Sunday, September 20, 2009

KGB Handbook: Spy Identification Made Easy

When I was a kid I often kept cartoons I really liked, and at some point I got the brilliant idea of saving them by laminating them. Except "lamination" was "cover them with clear Contact paper." You can see how well that turned out:

Even though it's brown with age and wrinkled because the Contact paper shrank over the years, I still love this cartoon. Apparently written by Jim Meddick in 1986, the year he started "Monty", it's a nice slice of Cold War humor. I used to think the first panel was about Pan Am Flight 73, although that wasn't exactly a KGB job. I guess it references the KGB penchant for hijacking planes as mentioned in this interview with Ion Mihai Pacepa, former (Communist) Romania's chief of espionage:

In the late 1960s, a new element was added to the Soviet/PLO war against Israel and American imperial-Zionism: international terrorism. Before 1969 came to an end, the KGB's Thirteenth Department -- known in our intelligence jargon as the Department for Wet Affairs, wet being a euphemism for bloody -- invented airplane hijacking. The KGB constantly lectured at us that no one within the American/Zionist sphere of influence should feel safe anymore. The hijacked airplane became an instrument of Soviet foreign policy-and eventually the weapon of choice for September 11, 2001.

During those years of intensive airplane hijackings, I became amazed at the almost identical pride both Arafat and KGB General Sakharovsky exhibited over their prowess as terrorists. “I invented the hijacking of [passenger] airplanes,” Arafat bragged to me in the early 1970s, when I first met him. A few months later I met with Sakharovsky at his Lubyanka office. He pointed to the red flags pinned onto a world map hanging on his wall. “Look at that,” he said. Each flag represented a plane that had been downed. “Airplane hijacking is my own invention,” he boasted.

The second panel is about News & World Report's Nicholas Daniloff, who was taken by the KGB and accused of being a spy. He was held for almost 2 weeks.

I really wish my copy of this cartoon was in better condition. I don't know that it's ever been collected in a book or reprinted anywhere.

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