Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Crime Beat Column: The U.S. Navy's Cold War Spies & Traitors Revisited

 I was invited to speak at the Historicon convention at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, PA on July 8th. My presentation was on the U.S. Navy's sailors and civilian employees who betrayed America by spying for the Soviet Union and other foreign nations during the Cold War.

The Cold War - 1947-1991 -was a military and political rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II. The conflict was called a "cold" war as the two superpowers stopped short of full-scale war.
During the Cold War there were brave Russians who lived behind the "Iron Curtain" who spied for the U.S., U.K. and other Western powers because they hated communism. One such brave Russian was GRU Colonel Oleg Penkovsky, who provided the U.S. with the proof that the Soviets had long-range missiles in Cuba. He was later executed by the Soviets.
There were also some in the west who believed in communism and became spies for the Soviet Union, such as the British Cambridge Five - Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald McLean, Anthony Blunt and John Caincross.
And there were those who spied for the Soviets simply for the money, such as U.S. Navy Warrant Officer John Walker, Jr (seen in the below photo).
From the Korea War to the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam, the U.S. Navy's power, mobility and command of the sea greatly aided the United States during the Cold War. Yet the Navy's mission was often undermined by spies and traitors.
Below are symbols of some the U.S. Navy's projected power. The USS Kitty Hawk is seen in the top photo, and a nuclear submarine is leaving the nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland to go on patrol in the second photo, and the third photo is of the Navy tugboat the USS Saugus, which was stationed at Holy Loch. (I served on the Kitty Hawk and the Saugus)

The FBI has an acronym for spying, called "MICE," which stands for Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego.
Its a shame the FBI could not come up with an acronym for "RAT."
Below is a partial list of U.S. Navy sailors and civilian employees who spied for the Soviet Union and others during the Cold War. I say this is a partial list, as I may have missed a name or two of those arrested and prosecuted, and it should be noted that the U.S. government did not always arrest and prosecute spies.
Robert Wade Ellis, Navy enlisted, 1983
John Joseph Haeger, Navy enlisted, 1982
Brian Patrick Horton, Navy enlisted, 1982
Samuel Loring Morison, Navy civilian, 1984
Michael Richard Murphy, Navy enlisted, 1984
Jeffery Loring Pickering, Navy enlisted, 1982-83
Anne Henderson Pollard, civilian, 1985
Jonathan Jay Pollard, Navy civilian, 1984-85
Charles Edward Schoof, Navy enlisted, 1989
Brian Everett Slavans, Marine enlisted, 1982
Glenn Michael Souther, Navy civilian, 1980-86
Bruce Edward Tobias, Navy civilian, 1985
Michael Timothy Tobias, Navy enlisted, 1985
Arthur James Walker, retired Navy officer/contractor, 1981-85
John Anthony Walker, Jr, Navy Warrant Officer/civilian, 1968-85
Michael Lance Walker, Navy enlisted, 1983-85
Jerry Alfred Whitworth, Navy enlisted, 1975-85
I'd like to cover three of these Navy cases, all of them coming to light in 1985. The year was known as "The Year of the Spy" due to the many spy cases that were exposed that year.
In 1985 the John Walker family spy ring was rolled up.
Walker, a retired U.S. Navy Warrant Officer, pleaded guilty along with his son, Navy Seaman Michael L. Walker, then 22, to charges of spying for the Soviet Union .
John Walker passed secrets to the Soviets while he was a shipboard and shore station communications officer. After he retired, he recruited his son, brother and a friend. Walker 's brother, Arthur Walker, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, was convicted of stealing secret documents from a defence contractor. Jerry Whitworth, a Navy chief petty officer, was convicted in 1986 of passing secret Navy codes to Walker.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, as they say. Walker's ex-wife tipped the FBI to his selling data on encryption devices that compromised U.S. communications.

In late 1985, Walker pleaded guilty to espionage charges and was sentenced to two life terms plus 10 years. His son, Michael, got 25 years; his brother, Arthur James, life in prison; and a Navy colleague, Jerry Whitworth, 365 years.

