"It was actually a very unpleasant movie, but even more unpleasant is that this reportage shows faithfully what might happen, or what our enemies have in mind," - stated the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, after the piece broadcasted by TV channel Imedia, laid out a potential scenario of a new invasion of Georgia by Russian army.
At 8 P.M., on March 13, 2010, in prime time, the Georgian television broadcasted a startling show. Even though, the anchor announced, before and after the movie, that the events portrayed are fictitious, the show managed to stir public opinion in Georgia, and provoked angry reactions from Putin’s western friends.
The reportage presented a scenario, which showed that the Russian troops were invited to Tbilisi by the Georgian opposition. It was based on the information that a few days earlier, two opposition leaders, including the former Speaker of the House, Nino Burjanadze, actually met with the Russian Prime Minister Putin.
The half-hour film uses actual footage of the Russians invading Georgia in 2008. One of the key scenes in the film concerned the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski. Our president had to fly to Georgia to support them by his presence during the Russian-Georgian war. The TV Imedia journalist reported that Russian secret services have made the attack on the presidential plane. They rigged the plane with explosives, blew it up, and killed all passengers onboard.
I bring bring this movie back, because it is highly probable that the scene depicting the assassination was established on the basis of information gathered by the Georgian intelligence services. Taking into account that Georgian services closely collaborated with their American counterparts at that time, it is likely that this message was also prepared by the US intelligence.
There is no doubt that Georgians were likely to have reliable information about the Russian plans. Several months after the Smolensk crash, in November 2010, during the operation “Enwer”, Georgian counterintelligence busted the largest spy network to be ever discovered in their country. They arrested thirteen people, among them four Russian nationals, and nine Georgians. This bust was the most spectacular failure of the Russian military intelligence, forcing them to radically alter their operational procedures, codes, and means of communications. In autumn 2010, Georgian intelligence agents disrupted yet another GRU network that tried to organize more than a dozen bombings across the country.
The Georgian intelligence services operation has started to take out the Russian spy network five years earlier by arresting a dozen individuals working for the GRU. Saakashvili’s special services admitted then that they were successful in planting their agent in the Russian military intelligence. This officer is said to have won the trust of his GRU superiors, and began working as a liaison officer. The Russians provided him with equipment and software to encrypt communications. At the end, all of these tools found their way into the hands of the Georgian intelligence. This successful placement of the "mole" meant that a lot of important information of the Russian military intelligence was held by the Georgians.
It is plausible then, that among the intelligence gathered, some of that seized data indicated the ongoing preparations for the assassination of the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski. Therefore, disclosing this information in a fictitious “reportage” may seem reasonable. Its purpose was to be twofold: First, it was a message putting the Russians on notice that their plans are known; Two - it was a warning to the Polish intelligence services. Here, however, an intriguing question arises - why didn’t Georgians (or for this matter the Americans) warn the Polish services directly? Why wouldn’t they use the existing communication channels?
Although an attempt to answer this question can be only speculative, let us try to analyze this closer. The analysis seems to touch upon basic assessment matters relevant for the events of April 10, 2010. Namely, whether Polish intelligence services would act against President of Poland by participating in setting a Smolensk trap? What role could we ascribe to them before, during and after the assassination? Were they only the “passive” followers of the orders issued by the politicians, or were they the hidden “instigators” and the real decision makers?
In 2012, in my book entitled, "Smolensk. Secret Services’ Trap? ”I tried to tackle these questions. Today, when governing power was assumed by the political party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and Minister Antoni Macierewicz resumed activities of the Commission for Aircraft Accident Investigations, an explanation of true events that took place over Smolensk aerodrome becomes only a matter of time.
I think that the plot shown by TV Imedia, and the way how this warning was sent by Georgians, is one of the important clues revealing the role of the special services in Poland. If the Georgian ministry decided to send a message in this fashion, it may suggest a lack of confidence in Polish officers. It also proves a correct and profound recognition of the real intensions of those services.
