tv A Female Spy in Cold War Russia CSPAN March 10, 2019 2:40pm-4:01pm EDT
a lot for the creation of a national news media. a national financial system. >> watch "the communicators," monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. >> up next on american history tv, former spy martha peterson ? talks about the book "the widow spy: my cia journey through the lands of laos." she explains why she joined the cia after her husband died. the bob center for public service at the university of florida hosted this event. it's about 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 last 15 minutes are questions. we use this mike bank -- this -- this mic over here. we like our students to have the opportunity to go first. everybody is welcome. we ask that you make no speeches. we have a speaker. out of courtesy to everybody here this evening, if you could your questions succinct, that would help a lot. herb yardley is one of our good friends at the university of florida. a major donor along with his wife, catherine. if you look around this campus, you won't 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. that's quite extraordinary great -- extraordinary. he has been a longtime friend of our speaker this evening. i would like him to do the introductions. herb, if you would. [applause] >> everybody knows dave is an author. everybody knows he's a historian. 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 boy's school. i'm sure you know the song we are the boys from old florida. that's what it was. women weren't allowed. now i find out that 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 outside of los angeles. he found a bottle. he rubbed the bottle and out came the genie. 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 here to hawaii? the genie said, that's more than we can ask, i can't do that. is there something else you could do -- 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? 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 use 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 to 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
to -- her to you. i want to introduce her husband to you. he was an engineer on the concorde project. [applause] >> it's my pleasure to introduce to you a very accomplished woman, mother of two, grandmother of one, martha peterson. [applause] >> thank you. oh, i'm live! [laughter] thank you for a glowing >>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 theology and 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 during drills. i never thought i would end up working for the cia for 32 years.
i met a man named john peterson in college. 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 in that era. 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. after he came back, we got married. 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. spires. and- fpr he accomplished all he had to there. the accomplished everything he needed to. and then he told me we had our , first assignment overseas. it was to laos. it was a small landlocked country alongside vietnam. 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, down the ho chi minh trail, 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 laos army there. our job was well planned and orchestrated with a minimum of people and equipment.
i must say, in looking back, we lost a very few americans. john's job was to organize these troops in south laos. i didn't know much about the war in laos when we met. i didn't know much about laos. ciad know much about the when we went to laos. i worked in the office. they hired three or four american wives of cia officers. they hired us to keep us from drinking every afternoon. we figured that out. we did that too, but we were
hired to do the menial jobs in the office. and through contact with these people, i eventually got to know what the cia was about there and 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 airport. we put them in our land rover. it had the steering wheel on the wrong side, and the steering will with the left hand, but the feet were all the same. that was good. 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-story. that was the similarity. when we got there, mother got out of the van. she stepped up on the first
step, and she said to me, martha, and 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. they would spend 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. boom,boom!"m, mother looked at me and she said, what's that noise? and i said it's loud thunder. i waited until we got to bangkok
and i said it really wasn't thunder, it was the t 28 bombers who were cia trained pilots. they were taking t-28s out, and bombing along the ho chi minh trail. it was a different world, and i was afraid my parents would fear for our safety. i stopped my talk and i'll raise for 2005. -- race forward to 2005. i'm on a plane into los angeles, california. i get on the plane. my daughter, who i'm visiting there, has a van scheduled to pick me up. i come down the elevator, someone is holding the sign, and i say that is me. off we went. it was just the driver and me. i looked up in the mere and i -- mirror and said where are you , from? he said, the far east. he said thailand.
i said i lived in laos. he said in the capital? i said no, i lived in pak say. he said, my mother lives there. he says 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. she 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] martha: small world.
john went to work early one morning. he left the house at 4 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. but it was his time. and i came home to the states. i did not 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 that you are in, you keep these friends forever. dinners withhave these friends who lived in maryland. i had to go to washington to sign legal papers. so we sat around the table. his wife was a very good cook. we talked about, what should i do now that this is happened to -- has happened to me? the interesting thing, we had wine that night. we drink wine with these wonderfully shaped bottles today. this was gallows by the gallon. after we drank a 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 speak three foreign languages, 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 and 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, destined to become
an operations office. 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. in order to go there, 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 had to learn how to detect spot surveillance following me. they used the fbi teams. they were cracked 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. all kinds of technical equipment. 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 wasn't sand like i had left in florida. it was snow. they had already had a significant snowfall in moscow. it was a very abrupt start.
