tv A Female Spy in Cold War Russia CSPAN December 8, 2018 10:25am-11:46am EST
former spy martha peterson talks about her book "the widow spy: my cia journey from the jungles of laos to the prisons of moscow." she explains why she joined the cia after her husband died. the bob graham center for public service at the university of florida hosted this event. it's an hour and 15 minutes. >> my name is david colburn, i'm director of the bob graham center. we are pleased to have with us this evening to introduce our speaker, mr. herb yardley. before he comes up i want to say that normally the way we do things is the speaker speaks between 30 and 45 minutes, the 15-20 minutes are questioned. we use this mic over here. you are welcome to come up and ask questions. we like our students to have the opportunity to go first.
everyone is welcome. we ask that you make no speeches. because we have a speaker. out of courtesy to everybody here this evening, if you could keep your questions succinct, that would help a lot. herb yardley is one of our great friends, if you look around this campus, you will not find herb and katherine's name in a lot of places, but they could be. they are too humble to put their names on anything. when you go to the gardens, they were done by herb and catherine. which is quite extraordinary. he has been a longtime friend of our speaker this evening. i would like him to do the introductions.
if you would. so herb, if you would. [applause] herb: everybody knows dave is an author, correct? everybody knows he's a historian, correct? you know those kind of people take liberties. don't pay a lot of attention to what he said. when i first came to this university in 1946 it was a boys' school. i'm sure you know the song we are the boys from old florida. that is what it was. women weren't allowed. now i find out 56% of the enrollment is women. and i find out we are in a much healthier position than we were then. a man was walking on the beach utside of los angeles. he found the bottle and rubbed it and out came the genie.
you know the story. the genie said, i will give you one wish. the man said, i've always wanted to go to hawaii, but i'm afraid of flying and i get seasick. would you build me a bridge from ere to hawaii? the genie said, that's more than we can ask, i can't do that. is there something else i can do for you? he said, would you give me the ability to understand women? the genie said, do you want a two-lane bridge or a four-lane bridge? [laughter] we are going to talk to your speaker tonight, who is a very accomplished woman. and as part of our generation, the people as old as i, we only used half of our population. we have a great country. think when we are going to use 100% of our population how much
better is our country going to be? we are going to get all of our citizens involved. the young lady that's going to talk you is one of the generations that didn't accept the minority position or the minority opportunities given to women. she said no, i can do a very good job in a very dangerous profession. i can do it as well as a man. and she did. our speaker has briefed presidents in the oval office. the current director of the cia served as her deputy. this is a very accomplished woman. before i finally introduce you, i want to introduce her husband to you. an engineer on the concorde project. it's my pleasure to introduce to you a very accomplished woman, mother of two, grandmother of one, martha peterson. martha: thank you.
thank you for a glowing introduction and thank you for having me here. it is a thrill to be at the university of florida because i have a great nephew here as well. i have always thought of the university of florida as a special place. i am amazed at how much it has grown over the years and what a wonderful opportunity it is for all of you who are attending here. people ask me why i would join the cia and how did that happen?
that is the starting point of my talk today. i went to a small university in new jersey. i studied sociology and psychology. i was just a generic student. i had very little interest in the cold war other than how it affected me personally. by having to sit under my desk in drills. i never thought i would end up working for the cia for 32 years. i met a man named john peterson. he and i began dating and eventually after college he went
into the army and into special forces and off to vietnam where everyone ended up. eventually after college he went this was in the late 60's. amazingly, he came back alive. many didn't, and we have a wall in washington to document back. it was only after he got married he told me he had applied for the cia. he wasn't allowed to tell me before we were married. he joined the cia and trained as a paramilitary officer. he went to camp perry in williamsburg, virginia, the secret training camp. and he accomplished all he had to there.
he announced to me that we had our first assignment overseas. it was to laos, a small landlocked country alongside vietnam. from laos we were to fight what the cia called their secret war in laos. if you are interested in all the factors that brought us to that point in history, it is well documented on the cia website. it is cia.gov. don't go to cia.org, that won't tell you much. trust me. our secret war in laos was to fight a war with very few americans involved compared to the war that was going on in vietnam. with this small group of cia men in laos, we were to train, equip and deploy laos soldiers who would interdict the flow of weapons to south vietnam.
the trail was about 12 kilometers from our house. in the north, the war was created to actually engage the north vietnamese army as well as the path of the army there. our job was well planned and orchestrated with a minimum of people and equipment. i must say in looking back we lost very few americans. jon's job was to organize these troops in south laos where we lived.
