Undercover with FBI Counterintelligence
Soon after I returned to Washington, D.C. from London, Alexey Sokolov sent me an e-mail saying that George Blake had agreed to translate everything:
Sokolov's existing book plus 180 pages of additional material (topics of interest to me and, by extension, the FBI) for $9,000.
(A few years later, Blake told me that he had actually declined this opportunity. Reason: He wanted nothing to do with Igor Prelin, whom he found sleazy.)
But then a hiccup my end.
The FBI's Washington Field Office was experiencing a budget crunch.
And I was the one they wanted to crunch.I learned about it from Special Agent Mike Stuberg over latte at our usual Starbucks in northwest DC, on March 10th, 2000.
The problem: WFO was funding my operations but, aside from my Cuban coversion, their office did not benefit from my work product.
Word was, WFO National Security chief James "Tim" Caruso had gotten tired of subsidizing data destined for Headquarters (positive intelligence from Russia), Albuquerque (Edward Lee Howard), and Philadelphia (another sting operation, upcoming in this serial).
Said Stuberg, WFO considered me "too diverse."
Caruso's solution, without consulting Headquarters, Philadelphia, or Albuquerque: terminate the arrangement."You're expensive," said Stuberg.
"I'm good," I said. "And you guys knew the cost when you took me over from Albuquerque."Stuberg shrugged.
Was I supposed to just stand everything down? I asked.
"I've been instructed to tell you to stop billing hours effective immediately," said Stuberg, "so that would be the obvious result."
"That's ridiculous," I said. "Am I supposed to now just ignore everybody I've been rusing for the FBI?"
Stuberg agreed it was ridiculous, but WFO had to expect that a comprehensive stand-down would necessarily result from cutting off my funds.I considered the situation.
"Trust me," I said. "Everything I do is at my own discretion."Truth be known, that's part of what irked WFO.
"What would you say if we could have caught Edward Lee Howard and didn't?" I asked him.
My friend was appalled. "Do you mind if I go see FBI Director Louis Freeh and see what he has to say?" he asked.
"Do I mind?" I said. "It's about time somebody came up with a straight answer."And why not take this to the Biggest Cheese?
Director Freeh, my friend later told me, said he knew how his Bureau treated those who went around the back door, not following the chain of command, however disconnected. And he was also appreciative that my friend had dealt with this matter in a positive, non-partisan manner. For that reason, the director promised to handle this situation with great discretion.
"This isn't good," said Stuberg. "Some of our middle-managers will take this to mean you're not a trustworthy guy."I looked Stuberg square in the eye. "Tell your middle-managers to go f--- themselves. They should do their job and catch Ed Howard."
John H had walked this walk. With exceptional patience and savvy he had been the sole advocate for keeping the Howard case alive.
"You're looking at the new advocate," I told Stuberg.