The Biggest Whodunnit of the Century

Investigative journalist James Bamford explains why Ukraine and Poland should be the top suspects in the Nord Stream blasts.

Unused pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline in Sassnitz, Germany. Photo illustration: Elise Swain/The Intercept;Photo: Getty Images

On September 26, 2022, at approximately 2:03 a.m. local time in the Baltic Sea off the southeast coast of the Danish island of Bornholm, the Nord Stream 2 underwater pipeline was rocked by a blast. That explosion, followed by a series of other targeted detonations on the older Nord Stream 1 pipelines some 17 hours later, were swiftly assessed to be the result of deliberate sabotage. The explosions off the Swedish and Danish coasts set off an international mystery with unimaginably high stakes. There are a variety of international players, including powerful nation states, who would have had the motive, capability, and opportunity to conduct such an operation.

This week on Intercepted, investigative journalist and author James Bamford takes us on a tour of what he calls “the biggest Whodunnit of the century.” Bamford is one of the most respected experts on U.S. intelligence operations and covert action. He is the author of several best-selling books, including “The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America’s Most Secret Agency” and “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.” His most recent book is “Spyfail: Foreign Spies, Moles, Saboteurs, and the Collapse of America’s Counterintelligence.”

Last week, The Nation published a story by Bamford in which he argues that Ukraine and Poland should be viewed as the top suspects in the sabotage and that the U.S. government almost certainly knows exactly who bombed the pipelines and how. That story is titled “The Nord Stream Explosions: New Revelations About Motive, Means, and Opportunity.” 

[Intercepted intro theme music.]

Jeremy Scahill: This is Intercepted.

Welcome to Intercepted. I’m Jeremy Scahill.

On September 26, 2022, at approximately 2:03 a.m. local time in the Baltic Sea off the southeast coast of the Danish island of Bornholm, the Nord Stream 2 underwater pipeline experienced blasts on its Line A. Danish warplanes circled above assessing the situation and monitoring a bubbling pool emerging from the sea.

Approximately 17 hours later, at 7:04 p.m., just as the twilight was extinguishing over the sea and roughly 70 kilometers northeast of the early morning blasts, two explosions ripped through Line B of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, creating craters approximately 250 meters apart. Seven seconds later, Line A of the Nord Stream 1 is rocked by two detonations, also roughly 250 meters apart. The only so-called “string” of the Nord Stream pipelines left intact was the easternmost one, Line B of the Nord Stream 2. 

It didn’t take long for Swedish seismologists to calculate that the massive blasts were not caused by an earthquake or some other act of nature. Whatever happened deep beneath the sea was the work of human beings and powerful explosives.

And so, a mystery began: Who were these people? Why did they conduct what appeared to be surgical and sophisticated strikes against a massive and profitable piece of Russian infrastructure, whose primary function was to provide gas to Germany and other European markets? For what state or cause were these people working?

Within hours, political leaders from both Sweden and Denmark — the two nations closest to the blast sites — told the public that this was no accident, it was a deliberate act of sabotage. Eventually, a consensus formed among all affected countries that whoever did this was likely sponsored by a nation state.

Russia began accusing Western nations, initially suggesting it was the work of the British. The U.S. and its allies sought to cast the spotlight of blame on Russia. In any case, no one offered any concrete evidence to support their theories and accusations.

From the beginning, the Nord Stream pipelines – which are majority owned by the Russia consortium Gazprom – was a contentious project, to say the least. It was subject to sanctions under President Donald Trump, and then, as Russia began its preparations for an invasion of Ukraine, it rose to a high priority level in the Biden White House. Ukraine viewed the pipeline as an economic engine to fuel Russia’s war machine, and senior U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden himself, began to make ominous threats about the future of the pipeline should Vladimir Putin move forward with his invasion.

On February 7, 2022 – two weeks before the Russian invasion – Biden stood next to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the East Room at the White House.

President Joe Biden: If Russia invades — that means tanks and troops crossing the border of Ukraine again — there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.

Reporter: But, how will you, how will you do that, exactly? Since the project, and control of the project, is within Germany’s control?

President Joe Biden: We will, I promise you, we’ll be able to do it.

Undeterred by these apparent threats from Washington, Vladimir Putin went ahead with what he called a Special Military Operation in Ukraine. In the summer of 2022, with the war in Ukraine raging, all of the nation states that might arguably have a motive for blowing up the pipeline were very active in the Baltic Sea. The U.S. and NATO conducted naval war exercises, known as BALTOPS 22. Ukrainian naval forces trained alongside British teams in undersea mining and de-mining exercises, including in the use of sophisticated underwater drones capable of planting explosive devices deep on the seabed.

In June, Russia conducted its own exercises in the sea, where it has a port in Kaliningrad. Poland ran its own exercises, code named REKIN-22, or Shark 22, in the sea in late September, just days before the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged.

After the pipelines blew, the world community largely split into two major camps: those who suspected that Moscow was behind the attacks against its own pipeline, and those who believed that the U.S. and/or its allies did it. Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Russia all launched official investigations, and the U.S. became remarkably quiet about the matter. Mostly, the White House would say it was supporting the Swedish, German, and Danish probes.

And then, on February 8, the legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published a lengthy, incendiary story on his newly launched Substack. The piece, which cited a single anonymous source with seemingly full spectrum knowledge of the inner workings of the plan, boldly asserted that the United States had blown up the pipelines in an operation directly authorized by the president of the United States.

Hersh alleged that a clandestine working group consisting of senior U.S. officials, as well as representatives from a range of U.S. agencies and a foreign government, were in on the plot. It was U.S. divers, with support from Norway, who planted the explosives. They did so, according to Hersh, using the public cover of last summer’s NATO BALTOPS training exercises. 

While the story was met with almost total silence, and was ignored by most major U.S. media outlets, Hersh’s story reverberated around the world. It did not take long for Russia, including Vladimir Putin himself, to endorse Hersh’s narrative as the definitive truth of what happened in the Baltic Sea last September.

Male Voice: I now give the floor to the representative of the Russian Federation.

Female translator for Russian representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia: Mr. President, the situation is that on the 8th of February, thanks to the well known American investigative journalist, the Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh, we find that not only that the U.S. did it, but how they did it, with the involvement of their NATO ally, Norway. So, now we are extremely certain not only who, but how the gas pipeline was blown up.

