Agents for the Okhrana

1911 mug shot of Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, a.k.a. Joseph Stalin, from the Okhrana archives (click to enlarge)

Like many other Bolshevik revolutionaries, Joseph Stalin was arrested and exiled to Siberia numerous times between the 1905 Revolution and the October Revolution. Yet on each occasion he managed to escape and return to his revolutionary activities in the Caucasus and elsewhere. In one incident, he was not among those detained during the mass arrest of a group of Bolsheviks that would otherwise have included him.

In later years Stalin played down his prowess at escaping detention, understating the number of times that he eluded the clutches of the Okhrana, the Czar’s secret police.

These facts have fueled persistent rumors that Stalin was an agent for the Okhrana between 1905 and 1917. Most historians both inside and outside of Russia believe that there is no merit to the stories. All documents and letters that appeared to confirm Stalin’s work for the Okhrana have turned out to be forgeries. Nevertheless, the rumors persist.

One of the reasons that the story has gained traction is that there were numerous agents of the Okhrana among the Bolsheviks. Lenin was generally aware of them, and sometimes turned them, so that they became double agents. The stories about Stalin assert the same thing about him, that he acted as a double agent.

The legends are further complicated by the fact that all the prominent “Old Bolsheviks” who might have confirmed or disproved the rumors were gradually executed during the purges in the 1930s — the same people who were successively retouched out of group photos that included Stalin. The resulting lacunae in the historical record mean that there may never be a definitive answer to the question.

After the revolution, the Bolsheviks took over the apparatus of the Okhrana, retaining its most useful operatives, and expanded it into the infamous Soviet secret police organization that was eventually designated by various acronyms — Cheka, GPU, OGPU, NKVD, NKGB, MGB, and KGB. It was more brutal and effective than anything the Czar could have devised.

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The above story is relevant to Thursday’s discussion about the infiltration and manipulation of conservative groups by the Deep State.

The Soviets became the most efficient practitioners of counterintelligence at least in part because they had been so thoroughly infiltrated before the October Revolution. Because the Bolshevik leaders — especially Lenin — were well aware of that fact, they were able to develop an effective counterintelligence regime. When they assumed control of the state, that expertise in counterintelligence was extended and expanded, reaching its apogee in the KGB.

In contrast, much of the right wing in the USA — possibly due to its peculiarly American nature — seems unaware of and uninterested in counterintelligence. Does the absolute certainty of infiltration seem so unimportant?

As is often the case with such discussions, the back-and-forth exchanges in the comments section of Thursday’s post provided additional food for thought. The following points are based on responses that I made to fellow commenters:

1.   The issue that requires repeated emphasis is infiltration. Right-wing groups first get infiltrated, then they get manipulated. The manipulation does harm to their cause, and either destroys the group or totally marginalizes it. Case study: Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

This is difficult for many people to take in. For some reason, a lot of liberty-minded people seem to think that if a guy wears a Three Percent t-shirt and owns a bunch of firearms and mouths appropriate slogans, that he is ipso facto one of them. This is not true, especially after a group grows larger and becomes effective. Then it gets infiltrated by agents who have been trained to look and act exactly like its members.

Counterintelligence is the systematic, patient process of discovering who the infiltrators are and then neutralizing them. And by “neutralizing”, I don’t mean killing — read the history of the KGB, and you’ll learn that killing a planted agent was the least-desired option. A double agent was far more useful to the KGB than a corpse. And an agent that had been made, but didn’t realize it, could be used to funnel disinformation back to the enemy, among other things.

These are subtle, dangerous games. But for groups that want to be truly effective, they are absolutely necessary.

2.   One of the first signs of a planted agent in the leadership is a history of repeated bad decisions that do harm to the group’s mission.

It is most likely not the leader himself who is the plant, however, but a small group of infiltrators who have discreetly helped place an incompetent person in a leadership position, and help keep him there.

A properly functioning counterintelligence process would examine such a leader thoroughly, to see whether he himself is in fact an agent, as opposed to his close associates. Both situations are obviously possible.

3.   It is imperative that we learn how to conduct counterintelligence. It is a cold, calculating, dirty, ruthless sort of business, but it is what must be done.

The only way to end the manipulation that destroys the cause is to untangle the knots of infiltration.

The first step is to become actively aware that you are being infiltrated and manipulated. To keep it in your conscious mind whenever you are organizing and planning. To remember that all the while you are planning to do something, somebody else within your group, someone you have not yet identified, is planning to undo it.

The Deep State has been playing conservatives like a fiddle for decades. It’s time to wise up.

4.   The general rule for someone who forms and leads one of these organizations is not to allow anyone into a leadership position that you have not known and trusted continuously since grade school. That’s kind of the most basic form of preventive counterintelligence.

Once your organization is large enough, you should put one of those trusted associates in charge of a new counterintelligence division, tasked with doing background checks and monitoring every new member.

All right — the “since grade school” aspect is an exaggeration. It’s an illustration of the level of trust and shared background that is needed within the core leadership group. It’s also a way of saying: “Be skeptical and suspicious. Anyone who showed up not all that long ago may well be a plant.”

