KAMEN: A Cold War Dangle Operation with an American Dimension, 1948-1952
Ensnaring the Unwitting in Czechoslovakia
Soon after the coup d’état in February 1948 that brought the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPC) into power, the government granted the security services—civilian and military—unlimited freedom of action against any target, with no regard for the rule of law. The StB (Statni bezpecnost, the civilian state security apparatus) was especially cunning in adapting and combining the techniques of Nazi Germany’s Gestapo and the Soviet Union's special services in the struggle against the StB’s primary targets: Americans and their Czech associates.
The StB embraced the view of its Soviet teachers that its mission was not merely to identify and neutralize existing opponents to the new order through routine investigative methods. Instead, the StB adopted a more proactive method: It created fictitious resistance organizations, dangled them as bait, and waited for potential new resisters—in addition to those already active—to be drawn to them.
Soviet special services introduced this approach to counterintelligence in postwar Eastern Europe with frightening success.
In the only known photo of KAMEN in action, an agent in US Army uniform is shown interviewing a victim, a man named Jaroslav Hakr. A notation on the photo reads “Compromising photograph of Hakr with a CIC officer”—a pretender serving as “proof ” of Hakr’s disloyalty and as evidence for others considering flight that Hakr had been successfully led to safety. Photo courtesy of Archiv bezpecnostnich sluzeb, ABS H-253.
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