Monday, December 8, 2008

Searching for Yuri

On the ninth (of nine) YouTube videos for the Yuri Bezmenov interview, "drowsypanda" wrote:
There is no mention of this guy on the Internet outside of his appearance in this video.

Take that to mean whatever you like.
I had the same reaction. In all my searching for Yuri Bezmenov references, I just kept getting to more and more insane web pages and forums referencing this video. Because paranoid types across the spectrum are always looking for evidence of a conspiracy, the Bezmenov interview plays right into their deranged minds, even if they completely misinterpret it.

Because I have a nascent amateur interest in intelligence operations and specifically, the very subtle form of intelligence called "ideological subversion," which in Bezemnov's era of the KGB seems to have involved a kind of cultural manipulation (as opposed to counter-intelligence wary of "ideological subversion" by the enemy in the Motherland, as was the case in the Stalinist era). But because this topic involves very subtle manipulation, plots and conspiracies, one has to be wary of unjustified paranoia, and of course, trusting anyone or anything that backs up one's beliefs, fears, and prejudices.

So paying heed to this Bezmenov interview is different from, say, heeding the words of The Mitrokhin Archive books, which are well-established, accepted, and reviewed. The Mitrokhin books concern themselves primarily with the FCD, or First Chief Directorate of the KGB, the archives of which Mitrokhin had access to.

I'm not sure which part of the KGB Bezmenov worked for. He said of Novosti Press Agency that "75% of the members of the Novosti are commissioned officers of the KGB. The other 25 are, like [me], co-opted agents who are assigned to specific operations." I'm not sure what the real difference is between an "officer" and an "agent," because certainly Bezmenov was a direct part of the KGB (even if he worked under diplomatic cover in India). My best guess is that Bezmenov worked primarily for Service A (Disinformation, Covert Action) under the FCD; however, since the FCD was concerned with foreign intelligence, Bezmenov must have worked for some other KGB Directorate, Department, or Service under the KGB in his capacity as a press officer for Novosti.

Anyway, it's strange if no reference can be found to Bezmenov anywhere else besides this interview, which was itself conducted by a fairly bizarre person with some loony theories of his own (G. Edward Griffin) and is now cited and referenced by a gamut of crazies from 9/11 truthers to white supremacists. (The "Zionist" people too.) A Google search on "Bezmenov" serves to do little more than discredit anyone who references him.

But what if we look for his pseudonym, as he says, "Tomas Schuman"? (The spelling I determined through trial and error.) Well, now we get somewhere. The first thing of substance we get is the text of the Spring 1985 issue of Litaunus, the "Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences." It seems Bezmenov gave the same presentation to these people as he gave to Griffin (and us):
Tomas Schuman, former editor of Novosti Press Agency (a front for disinformation and organized within the KGB's intelligence network), reported to the Baltic American Freedom League on Soviet methods of influencing American public opinion through the manipulation of the American press. "Soviet propaganda is too boring to be effective", said Schuman, "the greatest successes of Soviet propaganda are achieved thanks to American mass media."

Novosti Press Agency was created in 1961. Seventy-five percent are KGB intelligence officers and the other 25% are co-opted by the KGB. "Within the KGB there is a department cynically called the Department of Disinformation. We worked directly under that department," said Schuman. He continued, "I escorted thousands of Western journalists through the Soviet Union... the American press treated us as ordinary journalists. At times, I risked my own career and freedom to try to explain that they were actually talking to an intelligence officer."

As an example of the simple and primitive but effective use of disinformation, Schuman displayed a 1967 issue of Look magazine on which he had personally worked while editor for Novosti. This particular issue covered the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution—"from the first page to the last page, it is a bunch of lies but it is presented as a collection of opinions and research by American journalists."

In concluding, Schuman said, "This selection of propaganda clich├ęs is so simple and primitive it does not take an expert in propaganda to see through these lies, but big monopolized media like the LA. Times, New York Times, the TV networks keep lying to the people... The result is a change in the perception of reality. The majority of American public do not perceive the real danger of the Soviet Union."