they had no jetways at the time. you walk down the staircase, down onto the tarmac. it was cold. i had that heavy coat and i was glad. i remember looking at the sign over the airport. i remember 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. my diplomatic 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 lovely. rubles, so i couldn't go out to eat, but my mother had packed a bag of apples in my bag. the cheese and crackers i'd stolen off the flight. that was dinner. i was wondering all the time, where are they looking at me from in this hotel room. you get 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 actually 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 detect if i was being followed by the kgb. i had to go out and buy a car. i bought a car, orange. orange was the color of the day. they painted so many orange, so many blues, and 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 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 had a neck loop that went
around your neck and plugged into the top of the box. and then the men in the station had this harness. it fit under their t-shirts. we didn't want anyone to know we wore this piece of equipment. they would put on their harness and did have a pocket in it. they would slip the radio in there. i have different equipment. the harness didn't fit my equipment. i would talk it in the front of mike braun or in the side of -- in the front of my bra or the side. it never worked very well. up, and ilways poke was always afraid it would become apparent to people around. this was 1976.
i know this will come as a shock to you. there was a new invention. it was called velcro. with this piece of velcro, i ripped up a t-shirt. i made a pouch for it. -- velcroed it bra. it wasof my immovable. i plug in the next loop. the ear piece, which could listen to the next loop. and off i went to detect it and he was -- if i was being followed. i would drive a preplanned route. i would take things out of my car, put them back in. i would go to the store wearing this sr-100. what i would listen for is the kgb team talking to one another about my movements, correlating to my movements.
when the fellows, who all had surveillance all the time would go out, this is what they would hear on their earpiece. the target is turning right, the theet is turning left, target is lost, target's home. that's what they were hearing. when i went out, this is what i heard. so i changed the batteries. i figured it was a device problem. so i switched out the batteries, and i still 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. i would drive by, 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. by cia officers. cia officers anywhere in the world where looking for kgb and
soviet officials who would be willing to work covertly for the cia. the first officer who i handled in moscow was recruited in bogota, colombia. we had a telephone tap on the soviet embassy in bogota. from that, we learned 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 bosses 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 from spain. her name was pilar. she went home one month to visit her family. on the way back through the airport, we had one of our colombian friends pull 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 our officers to meet him in the hilton hotel in the turkish bath. you can't make this stuff up. it was a strange place. you figure when men going to a turkish spa, they wear a towel. they couldn't hide a listening device. our officer met him in the turkish bath. he 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, february of 74 until the fall of 74 when he went back
home at the end of this tour. he was married. his wife worked there. that didn't seem to stop him in any way. he provided us all kinds of intelligence from the soviet embassy. but we are interested in was the plans and intentions of the soviet government in latin america. as well as what the soviets were collecting on the chinese. they were also interested in targets in latin america. he first took handwritten notes about the documents, and that he used a 35mm camera. can only imagine, 35mm cameras make a huge noise when they go click. you don't notice it until you're worried about it. eventually we gave him a camera, which was concealed.
it was concealed in a fountain pen. i have to explain what a fountain pen is to younger groups. i know you all know. this is the fountain pen. 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 moved to -- moved the full frame forward one. it was the most miraculous camera we ever had. we tried to have a duplicated by an outside company, but it was created by a cia technician. it was film, though. it wasn't digital. 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.
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. we trained him on radio broadcasts called owvl, 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 have. 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. when he was getting ready to leave bogota, she came to a cia officer and 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 is 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 commmit suicide in the event he was arrested and faced interrogation, brutal torture and death. the cia agreed to do this. i was shocked. i was a brand-new officer. 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 and commit suicide. he also had a third pen, which was the normal pen that we wanted him to have, so 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. so off he went to moscow. he arrived there in the fall of 1974. i arrived there in 1975. we told him we would keep him on ice for a whole year. and 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 under a portico over a sidewalk
along the river walkway. our deputy chief of station, jack downing, 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. off he would go up along the river. on his return back, he would come through that portico. the day that he picked up the drop, a surveillance team was sitting in their car. why? because he had kind of trained them. it was very cold out. it was like 20 degrees fahrenheit. so instead of following this man up and out in the cold, they realized he was going up, he would turn around and come back. so he really had trained his team.