It is possible that Georgians realized that passing intelligence information about Russian preparations to assassinate the Polish president, using official channels, would prove not only ineffective, but would, at the same time, compromise their ongoing counterintelligence operation against Russians. Had the message coming from the GRU communications been transferred directly to the Polish special services, it would have wound up in Russian hands. If so, the Russians would have been tipped off about a mole in their ranks, and would be able to successfully counter any future Georgian operations. It seems possible then, that at the beginning of 2010, special services managed by Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, were regarded as unreliable, or as being in cahoots with Russians. Was this opinion justified?
One has to recall, that during 2008-2009, after a stern warning issued by then the FBI chief Michael McConnell - that the present-day level of Russian intelligence operations surpasses the Cold War era levels - the Czechs, Georgians, Slovaks and Latvians immediately put their counterintelligence services on high alert. The only country, that did not show the slightest sign of concern about its own safety, was the PO and PSL coalition-led government of Poland. By all appearances, Poland’s counterintelligence (ABW) services chief, Krzysztof Bondaryk, wasn’t loosing any sleep over this either.
During this period, the main efforts of the ABW focused on digging up dirt on members of the Antoni Macierewicz-led Verification Commission, that was looking into the shady doings of the communist Military Information Services (WSI), and the surveillance targeting the Polish president. This peculiar, laissez faire behavior, of Polish security services was further amplified in the aftermath of the assassination attempt by Russians on Polish president that took place earlier in Georgia in 2008. Here, their behavior suggested something far more menacing then a simple lack of professionalism, and could hardly be viewed as protecting Poland’s national interests. The fact that this assassination attempt was used as a pretext for the ABW to surround President’s people with the network of surveillance and wiretaps, perfectly illustrates the actual status of these services, and their attitude towards Lech Kaczynski. If we assume that in 2008, there were no clearly defined plans for a "final solution” regarding an inconvenient for the Russian’s president Kaczynski, one could see from the activities of the ABW, at least a clear hostility towards the head of Polish state. It is particularly evident in the context of the vulnerability of Polish services to the Russian propaganda, and their passive attitude toward the dangers created by the Putin regime. After the "Georgian test", Russian Federation services received sufficient evidence of inadequacy and weakness of the Polish security system. They knew how the presidential security service will react, or not react, and had good assessment of the "analytical abilities" of Polish intelligence service organizations.
It is worth to mention that when the Western countries’ special services sent warnings about Russian activities against NATO, and the prestigious weekly, "The Economist", brought information about Russian spies assigned to represent Russia at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Polish special services neither reported any threats from the increased Russian activity, nor made any efforts to counter separation of visits of Polish president and the prime minister to Katyn.
The final ABW report for 2010 did not contain any information about cyber-attacks on the Polish IT infrastructure (April 2010). It was completely silent about the effects of a massive failure which has occurred in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only five days before the assassination in Smolensk. Furthermore, you will not find any information about these attacks in the annual Polish CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) report. If one attempted to evaluate the state of the Polish security readiness and preparedness for 2010, based on available reports from its special services, the picture that will emerge would make one believe that: 2010 was quiet, uneventful, full of tranquility and happiness - only with an occasional, insignificant boo-boo, here and there.
Meanwhile, the real picture of the Polish Third Republic services viewed through the prism of the Smolensk crash is diametrically different. It shows not only lack of adequate security protection during the renovation of the Tu-154M in Samara, Russia, in 2009, or failure to verify the security status of those who entered the military airport Okecie the night before the crash, but above all, the role of the “retired” communist intelligence operative, Tomasz Turowski.
Turowski’s return into the ranks of Polish diplomacy - culminating in his surprising assignment to Moscow on February 15, 2010 - was certainly accomplished with the knowledge (and perhaps inspiration) of Polish intelligence services. It is hard to imagine that an officer or associate of Intelligence Agency could undertake a mission in a foreign country without connection to his previous work. His real assignment needs to be evaluated with respect to the rules governing the world of special services. Turowski, therefore, could only go to Moscow as a liaison between Polish and Russian Federation intelligence services. The official function of the head of the political department of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland gave him a good position to maintain contacts with the people from the Putin’s administration, and provided close ties with the Soviet university MAEiP. Here, his official assignment, that was to strengthen cooperation with Polish universities, guaranteed good cover for his real mission.
