Espionage the most powerful Soviet intelligence agency,

            Espionage
has been utilized as a tactic throughout the world for many centuries. The
height of intelligence and counterintelligence organizations peaked during the
Cold War, because there was an increase in the amount of funding and resources
devoted to espionage. The Cold War was a period of continuous political and
military tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Both nations had
opposing ideologies, different views on capitalism and communism, and wanted
power for global supremacy. The Soviet Union employed espionage, fearing that capitalist
nations would bring the downfall of communism. Soviet espionage was organized
and ran by the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy
Bezopasnosti (??????? ???????????????
????????????), commonly referred to as the KGB. The KGB was the most powerful
Soviet intelligence agency, with the main goal of gathering intelligence
material on western technology and military operations. Famous atomic spies
such as the Rosenbergs and Klaus Fuchs, revealed secrets to Soviet Intelligence
regarding the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was the codename for a
project conducted during World War II, but had a major emphasis on the Cold
War. The USSR’s hostile behavior in seizing Eastern Europe, revelations
about its repressive and tyrannical government, its attainment of the atomic
bomb, and the resulting fears of nuclear warfare and atomic spies would
ultimately be (Sulcik 7) “the very beginning of Cold War espionage and also
spark what would become the arms race in later decades” (Shmerer 1).

            While
many organizations such as the CIA and KGB became synonymous with Cold War
espionage, several others played key roles in acquiring information about
top-secret projects and missions. During the Cold War, obtaining information
was vital to both sides. Both the United States and the Soviet Union employed
spies to infiltrate enemy territory and gain insight about hidden projects and
atomic weaponry. The Cold War opposition between the United States and the
Soviet Union affected every aspect of America’s interaction with the rest of
the world. The FBI increased its counterespionage efforts against the Soviets
in the United States (Sulick 6). Although espionage alone did “not tip the
scales of victory” in the fight between the nations, the exposing secrets did
result in serious consequences (14). Whenever spies were discovered during the
Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union were forced to create countermeasures
to make up for the military, scientific, and economic advantages that the
opposing side gained from the stolen secrets (14).

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            The
Soviet Union showed more expertise than the United States in espionage because
it was able to recruit a number of American and British spies. Soviet
intelligence dedicated a huge amount of time and energy into spying on the
United States and Britain (“Espionage and the Manhattan Project” 1). Solely in the
United States, hundreds of Americans supplied the USSR with confidential information.
Espionage was one of the concerns during the Manhattan Project. In December
1941, the government launched the Manhattan Project, the scientific and
military task to develop an atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project commenced
because it was a response to fears that German scientists had already been
working on a nuclear weapon since the 1930s (History.com Staff, “Manhattan
Project”, 2). The Manhattan Project was a classified project for the fear that
the nuclear technology would be stolen by Soviet spies. However, the Soviet
Union prioritized the infiltration of the Manhattan Project. Soviet agents were
able to acquire and distribute vital information about the project, including
blueprints, with ease (Llewellyn et al.
2). Information regarding the Manhattan Project could be used by the Soviet
Union to advance their own nuclear projects or to increase covert operations
against the project. The production and use of
the atomic bomb involved “some of the world’s leading scientific minds” (History.com
Staff, “Manhattan Project”, 1). The atomic bomb created
a new level of psychological panic. It influenced media, government, and daily
lives of those all around the world. As the covert plan to construct the bomb began
in the United States, the Soviet spy ring grew tremendously. 

The Soviet spies were most prominent in obtaining the
information required to make the atomic bombs. The amount of information
they collected was said to have been “huge, inestimable, and significant
for our state and science” (Sebestyen 28). Notorious spies such as Klaus
Fuchs and the Rosenbergs were said to have provided atomic secrets that would
help to dismantle the superpower of the United States. Most of the information
stolen by the Soviet government was channeled through the British physicist, Klaus
Fuchs. In late 1941, Fuchs first provided his duties to Soviet intelligence (“Espionage
and the Manhattan Project” 1). Subsequently, he started distributing
information about British atomic research. Fuchs was a leading physicist
on the Manhattan Project and a main scientist at Britain’s nuclear facility by
1949 (Holmes 2). For several years, Fuchs shared all of his notes from the Manhattan
Project to the government of the USSR. Fuchs ultimately was caught by the
United States government, and his confession led to the capture of many other
spies within the Manhattan Project (Shmerer 1). Some of these spies included
the famous Rosenbergs, Julius and Ethel.

