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On Gary Tabach
Scott Ritter responds to false accusations made by a pharmacist he never met.
A few months ago my wife called me from work. “Do you know a guy named Gary Tabach?” she asked. I scoured my memory and came up with nothing. “Well, he claims to know you. And he just made a YouTube video where he attacks you in the vilest manner.”
Being attacked by strangers on social media is not a new phenomenon for me, and my general response is to dismiss the smear as irrelevant. What set Gary Tabach’s vitriol apart from the others was that he claimed some sort of insider’s knowledge regarding my service with the On-Site Inspection Agency (OSIA) and was drawing on this information to make claims about my time as an inspector in the Soviet Union implementing the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
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I watched the video in question, curious about who this guy was, and why he felt the need to attack me. The man in the video, who appeared to be in his mid- to-late 50’s, was unknown to me. But one look at his “stand with Ukraine” t-shirt, and I knew exactly what his motivations were.
But there were other things about the video as well. Here was a guy who proudly proclaimed his status as a retired US Navy Captain, and yet in the background he had displayed a US flag in a manner violative of the US Flag Code (“[t]he flag should not be used as ‘wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery’, or for covering a speaker’s desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general, with the exception of coffins”.)
Mr. Tabach had draped over the US flag the red and black banner of the Right Sector, an ultranationalist Ukrainian political party that embraces the odious pro-Nazi ideology of Stepan Bandera, a man responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Poles, and Russians when he and his organization were allied with Nazi Germany, and after the war, when they served as a CIA-funded proxy fighting Soviet authority in Ukraine and Poland.
I could not conceive of any circumstance where a commissioned officer of the United States armed forces, active duty or retired, would deem it acceptable to drape any flag over the US flag, let alone one that is affiliated with the very Nazi ideology Americans died to defeat back in World War Two.
But then reading up on him further, I learned more—that this retired US Navy Captain, an open advocate of the Right Sector and Stepan Bandera, was in Odessa, Ukraine, in May 2014, when the Right Sector burned to death 84 ethnic Russians as part of their murderous ultra-nationalistic rampage seeking to eradicate the Russian nation (i.e., those who fall under the collective umbrella of a shared culture, language, history, and religion, regardless of ethnicity) from Ukrainian soil.
Tabach is in Ukraine today, where he gives interviews about the current situation, including updates regarding the recapture of the Kharkov oblast from Russian forces. “Guys who betrayed Ukraine,” Tabach said in an interview with British media, “some of the deputies, some of the leaders of Ukraine who ended up in Russia right now voluntarily, will be for the rest of their lives hunted down. Ukrainians have a very good imagination, they’re very innovative and are good at tracking them down.”
Like they did Russians in Odessa.
This was all I really needed to know about the man.
According to Tabach, I was kicked out of OSIA in disgrace for having an illicit affair with a Soviet female translator who later became my wife. By Tabach’s account, I was deemed a security risk, unceremoniously removed from the inspection agency, and was shunned by my former colleagues, none of whom would even shake my hand.
I made some phone calls to my former colleagues from OSIA to find out more about this man, a complete stranger to me. These are people with whom I regularly meet at events where we drink beer, play poker—and shake hands. None knew Tabach personally, but some believed that he had served with OSIA’s successor organization, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), sometime in the late 1990’s.
I searched for Tabach on the internet and came upon his LinkedIn page, where he had posted his online resume. The first thing that struck me was that the dude was a pharmacist.
While I was off doing Marine Corps things in 29 Palms California (1985-87) and implementing the INF treaty (1988-1990), Tabach served as a Naval pharmacist in postings in Jacksonville, Florida, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Tabach’s online resume confirmed it—he and I never crossed paths while I was with OSIA.
Contrary to Tabach’s assertions, I was not kicked out “in disgrace” during my time with OSIA; just the opposite. I was handpicked to serve on the advance party dispatched to Votkinsk, where I helped build, from the ground up, what would become known as the Votkinsk Portal Monitoring Facility. For two years I served in Votkinsk on a rotational basis, during which time I received two classified commendations from the Director of the CIA. I was also decorated for my service in Votkinsk, in a medal ceremony where the award was presented by General Lajoie himself (yes, he shook my hand.)
When I left OSIA, the agency published a nice farewell message in its weekly bulletin. “Not only have his operational contributions to OSIA been immeasurable,” the article declared, “he provided a clear definition of the word ‘officer’ for all of us.”
Tabach had manufactured a narrative that deviated far from reality. The notion that I was “tarnished goods” is further debunked by what happened after my time as a weapons inspector in Votkinsk—I returned to the Marine Corps and was handpicked to serve on a secret ad hoc planning cell that reported directly for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, where I helped plan options for the employment of Marine Corps forces against the Iraqi military.
I was then requested by-name to be deployed to Saudi Arabia in preparation for Operation Desert Storm. During the war, where I served as an intelligence officer with the highest possible security classification (TS/SCI, with multiple code word attachments signifying various compartmented programs), I played a significant role in the hunt for Iraqi SCUD missiles, for which I was decorated and praised in my combat fitness report.
After the war, I returned to OSIA, where I was sent to Magna, Utah as the counterintelligence coordinator for the implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, a role I served in until I voluntarily left active service in June 1991 with an honorable discharge.
