tv Declassified CNN October 27, 2019 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
>> thank you. >> that's beautiful. >> that's what you mean, you're my star. secrecy is devastation of state. you can deliver a bomb using classified information. russian intelligence officers are a serious foe to the united states. they are well trained. they are well motivated. and they are fanatically pro moscow. spying is an insidious game, and the sbr is arguably the best in this business. >> as a former fbi agent and chairman of the house intelligence committee, i had
oversight of all 16 of our nation's intelligence agencies. my name is mike rogers. i had access to classified information gathered by our operatives, people who risked everything for the united states and our families. you don't know their faces or their names. you don't know the real stories from the people who live the fear and the pressure, until now. >> information warfare against the united states, that's the heart of an extraordinary federal indictment announced today against 13 russians. the russians accused of working together to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. >> since world war ii, our biggest adversary has been russia. >> breaking news. ten alleged secret agents arrested, accused of spying on the united states for russia. >> we are tracking reports that russian hackers stole u.s. cyber secrets from the nsa in one of
the most significant security breaches in history. >> we cannot trust russia. we should never trust russia. >> their history is one of conquest, and so that's pretty much embedded in their culture you have to be spying on your enemy. you can't trust anyone. >> the united states has been the global super power, and we have everything that every other country on earth wants. wealth, technology, and all of that is tied to sensitive classified information. >> and the russia intelligence services work very hard to steal our secrets. >> the reason people spy is to gain advantage over the person being spied on. you want to have knowledge that they don't have, or you want to have knowledge that they don't know you have. >> and vice versa. >> they spy on us, and we spy on them. it's one of the oldest occupations in the world. it's not ever going away. >> espionage probably represents the greatest threat to america's national security today than anything else. >> the foreign intelligence
service of russia, they're trying to learn what u.s. policies are, what's behind them, because we have enough nuclear weapons to blow them off the planet just like they have enough nuclear weapons to blow us off the planet. it's hard to bridge that gap. but in the '90s we were starting to get there. >> certainly i agree with what president yeltsin said, there is no animosity, the cold war days are over. >> the wall had fallen in east berlin. there was jubilation as though the dictatorship in russia was finally ending. >> the two sides of the wall met, this healing of psychological wounds. >> the white house clearly wanted to have a reset in our diplomatic military relations with new russia. >> and there was thought that maybe finally this cold war was over. >> the cold war is over, and for
the first time in history an american president has set foot in a democratic russia. >> and so in june 1992, the state department released a memorandum indicating that russian diplomats no longer needed to be escorted inside the main state department building. >> i thought someone was pulling my leg. i simply could not believe that that decision had been reached. it ran contrary to what i had been doing for 25 years. you do not allow foreign diplomats to walk-in side the state department unescorted. they would never let an american diplomat walk-in side the russian ministry of foreign affairs on its court. it would never happen. i can't believe for one second that the russian residents at the embassy in washington, d.c., was not laughing every night over the non-escort policy. >> this goes back to state department not being a counter intelligence agency. their purpose is to build
bridges with other countries. >> we were trying to normalize relations with the russians and not treat them like the bad old soviets they were used to. the fbi always kept countering the efforts of sbr intelligence officers in washington, d.c. we dialed back the resources and slowly backed off thinking, okay, let's see if they do come around. >> well, it didn't take us long to learn that the bear was not in hibernation and the russian intelligence service that morphed from the kgb to the sbr had simply not changed their mission or their goal. >> the wall came down. it didn't change anything from a national security counter intelligence standpoint. that cat and mouse cyber spy thing is allegation there. that cat and mouse spy versus spy thing is always there. >> in the summer of 1998 i was the deputy director of the
counter intelligence in the united states. my counterpart at the fbi washington field office arranged for me to come down and meet with him and another agent. they said, robert, this is a catalog of russian diplomats coming to visit the state department. >> most of them were diplomats, had been in their ministry of foreign affairs, but the fraction were spies. intelligence officers serving under diplomatic cover. they're trained in all the trade craft of recruiting people, detecting, evading surveillance, planting bugs. >> and he says they're coming in numbers and frequency the likes we've never seen before. and to him that suggested something was afoot. >> you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to see that something was going on. i mean, they were there all the time. they were in and out of the place. >> typically russian diplomats visit the state department to work on common issues like
reducing nuclear stockpiles. but the goal of a russian intelligence officer is different. they're not concerned about diplomatic negotiations. they want to obtain sensitive, classified or restricted information. >> policies are formulated state department have classified information at work there. a lot of sensitve things go on there. >> right off the bat, i knew we have a problem. if a russian intelligence officer is inside the state department, he or she is obviously up to no good. >> whenever you're dealing with spies, it's what you don't know will hurt you. >> so what can we do to better understand what we were seeing. >> we didn't know what the russians were doing inside, who they were doing it to or how they were doing it. but my job was to find out. macramé!