After Klaus Fuchs’ arrest, David Greenglass implicated
his sister and her husband, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, as Soviet spies. The
Rosenbergs were American citizens indicted, convicted, and executed for sharing
confidential information to Soviet intelligence, which assisted the USSR to
duplicate their own nuclear weapons, specifically the atomic bomb. Julius
Rosenberg was involved in espionage for the Soviet Union and provided the USSR
with numerous classified documents, including a model of a proximity fuze. Julius
was also involved in attempting to recruit others to spy for the Soviet Union,
including Ethel’s brother David Greenglass. Greenglass shared details about the
Manhattan Project to Julius, including information regarding the “high-explosive
lenses being developed for the implosion bomb” (“Espionage” 2). Greenglass reported that his
sister Ethel had typed the notes her husband passed to the Soviet Union on the
American bomb project. The United States eventually passed espionage laws but
still faced a complicated and difficult predicament indicting spies, which was exemplified
by the Venona Project. The Venona Project revealed the extensive amount of
Soviet espionage in the United States, and meticulous analysis allowed
investigators to identify many of the American spies.  

            The
Venona Project was a military investigation decoding Soviet messages going in
and out of the United States. These messages revealed hundreds of citizens and
immigrants all on American soil that revealed confidential information to
Soviet intelligence. Soviet intelligence officers in the United States frequently
communicated with their superiors in Moscow via telegraphic cables. These
messages were encrypted, but in 1946 the United States began to decrypt a
significant amount of these messages. This shocking discovery of spies and this
leaked information showed the Soviet Union and communists’ ability to influence
and control the United States. The treachery of American atomic secrets to the
Soviets allowed the Soviet Union to construct atomic weapons many years sooner
and at a significantly lower cost than it otherwise would have (Haynes and
Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, 3). The Venona messages
remained top secret and only a handful of government officials knew the
details, until the program was declassified in 1995 (“The Venona Intercepts” 1).
Soviet intelligence discovered the Venona Project in 1949 through one of their
British agents, but there was nothing they could do to stop it. It was this
project that corroborated the espionage of the Rosenbergs and Klaus Fuchs. The
Rosenbergs repudiated all accusations and obstinately refused to specify names
or answer many questions. They were found guilty, sentenced to death in 1951
and despite pleas for clemency, executed on June 19, 1953 in the electric chair
at Sing-Sing prison in New York (Holmes 3). The Soviet Union’s espionage
against the United States from 1942 to 1945 was excessive and constant. By the
late 1940s, the evidence provided by the Venona Project of the immense size and
intense hostility of Soviet intelligence operations caused American counterintelligence
professionals to deduce that “Stalin had already launched a covert attack on
the United States” (Haynes and Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America,
12). The United States believed that this Soviet espionage indicated that the
Cold War had begun not after World War II but many years earlier (12).

            Espionage
activities persisted from the beginning of the Cold War and through the late
1960s and still lingering today. These spies
were deciphering encrypted information, and using countless skills to acquire
an advantage over other enemy countries (Ehrman 2).
Today, if a spy penetrates the US government and acquires secrets it would
create more damage now than it would have before technology. Besides the threat
from terrorist spies, another emerging threat that can cause equal damage to US
national security is cyberespionage (Sulick 15). Computer hacking has quickly
evolved into a modern tool used by foreign intelligence services to steal
American government and commercial secrets (15). Spy services utilized
technological advances for many centuries to easily acquire secrets. Computer
technology is well suited to espionage and has significantly enhanced many of
the essential elements of secrecy (15). Through this advanced technology, large
amounts of data can be obtained and sent at rapid speeds through easily hidden
portable devices like flash drives and memory cards. However, the perpetrator
is shielded by the anonymity of the internet and his or her theft at times goes
unnoticed. Foreign adversaries, specifically China and Russia, have exploited
these advantages to penetrate both US government and industry information
systems. In 2011, a report to Congress by the National Counterintelligence
Executive (NCIX) stated that “the computer networks of a broad array of US
government agencies, private companies, universities and other institutions –
all holding large volumes of sensitive economic information – were targeted by
cyberespionage” (Shanker 2). The NCIX report states that computer attacks are
increasing exponentially, particularly against US government classified
systems. Internet espionage exists within the United States, yet America’s lingering
doubt in the threat of espionage prevails.

            Despite
being an ally during World War II, the Soviet Union inaugurated a full-blown espionage
attempt to reveal the military and defense secrets of the United States in the
1940s. As the top-secret plan to build the bomb, named the Manhattan Project, began
in the United States, the Soviet spy ring flourished and grew way before the
FBI or CIA knew of its existence. If the Soviet Union had not obtained access
to such significant pieces of information, the pivoting point of psychological
fear to actual physical fear escalating around the world (possibly the fear
itself) would not have evolved to such prominence. The Soviet Union’s espionage
was a war on American soil, fought secretly to demolish the superpower of the
United States. 

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