Just to drive home the point, while I was doing all this, Tabach was laboring as a pharmacist. I’m not belittling his service, but rather reinforcing the point that he was in no position to know anything about my service with OSIA.
Nor was Tabach in a position to know anything about my wife. Marina and I did, in fact, meet in Votkinsk. I was assigned as an inspector, and she was assigned as an interpreter. In the spring of 1988 Marina had graduated from the elite Maurice Thorez Institute of Foreign Languages, with a specialty in English.
Like all Soviet citizens who availed themselves of a free college education, Marina owed the State a period of compulsory service. She and other recent graduates were selected to provide interpretation support to the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, the organization responsible for the operation of the missile assembly plant being inspected by the US as part of the INF treaty.
Tabach has insinuated that Marina was assigned as my “personal translator.” This is false, and anyone with knowledge of how the Soviets organized themselves to work with the US inspectors would laugh at the ludicrous nature of the allegation. Soviet translators were organized into two distinct categories. The first were the “technical” interpreters who served at the Portal Monitoring Facility, and who assisted in the official inspection-related work of the inspectors.
The second were the “social” interpreters, who accompanied inspectors on the many trips they took during their time off from inspection duty. Marina was assigned to the “social” category. She worked a standard shift, like her colleagues, and was assigned duties based upon the social schedule agreed to by the inspectors and their Soviet hosts.
Tabach also alludes to their being some sort of illicit romance taking place between Marina and I at the time. Once again, Tabach is manufacturing a narrative from whole cloth.
I left the Marine Corps in June 1991. My courtship with Marina took place after I was out of the Marines. Given the sensitivities associated with the positions I had held while serving in the Marine Corps, many senior US government officials took umbrage over my marriage to Marina.
When I started my work for the United Nations Special Commission, overseeing the disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction after the conclusion of Desert Storm, the CIA hesitated to work with me unless I agreed to a full-scale investigation into my marriage with Marina, and the possibility that I was somehow compromised by the Soviet Union/Russia. Stu Cohen, a senior CIA officer, oversaw the investigation, which was conducted together with the CIA’s office of counterintelligence, the Department of Defense and the FBI.
Stu Cohen could find no evidence of wrongdoing on my part, and for the next six years I worked closely with the CIA on some of the most sensitive human and technical intelligence collection operations ever conducted.
Tabach literally made up everything he said about me.
While there is no doubt Tabach had a distinguished career in the US Navy, his loyalty to the Ukrainian political party known as Right Sector, combined with his seemingly encouraging acts of violence against present day ethnic Russians in Ukraine along the lines of the hero of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, Stepan Bandera, is disconcerting.
On September 12, Gary Tabach was interviewed on Lithuanian television. He repeated his lies about my service at OSIA. He once again insulted the honor of my wife.
And he continued the typical ad hominem personal attacks of his ilk. Indeed, Tabach took great pleasure in calling me a pedophile in both videos I viewed.
Let me make it crystal clear for Tabach and all the other keyboard warriors who engage in this particular form of name calling: I was never accused, charged, arrested, tried, convicted or sentenced for any crime involving pedophilia.
Tabach’s giggling, and that of his two Lithuanian hosts, while he spoke the words in question spoke volumes about the character of the man and the program.
I committed no crime. I pled innocent because I am innocent. The trial was a gross miscarriage of justice. I have appealed my conviction and continue to do so to this day. And I have explained this during several interviews, most recently on September 16, 2022.
If Tabach and people of his ilk want to take prurient pleasure in displaying their childish ignorance of the facts before their respective audiences, that’s their business.
Tabach is deliberately falsifying my military record by making false statements about my service in Votkinsk from 1988-1990. As has been shown here, I never served with Tabach. That he feels the need to lie about my service further erodes my opinion of him.
For the edification of Tabach, his Lithuanian talk show hosts, and anyone else who has listened to the retired US Navy Captain opine about me online, I have written a book which details my service in Votkinsk. Disarmament in the time of Perestroika: Arms Control and the End of the Soviet Union provides a well-documented history of the unique experience of the first three years of inspection operations outside a Soviet missile factory.
Tabach might do well to read it before he talks about me in the future. So, too, would any hosts who invite Tabach to pontificate on their respective programs.
Tabach would also do well to never again discuss my wife in public, especially when spreading lies about her character while serving as a linguist at the Votkinsk factory. Pro hint, Captain: leave my family out of whatever game you think you are playing.
And to the smirking Lithuanian hosts—if you want to talk about me, why not invite me to be interviewed by you? That way you will at least be getting the truth about me, as opposed to the lies being promulgated by Tabach. And if you want to discuss Ukraine, you will find out why I have so many supporters in Lithuania. Fact-based analysis is addictive, especially in an environment where the population is starved of it.
On the issue of the Russian Special Military Operation in Ukraine, Tabach and I have diverging viewpoints. The beauty of free speech, as applied here in the United States, is that people are allowed to disagree on issues of importance without fear of persecution or repression.
Tabach’s confused loyalties, where he drapes the banner of the neo-Nazi Right Sector over that of his own nation, suggests he may have forgotten this important American right.
If Tabach would like to debate the current conflict in Ukraine, I’d do it any time, on any platform he chooses.
But this isn’t Odessa, 2014, or Kharkov, 2022.
This is America.
Keep that in mind, Tabach.
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