i didn't know much about the war when we went. i did not know much about laos. i didn't know much about cia. i learned on the job. i worked in the office. they hired about three or four american the wives of cia officers to keep us from drinking every afternoon. we figured that out. we did that too but we were hired to do the menial job in the office. through that contact i eventually got to know what the cia was about there and what we did around the world. my parents came to visit us in laos. what were they thinking? it's a 12 hour time zone difference. my mother and father arrived at
the airport and we put them in our british made land rover. it has the steering wheel on the wrong side. we boosted my mom into the back seat. off we went to our house. i called it our french colonial house. it was white and two stories. that was the similarity. when we got there, mother got out of the van. and she looked over to the side. she said, is that a marijuana plant? i said, i don't know, mom. you know what's interesting, i didn't know. that was in 1971. 72. my mother passed away in 1990 and i never asked her how she knew.
[laughter] they spent a week with us. john showed my father around. i took my mother downtown to the markets. the last day we were there in our living room, we heard this noise. mother looked at me and she said, martha what is that noise? i said it's lao thunder. i waited until we got to bangkok and i said it really wasn't, it was the t 28 bombers who were cia trained pilots.
they were bombing along the ho chi minh trail. it was a different world, and i was afraid my parents would fear for our safety. i race forward to 2005, i'm on a plane into los angeles, california. i get on the plane. my daughter, who i'm visiting their, has a van scheduled to pick me up. someone holds up a sign, i say that's me. he gets my suitcase, puts us in a van and it was just the driver and me. i looked up in the mirror and said, where are you from? he said, the far east. he said thailand. i said i lived in the far east, i lived in laos. he said in the capital? i told him where i lived, he looked at me and said my mother lives there. i used to work there. i was a t 28 pilot that used to
work for the cia. we used to bomb along the ho chi minh trail. there were tears and great conversation between us. we got to my daughter's apartment about an hour later. he got the bag out, i hugged my daughter. he came over to me and we had this wonderful embrace. my daughter looked at us and she said, "mom, that wasn't a very long trip." [laughter] small world. john went to work early one morning. he left the house at 4:00 a.m. he kissed me goodbye. he got his ak 47. he was dressed in his work clothes. he kissed me goodbye and he left.
it was october 19, 1972. that was the last i saw. he died that day in a helicopter crash. your life changes in a split second. like i said, it was a small group of cia men who were working there. and very few died. it was his time. i came home to the states. i didn't know what to do. we were 27. when your life stops short like that you have moments of total blankness. i also learned that the friends you make in the worst places in your lives are the friends you keep forever.
whether it is a bad place or a bad place you are in, you keep these friends forever. i went to have dinner with these friends who lived in maryland. i had to go to washington to sign legal papers. we sat around the table, his wife was a very good cook. i said what should i do now that this has happened to me? the interesting thing, we had wind that night. we drink wine with these wonderfully shaped bottles. this was gallows by the gallon. i think our ideas got even better. he said to me, why don't you go and work for cia? you have a masters degree, you have work experience and you can do the work that any fellow can do. i applied. the person who interviewed me wanted to make me a secretary.
they wanted to make me a training assistant. i said, i'm sorry, i want to be an operations officer. i want to do the work in the field, collecting intelligence. it took some time. john died in october and on july 3 of 1973 i was sworn in as a cia officer. i went through all the training with a few women. we had all made it through that loop, who knows how. and we all made it through the training. of course we had to find our first job. they offered me a very interesting position. they offered me a position in moscow.
ussr 1975. i had to spend 44 weeks learning the russian language. i also took karate at the time. that was on me. i wanted to be prepared. i also how also had to learn how to detect spot surveillance to detect spot surveillance following me. they use the fbi teams to follow us in our training program. i came out of that all fine. i had to learn how to use technical equipment, how to collect radio broadcasts and things like that. in november of 1975 i was ready to go.
i left florida with a heavy polo coat over my arm. i arrived in moscow on the fifth of november. they had a parade the next day for me, which was the october revolutionary parade. i remember landing at the airport and looking at the side of the runway as we taxied in. it looked like snow. it was snow. it was not sand like i had left in florida. they had already had a significant snowfall in moscow. it was a very abrupt start. they had no jet ways at the time. you walk down the staircase onto the tarmac. i had that heavy coat and i was glad. i remember looking at the sign over the airport.
