January 31, 2008

Whoa: Media Big and Clinton State Department Official (and Hillary Adviser) Strobe Talbot Accused of Being Soviet Intelligence Source By Defector
— Ace

Let's get some disclaimers out of the way: a charge is not proof.

A defector's word is not necessarily the gold standard.

Someone who prefers capitalism to communism might just want to make a lot of money after a lifetime of want.

Further, the book's charge is not that he was a bought-and-paid for spy by conscious decision, but rather an unwitting, gullible dupe. A media lefty whose ego could easily be stroked, and who thought he was "among friends" when chatting amiably about American foreign policy decisions and intentions with KGB agents.

Friends who, of course, just thought he was such a super, super smart guy that they would never betray his trust by reporting his words to their Soviet spymaster superiors.


The Media Blog has the link and the teaser:

How should the media handle sensational allegations that one of the most esteemed members of their profession, former Time magazine journalist and top Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott, was a dupe of the Russian intelligence service? How should they deal with hard evidence that one of their sacred cows, the United Nations, is penetrated by Russian spies?

The answer is that most of them will ignore it.

This is the fate they're giving to Comrade J, a blockbuster book about Russian espionage written by former Washington Post reporter and author Pete Earley.

Comrade J is about a Russian master spy, Sergei Tretyakov, who defected to the United States because he was disgusted with the Russian/Soviet system and wanted to start a new and better life with his family in America. He identifies former Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott, a current adviser to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, as having been a trusted contact of the Russian intelligence service.

Back in 2000, when Talbott was named head of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, he was described as "a key architect of U.S. foreign policy" during the Clinton years. He now heads the Brookings Institution, a liberal Washington, D.C. think tank.

But Tretyakov has some impressive credentials of his own. He wasn't just a low-level official. He is described as the highest ranking Russian intelligence official ever to defect while stationed in the U.S. and handled all Russian intelligence operations against the U.S. He served under cover from 1995-2000 at Russia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations but was secretly working for the FBI for at least three years.

Talbott denies the charges, calling them "erroneous and/or misleading," and his denials are featured on page 184 of the book. He says that he always promoted U.S. foreign policy goals and that the close relationship that he had with a top Russian official by the name of Georgi Mamedov did not involve any manipulation or deception.

This is not the first time that Talbott has come under scrutiny for his alleged contacts with agents of a foreign intelligence service. In 1994, when he was being considered for his State Department post in the Clinton Administration, he was grilled by Senator Jesse Helms, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about his relationship with Victor Louis, a Soviet "journalist" who was actually a Soviet KGB intelligence agent. Talbott had been a young correspondent for Time magazine in Moscow.


Romerstein, a retired government expert on anti-American and communist propaganda activities, said the Earley book is valuable because it documents that the Russian intelligence service picked up where the KGB left off, and that operations against the U.S. continued after the end of the Cold War.

But he said the information about Talbott needs further explanation from Talbott himself. "Talbott really has to explain more than he did to Pete Earley what his relationship was to Mamedov, and he should tell us about his relationship with Victor Louis," Romerstein told AIM.

An intelligence source, it is claimed, but not a conscious one:


The book cites Talbott as an "example of how a skilled intelligence agency could manipulate a situation and a diplomatic source to its advantage without the target realizing he was being used for intelligence-gathering purposes." It says Mamedov was "instructed" by the SVR to ask specific questions to get information about certain matters.

"The point is that there are many ways to get intelligence," Earley explained. "And one of the best ways is not by stealing secrets but by becoming friends, getting people to let their guard down, massaging egos, and getting them to tell you helpful information."

However, the book says that Talbott was so compromised by his relationship with Mamedov that the FBI asked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright not to share information with Talbott about an espionage investigation at the State Department because Mamedov might learn about it and tip off Russian intelligence. Earley says he confirmed this account but that Albright has refused to discuss the incident.

Click on the Media Blog link to go to Accuracy in Media and read the whole thing.

Eh, it's not a big story. Not sexy or important or scandalous or anything else that would justify coverage.

I can of course see why our courageously curious media simply can't be bothered to dig into it.

It's either true or it's not true, of course. The media could probably help figure out which, but really, isn't it really better to not know? I mean, digging into it could lead to bad facts, and no one likes bad facts.

Our wise gatekeepers, The Deciders, are right to just hide this from us.

Thanks to CJ.

