“There is no place where espionage is not used. Offer the enemy bait to lure him.” — Sun Tzu
Sexual predators, like spies, are masters of deception and deceit. Both operate in secrecy, perpetuate a cover story, manipulate their victims through lies, and maintain a facade of respectability. Often, sexual predators become prime and easy targets for espionage since they are so vulnerable to blackmail. Prominent sexual predators can become prominent spies. Spies trade in secret information and influence peddling—the more prominent the asset, the more valuable the information.
A well-worn espionage tactic is the dead drop, when spies leave secret information in a location where it can be recovered by another party without meeting face-to-face.
Footnotes are literary dead drops, buried at the bottom of a page in small print, often used to hide a deeper clarification—a smoking gun. Unless read and scrutinized, an important fact or thread could be missed.
Lawyers are cautioned to always read footnotes. Therein may lie the secret, the hidden key to understanding a case, or perhaps a subtle bombshell purposefully hidden so as not to explode. This whole controversy about Communion for the divorced-and-“remarried” stems from footnote 351 in the Pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Pay attention to Francis’s footnotes.
Weighed down with 449 pages, 157,000 words, and 1,375 footnotes, the Vatican’s overdue McCarrick Report retches up a torturous tract of tales of blame shifting, institutional failures, about a masterful sexual predator with a global reach.
Buried within this tawdry monstrosity lies a revealing and ominous footnote, drafted skillfully to appear inconspicuous. Yet, footnote 127 is anything but unremarkable; rather, it should be viewed as a critical and explosive dead drop pointing to an ominous political affiliation and role played by Cardinal McCarrick.
At page 34 of the McCarrick Report, footnote 127 casually relates that Bishop McCarrick was possibly groomed by the KGB as a spy asset. Like an encrypted letter buried under a bridge, this message needs to be decoded and unscrambled:
McCarrick’s rising profile drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and even the KGB. In the early 1980s, a KGB agent who enjoyed diplomatic cover as the Deputy Chief of Mission to the United Nations for the Soviet Union approached McCarrick, apparently to attempt to befriend him. McCarrick, who was initially unaware that the diplomat was also a KGB agent, was contacted by agents of the FBI, who asked him to serve as a counterintelligence asset with respect to the activities of the KGB. Though McCarrick believed it was best to decline such involvement (particularly because he was immersed in the organization of the new Diocese of Metuchen), the FBI persisted, contacting McCarrick again and encouraging him to allow a relationship with the KGB agent to develop.
Given the delicate nature of the situation, McCarrick reported in detail the FBI’s request to Nuncio Laghi in January 1985, seeking Laghi’s advice as to how to proceed. Laghi thought that McCarrick should “not be negative” about the possibility of serving as an FBI asset and described McCarrick in an internal note as someone who “knows how to deal with these people and be cautious” and who was “wise enough to understand and not be caught.” It is not clear, however, whether McCarrick ultimately accepted the FBI’s proposal, and no record reflects further contact with the KGB agent.
In an interview, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, while not personally familiar with the incident, stated that McCarrick would have been “a very high value target for any of the [intelligence] services, but particularly the Russians at that time.”
Apparently, McCarrick’s prominent profile and prurient peccadilloes drew the attention of the KGB. As the masters of blackmail, the KGB skillfully recruited compromised politicians, government officials, and clerics. The Soviet UN Mission was historically a viper’s den of Soviet spy operatives, whose task is to recruit valuable assets, surveil highly placed targets, and steal top secret documents and intelligence. The KGB paid its network of spies very well for secret intelligence.
In 1969, KGB chief Yuri Andropov ordered a full-scale espionage operation against the Vatican, directing Soviet agents to cultivate moles among Vatican curial officials. Ultimately, every dicastery and bureaucracy in the Vatican had been infiltrated by the KGB. In Christopher Andrew’s book, The Sword and Shield, secret files from the Soviets reveal that they sought the global expansion of communism and the undermining of its enemies; “the Holy See which ranked as one of the top targets of Soviet intelligence services during the Cold War.”
The KGB had identified Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, “as its most dangerous opponent in the Soviet Bloc.” To the great consternation of the USSR, the Catholic Church had just elected this Wojtyła, the Polish Pope, known for his virulent anti-communism stance. The Communist espionage services were in a frenzy over the threat to Communism with Polish patriot Karol Wojtyła now ensconced in the Chair of Peter.
