The spies next door
News from the Cold War, today, a week after Obama took Medvedev out for a burger:
Ten Alleged Secret Agents Arrested in the United States
Multi-year FBI Investigation Uncovers Network in the United States Tasked with Recruiting Sources and Collecting Information for Russia
Eight individuals were arrested Sunday for allegedly carrying out long-term, “deep-cover” assignments in the United States on behalf of the Russian Federation, the Justice Department announced today. Two additional defendants were also arrested Sunday for allegedly participating in the same Russian intelligence program within the United States.
In total, 11 defendants, including the 10 arrested, are charged in two separate criminal complaints with conspiring to act as unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States. Federal law prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the United States without prior notification to the U.S. Attorney General. Nine of the defendants are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
They lived near here:
The defendants known as “Richard Murphy” and “Cynthia Murphy” were arrested yesterday by FBI agents at their residence in Montclair, N.J.
And the house looks like any other NJ house,
Richard Fernandez writes about What the Russian Sleepers Did in New Jersey:
New Jersey cell
[Spring 2009] “[i]nfo task” from the spring of 2009, in advance of “Obama’s visit to [Russia], ” … information on the U.S. position with respect to a new Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear programs. Moscow Center indicated that it “needs intels (related to this [sic] topics) which should reflect approaches and ideas of ‘[Russia] policy team member’: [four names of sub-cabinet United States foreign policy officials, omitted]. Try to outline their views and most import Obama’s goals which he expects to achieve during summit in July and how does his team plan to do it (arguments, provisions, means of persuasion to ‘lure’ [Russia] into cooperation in US interest).”
[Feb 3, 09] “had work-related personal meetings with [a prominent New York-based financier, name omitted] and was assigned his account” … “financier prominent in plitics,” “an active fundraiser for [a major political party, name omitted],” and “a personal friend of a [a current Cabinet official, name omitted]. A response from Moscow Center indicated that the financier “is checked in C’s database – he is clean. Of course he is a very interesting ‘target’. Try to build up little by little relations with him … maybe he can provide … with remarks are US foreign policy … White House internal ‘kitchen’ …
[Oct 18] “vital for R, highlighting US approach and providing comments made by local expert (political, economic) scientist’s community. Try to single out tidbits unknown but revealed in private by sources close to State department, Government, major think tanks.”
[October of 2009] “Info: on gold” …
[December 2009] “strengthen … ties w. classmates on daily basis incl. professor who can help in job search … collect information on certain university associations … students who apply (or are hired already) for a job at CIA …
[Jan 19, 2010] “a job with a private sector entity that would involve ‘lobbying’ … concerned “might require an extended background check.”
Richard points out that the NY Times has no time for sleeper cells, but the issue is this,
The NYT maybe mistaken in thinking the only useful kinds of subversives are those who take pictures of blueprints with Minox miniature cameras. Agents who can influence policy at the direction of foreign intelligence important too. The pattern is clear. These sleepers were to do mostly what policy wonks, journalists, lobbyists and activists routinely did. The Russians worked to use the sleepers as spotters, semi-open source intel gatherers and influence peddlers. One of the interesting aspects of the modus operandi is that the distinction between their tasks at the behest of a foreign power and what activists might ordinarily do is pretty small. They met people and influenced options — that’s what people in policy circles do! This espionage case raises the question: if the behavior of Russian agents is outwardly no different from people who are practicing the “highest form of patriotism” what is the difference between the two? When the question: ‘whose side are you on?’ ceases to be a legitimate test of patriotism, how is treachery defined? Outwardly the sleepers did for love of the Rodina what many would do out of resentment toward their own country. Maybe the Russians will eventually return home to a medal. They knew at all events, whose side they were on.
Some people have no doubts.
And those who have doubts have the agents turn up on TV talk shows, go on book tours and get on the cover of People magazine.
Would you like some fries with that?