NPR Interview With Tretyakov: See-Dub of Junkard Blog says this NPR interview with the defector is very interesting.

And interesting for this reason, too: Not a single question about the explosive charges against Strobe Talbott. Fancy that!

I suppose I'll just throw out the possibility that it's possible that this lefty was a CIA asset for a long time, deliberately feeding the KGB what American intelligence wanted them to hear. A double agent.

And of course that would make Talbott a hell of a guy. Such a hell of a guy that he maintains his cover when repeatedly questioned about his suspect KGB pals.

I'm guessing that's not the case, though. The FBI advisory on him either means they were out of the loop (possible) or staged that incident to convince the Soviets Talbott was legit (also possible).

It's also quite possible this is precisely as high-ranking spymaster Tretyakov thinks it is: an arrogant fool who may have thought he could "reach out" to Soviets spies (probably posing as moderates looking to change the system from within) and concoct between them their own private path to detente.

Posted by: Ace at 02:53 PM | Comments (51)
Post contains 1148 words, total size 7 kb.


These are not the droids you're looking for.


Posted by: MSM at January 31, 2008 03:01 PM (DFVTW)


The thing that gets me is the "erroneous and/or misleading" denial.  Wow, is that ever some weak tea.  But what do I know?

Posted by: Joe Marier at January 31, 2008 03:06 PM (dr1s2)

3 A Clinton crony and head of a liberal think tank a dupe of the Russians?  Who in their wildest dreams would believe such a thing?  Has to be something cooked up by the VRWC.

And he's on Hillary's staff, too.  What an absolute shocker.  Shocker, I tell you.

Posted by: PrairieWind at January 31, 2008 03:10 PM (DM0G/)

4 Protein Wisdom linked this great NPR interview with Tretyakov yesterday.  Worth your 24 minutes.

Yes, NPR.  Yes, interviewing a Russian spy.  Yes, it's great.  Didn't mention Strobe, though!

Posted by: See-Dub at January 31, 2008 03:11 PM (CLmpi)

5 By the way, I fully expect that the MSM will treat this every bit as seriously as they did about similar accusations against Teddy Kennedy in 2006.

You remember that, right?  It was on the front page of the New York Times for weeks.

Posted by: See-Dub at January 31, 2008 03:14 PM (CLmpi)

6 A clueless, inept staff member unwittingly giving away America.
God the spin is disgusting from the Clinton camp of evil.
Now Obama, he would actually bring light to his giving it all away for free .Change.

Posted by: mbruce at January 31, 2008 03:14 PM (CxNJy)


I can't concentrate on this story because every time I read his name I have an epileptic fit.

Posted by: Hermit Dave at January 31, 2008 03:16 PM (Tk5HT)


Not that surprising that the MSM would overlook this.


Fifty years on the McCarthy period has been portrayed in a one-dimensional way – not one in ten know that there was an actual communist cell operating in Hollywood.


How many understand the importance of Russian Spy Alger Hiss as a top advisor to FDR at Yalta?  Not many.


Conclusion:  It you’re going to be a Spy, be a Democrat.

Posted by: Robert at January 31, 2008 03:17 PM (Rb4Qc)

9 Robert--Strobe was a director for the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.

In his day, Alger Hiss was president of the same organization.

Posted by: See-Dub at January 31, 2008 03:20 PM (CLmpi)

10 Can we question their patriotism yet?

Posted by: klrtz1 at January 31, 2008 03:32 PM (t4piD)

11 Support the troops? Yes, the Russian troops!

Posted by: klrtz1 at January 31, 2008 03:32 PM (t4piD)

12 Everyone does it!

Posted by: klrtz1 at January 31, 2008 03:33 PM (t4piD)


Even if not a full-scale leak, but I don't doubt the charges. Especially after Ted Kennedy helped the Soviets time after time.

But it's old news, as even Ace had a post on it.

Meh, take out the old news and replace it with "water under the bridge".

Posted by: TheEJS at January 31, 2008 03:40 PM (hBYdH)

Any guy with a name like Strobe Talbott has to be a commie spy. They all have weirdo names like that. Names indicative that they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, yet felt compelled to piss all over this country that gave them so much.

Posted by: dlm at January 31, 2008 03:49 PM (wxBdh)

15 I love how these liberal eggheads are so high on themselves that anybody can get just about anything out of them if they tell them how great they are.  Pathetic.