When the KGB approached McCarrick in the “early 1980s” the Cold War was at its peak. The KGB clearly viewed Bishop McCarrick as a prime catch who could provide valuable intelligence and influence at the Vatican and in the United States.
Theodore McCarrick presented as the ideal candidate for the aggressive KGB spymasters. There was no more compromised, and more blackmail-able prelate than McCarrick.
Imagine the KGB value-added asset of the Bishop of Metuchen who spent more time in the Vatican and globetrotting than he did in his New Jersey diocese. Imagine the ease with which the KGB could exploit and blackmail McCarrick, knowing of his obsession with young men and money. Did the KGB have evidence, such as photos of McCarrick in compromised positions?
Unfortunately for McCarrick, the FBI was busy surveilling the Deputy Head of the Soviet Mission to the United Nations while the KGB spy pursued and groomed Bishop McCarrick. Can you imagine the shock when it stumbled upon McCarrick with the KGB? What an uncomfortable conundrum for McCarrick to learn that the FBI was surveilling his meetings with the Deputy Head of the Soviet U.N. Mission. As footnote 127 references, albeit vaguely, the FBI sought the assistance of McCarrick to serve as a double agent for the United States. While McCarrick did ultimately discuss this FBI request, with the Papal Nuncio, albeit years later, the Vatican Report states that “it is not clear, however, whether McCarrick ultimately accepted the FBI’s proposal, and no record reflects further contact with the KGB agent.”
That’s one of those legalese statements that offers an escape clause for the Vatican. Nothing more in the Secret Archives on this issue, folks. Nothing more to see here. The dead drop is officially dead. Or is it?
The virulent enemy of the United States and the Holy See had befriended Ted McCarrick. KGB spy masters know that moral failings provide the grist for blackmail. Ted McCarrick, a serial sexual predator was only loyal to one person, himself. McCarrick craved power and money and wielded both masterfully for his selfish ends. He also enjoyed unlimited access to world leaders, prelates, and American politicians.
Where did McCarrick’s sympathies lie? With the FBI or the KGB?
Perhaps, the answer may lie buried in the McCarrick Report. After McCarrick finally told the Papal Nuncio in 1985 about the KGB/FBI interventions, McCarrick traveled to the USSR in 1987 and again in 1988. Also, McCarrick traveled to Cuba in 1988 to visit the brutal Cuban communist regime of Fidel Castro. Over the years, McCarrick traveled to Communist China over a dozen times and even visited with the Communist leader Jiang Zemin. McCarrick knew his way around Communist countries and leaders.
Was McCarrick meeting with his spymasters and sharing intelligence while visiting these communist countries?
Was the KGB supplying McCarrick with boys and young men as payment for cooperating with the Soviets?
Was the source of McCarrick’s vast wealth from payments by his Communist minders?
Why did the Deputy Head of the UN Soviet Mission contact McCarrick in the first place? Was the Deputy Head in New York instructed by KGB Moscow headquarters to contact McCarrick because he was a known communist sympathizer? It seems highly probable that Bishop McCarrick popped up on the KGB radar as a prime candidate for espionage work.
According to the footnote, this spy game of cat and mouse played out for a number of years. The FBI continued to contact McCarrick to serve as a counter intelligence asset. Apparently, McCarrick demurred. Finally, the heat must have been too much for McCarrick and he contacted the Papal Nuncio. Not surprisingly, McCarrick declined to serve as a counterintelligence asset for the FBI.
Footnote 127 raises far more questions than answers.
What was the nature of McCarrick’s allegiance to the Soviet Communist regime? How far along were McCarrick’s communications with the KGB? Was the FBI surveilling McCarrick as a potential KGB spy? Were they concerned that his personal and sexual peccadilloes made him a vulnerable victim of the KGB? Did the FBI fear that McCarrick was a Soviet spy with a loyalty to Communism?
Perhaps, this seemingly insignificant footnote 127 explains why McCarrick was dispatched by Pope Francis to begin secret negotiations with Communist China and traveled to China at least three times on Pope Francis’s behalf. Perhaps, footnote 127 also explains why Obama and Biden sought Cardinal McCarrick to help negotiate a top-secret deal with Communist Cuba on behalf of the Obama Administration. Secret deals with Communists are safe with McCarrick. Secrecy is the hallmark of a sexual predator.
The Communists trust Ted McCarrick. That’s a dead drop that should make your jaw drop.
[Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News]