The Biden administration issued sweeping denials of Hersh’s story, saying the U.S. government had absolutely no connection whatsoever to the attacks against the Nord Stream. The spokesperson for the National Security Council, Adrienne Watson, told me Hersh’s story was a “totally false concoction,” and she added, “we can say categorically that the United States was not involved in the Nord Stream explosions in any way. We continue to support efforts with our allies and partners to get to the bottom of what happened.”

But, behind the scenes, a complex dynamic was unfolding. Both German and Swedish investigators were far from convinced that either Russia – or the U.S. for that matter – had conducted the operation. Last June, two months before the Nord Stream explosions, the CIA reportedly offered German intelligence and other European governments a “strategic warning” of a potential plot to blow up the pipeline. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the warning included information about three Ukrainian nationals who were trying to rent out ships in countries bordering the Baltic Sea, including Sweden.”

On March 8, some of these details broke out into the mainstream, when both the New York Times and the German publication Die Zeit published exposés on a private boat that had been rented by a Polish registered company and owned by two Ukrainians. Die Zeit, citing German law enforcement sources, asserted that the ship was loaded with explosives and diving equipment, and set sail from a German port in the Baltic Sea. Perhaps this ship carried the people who did the operation, or maybe they were connected to the plan. Only speculation has been offered since those reports emerged.

This brought a new element to the fore, the possible involvement of what The New York Times labeled a “pro-Ukrainian group.” For his part, Sy Hersh claimed those stories were part of an elaborate plot by the U.S. government to discredit his explosive story, while authorities in Germany, including the country’s defense minister, suggested that the boat, called the Andromeda, could be part of a false flag intended to conceal the identity of the actual saboteurs.

Ukraine has emphatically denied it had anything to do with the Nord Stream attacks but, last week, new evidence emerged that should spark scrutiny of Kyiv’s denials. In a story based on top secret U.S. documents shared on a Discord server, The Washington Post reported that, this past February, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had suggested blowing up a different Russian pipeline, this one servicing NATO and EU member Hungary. This is a story that is not going to disappear anytime soon.

My guest today calls the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline “the biggest whodunnit of the century.” James Bamford is one of the most respected experts on U.S. intelligence operations and covert action. He is the author of several best-selling books, including “The Puzzle Palace: A Report on NSA, America’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency,” and “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.” Bamford’s most recent book is “Spyfail: Foreign Spies, Moles, Saboteurs, and the Collapse of America’s Counterintelligence.”

Last week, The Nation magazine published a fascinating story by Bamford in which he argues that Ukraine and Poland should be viewed as the top suspects in the sabotage, and that the U.S. government almost certainly knows exactly who bombed the pipelines. That story is titled, “The Nord Stream Explosions: New Revelations About Motive, Means, and Opportunity.”

James Bamford joins me now. Jim, thanks so much for being here with us on Intercepted.

James Bamford: Great, thanks for having me. Jeremy. 

JS: I want to begin with a quick reminder or walk through recent history with people. Lay out, James, the significance of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines before they were blown up.

JB: Well, the Europeans really wanted these pipelines, because it would make natural gas quite a bit cheaper. The Ukrainians didn’t want it, because the natural gas had been going through their pipeline and they were getting a fee for it. So, the Europeans wanted it, the Ukrainians didn’t want it, and the Russians were happy to bypass Ukraine and lower the price for the Europeans.

So, everybody was pretty happy, except for the Ukrainians, pretty much.

JS: And you lay this out in the article that you wrote for The Nation magazine, but talk about the Trump administration initially imposing sanctions, and what was going on in the few years leading up to the destruction of the pipelines.

JB: Well, the concern of the U.S. administration, the Trump administration as well as Biden, was the fear that, by having a direct pipeline from Russia to Europe, that Europe would become sort of captive of Russia. That, if Russia wanted to, it could turn off the pipeline when it wanted to, and then use it as a blackmail tool. “You either do this, or we will turn off the pipeline.”

So, there was a worry – in Washington and other places – that the pipeline would be used as a tool for leverage to get the Russians what they wanted. And that was one of the key reasons that the U.S. was against it, and one of the key reasons that the U.S. wanted to put sanctions, or did put sanctions on the building of the pipeline.

JS: What do we know about various military operations and training exercises that were taking place in the months directly leading up to the destruction? Because in Seymour Hersh’s self-published exposé on Substack, he says that the explosive devices were planted in the summer during the BALTOPS operation, which were U.S. and its allies doing joint operations, mining and de-mining operations in the Baltic Sea and other training. But, also, Russia was doing exercises in that same calendar year, as well as Poland, also, was running its own training exercises.

So a lot of focus in Hersh’s piece is placed on the U.S. and its allies doing training operations. Independent researchers and open source intelligence researchers from Bellingcat and others have focused on the movement of Russian ships in the sea. But, in your piece, you place quite a bit of emphasis on Ukraine’s participation in some training exercises.

But first, talk about all the competing exercises there, and how they may have contributed to the events that we saw take place in September of 2022.

JB: Yeah. For many years, NATO has been using the Baltic as a training ground for a lot of naval exercises, with NATO and other countries on the Baltic [using] it also. And it’s very common for Russian ships of various sorts to be on the Baltic since they abut the Baltic; they’re one of the countries that have ports on the Baltic, so it’s not uncommon to see Russian ships on the Baltic. And the U.S. uses it a great deal for training in mines: how to find mines, how to lay mines, and how to destroy mines.

So it’s a very popular area to have a great deal of naval exercises in all kinds of training styles, whether you’re doing it on undersea warfare, or whether you’re doing above-sea water warfare. Whatever you’re using, the Baltic is a very good place to do that.

JS: Right. And the Russians have their port at Kaliningrad. Poland has a large swath of territory, Germany has a large swath of territory; this covers down toward the southern end of the sea. And then you have these – they’re not necessarily the territorial waters of Denmark or Sweden – but you have these economic zones where they have preferential option and control over some of those waters, and the areas of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 that were targeted in this operation fell in the zones that are in the sphere of influence of Denmark and Sweden.

Seymour Hersh is asserting in his piece that it was U.S. Navy divers being backed by Norway that placed these explosives. Now, you don’t offer an endorsement or, really, a critique of Seymour Hersh’s piece in your article in The Nation. But, instead, you probe a different angle here that involves the possibility – or, at least, the motive and capability – that may have been possessed by Ukraine and, perhaps, Poland.