Another characteristic of a planted agent: He is often one of the best workers in the group. He will probably be dedicated, efficient, and more than competent. He is a hard-working self-starter. You will soon find that you are dependent on him, that you don’t know how you ever got along without him.

Guys who are somewhat lazy, who goof off, who are often late or unavailable when you need them are actually less suspicious.

5.   The Deep State’s purpose could not have been accomplished without all the elements of the pattern being present — infiltration of the “Right”, the stand-down of the police, the orchestration of the media response, and an atrocity that could be pinned on the “white supremacists”.

If the last had not occurred — if no one had been run over — then the operation would have been a useful outcome for the Deep State, but not a complete success. They would have had to wait for the next alt-right events — some of which are occurring this weekend, as I type this.

To make sure that an atrocity occurs within the planned time frame, a fairly large number of nut cases must be groomed and primed. One presumes that this is one of the main goals of the agents who have been planted in these groups.

44 thoughts on “Agents for the Okhrana

  1. May I suggest that underlying all of this is the necessity of realising, absolutely and without reservation, who the true enemy is. Yes, yes, there are “jihadists” and “extremists” committing violent acts – but they are not the ones who are hell-bent on destroying our societies. They are serving as a means to that end.

    Once we all acknowledge within ourselves just who we are fighting, the next step is to realise just what they are capable of: ANYTHING

  2. It is imperative that we learn how to conduct counterintelligence. It is a cold, calculating, dirty, ruthless sort of business, but it is what must be done.

    Jesus practiced that situational awareness. It was one reason his enemies’ hands were forced: the man was dangerous to their enterprise.

    Jesus probably knew ahead of time about Judas’ resentment regarding the waste of money on things not meeting Judas’ approval. And Judas was their treasurer, as small as that ‘treasury’ was.

    Probably when Jesus warned that we must be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, he was looking right at Judas. I’ve often wondered if the latter looked away first.

    Being blindsided by traitors is a deep emotional injury for most of us. Sometimes as wide as a church door and as deep as a well…

  3. On a related note, I think that the Alternative Right should infiltrate globalist and left-of-center institutions. Such Alt Right operatives would not have a state to report to–the operatives I envision work for the cause of nation state democracy. The intelligence obtained by Alt Right operatives would be released to the public via the internet.

    Imagine if we had moles in institutions such Soros’ Open Society Foundation, NGOs, the bureaucracy of the European Union, academia, news organizations, and political parties which support the globalist agenda.

    • How much I approve! Now that would bring the show home. I advocate that we all join the craziest leftist institutions. We can do that, and leak everything to the other side so that all the missions of the left fail. Make a deal with the devil that the devil then regrets.

      • Infiltration of leftist groups is an excellent idea. Encourage and egg on the most extreme nutjobs among them. I think the strategy should be to encourage the anti-statue group to erase every monument and plaque that can be remotely linked to “waycism”. Even including Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln for that matter. The only thing that might rouse Americans out of their deep slumber is to see the mass demolition of long standing monuments in their neighborhoods. Then we can see large structures like the Jefferson memorial and Washington monument demolished. If this does not finally wake people up nothing will. To paraphrase a statement of Lenin “give them (the social justice warriors) the rope with which they will hang themselves”.

    • Did we that once. Turned out my boss was on the other side. I nearly lost my job! Had I been alone it might have been worth it but I had a wife and four kids depending on me to feed and clothe them.

      didn’t apologize though, electing to resign a few months later when I had found a better job.

      Until we all end up eating our stockpiles we need to keep our options open.

  4. Benedict Arnold is an excellent American example of a high competent, capable individual that was turned to the other side.

    Arnold was essentially the George Patton of the Revolutionary War, but he felt slighted by internal politics and issues where seniority overrode his superb ability to command troops in the field.

    Then you have clowns like Aldridge Ames that were begging to be caught for years. I see him as an example of a failed counterintelligence apparatus.

    • America has always been torn about the idea of “humint” to begin with. We are neither subtle enough nor ruthless enough to carry it off well. So when you get to counterintelligence, we’re in over our heads. Which is why MI6 has always known we’re a dangerous joke.

      • I assumed that the CIA, during the days of the old Soviet Union, had to be as ruthless as the KGB to counter them. Do you anything different?

          • I doubt Americans were as ruthless as the Sovs. I think we’re as smart but I have to wonder how serious we are. After all, millions of smart Americans swallow the idea of open borders and pandering to vicious segments of our minority population. Those same Mensa-grade Americans have been happy to swallow the most palpably absurd legal doctrines like “living Constitution,” “propositional nation,” and “Russian Federation, implacable enemy.”

            However, if you read Victor Suvorov’s The Acquarium you will see what emphasis the Sovs put on operational security. I suspect, but do not know, that American intel does not go to such lengths.

            As numerous American authors have made quite clear, the U.S. government was deeply penetrated by Soviet agents. I think, however, that that was not so much a question of naivete or dearth of capable CI officials as a decades-long case of willful blindness. As I say at every wedding, christening, and funeral, Obama started his political career in the living room of two communist terrorists. This was no deep secret but there was zero national interest in this odd fact.