It is also clear that the entire process of the so called "Polish-Russian reconciliation" (which started in 2008) had to be preceded by undercover communications between many people at different levels. Opportunities for such contacts arose during the Donald Tusk’s visit to Moscow (2008), or Putin visit at Westerplatte in 2009, or during negotiation for natural gas supplies to Poland with Russia.
It is worth to consider if the knowledge of the real mission of ambassador Turowski could have any impact on the intention of Western secret services’ to help in the investigation of the Smolensk attack? If Western countries suspected that Polish intelligence established relations with intelligence services of the Russian Federation, and the preparations for the visit of President Kaczynski proceeded according to the Russian scenario – the attitude towards the tragedy of April 10 taken by NATO is not surprising. Sending Turowski to Moscow was a clear sign that the government of the Third Republic is cooperating with Russians.
I think this is how President Saakachvili's services evaluated this situation at the time, and their assessment influenced the choice of the means by which information about the planned coup was conveyed. It can be assumed that if the Georgians decided to send an official alert, it would not influence the behavior of the security staff of the Third Republic. Such hypothesis is even more appealing, knowing that these services have ignored the information received officially from the Czech services on April 9, 2010. The information received from the Czech SIRENE Office spoke about the possible threat to one of the airports of the European Union country, the threat of an attack on a plane, or a hijacking attempt. The Third Republic security services failed to convey this information to the office of the President of Poland before the flight to Smolensk. Another confirmation of a joint Moscow and Warsaw collaboration is the fact that on April 13, 2010, the government of Donald Tusk rejected the formal offer of assistance made by the representatives of the USA and NATO.
Now, we can truly appreciate the scale of the problem faced by the Law and Justice (abr. PiS) government today. Obviously my outline is incomplete, limited to certain aspects of the pre-crash realities. However, the analysis of behavior of the services of the Third Republic after April 10, confirms in its entirety the conjecture concerning the Polish-Russian cooperation at the level of special services. The adoption of such an approach means that we must not put hope in the activities of the institutions of the Third Republic. I wrote already in 2012 that everything that we received from the institutions of the PO-PSL government, must be treated with the utmost caution. Therefore, the intentions of the services of the Third Republic must be assessed solely in the context of the Kremlin's strategy of disinformation.
If there is a will today to investigate the Smolensk assassination, the most serious obstacle to such efforts seems to be the status of the special services, and the condition of the Polish army in general. The PO-PSL regime degraded these services and army to such an extent, that we need to ask if they are capable of carrying out professional duties, and if it is possible to count on their loyalty and credibility.
Recent information disclosed by the Ministry of Defense regarding the destruction of reports from April 10, 2010 concerning Smolensk, which flowed to the General Staff, is neither shocking, nor surprising. This message unequivocally confirms that the previous regime sought to obliterate the relevant evidence and did not hesitate to carry out criminal acts. Also, a reaction to the disclosure of this information shows the real value of the Army’s senior commanders, who without any shame claimed that 400 destroyed communications’ reports contained nothing significant to the Smolensk crash investigation.
For example, a certain Lt.-Col. Slawomir Komisarczyk, who is not a disinterested party to the ongoing investigation, wrote the following: "The report of all activities on April 10, 2010, of all Operational Services of Armed Forces on duty, would not bring any new information to the Smolensk crash case, and no one issued the decision to destroy these reports because of their desire to hide any evidence.”
The question arises: how can we get to the truth about the assassination in Smolensk, using the tools left behind by the Putin’s shareholders? What and how can these intelligence services, that waved the white flag before and after Smolensk, and who acted as guarantors of Russian lies, bring anything reliable to the table?
"There is no reason to doubt the credibility of the Russians. At the moment there is no need to use the intelligence services, because the level of confidence in this particular case is so high, that you can ask just about everything.” This “professional" assessment by General Marek Dukaczewski from 2010, aptly illustrates the prior official attitude of the Third Republic regarding the Smolensk assassination. For them, the “Smolensk problem" was done and over with on April 10. Yet, throughout the years since, we can see an emergence of various evidence of numerous subterfuges and campaigns aimed at reinforcing Moscow’s version of events.
