A landmark collaboration between a thirty-year veteran of the CIA and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, The Main Enemy is the dramatic inside story of the CIA-KGB spy wars, told through the actions of the men who fought them. Based on hundreds of interviews with operatives from both sides, The Main Enemy puts us inside the heads of CIA officers as they dodge surveillance and walk into violent ambushes in Moscow. This is the story of the generation of spies who came of age in the shadow of the Cuban missile crisis and rose through the ranks to run the CIA and KGB in the last days of the Cold War. The clandestine operations they masterminded took them from the sewers of Moscow to the back streets of Baghdad, from Cairo and Havana to Prague and Berlin, but the action centers on Washington, starting in the infamous "Year of the Spy"--when, one by one, the CIA's agents in Moscow began to be killed, up through to the very last man.
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August 31, 2004
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Excerpt from The Main Enemy by Milton Bearden
THE YEAR OF THE SPY
Washington, D.C., 1830 Hours, June 13, 1985
There was nothing more he could do, Burton Gerber told himself again. The run had been choreographed like a ballet, of this he was certain. He had imposed his own iron discipline on the night's operation and had personally signed off on every detail, every gesture. Now that the route had been selected, he could close his eyes and visualize each intersection.
Gerber knew Moscow as well as any American, and from the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters half a world away, he routinely insisted on approving each turn to be followed on the operational run from Moscow's city center through the bleak outer neighborhoods. Night after night during his own years in Moscow, he had taken his wife, Rosalie, to obscure Russian theaters in distant parts of town rarely frequented by foreigners. His knowledge of Russian and his reputation as a movie buff had served him well. A good case officer has to learn his city, he told himself.
From his office in Langley, Virginia, Gerber had approved the script for the conversation that was to take place at the end of tonight's run, during the ten-minute meeting in the shadows of the Stalinist apartment blocks on Kastanayevskaya Street that was the sole object of the operation. Finally, Gerber had demanded that rigorous rehearsals be conducted inside the cramped working spaces on the fifth floor of the U.S. embassy in Moscow before the run was launched.
A wraith-thin Midwesterner, Jesuitical in his approach to his work, Gerber was one of the most demanding spymasters the CIA had ever sent against its main enemy, the Soviet Union's KGB. As chief of the CIA's Soviet/East European Division for the past year, he had made his mark. His exacting attention to the details of espionage tradecraft and his impatience with those who failed to meet his standards were legendary. Some critics called him a screamer who berated subordinates, but most respected his single-minded devotion to his job and, in an old-fashioned sense, to duty. Gerber was a complex man who evoked a jumble of emotions from those who worked for him. Longtime Soviet/East European hands studied him with the same intensity they brought to their analysis of the Soviet leaders in the Kremlin. What were they to make of a man whose greatest avocation was for the care, feeding, and preservation of wild wolves
The truth was that Burton Gerber was a deeply spiritual man, a Roman Catholic who felt a moral obligation to the Russian agents he and his case officers were running. He lit a candle at Mass for each one of his agents unmasked and arrested by the KGB. He had come home from serving as station chief in Moscow three years earlier, so he understood the dangers of operating inside the Soviet bloc better than most at CIA headquarters. He believed that nothing less than perfection was owed to America's Russian agents, and if he yelled at case officers who failed to meet his standards, so be it. Cable traffic between Langley and Moscow was frequently dominated by a tense running debate between Gerber and his Moscow station chief, Murat Natirboff, over the minutiae of operations. There were some in SE Division who whispered that Natirboff was miscast as Moscow station chief, and it was increasingly clear that Gerber didn't trust him to get things done right. He seemed to believe he had to run Moscow operations himself-so much so that to some within SE Division, it sometimes felt as if Burton Gerber had never left Moscow.