In her recent foreign policy speech, hailed by the media, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “If Donald [Trump] gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin. We cannot let that happen.” But as veteran correspondent David Satter points out, the celebrations began when Mrs. Clinton launched a “reset” in Russian relations in 2009 that ignored the criminal nature of the regime in Moscow and led to the invasion of Ukraine.
“It began as we know with a mistranslation of the word ‘reset’ and I think went downhill from there,” Satter said, referring to her photo-op with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Satter’s new book, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep, is the result of years of research that has uncovered some of the most closely-held state secrets of the Vladimir Putin regime. Putin came to power “as the result of an act of terror carried out against his own people,” he explained.
He discussed his dramatic findings in a recent speech at the Heritage Foundation.
The book has important implications for how intelligence agencies analyze Islamic terrorism occurring outside of Russia as well, and sponsored by regimes such as Syria or Iran.
The first American journalist to be expelled from Russia since the end of the Cold War, Satter investigated the former KGB’s role in such terrorist incidents as the Moscow apartment bombings of 1999, the Dubrovka Theater siege of 2002, and the Beslan hostage taking of 2004. In all of these cases, he says, there is strong evidence of links between the terrorists (sometimes labeled as Chechens) and the KGB (now known as the FSB). Either the FSB carried out the terrorism through its agents or let it occur, he said, in order to justify the creation of a new dictatorship in Moscow.
In the case of the apartment bombings, which killed about 300 people and led to a brutal invasion of the Russian region of Chechnya, Satter said, “This central historical event in my view was the greatest political provocation since the burning of the Reichstag. And it established the regime with which we now have to contend, both in Ukraine and potentially in other parts of the world.”
The burning of the Reichstag solidified the Hitler dictatorship in Germany, eventually leading to World War II.
Over the years, Satter has been gathering evidence of the role of Russian intelligence in various terrorist incidents inside Russia. He discussed some of the evidence in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 17, 2007, explaining how Putin and other former KGB agents had become the “new ruling hierarchy” in Russia.
But he said the Obama administration came to power in 2008 with the attitude that it “did not want to hear” about any of this and instead blamed problems in U.S-Russian relations on George W. Bush. This led to Mrs. Clinton’s disastrous “reset” with the Putin regime.
Russians who have investigated the KGB’s role in domestic terrorism in Russia usually end up dead, Satter pointed out. These included Sergei Yushenkov and Yuri Shchekochikhin, members of an independent commission created to investigate the apartment bombings; Anna Politkovskaya, a leading journalist; and Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB/FSB officer who had fled to London and co-authored the blockbuster Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror.
“As a result of this series of killings,” Satter said, “I became literally the only person left who was raising this issue publicly, protected by the fact that I am an American citizen and also participate in the political process in Washington.”
He said, “I can’t say that I’ve had overwhelming success in calling this to the attention of the political world in Washington. But I do write about it in The Wall Street Journal. I’ve testified about it in Congress and I wrote about it in my second book, Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State. And I’ve certainly dealt with it in much greater detail in this [new] book.”
In his latest book, Satter writes about how Western officials have been unable to accept the idea that the Russian regime would “murder hundreds of its own citizens and terrify the nation to hold on to power.” He added, “This refusal to believe the unbelievable, however, came at a cost. It crippled Western policy toward Russia, rendering it naïve and ineffectual. From the moment Putin took power, the West maintained an image of Russia that bore no relation to reality.”
During the question-and-answer period, an individual named Karl Golovin, who described himself as a retired Federal Special Agent, tried to change the subject to allegations that terrorist incidents in the United States were being carried out by agents of the U.S. government. These allegations figure prominently in the “inside job” theory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States that has been popularized by such figures as radio host Alex Jones. Such a theory is popular in the Russian media, Satter noted.
But he said the difference between the U.S. and Russia is that the U.S. is a democratic country with an independent press and institutions free of government control or intimidation. On the other hand, there were no independent hearings into the terrorism inside Russia, and investigators who looked at official complicity were murdered.
Compounding this tragedy, President Obama’s pro-Russian and pro-Iranian foreign policy has backed Israel into a corner, leading to reports that the Jewish state is being forced to turn to Russia to assure its survival in an increasingly dangerous Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in Moscow for an official visit, has to know that if Putin can kill his own people through terrorism that he blames on Muslims, then he can certainly arrange attacks on Israel through Palestinian terrorist groups once connected to the old Soviet Union and now working with Syria or Iran, both Russian client states.
Netanyahu has to know that what has been called the “Red Jihad,” which kills Russians for domestic political purposes, can easily target Israel and the West.