Talk about that line of argument that you’re putting forward, and why we should scrutinize the potential involvement of Ukraine or the NATO EU ally of the United States, Poland, in this operation.

JB: Well, I, I disagree with Steven Hersh’s article because it didn’t make much sense to use divers. I mean, divers are what you might have used years ago, but you wouldn’t use them today. And then he says it wasn’t – well, he makes a, a big deal about how talented, these divers are from the United States. And then, all of a sudden, he says, we were also using divers from Norway, which didn’t make any sense. If ours are so good, then why are we using divers from Norway? And if you want to be secret, then why are we involving Norway, anyway? We, the United States, doesn’t have a capability to blow up a pipeline? I mean, it’s really not that complicated.

And most of the activity today is undersea, that’s where the focus is. On undersea drones, undersea warfare. You don’t have to have big ships going into the area, and putting divers down, and having a lot of gear for bringing them back up because of the pressures and so forth.

So, using undersea drones that are weaponized, or that can lay a weapon alongside the pipeline, and they could be set to go off at a different time. That made much more sense to me, having researched a lot of this, than sending divers down.

So, that’s what I focused on. And then, I didn’t really buy the idea that the United States was behind it, because, you know, I have sources also. I mean, I’ve been doing books for a long time, all focused on the intelligence community. I’ve been writing about intelligence for a very, very long time, and everybody I’ve talked to discounts that, because a number of the people that I talk to, that I deal with, would have been in a position to at least have heard something about it, and nobody did.

So that’s one of the key reasons I went to focus on Ukraine. And what I found was that Ukraine had the motive, the means and the opportunity to do this. They certainly had the motive; they were going to lose a lot of money by having the gas bypass Ukraine and go directly to Germany. So, they were going to lose a lot of money.

And, at other times, they were very worried that this was going to pretty much weaponize Russia. Russia was going to be able to use the pipeline as a weapon to get Europe to do what it wanted to when it wants to, or they could turn it off and turn it back on again, so they were afraid of that.

They had the means, motive and opportunity. The means that they had were undersea drones. I mean, they have very powerful undersea drones. This Toloka that they built, it’s got a night vision camera, sonar, a hydrofoil – or hydrophone, rather. It’s got GPS autopilot, it’s got a periscope-type device. And the top of the line model can go 2000 kilometers underwater and carry 11,000 pounds of explosives. And then they’ve got a smaller drone that can carry about 1,100 pounds of explosives, and that’s actually what NATO said was probably used on the pipeline, it was about 1,100 pounds of explosives. So, you know, you put a lot of those things together.

And then they also had the opportunity, which was, you had a number of members of the Ukrainian Navy that were being trained in that same spot, basically, in undersea warfare, on using drones, and planting, and retrieving undersea mines and so forth.

So you had the Ukrainian navy right there. They were working on undersea warfare at that time, being trained by the U.S. and the Brits on how to do undersea warfare, use of drones and so forth. And then the Brits actually gave the Ukrainians six drones for free. Just, here’s six drones. And the head of the British Navy basically said, the expert skills being taught here will help Ukraine and then, quote, “repel Russian aggression.”

So they had the means, the motive, and opportunity, and that was one of the reasons I pretty much focused on them as opposed to the United States. The United States had a motive, but it would’ve been far more complicated. I mean, Seymour Hersh makes this argument that they used the divers so they didn’t have to go to Congress to admit that they were doing a covert operation. I mean, that just didn’t make any sense to me.

If you’re going to launch an act of war against Russia, Europe and NATO secretly, that’s a covert operation, I don’t care how you slice it. So that just didn’t make sense to me, and I didn’t think that the U.S. would do it. It was just too bold a thing to do. And the head of the CIA is the guy, Bill Burns, who, in the past, spent a lot of time trying to get the United States to not build NATO very close to Russia. And he said there was a red line – this was years ago, when he was ambassador to Russia – saying that Ukraine was a red line, you just don’t move NATO into Ukraine. So he didn’t seem like the kind of person that was going to blow up a pipeline going to Europe.

So, there were a lot of factors that I didn’t agree with the Seymour Hersh piece. I’ve known Seymour Hersh, Sy Hersh for decades, we’re friends, but I don’t necessarily agree with everything he writes, and I’m sure he doesn’t agree with everything I write.

JS: I want to return to this question of the U.S., because one of the other issues that you raise is the vast surveillance capabilities that the United States has in that region to track noises and geographic positioning of various ships.

But, before we do that, I just want to drill a little bit deeper down into this question of Ukraine having the means. And in your piece you write, “By 2022, Ukraine certainly had a motive to ‘put an end to Nord Stream two,’ and, beyond public view, it also had the means to carry out such an operation. One place with experience in blowing up things that Ukraine wanted gone is the SZRU’S sister military spy agency, the main intelligence directorate MID.”

You say, “In addition to its SZRU and MID covert intelligence organizations, Ukraine has also secretly developed a very advanced undersea warfare capability. A month after the Nord Stream blast, Ukraine’s 73rd Special Maritime Operations Center launched an unprecedented large scale attack against Russia’s Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, using both unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned undersea vehicles.”

Talk about those intelligence agencies in Ukraine. Their history, particularly in the Russia war, and why you think their potential involvement in the blowing up of the Nord Stream bears scrutiny?

JB: Well, they’ve got a very sophisticated intelligence service. They’ve always needed it, because of Russia being on their border, so they’ve developed a very sophisticated capability when it comes to intelligence. One of their intelligence organizations is the MID, the Military Intelligence Division. And, as you mentioned, as I wrote in the piece there, they have a very sophisticated underwater capability, too.

So a month after the attack on the Nord Stream pipeline, Ukraine launched a very powerful attack on Russian ships in Sevastopol. It was done with airborne drones, and also undersea drones. They launched this rather remote attack with remote vehicles, airborne vehicles, and undersea vehicles, so it was extremely sophisticated way of attacking a country that borders the Black Sea.

And they’ve developed these capabilities because they have to. I mean, they’re worried about the Russians, and they wanted to build a undersea capability to attack Russian ships, and drones were a key way of doing it. So they have some of the most sophisticated drones in the world, I think, at least the ones I’ve seen.

If they attacked the pipeline, I think these weapons that they had, these drones, would’ve been very useful. They carried more firepower than you’d need to blow up the pipeline, and they could be very stealthy.

