February 26, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) — Why would the KGB take pains to deny it had nothing to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, or that the Soviet spy agency had no contact with Lee Harvey Oswald when he lived in the USSR prior to the events in Dallas?
CIA officer Tennent “Pete” Bagley asked those questions of KGB defector Yuri Nosenko in Geneva in 1964 — less than two months after the assassination. James Angleton, the chief of counterintelligence for CIA, agreed with Bagley’s assessment: Nosenko was part of a deception and was not telling the whole truth. Thus ensued one the most controversial sagas in CIA history that continues today with the publication of a new book by Pete Bagley.
The 2008 Raleigh Spy Conference, an internationally acclaimed event that draws top experts in the field of intelligence to Raleigh each year, will feature Bagley and five other expert speakers under the title CIA’s Unsolved Mysteries: The Nosenko Defection, Double Agents and Angleton’s Wilderness of Mirrors. The final conference schedule is available at http://www.raleighspyconference.com (click on “event info”).
According to Conference founder Bernie Reeves, editor and publisher of Raleigh Metro Magazine, “Many questions remain from the monumental battle between the Soviet Union and the United States when the wheel of history often turned to the will of agents of deception and moles burrowed inside intelligence and other government agencies. It was indeed a ‘wilderness of mirrors’ that continues today to cast a confused image of history.”
The Conference will open on Wednesday, March 26, at 6 p.m. with registration and a reception, followed by a surprise addition to the speaker line-up: Stanton Evans, author of the controversial new book Blacklisted By History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy And His Fight Against America’s Enemies.
David Robarge, chief historian for CIA, will start off Thursday morning at 9 a.m. discussing the environment at CIA created by the legendary James Jesus Angleton, CIA’s counterintelligence chief who turned the Agency inside out searching for a Soviet mole he thought had burrowed into the highest levels of the US intelligence community.
At 10:30 a.m., former CIA counterintelligence officer Brian Kelley will dramatize for the first time the true story of an American double agent targeted against the KGB. Drawing on newly declassified information, Kelley will trace the deceptions and mystery of the case – involving spy agencies, presidents and KGB sources — and conclude with a stunning surprise involving an American official.
At 1:30 p.m., special guest Pete Bagley will answer questions about his new book on the Nosenko defection and the controversy it has rekindled in intelligence circles. Feelings are running so strongly that Bagley’s scheduled talk in July at CIA about his book was abruptly canceled the evening before. Brian Kelley will join Bagley on stage as moderator.
At 3 p.m., former Time magazine Moscow bureau chief Jerrold Schecter — the author of seminal books on the Cold War — will discuss the political environment that produced the double agents, moles and deception operations that created the wilderness of mirrors that signified the Cold War confrontation of US and Soviet spy agencies.
From 4:15 to 5 p.m. authors at the Conference will hold a book signing. The day will conclude with a Conference Gala from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Amra’s in Raleigh’s Glenwood South district.
Friday, March 28, kicks off at 9 a.m. with a panel discussion featuring all speakers to field additional questions from the audience, introduce special guests, and discuss the findings and conclusions from the 5th Raleigh Spy Conference.
At 11 a.m., David Ignatius, Washington Post columnist and former Moscow bureau chief, will present the keynote address. Ignatius, an award-winning journalist and the author of espionage fiction applauded by the intelligence community, will present an overview of the era that created the wilderness of mirrors and the political and historical impact of Cold War espionage.
The Raleigh Spy Conference was founded “to bridge the gap between intelligence and current history,” according to Reeves. “The calculus of modern events is intelligence. We don’t really know what happened until someone declassifies something.”
Association of Intelligence Officers President Gene Poteat says of the Raleigh Conference: “In Washington, it’s difficult for the public to comprehend important intelligence and terrorism issues since everything is partisan and politically charged. Outside Washington, there are few voices for the public to hear, and those heard are often wrong or media-driven. Few are able to explain to the public what really has happened, and is happening, in intelligence, counterterrorism and national security — important issues, which, throughout history, have spelled the survival or loss of this or other nations.
“The annual Raleigh Spy Conference is a rare opportunity to hear it straight, with an unusual ‘insider’s’ perspective and knowledge. Each year this conference opens that door to share remarkable insights and stellar speakers with the public. If one claims a scintilla of world-affairs knowledge, it cannot be true unless the annual Raleigh Spy Conference is on your calendar.”
Tickets to the three-day event are $250 for the general public, $175 for seniors, and $145 for teachers, students and members of the military and intelligence community. Early registration is available by calling Jennifer Hadra at 919-831-0999. For complete information, including accommodations, go to http://www.raleighspyconference.com.
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