Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: XX Committee

Spy-vs-Spy-fullIt isn’t directly a weapons site, but it relates to one of our other major interests — intelligence and unconventional warfare. If you’re interested in intelligence at all, former intellience officer John Schindler’s The XX Committee (at the less-roman “” address) has several posts a month on espionage and counterespionage.

We discovered his site via an op-ed in the LA Times. In which he wrote about our good friends at the TSA:

If you’re asking why the TSA exists at all right now, you’re not alone. In the same week that the domestic surveillance component of the Patriot Act has been scaled back, it’s worth pondering whether the TSA, another post-9/11 creation, needs to be mended, or perhaps even ended.

He hasn’t quite come around to the realization that no one good, decent, moral, ethical, competent or intelligent has ever been employed by TSA in any capacity whatsoever, but he’s clearly trending our way.


He comes across as a bit of a lefty, but then, most intelligence officers (uniformed or Three-Letter-Agency) are, being products of the same ruck of Eastern universities and the same Beltway scrum as the rest of the inbred Beltway Almanac Gotha. We could be wrong, of course: we actually don’t know or care about his political predilections. Whatever they may be, his commentary and his war stories (we’ll put in an example of one below) are very entertaining and educational.

Set the Wayback Machine to 1973-1974.

In the early 1970s, the KGB’s Washington rezidentura made great progress recruiting spies in the U.S. capital. By 1973, they had much to brag about, including recruitments inside the Nixon White House (note plural), and every week they were sending intel gold back to The Center (i.e. KGB Headquarters) in Moscow, including juicy reports about the inner workings of the administration. This was being read by Chairman Brezhnev himself, who followed the White House with great interest, not least because the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) were really getting off the ground between the Soviets and the Americans.

Before long, the KGB in Washington was sending scandalous news back to Moscow. Sources in the White House made it clear that the brewing Watergate scandal, which was only beginning to register with the U.S. media, was dire indeed; soon Beltway insiders were telling Soviet spies that the affair would ultimately doom Nixon. KGB officers in Washington were ecstatic with their hot reporting line, which they knew The Center and the Politburo would be reading with great interest.

Except they did not. Soon, The Center sent a secret message to the DC rezidentura to cease all reporting about Watergate.

…. Chairman Brezhnev was deeply upset by reports about Watergate. SALT was a point of pride with the Soviet leader, who had invested heavily in these talks to reduce nuclear weapons with the Americans, and he believed that success here – in his major foreign policy initiative – was dependent on his personal relationship with President Nixon. Brezhnev was horrified by the notion that Nixon might go under, as he believed that would imperil SALT, and he refused to read any further reports that indicated trouble in the White House. By continuing to send such reports, the Washington, DC rezidentura had created a big headache for the KGB’s leadership. ….

In the end, of course, Nixon went down the tubes, but the SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) was upheld by the successor governments of Ford and Carter. In this case, the Soviet strategic objectives were met, despite the fact that the political leadership (General Secretary Brezhnev) refused to recognize the reports that the KGB officers had gathered through great risk and effort. And the KGB men got nowhere with their intelligence information, despite the information being well and multiply sourced, and perfectly accurate.

6 thoughts on “Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: XX Committee

  1. John b

    I went to the 20something website, the writing style is like most IC types where they make mountains out of molehills.

    These guys still haven’t learned their lesson from CURVEBALL.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Hell, some of them haven’t learned the lesson from Pearl Harbor, and I’m not really sure if they understand Bunker Hill. But at least this guy writes about intel and not about — gag me — “strategy”. Which is where the usual intel weenie winds up…. Bradley Manning is the name ship of the class, for most of ’em.

    1. Hognose Post author

      That’s hilarious. I shoulda googled the guy!

      I mean, he’s a former professional intel guy and you get a briefing once a year the subtext of which includes, “If you’re ever dumb enough to take a picture of your johnson it will wind up on the Internet and probably (mercifully blacked out) in the Daily Mail.”

  2. Buckaroo

    Interesting story about Nixon. Gary North has some interesting ideas about Watergate that are worth contemplating.

    “Nobody ever asks this question: “How did the government know which sections of the infamous Watergate tapes to demand from Nixon and his lawyers?” They were not granted access to all of the tapes. The tapes have never been released. They are still incomplete in terms of public transcripts and access. The government’s lawyers could only request highly specific segments of specific tapes. They knew exactly which sections to subpoena….How did they know? That question was asked a generation ago by Susan Huck, in the John Birch Society’s American Opinion magazine. It was asked again by Gary Allen in his paperback exposé of Rockefeller. Yet no establishment historian or reporter, as far as I know, has ever asked this question.”

  3. Harold

    He doesn’t seem to invite comments. I guess you just read his posts and nod your head.

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