What happened next is of paramount significance. As a senior member of James
Jesus Angleton's counter-intelligence staff explained, almost immediately after President
Nixon's inauguration in January 1969 a directive was sent from the White House to the CIA, ordering them to cease debriefing Sejna immediately and, in the process of getting rid of him, not to give him a job in the US Government. Even more amazing than this White House interest in a Czechoslovak defector who had been so unimportant that he had only been worth debriefing about tactical military matters, were the lengths to which the CIA went to implement the White House directive as fast as was humanly possible.
Sejna was told that the debriefings had been terminated and the next day he was moved out of the safe house. Without arranging for a new identity for Sejna, or paying any evident attention to Sejna's personal security, the CIA proceeded to help Sejna find a house to rent in Maryland. On almost his first day in the new house, the US Postal Service delivered an envelope addressed to 'General Sejna' from the real estate agent. It was his
copy of the rental agreement. The actual rent, he learned, was more than the stipend he
was receiving from the CIA. He next learned that his neighbour was a Bulgarian diplomat. Finally, in the process of locating a school for his son's fiancee's brother, who had defected in August 1968 and after several months had been reunited with his sister, he had asked the CIA to see if a local school was safe. He was told that they had checked it out and it was
- only to learn later that the children of ten Czechoslovak diplomats were then attending the school. Can all this be excused as oversight, or as an unfortunate string of coincidences? Was he being taught a lesson? Or was the object to let the Soviets know where to find Sejna? Then he was told that there was no job for him in Washington -notwithstanding the initial agreement he had reached with the CIA which included productive employment, schooling for his son, and the stipulation that his son should not be drafted to serve in Vietnam (his son had a fused disc in his back), as conditions for Sejna's cooperation. The
CIA reneged on all three provisions.
The whole manner in which Sejna's debriefings were first carefully controlled and restricted to the tactical military area, notwithstanding Sejna's suggestions of more important areas for inquiry, and then precipitously terminated, raises serious questions. It would seem that someone with control mechanisms deep within the CIA and with access to the White House knew that Sejna was an explosive time bomb that needed to be defused.
Clearly, Sejna's knowledge placed in jeopardy numerous Soviet Bloc operations, methods, agents and plans. The problem was certainly recognised by the controlling powers the instant his defection became known. It also seems that his importance was unlikely to have been known by CIA or White House officials because of limitations in their own background knowledge, as previously described. The debriefing process kept Sejna out of the way for a year; but the emergence of his manuscript could well have
underscored the need to seek a more permanent solution. Whatever the cause, the same
powers that controlled the process may have recognised that additional measures were required. Timing is the essence of success in intelligence work. The confusion within the (new) Nixon Administration provided an ideal cover for displacing the threat that Sejna represented; hence, the White House directive following the inauguration.
The question is, who took that decision? It seems reasonable to conclude that more than one person was involved, just as more than one person would have been needed to control the debriefing process so completely and effectively for ten months. The operation appears to have enjoyed advance CIA-White House coordination. That is, the skids
appear to have been well greased. Otherwise, implementation by the CIA would not have proceeded so expeditiously, if at all. Might there have been a linkage between the completion of Sejna's manuscript and its submission to the Reader's Digest, or was every- thing planned months in advance, only waiting for the turmoil associated with the arrival of the new administration for its implementation?
As part of his book contract with the Reader's Digest, Sejna was to work with the Digest in writing five articles. The first was placed in morion in April 1969. It dealt with the seizure of the US intelligence collection ship, Pueblo, by the North Koreans on January 23,
1968. In the article26 Sejna, set forth the time, place, and circumstances when he was informed by Marshal Andrei Grechko, the Soviet Minister of Defence, of the Soviet strategy to humble the US intelligence collection program.
Sejna described the entire Soviet strategy, including the logic underlying the use of the North Koreans and the Soviet excitement over the volume of intelligence they obtained when they briefed the top Czechoslovak leadership a few days before Sejna's departure for the West.
