09 July 2010

The Adventures of the Russian Spy...

...not our Natalia The Russian Spy, rather the honest-to-God real Russian spies we recently got hold of (at least one of which did indeed really sport that common feminine first name) and have just recently traded by back to the Empire for some agents we wanted.

Служба Внешней Разведки-Formerly the KGB. New name-same great service!

I find spycraft to be interesting. It's for the most part quite unlike the non-stop action and jet-setting made popular by Ian Fleming's James Bond. Spying for the most part seems mostly to consist of blending in, keeping your head down and your eyes and ears open, and not drawing attention to yourself, at least until the mission demands that you do otherwise. In a closed society, that's tough to do. In a free society, not so difficult, especially as this bunch was drilled well in American ways and indeed did quite well here-raising families, getting educations at some of our better colleges. Lived the dream of the country they quite likely grew up indoctrinated to dislike.

The swap takes one back to the 'good old days' of the Cold War. One only needs a foggy night somewhere in Central Europe, both sides staring each other down across the bridge between Freelandia and Cabbageslavia or across Checkpoint Charlie as the spies cross over into their respective spheres of influence, to complete the image.

I suppose their mission was to simply worm their way into American society, get as far up the ladder as possible, and wait for further orders. A well-placed asset can do a lot of damage that way-ask British Intelligence or the people who caught the Walkers or Aldrich Ames. None of these people were close to any high-value military locations-but there are other things worth picking up-industrial secrets, technological advances, research, financial records, information itself.

I wonder, though, if some of this bunch didn't 'go native' a bit, since a few of them raised children here. It does add to their 'cover'-just a normal American family and all that-but what if you get caught? There is love of country, and love of family One wonders if these people are thinking on a certain level "What the hell did I just do? I had family. I just deprived them of a decent life". Maybe not. Only they know.

These people lived double lives and not only endangered themselves but put their own children at risk. You get caught and eliminated in the espionage game-well, nobody gets conscripted into spy school. Adding the extra dimension of raising children in 'enemy territory'? They didn't ask for that disruption in their lives.

And what do we do with some of these spies' children? How much do we trust them? Do we watch them for the rest of their lives? They were born here. They are American citizens. The Russians have no right to ask for their custody and little inclination to do so. Some of the kids are in their teens to 20 years old. How much do they know about their parents' other lives? Are they loyal to Russia or the United States? Can they be subverted by the SVR using blackmail or threats on their parents' lives? I honestly don't know. I don't know if anyone knows, probably most of all them. It must have been something for those kids. They come home from school and someone says 'Sorry, kid. Your parents aren't really from here and were performing activities against the United States. We'll need to ask you a few questions as well.'

And what of the reception these spies will get back in Russia? I don't know how the Empire handles failed spies. The previous bunch found suitable jobs for them, I suppose-lots of work in Siberia to do, after all-or they were simply eliminated. I'm pretty sure Tsar Vladimir (I know, Medvedev is prime minister. Putin is the Man In Charge there, though) isn't any too happy with them, although being an old alum of KGB University I'm sure he understands the game, and that these things happen. It isn't personal, after all. It's just business.

I shouldn't be terribly surprised if some one or two of them has an accident on the Ring Road or gets hit by a car or has a giant kettle of borshch fall on their head. Someone has to pay for this pretty good-sized mistake.

If His Majesty isn't thinking that, some of the Russian street is:

"They obviously were very bad spies if they got caught. They got caught, so they should be tried," said Sasha Ivanov, a businessman walking by a Moscow train station.

Doesn't look like there's going to be sympathy or parades for them in Moscow. They might be dusting off that great old Russian saying from the days of Big Joe: Смерть шпионам. Smiert' shpionam. Death to spies.

I know I personally wonder why people like Ames and the Walkers are in the Graybar Hotel. You do that much damage with your treasonous actions, there's only one punishment. Capital punishment. At least this bunch was working for someone else and weren't born here.

This whole affair will make for some interesting reading if/when it gets declassified.

I'll leave you with this little gem of 'Spy' music. Probably not one of McCartney's best.

Oh, very well. I'll leave you with this little gem of 'Spy' music. A little bit better effort from Sir Paul. I never get tired of this particular piece.

yankeedog out.

1 comment:

  1. Real life spying is probably closer to le Carre than Fleming, disappointingly, because le Carre is miserable and depressing. Len Deighton's trilogy of trilogies Game Set Match/Hook Line Sinker/Faith Hope Charity actually dealt in a really interesting way with the sort of collateral damage that comes with spying for the families, kids, spouses etc of spies and double agents. Not as much fun as his Harry Palmer books but still very engaging.