Soviet defector's stash of spying secrets made public
In what's being described as one of the biggest intelligence leaks in history, a trove of KGB documents detailing a network of Soviet spies leading double lives in the U.S. and Britain have been made public.
That may sound familiar to fans of FX's series "The Americans" - a show about undercover agents living in the suburbs.
The show's creators say they drew inspiration from the work of disillusioned KGB officer Vasili Mitrokhin who smuggled his handwritten notes out of Russia in 1992 before turning them over to Britain.
While the official historian for the UK's intelligence agency has written at length about Mitrokhin, this is the first time the public is getting access to the files.
They describe booby traps, weapons caches and communications hidden around NATO countries. And we also have a list of 1,000 KGB agents had operated in U.S.
To be fair, despite all the attention surrounding the document's release, a lot of the big names in that list belong to Westerners already exposed as having ties to the KGB.
FILE--Robert Stephen Lipka is shown with a horse racing form in this March 21, 1995, file photo taken at the opening of the York, Pa., off-track betting parlor. Lipka, a former Army clerk accused of selling national secrets to the Soviet Union for $27,000 during the Vietnam War, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit espionage Friday, May 23, 1997, in Philadelphia federal court. Lipka, 51, cried as he entered his plea. (AP Photo/Lancaster New Era, Marty Heisey)
**FILE**Philip Agee, a former CIA agent who became an outspoken critic of Washington's Cuba policy, holds one of his book in his Hamburg, Germany,home in this June 30, 1981 file photo. Agee died following ulcer surgery, Cuban state media reported Wednesday,Jan. 9, 2008. He was 72.(AP Photo/Thomas Grimm)
** FILE ** Former United States CIA agent Philip Agee gestures as he presents his travel agency "Cuba Linda," or "Beautiful Cuba" at a news conference in Havana in this Thursday, June 22, 2000 file photo. Agee, who became an outspoken critic of the agency and opened a travel site to bring Americans to Cuba in defiance of U.S. law, has died following ulcer surgeries, Cuban state media reported Wednesday. He was 72. (AP Photo/Jose Goita)
HAVANA - JULY 7, 2004: (FILE PHOTO) Philip Agee, a former CIA agent speaks at Hotel Nacional July 7, 2004 in Havana, Cuba. On January 7, 2008 it was reported that Agee died at the age of 72 in Havana. He resigned the CIA in 1968 in disagreement with U.S. support for military dictatorships in Latin America and became one of the first to blow the whistle on the CIA's activities around the world. His book 'Inside the Company: CIA Diary,' published in 1975, cited alleged CIA undercover operations against leftists in Latin America and purported many agency operatives. The U.S. government called him a traitor and claimed some of the agents he exposed were later murdered. Agee lived in Havana since 1979 after his U.S. passport was revoked, where he began a travel agency promoting Cuban tourism. (Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images)
Former CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) Philip Agee, driving his automobile. (Photo by Ben Martin//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
The Spy who came in from the Co-op's husband...
Among them, Robert Lipka - an NSA employee paid $27,000 for supplying information to the Soviets in the 1960s.
Then, there's Philip Agee - he's the ex-CIA officer who turned against the agency and published a long list of American spies. According to the new documents, he used material given to him by the KGB.
We do have new details on Melita Norwood - the so-called "Grandmother spy" - who was the KGB's longest-serving British agent. According to The Guardian, the documents reveal she "passed on a lot of valuable materials for nuclear energy which she accessed by removing them from her boss's safe, photographing them and then placing them back."
Other deep cover spies were less reliable. The notorious Cambridge Five were British spies recruited while studying at Cambridge University, according to The Telegraph. The KGB worried they were constantly drunk and at risk of blowing their cover.
Then again, what's a spy without a martini in hand?
Before he died in 2004, Mitrokhin had asked for his files to be made public. After a vetting process, thousands were translated and released to researchers by the Churchill Archives at Cambridge University.