Spy Tales and Tails

There has been much ado about the recent arrest of 11 Russian sleeper spies in the US and abroad.    It is interesting that there is not the alarm and even outrage that used to be associated with such events in the past during the Cold War.  Much of the current commentary is about how harmless their endeavors were and that they didn’t really accomplish anything of value and weren’t even here to do us any real harm.   I have heard commentators say that they were like the Keystone Kops and were complete bunglers.   The Russian response has certainly been different from in times past.  Usually there would have been denials and the immediate expulsion of US diplomats or officials from Russia in retaliation.   The Russians have so far not denied their connection to Russia but mostly tried to act like it is a tempest in a teapot.   Like all spy cases we need to remember that there are many facts about this case that we don’t know yet and may never know.

I heard one pundit say they were not here to blow things up or assassinate anyone.   How he concluded that eludes me.  How the heck does he know what their instructions were to be down the road.   I frankly don’t think they were here for that purpose either but the evidence doesn’t support a conclusion one way or the other.   Whatever their exact mission was going to be in the future we can be assured they weren’t here to make things better for the US but to do us harm.

Spying is as old as recorded history.   You recall Rahab the Harlot in the old Testament when she helped the Israelites win one of the many battles for the Promised Land.  The Greeks, Romans and Persians all used spies on a regular basis to further their agendas.   Spying regrettably always works on the dark side of human nature.  These spies were made fun of because their only known purpose so far was to engage in “social networking” as the pundits have repeatedly noted.  Hey, folks that is what spies do.   A few spies work to steal some specific information or scientific data but mostly they try to obtain that information from a person they have been “networking” with socially.  The Rosenbergs stole very valuable and useful information about our atomic bomb developments after the War and passed it along to the Commies.  They did that through handlers here in the US.

Spies try to make contact with people who can give them useful information to their bosses.   They learn about their targets and then the dark side comes to the fore.   The learn whether they like the ladies, have a drinking problem, money problems or maybe that they are just greedy or feel unappreciated by their bosses.   Sex, money and emotional distress are their playground to suborn, extort and blackmail their way into a position to extract information from the target.  Mata ara was a real spy, she did in fact use her sexual charms to get information from high-ranking military leaders in France during WWI.  She is not the only one to use that method.  The Allies during WWII had a lady spy in Berlin with contacts at very high levels.  She slept with several Nazis big wigs to learn what she could with pillow talk.  She was a valued source.  You may recall the Hanson case a few years ago.  He was the FBI agent who had turned over loads of information to the Soviets and the Russians for years.  He did it for money and for revenge if you will against his superiors who he believed didn’t acknowledge his worth to the agency.

Spies work to make contacts and then exploit any weakness they find to later extract useful data.  The fact is most spies are not “successful” in the way you would hope if you were they boss.  There is enormous “wastage” in the process.  The big majority go off and then don’t produce anything of significance for a long time or maybe just a bit here and there or some never pan out and then the country using them has the problem of how to dump them.  More than one spy has been killed by their own service just to eliminate the problem.   The fact that this particular group had not delivered particularly useful data yet is not astonishing.  You have to put a lot of chum in the water to catch just one fish.   Boston, New York and Washington are three very likely locations for sleeper spies to do their work.  As expenses go this is a cheap operation for the Russian service even after you consider  that they apparently paid for the houses for a couple of them. 

We are such an open society here that reams of information about the US military and scientific developments can be gleaned from reading the news, trade articles, web sites, government publications and the like.  But if only one out of twenty sleeper spies finally made a contact with an official at the Pentagon or our embassy at the UN or a researcher doing government work at MIT it would make all the time and investment well worth it to them.

Mostly, what this episode teaches us is that the Russians have not been as efficient as in the past with their training.  This group left far too may “tails’ in their work and were detected fairly early on.  Maybe the Russian intelligence community has deteriorated a great deal since the heady days of the KGB.  But, may not.  It would not be unheard of to have put this group here as decoy.  Maybe the Russians assumed all along we would find them.  Maybe that is what they wanted to distract our attention while another group better trained is continuing undetected.   There are always false trails and tails in the spy world and things often are not what the seem.  What appears to be a counter-intelligence coup may be simply a Brer Rabbit trap.

How does gold drop 50 bucks, oil  down 3 bucks and the Euro goes up by 3 cents all on the same day?  Meanwhile the 10 year note is paying less than 3 per cent interest.  Worry is my guess.  There is plenty to worry about with the current gang running Government, Inc.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com


1 Comment

Filed under Foreign Affairs, government, military history, Politics, terrorism, War

One response to “Spy Tales and Tails

  1. Adam

    The whole spy swap deal was amazing to watch! It was very surreal to watch everything on the news and the stories unravel.

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