Mitrokhin’s Archive Released (mostly)

I just want to translate something for y’all…
“What man does with machines was yesterday’s question. Today the question is: what is the machine doing with man? We hang like marionettes from data and algorithms. Therefore, let’s not leave hanging in Moscow the man who revealed this to us and risked his life for it…” [1]

Speaking of mass document leaking, the archives of the “original Snowden,” KGB archivist Vasily Mitrokhin, are now (mostly) open to the public. [2] They’re in Russian, unfortunately, only the “edited” version is available, even more unfortunately, and access is still quite controlled (prior appointment and two forms of ID are required to see the material, there are restrictions on publishing excerpts) even even more unfortunately, but the raw volume of material made available is still neat.

There are few other places to learn about the real, actual workings of intelligence services at such a level of detail as is presented in the Mitrokhin archive. (The Stasi archives are the only real competition I know of, and they’re somewhat more censored than the Mitrokhin version — the Stasi had years to shred the really incriminating stuff; the Mitrokhin archive was only censored by MI5/MI6 and its partners.)

Fortunately there are two volumes in English summarizing the Mitrokhin archive, written with/by the British professor and intelligence expert Christopher Andrew. (The first volume was published four years before Andrew accepted a post as the official MI5 historian, the second volume published two years after.)

It is somewhat ironic in retrospect that one of the best resources for understanding the espionage world comes with so many caveats of “here’s where it’s limited and censored.” To be sure it’s QUITE safe to say there is much that not even Mitrokhin will tell you about… but then again, most everybody else is even worse!



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