and so they sat in the warm car as they watched him go up and come back. as he went through the portico, he reached down, he picked up the package and tucked it inside his jogging suit. there was a pyramid shaped milk carton, 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 were three pieces of paper, two of which had children's drawings on them. one was a jungle gym looking thing and the other looked like a small sample. but on the back, trigon had of course used his secret writing training and carbon and had written us an extensive note. he was said he was glad to be back in touch with us. he had divorced his wife to keep her out of these nefarious affairs. or whatever.
he did say that he had acquired a new position, and that is what we were most interested in. his position was in the ministry of foreign affairs in the global affairs office. at his desk, he said, he received documents from all around the world that were written by soviet ambassadors in embassies. soviet embassies in every capital of the world. so that is what he had access to on a daily basis at his desk. he could read what 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 anatole's letters back to the ministry of foreign affairs. it was absolute gold to our analysts. 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. and nsc. so trigon had not only fulfilled getting back into the country safely, going through re-investigations, which they all had to, he now had landed a peach of job in the ministry of foreign affairs. now, my job and all of us in the station was to go out and pick up dead drops from trigon 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 went to the marine bar. i drank beer, i went to the marine house movies. i had friends, girlfriends in the embassy. i went to wine and cheese parties. we 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 face, right? this is what happened. the kgb overlooked me. they did not realize that i was in fact an operations officer. i also had the profile of all the other single women in the embassy.
so there was a site that was cased by another officer before i got there. it was in a war memorial park south of the city and that is where we had a dead drop site called les. it means woods in russian. it was there that trigon and i exchanged packages. i would go out on this specific day, and trigon's calendar that we gave him, and i would go out and do a 2.5 hour counter 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 center of the city on a side street. and i would leave the car there, i would get into the subway system, and i would ride several stops. i would change. i would ride another line. i would change, and eventually i would get out at a metro stop not too far from the location. so then i would walk from there out into the park. the park had a one way road through 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. but i went down to the right side of the road under the tree, so i really could not be seen from anyone driving on the road. i walked down aways, and then i look over, and there was the lamppost that had a number on it. all the lampposts in moscow were numbered. so we had given trigon the location and the number on the lamppost. his instructions were that an officer would deliver a package to him at this particular lamppost. i would deliver it at 9:00 at night. he was to come an hour later at 10:00, pick up the package i left for him and put down his package for me.
then i would come back an hour later, and pick his package up. this was called a double exchange. and the only way we could do this is if i had no surveillance, because i would never take surveillance to a spot and then return to a spot. this was really atypical to the types of deliveries that we made. i brought along an example of what i delivered in the woods. it was a log. now this log is from our home in wilmington, north carolina. if you notice, it has sawed off ends, which wouldn't 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 trigon to have. first, the camera pen. we put that in there and then miniature cassettes. we put in a roll of money in small ruble denominations, just so he would have an extra bit of money, but 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 caused interest in themselves. we put in here emerald jewelry. he had requested that.
we would buy emerald jewelry in bogota and then include in his package. he gave that emerald jewelry to his mother. we 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 this. so that was what was put in the log. i would walk up to the lampposts and i would drop it down at the base of the lamppost so it look like it just fell off the tree. and like i said, because i had no surveillance, we used this drop site often. this is in fact the drop site i eventually gave him the pen that contained the poison ampoule in it.
then, i would leave there, and i would walk into a very large soviet housing development and walk around. now needless to say i didn't wear a turquoise shirt. i always wore very drab colored clothes. i have long hair, which i put back, and i tried to look as un-american as i possibly could. and then 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 shaped milk carton often, but he also used one glove, which was oil filled, crumbly and nasty. and inside, he would put his package for me.
if it were these cassettes out of the camera, he would wrap those inside of it condom. -- a condom. he would tie it tight, a knot at the top of it, so it would remain dry and clean. he put in that package a roll of 35mm film, which was his operational note back to us. it was not developed film. it was raw filmed undeveloped in the event someone found it. if they did they would pull it out and expose the film and ruin it. he also wrote us a very long letter, and he would take his camera and take a picture of each page. and that was his ops 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, or 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 ministry of 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 approached 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 trigon driving his car so close to the site.
