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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spy Tale: "The Navy's Biggest Betrayal" Uncovered 25 Years Ago

From the pages of the June issue of Naval History Magazine, the story of the "Walker family" spy ring in "The Navy's Biggest Betrayal" by John Prados:
The Navy, in which John Walker served for 20 years, was enormously damaged by his espionage. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger concluded that the Soviet Union made significant gains in naval warfare that were attributable to Walker's spying. His espionage provided Moscow "access to weapons and sensor data and naval tactics, terrorist threats, and surface, submarine, and airborne training, readiness and tactics," according to Weinberger. A quarter-century after John Walker's arrest, it is illuminating to revisit the story of his naval spy ring, both for what it reveals about espionage versus security and for how it highlights the ambitions and frailties at the heart of spying.
The piece is worth reading, although "understanding" Walker's motives (bad childhood, family issues, needed money)hardly makes his situation unique nor acceptable.

As for the suggesting that part of the spy's motivation was to end the Cold War ("'The farce of the cold war and the absurd war machine it spawned," he commented, "was an ever-growing pathetic joke to me.'")seems like a pathetic attempt at self-justification for a man who sold out his country, family and shipmates for cold hard cash. That the author of the piece seems inclined to accept that Walker's spying may have added in calming tensions between the Soviet empire and the U.S. is not exactly a "value free" suggestion on the author's part.

Did Americans die as a result of what Walker and his "family" did? We don't really know, but it certainly cost a few billion dollars to turn the communications security systems around. Hard to justify that by a post facto claim of "good intentions." We all know the road those lead to.

By the way, Walker is reportedly ill in prison, but has a potential release date in 2015.

3 comments:

  1. It wasn't just billions on the comsec system that had to be expended -- it was a whole lot more. There are hints to the damage caused in Hoffman's book "Dead Hand" that leave you with your head shaking. If the balloon had gone up, we'd have definitely been in the hurt locker.
    So, here's hoping that if he is indeed ill, it is a particularly painful, wasting disease that marks each breath he still draws with exceptional pain and agony -- and is a foretaste of the eternity to come.
    w/r, SJS
    P.S. If the above sounds exceptionally harsh, it's because his actions directly put my life, and that of my ship/airwing -mates in jeopardy during the period in question...

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  2. Anonymous12:35 PM

    This man should hang.....

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  3. Anonymous8:11 AM

    Hanging is a fate too good for this bastard. He should burn... slowly.

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