By Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

Editor’s note: The following was written by Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to defect to America during the entire Cold War. After dramatically breaking with communism in 1978, he spent years helping the CIA and other Western intel agencies understand and better deal with the Soviet Union. Last year, WND Books published Pacepa’s blockbuster book, “Disinformation,” co-authored with historian Ronald Rychlak.

Moscow state television recently announced that Russia could turn the U.S. into “radioactive ash.”

That March 17 pronouncement was not an empty threat. During the Cold War, the KGB was a state within a state, and killed 94 million people within the Soviet empire alone. Now that same KGB, under new names, is sitting in the Kremlin itself, and is transforming Russia into a KGB dictatorship. Over 6,000 former KGB officers are running Russia’s federal and local governments, and managing its nuclear arsenal—which is now larger than America’s.

However, instead of focusing on the threat from Russia, some senior members of the U.S. Senate have seen fit to launch public attacks on the CIA, the main foreign intelligence defense of our country. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, accused the CIA of lying to Congress, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid demanded that the CIA be investigated.

To me, this is “déjà vu all over again.”

I am humbled by my American citizenship, and I respect all Americans who serve this great country, but I once managed an enemy espionage service and I am on solid ground in stating that this new assault on the credibility of the CIA has deep KGB roots. The CIA was indeed the main enemy of the Soviet Union and, like it or not, was instrumental in demolishing it.

Order Lt. Gen. Pacepa’s eyeopening book, “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategy for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion and Promoting Terrorism.” or get both the book and DVD, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy To Destroy The West” together – and save!

Certainly neither senator realizes it, but by publicly attacking the Central Intelligence Agency they are both perpetuating a worldwide and vicious Kremlin disinformation operation designed to discredit the CIA that has been raging ever since that organization was created in 1947.

“The Dulleses lie, people die” was a popular slogan launched by the KGB disinformation machinery in the 1950s, when Allen Dulles was head of the CIA and his brother, John Foster Dulles, was secretary of state. My Romanian espionage service, the DIE, was also involved in spreading that slogan. “CIA lies, people die” was another KGB catchword, which became popular during the Vietnam War, when the KGB disinformation machinery went all-out in an effort to persuade a good part of the world that the CIA and American military were Genghis Khan-style terrorist gangs.

Even today, many cars still carry bumper stickers with the popular slogan, “Bush lied, people died,” maligning George W. Bush, and it was frequently pointed out that his father had once headed the CIA. Now the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly accuses the CIA of using the “torture” of water-boarding to obtain intelligence from terrorists and of lying about it.

Political memory is notoriously short, but we must not forget that when Picasso’s dove launched a worldwide peace offensive, the Kremlin was pulling out all the stops to convince the entire world that the CIA was the main enemy of world peace. Once again, my DIE played an active role in that immense disinformation operation, which succeeded beyond wildest expectations. By 1978, when I broke with communism, the KGB community had collected over 700,000 signatures on an anti-CIA petition adopted at a peace conference in Stockholm, which had been secretly financed by the KGB.

The principal international fronts used by the KGB and by my DIE—the World Peace Council and the World Fed¬eration of Democratic Youth—were in those days periodically filling the streets of Europe with peaceniks shouting anti-CIA slogans, along with the Cold War perennial, “Yankee go home.”

This worldwide anti-CIA hysteria was an offshoot of the most brutal disinformation operation history has known. During the 1950s and ‘60s, tens of thousands of Soviet bloc citizens were executed or died in prison after being framed as CIA agents. Other tens of thousands were periodically sent into the streets asking for the CIA’s scalp.

In short, the CIA was made into an international evil.

After Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for atomic-bomb espionage, the Kremlin tasked the KGB disinformation community to demonize the FBI as well. It did not work. The FBI carried out its duties in the open, and its officers were known to people as their neighbors. They were human beings and had human failings. The super-secret CIA, on the other hand, was seen as something out of black magic, comprised of mysterious people without name or face, who could bring off any wild assignment given them.

The portrait of a ruthless CIA protected by secrecy caught the fancy of people around the world. The KGB disinformation machinery fed the flames, spending many years and billions of dollars to further portray the CIA as the devil incarnate. The KGB was even able to convince a good part of the world that the CIA had killed America’s own president—John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

In America, we have now been openly fighting the evil of terrorism for over 10 years, and it is high time for the U.S. Congress and all of us who love this country to start supporting the CIA and building trust in it, not falling for the Kremlin’s game of mistrust. The CIA is our first line of defense against terrorism, and we should help it win the trust of potential highly positioned sources within the ranks of our enemies who could tell us what not even our most sophisticated satellites can—that is, what terrorist leaders have in mind, and what their most secret plans against us are.

Trust is the most valuable asset of any foreign intelligence service, no matter its nationality or political flavor. This is the most important thing I have learned in the 63 years I have been connected with the intelligence business—27 in an enemy country and 36 in the U.S. Unfortunately, trust is not even considered in the 585-page congressional 9/11 report, formally named “Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.”

Espionage is a secret and merciless war that is especially perilous when waged against terrorist tyrants, and it should not be lightly bandied about in order to improve the stature of ambitious politicians. All our main allies have fought to build trust in their intelligence organizations, and none of our allies have voluntarily discussed their intelligence business in public. Their espionage services also made mistakes, but they are quietly corrected. They do that in-house, to protect the integrity of their organization.