What was particularly unfortunate about the failure of US intelligence to have obtained the information about Soviet objectives and their use of North Korean intelli- gence is the possibility that the information, if obtained earlier, might have been used to
avoid the shooting down of the US EC-121 reconnaissance plane which occurred over the
Sea of Japan in April 1969.
Alternatively, it is also easy to understand why the US strategic leadership might not have liked what Sejna had to say. For example, in the article, he described the situation the day after the Pueblo was seized, when Soviet Colonel General Aleksandr Kushchev, the principal Soviet military adviser in Prague, explained to the most senior members of the Czechoslovak leadership what had happened:
The entire operation went off smoothly - incredibly smoothly. The Pueblo crew, to a man, capitulated. They did not fire a shot. Frankly, we thought it would be much more complicated. The Americans were so bewildered that they failed to destroy thousands of documents. It will take our experts quite a while to analyse them. We've all heard about what a great communications and command system the Americans have, how they use computers, how they can respond instantly to an attack'.
'Well, yesterday it took Washington literally hours to pull itself together and even begin to react. This is a precise example of how the most advanced military technology cannot compensate for a lack of will and leadership'27.
The Preface to the article by Jan Sejna was particularly interesting. After introducing the author, the editor acknowledged that the article had been excerpted from Sejna's forthcoming book and then stated: 'Much of what he reports here cannot be confirmed because of the rarefied circles in which he moved. But he has been interviewed at length by Digest editors, and specific references that could be cross-checked have been painstakingly investigated. No contradictions have been discovered'.
Similar findings were reported by Lord Chalfont in 1975, when he wrote the series of three articles for The Times of London, previously cited, based on interviews with Sejna. No- one, to my knowledge, including top US and British intelligence and counter-intelligence specialists who worked with Sejna, has ever found any honest reason to question
Sejna's bona fides. The Reader's Digest article also carried a concluding paragraph which the editor (possibly a different editor) added to Sejna's article. That paragraph read as follows:
'General Sejna's assertions were made available to the Reader's Digest last April 13, just two days before North Korean MIGs shot down a US Navy EC-121 reconnaissance plane in the Sea of Japan. No evidence exists at this writing that the Soviet Union had a hand in this second act of piracy perpetrated by the North Koreans within 15 months'.
Why did the Reader's Digest editor suddenly call into question Sejna's intelligence by now referring to what Sejna had to say as 'assertions'? Why did the editor further suggest that both acts of piracy were perpetrated by the North Koreans when Sejna had just finished explaining that the Pueblo affair was a Soviet-conceived and directed operation? And why did the editor suddenly and gratuitously suggest that there was no evidence that the Soviet Union was involved in the second act of piracy? If anything, the presumption should have been that the second act of piracy had merely been a continua- tion designed to capitalise on the success of the first act.
It was established as early as 1946 that Soviet intelligence set up, trained and directed North Korean intelligence. This Soviet direction continued with little diminution of control well beyond the Pueblo and EC-121 incidents. Moreover, the CIA had determined that the Soviets routinely passed data on the location of American ships in North Korean waters to North Korean intelligence28.
Sejna confirms Soviet control of North Korean intelligence, and adds that North Korea was often used as a transfer country for bringing people covertly into Soviet Bloc countries29. Additionally, it may be relevant to recall that Soviet pilots are known to have flown North Korean planes in combat with the United States during the Korean War, although this fact was kept secret for many years.
One has to wonder: what was going on. Why would the Digest have wanted to undercut its own article?
All three Washington newspapers carried stories about Sejna's article and both the Associated Press and United Press International despatched stories on the international and domestic wires. Interestingly, the New York Times printed nothing. As the Digest editor who worked with Sejna in preparing the article wrote to him following publication of the article, 'Why [the New York Times ignored the article], I cannot imagine'.
As indicated earlier, after Sejna's debriefings were abruptly terminated, he was told that there was no job for him in the government. Soon thereafter, the CIA persuaded Sejna to accept a small lump-sum payoff and then arranged to have him relocated to Lake George, New York. The CIA also helped him obtain a restaurant, which he would then manage as his 'new life'. Who made the decision to move a former high-ranking Communist with no capitalist experience into a business in what has to be regarded as a particularly capitalistic region of New York State is another important unanswered ques- tion. Needless to say, Sejna's business failed, and within nine months he was destitute.
