Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

July 15, 2013

From Russia with love — spies and sex scandals

WASHINGTON — Former KGB General Oleg Kalugin was once asked why so many Russian spies used sex in their work, intelligence historian H. Keith Melton recalls. Kalugin's reply was simple: "In America, in the West, occasionally you ask your men to stand up for their country. There's very little difference. In Russia, we just ask our young women to lay down."

              

Most people's first association with spies and sex is James Bond, but conducting espionage through seduction happens in real life, too. And in a briefing at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. last week, Melton spilled some of sexpionage's greatest secrets.

              

One of the most significant episodes in the annals of sexpionage occurred during the depths of the Cold War in 1963, when Britain learned the hard way that mixing sex and spying could cause even the best-laid plans to go off the rails. Britain's MI5 security service successfully dangled showgirl Christine Keeler in front of the Russian naval attaché Yevgeni Ivanov. But Keeler's knack for making men swoon had a downside. John Profumo, the British secretary of war, was at a party that summer when he saw Keeler swimming naked in a pool. He fell for her too.

              

As Melton put it, "You have a situation where the equivalent of the secretary of defense is having an affair with the same woman who is having an affair with the Russian naval attaché. This was not to end well." Indeed, after Profumo emphatically denied the affair on the floor of Parliament, Keeler decided to sell his love letters to the Express newspaper. Profumo resigned, and Harold Macmillan's Conservative government crumbled.

              

In the United States, these kinds of scandals may have gone all the way to the top of the government. Suspected East German spy Ellen Rometsch, for instance, was a call girl at the Quorum Club, a favorite spot for politicians (who used the side entrance) in Washington, D.C., who allegedly became involved with none other than President John F. Kennedy. While the president had plenty of affairs, this one was of particular concern to his brother, Robert Kennedy, who had the unenviable task of sending her back to Europe, making sure she didn't talk, and getting FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to drop his investigation into the matter.

              

Getting someone to fall into a sexual trap - a "honey trap," in spy talk - is not automatic. Markus Wolf, a former head of East German intelligence, was one of the masters. His idea was to dispatch male agents, known as "Romeos," to targets like NATO headquarters with the mission of picking up female secretaries. He later told Melton that a good Romeo had three critical traits: he was likeable, he knew how to make himself the center of attention, and he listened well, which made women enjoy talking to him.

              

If a Romeo wants to recruit women, Wolf told Melton once, "you don't go to them, have them come to you. You become the center of the party, you buy the drinks, you tell the jokes. You're the life of the party. She will come to you. And then naturally that will make it easier."

              

The next step in East Germany's playbook was to escalate the relationship. The agent would propose marriage and later reveal to his wife that he was a spy - but for a friendly country (like Canada!). The finishing touch was for the agent to explain that he would have to be recalled, ruining their precious relationship, unless the wife could cough up some information to satisfy the bosses back home.

              

These tactics were so successful that by 1978 East German intelligence had racked up at least 53 cases of women falling for Romeos. By 1980, NATO had started compiling and monitoring a registry of single female secretaries to make sure they weren't marrying East German spies.

              

Sexualized spying didn't fade with the Cold War. Just three years ago, the FBI arrested 10 Russian spies in New York City, the most famous of which was Anna Chapman, who used her marriage to a British citizen, whom she met at a rave in London, to get a British passport that she in turn used to enter the United States. Melton noted that her husband, Alex Chapman, was later asked if he noticed anything unusual about his wife. "Every time I would call her cell phone she'd answer me from a payphone, but at the time I didn't think anything was unusual," he said.

     

The digital age could make sex an even more potent tool for espionage. "In the digital world, the new honey trap is not sexual," Melton argued. "It's not compromise, but it's access." To illustrate his point, he showed a training video for defense contractors that depicts a woman picking up a man in a bar, drugging his drink, and then retiring to a hotel room with him. While the man lies passed out on the bed, the woman has plenty of time to install programs on his computer and read messages on his devices.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 22, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 22, 2014

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 22, 2014

  • NIA Space station art 042114 'Easter Dragon' has special delivery for space station Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA New planet art 041814 Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected -- a distant, rocky world that's similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot and not too cold for life.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued From Swimming Pool Raw: 3 American Doctors Killed in Afghanistan Raw: Obama Arrives at State Dinner in Tokyo Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot Raw: Obama Visits Meiji Shrine in Tokyo Stars Talk Guns N' Roses at Golden Gods New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888 Oregon Gay Marriage Ban Goes to Court SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye'
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page