Smithsonian Spy Seminar Series
Targeted killing. Wet jobs. Assassinations. Eliminations. Spy thrillers feature deadly plots in which governments eliminate spies, operatives, dissidents or enemies of the state. But when a questionable death occurs in real life, it can be hard to discover what really happened. In this series, intelligence experts and historians will explore the true stories of four real cases of successful, failed, or possible cases of targeted killing.
Lights Out for Litvinenko - February 1
When Alexander Litvinenko died of polonium poisoning in London in November 2006, critics of Putin’s Russia saw the hidden hand of the KGB. Eight years earlier, the former KGB and Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer had accused his superiors of ordering him to assassinate a Russian tycoon. For a country whose historical tradition is to eliminate spies and dissidents in exile, was his death just business as usual or an unlucky accident? Award-winning journalist James Rosen, a former Moscow correspondent for UPI, and Pentagon reporter who's just published the acclaimed spy novel High Hand will bring you up to date on the case and current thinking about Litvinenko’s fate.
(Not) Killing Castro - February 8
Exploding cigars, poisoned wetsuits, and mob hitmen are just some of the ways that Castro didn’t die. When Castro came to power in 1959, the US plotted his overthrow. After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the government got more creative and decided the best way to get Cuba in line was to get rid of Castro. According to Cuban government officials, the CIA tried to kill Fidel Castro at least 600 times. What’s the real story? Spy Museum historian and Miami native, Dr. Vince Houghton, will trace the sometimes comical—and always creative—aspects of the US’s long and unsuccessful campaign to kill Castro.
Murder in Mexico - February 15
The attack against Leon Trotsky with an ice-climbing axe on August 20, 1940 became known as “the crime of the century.” A leader of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky was out maneuvered by Joseph Stalin after Lenin’s death in 1924 and exiled from Russia in 1929. In 1937, Trotsky sought refuge in Mexico to escape Stalin’s agents, but fell victim in 1940 to a well-planned Soviet intelligence (NKVD) operation. Intelligence historian and Spy Museum board member H. Keith Melton has investigated the case for more than 40 years and will reveal the unknown secrets of the case. The original ice-axe used by assassin Ramon Mercader, will be on display following the presentation.
Walter Krivitsky Checks Out - February 22
In the late ‘30’s, Walter Krivitsky did the unthinkable: he broke with Joseph Stalin, the cold-blooded leader of the Soviet Union. As the former head of Soviet military intelligence for all of Western Europe, Krivitsky was a man who knew too much… and shared it with British Intelligence. He was a haunted and hunted man when he checked into DC’s Hotel Bellvue one February night in 1941. FBI Historian, Dr. John Fox, will reveal the path that led Krivitsky to Room 524 and the top theories about what occurred there that night.
Tickets: $125 (must be purchased through the Smithsonian)*
Members of the Inner Circle and Smithsonian Associates: $80
*To register: (via phone) 202.633.3030; (online) www.SmithsonianAssociates.org. Internet Quick Tix code for the program: 1M2-883. Inner Circle Members should identify themselves and give the PROMO code: 226708