JS: You know, over the weekend, The Washington Post, which has emerged as probably the main or the leading news outlet in reporting out the leaks from the Discord server – and we did a show on those leaks a few weeks ago – but there’s a young airman who is accused of having shared hundreds of classified U.S. documents, including some very sensitive documents, detailing what appears to be real-time intelligence involving the war in Ukraine.

And one of the most recent revelations, published by The Post this weekend, had to do with an alleged threat that Volodymyr Zelensky made of blowing up a different Russian pipeline. And I’ll just read from The Washington Post piece over the weekend. It says, “In a meeting in mid-February with Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko, Zelensky suggested Ukraine ‘blow up the Soviet-built Druzhba pipeline that provides oil to Hungary.’” “Zelensky highlighted that Ukraine should just blow up the pipeline, and destroy likely Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s industry, which is based heavily on Russian oil, the document says.”

Now, this is interesting, in light of everything that you’re saying. But, also when you compare that kind of a statement to statements that Sy Hersh references from U.S. officials in the weeks and months leading up to the blowing up of the Nord Stream pipeline, where you have Biden saying, “I promise it’s going to be ended,” and you have others that you could read into it, that they’re basically saying they’re going to blow it up, or you could read into it that they’re saying, “we’re going to put an end to this by economic, or diplomatic, or other means.”

But this specific revelation now that Zelensky actually has been speaking specifically about destroying pipelines that are being utilized by European Union members and NATO members.

JB: You know, we would never have known this if those documents weren’t leaked, so you just wonder how much more the United States knows about what has been going on with Ukraine, and with Zelensky, for example. But, yeah, to actually make that statement is – and obviously he made that statement after the Nord Stream pipeline was blown up. So, I mean, it’s almost like he would say, “well, you know, we can do it. We just did it,” or whatever. Because here it is, a Soviet-built pipeline providing oil to Hungary, which is a NATO member, and, you know, the pipeline that got blown up was a Russian pipeline providing natural gas to Europe. So, you know, if you can make a threat or a suggestion that, maybe we could blow up one, of the obvious response is, “well, maybe you blew up the other one, also.”

In terms of blowing up something big, the MID, the Military Intelligence Division, has been accused of blowing up the Kerch Strait Bridge. That’s an enormous bridge that was taken down by explosives, and those are the kind of explosives that you would need if you’re going to blow up the pipeline.

So, again, that goes along with my whole thesis that the Ukrainians had the means to do this. They had the means, the opportunity, and the motive. So, that’s why I think they should be taken more seriously. In the past, most of the people looking at this have thought that there were divers going down from the United States, or from other countries, but it just doesn’t make sense to have the United States get involved with this, if you have Ukraine, that has a far bigger motive, and an opportunity.

JS: In the immediate aftermath of the destruction of these pipelines, there was quite an interesting set of responses from a variety of governments around the world, and also non-responses. I mean, the United States tended to sort of imply that it was possible, if not likely, that Russia was behind this. Zelensky himself certainly came out very early and all but directly accused Russia of blowing up its own pipeline.

You had quite a moment of investigation, waiting. The pile-on, though, then intensified that this must be Russia that did this, that took on a dominant role in a lot of the media coverage, particularly emerging from some of the Nordic countries. But Sweden’s prosecutor who is investigating this – and you quote this in the piece – you point out that Matt Lindquist, the senior prosecutor leading Sweden’s investigation into the sabotage, placed no credibility in such a charge. “’It’s my job to find those who blew up Nord Stream,’ he said, ‘Do I think it was Russia that blew up Nord Stream? I never thought so. It’s not logical.’”

Talk about that initial period immediately following the destruction of the pipeline, and how the narrative started to build that Russia had blown up what is effectively its own very expensive piece of profitable infrastructure.

JB: One of the first people to come out and say that was Zelensky. He didn’t waste any time blaming the Russians for it, because it would’ve been a win-win for Zelensky. First of all, the pipeline gets blown up, he doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. And, second of all, the Russians would get blamed, and if they got blamed for it, then there was a good possibility that more sanctions would go towards Russia.

So he had a very good motive for blaming Russia, and the U.S., at first, went along with that, for obvious reasons, because we were supporting Zelensky. But, pretty soon, people started thinking, well, didn’t the Russians just build this pipeline? I mean, all you have to do is turn it off. If you don’t want the gas to go to Europe, why do you blow up your own pipeline? Didn’t make any sense to me, it certainly didn’t make any sense to the chief investigator in Sweden, Mr. Lindquist.

I think that disappeared after a few weeks. I don’t think people are talking about that anymore. And then, again, Sy Hersh was the only one to sort of point to the United States which, again, didn’t get picked up by anybody, because it didn’t, there was no evidence there, and Sy really didn’t have any, really, source. I mean, he had some kind of a source there that didn’t really sound like he knew much. They got the place where the meeting was supposed to be taking place wrong; he said it was the President’s intelligence advisory board at the top of what they call the old executive office building, which changed its name 20 years ago to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. And, actually, the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board is about a block and a half down the street at the new executive office building.

So there are a lot of mistakes there. He had ships that were there that shouldn’t have been there, and so forth, or weren’t there, they should have been there. And, anyway, it was a very confusing, um, piece to read, so I don’t think there was much credibility in terms of the U.S. doing this, and I don’t think there was any credibility of the Russians doing this. So, it narrows down your suspects, and the two that I thought were most likely were the Ukrainians, based on the comments that Zelensky and his top lieutenants had been talking about. They were talking about ending the pipeline the same way that the Biden administration was, they were constantly saying that this pipeline has to go.

And the other group was the Poles, the Polish government, they were equally adamant. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister of Poland and the Prime Minister of Ukraine jointly wrote a long piece in Politico not long before the bombing, saying that we should do away with the pipelines, that they’ve got to go. It was perfect timing, actually, for Poland, because the day after the explosion of the Nord Stream pipeline, as the bubbles were still pouring to the surface, the Polish government christened their own pipeline, the Baltic pipeline. They had a big ceremony, and they were very happy to do away with the Nord Stream pipeline, because it would’ve been competition. This way, they get rid of the Nord Stream pipeline at the same time they get their own pipeline coming in with cheaper gas.

So it was very ironic to see, on the very next day after the blowing up of the Nord Stream pipeline, that you get the inauguration of the Baltic pipeline, to the happiness of the Polish government. And so, you get the Polish government and the Ukrainian government, the two people most pleased by the explosion at the Nord Stream pipeline.

