The Farewell Dossier
rah at shipwright.com
Fri Mar 2 05:38:06 PST 2007
A "Farewell" Message from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush
By Dr. Paul Kengor
Friday, March 2, 2007
A central factor in how Ronald Reagan won the Cold War, and did so with
greater support along the way than the current president, was his ability
to find means to undermine the enemy without losing thousands of American
lives. An intriguing example, one that has eluded history, is the Farewell
This top-secret effort was part of the devastating strategy of economic
warfare pursued by Reagan and a handful of intimate advisers-a strategy so
sensitive that those involved publicly denied that a campaign was underway.
A central architect of that effort, National Security Adviser Bill Clark,
was confronted on the covert strategy by Soviet Ambassador Anatoly
Dobrynin, who whispered to him at a diplomatic function, "You have declared
war on us, economic war." Clark could only answer Dobrynin two decades
later, once the Soviet Union imploded: "Yes, we had."
Former president Gerald R. Ford, left, lends his support to fellow
Republican and presidential candidate Ronald Reagan and running mate George
Bush, seen here on the final day of campaigning in Peoria, Ill., in this
Nov. 3, 1980, file photo. Ronald Reagan gets more credit than he deserves
for winning the Cold War, former President Gerald Ford told his hometown
newspaper before his death. The best president of his lifetime, Ford said,
was a more moderate Republican: Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ford commented on
fellow presidents of the second half of the 20th century during a series of
interviews with the Grand Rapids newspaper over more than 25 years, on
condition that his remarks be withheld until after his death. (AP Photo,
The Farewell Dossier became part of this campaign.
This super-secret initiative was entrusted to an enigmatic NSC staffer
named Gus Weiss, who I interviewed several times before he died in November
2003. Nearing the end of his life, Weiss wanted to discuss this effort
"that no one knows about." Here is how it unfolded:
The Reagan administration suspected that Soviet intelligence was stealing
critical technology from the West. Not until 1981, however, was an
organized Soviet program discovered, when French intelligence obtained the
services of a 53-year-old defector named Colonel Vladimir Vetrov. Vetrov
became known as "Farewell."
Farewell photographed 4,000 KGB documents, fully revealing the Soviet
espionage program. In July 1981, Francois Mitterand-in a rare example of
French cooperation in Reagan's economic war-told Reagan about Vetrov and
offered the intelligence to the United States. Reagan gratefully accepted.
Reagan then asked CIA director Bill Casey to consider how to best use
Farewell's material. That fall, Gus Weiss was cleared to read it.
Weiss learned that the KGB had created a unit called Directorate T, tasked
to plumb the R&D of Western nations. Directorate T's operating arm was
named Line X. Through this apparatus, said Weiss, "a master plan" was
developed to acquire American high-tech products and know-how.
The material Weiss read confirmed his worst nightmares: Line X had been so
successful, said Weiss, "that the Soviet military and civil sectors were in
large measure running their research on that of the West, particularly the
United States." Radar, machine tools, semiconductors-much of which went
into Soviet defense.
Colonel Vetrov spilled the beans on Directorate T, divulging the names of
over 200 Line X officers stationed throughout the West and more than 100
leads on Line X activities.
Weiss planned an ingenious response: Thanks to Farewell, Reagan's NSC was
in possession of a Line X shopping list of Soviet-needed technology. Weiss
offered a suggestion: U.S. counter-intelligence could supply some of these
technologies, but with a fatal catch: the products would appear genuine but
would prove defective.
Impressed, Casey took Weiss's plan to Reagan in January 1982. Reagan
immediately gave the go-ahead. There were no written memoranda on the
project, which would require close cooperation between Casey's CIA, Defense
Secretary Cap Weinberger's Pentagon, and suppliers who would modify key
products and make them available to Line X.
By mid-1982, shipments of defective products were arriving in the
USSR-contrived computer chips that found their way into Soviet military
hardware, flawed turbines, faulty plans for chemical plants, and more. The
results were at times literally explosive:
In one dramatic example only recently shared by NSC staffer Tom Reed to
Washington Post reporter David Hoffman, in the summer of 1982 rigged
software triggered a huge explosion in the gigantic Siberian gas
pipeline-an extremely expensive project designed to provide the USSR with
essential hard currency. The software was designed to pass Soviet
quality-acceptance tests, to work temporarily, and then to malfunction. The
software that ran the pumps, turbines, and valves in the pipeline was
programmed to produce pressures beyond the capacity of the pipeline's
According to Reed, U.S. satellites picked up the explosion, which was so
enormous that NORAD feared a small nuclear device had been detonated.
Ironically, Reagan had spent two years trying to get Western European
leaders to join him in blocking construction of the pipeline; they refused.
Alas, he found a device.
Today, it is easy to oversimplify comparisons between Ronald Reagan and
George W. Bush, and to commend Reagan for not losing lives in his war
against global communism while assailing Bush for losses in his war against
global terrorism. These are two totally different enemies.
Nonetheless, Reagan's use of economic warfare represents the sort of
ingenuity a modern president needs to fight and win, especially in a nation
with understandably little tolerance for body bags and with political
opponents in constant attack mode. From the graveyard of history and
through the past voices of Ronald Reagan, Bill Casey, Cap Weinberger, and
Gus Weiss, the Farewell Dossier should speak to George W. Bush and his
team. It is now up to the current president to search the Middle East for
his own Farewell, and the courage to use him.
Paul Kengor is associate professor of political science and executive
director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College in Grove
City, Pennsylvania. His most recent book is The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and
the Fall of Communism (HarperCollins, 2006).
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
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