Posted by: geb4000 at January 31, 2008 03:50 PM (a1oRP)

16 Talbot was a "useful idiot" for the Soviets for decades.  Anyone who followed his career figured that out long ago.  This guy is just stating the obvious.

Posted by: The Great Depression at January 31, 2008 03:51 PM (ERV3B)

17 One wonders what the idiot Albright was duped into doing.

That woman is a complete moron.

Posted by: E Buzz Miller at January 31, 2008 03:53 PM (v/XJX)

18 >>>Any guy with a name like Strobe Talbott has to be a commie spy. They
all have weirdo names like that. Names indicative that they were born
with a silver spoon in their mouths, yet felt compelled to piss all
over this country that gave them so much

True.  Probably fueled by both arrogance and guilt -- after all, they truly don't deserve the money they inherited.  They extrapolate from personal experiences.

The Cambridge Spies were all monied, I think:


Posted by: ace at January 31, 2008 03:58 PM (SXBHu)

19 You remember that, right?  It was on the front page of the New York Times for weeks.

да.  Они затопили зону с тем рассказом.

Posted by: Slublog at January 31, 2008 04:13 PM (icHSw)

20 One wonders what the idiot Albright was duped into doing.

We have pictures of her wearing a "kick me" sign taped to her ass.

Posted by: al-Jazzera at January 31, 2008 04:14 PM (ERV3B)

21 I'm just surprised the Chinese didn't bend him over too, being in the Clinton camp and all....

Posted by: Frank G at January 31, 2008 04:15 PM (Ydps9)

22 Highly unlikely that even an investigative journalist committed to finding something could come up with anything tangible. Talbott always came off as a pompous fool to me whenever I saw him on talking heads TV, but I doubt he was such a fool as to have left a paper trail or have left incriminating emails. Typical upper class lover of the great socialist experiment. But if there's any written evidence it's in a diary in a vault.

Posted by: ricpic at January 31, 2008 04:22 PM (+++MJ)

23 Wonder if Talbot was on his shoe phone to the Russians?

Posted by: FishFearMe at January 31, 2008 04:29 PM (8nB5X)

24 Or did they talk while in the Cone of Silence?

Posted by: FishFearMe at January 31, 2008 04:31 PM (8nB5X)


Slublog, âàø ðóññêèé óëó÷øàåò êàìðàäà.

Posted by: TheEJS at January 31, 2008 04:39 PM (hBYdH)


Wow, New Comments Thingy for the Win!

Íîâàÿ âåùü êîììåíòàðèåâ ìîæåò ïîéòè ê àäó.

Posted by: TheEJS at January 31, 2008 04:41 PM (hBYdH)

27 25

Slublog, âàø ðóññêèé óëó÷øàåò êàìðàäà


e i e i o?

Posted by: FishFearMe at January 31, 2008 04:49 PM (8nB5X)

28 ýòîò èäèîò blog ñîñåò

Posted by: FishFearMe at January 31, 2008 04:52 PM (8nB5X)


Actually, his odd-sounding yet kind of normal-sounding name does sort of ring Soviet spyish:

Whittaker Chambers, Alger Hiss, Lauchlin Currie, Strobe Talbot . . .

Posted by: DrZin at January 31, 2008 04:52 PM (JwSM5)


Whittaker Chambers, Alger Hiss, Lauchlin Currie, Strobe Talbot . . .


Ron Paul

Posted by: FishFearMe at January 31, 2008 04:55 PM (8nB5X)

31 I recall in the eighties, Strobe Talbott quotes were big in debates, I can't remember what they were about. Why anyone would trust a journalist in a position where information needs to be kept secret I don't know. Also big in debate were Richard Pipes "keep spending on SDI and the Soviet Union will fall" quotes. Of course no one believed Pipes. There was also a guy who predicted world fascism would be imposed unless environmental problems were addressed in the immediate future. I don't remember who that guy was.

Posted by: slickdpdx at January 31, 2008 05:02 PM (RIdwM)

32 êèé óëó÷øàåò êàìðàäàÍîâàÿ âåùññêèé óëó÷øàåò êàìðàäà

And so it goes.

Posted by: Kurt Vonegut at January 31, 2008 05:05 PM (1Mq7K)

33 I forgot my second n, dammit! (It's tough talking from beyond the grave).

Posted by: Kurt Vonnegut at January 31, 2008 05:11 PM (1Mq7K)

34 mbruce LOL nice


Who was the wacked Opus Dei FBI guy...Hanson? And there was an Ames as well.