thinking i wonder how many people are looking at me and wondering whether or not i'm a cia spy. i got inside the airport, i gave the man my passport. he took it under the desk and he looked at it. he looked at me and looked at the passport. he told me i could go on. i thought that was the first hurdle. i was driven to a hotel in moscow where i spent only one night. that night was lonely. i had no rubles so i couldn't go out to eat, but my mother had packed a bag of apples in my
bag. that was dinner. i was wondering all the time, where are they looking at me from in this hotel room? you get instantly paranoid in a situation like that. the next day i went to the embassy and to the cia station, which we call our cia offices overseas. i was welcomed by my chief who had made this assignment possible for me. as well as many other young people, all men. i was the only woman in the station in moscow. my first job was to go out and detect whether i was being followed by the kgb. i bought an orange fiat, that was the color of the day. they panted so many orange,
so many blue, so many green, mine was orange. i thought i will be easy to follow. i went back to the office, and they gave me a piece of equipment to wear. it was called an srr100. it was called an srr100. it is an eavesdropping piece of equipment. it had one frequency, one crystal in it. it would pick up the communications between the members of the kgb surveillance team. it was a box about that big. it plugged into the top of the box. and then the men in the station had this harness. we didn't want anyone to know we wore this piece of equipment.
they would put on the harness and it had a pocket in it and they would slip the radio in there. i had different equipment. the harness didn't fit my equipment. i would tuck it in the front of my bra or in the side of my bra. it never worked very well. i was always afraid it would become apparent to people. in february of 1976, there was a new invention. they sent it out to moscow. it was called velcro. with this strip of velcro i ripped up a t-shirt.
i made a pouch for it, which i velcroed to it to the side of my bra, it was in movable. the next piece was the earpiece and off i was to detect if i had surveillance. i would drive, i would stop, i would get out. take them out of my car and put them back in. i would go to the store wearing this sr-100. what i would listen for is the kgb talking to one another about my movements, correlating to my movements. when the fellows all surveillance all the time would go out this is what they would hear on their earpiece. the target is turning right, target is turning left, target is lost, target is home. that's what they were hearing.
when i went out this is what i heard. absolutely nothing. so i changed the batteries. i figured it was a user problem. i changed the batteries. still, i heard nothing. the only time i heard transmissions through the ear piece was when i was in the company of an embassy officer who liked to taunt the kgb and he would get surveillance. i would hear his surveillance conversation through my ear piece when i was close to him. his team was close to them. they would go, have you heard any surveillance? i would say no. of course they all go, she's not seeing it. they would set up elaborate plans around the city. my colleagues would be out and about.
they verified that i had no surveillance. not once in my career did i ever trust that. i always did my counter surveillance runs. why were we in moscow? we were there collecting intelligence from live sources. from soviet sources who had been able to be recruited overseas. cia officers were looking for kgb and soviet officials who would be willing to work covertly for the cia. the first officer who i handled and the only one really in moscow was recruited in bogotá, colombia.
we have a telephone tap on the soviet embassy. from that we learned that there was a man in the soviet embassy there who didn't quite color inside the lines. he liked to party, he liked to drink. he did money exchanges and he had several girlfriends among them. his boss' wife. we knew he was different from the standard kgb officer, who is generally pretty by the book. we realized he had a latin girlfriend as well. someone actually from spain.
her name was pilar. so she went home one month to visit her family. on the way back through the airport we had one of our colombian friends pulled her aside and ask her whether she would be willing to speak to someone who was interested in her boyfriend. she arranged for us to meet with the soviet official. his name was alexander. his codename was trigon. that's how we always referred to him. the arrangement was for one of officers to meet trigon in the hotel in the turkish bath.
you can't make this stuff up. you figure when men going to a turkish bath, they wear a towel. they couldn't hide a listening device. our officer met him in the turkish bath. trigon knew exactly what we were talking about. he said he was willing to provide americans with soviet secrets that he could obtain through his position in the soviet embassy. that's where the story started about trigon. he worked for us there from january of 1974 until the fall of 1974 when he went back home at the end of this tour. he was married. his wife worked there. he provided us all kinds of intelligence from the soviet embassy. we were interested in the plant's intentions of the soviet
-- plans intentions of the soviet government and latin america as well as what the the soviets were collecting on the chinese. at first he took handwritten notes of the documents and then he used a 35mm camera. you can only imagine, they make a huge noise when they go click. you don't notice it until you are worried about it. eventually we gave him a camera, which was concealed in a fountain pen. when i talk to young groups i have to explain what that is. the camera was inside the barrel of the pen. he would hold the camera up and push this down, which took a
complete page of a document and it also moved the frame forward one. it was the most miraculous camera we ever had. we tried to have it duplicated by an outside company but this was created by a cia technician. it was film, though. we had to develop it. we had to get the film back from him in order to send it back to washington for it to be developed. that was how he provided us with 60-80 frames of documents per cassette.