(Baltic Bulletin)
This "Schuman" is obviously Yuri Bezmenov.

Another interesting item in the Google results is "Tomas Schuman | brainGuide - THE EXPERTS’ PORTAL India." As we know, Bezmenov worked for the KGB in India. Unfortunately, we just get "Tomas Schuman is registered at brainGuide as an author/speaker. Unfortunately, there is currently no further information available about his or her expertise." We do not know when this empty profile was created, but the site began in 2003. I think, however, that we get the "India" domain is incidental, and this is in fact a different Tomas Schuman.

Other items: Schuman was apparently at the some time between 2000 and 2001 (when this web page was made) a member of the "Council for National Policy," a social conservative think tank. The Council has a sparse web site, and has hosted very prominent conservative thinkers and pundits such as David Horowitz, Grover Norquist and William Kristol; as well as politicians like John McCain, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee. Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic called CNP "the most powerful conservative group you've never heard of."

This item, labeled "ARIZONA NEWSLETTER; Doctors for Disaster Preparedness" (DDP; later, it seems, "Physicians for Civil Defense"), dated September 1985, references Schuman:
The annual meeting of TACDA, The American Civil Defense Association, will be held on November 4 and 5, following the DDP seminar.

[...]Tomas Schuman, former member of the Novosti press agency, will tell of his "Life as a Soviet Propagandist."
This was probably the same talk or some version of it.

And I found this item:
Deseret News, The (Salt Lake City, UT) - March 7, 1990

Yuri Bezmenov, a Soviet defector and ex-KGB agent, will discuss "Soviet Show Biz," his views of changes in the Soviet bloc under Gorbachev, at the Salt Lake Hilton, 150 W. 500 South, Seasons North Room, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 7.Bezmenov's six-state speaking tour, which has included Utah stops in St. George, Manti and Provo as well as Salt Lake City, is sponsored by local chapters of the John Birch Society. Admission to his lecture is $5 per...
Six-state speaking tour?

He is referenced in a 1984 article about the Los Angeles Olympics from the Christian Science Monitor:
The coalition is also concerned about Soviet intrigue during the games. Another coalition figure is Tomas Schuman, a Novosti press agency editor and Soviet Embassy officer in India before defecting in 1970.

Mr. Schuman now writes for a Russian-language newspaper in Los Angeles. In 1967, he toured the vessel the Soviets were sending to Expo '67 in Montreal, a sister ship to the one headed for Los Angeles this summer.

The lower deck, he says, was full of radio sets, scanners, and recorders -- not to listen to secret conversations but to assess local communication capability. The Soviet ship in Los Angeles will be put to the same purpose, he surmises. Further, it will be a ''floating prison'' to keep potential defectors safely aboard, he says.
Someone referenced Bezmenov (totally non-sequitur, like usual) in a Hot Air post and "Azked responded":
Hey thanks for the memory! I spent a day witih that guy. He went by the name Tomas Schuman or something similar. Very cynical guy, thought that we were basically toast and that was 25 years ago.
Yea, I'd imagine it would get tough spending a day with a guy as strange and cynical as Bezmenov, seemingly a dark and paranoid person even by ex-KGB standards.

I also found this (note, again, the weirdo domain), apparently notes from a lecture that Bezmenov (as Schuman) gave to the "News Word International correspondent's seminar Feb. 22 - 24 (1979?)." Here we have a somewhat different formulation of the "stages of subversion," as well as a notably different prescription for America, one from which he seems to have backed down in the later interview:
It takes a unified national effort. Any democratic nation should cultivate such attitudes as devotion to one's country, patriotism, moral strength, working ethics, resurrection of all national traditional values.

