The Book

“When are you finally going to write a book?”

I have heard that question too many times to count.

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From January of 1992 until its completion in September of 2011 the manuscript that eventually became the book pictured above took many forms. It found its beginning in a late-night attempt to put some of my thoughts to paper in 1987. After my apprehension in 1991 the floppy disk containing the pages below was seized as evidence. During sentencing, the Lead Prosecutor, Major Anne Burman, used these pages to ask several rhetorical questions of the empty courtroom. Was this my autobiography or my novel, she asked? “We will never know!” she said, apparently not appreciating the wisdom of never saying never.

Oddly enough, the first suggestion made to me that I should write down my story was made by the very man that had spent years tracking me down, and who later became head of AFOSI. He not only made the suggestion, he found a typewriter and several reams of paper so that I could get to work right away.

The first attempt only produced a small number of pages,and my re-confinement at the USMC Brig at Quantico put a halt to any more writing. It was not until 1996 (now at the USDB at Fort Leavenworth) that I once again decided to put my experiences down on paper. In small increments the manuscript began to take on form. Both inmates and guards alike proof-read the pages as I completed them. Some guards even shook down my area out of turn so that they could personally follow the progress of the story. Eventually, I enlisted the aid of an author in Florida, in the hopes that his expertise might prove valuable.

In 1997, after I had written nearly 400 standard pages, I experienced an unexpected turn of events: It was in that year Markus Wolf, former head of the HVA, published his book ‘Man Without a Face’. In it he resurrected the damage I inflicted on the NSA and the USAF, giving painfully detailed descriptions of activities that we had disrupted. At the same time, news of my kidnapping made the news in Germany – six years after the fact. The resulting negative publicity was apparently too much for the Air Force and the NSA, and they quickly took action to ensure that no one discover any more of the actual events surrounding my betrayal and kidnapping. In very short order my manuscript was seized and I was placed in segregation. I was now, they informed me, facing a second charge of Espionage.

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Be charged with Espionage while serving a sentence for Espionage is, well, pretty intense. Just as intense as receiving the National Defense Service Medal while serving a sentence for Espionage.

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(Yes, I received the NDSM while in segregation awaiting new charges of Espionage. [Look at the dates of the documents] I got the NDSM because I was assigned to the 7350th ABG in Berlin while I was still working as a subway motorman months before my kidnapping.)

I was cut off from the outside and even from other inmates and staff on the inside. I had no ability to correspond with my family or even my attorney. There were no letters. During one of the numerous interrogations by OSI agents from Whiteman AFB, I was inadvertently presented a document that detailed a request to execute a clandestine search of my potential co-author’s home in Florida. (Jack, if you are reading this today, then know that even you weren’t safe.) Oddly enough, NSA had indicated that its mandate did not permit it to execute such investigations on US soil, and that the FBI had been asked to carry out the secret search warrant in its place. Nothing was to be taken or disturbed, only the hard drive on the poor man’s computer would be copied. No one was ever to know who had been there. It sounded like East Germany, I thought.

If there was a silver lining on that cloud, it was that NSA had oddly admitted that it had no mandate to directly engage in activity against US citizens. From 1983 until 1985 I betrayed various projects and activities directed against the Warsaw Pact, activities that sometimes risked making the Cold War quite hot. Today, NSA directs its intelligence collection activities against the very citizens it claims to protect. During the Cold War the enemy was The Evil Empire and Communism. Today, the enemy often can’t even be concretely identified. And certainly, you can’t convict anyone of ‘aiding the enemy’ when you can’t define who the enemy is. Don’t dare to publish an article that the wrong person might someday read, and don’t give a ballpoint pen to the North Koreans (an actual example of potential espionage under the Clinton administration), or you may find yourself in jail. It appears we have become precisely what we said we detested. And we, the people, are now the enemy.

“Against all Enemies, Foreign and Domestic…”

If the public is outraged at the conduct of its government and its intelligence services, then this is understandable. Unfortunately, until people like Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden forced the world to see what is done in their name, we often didn’t care to know. And while the object of our respective actions or betrayal may have varied widely, one thing remains the same: an intelligence behemoth with heretofore unknown capabilities and a classified budget continues its often illegal work unrestrained and with little competent oversight.

The people themselves cannot be the Enemy of the People.

“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”  – Franklin Delano Roosevelt