Repeated calls to the CIA for assistance went unanswered. Finally, in desperation and with his son's help, Sejna wrote a short letter to the director of the CIA, Richard Helms, explaining the tragic nature of his situation and offering his advice on how the CIA could change their approach to handling defectors so that this type of situation would be avoided in the future. The letter did generate action. The Czechoslovak-speaking member of the Soviet Bloc division of the CIA went up to Lake George and brought Sejna
and his family back to Washington.
Before examining what happened after his return, it is important to recognise one positive accomplishment of Sejna's while he struggled to survive, capitalist style, in upstate New York. He redid the manuscript for his book in accordance with instructions from the Reader's Digest editor. The second draft was finished about the same time that Sejna had reached the end of his financial rope, in November 1969.
Subsequently, after his return to Washington, while he was trying to repair his own self-esteem, the Reader's Digest arranged to have an emigre Czech professor translate the new manuscript and also hired a full-time editor, whom they set up in the Sheraton Hotel in Washington for six months, at no small expense, to edit the translated manuscript.
By early summer, the manuscript had been completed and the New York Reader's Digest editor told Sejna that the manuscript was fine and needed no further editing. They would be back in touch with him in Washington in a few weeks. A few weeks went by with no word received. He telephoned to learn what was happening, and was told to go to the Washington office, where he was informed by the Washington editor that the Readers' Digest had decided not to publish the book for economic reasons. Sejna recalls the editor's simple explanation: 'It was not our decision'.
General Sejna's attempts to find a US publisher for the manuscript proved to be fruitless*. It was not until British intelligence offered to help that a publisher was found -a British publisher. Sejna's book, We Will Bury You, was finally published in 1982 by the London firm of Sidgwick & Jackson. Of course, by that time many people in the West regarded what Sejna had to say as ancient history.
When General Sejna was brought back to Washington at the end of 1969, his control was transferred to counter-intelligence under James Angleton. While there were some indications of a broader range of interest in Sejna's knowledge on the part of his handlers in counter-intelligence, he was, if anything, treated worse than he was in 1968 - when at least the debriefings were professional if not well-directed. At one point in time, he was asked to write several papers, and a CIA retiree who was a Czechoslovak defector was brought in to help translate and write down what Sejna had to say.
Among the information contained in those short papers were the first revelations on the Soviet Bloc's training of international terrorists; the penetration by Soviet Bloc intelligence services of organised crime; the Soviet use of sports organisations in connection with military intelligence operations; the formal agreement concerning Soviet direction and control of the satellite countries' intelligence services signed at a meeting in Moscow of the heads of the Soviet Bloc intelligence services in October 1964; deception and maskirovka; and recommendations on the use of narcotics against the United States' forces in Korea30. The reaction of Sejna's handler to all this information was:
'You are writing too much. I do not have time to read it. Stop it'31.
During his 'tenure' in the counter-intelligence office, as another counter-intelligence officer explained, General Sejna was employed almost exclusively to read through count-
* Editor's Note: The same sterile and pointless game was played with a manuscript prepared by the genuine Soviet defector Anatoliy Golitsyn. After a fruitless search for a US publisher, a British publisher, Edward Harle Limited, who have produced the present work, was found; and The Perestroika Deception' duly appeared [1995 and 1998]. Initially, this Editor also, misguidedly, sought a US publisher on behalf of Mr Golitsyn. On one occasion, a US organisation known to have intelligence community connections wrote a warm letter of commendation about the new Golitsyn work to a publisher in the Washington area, based upon the provisional contents list for the book which had been provided by the Editor. In a separate sentence, though, the writer added that 'personally I don't agree with it'. The lesson appears to be that genuine (as opposed to controlled) defectors to the United States who are dissatisfied with their treatment at the hands of US intelligence, and seek to publish the fruits of their labours and experience in the interests of truth and integrity, would be best advised to approach publishers in London from the outset, without wasting time doing the rounds in Washington.