Among other drastic measures: restriction of liberties of self proclaimed anti-democratic, militant, radical and amoral groups. Re-elections. Chose [sic] responsible, not "charismatic" leaders. Reform your currency and cancel (not "freeze"') all the assets of the subverter country. Expel all the agents of the subverter without any apology or explanation. Re-establish friendly relations with the moderate and non-aggressive dictatorships as long as they are anti-communist. Preach self-restraint and moderation to the population. Explain to the people, that the situation is serious, and that some small liberties have to be sacrificed for the sake of survival and basic freedom[.]
What he says here sound like nascent fascism, but it's really quite normal. Under the Reagan administration (as yet in the future) the United States did begin to take a tougher line toward the Soviet Union and Soviet-bloc countries in regard to canceling assets, expelling spies, and canceling trade deals and civilian worker exchanges (which always favored the Soviets). It was also much more willing than previous administrations to support dictatorial and non-ideal regimes and factions as long as they were anti-Communist/socialist, sometimes mistakenly but ultimately resulting in a successful conclusion to the Cold War.

As for "small liberties" being "sacrificed for the sake of survival and basic freedom," that is a formulation that no American would choose, and rightly so, for we are eternally vigilant about our freedom, to the point where we accuse the government of tyranny and systematic violation of civil liberties when in reality nothing extraordinary is happening (see Bush, George W.). I think the "small liberties" Bezmenoff referred to would be something like the absolute assurance of privacy in all electronic communications from wiretapping. (This cannot be guaranteed anyway, because foreign intelligence has far more reason to intercept U.S. communications than the U.S. government, and certainly does so when possible.) Anyway, that absolute assurance does not exist, because such things have always been the prerogative of the executive in the interests of "national security," it's just that we find that trade-off distasteful and are eternally vigilant about the abuse of that power.

As for "restriction of liberties of self proclaimed anti-democratic, militant, radical and amoral groups," again, an American would not formulate what he means in that way. An example of a (perfectly Constitutional) application of this prescription would be the prosecution of those who quite literally incite people to rebellion and violent overthrow (see Students for a Democratic Society, Weathermen, etc.) Groups like this often actually commit crimes of incitement to violence and actual physical and financial aiding and abetting of foreign powers who are the enemies of the United States (i.e. treason). However, they are usually not prosecuted for a couple of reasons. First, the federal government does not want to be accused of violating free speech or accusing "radical groups" of treason in "McCarthyite" fashion. And second, prosecution of said groups requires exposure of information-gathering techniques, which isn't usually worth it.

And this is one of those strange quirks of international politics. Leftist groups and socialist groups are the most totalitarian and oppressive of all, and when they come to power often attempt to silence completely their enemies, commit brutal atrocities and stifle civil liberties and economic freedom. Yet, they mostly get a pass (see Soviet Union). Yet the more conservative governments (see United States) are accused of neo-fascism upon the slightest mention of national identity, patriotism, and the need to repel foreign enemies, even if those governments (like the U.S.) are extremely vigilant about civil rights.

The answer to this conundrum, I think, is that leftists aren't really interested in free speech and freedom of religion and free markets. For them, these "negative freedoms" are vested in a weird cult of self-determination and responsibility that is ultimately bound up with God-worship, something extremely distasteful to the left.

Instead, the left is far more impressed with "positive freedoms": a "right" to health care, shelter, food, and education. Thus, even if the system in which all of these things are guaranteed also makes these things more scarce and of a lower quality, and even if that system becomes brutal and repressive and begins to systematically execute its enemies and squash all free speech and opinion, they will still celebrate that system more than capitalism with its "inhumanity." That's why leftists are almost always secularists, because they seek meaning and value from the State, and not God.

As Pushkin wrote (and Solzhenitsyn quoted in Live Not By Lies), "Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom? Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash." Or, in the words of Samuel Adams:
If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
Moving on now. It seems that "Tomas D. Schuman" has written three four books: World Thought Police, Love Letter to America, No Novosti is Good News, and Black is Beautiful, Communism is Not.

At Amazon, World Thought Police and Novosti are under "Tomas Schuman". Love Letter and Black is Beautiful are under "T. Schuman." I ordered Love Letter and World Thought Police from used book sellers, but can't find Novosti or Black.

Continued in Part Two.