but we could not 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. and i always wondered why he took her so close to the site so we did this regularly. i thought is he going to take her to the site? she was blonde and she had a ponytail. and i always wondered 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. and his production was magnificent. until april of 1977. and 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, there was a car parked over in the road. i had never seen that before. so he, i walked past the pole and went down the hill a little bit. as i got down to a little dip in the path, a man came to my right. he had a big black raincoat. he had a military cap with a shower cap over the top of it, and he had a big black flashlight. i was startled, he was startled. i walked down the path, and i kept wanting with purpose until i got to a certain point and i stepped off the path and i waited. because i thought, maybe they were out looking for me. maybe they were out looking for trigon. when i returned, i went back up on the other side of the road. the van was gone.
nobody was in the park. so i crossed the street and looked down, and my package was still there on the ground. trigon had not been there. that was the end of april of 1977. 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, something is wrong with your car, make a mark on a child crossing sign. so in july 14, he had not parked his car. we were very concerned about him. and on july 15, i drove by the site, and it was a child crossing sign near the school, and there was a red mark on the site indicating of course that trigon was
ready to deliver a package to us. but he rarely made marks on signs and certainly not in bright red. so as i drove past that site that morning, i just kept driving. i went into the embassy, i said, the signal was up. trigon may or might not have made it, because it was such a vibrant red and so perfectly drawn, almost like it was stenciled. we had a new chief though at the station, and he said we will go out and we will pick up this package. so i worked -- i had a day job in the embassy. i am not allowed to talk about that, but you can look online and read all about my day job. i worked the day job, i went up to the station, and i got the package for that night.
we got this out of the liquor store parking lot in wilmington. it was a piece of concrete or asphalt actually. it was a little thicker, but you get the idea out of the size of it. inside was a cavity, and we put all of his materials inside this cavity. this piece of gear i put in my purse, and i took off to do my 2.5 hour run as well as to park my car. i parked right off of gorky street. i got in the metro, and now i am hyper looking for surveillance, because i am really concerned about the safety of trigon, having missed the one day and then of course the stencil mark on the sign.
i got to the site, i realized i was a little early. the site itself was on a railroad bridge over 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. they had white dress shirts on, and july in moscow, it is very light outside because the summer, it is always light in the summer. and these three men were walking on the other side of the street. they turned into a cemetery, which is a very famous cemetery where khrushchev is buried and the cosmonauts and a lot of artists. so it wasn't unusual for people to be out on the street walking at 9:00 at night. so 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 bridge. and a pedestrian walkway went right through the center of this one pillar. inside that pillar was a narrow window off to the right, so i took this out of my purse, i extended my arm, and i put it in this little window there. he and i had used this site before, so i knew he would know where the package was located. i walked out into the middle of the bridge. i realized nobody was around. i heard nothing on my sr100, so i walked back through the pillar and down the 47 steps. well, almost. 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. and i thought, i am going to get raped or mugged here,
and i knew right away what the reason was. something had happened to trigon, but i wasn't sure of that. but i wasn't sure of that. and in instances of high emotion, your reasoning is not always where it should be. so they grabbed me by my arms here and here, and the guy in the middle went for my purse. my purse had nothing in it except my car keys, my diplomatic card, and my driver's license. but women do this, when someone goes for their purse, we do like this to protect our purse. and what i did was i slammed this man's hand right into the sr100 on my side, and that is when he began to get into my blouse and try to peel that velcro apart. they had no clue about velcro. it hadn't been invented in moscow. so it was quite a struggle.
it is a picture here on the back of the book with all these hands inside my blouse. with that around the corner came a big black van, and out of the van came, well it looked like a circus van, all the people getting out including men in suits and one man with a very big flash camera. and 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 trigon 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 asked me to please keep my voice down because i was making a scene, i guess.
with that, they put me into the black van and headed back to the center of the city, which is where the kgb had its headquarters at the time. and certainly was where stalin used to disappear people during the purges and all. that detail was not lost on me as we were driving to the center of the city. but i had diplomatic immunity. they took me inside. they tried to get me to sign papers. and eventually they opened the package in front of me on a piece of newspaper. for those of you who do not study russian, "pravda" 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.
