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 Whistleblowers Need Protection




Eighteen years have passed since Ryszard Paszkowski's life with espionage and the international fast-track began. He shrugs his shoulders and frowns; then he was young, naive, and had read enough detective stories to want to try his hand at it. Now he is tired by the pace, disillusioned with the phoney spy games he was made to play, and in real fear of a well-known enemy - his former bosses. It is time to put down roots and begin a real life with a job in which he would not have to risk his life, daily satisfying someone's ambitions of scoring high in never-ending skirmishes between the West and the East. His legal battle to be allowed to begin a normal life in Canada has already consumed five long years and the end isn't yet easily predictable. Choices made almost two decades ago put him on a treadmill he still can't seem to get off; no matter what the cost, he is determined to stop being a fugitive from the law and his own murky past. He muses:

There is no way the stupid games of politicians are going to cost me my life; there are already too many anonymous agents biting the dust - victims of political miscalculation, faulty espionage, unnecessary risks and the bravado of those sitting behind mahogany desks pencilling in the course of action. Both sides of these war games fed us real hatred towards each other only so we'd fall for their tricks and follow instructions. When a specific planned mission failed or was impossible to carry out because of absurd planning, those responsible would blame those who were to carry it out. The failed agent was a disposable item and had to be gotten rid of. There are many ways of eliminating unwanted, possibly compromising intelligence agents depending on how much they might know. An agent who knew too much and was considered undesirable would have to die. When an agent does not know too much, yet is considered a potential future embarrassment to the various authorities, he would be left out in the cold or, alternately, set up to walk into a "mine" - inflicting dishonour or embarrassment on himself. In such cases, an agent either shuts up forever or ends up in jail, in which case nobody believes him anyway. The easiest way to drop an unwanted agent is to deny his existence, deny he was ever known in any capacity other than the one discredited. This usually works where an agent knows little about his immediate handlers or does not know his bosses.

The amount of money spent on espionage-related activities is unbelievably high. The public is never told the actual price tag for the often botched spying done allegedly in the national interest. Official figures are always reduced. The funniest thing about intelligence agencies on either side of the former Iron Curtain, if one can find anything funny about them, is that while they swear at each other they are basically very much alike. They differ little in their oversized ambitions, imaginary threats, `enemy-at-your-door' paranoia, dirty tricks and internal personal battles. I worked for both sides and whether it is "scisle tajne" (in Polish), "top secret", or "COBEP_EHHO CEKPETHO" (in Russian), it's basically the same stuff. Different money pays for it.

James Bond's adventures are glamorous in technicolour on screen. The real life of an intelligence agent is one of anonymity, monotonous routine punctuated with real dangers, and no easy mistakes. The big money, the rescued beautiful woman, averted major disasters and congratulatory letters from the big boss exist mostly in the movies.

Chapter 1

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