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expedia. in the summer of 1998, i was the deputy director. don sullivan was my counter part at the washington field office. >> i showed him a spread sheet tracking the visits of these russia spies serving under diplomatic cover to the state department and like any spread sheet, you can see increased frequency and duration of visits. >> this is clearly evidence of activity inconsistent with regular diplomatic dialogue. >> it's a good indication of something going on.
>> the state department is the spear of foreign policy. it conducts foreign negotiations, they maintain conflict resolution and their most important job is to keep things stable. if the russians figure out our bottom bargaining line, they may be able to out negotiate us, so right off the bat, i knew we have a problem. no question. >> at the end of our meeting when robert told us there was not an escort policy, i was flabbergasted. we would get escorted. we at the fbi went through all kinds of hoops to get in there. it didn't seem right. >> russian diplomats, yes. fbi agents no. it doesn't get any worse than that. >> robert and i decided we needed to do a surveillance that was not just outside the building, but inside the building, using both our personnel. >> don and i created a six-week
operational plan to identify russians coming to the main state department building, what offices they visited, and then how long it took for them to go back outside and get into their car. >> we would follow them to the outside of the building and notify robert's team inside the building of who was coming in and then they would try to follow them inside. >> when the russians stepped out of the car, we had cameras rolling with high resolution focused strictly on them, looking for anomalies in their clothes, in their hands, in their briefcases, anything at all that might give us an idea of what he or she might have been bringing into the main state department building. >> we saw one after another sbr officer going in, sometimes several at the same time. one day we saw a russian diplomat entering the building empty-handed, and coming out with a briefcae. we were very concerned at that point.
>> another incident that gave us a lot of concern our surveillance team spotted a russian diplomat as he walked up to the main entrance of the state department. now, when you go to the main state department building, there is a physical barrier. you have to present a certain i.d. card and the receptionist writes it out for you, and then you go to a gate guard who stands there and opens the gate for you. when the russian diplomat walked inside, we noticed he didn't go to the receptionist, but sat down in some easy chairs in the lobby. and there's noise going everywhere. there's phones everywhere. continue minut ten minutes later another russian diplomat comes to the reception desk, gives them a number to call allegedly to an office, and yes, we're expecting dmitry, send him on up. she picks up the phone, and actually is to the house phone
on the table next to where the other russian diplomat is sitting. he picks up the phone and says, let dmitry in. she hangs up, writes it off. off he goes, and where he went we have no clue. in this case unfortunately we did not have an asset able to follow. >> doing surveillance of the outside of the state department is easy. doing surveillance on the inside of the state department, very, very difficult. sometimes it's just two of you going down a hallway and, you know, you can get away with that only so long. >> why didn't you get rid of them, kick them out, arrest them? >> well, they violated no laws. they have violated an internal security rule, sure. but if you do that, you let them know you're onto them. let them do it a second or third time, let's see what's going on
here. >> we thought they could be outright stealing documents. they could be planting bugs, anything like that. but, you know, frankly, we didn't know what they were doing. that was the concern. >> unfortunately, after six weeks, we were no closer to the answers we were seeking than when we began. all that we confirmed was they were coming to the main state department building in numbers and frequencies that simply was inconsistent with diplomatic dialogue. we were unable to go beyond that. >> when it was done, robert took it up within his chain of command to present it to the higher ups and say, we probably have a threat here. >> in may 1998, the fbi gave me permission to brief thomas pickering, number 3 man at the state department and former u.s. ambassador to moscow about what we had uncovered. he was shown the photographs. he was shown the spreadsheets. we explained to him how we felt the no-escort policy was detrimental to the security of
the building. but unfortunately, there was no proof they were going outside their regular diplomatic duties and responsibilities. what we had was a lot of smoke and no fire. >> unfortunately, after that meeting, the policy continued that the russians would not be escorted within the state department. and from our observation, the activity continued. robert and i put our heads together again. it's our job. we have to find out what's going on. so we started a second round of the surveillance program. >> at the beginning of the second operation, we noticed that russian diplomats were arriving at the same rate and frequency that we had seen during the first operation. then all of a sudden, all of these russians, especially intelligence officers coming to the state department, just evaporated, and we had nothing. >> there was nothing to see. whatever was being done had now been done.
