FBI breaks up alleged Russian spy ring

I’m not understanding this at all at the moment; why break up a spy ring that’s not doing anything, surely it’s better to watch and wait and see who else can be trawled in?

This lot don’t seem anywhere near as significant as the Israeli spy ring last year, which was found to be inside the White House policy decision-making loop.

On the Israelis:

On the Russians:

Maybe there’s more to come out . . .

Weird. I thought it was only in movies that the bad guys were dumb enough to send messages to eachother explaining their entire plot, even though sender and receiver of the message both already knew the plot and the information could only really be useful to someone intercepting the message:

Also all the baroque methods of communication seem really bizarre and outdated. Why not just send encrypted emails via the internet rather then dropping stuff off in parks or having to follow your spies around in a van with a mobile wireless network.

You’d think with decades of practice the Russians would be a little better at handling US spies.

If they were all dropped in 10 years ago, then their training is earlier than that. The internet may have hit the US around 1995, but it was probably just coming in to Russia in 2000, by which time they were already here and their methods of contact were already decided. Of course, it should have been easy enough to update as they went, but maybe they saw no reason to do so. Either that or, it looks like they were in communication with local Russian diplomats. Perhaps they fear that all e-mails and other networked contacts with the Russian embassy will be eavesdropped, so they use roundabout means of passing info back and forth.

Odd, the Russian president was just in the US this week. Are arrests now some sort of signal?

Mainly you have to be able to trust your encryption. While the folks who seemed to have been graduates of the charm school were probably clean, a lot of Russians turned over anything worth money to the western powers in the 90’s.

Now the folks who were KGB, switched uniforms and kept the same jobs when it morphed into the FSB, probably protected their deep assets for better times, but would you have trusted that thought.


From that link , it seems like they were carrying on their mission right up until 09, which does not sound like it was doing nothing. Its just a guess, but the FBI gutted its counter inteligence division and redeployed those agents to other divisions. Bottom line , I think they wanted this group off the books and their file closed.


The two they grabbed in Cambridge, MA (yesterday) appeared to be a quiet couple (he was a “businessman”, she was a realtor> How were these two supposed to steal US Defense secrets? My guess is that these were the “small fry”-most likely, the real spies have already fled the country.
Or they could have been engaged in industrial espionage-MIT is a major software development place-maybe they had been paying off some poverty level CS grad students, in return for code.

From what I’ve heard so far the reason they may have moved to arrest now as opposed to leaving them in deep cover was because the FBI had established contact with one of the agents in an undercover capacity and subsequent to this she purchased a cell phone and placed an international call, suggesting she knew her cover was blown. Judging from the information provided in the article, that agent probaly was Anna Chapman.

What we’ve seen so far seems to cast some doubt on the utility of these sorts of long-term burrowing operations. After investing all that time and effort into training these moles, there is no guarantee that they will ever be able to insinuate themselves into anyplace useful.

This reminds me of story carried by the WSJ a few years ago-the
Norwegian intelligence service had uncovered a guy spying for Russia. This guy was a total schmuck-his 'reports" to his superiors consisted of clippings of news stories from the local papers. The NI officers decided to have some fun with the guy, before arresting him-they planted bogus information and arranged for him to see it-which he then passed on…the Russians were NOT pleased.

Indeed. From where we are now, they’ve been in place for 15-20 years and, between them (this is a conspiracy offence), done enough to rack up a max of 5 years chokey.

I suspect they went native and pretty well everyone wanted to move on.

Great, another blow to the economy. These good tax-paying people supporting the economy through rents, home purchases, computer and cellphone buying are now virtual wards of the state. Who’s going to pay for their incarceration? We are - real Americans!

They weren’t hurting anyone. Our FBI agents were getting good invaluable training at old spycraft stuff. All our old agents who knew this stuff are retiring. The new kids only know electronic gadgets and spy sattelites.

I’m putting this down to the current hysteria about illegal immigrants. I can just see Arizona ginning up some new law against spying, " 'cause the Feds aren’t doing enough". Fine, let them decimate their states economy.

Can I be the one who interrogates Anna Chapman?

Sorry but that’s not funny any more coming from an American. Unfortunate connotation . . .

Espionage usually carries a stiffer sentence than incarceration, you know.

Not really. The last people put to death for Espionage in the US were the Rosenburgs, in 1953. Its still technically a capital offense, but it doesn’t appear anyone actually get puts to death for it anymore.

Maintaining the constant surveillance of these people wasn’t cheap either, especially since it almost certainly involved more than double the number of Russian spies. But there is good news, at some point in the near future, Russia is likely to send someone to replace them.

Satellite photography wouldn’t really be useful in cases such as these. Oh, and what are you talking about? The FBI Academy hasn’t dropped the basic techniques of surveillance and investigation.

They haven’t been charged with espionage. Maybe that’s coming later, but I think the implication is that none of these people managed to do anything useful. So far this is yet another farcical story about the failings of old fashioned spying.

I would presume the CIA still has some field agents in Russia, or at least some Russians who are “assets” with CIA handlers. If any of them were caught and arrested, would that play out any differently than this?

Sure - it’d likely be accompanied by a new crackdown on human-rights groups, with the government claiming it was necessary to keep out foreign influence/spies.

But your point is taken.