Streetwise Professor

May 15, 2013

The Real Story is Hiding Behind a Wig

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 1:22 pm

I’m sure you’ve read all about the bizarre “spy” scandal in which a US State Department employee attached to the embassy in Moscow was arrested for espionage and thrown out of the country.

Everything about the story is risible.  The wigs. The map.  The Boy Scout compass (I had one like that decades ago.  Maybe we don’t trust Glonass!) The cash: umm, wouldn’t wire transfers to offshore bank accounts be more reliable and safer?  The location: why meet in Moscow, and not overseas?  Most notably letter detailing fiendish American plot to bribe Soviet . . . I mean Russian intelligence officer.  Yeah, you’re going to spell all that out in plain text?  Heck, the Hardy Boys would have known to use invisible ink.  And code.

No, this was theater.  My guess is that the FSB compromised Mr. Fogle, the alleged spy in some way.  My initial guess was a honey trap, but it may well be something seedier, like cruising.

Under either of those scenarios,  the FSB would have had considerable control over the timing of the big announcement.  No doubt Fogle was under surveillance, and if he was doing something compromise-able, the Russians had the ability to choose when to compromise him.  They also had the ability to do it quietly, or in the way they did it: an over the top spy spoof, that was deliberately absurd.

By choosing to compromise him now, and in such an outlandish way, the Russians were sending a message: indeed, the outlandishness was part of the message.  Pushback over our criticism of their handling of Tsarnaev?: they made a big deal that the FSB agent Fogle was allegedly recruiting was an anti-terrorism specialist from the North Caucasus.  Something related to Syria, Kerry’s visit, etc.?: Trying to embarrass the US during a period of time the US is trying to pressure and cajole Russia into dumping Assad?  Dunno.

Whatever it is, the real story is hiding behind a wig.  Almost quite literally.  But I’m pretty damn sure Fogle or the CIA weren’t the ones who bought it.

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10 Comments »

  1. Ex-KGB officer agrees with you entirely it seems
    http://www.rferl.org/content/spy-fogle-interview-soviet/24986987.html

    Looks like the whole thing was rubbish to me

    Comment by Andrew — May 16, 2013 @ 12:36 am

  2. Vladamir Putin has a whacky sense of humour. He’s been laughing at the USA for over ten years now for falling into the mire of Afghanistan after 9/11. After all, it was Casey and Gates that lured the USSR into Afghanistan two decades earlier, decimating military morale with drug addiction, humiliating its generals with failure after failure, and eventually bankrupting the Soviet Union. I have also never forgotten when Putin told George W. Bush that his (much bigger) dog would eat (fluffy little) Barney. This looks to me like Putin yanking Kerry’s chain.

    Comment by London Banker — May 16, 2013 @ 2:03 am

  3. FSB vs. KGB/NKVD/CHEKA – Marx’s dicta or coda to Hegel: “History repeats itself, but first as tragedy and then as farce.”

    Comment by Sotos — May 16, 2013 @ 9:16 am

  4. I think this is meant mainly for domestic political consumption. Anti-Americanism is needed to generate a sense of threat among the Russian people that Putin is needed to protect them. Putin can no longer offer a growing economy and economic stability as a reason to support him. Putin has been steadily jettisoning the “modernizers” around him who sought to be the velvet glove around the iron fist as their methods for doing so – fake opposition parties, modernization projects, and facade political reforms – are no longer working. The ridiculous surrounding this spy (pathetic to anyone who has any inkling of trade craft) is actually a feature, not a drawback: it reveals Putin thinks he is powerful enough that he doesn’t even need to manufacture a real case.

    Comment by Chris — May 16, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

  5. Thanks for the link Andrew!

    Comment by David Hoopes — May 16, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

  6. What’s cruising? Please enlighten us.

    Comment by aaa — May 17, 2013 @ 5:39 am

  7. I saw a footage of him yesterday. He doesn’t look nearly close to a CIA agent. He is just a young boy.

    It could be quite plausible that thelonely him put a wig on and went out to pick a girl up in the Sex Capital of the world while all embassy personnel were under surveillance. So, he got caught in an embarrassing situation.

    From that point on, while he was in violation of some kind of diplomatic employees code of conduct, they could do anything they wanted with him.

    Comment by MJ — May 17, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

  8. @MJ Agreed on all of that. @aaa Re cruising, umm, just change “went out to pick up a girl” in MJ’s comment to “went out to pick up a guy.”

    Further your last point @MJ-presumably they could have done this at any time (for no doubt this wouldn’t have been the first time), and could have kept it quiet regardless. Making such a big deal out of it is what makes this so revealing. This was just a means to achieve some other end.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 17, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

  9. Professor, I also think that they could do it anytime and whatever the “secret” here, it was known to them for a while. In agree also that in all likelihood the timing is associated with something else.

    Comment by MJ — May 18, 2013 @ 1:30 am

  10. Btw, when I say him in the footage, the only thing his face was conveying was, “what did just happen…?”

    Comment by MJ — May 18, 2013 @ 1:51 am

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