30 Jun 2010
Yesterday, the NY Times ran a front page story about federal prosecutors accusing 11 people of being part of a Russian espionage ring, living under false names and deep cover in a patient scheme to penetrate what one coded message called American “policy making circles.” What was interesting about this story was that these Russian spies have embedded themselves deeply into quiet suburban lives in the U.S. Thought, what really caught our attention — surely Hollywood is working a script right now about this story — was today’s front page NY Times follow up story that had many IC leaders asking “why?”
The article states that the only things missing in more than a decade of operation were actual secrets to send home to Moscow. The assignments, described in secret instructions intercepted by the F.B.I., were to collect routine political gossip and policy talk that might have been more efficiently gathered by surfing the Web. And none of the 11 people accused in the case face charges of espionage, because in all those years they were never caught sending classified information back to Moscow, American officials said.
There is one quote that particularly caught our attention:
“What in the world do they think they were going to get out of this, in this day and age?” said Richard F. Stolz, a former head of C.I.A. spy operations and onetime Moscow station chief. “The effort is out of proportion to the alleged benefits. I just don’t understand what they expected.”
For those of us who work in the IC, we are sure that many of us are scratching our heads. What was the purpose? What did they expect to gain? And, why the old-school intelligence gathering tactics. Hey – many retro things are very hip, but not intelligence gathering. We welcome all thoughts and comments!
Tags: Chevy Chase and Spies Like Us, CIA, Defense and Intelligence, DIA, GEOINT, geospatial intelligence, got geoint?, Intelligence, Intelligence Community, NGA, Russian Spies in the US, Russian Spy Ring, USGIF