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just evaporated and we had nothing. >> of course, we thought they were outright stealing documents, they could be planting bugs, anything like that. there was no telling what they did. that was the concern. >> we were convinced the russians had a success story. what it was, we did not know. >> in the late '90s, i was the most junior agent on my squad, so i had the work that no one else wanted. i was in charge of investigating the sbr line o.t. o.t. means operational technical. these russian technical officers were supporting operations, like our tech agents support us, but they're not doing the operations. so it wasn't the glamorous stuff. early in 1999, the state department received an accreditation package from
russia announcing stanisl stanislav gustav's arrival. your intention, your request for that person to be accredited as a diplomat. the standard procedure for us is to check with the intelligence community just to see what pops up. a lot of times there's nothing. the assumption is they're a clean diplomat. in his case it did not come back he was a clean diplomat. he was specifically a line o.t. officer. his predecessor was the line ofrmt o.t. chief in the embassy, and he was replacing him. everything matched. so even though we knew he was the spy state department, still accredited gusev as a diplomat. so in comes gusev. >> wasn't >> compromised from the moment he got here because you already knew who he was? >> but they didn't know that. they didn't know that we knew everything we did.
when they come into the united states, they will be followed. we have to establish their patterns. typically you don't see a lot of operations in the first few months. they assume they're under heavy surveillance. at the time that gusev came to the united states, i had way more work than i could handle. i had been following a multitude of line o.t. officers including his predecessor. and so my assumption was i can focus on other things and when he gets settled, then i'll dig in my heels and start tracking. it was my luck, his misfortune that a surveillance team who was sitting outside of state department were surveilling another target, but when they saw a russian diplomatic vehicle pull in to a metered parking space, it got their attention. >> why? >> because he fed the meter. diplomats don't care about parking tickets. the russian embassy had, i mean,
tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid parking tickets. >> dmv figures show russia tops the list of dead beat diplomats. it owes more than $27,000. >> so there were red flags, right away. and so it was just on a whim that they actually followed him to this park and took a couple, what we call happy snaps, photos. the pictures showed somebody sitting on a bench with his arm elbow deep in a bag. the thought was he's just doing area familiarization in preparation for a future operation. and so it doesn't really invoke a reaction. two days later, gusev's car was spotted roughly in the same area that it was parked before. this time the surveillance team started taking about a 30-minute video. gusev was there on the same bench with his arm elbow deep in the same bag. i get a call from the team
leader imploring me to come out to their off-site to see this video immediately. he believed it definitely indicated there was some kind much technical operation going on. and so the thought was he's doing area familiarization. he's a technical guy. so maybe he's just sweeping the radio spectrum for the area. i believed he was doing something nefarious, but not operations because line o.t. officers don't do operations. that was the conventional wisdom at the time. but i switched my attention very closely to him. i was out there every day of the week for months, and i had an old thomas guide and i was plotting everywhere he parked his car, every time he re-parked his car, everywhere he walked, and everywhere he paused or sat while he was on foot. he continued to come out, continuing to park and re-park
and walk around and sit in park benches. the difference, though, there was no more sitting on a bench with his arm elbow deep in the bag. he was just walking around and sitting on park benches reading novels, smoking cigarettes, just whiling away time. when i finally took a moment to look back at everything i had collected, all those dots where his car was parked just jumped off the map. once he actually parked onto virginia avenue, he would not move his car again. it was like the light bulb going off. he was trying to get as close to state department as possible. so i started shopping that 30-minute video of gusev asking for help. i said, hey, i have a guy on a park bench who looks like he's doing something technical. i think there might be radio frequencies involved. and do we have equipment that's portable to just do basically a
survey of what radio frequencies are there when he's there? and then what's there when he's not there? do the overlay and eliminate the common frequencies and only be left with ones that are there only when he's there. and that would be him. i get a call from my headquarters program manager. hires' the name and number of a guy that you need. >> who was the guy? >> it was somebody within the intelligence community, but i'm not at liberty to say. and after a week, the guy who gave me the equipment, he identified one specific frequency, an unauthorized signal that came on and then went off with gusev's coming and going. it appeared to be gusev's rogue frequency. at this point we need to know where it's coming from, if there's a penetration of the state department. the stakes are huge. you can't even quantify them. and so we went to robert booth.
