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Operation Lemon-Aid: United States v. Soviet Union Essay

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Updated: Jul 15th, 2020

Introduction

Operation Lemon-Aid was a carefully crafted plot by the American FBI to fool the Soviet’s KGB to understand how the Soviets were working to obtain intelligence from American agents. In this operation, Art Lindberg- a Navy lieutenant commander- was used as a bait to trap Soviet spies. Lindberg was almost retiring, and his financial woes made it easy for the Soviets to believe that they could use him to gather intelligence about United States military operations and plans in exchange for money. Vladimir Zinyakin, Rudolf Chernyayev, and Valdik Enger were the KGB spies who were to receive intelligence from Lindberg and pass it on to the top Soviet forces (Carriger, 2013).

What the Soviets failed to understand was that Lindberg was a bait given to them, and most of the information he supplied them with were declassified. The Soviets fell into this trap, and it enabled the American forces to have a deep understanding of the strategies used by the Soviets to gather intelligence and how the intelligence they gather is acted upon by various security agencies. This operation also led to the arrest of the Soviet spies.

Detailed Analysis of the Operation

Operation Lemon-Aid of 1977 was one of the most sophisticated plots organized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help understand the operations and behavioral pattern of the Soviet’s KGB. The motive of the plot was to discover strategies used by KGB to gather intelligence about U.S. military operations and plans and to arrest Soviet spies operating within the United States (Jomata,

2009). The mechanism was to convince KGB agents that Lindberg, a Navy commander who is broke and nearing his retirement, was able to pass classified information about United States’ military plans and operations in exchange for money. This mechanism worked and the FBI was able to monitor the activities and operations of the Soviet spies. The FBI took time to understand how KGB agents contacted their sources, made payments, and gathered their intelligence. They also took time to understand how the Soviet military and other government agencies, acted upon the intelligence gathered from these spies. It was a huge success. The only failure was the inability to arrest Vladimir Zinyakin who at that time had diplomatic immunity.

The Soviets did not discover the plot until the arrest of their agents was made (Bell & Ostrow, 2006). The plot was made by the FBI by deliberately luring the Soviet’s KGB agents into believing that Lindberg could help them access classified data. The activities that went on between Lindberg and KGB agents were authorized and closely monitored by the FBI. The Soviets never realized that their plot against the United States was a trap to them. The plot caused massive damage to the Soviet’s KGB. First, it became apparent that they had lost a long of money and time paying Lindberg who was working in the interest of the United States.

The information that they received from their plot was misleading and declassified hence could not effectively inform their major decisions on how to deal with the United States. What was worse was the fact that instead of getting to know more about the United States military intelligence, it is the United States that came to understand the Soviet’s military intelligence system (Carriger, 2015). Two of the KGB agents were also arrested by the United States forces.

Role of Law Enforcement and Intelligence Personnel in the Operations

Law enforcement and intelligence personnel played a critical role in this operation. They worked very closely with Lindberg to monitor every step that the KGB agents took in their quest to mine data about United States military operations and plans. They were able to determine that the exchange of money and messages was done using cigarette parks, orange juice cartons, magnetic key-holders, rubber hose, soda cans, and other everyday items (Mickolus, 2015).

It was not by sheer luck that the bad guys were caught. It was a well-coordinated effort of various intelligence agencies and law enforcement officers that the operation achieved the desired success. The most interesting fact, in this case, is that the Soviets ended up using their resources to reveal to the Americans their weaknesses and intelligence gathering strategies instead of gathering intelligence as they had hoped for in their plot (Soldatov & Borogan, 2010). LE and American intelligence communities learned that Soviet was keen on using corrupt senior U.S. military personnel to gather intelligence. This enabled the top commanders to review its relationship with these personnel and the nature of the information that would reach them.

Conclusion

Operation Lemon-Aid was a successful pilot that was planned and executed by the FBI in its bid to gain more understanding of how the Soviets gathered its intelligence about U.S. military operations. The Soviet’s KGB failed to realize that this was a trap and ended up revealing important strategies of their data collection strategies to the FBI. The KGB agents were finally arrested and were only released after the Soviet government met the conditions set by the United States.

References

Bell, G. B., & Ostrow, R. J. (2006). Taking care of the law. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. Web.

Carriger, G. (2013). Curtsies & conspiracies. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. Web.

Carriger, G. (2015). Etiquette and espionage. London, England: Atom. Web.

Jomata, K. (2009). Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI. New York, NY: Turner Pub. Co. Web.

Mickolus, E. F. (2015). The Counterintelligence chronology: Spying by and against the United States from the 1700s through 2014. New York, NY: Cengage. Web.

Soldatov, A., & Borogan, I. (2010). The new nobility: The restoration of Russia’s security state and the enduring legacy of the KGB. New York: PublicAffairs. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Operation Lemon-Aid: United States v. Soviet Union." July 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/operation-lemon-aid-united-states-v-soviet-union/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Operation Lemon-Aid: United States v. Soviet Union'. 15 July.

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