and then then they got to the black pen. well, 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. consular officer, he came down. he was shocked too. he thought i was a secretary or admin person 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 ask why didn't they
keep you in jail there? i had diplomatic immunity. it was called tit for tat. whatever the soviet 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 picked them up. now i must admit. i was angry when they grabbed me and i must admit that i initially thought that i had just kicked the guy in the shin. but a later video, which i made for another, for a television show, had interviewed some kgb officers who had been there, and he said right there in front of me and my family, that i had kicked his colleague, and he had been hospitalized and hadn't had sex for about six months. so 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 the total debrief. the next day i did not go back to my apartment. i just got on a plane and flew home. i did not realize at the time that 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. and of course, they felt fools because they had been fooled by me for two years. i got back to washington. i met with a director, stansfield turner, on monday. on tuesday i met with the president, jimmy carter, in the oval office, to tell him all that had happened.
so i went on to lead a normal career, 32 years. what happened to trigon? well trigon had gotten back to moscow, and unbeknownst to him, we had had a spy inside cia who was hired as a transcriber for those telephone taps in bogotá, colombia. this transcriber in fact was a czech national who had come to the u.s. in the late 1960's. and he had gone to school, he had become naturalized, and eventually made his way to washington, d.c., where cia hired him because he spoke so many of the difficult east european languages. so we had him transcribing the tapes, and eventually he realized we had something hot going in bogotá, colombia. and he told his kgb handler what had happened.
we did not realize about him until 1984. so trigon was arrested in 1977, and this man was arrested in 1984. but that that is how they found out about trigon. they put cameras in his apartment, and they watched him as he pulled 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, look, i will make it easy for you. i will give you a complete written confession. just get me some paper and a pen, and they handed him a
russian ballpoint pen. and they do not work. and one of the fellows handed him his pen. with his pen, he started to write and then he put it up into his mouth, he bit down, and he went unconscious. he died later that night in the hospital. so that is the story. so i wrote the book to honor both my husband john, who died so young, and for trigon who also 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 is to be sitting in wilmington, north carolina, and have the doorbell ring, open the door and it be trigon's daughter who he never met.
well, in fact that did not happen. i got an email from her three years ago, and she said, i am trigon's daughter, and i would like to meet you. well, we -- i was shocked at first. i told dewie, it has finally happened, my worst nightmare. how am i going to explain this history? well, as we progressed in our emails, 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. and so dewey and i 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 looked just like trigon. so there was no doubt then that was -- was the true daughter. this story keeps 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 whether they are in the sands of the near east, the far east or latin america or anywhere, cia is so committed to our sources who provide us with 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. but it is our commitment as cia officers to always answer that call of that agent. so i appreciate all of your attention, and i would be glad to take questions. i know i have probably run over a little bit in time, but it takes that long to tell the story. so thank you very much. [applause] >> let's do some questions. i am sure -- martha: i will repeat the question if you want to. any questions? >> thank you for your speech. that was wonderful. martha: thank you. >> in a dog eat dog world,
where should we draw the line between protecting the national interest and upholding our humanity? martha: in a dog eat dog? >> world, where should we draw the line between protecting national interest and upholding our humanity? martha: yes, i understand. there has been a book written about the morality of spying. there is a great question. and why do we ask people to put their lives on the line? it is one of the oldest professions in the world. and 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. and it is his free choice to say yes or no. but i would say that most agents that work for cia do it out of belief in the better good. and i believe our system represents that better good. thank you. [applause] good question. >> hi. i was just wondering, after you left the cia, how -- how did your work continue to affect your life after you had left, your lifestyle? martha: my life after cia was kind of unique. i had already lived through
having two children. and being a cia officer is very helpful when you are trying to figure out what your kids are doing behind your back. laughter] martha: and 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. and then i did this weird thing and wrote this book and put myself out here. because by letting you know that i worked for cia, i also am obligated to answer questions that you have, but in 15 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. but i agree, i probably have an inside track and a mentality of what goes on.