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the state department. if it's penetration of the state department, it's a national emergency. so we went to robert for this. >> in the spring of 1999, i was informed that the fbi had developed an investigation of an incredibly sensitive nature. >> and so i played him the video of gusev. i told him that we didn't really fully understand what was going on, but we had identified a signal that correlated with this russian intelligence officer's movements around state department. and he was alarmed. >> i thought it was related to my earlier investigation with don sullivan, my interest perked up immediately. >> state department sees the intelligence community's most sensitive information. cia, dia, nsa, everything. i look at andy. without any further explanation, i say, the first thing we have to do is locate that audio transmission. and we need to move fast on this.
>> robert arranged for us to have electronic access badges that made us look like contractors within state department. with those access badges, we could bypass security and go straight into the building. and he also gave us a tiny little coat closet with a window in it that faced directly to the street below where gusev was parking. >> the fbi began using equipment offered to us by the intelligence community in order to figure out where the audio transmission was coming from. >> it did not take long. the first day that we got into the state department an ex, the electronics technician was setting up and i was just playing around with the antenna. i was kind of, you know, pointing it across the street at the state department building while he was tuning and it was connected by a cable to his equipment. in the middle of all that, gusev
drives into the area and we see the signal come on. now, this was important because we needed the signal to be on. so great. day one, we're there. we could figure out a lot. and so while i am messing around with the antenna, the e.t. -- electronic technician says, stop, what are you pointing at? i'm like, top floor of state department. he's like, where on the top floor? there's a glass stairwell there. he goes, well, that makes sense because r.f. signals pass through glass more easily than concrete. >> after one day they came in and they said, there's no question in our mind there are radio frequencies emanating from the wall of the building. our first priority was to prove that some kind of audio device was, in fact, inside state department. >> so a second electronics technician went out with another
piece of equipment that would then measure the signal strength. he walked into state department and then proceeded to go towards the glass stairwell where it got stronger. and as he climbed the stairs, it got stronger. got to the top, went out the double doors into the corridor, and it was screaming because it got louder as he got closer to the signal. right near him was the door to the conference room, closed, a meeting in progress. the signal seemed to be coming from that conference room. >> that conference room was located on the 7th floor of the state department. the same floor that contains the executive office spaces and the office for the secretary of state mrs. albright. any group could reserve the conference room. in fact, the conference room could be used by visiting dignitaries, the department of defense, other agencies. >> any number of conversations could happen in there from brown bag lunches where random things
could be talked about to classified conversations because just down the hall there was a unit that dealt in classified information. if they needed a conference room, they could go in there. >> at this point we had no clue what the russians had captured, but in that conference room, sensitive information was discussed on a daily basis. >> once we had determined that it was the conference room on the 7th floor, we planned to go back in that night to actually find the device. >> the plan was to enter the state department clandestinely. we wanted to make sure no staff were in there, to keep the integrity of the investigations, you just have to make sure that the least amount of people know about tfrmt >> and we knew that people started arriving at the main state building for work maybe around 6:00. so we needed to get what we needed to get done within four hours. in a conference room, that's 20 by 40 feet, that's not a lot of
time. we started with the carpet and slowly worked our ways up the walls, and then everything in that room, it was a total nightmare from a technical perspective, because it could be anywhere. they ultimately got around to a portion of the chair rail molding. >> chair rail molding sits on the wall. so when you move your chair back, you don't bang the back of your chair against the wall and scuff it up. >> we all gathered around the chair railing and they ran the equipment over it. and this piece of wood had weird kind of signatures that were coming off of it. >> this specific section of chair rail molding was hidden behind the curtain. this curtain, whether you open it or close it, that section of chair rail molding is always covered. and in front of the curtain was this massive plant. >> kind of being skeptics, we would run the equipment along
