Saturday, February 27, 2010

Operation INFEKTION: Soviet Bloc Intelligence and Its AIDS Disinformation Campaign

"Our friends in Moscow call it ‘dezinformatsiya.’ Our enemies in America call it ‘active measures,’ and I, dear friends, call it ‘my favorite pastime.’"—Col. Rolf Wagenbreth, director of Department X(disinformation) of East German foreign intelligence

The CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence has just published Volume 53, Number 4 (December 2009) of Studies in Intelligence. The issue includes an unclassified extract from a classified study of the Soviet Union's propaganda "campaign to implicate the United States in the emergence of the AIDS pandemic that appeared in the early 1980s." According to a note at the beginning of the extract, "This article was the recipient of an Annual Studies in Intelligence Award in 2009."

The author writes:

The opening salvo of the AIDS disinformation campaign was fired on 17 July 1983, when an obscure newspaper in India, the Patriot, printed an anonymous letter headlined “AIDS may invade India: Mystery disease caused by US experiments.” The letter, allegedly written by a “well-known American scientist and anthropologist” in New York, claimed that “AIDS…is believed to be the result of the Pentagon’s experiments to develop new and dangerous biological weapons.” (4)...

The 17 July letter’s extensive quoting of US sources—e.g., U.S. News & World Report, Associated Press, and Army Research, Development & Acquisition magazine—suggests that US-based KGB officers initiated the AIDS campaign, or at least collected the material that triggered the idea. The KGB had large residencies in New York City and Washington, DC, both of which were assigned officers who worked solely on active measures. (5)

Read the CIA's introduction here and the actual study by Thomas Boghardt here.

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