Posted by: funky chicken at January 31, 2008 05:16 PM (I+jPP)

35 Wowee Zowee!! This could be huge .Does the FBI know about this ??
Oh, they do know about it. Well then it probably doesn't mean much then.

Posted by: John Ryan at January 31, 2008 05:32 PM (TcoRJ)


Just another 'citizen of the world' who understands that the only thing wrong with the world is the United States of America.

Ergo, he and the Russians are correctly on the same side, so by betraying the US, he was actually being loyal to mankind as a whole.

Posted by: maxxman at January 31, 2008 05:33 PM (OYeDg)


Oh, they do know about it. Well then it probably doesn't mean much then.

Small fish who got taken for a ride, dude. Not worth the effort.

Posted by: The Band at January 31, 2008 05:50 PM (/94xL)

38 Purple has it right.  Anyone who hadn't figured out this guy was an idiot and a spy, WAS an idiot. Oh, that would be Marilyn  Albright.

Posted by: kempermanx at January 31, 2008 06:30 PM (iLWmI)

Talbot was a "useful idiot" for the Soviets for decades.  Anyone who
followed his career figured that out long ago.  This guy is just
stating the obvious.

This is why I think Talbott wasn't an actual spy.  The Soviet paymasters weren't about to cough up big rubles for work they were getting for free.

Posted by: OregonMuse at January 31, 2008 08:16 PM (zTfCf)


Interesting that this guy, Tretyakov defects in 2000; not long after that, Hanson is uncovered; leading to a reheating of the Cold War, complete with diploma (spy) expulsions that lasted up until the President's meeting with Putin. Mr. Strobridge Talbot, came into the field as the translator on Kruschev's biography. In order to make these connections, he relied on fixers like Victor Louis, who was widely known as a KGB agent. In the 80s, he wrote at least two books that urged that Reagan's policies toward the Soviets be scrapped.

Posted by: narciso at January 31, 2008 08:31 PM (XWJh5)


Nothing in this report is particularly surprising if you're an Cold War dinosaur (like me) and have been paying attention for a decade or three.

The only thing I'd add is that
former DepSec Talbott is reputed to have been Pres. Clinton's roommate when the former president was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford (?). Which actually meant that the president-to-be slept on his floor. I can't corroborate that, it's just what I recall from the dim recesses of memory. Also, that in years of covering the Soviet Union as a journalist, former DepSec Talbott was never correct in any of his predictions.

Since I've been in D.C. and paying attention for simply years, is it any wonder I have low expectations for political appointees?

I've linked to you here.

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at January 31, 2008 08:55 PM (yLTlW)


Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

Penguin won't even ship that book into Canada for fear of being sued out of existence. You see, the book also accuses a Conservative  MP of spy too. That MP, now retired, was a celebrated anti-communist, is very much alive, and probably looking very much forward to litigating forever.

Besides which, Tretyakov only operated in Canada and the IAEA. Russian intelligence is a whole lot more compartmentalized than even the CIA. The chief of station in, say, Urguay wouldn't know about operations in, say, Sweden. It just doesn't work that way.

As much as I'd like to see a few more Clinton folks dirtied up, Tretyakov is full of shit and Pete Early is an idiot.

Posted by: skippystalin at January 31, 2008 09:09 PM (TUjSW)


On the other hand, you know who the accusations of Strobe Talbott's treason benefits?

Mitt Romney.

Posted by: skippystalin at January 31, 2008 09:14 PM (TUjSW)

44 I remember Talbott's book "Deadly Gambits" being held up in one of the debates (can't remember if it was '84 or '8 . So I read it to see what the big deal was. Basically  blowing the whistle on Reagan refusing to deal with the Soviets on arms limitations. We all know how badly that worked out.

Posted by: ken at February 01, 2008 08:10 AM (ueTby)

45 If you follow the links to the Accuracy In Media article, it adds that Talbott is a World Federalist. That proves he's a "useful idiot".

Posted by: Jack Bauer's Evil Brother at February 01, 2008 05:31 PM (x4ZpZ)

46 Just finishing the ComradeJ book and Sergei has a pretty good memory, I bet the FBI has a book on Strobe T. There must be some way to get this info about Strobe out into the public!

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