It is vitally important for our leaders to demonstrate that they trust and support the CIA.

Former KGB officer Vasily Mitrokhin spent 12 years recording the secrets contained in thousands of KGB documents. He intended to give this unique cache of secrets (described by the FBI as “the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source”) to the CIA, but for security reasons he ended up delivering it to the British foreign intelligence service, MI6. Until very recently, even the name of the MI6 director was classified.

Mine is another case in point. In 1975, when I was ready to defect to America, I got hit in the face by the Rockefeller Commission report publicly describing the CIA as a “rogue elephant” organization. The following year, the Senate’s Church Commission published 14 more reports portraying the CIA as a criminal organization. Both the Western and communist media had a ball. A cable sent to Bucharest from KGB chief Yuri Andropov triumphantly prophesied: “The CIA’s tyranny is over.” Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu popped a bottle of champagne. A couple of months later, I had dinner with Janos Kadar, the ruler of Hungary and the original head of its communist espionage service. He raised his glass of vodka with a toast, “To the CIA’s funeral!”

The reports of the Rockefeller and Church commissions froze me in place for a while. If the U.S. government did not trust its own CIA, why should I? It took me two more years to rebuild my trust in the agency.

Since 1978, when I finally screwed up my courage and broke with communism, I have done my best to persuade other heads of enemy espionage services to follow in my footsteps—the U.S. badly needs other spy chiefs from places like Russia, China, Iraq and Iran. With help from the American Spectator and National Review I even published letters to my counterparts: “Do what I did! Defend the people, not the tyrant,” I told them. “Break away from your tyrannical dictator before it is too late. Expose his crimes against humanity to the world, as I have done with those committed by Ceausescu.”

A small ripple of intelligence defections followed, but a new public offensive against the CIA stopped it in its tracks.

In 1986, Ronald Reagan’s Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey sent me a letter explaining the CIA’s failures that had led to the disastrous re-defection of the KGB colonel, Vitaly Yurchenko. Those failures could have been quietly corrected in-house. Instead, they unleashed public congressional investigations, which damaged the trust in the CIA and significantly lowered its chances of getting other Yurchenkos.

After 9/11, new public investigations raked the CIA over the coals, further diminishing trust in the agency. Why hadn’t the CIA prevented 9/11? The 9/11 Commission devoted many pages to blaming the CIA for not having identified the 19 terrorists when they entered the country, although terrorists entering the U.S. may be as elusive as needles in a haystack. Some 80 million passengers flew to the U.S. that year alone, on 823,757 commercial and 139,650 private flights; 330 million people crossed the Canadian and Mexican borders during that same year by car, train and truck; and another 18 million entered the country by sea.

The Iraq War unleashed another campaign against the CIA and further undermined trust in the agency. Prominent members of Congress publicly accused the CIA of lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in order to unleash a new war. No one remembered that 296 House members and 76 senators – of both parties – had authorized that war. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, at that time speaker of the House and third in line for the White House, loudly accused CIA officers of lying. After also accusing the CIA of lying and asking for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said at a news conference: “All of Iraq must know Iraq is free—free from United States’ occupation.” Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, famously declared “the war is lost.”

Americans are patriotic, and we did not lose the war in Iraq. The Vietnam War, which the U.S. did lose – but only because Congress cut its budget – was one humiliation too many. The CIA did not run for cover either. I worked with its officers for many years and I know they are anonymous heroes, not cowards. But the high-ranking potential intel sources in Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and many other countries run by terrorist governments did run from us. If the United States does not trust the CIA, why should they ?

That lack of inside information may have played a role in our not preventing the brutal killing of our ambassador in Libya, and in our inability to predict Putin’s current attempt to seize Ukraine and to rebuild the Soviet empire.

We are now facing another Cold War, which might be not only cold, but devastating. According to our Congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Commission (EMP), a small nuclear weapon detonated high above the U.S. mainland could collapse our electric grid and the infrastructure that depends on it—communications, ground and air transportation, banking and finance, food and water—necessary to sustain modern civilization and the lives of over 300 million Americans. The EMP Commission also established that even a small terrorist organization could launch an EMP weapon—obtained from Russia, North Korea, or soon from Iran—with the help of an old SCUD rocket from a fishing boat off our East or West Coast.

President Truman’s brilliant National Security Council Report 68, of 1950 – which declared, “The issues that face us are momentous, involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself” – set forth what became America’s successful strategy for winning the Cold War. I recommend we revisit it.

In the meantime, further attacking the credibility of the CIA – our first line of defense in this very dangerous and treacherous world – will not help protect us. Rather, we should appreciate the fact that we are blessed with the world’s best foreign-intelligence organization, which has protected us from disasters and mega-crimes far too numerous to recount, and we should do our best to increase its world-wide credibility. I hope our president and Congress will keep that in mind.

Lt. Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking Soviet-bloc official ever to defect to the West. In December 1989, Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu was executed at the end of a trial in which the accusations came almost word-for-word out of his book “Red Horizons,” which has been republished in 27 countries. Pacepa’s latest book, “Disinformation,” co-authored with Prof. Ronald Rychlak, was published in June 2013 by WND Books.

Order Lt. Gen. Pacepa’s eyeopening book, “Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategy for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion and Promoting Terrorism.” or get both the book and DVD, “Disinformation: The Secret Strategy To Destroy The West” together – and save!

See the “Disinformation” trailer:

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.