On August 7, 2017, the New York Post published an article by Bob Fredericks claiming that the US is infested with Russian spies.
I rushed to read the article expecting to find groundbreaking revelations about the Russian spy network in America, but to my usual disappointment, found nothing but unsubstantiated claims wrapped in faulty logic. The following are excerpts from the article with my added annotations.
Russian spies have flooded the US to infiltrate government, businesses and other institutions as President Vladimir Putin has dramatically expanded intelligence operations on US soil, a new report said Monday.
It must be a leaked or published US intelligence report, I thought. But no, the “report” turned out to be just another baseless article in The New Yorker by Nicholas Schmidle.
“There are more Russian operatives, declared and undeclared, in the United States now than at any other time in the past fifteen years,” a senior US official told The New Yorker. “They’re here in large numbers, actively trying to penetrate a whole host of sectors—government, industry, and academia.”
An anonymous “senior US official,” who may or may not exist, and whose information is, therefore, impossible to corroborate. Also, what exactly is a “declared operative”? Is it when they come into the US wearing a name tag that reads something along the lines of “Ivan Petrov – Russian spy”? And who is counting these so-called operatives anyway?
The FBI does not have sufficient resources in the field to track down and identify the swarms of spooks, according to the stunning report.
How can this be?! The report claims that there are more Russian spies in the US than at any time in the last 15 years yet the same report goes on to state that they haven’t been identified? What?!
Two Russian operatives met with someone they believed was a White House mole to try to get inside information about how the Obama administration would respond to Russia’s interference in the US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. But the mole turned out to be an American counterintelligence asset, and the Russians left the sitdown empty handed.
That’s a cute anecdote, however, why wouldn’t the “stunning report” reveal the names of the two Russian operatives? If they’ve clearly been identified as such – what’s the issue? If the idea is to keep them from knowing that they’ve been identified then that’s out the window with the publication of the report. Failing to release their names casts further doubt on the entire narrative.
On Dec. 29, the Obama administration announced that 35 Russian diplomats linked to the meddling would be booted from the US. But that effort affected just the tip of the Russian spy network’s iceberg. “The number of folks who were sent home is a fraction of those who could have been sent home,” the officials said.
So the obvious question is – why weren’t more “Russian operatives” sent home then? Especially since the US officials claim to know of their existence. I’ll dare to assume it’s because they don’t know, and because the whole notion of a Russian spy network is a Cold War relic wedged deep in the mentality of the US political and security establishment.
The imbalance between the Russian and US spy operations is compounded by Russia’s tougher stance on ferreting out CIA operatives on its soil. “The Russians make it extremely difficult for American intelligence officers to operate in Russia, in a way that would be nearly impossible for the FBI to do the same here.”
The Russians make it difficult for the CIA to operate in Russia?…Well duh…isn’t that their job? And just how difficult could it have been, given that prior to last week’s cut in US diplomatic staff (which was Moscow’s response to new anti-Russia sanctions), the US had more than double the number of people working in Russia than Russia had in the US.
The Russian operation, he added, had not shrunk even though the Cold War had ended.
This, too, is difficult to believe. During the 1990s Russia was in ruins and chaos. The military-industrial complex was in decay and the intelligence community infested with moles and corrupt officials who sold state secrets. Moreover, during this period Russia didn’t perceive the US as a threat, aiming to integrate with the West and even join NATO. For better or worse, that integration never took place due to Washington’s refusal to accept Moscow as a partner rather than a vassal.