the top of the bridge. i turned and walked on the pedestrian walkway to the center
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of the tower. where i took the package out of my purse and i slid it into a narrow window to my right. and i listen and looked to see whether anyone was around. and i saw no one. i returned back through the tower and back down the stairs. i was about the fourth from bottom when those three men appeared again walking across the street at quite a pace. the middleman saying, fan out so she doesn't run. the two fellows grabbed me by the arms. i had not been grabbed like that since i was 4 years old. >> were you scared? >> no. i was -- >> really? >> no, i was angry. i kicked, yelled, and i grabbed my purse and as i did, i drove
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the man's hand into where the sr 100 was hooked on. eventually they got the velcro undone and the sr 100 was out. by this time a van had come from underneath the railroad bridge with all of these people piling out of the van. one of them was a photographer with a big camera and a big flash. they then put me into the van, and we drove away. we drove to lubiyanka prison and not a place that any cia officer wants to be going into the backdoor. >> kgb building was notorious in some ways because there was a jail where they had tortured people and, you know, sometimes killed them.
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we walked into the interrogation room. it was a large table with two microphones setting in the middle of the table. and they put the dead drop down on the piece of newspaper. they then began the interrogation. the chief interrogator was a very angry middle-aged man. he was the only one it appeared as we got farther into this that knew anything about trigon or the arrest. and i told them that i knew nothing about it. after about an hour then they
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opened the dead drop which was there in the middle of the table. and started taking the items out of the dead drop. one of the items was a black pen. camera in it. but the chief interrogator laid the pen aside up on the corner of the paper, and he said, no one touch this. i sat there and remembered we gave trigon a black fountain pen which had the reservoir of poison in the barrel, the l-pill for him to use. and it became very clear to me he thought this pen had the poison in it there as well. and i'm thinking, this is not good. something awful has happened to
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the safety signal i always had was to show up at a certain place at a certain time. and if i didn't show up then, there was trouble.
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that night, of course, i didn't show up because i had been arrested. and i spent that night being interrogated. but for trigon's safety, i told them absolutely nothing. nothing that could incriminate him. and then after a long time, they said because i was an american working in the embassy, you may leave. persona non grata, to be thrown out of the country. they would never let me back. i would never go. >> when i walked into the ussr desk on that saturday morning and everybody was crying and i learned that marty had been ambushed, i knew instantly, as everybody else did, what that meant. the kgb already knew in advance when and where that dead drop was to take place. the only way they could have set
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up that ambush is if they had prior knowledge. that meant that they had trigon's communications plan. that meant they had trigon. >> the source reported to us on june 20th, the kgb went into trigon's apartment, and they arrested him. and he said, i will provide you with a full written report about what i have done, a confession. he said, get me a pad of paper. they handed him the paper and his pen. he began to write, and then he bit down on the barrel of the pen, which had the reservoir of
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poison in the barrel. and he expired right before their eyes. i cannot imagine the strength of that man to commit that suicide there with everybody watching him. >> that was devastating. that was like a death in the family. everybody was crying. i was crying. i was crying. i really can't explain to you how profound that moral obligation is that we feel to agents to do everything in our power to protect that person. the kgb found out about trigon in what was probably the worst possible way. we believe that trigon was betrayed by someone who was working for the cia. that's heartbreaking.
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>> you know, when i was arrested, i didn't know how they found out about trigon. and i have to tell you, even though intellectually i know that it wasn't something i'd done, i will never be relieved, because i was charged with protecting his safety. that's what i'd committed myself to doing. >> the legacy of the trigon case is very clear. we made history in that operation by, for the first
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time, handling a well-placed agent in moscow, itself. we had not done that before. trigon was the beginning of what turned out to be a golden age of intelligence in moscow. and secondly, we made history by using a woman for this dangerous high-risk operation. it was a whole new era at the cia after marty peterson. barriers were broken down. stereotypes were broken down. and the cia began a much wiser, much more effective use of the women case officers in the cia. i often think of marty as a pioneer. she was a superb case officer. she was a role model for all of us who followed, men and women. i think we were all more successful in our craft by looking at what marty had done under difficult circumstances. and she did it so professionally, and she did so it successfully.
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that going to be marty's legacy. >> i am proud of what we all did in moscow. and despite being arrested, despite the notoriety because of trigon operation, i continued to work very successfully for 32 work very successfully for 32 years as a covert cia officer. -- captions by vitac -- if you strap on your skis in the alps and head straight down the mountains, you'll find yourself in the fertile plains of piedmont. this region is a wonder, offering up some of the best produce in the world, from exquisite rice truffles, to rice for risotto, and the finest wines. >> it's incredible how really


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