the railing almost all the way around the room just to see if anything remotely similar popped up. and it kept oncoming back to that one piece going, no way, this is unique. it's got to be this. >> it was clear russians had successfully planted a bug inside the state department building. >> did you take the piece of railing off? >> oh, no. >> you didn't want to disturb it because it could have a trip wire in it to let the russians know we found it. leave it in place. have secrets that were critical. we needed to get a handle on this immediately. o have you on campus for the official visit. aflac! coach saban, how is aflac's program different from health insurance? well aflac gives you money directly, for things health insurance doesn't cover. aflac! we put together a little highlight reel for you. here's aflac helping you with your deductible... copays...out of pocket costs.
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in late 1999, while working the investigation of russian technical officer stanislav gusev, we discovered a listening device on the 7th floor conference room of our main state department building. this was the first time anybody anywhere had seen something like this. the fact that they got a bug in a conference room on the 7th floor just down the hall from the secretary of state is just astounding.
>> a huge, and i mean huge inter agency i.c. meeting was held over at the fbi headquarters. the agencies all had their own different preferences and it was debated. one group said let's disable it and see if they come in at night to fix it and then arrest the guys coming in at night. other people said rip it out right away so we can technically examine it and do counter measures. it was finally decided at this meeting to leave it in place, let's see if we can learn something from it. but we have to monitor it in the conference room 24/7. >> we were going to install audio and video in the conference room that got piped to another listening post that his people could staff 24/7 for the duration of the operation. we had total control of the operation at that point. we set a camera looking into the room facing towards the rubber tree and the curtains. that's where the bug is.
we put a camera looking down directly over the top of it. so if robert's people saw somebody come in the room, then they would watch the second monitor to see if there was a hand reaching through the rubber tree in there. and they had a panic button. they had the power to lockdown the entire building in the middle of the day if somebody went in there to do something. >> in monitoring gusev, we had noticed that when gusev pulled his car up on virginia avenue, all of a sudden the listening device in the conference room would turn on, and a radio frequency would be directed down in the general vicinity of his car. >> what kind of car was it? >> 1999 chevy malibu. >> which we lovingly named the malibuski. we try to have a sense of humor. that's how we nicknamed it. >> i never once referred to it as the malibuski. >> the information was directed
from the conference call into the conference room which had a reel to reel tape recorder. there was a funny kleenex box that never moved from the back of the car. that's where the antenna was. and my office was located on virginia avenue. >> you could see the street below and the prime parking area that gusev would ultimately want to be at. clearly visible from robert booth's windows. >> there were times when i would hear on the radio gusev's off the park, meaning he's left the russian embassy. i'd just get out of my seat and have a cup of coffee. there would come the malibuski up the street. he finds a parking spot. he'd pull in and park, get out, reach into his pocket, pull out all these quarters, start feeding the meter, then go for a walk. and i'm sitting up there saying, i am watching from the warmth and niceness of my office an espionage operation. unbelievable. >> after weeks of surveillance, we had found everything that we believed we were going to find
at that time. with winter coming, not knowing if gusev would stop coming state department wanted it over. then it was just a matter of how do we end it? >> i advised the group that we're running out of bodies. we're doing surveillance 24/7. it's been over 45 days. we do 12-hour shifts. that's a tremendous amount of time. >> the decision was ultimately made to bring it down. >> we're going to wait for a day when gusev arrives in the car and we're going to then send in a team into the conference room and actually create a fake conference. >> we had a scripted conversation that was bona fide classified information that had been cleared, and it was something state department had selected that wouldn't be damaging. once we knew he was out there and the signal was on, two analysts would go into a room and they would have this conversation that they knew was
being recorded. >> the listening device is broadcasting classified information to a russian diplomatic car which meets the tenets of espionage. everybody was in place. >> we knew his pattern. he would come once, twice, sometimes three times a week. >> monday shows up. gusev doesn't show. that's fine. he only comes two or three days a week. tuesday shows up. wednesday. thursday. friday. gusev doesn't show. >> the moment we decide to take him down and we stage people around the state department area, he did not come out of the embassy. that was a bad, bad thing. >> i thought someone leaked the information. i was absolutely miserable. we've done everything right. someone had to screw us. i thought we had lost the case.