the cassettes he would change out in the barrel of the pen. we trained him on all kinds of things before he went back to moscow. we trained them on radio broadcasts, on secret writing and how to use carbon to write notes on the back of letters. and we also taught him different photography techniques to use with his camera. he was a very well trained agent. he was eager to be the best agent we had. he was very productive. i think he got satisfaction from that part. it was the ego. he was very clever and productive. all the time we are training him, he is carrying on this
affair with a spanish woman named pilar. as he approached the time to depart from from bogotá to moscow he came to the case officer there, the cia officer, and she told the cia officer she was pregnant. she didn't want to tell trigon this. she wanted him to go back to moscow and then be ex filtrated out of moscow by the cia, then they could live their life. this was what she had hoped for. and also he agreed. he never knew about his daughter. he also had one stipulation before he left and went back to moscow. he wanted a way to commit suicide in the event he was arrested and faced interrogation and brutal torture. and death. the cia agreed to do this. i was shocked. i was a brand-new officer.
i had never heard of such a thing being given to an agent. we agreed to do that. when we returned to moscow, we put in a second pen. inside the barrel of this pen, in the place where the ink is stored was a small capsule of poison. i have been asked what kind of poison. i don't know. it was supposedly very effective. it was at the end of this reservoir of ink. in the event he was caught, he could take his pen and bite down on the barrel of it and commit suicide. in the event he was caught, he could take his pen and bite down
on the barrel of it and commit suicide. he also had a third pen, it was the normal pen that worked as a pen. what we wanted him to have was always that pen in his pocket. it was accepted as part of his daily dress, what he wore every day. how we kept him straight, i will never know, but he knew which was which. he went to moscow and arrived in the fall of 1974. i arrived in 1975. we told him we would keep him on ice for a whole year. it was shortly after my arrival in november of 1975 that he put up a signal that he was ready to deliver a package to us. the package was to be located of a sidewalk. our deputy chief of station, jack, was selected to go because he jogged every morning. he is a marine and he jogged a similar route every morning.
he would get up at 5:30 in the morning and would go up along the river. on his return back he would come through that area. the day that he picked up the graph, his surveillance team was sitting in their car. why? because he has come to train them. it was very cold out. it was like 20 degrees fahrenheit. instead of following this man up and out in the cold, they realized he was going up, he would turn around and come back. he really had trained his team. they sat in the warm car as they watched him go up and come back and he went through the area. he reached down, he picked up the package and tucked it inside his jogging suit. you those pyramid shaped milk cartons were kind of crushed.
when jack got back to the station that morning after he went home and changed his clothes and came to work our technical officer opened it up and inside with three pieces of paper. two of which had children's drawings on. one was a jungle gym looking thing in the other look like a small sailboat. on the back he had used his secret writing, training and carbon and had written us an extensive note. he said he was glad to be back in touch with us. he had divorced his wife to keep her out of these nefarious affairs. he did say that he had acquired a new position. that is what we knew people were most interested in. his position was in the ministry of foreign affairs in the global office.
