Ladislav Bittman was a former Czechoslovak intelligence officer who specialized in disinformation and propaganda. He was the architect of a notorious operation known as Operation Neptune, which aimed to smear public figures in West Germany by planting forged Nazi documents in a lake in Czechoslovakia and then “discovering” them1. One of the targets of this operation was Franz Josef Strauss, the leader of the Christian Social Union and a candidate for chancellor in 19652.
Bittman also claimed that he was involved in another operation to spread false information about the role of the CIA in the 1964 coup in Brazil. He said that he forged documents that suggested that the CIA had supported and financed the overthrow of President João Goulart, and that he distributed them to Brazilian journalists who were on the payroll of the Czechoslovak intelligence service3. He said that this operation was part of a larger campaign to undermine the credibility and influence of the United States in Latin America3.
Bittman defected to the United States in 1968, after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. He changed his name to Lawrence Martin-Bittman and became a professor of disinformation at Boston University. He wrote several books and articles exposing the Soviet and Czechoslovak disinformation tactics and warning about their dangers to democracy1. He died in 2018 at the age of 871.
If you want to learn more about Bittman and his operations, you can check out the following sources:
- Cold War Disinformation: New Revelations about Operation NEPTUNE from Czech Archives: This is a blog post by Calder Walton, who interviewed Bittman shortly before his death and accessed the Czech archives that reveal the details of Operation Neptune.
- Lawrence Martin-Bittman - Wikipedia: This is a Wikipedia article that provides a biography of Bittman and his career as an intelligence officer and a defector.
- Ladislav Bittman – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre: This is a Wikipedia article in Portuguese that mentions Bittman’s role in spreading disinformation about the CIA’s involvement in the 1964 coup in Brazil.