JS: Jim, I want to talk more about Poland’s position here. In your story you describe these well-documented provocations against the construction of Nord Stream 2 and the operation of Nord Stream 1 by Polish forces. And you write that, in early April, 2021, quote, “Andrey Minin, a senior official at the Nord Stream 2 AG consortium charged that the Fortuna and other ships involved in the project had been the target of quote, ‘regular provocations,’ including the penetration of the one-and-a-half mile security perimeter surrounding the work site.”

You quote him, saying, “’We’re talking about clearly planned and prepared provocations using fishing boats, as well as warships, submarines, and aircraft, to hinder the implementation of the economic project. This is perhaps an unprecedented case of its kind in history,’ he said.” And you described these other incidents of Polish government vessels coming in and attempting to ram Russian vessels that are working on their pipeline that they had a legal right to be constructing in the Baltic Sea.

JB: Well, Poland isn’t very far from the pipeline, and it was very easy for Poland to send aircraft. There was a report of one submarine penetrating the security zone.

The submarine, for example, what they were suspecting was that the submarine was going to try to destabilize the pipe-laying ship. The pipe-laying ship was a very, very big ship, and it had 12 anchors. And so, if you disrupt the anchors, then you’re going to disrupt the pipe laying.

They were very, very angry, because the Russian ship that was there was completing the last, I think it was 75 kilometers of the pipeline. So, once that ship completed its work, the last 75 kilometers of it, that was it. Then the pipeline is finished, and it’s a fait accompli. So, the idea was that they were going to try to harass the ship, or try to do something to keep the ship from completing the operation, and that’s why the Polish Air Force was sending these anti-submarine aircraft over it. There was the submarine at the bottom that they detected penetrating the mile-and-a-half zone around the ship. And then, what looked like almost a collision between the fishing boat and the pipe-laying ship.

So there were all these factors, and they all seemed to come from Poland. Again, this was an idea that maybe they could stop this pipeline somehow before the last 75 kilometers of pipe was laid.

It was delayed for a year before that, and so, they were happy about that, Poland and Ukraine. But then the Russians sent this large pipe-laying ship over, and then they finished it. So, once it was finished, then the only alternative, if you’re going to stop the pipeline, is to blow it up.

JS: Jack Murphy, who is a former U.S. special operations soldier, who’s now an investigative journalist, published a really interesting piece last December in which he asserted that the CIA was using a European NATO ally spy service to conduct a covert sabotage campaign inside Russia, and under the CIA’s direction.

And, in that piece, Jack Murphy writes, “Years in the planning, the campaign is responsible for many of the unexplained explosions and other mishaps that have befallen the Russian military industrial complex since Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in February.”

Murphy goes on to write, quote, “While no American personnel are involved on the ground in Russia in the execution of these missions, agency paramilitary officers are commanding and controlling the operations, according to two former intelligence officials and a former military official. The paramilitary officers are assigned to the CIA’s special activity center, but detailed to the agency’s European Mission Center, said the two former intelligence officials. Using an allied intelligence service to give the CIA an added layer of plausible deniability was an essential factor in U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to approve the strikes, according to a former U.S. Special Operations official.”

Jim, I’m bringing this up because, when this story came out, when Jack Murphy – who often has really good scoops from inside the military and the CIA – I started asking around with some of my sources in the U.S. intelligence community. I eventually was told – and I think it’s pretty credible – that the European NATO ally in question is Poland. Now, Jack Murphy didn’t name the nation, but I’m pretty confident that Murphy was writing about Poland.

I bring this up because you just finished laying out why Poland would have a grand, not just geopolitical, but economic interest in having the Nord Stream pipeline blown up. Literally, the day after the thing gets hit, they have a ribbon cutting ceremony. Poland has been the most aggressive in pushing for NATO ground troops or escalated action inside of Ukraine. We have what I think are pretty credible reports that Poland has been involved in some of the covert military actions that have been taking place inside of Russia to this date. And Poland also has its own quite sophisticated special operations forces that operated in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and a very long relationship with the United States.

I want to put to you something that I’ve been wondering about. Now, disclaimer: I don’t have proof for this, but it’s a theory that I’m working on. And that is that the U.S. was aware that Poland – and, again, this is my theory, this is not an assertion of fact – but that the U.S. was aware that Poland is doing these operations. Maybe the CIA was actually, as Jack Murphy reported, involved directly with choosing targets and facilitating sabotage attacks against Russia. And the Poles and the Ukrainians start to talk about actually striking the Nord Stream pipeline.

I realize you’re saying that you don’t buy Sy Hersh’s story on this, but is it plausible to you, knowing everything you know, all of the books you’ve written, all of the sources you’ve had over the years, that the United States was aware or helped in some way in this plot, but did not directly carry it out, and that a combination of Polish and Ukrainian forces blew up the Nord Stream pipeline with the knowledge and perhaps consent of the United States?

JB: You know, the CIA is a very bureaucratic place. I’ve been writing about it, and dealing with it, and talking to people who’ve been there for years and years and years. I just can’t imagine that, if this ever went to the top levels of the CIA, or to the office of national intelligence, the Director of National Intelligence, that there would be any way that the U.S. would approve taking part, in any way, of blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline. That’s just based on my background on dealing with this stuff for many decades, and knowing the personalities of the people who are in there.

But the scenario you just talked about, in terms of having covert people in different countries. Yeah, that has been going on for years, and using allied services as covers, and all those kinds of things. So, everything that you mentioned, I would agree with, especially when it comes to Poland, that I’ve been focused on in writing this article quite a bit. They also have undersea drones that are weaponized, and they’re not very far from the pipelines.

But I would just stop one step short of having anybody officially approve of [the] U.S. taking part in a sabotage operation involving a Russian pipeline – which is an act of war against Russia – to the NATO countries in Europe, which is an act of war against NATO and the European countries.

JS: If, in fact, Poland and Ukraine did blow up or attack the Nord Stream pipeline, you would seriously question whether the United States was aware of such plans.

JB: I didn’t say that. In my article I actually talk about that. What I’m saying is, I don’t think anybody would’ve approved any U.S. person taking part, either physically or in an approval sense of it. You know, what the Poles do with their own people, or what the Ukrainians do, we can’t control, that’s their thing. In terms of what the U.S. knew about it, however, that’s a different story, and that’s another area I got into in my article.

