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Houston, we have a problem

From: H. B. Laes
Date: 07 Jan 1999


Houston, we have a problem

In our Thoery of Everything post we theorized on the identity of Fogel/Pers (Persian). While we did not mention Mr. X's name, select cognoscenti could divine it. Since then Weinstein and Vassiliev have published The Haunted Wood and provided much identifying detail on Persian. For example:

* He was a young, US engineer * He was a Communist Party Member * His father was a friend of Earl Browder (Head of CPUSA) * He found employment on "Enormoz" with Kellex, a subcontractor to Kellogg * He delivered information on the plant structure and equipment being used in the "Enormoz" project's New York facilities * He was initially controlled by Semyonov, then transferred to Feklissov * He declined a company transfer to Los Alamos as a construction engineer * He had a wife, small child, and lived in a comfortable apartment * He had begun a new business with another Communist and had invested $20,000. * He met with Anatoly Yatskov on March 11, 1945, at which time his wife was ill. * In May 1945 he delivered some drawings and plans to the Soviets that were directly linked to "Enormoz"

After presenting such specific and credible information the authors inform readers in a seven word footnote that Persian's real name is unknown (We don't quite understand, but that is another discussion). Nevertheless, their profile of Persian does not fit our Mr. X. In view of their KGB file sourcing we are prepared to agree that their Persian is the Fogel/Pers of the Venona messages.

There were numerous 'clues' that led us to hypothesize that Mr. X was a witting Soviet spy, but only one suggested he might be Fogel/Pers. Pers is linked to Camp - 1 (Oak Ridge) in Venona #1749 of 13 Dec 44, and Mr. X had significant duties there. We are not disabused of our basic premise on Mr. X, but we obviously need to review the bidding. Indeed in our best guess on Fogel we shared the nagging feeling that Chikov, by design or otherwise, had mixed some Mr. X into his Fielding/Cohen story. We are not ready to burn down our Theory of Fielding house but there are circumstances about Mr. X that echo Fielding. In future posts we may do a little thinking out loud.

Like our Bombshell hosts, the authors of The Haunted Wood discredit Chikov's Fielding/Perseus story. Of Perseus, Messrs. Weinstein and Vassiliev write on page 190, "During the 1990's, the SVR Service created the code name "Perseus," which resembles Persian, in an apparent effort to confuse those who worked on the NSA/CIA's Venona deciphering project...Although the SVR's motives remain unclear, it seems to have hoped that Western scholars would credit the still-undetected "Perseus" with mysterious and still-unrevealed Soviet espionage triumphs. The best account of this disinformation effort can be found in...Bombshell...."

In other words Perseus was disinformation for the purpose of misdirecting and distracting intelligence analysts and scholars away from the spying of Ted Hall and Saville Sax, Mlad and Star respectively. However, this explanation does not comport with the fact that SVR's Chikov makes references in pre-Venona writings to Mlad as Perseus, and Star as his courier. This is not something you would do if you had knowledge of the US' Venona program and wanted to keep Hall and Sax buried.

Never having had certitude, we remain open to the possibly that Morris Cohen got his hooks into a DSM (Manhattan Project) physicist before going into the Army.

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