Even if some of this behavior can be explained by the lack of professionalism, weakness or even fear of confrontation with Russia, it is impossible to interpret, in the above categories, all events taking place before, throughout the course of this tragedy, and after April 10, 2010.
Sooner or later we have to ask ourselves a question if people working for the Third Republic security and intelligence services cooperated with Russians in setting the Smolensk trap and murder of our fellow citizens? What kind of responsibility do members of ABW, BOR, SKW and SW, share in connection with this murder?
The awareness of such issues, must lead to the conclusion that the necessary condition for solving the Smolensk mystery is a thorough and comprehensive reform of these special services. The reform, such as this one, cannot be carried out without the use of the so-called “Zero Option,” and reconstruction of security organs from scratch. Such a plan can now be observed in the activities of the defense minister, in terms of subordination of Intelligence and Military Counterintelligence Services. However, similar actions are not yet present in actions of the Prime Minister or the Minister of the Interior. Encouraging, but only cosmetic ideas, involving the strengthening the CBA’s role, while limiting the powers of the Internal Security Agency to typical counterintelligence activities, may not be sufficient enough. The latter service should be abolished, and a completely new formation should be established in its place.
After three months of the PiS government, it seems that they may not have a good idea for a radical reconstruction of the Polish security system, and do not have the stomach for such reorganization. In this context it is worth recalling the article of Slawomir Cenckiewicz published last November, where he points out that "particularly risky political reforms are usually possible in the short time at the beginning of taking the office," where the author uses the decree on elimination of the criminal WSI enterprise, as an example. It was prepared in less than three months after the swearing in of president Lech Kaczynski.
Cenckiewicz also noted the important role of the president and claimed that "If the president would become a hostage to interest groups or even avoided a decisive action, it would make the idea of deep reforms hard to execute. A passive president and his demobilizing attitude may also negatively affect the parliamentary majority even if they come from one political camp."
Without a doubt, the passive attitude of the president Duda and complete inaction of the presidential security apparatus (BBN), make his circle only an obstacle in the process of reform of the special services.
Leaving the services of the Third Republic in an unchanged form (including its personnel), not only will prevent getting to the truth about Smolensk, but definitely, it will limit their ability to conduct such activities in the international arena. It is not enough to conduct pseudo-reforms and play the game of "parliamentary democracy".
The cooperation between the Polish secret service and equivalent services of the USA, Israel or NATO countries should be unblocked, which would allow transfer of critical information regarding the Smolensk crash. It can happen only when these Polish services will become a reliable and trustworthy partner. As long as evaluation of these formations do not differ from the Georgian intelligence analysis from 2010, we should not count on such close cooperation.
I cannot imagine that the US intelligence could hand over all photographs taken by their military satellites to the same people, who on 10 April, 2010, participated in drunken parties organized at the headquarters of SKW (Polish Military Counterintelligence). It is hard to believe that they can work with services responsible for the persecution of Military Prosecutor Pasionek, who after contacting US intelligence services for help, was called by them "unfriendly foreign intelligence".
We have to realize that the road to the truth about Smolensk requires more than a cosmetic policy of "good changes”. If the USA (or intelligence services of any other country) would have knowledge of the causes of this disaster, the disclosure will be determined by purely political reasons, and dependent on the global interests of the great powers. This knowledge may not only harm relations with Putin’s Russia, but may have an impact on the relations within NATO and the European Union itself. Presentation of the true course of events of April 10 would fundamentally change the balance of power in Europe, and worldwide, and may lead to conflicts which many countries would prefer to avoid.
This burden can be carried out only by the country that is completely free and sovereign, free from the domination of the enemy agents, possessing agile services and a strong army. Only when PiS government can eliminate the smoldering ruins of the Third Republic, and build up such a State, it will discover the truth about Smolensk. If they have no intention to do so, and rather would like to continue to resuscitate the corpse of the Round Table Agreements in Magdalenka, what awaits us, is a painful disappointment and defeat.
Wrtitten by: Aleksander Scios
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