INT: ... communities - I mean, shall we say intelligence and military intelligence communities - you actually, as I understand it, were quite surprised at the level at which information was flowing on technical and intelligence matters, because Tolkachev and Polyakov are talking about missiles and guidance systems and avionics, and so on and so forth. I mean, presumably that is designed, is it not?, in the event of a war, that you guys, the technical people, will know what you're actually up against: the frequencies, the capabilities, the ranges, the capacities. Now can you tell me about... that's presumably a very important (Overlap - unclear words)...
10:19:36 AA: (Overlap) Sure it is, sure it is. And we had... even before Tolkachev, we had had, from time to time human sources of intelligence, espionage sources in the Soviet Union, who were able to contribute some real hard information on some very important aspects of Soviet technology or weapon systems. Tolkachev perhaps is the most spectacular that we can talk about, but there have been others who certainly deserve consideration here. This is not really unusual, but... they were fewer than the intelligence officers who volunteered to us... but still vastly outnumbered the political sources we could acquire. It simply was not considered useful to get low-level political sources in the Soviet Union, because how could they know how could they get us the minutes of the Politburo meetings? and of course we never had a shot at the minutes of any Politburo meetings, so it tended to be a kind of a self-defeating thing. In the Sixties, as a result of Penkovsky's reporting together with Polyakov's and Popov's and everyone, there was the idea that we should only be going after GRU code clerks, because these were the only sources worth acquiring, and naturally enough there is very little success on that front; and the idea of attempting to recruit a Soviet diplomat, for example, was pooh-poohed right up until the time that we got Trigon. The great significance of Trigon to the Agency was that it was the first time that we had a Soviet diplomat who actually produced what looked like useful intelligence. Before that, the word had been that this was not a way to go. but it didn't last. The dream of every DO case officer is to recruit a KGB officer. For what? As you say, for naming names as a counterintelligence source. But, you know, it's not entirely a matter... what you mentioned before is very interesting, because the resistance of policy-makers to intelligence is not just founded on an ideological presupposition - in other words, that the Soviets must be viewed as aggressive, or the Americans must be viewed as aggressive; there's strong complements of that on both sides, but the other real-world factor, and not having too much to do with ideology, is that senior policy-makers - prime ministers, presidents, foreign secretaries and the like - operate in a regime of so many constraints, budgetary, political diplomatic, that their room to develop and initiate and implement policy initiatives based on the best intelligence view is extremely limited and in fact they tend, by the nature of things... senior policy officials... to distrust intelligence sources and intelligence officials, not because of a long record of failures or anything like that, although that can at any given time have an effect, but simply that these people don't understand what the real problems are and how we have to work to get our policy laws. So there's a built-in problem with institutionalized, bureaucratized, highly developed systems of collecting and producing intelligence for policy-makers. Now Great Britain in a sense pioneered the idea of a workable system for getting this cranked in, but I think it's remained a slightly more flexible system than the approach taken over the years by the CIA, which has become a vast institutionalized machine that cranks material out endlessly and is very easy for senior policy-makers to ignore - or, let's put it this way, to scan, to read and say, "Well, that's all very well but of course we can't do that."
INT: Was there also a sense in which the weight had in any way shifted to technical methods of intelligence-gathering, so that the human asset was, if you like, no longer necessary (Overlap) in that sense?
AA: (Overlap) Sure.
INT: Were you aware... you must have (Overlap)...
10:22:25 AA: (Overlap) Oh, sure, this is a constant ... this is a fact of life all through the Fifties, Sixties and on and up. It was the development ... a constant development of the new methods of technical collection, and therefore opening up new areas for other collection. When I referred to that 10%-15% of espionage effort devoted to the Soviet Union, it emphatically does not include technical collection, whether by the CIA or by the many other agencies that collect that. Now they were heavily, heavily committed to obtaining technical intelligence from the Soviet Union, and I'm sure the numbers probably would show if someone actually were to sit down and study it, it would show at least 50% - who knows, perhaps more - in other words, something that looks pretty respectable in terms of how the whole thing is justified. ...