And there’s these very secret organizations that the United States has that hardly anybody ever heard of or knows about. One of those is called the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System. Years ago, during the Cold War, the United States had this – I mean, it goes way back to at least the sixties – where we had this program of planting underwater microphones, hydrophones, under the water, in various chokepoints around the world, under the different oceans and seas. The whole idea was to keep track of Russian submarines and Russian ships, where they’re going.

So, working secretly with the Swedish government, the U.S. planted a lot of these undersea hydrophones under the Baltic Sea, and those are sitting down there. And what they do is they listen, and they’re listening constantly. And what they listen for are the movement of ships or submarines, anything even drones, undersea drones. Because each of them have a signature, they call it a fingerprint. I mean, it’s basically like a fingerprint, each one is individual to its own ship.

So the U.S. has this enormous database of the sounds of ships all over the world. Allied ships, Russian ships, Chinese ships, all kinds of ships. So we have that database full of these fingerprints of the movement, or the sounds of engines on ships.

Now, in the Baltic, that’s a very key area, because it’s where the Russians transfer a lot of their naval forces across the Baltic, so we’ve always paid a lot of attention to that. And, again, the Swedish Navy helped the U.S. lay these undersea hydrophones.

So, when they pick up these sounds, they get transmitted almost in real time to another organization, it’s called the Theater Undersea Surveillance Command Atlantic; there’s also a Theater Undersea Surveillance Command Pacific, and I think that’s up in the state of Washington. But this one, the Theater Undersea Surveillance Command is in Dam Neck, Virginia, the one in the Atlantic. So, the sounds of these propellers and engine sounds from the ships get transferred there, and then they have this enormous database of, in a sense, fingerprints of these ships.

And so, that’s what they’re able to do, they’re able to take all this data. At a certain point of time and certain day on a certain time, they had this sound go near Bornholm island, or whatever. And they should be able to tell exactly what that was, whether it was a Russian ship and, if it was, what kind of Russian ship, and even the name of the ship. So that’s an extremely sophisticated system, and it’s a system that would give the United States a lot of clues in terms of who was operating in that area around that time.

Now, the United States has been very, very quiet about all this. I mean, they’ve said virtually nothing. You know, their silence has been deafening; you know it wouldn’t be deafening in their sound if it was the Russians that did this. But they would be – and, again, I don’t think the U.S. did it – so if they’re being very quiet and deafening and not saying a word about it, again, to me, it lends suspicion to one of our allies. And the two closest allies that would probably be doing this would be Ukraine and Poland.

So here you have the United States with all this technical capability to understand what ships and what undersea vehicles – whether they were submarines or undersea drones or whatever – happened to be operating around the Nord Stream pipeline around the time it blew up. And I’d be very curious to find out which ships those were.

JS: The U.S. has indeed been quite silent. In fact, the most substantive statements that we’ve heard from the United States happened as a result of Sy Hersh’s story, where then you had U.S. officials building a sort of pyramid that ultimately led up to, “We have had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in any effort to destroy or otherwise damage the Nord Stream pipeline.” They basically had to make the most unequivocal, absolutely, not possible, and they did that in increments after Hersh’s piece came out.

In fact, when I contacted the White House, they gave — the most sweeping denial of any U.S. involvement whatsoever came after I pressed them on this, because some of their earlier statements kept leaving doors open to a variety of interpretations.

But what also happened soon after Sy Hersh published his story was that this other narrative started to get floated in U.S. and German media. And this started on March 7, when The New York Times and the German newspaper Die Zeit both published stories that indicated that a “pro-Ukrainian group” may have been involved with or behind the attack.

The story in The New York Times said that U.S. intelligence sources were examining whether a pro-Ukrainian group carried out the attack. The German sourcing for the piece – the lead reporter was a very experienced journalist named Holger Stark – was based on the German federal law enforcement investigation, not on intelligence sources.

Both of those stories that appeared in both the United States media and in the German media focused on the chartering of a private boat called the Andromeda that was chartered using a business registered in Poland and reportedly owned by two Ukrainians. And the assertion is that this ship may have been involved with the operation in some capacity. Either it was the only vessel involved, and that somehow they used equipment or divers to go down and plant explosives under the pipeline, or they were in some sort of a support or joint capacity with liaising with other vessels that were doing this.

A lot of the criticism – and you write about this in your piece in The Nation, Jim – a lot of the criticism or analysis surrounding the Andromeda in the media after this had to do with whether or not divers would’ve been able to go off of this boat. You write that “the speculation is almost exclusively focused on whether divers from the boat made dangerous and repeated dives 200 feet down to the pipeline to lay the several thousand pounds of explosives a very unlikely scenario, especially without a decompression chamber. Instead, it would’ve been far more feasible to simply use, a UUV controlled by a laptop, such as the Remus 300, that the Ukrainians trained with;” these were the ones you were talking about earlier. “It’s listed as a two-man portable with a maximum depth of 1000 feet and a mission duration of 30 hours.”

We’ve talked about the underwater capabilities that both the Poles and the Ukrainians have, but give your analysis of this story that emerged in the aftermath of Sy Hersh’s piece, some of the narratives surrounding it, and if you think it actually does have any connection to the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline. The Andromeda ship that was chartered by a Polish registered company owned, reportedly, by two Ukrainians.

JB: Yeah. One of the curious things about that, I think, was that in one of the articles I read, it indicated that, I think it was the Germans were actually originally tipped off about the ship from a Western intelligence source. Being, obviously, the United States; at least, I would assume that would be the Western intelligence source.

JS: Just to specify what you’re talking about here, for people that don’t follow this, maybe, at the level that you do or I do. This was in the summer prior to the September 26 explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines, that German media reports – and also The Wall Street Journal reported this as well – that U.S. intelligence had started informing their German counterparts that they were essentially hearing chatter of a potential plot that was emerging involving some Ukrainian partisans to target the Nord Stream pipeline. This was a couple of months before the pipeline was ultimately destroyed. We understand the U.S. intelligence was informing its German counterparts of some form of this intelligence.

JB: And I think that’s where the original tip of this Andromeda came about. I mean, there’s several things. The Andromeda doesn’t have to necessarily be the exclusive ship, they could have had other boats going along with it. A bigger boat. I mean, nobody knows, you know, just because it was this one 50-foot yacht or whatever it was.

The focus all the time has been on, this couldn’t possibly have held all these divers on it, and a decompression chamber, and everything else. My argument all along has been: they didn’t use divers. Divers are just sort of crazy, you would just not use divers, you would use a drone. And that’s what this two-man drone is, it’s the Remus 300, they trained on it.