at his desk he said, he received documents from all around the world that were written by soviet in bassett sitters and embassies. so they had embassies in every capital of the world. that is what he had access to on a daily basis at his desk. he could read what the impassive -- the ambassador in tokyo was doing and writing about the activities in tokyo or in mexico city, or in london, or in washington, d c. he was reading the letter back to the ministry of foreign affairs. it was absolute gold. there were five copies made. it was called a blue border report and there were only five
copies made for the president, vice president, of course for the secretary of defense and secretary of state. he had not only fulfilled getting back into the country safely, going truly investigations, which they all had to comment he now had landed a job in the ministry of foreign affairs. now, my job and all of us in the station was to go out and pick up that job from their which contained cassettes from the camera, which we also gave to him once he got back into moscow. so, because of my lack of surveillance, and of course you understand why i had no surveillance. look at me, who would follow me. i acted just like every other
single woman in the embassy. i drank beer, i went to the marine bar. i went to the marine house movies. i had friends, girlfriends in the embassy. i went to wine and cheese parties. went out in the city. we drove all around on weekends looking at churches. doing what a normal single woman would do in moscow. who would follow? this is what happens. the kgb overlook me. they did not realize that i was an operations officer. i also had the profile of all the other single women in the in the embassy. there was a site that was case by another officer before i got there. it was within a war memorial
park south of the city and that is where we had a deadlock site. called les. it was there that try gone and i exchanged packages. i would go on a specific day on the calendar that we gave him and i would go out and do a two and a half hour surveillance run around the city. the team in the station, we would sit around and we would design the route i would take. i would drive that route and spend 2.5 hours looking and listening for surveillance. if i discovered i had no surveillance i would park my car in a location which would not come under suspicion for a car
with diplomatic plates on it. it was generally closer to the city on the side street. i would leave the car there, i would get into the subway system and i would ride several stops. i would change. another line. i would change, eventually i would get out at a metro stop not too far from the location. i would walk from there out into the part. -- park. the park had a one way road to the center of it. and it was coming towards me as i walked along the path under the trees on the right side. there was the same path under the trees on the other side of the road. i went down to the right side of the road under the tree, though
i could not be seen from anyone driving on the road. i walked down a ways and then i looked over and there was the lamp post that had a number on it. all of the lampposts were numbered. we had given him the location and the number on the post. is it show action's were that the officer would deliver a package to him at this particular lamppost. i would deliver it at 9:00 at night. he was to come one hour later at 10:00, pick up the package i left for him and put down his package for me. i would come back one hour later and pick his package up.
this was called a double exchange. the the only way we could do this is if i had no survey lands. i would never take surveillance to a spot and then returned to a spot. this was really typical to the types of deliveries that we made. brought along an example of what i delivered in the woods. it was a log. this is from our home in wilmington, north carolina. it would not be typical to a log in the middle of the woods. but i wanted to show you about the size of the package. this was made at our lab in washington. they cut the top off, hollow it out and then inside we would place all the things we wanted them to have.
first, the camera pen. we would put in there a role of money in different denominations. just a few it happen asked her bit of money. most of his pay went into an escrow account at cia. he never had hundreds of thousands of dollars in his hand in moscow. we found agents often overspent and charged interest in themselves. they put in here emerald jewelry. he had requested that. we buy emerald jewelry and then included in his package. he gave that emerald jewelry to his mother. he knew that if anything happened to him she probably would not get any life insurance money. we also put in here a personal note to him just to tell him
that we were proud of him. not being specific as to the intelligence he was providing in case some stranger found him. that is what was put in the log. i would walk up to the lampposts and i would drop it down at the base of the lampposts so it look like it just fell off of the tree. like i said, because i had no surveillance, we just dropped -- drop site often. this is the drop site that i eventually gave him the pen that contain the poison in it. then, i would leave their and i would walk into a very large soviet housing development and walk around. needless to say, i always wear
colored clothing. i have long hair, which i put back and i try to look as un-american as i possibly could. after he came and picked up the package and left his package. in two hours i would come back and then i would pick up his package. he was very creative. he used that pyramid shape milk are in often, but he also uses one glove, which was oil filled crumbly and nasty. inside he would put his package for me. if it were these cassettes out of the camera he would wrap those inside of a condom he would tie it tight.
at the top of it so it would remain dry and clean. he also put in that package. a role of 35mm film, which was his operational note back to us. it was not developed film. it was raw filmed undeveloped in in the event someone found it. if they did they would pull it out and expose the film and ruined it. he also wrote us a very long letter and he would take his camera and take a picture of each page. that was his note to us. he would tell us how he would feel. he was telling us his personal trials and how the car did not work. just personal notes to us, which we always read with such great interest. i cannot imagine what it was like for him to sit in the foreign affairs all by himself, taking pictures covertly with a
pen, secreting these little cassettes, living on his own and living this life of complete secrecy. he did have several girlfriends. at one time i went to deliver a package and as i approach the street crossing, before i went down the path a car came by me and i could not believe when i looked at the license plate that it was him driving his car so close to the site. but we cannot control him and agents cannot be controlled. you can give them all the advice and counsel. but the worst part of that particular evening, he had a girl in the front seat and i thought is he going to take her to the site. she was blonde and she had a ponytail. i always wonder why he took her
so close to the site so we did this regularly. we used other sites as well, but we always did a swap like this. his production was magnificent. until april of 1977. that is when there were anomalies in his package. i went one night to put down his package and pick up a package from him and as i got to the site there had been a tremendous storm. i went down in the woods and i approached the site and there was a car parked over in the road. i had never seen that before. he walked past the pole and went down the hill a little bit. as i got down to a little dip in the past, a man came to my right, he had a big black raincoat. he had a military cap with a
shower cap on the top of it and he had a big black flashlight. i walked down the path and i kept walking until i got to a certain point and stepped off the path and i waited. i thought, maybe they were out looking for me. maybe they were out looking for him. when i return, i went back up on the other side of the road. the van was gone. nobody was in the park. i crossed the street and looked down and in my package was still there on the ground. he had not been there. that was the end of april of 77. we were out of delivery dates then so we went to him on his broadcast and we said to him, if you can, park your car at a
certain parking place on the 14th of july. if you can't do that than something is wrong with your car, make a mark on a child crossing sign. came july 14 he had not parked his car. we were very concerned about him. on july 15 i'd drove by this site in it was it child crossing sign your school and there was a red mark on the site indicating that he was ready to deliver a package to us. but he rarely made marks on signs, and certainly not in bright red. as i drove past that site that morning i just continue driving. i went into the embassy and i said, the signal was up. he may or may not have made it because it was such a vibrant red and so perfectly drawn.