INT: Did you have a sense of the value and efficacy and value for money and usefulness of intelligence obtained by technical means during your period in the Agency?
AA: Well, certainly, sure.
INT: Well, I'm curious to know whether or not useful intelligence, shall we say, useful intelligence was obtained by technical means during the period of time in which you're of the opinion that the human spy, as it were, was becoming less and less pertinent to you.
10:27:05 AA: (Overlap) Well, let me put it this way. The human spy, in terms of the American espionage effort, had never been terribly pertinent. It was not a matter of a relative ascendancy and a relative decline: espionage against the Soviet Union had started at a low level and remained at a low level. But the technical collection was a nice, always ascending, always ascending curve. I mean, the milestones are there - I mean, all of the military collection efforts; the program to fly near or intrude on Soviet borders, for example, in which so many airplanes and men were lost in the Fifties, late Forties and the Fifties; the submarine intrusion programs; and then the U-2 was the big milestone, with overhead photography. These all produced marvelous intelligence primarily on military targets, but they were certainly extremely useful on a lot of economic matters. And.. communications... NSA is a big question mark - I mean, there are warehouses full of communications intercepts that no one has ever listened to and never will. Soviet ciphers remain largely unbreakable. Occasional little glimpses of political things in some communications, but I would say the remote sensing or remote imaging were probably the more productive. But.. it's a real big and diverse picture, but it was certainly productive against primarily military and economic targets. Even here, where there was intense policy-maker interest in supporting the development of these collection systems - Eisenhower and the U-2 the tremendous high-level interest in going beyond the U-2 to overhead sources and everything - these all enjoyed top-level political support and pushing, and incredibly steep budgets. Espionage is very cheap, for example, compared to any of this other stuff. ... but we had periodic crises, political crises in this country, when the technical intelligence didn't support the policy. We had the bomber gap, we had the missile gap, we have the MIRV gap, in which the technical intelligence showed a picture of Soviet abilities and capabilities which then became a political football; and we've seen it in... each decade of the Cold War, has its own kind of nasty history of the policy-makers... from Congress to the Executive branch, throughout the Executive branch, debating over whether these can be trusted. I mean, and you had, for example in the Eighties, this spurious debate over strategic deception, in which many people suggested that you couldn't trust what you were getting from these technical sources. so here, even in, although highly secret, a rather transparent collection, intelligence collection and production technique, you see policy-makers unable to react, unable to develop policies that are at least explicitly based on the intelligence that they're getting.
INT: I get a picture that a part of the motivation, shall we say, for persisting in human intelligence and espionage, is, as it were, fuelled by a symbiotic relationship with the KGB and with the GRU, in effect; that the two sides need one another, and that you justify your existence in part because the other guy is going to be getting into your agencies if you don't get into theirs. To what extent do you think survival of the intelligence organization itself, as far as espionage is concerned, is created by the need to survive, because "if we don't do it, the other guy's going to get us"?
10:32:18 AA: I'm not sure that I would really... buy that line of reasoning so much. There's a certain truth to it in the counterintelligence/counterespionage field by the very nature of espionage and counterespionage. I think that ... the KGB, for example, as well as the Eastern European services, who should never be overlooked in this area, had spectacularly more success in terms of political espionage than the West did against the East. ... KGB and East European service agents had wonderful political sources all through the West at various times, many of whom I'm sure remain secret, but all you have to think of is the Guillaume affair in Germany, Willy Brandt's close friend and aide; the Norwegian case... I mean, there have been many, many. The KGB succeeded in obtaining and running for long periods of time really valuable political and economic sources. The interesting question that arises there is: what good were they doing? What was it that the Soviet Union did, having a man in the center of Ostpolitik for so many years? What great advantages did the Soviet Union obtain in the whole Central European and the German question with those wonderful sources in Germany? The historical record would seem to suggest... pending, you know, more study and more books by historians of the period, would suggest that they made about as good use of their much better intelligence than the Americans did with their little bits and pieces.