I’ve seen pictures of it and video. Two people can carry it, you just put it in the water. It’s remotely controlled, you control it, basically, by a laptop, not much more than that. So that could easily have been done from the Andromeda, but it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the fact that there could have also been another one or two ships there.

I mean, we don’t know, that’s the problem. That’s why I mentioned that the U.S. has all this undersea listening capability. And it would be nice to know. One of the interesting things: if the Andromeda was using sails as opposed to its motor, then the U.S. probably wouldn’t have been able to pick it up on their undersea listening devices. If they were using a motor, they could probably pick up the sound, and then they could fingerprint it, because if they had the sound there, they could run the engine later on and see if it matched the fingerprint they had for it. Or they can see if there were other ships around there at the same time.

JS: I want to also get your response to this. One of The New York Times reporters on that story that first started this discussion to be kicked off about a pro-Ukrainian group, Julian Barnes. When he was interviewed on the New York Times podcast, The Daily, he essentially said that it was the New York Times reporters who, “started asking a different question”:

Julian Barnes: Could this have been done by non-state actors? Could this have been done by a group of individuals who were not working for a government?

Michael Barbaro: Kind of like freelance saboteurs? So, where did you take this new question?

JB: Well, we started asking, who might these saboteurs be? Or, if we couldn’t answer that, who might they be aligned with, right? Could they be pro-Russian saboteurs? Could they be other saboteurs? And the more we talked to officials who had access to intelligence, the more we saw this theory gaining traction.

JS: You have this New York Times reporter essentially saying, we were the ones that started probing this, but that doesn’t fit with the timeline that you and I are talking about with U.S. intelligence sharing information with the Germans. But, also, the nuance of what The Times is saying versus what you’re talking about right now, Jim, is that they’re essentially saying that this could have been a group of private actors, and what you’re talking about is the nation state capabilities of Ukraine and Poland.

Your response to that way the Times story unfolded, and the way their reporters have characterized it.

JB: Yeah, I could see both things happening. I could see this sort of being a semi-independent group, but I don’t think this is a group acting independent of the Ukrainian government.

I mean, another thing that came out in that same batch of documents released that The Washington Post mentioned on Saturday, I think it was, the leaked Pentagon Papers. As we’ve mentioned before, there was one talking about Zelensky bringing up the whole idea of blowing up a pipeline, that Druzhba pipeline. But there was also a report in those leaked intelligence documents that talked about conducting strikes in Russia. And they were talking about the meeting in January, for example, I think it was Zelensky suggested that Ukraine conduct strikes in Russia. Well, right after that, there were strikes in Russia.

On April 2nd, there was a high-profile military blogger, Vladlen Tatarsky, who was assassinated with a bomb-rigged sculpture in St. Petersburg. And then there were two drones that did this sort of explosion on the top of the Kremlin. And then, after that, there was another assassination, Zakhar Prilepin who was injured – he was a former member of State Duma. He was another popular pro-war blogger, and his driver was killed.

Here you have, you know, Zelensky, or one of his officials here, saying, you know, maybe we could start conducting strikes in Russia, and that’s in quotes: “conduct strikes in Russia.” And then, all of a sudden, there are these strikes in Russia.

So, they could have these independent groups that maybe are associated with the Ukrainian intelligence service, but they’re not independent of the Ukrainian intelligence service. They’re working under orders, or with, the Ukrainian intelligence service. So I think that’s how I would interpret that, what you mentioned before about this sort of independent group. I don’t think it’s a group that nobody ever heard of in Ukraine. I think it’s a group that’s either officially with the Ukrainian government, or unofficially with them. But they’re with them.

JS: You know, I’ve been monitoring the way that this story is being covered in the Swedish and Danish media, as well as by open-source researchers who specialize in finding Russian culpability in a variety of actions around the world, let’s just put it that way.

It was very clear from the beginning, and especially when Sy Hersh published his piece, that there was a certain sector of the world population, both governments and researchers, that were intent on proving that Russia did this. This is my analysis, this isn’t a fact, but I’m just going to put this out there for you, Jim.

Monitoring the way the narrative that exists in that sector of worldview that assumes Russia is behind almost everything, the way it’s being portrayed in large Swedish media outlets is that Russia did this, and the same is true in a lot of the Danish media coverage. And it’s certainly the focus of open-source researchers. But when you actually look at what is fact versus what requires quite a large jump, it’s a significant gap between what we can prove and the suspicions of a variety of people. And they’re also contradicted by the Swedish prosecutor’s statements, which basically said, “I don’t really see evidence to suggest Russia did this.” But this narrative is picking up steam, and there’s real scrutiny now being done of the movement of Russian submarines and other ships.

And so, there’s a sort of circumstantial, evidentiary case that is taking on a sort of appearance of a true narrative, and I want to ask you about that phenomenon. That it seems as though there is a really intense effort to prove that Russia did this, whether Russia did it or not, by using marine traffic data, and satellite data, and evidence of Russian submarine and other ship movements in the Baltic Sea.

How do you respond to people building a case off of that kind of data, at certain points in time leading up to the strike on the pipeline, and the way that the Russia-did-it-industrial-complex has sort of been rearing its head in this story?

JB: Well, look, I mean, you’re going to get conspiracy theories going wild over everything, and I think that’s basically what this is. I don’t think there’s any possibility that the Russians were involved in this. Obviously, you’re going to see Russian submarines, or Russian ships in the Baltic Sea. I mean, that’s where a lot of these are home-ported. So, they’re going to sail past Bornholm island, I mean, you can’t avoid it. The fact that two days before or something there might have been a ship there, so what? What’s that got to do with it? You need more evidence than that.

I mean, do you have any quotes from Russian officials saying, we have to blow up this pipeline? Do you have any Russians writing in political magazines saying, we’ve got to get rid of this pipeline? There is so much evidence here that it points away from Russia. I mean, look at Russiagate. I mean, Russiagate went on for two years. How much energy was spent on looking at Russians under every rock and never finding one?

Look, Russiagate shows you how this can spread, because people are automatically suspicious of Russia, so they must have done it, and they must have colluded with the Trump administration, except for the fact that, two years later, you find out that they didn’t collude with the Trump administration.

So it’s “Russiaphobia,” or whatever you want to call it, that gets out there and catches on. You know, people that don’t want to look at the facts and prefer to go with their suspicions or their prejudices.

