On the Trail of a Fourth Soviet Spy at Los Alamos

Three Soviet spies in the Manhattan Project are well known – Klaus Fuchs, David Greenglass, and Ted Hall. Fuchs and Greenglass were known publicly in the 1950s, but Hall’s story came out only in the 1990s.

Now more documents have been declassified, and Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes, who have done much to illuminate Soviet spying during that time, have found a fourth Soviet spy. They have found his path from the United States to East Germany and then Russia in 1952, escaping from possible arrest. Their article in the CIA’s “Studies in Intelligence” lays out what is known about him.

The spy’s name is Oscar Seborer. His story intersects with the FBI’s Project SOLO, in which they turned two members of the Communist Party in the USA. Their communications with Moscow seem to indicate that Seborer furnished information on the atomic bomb project, where he was a technician.

Seborer seems to have operated separately from the other spies, and his reporting seems to have been more to the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) than the civilian KGB. The two intelligence agencies have historically competed.

Klehr and Haynes have uncovered a fair bit of information about Seborer’s family, but not much about what he did at Los Alamos or what information he gave to Moscow. Maybe someone reading this knows something about the Seborer family or, as they called themselves in Russia, the Smiths.

 

Cross-posted at Balloon Juice.

Unweaving The Tangled Web

Over the weekend, Will Bunch did a great tweet stream linking Jeff Bezos, National Enquirer, the Saudis, Jamal Khashoggi, and Donald Trump, along with others. He promised he would put it into a column, and here it is. It’s more cautious than the tweet stream, but fairly interesting. He introduces a number of possibilities by asking questions, a relatively safe way to introduce thoughts that you don’t have journalistic confirmation for. They are good questions, worth keeping in mind as things proceed. Read More

Links – December 11, 2017

How a war with North Korea might play out. The price of war with North Korea. Excellent long-read backgrounder from Jeffrey Lewis on the history and strategy of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program (photo from here). More background, and denial by US of facts on the ground. The reentry vehicle on the North Korean ICBM.

According to this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that North Korea is ready to talk. That’s from Friday. I haven’t seen any followup.

Bad Idea: Resuming Nuclear Testing.

The looming end of the INF Treaty.

Eerik-Niiles Kross: Estonia’s James Bond.

Comparing China’s situation to the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1991.

 

 

 

 

Russian Computer Experts Arrested for Treason

Two men were arrested on Wednesday, January 25 in December by Russia’s FSB on charges of treason. The men are Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, and Ruslan Stoyanov, the head of computer incident response investigations at Kaspersky Lab, which makes antivirus programs. [Update: The arrest was just announced; it appears the men were arrested in December.]  Earlier, the firing of the director of the Center for Information Security, Andrei Gerasimov, was announced, reportedly related to an investigation into the agency’s cooperation with Kaspersky on criminal hacking cases. Moscow Times is now reporting that two more men have been arrested: Dmitry Dokuchaev, who worked in the same FSB unit as Mikhailov, and another whose name has not been released. Read More

Links – January 25, 2017

Donald Trump likes and dislikes nuclear weapons, according to what he has said, as slippery as anything else he says. Here are excerpts from testimony to Congress by his Secretaries of State and Defense on the subject. Their views are fairly conventional. We don’t know how much they will influence him.

Why Trump’s bluffing won’t be effective on nuclear weapons issues. What the Trump administration needs to do to get up to speed on those issues. Read More