Mikhail Gorbachev’s Birthday Greeting to Margaret Thatcher

In 2014 a fresh batch of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s papers were declassified at the National Archives. Leave it to the Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to mention “correct political tone” in his birthday greetings. And poor old Denis Thatcher. He must have spent his entire life saying “It’s just the one ‘n’ in Denis.”

“Esteemed Madame Thatcher,

On the occasion of the remarkable date in Your life please accept my congratulations. Raisa Maximova joins me in our wishes to You of good health and well-being.

I recall our conversation at Chequers and in Moscow. Then, it seems, we took a correct political tone and gave our dialogue such an orientation that meets the demands of the present situation in the world. I would wish to believe that the understanding on the problems of priority that we reached then will remainin force. But for this to be so, apparently, much effort, political wisdom and goodwill will be needed.

Please convey our best wishes to Your husband, Mr. Dennis Thathcer.

Yours respectfully,

M. Gorbachyov

Moscow, 12 October, 1985”

The National Archives,  PREM 19 1647

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anya.chapman’s Instagram Account

When the Russian intelligence agent Anya Chapman was arrested for spying, her single phone call was used to contact the British publicity agent Max Clifford, who arranged the sale of her story to the Daily Telegraph. Deported back to Russia in a prisoner swap, Chapman has worked as a television host, a catwalk model, and the head of a youth council for the government. Her Instagram account is a combination of propaganda and glamour shots. She has posed in log cabins and on military gunboats; cradling cheetahs and jack-o’-lanterns.

“Remember the year 2008?” she asked, posing in a field of sunflowers with an enormous rabbit in her arms. “When the war of Georgia with South Ossetia began only in order to raise the ratings of Russophobe McCain, who lost the presidential race to Barack Obama?”

The post below is a good example of the special charm of Anya Chapman’s Instagram feed. It’s like peeking inside Vladimir Putin’s Id.

“It has become known that the US Army has radically modernized its sea-based Trident II nuclear missiles. According to a number of American experts, this has dramatically increased the US ability to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia.

This modernization of ballistic missiles began in 2009, at exactly the same time as Obama offered Russia the infamous, ‘Reset.’

Of course the missile defense system in Europe and Asia is in no way directed at our country. Everyone in America only wishes us well.”

Gianni De Michelis’ ‘Dove andiamo a ballare questa sera?’

Giovanni (Gianni) De Michelis served as Italy’s Deputy Prime and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Accused of corruption and sentenced to a year and a half for bribery and six months for illegal financing, De Michelis went on to be elected a Member of the European Parliament for Southern Italy in 2004. While serving as Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, in 1988 De Michelis found time to author a guide to his country’s discothèques, Dove Andiamo a Ballare Questa Sera? (Where to Go Dancing this Evening?), a book he promoted with spins on the dance floors of Italy’s nightclubs. 

Newscaster: “The Deputy Prime Minister of the government Gianni De Michelis has written the first annotated guide to Italian discothèques for the habitues of the dance floor, complete with starred ratings in the Michelin guide style.”

“Dancing, dancing, the book is celebrated in the nocturnal capitals of Europe, and, obviously, Italy.”

Interviewer: “The right honourable Gianni Demichelis, this book is a bit like an invitation to other politicians and colleagues to descend onto the dance floor and to be a little less moralistic.Was that your intention?”

De Michelis: “No, all said, I didn’t want to write a book for politicians, and I don’t think they’re moralistic. Should it happen that intellectuals, industrialists, and other middle aged people might have a little bit of fear and be a bit timid with respect to discotheques, which in reality are very young. You throw yourself on the dance floor and dance, it’s very easy.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vScq0ekypo

Nancy, Patti, and Ron Jr. Reagan Appear in a Crest Commercial

 

Proctor & Gamble had a long and fruitful relationship with the Reagan family. In the 1980s, P & G  contributed $150,000 to the First Lady’s “Just Say No” foundation, and claimed an exclusive right to send ads and coupons for its children’s products alongside the anti-drug pledge cards bearing Mrs. Reagan’s name. In the early 1960s, Mrs. Nancy Reagan appeared in commercials for P & G’s Crest, including a poolside ad featuring her children, Patti and Ron Jr. One can only imagine the bickering and threats needed to wrangle Patti out to shoot a commercial by the pool in her swimsuit. 

Announcer: And now, from Hollywood past, to Hollywood present. A visit to the home of one of Hollywood’s best-known families. Your hostess: Nancy Davis, in private life, Mrs. Ronald Reagan.

Nancy Reagan: Hello. Come and meet the younger members of the Reagan clan.

Patti: I’m Patti.

Ron Jr.: I’m Ronnie Reagan.

Nancy: We’re here as a family to talk to your family about the importance of taking care of your teeth. Like you, I want to do everything possible to protect these youngsters of mine from tooth decay.

Patti: I’ve never had a single cavity.

Nancy: And don’t think I’m not proud of that! And I aim to keep it that way. That’s why I try to find out everything I can about this problem of cavities, and why we’re so interested in talking to the people you’ll meet later. People who’ve actually helped prove that one toothpaste can reduce cavities.

Patti: The one we use, Crest.