          • As for smarts, the average IQ of Swedes (real Swedes, not “Swedes”), is very high, almost as high as the Chinese. Which just goes to show that intelligence is overrated.

      • It even carries over to pop culture – there’s a reason 007 is a 50+ year old franchise while Jason Bourne probably won’t exist beyond the end of this decade…

      • I’ve seen a related argument, Dymphna; Americans were (are?) too open and idealistic to comprehend others’ deviousness, hence their over-reliance on electronic intelligence.

        It was a Serbian spy, whose name escapes me, who tried to warn the US about Pearl Harbor, but was dismissed. He enjoyed good living and willing women, and was partly the model for Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

        • Well, in some ways America became a high-trust nation because of the huge German and Scandinavian diaspora that populated the northern states.

          This sense of fair play and evenhandedness is (was?) one of our culture’s best traits, but it does us no favors in the world of professional intelligence.

      • One of the SOE operatives in France was captured and “induced” to cooperate. He inserted, “I am captured. I am captured. I am captured.” in at least one of the messages he sent back to Britain. The vaunted British Army CI experts didn’t pick up on this.

        Perhaps it was too subtle for them.

      • Ilia-

        I agree completely that Arnold got short shrift in his day, I hedged my language a bit above.

        Arnold saved the Revolution by leading his forces to a desperately needed victory at the Battle of Saratoga, but he was denied proper credit in favor of Horatio “Granny” Gates, a general well past his prime.

        I sympathize with Arnold’s story because I identify with his frustration at seeing seniority win out over talent – exactly the ideals America was supposedly founded in opposition to.

        In a slightly different timeline, Arnold would be feted as one of the Revolution’s greatest military heroes, along with Washington, Rogers, and Fox.

  5. Dear Baron,
    I probably know the answer already.

    Were you able to give the responses (as compiled above) based on extensive and long study of various wars and so forth?

    Are there a few particular books or resources that you would recommend for a “quick-study” for the average person with limited time to learn something about counterintelligence?

  6. WOW, didn’t see this one coming! Nevertheless a very interesting topic about which I know ZILCH.0
    One name came to immediate mind though and was reinforced with mention of Jesus; James Angleton.
    Also, despite the damage done, a more latter day example of good CI – bagging Ana Montes – also comes to mind. Relatively speaking, hers is very much an under-reported story.
    If nothing else, counter-intelligence is a calling for the more than patient and observant. Fine business.

    • Please see my above recommendation of “The Dirty War.”
      I’m sorry to see that this book is out of print: “Wilderness of Mirrors: How the Byzantine Intrigues of the Secret War Between the CIA and the KGB Seduced and Devoured Key Agents James Jesus Angleton and William King Harvey Hardcover – 1980 by David C. Martin (Author).

      You can study the subject just searching around the internet, much has been written about the subject. But don’t worry, CIA and MI-6 vs the KGB at the highest level is really far above the topic under discussion today. “The Dirty War” is much more applicable to what is happening and what is to come in the USA.

  7. I remember in the aftermath of the hutaree militia debacle someone making a statement to the effect that every militia organization had been infiltrated by government agents. I suspect that is still the case. As an aside I expect few know that the hutarees were cleared of the charges.

  8. I have been reading Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, it is interesting that 86,000 “NAZIs” were put to trial after the “war”, and not a single NKVG was even questioned, while only 6 million were “murdered” by Hitler, and Stalin murdered 20 million, or more.

    • More than six million, if you include Slavs, Roma, socialists, homosexuals, disabled people…

  9. What exactly is the “deep state” — I have never been able to quite find out although the description does give a bit of info on it.

    • I used to refer to it as “the permanent government” — the people who are not elected, yet basically control the political process, while individual elected politicians come and go. It includes the federal bureaucracy, the higher levels of command at the Pentagon, the intelligence services, the major media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the management of large corporations, especially the trans-national ones.

      I switched over to the term “deep state” because that’s what everyone else is using nowadays.

      • I think we can include Congresspeople who have been in Washington far too long as part of the ‘Deep State’.

        John McCain would be the prime example of this phenomenon.

        • your definition of the deep state would follow along Carrol Quigley’s version of the notion that at the very top both political parties are irrelevent and that the national policy is set by the people who smoke cigars in paneled rooms… and much more deep than the Mr James Taylors of Mr Smith Goes to Washington meme. But if this is true, why is the deep state continue to be so riled by President Donald Trump? He played along with them in the syria bombing.

  10. I think it is too late to talk about infiltration, as the leftist movements are close to active violence (civil war) mode. The only advice I can give at this point, do not take prisoners!

  11. I would add that the people doing the background investigations on new and old members have to be 100% trustworthy, having passed a background check themselves, done by other people. And not only that, but a security officer must have everyone’s clearance and current activities reviewed monthly.

    I have been a security officer, and this monthly report/check caused me to pull more clearances than anything else. You would be floored by how many people are walking around with a clearance who should not have one. The constant review and evaluation of security clearances is one of the best ways to catch and eliminate traitors or potential traitors.

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