WASHINGTON -- The KGB, the Soviet spy agency, managed to infiltrate the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, in a scheme that provided access to sensitive defense secrets, it was reported Thursday.
ColumnistJack Anderson, in a report on ABC's 'Good Morning America,' said the Soviet spy operation was uncovered in 1979 and was the subject of a top secret, 76-page report submitted to top GAO officials.
However, he said one KGB agent, whom he identified as Vladimar Kvasov, continued to smuggle secrets out of the GAO -- which has broad authority to examine even the government's most sensitive operations - until May 1980.
GAO spokeswoman Laura Kopelson confirmed in general terms that an investigation along the lines of the one described by Anderson had taken place. 'As Anderson said, it was looked into in '79,' she said.
After initially refusing to discuss the report because it is 'a security matter,' she said it was her understanding a report on the investigation does exist, 'but I believe as he (Anderson) said, it's top secret.'
She refused to discuss details of Anderson's report, and would say only that 'we're not sure whether the story as he reported it is correct.'
Anderson said the KGB had at least three 'moles' -- employees recruited to turn over secret information -- within the GAO.
Anderson said the moles learned special control numbers to sensitive reports that two KGB agents then were able to obtain through the GAO records center. He identified the agents as:
-Kvasov, a former assistant naval attache at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, who 'abruptly returned to Russia in August 1980.'
-Angel Angelov, who is still serving as an assistant military attache at the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington.
Anderson said the moles were not identified in the 1979 GAO report and added the FBI has informed congressional investigators at least one more may still be on the government payroll.
The 1979 report was suppressed by the GAO, he said, to avoid the 'embarrassment' that would result from acknowledging such a breach of security.
Kvasov, he said, first visited the records center on Jan. 19, 1979, but made the mistake of showing up early -- showing he had advance knowledge of the classified reports.
'Investigators have determined that Kvasov eventually got at least 15 classified reports on a variety of sensitive military programs,' Anderson said.
'Belatedly, the FBI has now investigated the spy scandal,' he said, 'and the suppressed evidence has been secretly submitted to Congress.'
An FBI spokesman declined to comment.