    

Nancy: Of course it’s Crest. It’s the toothpaste proved effective against cavities in nine years of tests in homes like yours and mine. In a little while, I’ll show you why I’m convinced that Crest can make a real contribution to your dental program, just as it has to ours. Crest. It’s the toothpaste for families who want fewer cavities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqh8uRe_mzI

The Revelation of the Reagans’ Reliance on Astrology

It’s difficult to remember a time when the Reagan presidency’s connection to astrology was unknown. The secret was revealed in 1988, when the president’s former Chief of Staff Don Regan wrote his scorched-earth memoir For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington (their astrologer would later publish her own book, with chapters such as “How Merv Griffin Introduced Me to Nancy Reagan,” and “The ‘Teflon Presidency’ and the President’s Health and Safety.”)

Don Regan teased his bombshell in the book’s foreword. “Because actions that would otherwise bewilder the reader cannot be understood in its absence, I have revealed in this book what was probably the most closely guarded domestic secret of the Reagan White House.” He waited until the second paragraph of Chapter 1 to spill the beans:

“Virtually every major move and decision the Reagans made during my time as White House Chief of Staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise.

Nancy Reagan seemed to have absolute faith in the clairvoyant powers of this woman, who had predicted that ‘something bad’ was going to happen to the President shortly before he was wounded in an assassination attempt in 1981. Before that, Mrs. Reagan had consulted a different astrologer, but now believed that this person had lost her powers. The First Lady referred to the woman in San Francisco as ‘My Friend.’

Although I never met this seer–Mrs. Reagan passed along her prognostications to me after conferring with her on the telephone–she had become such a factor in my work, and in the highest affairs of the nation, that at one point I kept a color-coded calendar on my desk (numerals highlighted in green ink for ‘good’ days, red for ‘bad’ days, yellow for ‘iffy’ days) as an aid to remembering when it was propitious to move the President of the United States from one place to another, or schedule him to speak in public, or commence negotiations with a foreign power.”

 

Aldrich Ames on Beating a Polygraph

The CIA double agent Aldrich Ames famously passed two lie-detector tests.

The first time he had a test scheduled he asked for advice from his KGB handlers, who wrote back, “Get a good night’s sleep, and rest, and go into the test rested and relaxed. Be nice to the polygraph examiner, develop a rapport, and be cooperative and try to maintain your calm.”

“Dear Mr. Aftergood,

Having had considerable experience with the polygraph (well beyond that which you referred to), I read your very sensible essay in Science with great interest. I offer you a few comments on the topic for whatever interest or use they may have.

Like most junk science that just won’t die (graphology, astrology and homeopathy come to mind), because of the usefulness or profit their practitioners enjoy, the polygraph stays with us.

Its most obvious use is as a coercive aid to interrogators, lying somewhere on the scale between the rubber truncheon and the diploma on the wall behind the interrogator’s desk. It depends upon the overall coerciveness of the setting — you’ll be fired, you won’t get the job, you’ll be prosecuted, you’ll go to prison — and the credulous fear the device inspires. This is why the Redmond report ventures into the simultaneously ludicrous and sinister reality that citizens’ belief in what is untrue must be fostered and strengthened. Rarely admitted, this proposition is of general application for our national security apparatus.

You didn’t mention one of the intriguing elements of the interrogations of Dr. Lee which is in fact quite common — the false representation to the subject of the polygraph results. Because interrogations are intended to coerce confessions of one sort or another, interrogators feel themselves entirely justified in using their coercive means as flexibly as possible to extract them. Consistency regarding the particular technique is not important; inducing anxiety and fear is the point.

Polygraphers are fond of the technique used by psychics called cold reading, as a slightly less dramatic practice than actually lying to the subject about the results. In this sort of cold reading, the interrogator will suggest to the subject that there may be a potential problem, an ambiguous result, to one of the questions and inquire whether the subject knows of anything that might help clear it up, etc, etc.

Your account of the Redmond report — I haven’t seen it — shows how another hoary slider is thrown past the public. The polygraph is asserted to have been a useful tool in counterintelligence investigations. This is a nice example of retreating into secret knowledge: we know it works, but it’s too secret to explain. To my own knowledge and experience over a thirty year career this statement is a false one. The use of the polygraph (which is inevitably to say, its misuse) has done little more than create confusion, ambiguity and mistakes. I’d love to lay out this case for you, but unfortunately I cannot — it’s a secret too…

…Deciding whether to trust or credit a person is always an uncertain task, and in a variety ofI’ve seen these bureaucratically-driven flights from accountability operating for years, much to the cost of our intelligence and counterintelligence effectiveness. The US is, so far as I know, the only nation which places such extensive reliance on the polygraph. (The FBI, to its credit in a self-serving sort of way, also rejects the routine use of the polygraph on its own people.) It has gotten us into a lot of trouble.

On the other hand, there have been episodes in which high-level pressures to use or acquire certain persons entirely override pious belief in the polygraph. One instance which made the press is that of the Iranian connection in the Iran-Contra affair.

I wish you well in this particularly important theater of the struggle against pseudoscience: the national security state has many unfair and cruel weapons in its arsenal, but that of junk science is one which can be fought and perhaps defeated by honest and forthright efforts like yours.

    • Sincerely,

Aldrich H. Ames
40087-083
P.O. Box 3000
White Deer, PA 17887

P.S. I should say that all my outgoing mail goes through the CIA — unlawfully — for review, censorship and whatever use it chooses to make of it.”

Letter to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, November 28, 2000.