JS: So, to sum up, and I encourage people to actually read your piece, which makes a very detailed, precise argument for why Ukraine and Poland should be scrutinized. But, to sum up, Jim, based on not just the research you’ve done on the Nord Stream explosions, but also your vast background and experience in studying U.S. intelligence covert operations, what is your best theory as to what exactly happened here?

JB: I think it was pretty much the way I laid it out here, that the two parties that had the most to gain by blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline was Ukraine and Poland, and they didn’t make any secret about it. Ukraine, they kept talking about how that was not only costing them money, but it was a cause for getting Russia to take more aggressive actions against Ukraine. So, the Ukrainians and the Poles had a very definite motive to get rid of the pipeline.

Just knowing the United States intelligence bureaucracy and just knowing how they work, I just don’t see that they’re involved in this. And I don’t see the Russians are involved in this, and I don’t think the Swedes, or the Danish, or anybody else is involved in it. That’s why I was focused on Ukraine and Poland and, again, they have the means, the motive, and the opportunity, and I think that’s where the focus should be.

JS: You laid out the surveillance capabilities the U.S. has in the Baltic Sea. Based on your knowledge, though, of the intelligence apparatus in the United States, do you believe that the Biden administration and the CIA know what happened there, and who blew this up?

JB: Based on what I know about how the technical side of the intelligence community works, from satellites to undersea listening and so forth, as well as having human sources that are able to pick up a lot of intelligence, yeah. I would think that the United States would certainly have 80% of the answer, if not a hundred percent of the answer, at this point.

They certainly have far more, probably, than the Scandinavian countries, because our intelligence is far more sophisticated, both the technical side – you know, we have geostationary satellites, we have satellites that orbit every 90 minutes, we have undersea listening. So we have a lot of capability. In addition, we’ve got agents, and CIA has intelligence officers in all of these countries.

JS: And we can vacuum up everyone’s telecommunications and computer communications around the world. So, you know, it takes quite tight lips to never speak of such an action, especially if you are a quote-unquote “underdog country,” and you’ve just taken down a huge piece of Russian infrastructure. I would imagine that the NSA has picked up quite a bit of communications, possibly even from the individuals who did this strike.

JB: Well, we could see that, we could see that from what we were just talking about here. I mean, this was obviously NSA SIGINT, signals intelligence that picked up Zelensky, I guess it was, talking about blowing up this other pipeline. And you could tell that when you’re reading these documents, because you’d see the code words, and certain code words mean that it was picked up by intercepts.

So, you have that, and then you have the other intercepts we have, about launching operations in Russia and so forth. I mean, this obviously came from intercepts. So if we’re able to pick up this, and the only reason we know about that is because of the airman who allegedly leaked it and, otherwise, we wouldn’t have even known that.

So, the question is, how much does the U.S. government have that we don’t know about? And are we ever going to know about that? I mean, that’s really the question. That’s why, you know, I was one of the first people to interview Edward Snowden in Moscow. And I had written three books on NSA, and I didn’t even have a hint at all the information that came out when he released those documents.

So I can imagine how much information the U.S. has on this, because I don’t think Ukraine’s probably that sophisticated in terms of countermeasures when it comes to NSA SIGINT capabilities.

JS: Final question, but it’s the same one, but a different country. Do you believe Russia knows exactly what happened to its pipeline?

JB: I mean, first of all, Ukraine borders them, so they have a very good capability of eavesdropping on their communications. Plus, they occupied portions of Ukraine, so they had really a good opportunity to eavesdrop on Ukrainian communications, plus there was probably a fair amount of human intelligence capabilities.

I think the Russians probably, I’d say there’s probably about an 80% chance that they know who did it, and why. They’ve been very cagey about this whole thing from the beginning. They haven’t really said anything, and that makes me even more suspicious that they know a little bit more than they do.

Plus they have come out a number of times and blamed Ukraine for some of these assassinations. The assassination of the daughter of Russian Alexander Dugin, his daughter was assassinated, and Ukrainians said we didn’t have anything to do with it, but the United States basically said, well, we think you did have something to do with it.

So, if we could pick that up, I’m sure the Russians could pick it up. And I’m sure the Russians know quite a bit about what the U.S. knows, also.

JS: One point of clarification, though: the Russians have endorsed Sy Hersh’s exposé. Putin himself has mentioned it. At the United Nations, the Russians introduced it into the Security Council, and have been really, if you can say that they’ve had one main point about this in recent months and since Sy’s exposé, his article came out, Russia has quite publicly said that they believe that Sy Hersh has revealed the perpetrator of the attack. It seems like you’re saying that that would be potentially misdirection on the part of the Russians, or opportunism in the portrayal of the war as being a NATO war against Russia in Ukraine.

JB: Well, of course. I mean, I’ve been following Russia for a long time. I’ve been there many, many times. And, yeah, this is pure propaganda for them. If they’ve got, you know, this illustrious American reporter coming out, pointing the finger at the Biden administration, of course you’re going to jump on it. I mean, it’s naturally a huge win for Russia, in order to be able to point a finger of blame at the United States, have it come from a well-known American reporter.

So, obviously that’s what they’re doing. I mean, I don’t buy it for a minute. And I do think the Russians probably do know what really happened, and I think the Russians know that it wasn’t the United States that did it.

JS: On that note, Jim Bamford, I want to thank you very much for joining us here on Intercepted.

JB: Well, thank you very much, Jeremy. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me on your show.

JS: James Bamford is a best-selling author, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and winner of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. His most recent book is “Spyfail: Foreign Spies, Moles, Saboteurs, and the Collapse of America’s Counterintelligence.” Make sure to check out Jim’s recent piece in The Nation magazine. It’s called, “The Nord Stream Explosions: New Revelations About Motive, Means, and Opportunity.”

[Intercepted end-show theme music.]

And that does it for this episode of Intercepted.

Intercepted is a production of The Intercept.

José Olivares is the lead producer. Supervising producer is Laura Flynn. Roger Hodge is editor-in-chief of The Intercept. Rick Kwan mixed our show. This episode was transcribed by Leonardo Faierman. Our theme music, as always, was composed by DJ Spooky.

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Thank you so much for joining us. Until next time, I’m Jeremy Scahill.

Correction: May 17, 2023, 12:36 p.m. ET
A previous version of this episode incorrectly numbered the initial blast on the Nord Stream 2 underwater pipeline at 2:03 a.m. The show description and audio have been updated.

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