we had a new chief at the station and he said we will go out and we will pick up this package. i had a day job in the embassy. i am not allowed to talk about that, but you can look online and read about my day job. i got the package for that night when i went to the day job. we got this out of the liquor store parking lot it was a piece of concrete or asphalt and it was a little thicker but you get the idea out of the sides of it. inside was where we put all of his materials inside the cavity.
this piece of gear i put in my purse and i took off to do my two and a half hour run as well as to park my car. i parked right off gorky street. i got in the metro and now i him hyper looking for surveillance because i him really concerned about his safety, having missed the one day and then of course the stencil mark on the sign. i got to the site and i realized i was a little early. the site itself was on the moscow river. i turned away and walked up the river. 10 minutes later i turned around. as i came back i saw three men across the street that had white dress shirts on and it is very light outside in moscow because of summer and it is always light in the summer.
these three men were walking on the other side of the street. they turned into a cemetery, which is a very famous cemetery with the cosmonauts and a lot of artists. it was not unusual for people to be out on the street at 9:00 at night. i proceeded onto the bridge. i went up the 47 or so steps to the top of the bridge. there were pillars on top of the ridge. it went right through the center of this one pillar. inside that pillar was a narrow window up to the right so i took it out of my purse, i extended my arm and i put it in this little window there. we had used it before so i knew he would know where the package was located. i walked out into the middle of the bridge.
i realize nobody was around. i heard nothing on my radio so i walked back through the pillars and down the 47 steps. i was the fourth step from the bottom when the three men came across the street towards me. the middle guy said, fan out, don't let her run. i thought, i am going to get raped and mugged. i knew what the reason was. something had happened to him. i was not sure of that. in instances of high emotions, your reasoning is not always where it should be. they grabbed me by my arm and the guy in the middle web my -- went for my purse. my purse had nothing in it
except my car keys, my diplomatic card and my drivers license. women do this, when someone goes for their purse we do like this to protect our purse. i ran his hand right into the sr 100 and that is when he began to get into my blouse and tried to peel that velcro apart. they had no clue about velcro. it had not been invented in moscow. so it was quite a struggle. there is a picture here on the back of the book with all these hands inside my pulse. -- blouse. with that, around the corner was a big van and out of the van it look like a circus van. all the people were getting out including men in suits and one man with a very big flash camera. they proceeded to take pictures of me and this appeared
instantly and they held it up beside my face to take a picture of it. what am i doing, i am hollering, i am yelling because i keep thinking if he is nearby, he will know something has happened. i was yelling that i was an american diplomat, they could not hold me, they had to call the embassy and finally the suit asks me to please keep my voice down because i was making a scene i guess. with that, they put me into the black man and headed back to the center of the city, which is where the kgb had its headquarters at the time. it certainly was where stalin made to disappear people during the purges. that detail was not lost on me
as we were driving to the center of the city. i had diplomatic immunity. they took me inside and they try to get me to sign papers. eventually they opened a package in front of me on a piece of newspaper. for those of you who do not study russian, it means truth. this was sitting on top of the newspaper and they took the lid off and they started taking the things out of the package. then they got to the black pen. the black pen in this package, this time was the camera. but the chief interrogator, who was a very angry man, he said, do not touch it, put it over to the side. nobody touch it. that was my first indication that he thought this perhaps contained poison.
