Lunik: Inside the CIA’s audacious plot to steal a Soviet satellite

In late October 1959, a Mexican spy named Eduardo Diaz Silveti slipped into the US Embassy in Mexico City. Tall and well-spoken with slicked-back hair, Silveti, 30, descended from a family of bullfighters. He had learned spycraft at the Federal Security Directorate, or DFS, Mexico’s secret police. During the Cold War, the capital had become so overrun by Communist spies that the CIA had enlisted the help of the Mexican secret services in their fight against the Soviet Union. “I had to go … to the seventh floor,” Silveti recalled during an interview with Tercer Milenio, a Mexican television program that aired in 2019. “And there was Scott.”

Winston Scott, 49, was the first secretary of the US Embassy. That was his cover; he was also the CIA’s most revered spymaster in Latin America. Secrets were a stock-in-trade for the silver-haired Alabaman: a former FBI cryptographer, he had arrived in Mexico City in 1956 and turned the CIA station into one of the most successful counterespionage operations in the world. He tapped the phones of the Soviet and Cuban embassies, controlled the airport, and even recruited Mexico’s President López Mateos as a valuable informant, marshalling the cruel and corrupt spies of the DFS into foot soldiers in America’s war with Moscow. He had called Silveti to his office, according to the Mexican, to offer him a top-secret mission that was “tremendously necessary for the United States.”

If they got things wrong, Scott warned that “World War III could begin,” Silveti said…