so i do not know whether that answered your question, but i think i would probably look for the story behind the story because that is what cia officers are always trying to do. thank you. >> thank you. >> do you happen to know trigon's motive? was it financial? belief n different system? martha: his motive is like many good agents. it is ego driven. he believed he could change his system from within. it took a long time because it was '77, he died, then 1989, we have the wall coming down, but there were seeds of this throughout the region in eastern europe and the soviet union, of dissidence, of wanting to change things. i think he had an ego that
believed 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 that secret life. i think that is appealing. it is like having affairs, i guess. [laughter] martha: yes. >> thank you for talking with us tonight. martha: certainly. >> i was reading this article about a cia communication network and how that got disrupted years ago. in light of the cyber security concerns, what do you think of the role of more traditional spycraft like dead drops are? martha: i have to ask you, if someone is standing outside that door, they don't know what i said, do they? so you really have to have human spies in the room. if it is a room in the
kremlin or a room in the great palace in china, or in haiti, or even in ottawa, you have to have a human source or a plant, some kind of eavesdropping or listening device, in the room to know what is being said. because people are used to saying, i mean, stansfield turner always said we would get it from satellite. you can't get conversations in the room or like in cia where all the decisions used to be made, when it was still the all-boys club. they were always made at the urinal. that is where the decisions, the pre-meetings took place. right, men? yeah, you know the story. so you really have to have human sources. now we can get intelligence from human sources over the internet.
they are -- people far smarter than i do this covertly. it is encrypted and such. stenography and all of those kinds of things get the intelligence to us. but we still do dead drops in places that don't have consistent electricity or people can't own a computer or can't go to a café, a computer café. we still do dead drops around the world. we still do personal meetings around the world. it is amazing. but it is using the best of both the old world and the new world. >> thank you very much. martha: at least they don't have to develop film. right? >> i want to give her a chance to sign some books for you. 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. so if you are acceptable to that idea, i want to thank you, i would like to thank our speaker for a terrific speech. and what you join me -- [applause] martha: thank you very much. >> you're watching american on c-span, only 3. each week, american takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. here's a brief look at sundayairing this night. >> first of all, they are ninth inning century models, they were produced just the american civil war and both of them are rail cars dedicated to the care wounded. the one front of me here is actually a car for the and forion of food the feeding of ambulatory patients and staff. the next one is a representation of one of the
railway cars specifically developed for the evacuation the wounded. the union army had a number these cars built. unfortunately for the confederacy, supplies being the inability to keep up the railroads, the war,y late in limited the ump use they had of specialized cars like evacuation, although certainly others were modified for the purpose. but what's so interesting to me about those is they a first step to and an understanding of the law of armed conflict, when it comes to humanitarian law. ofn we start to think the red cross which the u.s. wouldn't sign until 20 years war these railroad cars represent a first step recognizing in the united states that there's a higher law when it comes to the wounded. when we're dealing with war time, we're dealing now with
humanitarian issues that we really dealt with in any previous war so when to comers started into existence, both armies, the union and the signed some treaties that said basically if a car and a train is only the for the wounded or sick, that it will not carry it'sions, that properly identified, red running lights on all of the cars. the wordly, hospital on at least one portion of that, that these cars were protected, that the wounded that were being transported would not be molested by the enemy and, in fact, these are the only representations other than drawings we really have, are these models from the period. these were designed to show people exactly how they and when you look at them they're really marvels of technology. we have in here an office the hospital steward, we have stoves to keep the even in cool weather. we have shades that come
down over the windows to out the light. the beds are suspended in werea way they actually hung on heavy rubber bands really that had were about a one inch square rubber band that could allow a little to take some of the shock out of the ride. they could provide food. right in provided here along with a toilet in all of these. were theme, they best that there could possibly be and these models well-built. each individual piece perfectly made to show the public after the war what was provided for the wounded and today, this is the only real three dimensional insight we have. totravel with us historic sites, museums and archives, each sunday at and 10:00 p.m. eastern on our weekly series
american artifacts. american history tv, all weekend in c-span 3. the cdc attributes the rising number of cases to unvaccinated travelers who bring the disease to the u.s. and is spread in pockets of unvaccinated people. up next on reel america, we travel back to 1964 to learn about the history of the highly contagious disease caused by a virus in the development of the measles vaccine. the pharmaceutical company merck with the help of the u.s. public health service produced this 20 minute film. >> this is a virus. a tiny organism, magnified by thousands of times by electron microscope. this, the disease caused by the virus. one which has plagued man since recorded history