so, they called a colleague of mine from the embassy. the officer came down. he was shocked as well. was a secretary of admin working for cia. he sat there with me with his mouth open and finally they let us go. i was arrested at 10:00 at night. they let us go at 2:00 a.m. people asked why they did not keep me, i had diplomatic immunity. it was called tit for tat. whatever the soviet or kgb did to one of our officers, the fbi here in the u.s. would do to one of their kgb officers the next time they pick them up. now, i must admit i was angry when they grabbed me and i must admit that i and the silly thought that i had just kicked the guy in the shin. but a later video, which i made
for another television show, had interviewed some kgb officers who had been there and he said they are in front of me and my family, that i had kicked his colleague and he had been hospitalized and hadn't had sex for six months. you can make of that whatever you want. so, i returned to the embassy at 2:00 in the morning. all of my colleagues were waiting and we did a debrief. i did not go back to the apartment, i got on the plane and flew home. i did not realize at the time but there was a group of kgb officers at the airport in moscow who were there to witness my leaving because they felt such respect for me as an officer.
they had been fooled by me for two years. i got back to washington. i met with the director on monday. on tuesday i met with the president to tell him all that had happened. i went on to lead a normal career for 32 years. what happened to him? he had gotten back to moscow and unbeknownst to him, we had had a spy inside cia who was hired as a transcriber for the telephone taps in bogotá, colombia. the transcriber was a czech national who had come to the
u.s. in the late 1960's. he had gone to school, he had become naturalized and eventually made his way to washington, d.c. were the cia hired him because he spoke so many of the difficult east european languages. so we had him transcribing the tapes and even chilly he -- eventually he realized we had something going in bogotá, colombia. and he told his kgb members what had happened. we did not realize about him until 1984. he was arrested in 1977, and this man was arrested in 1984. that is how they found out about him. they put cameras in his apartment and they watched him as he pulled the various spy gear out, as well as the camera
and all. they broke into his apartment when they saw him getting the spy gear out. they stripped him down and he said i will make it easy for you. he said i will give you a complete written confession just get me some paper and a pen, and they handed him a russian ballpoint kind. one of the fellows handed him his pen. with his pen he started to write and then he put it up into his mouth and bit down and went unconscious. he died later that night in the hospital. that is the story. i wrote the book to honor both
my husband john, who died so young, and for the spy who died very young. he was born in 1939. my husband helped me put the book together. i was self published. and i told him the day i published it, my worst nightmare would be to be sitting in north carolina and have the doorbell ring, open the door and have it the the spies daughter, who we never met. well, that did not happen. i got an email from her three years ago and she said, i am his daughter and i would like to meet you. i was shocked at first. it has finally happened, my
worst nightmare has finally happened. how will i ever explained to her their history. as we progressed in our email, and i was convinced it was her, we talked on the phone and she told me she was coming to washington at christmas with her family. so we flew from wilmington to meet them. i have to tell you, our greatest shock was walking into this hotel and washington, d.c. and looking at her son, because she brought her daughter and son and her son was 17 and he would just -- looked just like him. there was no doubt that she was the true daughter. this story came developing and i know it will never come to an end. i want to tell you that our
obligation to our foreign agents no matter if they're in the near east, far east or latin america, cia is committed to our sources who provided information. people always say, if you had suspicion, why did you go out and meet them? why did you go out and make this final delivery? because that is our commitment. yes it is about the money. , yes, it is about power. officers commitment as to always answer that call for that agent. i appreciate all of your attention and i would be granted a questions. i know i have probably run over a little bit in time, but it takes that long to tell the story. [applause]
martha: i will repeat the question if you want me to. any questions? >> in a dog eat dog world, where betweene draw the line protecting national interest and upholding humanity? martha: i understand. there has been a book written about the morality of spying. there is a great question. why do we ask people to put their lives on the line.
it is one of the oldest professions in the world. knowing secrets gives you power. i think that the control of our world depends on that balance of power and knowing about each other. but i understand exactly what you are saying. if i ask someone to put their life on the line like we did with him, what is my moral duty to him? i just tell him that we will do everything to protect him and the system is built to do that. it is his free choice to say yes or no. i would say, most agents that work for cia do it out of belief in the better good. i believe our system represents that better good.
