While The Main Intelligence Department (GRU) of the Soviet Ministry of Defense does only military intelligence, the Foreign Directorate of the Committee of State Security (KGB), successor to the NKVD, is actively engaged in at least seven lines of intelligence and related work, not counting sabotage and guerrilla warfare.
The first line, which is considered the most important, is the so-called diplomatic intelligence, the purpose of which is to keep the Soviet government informed of the secret deals between the governments of capitalistic countries and of the true intentions and contemplated moves of each of these governments toward the Soviet Union. This information is to be procured from primary sources within the secret councils of the foreign governments. The principal sources are the following: foreign diplomats, including ambassadors; the staffs of foreign ministries, including code clerks, secretaries, etc. ; private secretaries to members of the cabinet; members of parliaments; and ambitious politicians seeking financial aid and leftwing support. The life history of such officials is studied beginning with their school years, and their character traits, weaknesses and vices, and intimate lives and friendships are analyzed with the purpose of finding the Achilles' heel of each and securing the right approach to him through the right person, say a former classmate, intimate friend, or relative.
These well-prepared approaches have often paid off. Some politicians have been lured into the Soviet network by promises that the Soviet Union would use its secret levers of influence in their countries to further their political fortunes. Such promises have often been accompanied by "subsidies," ostensibly to promote good will toward Russia but in reality a bribe. A number of high officials have succumbed to outright offers of money. Others, especially those who in their youth had be longed to Fabian and other idealistic circles, were influenced by humanitarian arguments and persuaded that they must help the Soviet Union stop the march of fascism. Considerable success was achieved among foreign diplomats tinted with homosexual perversions; it is no secret that the biggest concentration of homosexuals can be found in the diplomatic services of Western countries. Those of these who agreed to work for the Russian network were instructed to approach other homosexual members of the diplomatic corps, a strategy which was remarkably successful. Even when those approached declined the offer to collaborate, they would not denounce the recruiter to the authorities. Soviet intelligence officers were amazed at the mutual consideration and true loyalty which prevailed among homosexuals.
It is usually supposed easier to lure into the Soviet network a code clerk or secretary than a diplomat or statesman; a man in an important government position is expected to know better than to take the road of treachery, and he has much more to lose if caught doing so. The experience of Soviet intelligence has in many instances, however, not borne out this view. Honesty and loyalty may often be more deeply ingrained in simple and humble people than in men of high position. A man who took bribes when he was a patrolman does not turn honest when he becomes the chief of police; the only thing that changes is the size of the bribe. Weakness of character, inability to withstand temptation, lightmindedness, wishful thinking, and bad judgment are also traits that accompany a man to the highest rungs of his career.
The consensus of Soviet intelligence chiefs has been that departmental and private secretaries in a foreign ministry are often more valuable as sources of information than an ambassador, because a well-placed secretary can supply documentary data on a wider scale, covering the policies of the foreign government toward a number of countries. An ambassador is considered a much bigger prize, however, because he can be used not only as a source of information but also as a competent consultant for the Russian Foreign Office and even as an agent who can influence to a certain extent the foreign policy of his government.
The second line of Soviet intelligence activity is to procure data on the military posture of Western and other countries, the quality and strength of their armies, navies, and air forces, their degree of mechanization, mobility, fire power, technological advancement, and modernization, and the productive capacity of the armament industries and the mobilization plans of the big powers. Soviet intelligence watches with a jealous eye every new invention in the field of arms and tries to steal it while it is still in the blueprint stage or on the drawing board so that Soviet inventors and engineers can be the first to apply it. With the advent of the nuclear and rocketry age, which has completely revolutionized the material base, strategy, and very concept of warfare, Soviet intelligence strains all its efforts to obtain immediate information on the progress being made by the leading Western countries in these advanced fields and to gauge the striking and retaliatory power of the Western world.