Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shadow Ops

Shadow Ops is a new series on Discovery Military Channel, bringing the story of some of the most fascinating and gripping spy cases during the Cold War. The series just started on Discovery Channel in the U.S. and Europe.

Shadow Ops reveals how intelligence officers operated in foreign countries during the height of the Cold War, how enemy agents were turned into double agents in the heart of the opponents intelligence services, the risks that spies took and how their bold actions influenced the outcome of the Cold War.

The stories are told by former intelligence agents and analysts from KGB, MI6, CIA and other agencies, providing an accurate view on the cases. Among them is Mark Stout, former CIA analyst, historian and author on intelligence who, amoung many other things, earned his media stripes in the International Spy Museum and as host for their fascinating SpyCast program.

The first episode tells the story of Vladimir Vetrov, codenamed Farewell, the KGB colonel who worked in the Line X department, responsible for stealing Western technology, and at the same time double agent for the French and U.S. intelligence. The spectacular exfiltration of KGB colonel Oleg Gordievsky, double agent for British MI6, is detailed in the second episode. The third episode brings the gripping story of Marth Peterson, the first ever female CIA agents, stationed in Moscow. She organised the covert communications and dead drops (covert exchange of various items) for Soviet diplomatic service official Aleksandr Ogorodnik, codenamed Trigon. Peterson was eventually arrested by a large KGB counterespionage team. You can listen a to a Spy Cast interview with her, or on Youtube.

Visit Discovery's Military Channel for episode trailers and more info on the gripping Shadow Ops series.

Trailer of the first Shadow Ops episode: Vladimir Vetrov.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shadow Ops/Reagan's Secret Weapon is based (without naming it) on the English version of the French documentary book Adieu Farewell (Laffont, Paris 2009) by authors Sergei Kostin and Eric Raynaud (interviewed in this episode). The title of the book used for the Discovery/Military channel piece is "Farewell: The Greatest Spy Story of the 20th Century" published by AmazonCrossing in August 2011. The story is still unknown to most, but very much worth discovering. The Shadow Ops episode, unfortunately, is a very distorted interpretation of the facts, done with little attention to details (the casting of Vetrov is an insult to his memory). 45 minutes of sound bites and a deluge of frames with no coherent narrative does not do credit to the witnesses of the time still alive who accepted (some for the first time in thirty years) to be interviewed for this documentary. The voice over of the interviews led in France and Russia, instead of using subtitles, takes away the substance of the interviews (hours reduced to seconds) and makes it impossible to perceive the personality of those witnesses. To see so much valuable material, such incredible access provided by the "book team", wasted to produce a shallow, inacurate account of this major episode of the Cold War... Very disappointing. Poor Vetrov...

For those truly interested, here is the book to read to get the story straight:

And a much better character of Vetrov is to be found in this movie (much closer to the real man, as confirmed by his real life main handler-friend, " Monsieur Paul").

And so it goes...