thank you. good question. >> hi. i was just wondering, after you left the cia, how did your work continue to affect your life after you left? martha: my life after cia was kind of unique. i had already lived through having two children. being a cia officer is helpful when you are trying to figure out what your kids are doing behind your back. [laughter] martha: i did not tell them for a long time what i did so i had an advantage for a long time. what is interesting, i could not say i worked for the cia until i retired. then i did this weird thing and wrote this book and put myself out there. by letting you know that i
worked for cia, i also wanted to answer questions that you have, and but in 16 years, and that is how long it has been, i have become more like joe public. i read the newspapers, i listen, i read books and i try to form intelligent answers to people's questions. i agree, i probably have an inside track and a mentality of what goes on. i do not know whether that answered your question, but i would probably look for the story behind the story because that is what cia officers are always trying to do. thank you. >> do you happen to know is motive? was it financial?
martha: he believes that he could change his system from within. it took a long time because it was 1977 he died and the 1989 we have the wall coming down. there were seeds of this throughout the region in eastern europe and the soviet union. the dissidents of wanting to change things. i think he had an ego that believe that he could change it from within by bringing his system down. he also got paid well, although he never profited from it. i think he also enjoyed having a secret life. i think that is appealing. it is like having affairs, i guess. >> thank you for talking with us tonight. i was reading this article about
a cia communication network and how it got disrupted in light of the cyber security concerns. what do you think that role is more traditional? martha: i have to ask you, if someone is standing outside that door at they don't know what i said, do they? you have to have human spies in the room. if it is a room in the kremlin or in the great palace in china, or in haiti, or even in ottawa, you have to have a human source or have a plant do some kind of eavesdropping or listening device in the room to know what is being said. turner always said we would get it from satellite. you cannot get conversations in the room.
or like in the cia room were the decisions would be made, when it was still the all boys club. they were always made at the urinal. that is where the pre-meetings took place. right, men? you really have to have human sources. we can get intelligence from human sources over the internet. people far smarter than i do this covertly. all of those kinds of things get the intelligence to us. we still do it in places that don't have consistent electricity for people cannot on a computer or cannot go to a computer café. we still do personal meetings around the world.
we still do dead drops around the world. it is amazing. it is using the best of both. the old world and the new world. at least they don't have to develop film. >> i want to give her a chance to sign some books. she has a couple copies of her book right over here. i know some of you have other things to do this evening, but she will take questions while she signs the books for you. if you are acceptable to that idea, i want to thank you, i would like to thank our speaker for a terrific speech. [applause] martha: thank you very much. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> every weekend, american history tv brings you 48 hours of unique programming.
to view our schedule and an archive of our programs, visit c-span.org. up, at 7:00, she talks about the life and death of a war correspondent. whoarine was the person went further and stayed longer. she was braver than the rest of us. bestlways have the stories. you always felt just a little bit ashamed. sunday, his book on the career of chief justice john marshall. >> marshall was always the smartest man of the room. many of his colleagues were brilliant jurists.
they acknowledged his superiority. >> fox news host tucker carlson thoughts about his book. >> if you give everybody the vote, but only a small number of shares in the spoils, everybody will be angry. is a red alert that something is wrong. owned trump's warning is -- election is a warning to the rest of us. weekend onok tv this c-span two. >> this weekend on railamerica, the 1974 conversation with martha griffith of michigan.
here's a preview. there in equity in social security? husband cannot draw her social security. even if she had been out of the workforce, even her own children could not draw if she died. inequitiesincredible came to my attention the other day. a woman who had worked for 35 years went to draw her so security. they asked if she had a husband. he was killed in world war ii. she brought in the numbers. he had worked 18 months under social security and she had paid in for 35 years. she grew more money under his
own entitlement. i think that is awful. dowhy doesn't the committee something about this? >> we need more women on the committee. is where the discrimination lodges. a man's mind does not appreciate what we are complaining about. benefits toave her her husband. it's a discrimination. wife'sn't need my support. i am capable of working. it's this mentality that prevents us from seeing the basic law is wrong and women should not be taxed if they can't leave the same benefits to
their husbands. we are at the very beginning stages of this movement to reawaken equality in this country. >> you can watch the entire conversation sunday at 4:00 on real america. you were watching american history tv on c-span3. >> the first fence along the u.s.-mexico border intended for cattle was built in the early 1900's. penn state professor mary mendoza talks about how immigration and border barriers changed over the course of the 20th century. american history tv recorded this 15 minute interview that the western history association's annual meeting in san antonio, texas. >> joining us from san antonio, her hometown, professor mary e. mendoza, teaching at penn state university and her book title "natural border." we thank f