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E. German files unmask Stasi spies

"Katharina," "Bernie" and "Lisa" are the code names of U.S. citizens who worked as spies in the 1980s for the East German foreign intelligence service, the Stasi, and whose identities are contained in a once highly secret 1987 report of activities of its U.S./Western Hemisphere division, according to the FBI affidavit made public last week with the arrest of three other alleged former Stasi agents.

The files were compiled by Department XI, as the division at the heart of former Stasi spy chief Markus Wolfe's American operation was called. They disappeared after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The files were later obtained clandestinely by the CIA and are still closely held, according to sources familiar with their acquisition and contents.Much of the collection consists of cards that list "true name" of each alleged agent, "code name and status" and "maybe a little more," one source said. "Part of the information is ambiguous," this source said, "listing cooperative persons whether they were true agents or not." The FBI affidavit said other files reviewed showed expenditure of funds to specific operations associated with named agents and coded messages between the Stasi center in Berlin and the East German Embassy in Washington.

The three women in the 1987 report, along with another code-named agent, "Schwan," were described as among the "existing stable" of agents who "must be trained for work on specific targets and aim for positions with access to intelligence. . . . "

"Schwan" was the code name for Theresa Marie Squillacote, the 38-year-old former Pentagon attorney who was indicted last week along with her husband, Kurt Alan Stand, 42, and James Michael Clark, 49, for allegedly carrying out espionage as Stasi operatives, according to the FBI affidavit.

Review of the Stasi files and extensive debriefings of some former East German intelligence operatives by the FBI, CIA and Pentagon investigative services over the past seven years have provided "lots of leads" involving what one source said were "hundreds of possible agents," with many of those named being "among the U.S. military." Another source, with intelligence connections, said he did not believe it was possible to determine who was or was not military. For that reason, he added, listings in the card files are "not a . . . lot of help in making a criminal case and potentially could hurt people."

Legal experts agree names in the Stasi files do not make prosecutable cases. Even Katharine G. Allman, the FBI special agent who swore to the Oct. 3 affidavit entered in the Squillacote case, pointed out in that document the weakness in using the testimony of former Stasi employees. "While these (former Stasi officials') statements concern matters relevant to this investigation, and are therefore reported herein, affiant cautions that she cannot vouch for the truthfulness or accuracy of their contents," she wrote.

Possible espionage by the individuals named in the Stasi files took place up to 10 years ago or more, and materials in East German files, even if bolstered by testimony from former Stasi per-son-nel, can only be used to buttress a case based on more current information, legal experts said.

In last week's case, and in others that go back to the Cold War period, so-called false flag operations have had to be undertaken in which FBI agents pose as current-day foreign spies, willing to purchase new information from these individuals who once may have given secret U.S. information to East Germany.

Such inquiries must go on for at least three years or more, and almost always, as in the Squillacote case, involve authorized wiretaps of one or more individuals.

For that reason, these complex investigations, primarily by the FBI, have focused mainly on individuals mentioned in Stasi files who are "still in (U.S. military or government) service or in position to go higher," according to one source familiar with recent FBI operations.