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so i was talking to another officer. all of a sudden issen, he goes, he's off the park. >> i said he's off the wark? i slaled down the foep and goot left had just heft him that contact. so us into my office and nobody is there. >> we had to scramable to get people on station. >> frantically, on phone calls and videos. drop ped your coffee, everyone has to go now there he comes. the fbi had two cars parked one behind the other in virginia. one contained gear and the other was an fbi agent in a car. so when they said he's right down block, the fbi car pulled out 37.
a beautiful parking spot for him to pull his car in. what a koins kwens. >> he did impactly what we expected. and hi secretary said you're going to have a heart attack. feeds the meter and takes off for his two-hour walk break kwonts into conference room. after two 20 medicines we have enough. they jump out. off they do. >> when surrounded by the fbi he said what is this all about.
he said it was an outrage. fst one of the agents on my squad mumbled, cuff him. >> take him down to the office to continue with this controversy. they take his belt off, his lock pocket litter and putting thus a metal dedeck tort. his stuff is jumped in the middle of the table. he put his belt on and his palt and whuks spare change and what began to materialize the middle of the table a a smaller and the smaller file. all that was left was a white pill. everybody at the table paused. with all looked at the middle of the table and at him and he's
doing the same thing. looking up and looking lied swais. it's a poison pill. in he is cay got caught he can you imagine? i have been sick. that explains why you haven't come out in a week and gets translate d to, oh, everything t a huge cut of intention. certainly, we wanted to know everything he knew. but as a good intelligence officer did not say a thing. a russian diplomat was caught listening outside the state department. >> u.s. officials tell nbc news the secret listening device was held on the top floor. >> because he was assigned to the embassy, he has diplomatic immunity ask will be isn't hoit home out answer any questions.
>> we had persona non grata, you are not welcome. >> this is the perfect replica of the actual te vous. it was nailed in then tchbs at state department. we tack it off the wall object december 8th. for the toim it was very advanced. this is the receiver. and that's the transmitter. the signal would turn on the device. and then all the content would be beamed back out to his car. to a much larger receiver. >> the battery hs a shelf life of tight 12 years. the audio was phenolal. in a pin held opening, you'd think it would be muscled, but it's crystal clear. >> never in the history of
counterintelligence have we ever not a slng whole system. and for the countermeasures people at the nsa and cia, this is gold. this case is actually actived to. and this is a a debate in the community that the russians had a friendly hand awe cyst them. is it wok that a state hospital tlifing helped them absolutely. >> no one has been arrested as being event an accomplice does not people b within the don't have information that may or may not be used in the not so dins tant if you have.
>> short lu jf, the nonetc. sort policy was rescinded. >> to do what the russian intelligence service had done was unheard of. a huge success for their service. and then for us to come along and do what we did, it was a huge system for our confidence. so are there losers? are there winners? it's hard to say. ? >> it was spies versus spies normally these things involve one person gets another? . this was dozes of people. it's unprecedented. they took the first round and we took the second and it was game, set, match. >> so we have bugs in the russian embassy? >> i hope so. >> that's a question.
that obviously, i cannot discuss because it's a gentleman's game. it's both sides going after each other. welcome back to our viewers here in the united states and from all around the world, i'm rosemary church and this is cnn newsroom. the hunt for the leader of isis came to a dramatic end. new details on how the raid to kill baghdady unfolded. plus president trump has taken heat for his policies, but will a murder of the isis leader give the president a political boost? and russian officials were some of the first to get the news about the raid. but