Walker gave away the keys to the kingdom of naval communications: the key cards used for enciphering messages and encryption devices. The U.S. Navy estimates that more than one million classified military and intelligence agency messages were compromised by Walker. The Soviets were able to read vital American communications during a time of war. Had the U.S. gone to nuclear war with the Soviet Union, Walker’s security breech would have had been catastrophic.
I have a particular interest in the Walker spy case; I served as a young seaman in the communications division aboard the USS Kitty Hawk when the aircraft carrier conducted combat operations off the coast of Vietnam in 1970-1971.
The Kitty Hawk served as the flag ship for Task Force 77, so we handled highly classified war traffic for the 7th Fleet, the in-country military commands, the CIA, and other alphabet intelligence agencies. Little did we know that much of what we took great pains to protect was already blown by Walker.
Below is a photo of a Soviet TU-16 bomber flying over the USS Kitty Hawk as the aircraft carrier leaves her tour of duty off the coast of Vietnam. Note the Soviet bomber has an escort of U.S. Navy F-4 fighter aircraft.

It is my view — a view shared by many others who served in the military — that Walker’s espionage led to the death of many American sailors, soldiers, airman and marines during the Vietnam War.

Walker sees himself as a glamorous spy, but he was in fact merely a sneak thief. He stole classified documents and sold them to the Soviets in order to live a more prosperous lifestyle.
Also in 1985 the FBI arrested Jonathan Jay Pollard. (Below is a photo of Anne and Jonathan Pollard).
Unlike most other U.S. spies who worked with American enemies, Pollard was arrested and convicted for selling classified information to a staunch ally, Israel, while a civilian employee at the Naval Investigative Service's Anti-Terrorist Center.
Like the CIA's spy, Aldrich Ames, Pollard partnered with his wife in the sale of state secrets; his wife was sentenced to five years, Pollard to life in prison.

Since his conviction in 1986, Israel has lobbied U.S. administrations to pardon Pollard. President Clinton considered doing so in 1998, only to pull back after CIA Director George Tenet threatened to resign if Pollard was pardoned.
I interviewed retired Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent Ronald G. Olive for Counterterrorism magazine. Olive wrote a book called Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice (Naval Institute Press).
Below are FBI/NCIS surveillance photos of Pollard at his workstation stealing classified information)

Olive punctured the myth that Pollard only spied out a sense of duty towards Israel. Pollard wanted money. He was paid more than $45,000 and he received free trips to Europe and the Middle East.
Pollard also confessed to passed information to South Africa and a CBS TV reporter, and he tried to sell Pakistan classified information, but they passed.
Olive said the material Pollard stole was 360 cubic feet, or one million pages of classified material.
What an oddball he was. He was late for a job interview and his explanation was that he wife had been kidnapped. He didn't get the promotion, thankfully.
Lastly, Samuel Loring Morison worked at the Naval Intelligence Support Center in Suitland, Md., from 1974 to 1984. The grandson of the famous naval historian Samuel Elliot Morison, he was an intelligence analyst specializing in Soviet amphibious and mine-laying vessels.
Morison also worked as a part-time contributor and editor of the American section of Jnae's Fighting Ships, an annual reference work on the world's navies published in England.
Morison was accused several times of using his government office time and facilities to do his work for Jane's. He was warned about a conflict of interest between his two jobs.

In 1984, Morison tried to get a full-time position with Jane's in London. He began overstepping the boundary of permissible information that could be sent to Jane's. Morison took three classified photographs from a neighboring desk and sent them to Jane's. The photos were aerial surveillance photographs showing construction of the first Soviet nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The photographs were missed. When they appeared in Jane's Defense Weekly, they were traced back to Morison.
Morison believed that by sending the photos to Jane's he might get a full-time job. What he got was  two years in prison for espionage and theft of government property.
Although critics of the prosecution argued that Morison only published photos of the Soviets' ships - something one would think the Soviets already knew about - Morison exposed our technical capability to the Soviets.
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and so ended the Cold War. But espionage certainly didn't end, as the FBI recently rolled up a Russian spy ring of "illegals." The Communist Chinese are also aggressively spying on us, and Islamic fanatical terrorists also commit espionage.
America must protect and guard her military and economic secrets more than ever.
You can read more about John Walker via the below links to my two-part series on Walker:
You can also read my other pieces on espionage and American crime history via the below link:


  1. No hole dark enough or deep enough for these traitors.

  2. I am interested in researching the Schoof/Haeger case from 1989. Is there any information you can share or tips for where to look for info? Thanks,
    Eric Maudsley

  3. Mr. Maudsley,

    No, sorry, I don't.

    You might want to submit a FOIA request to the Justice Department.


    Paul Davis