The spy who bored us

first_imgOther reasons to spy on Russia abound. It menaces its neighbours. Links between organised crime and officialdom are troubling. Islamist extremists in the north Caucasus and elsewhere can mount outrages abroad. Russia has provided some temporary and partial information on the latter to Western services, but if an FSB officer approached the CIA with the offer of more, in exchange for money, it would be worth taking a bit of a risk to find out how much he knew.Nor is it odd that the hapless Fogle got caught. Espionage involves law-breaking and deceit, which is inherently risky. If it did not, it would not be espionage. Perhaps the source was a trap – a ‘dangle’ in espionage parlance. Perhaps Fogle’s tradecraft was sloppy. All spy operations seem brilliantly successful when they work and shamefully bungled when they do not.Espionage does involve occasional doses of public humiliation to the other side. America’s FBI released some embarrassing videos of Chapman and her colleagues. But nothing matches the gratuitous treatment meted out to Fogle and his embassy colleagues, ‘spotlighted’ (in spy jargon) on Russian television. That – the first big oddity – had echoes of the iciest days of the Cold War. To add insult to injury, Russia named the CIA station chief in Moscow (a big breach of espionage protocol). News also leaked of the earlier expulsion of Thomas Firestone, a prominent American lawyer in Moscow, who formerly worked at the US embassy. He is a leading authority on official corruption in Russia.What is going on? One answer may be that Russia’s spy-catchers simply wanted to crow about a rare success. Another is that the whole affair fits the story that the Kremlin tells to its own people, of Russia as a besieged fortress, the opposition as the puppets of foreign spy services, and the West as duplicitous and incompetent.A second oddity is the Obama administration’s response to a series of gross provocations: a bored shrug. Its top priority is big cuts in nuclear weapons. A joint move on co-operation in applying international humanitarian law to cyberspace is expected soon. Such stuff matters. Spy games, ultimately, do not.The third oddity is the change in Germany, which for the first time since the era of Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter is taking a tougher line on the Kremlin than the US does. In past years, political pressure blocked intelligence and security officials from attacking Russian targets, unless organised crime was involved (in fact, even that seemingly limited field provided a rich harvest). But times have changed. Having caught Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, two long-term Russian deep-cover spies, Germany now wants to trade them for jailed Western agents. Time to re-read those early novels by John le Carré. Here is the big news from the boiling cauldron of the East-West spy wars. Russia is being annoying; the United States barely notices and does not care.The details are familiar: Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the US embassy in Moscow was arrested, carrying – supposedly – wigs, a compass, lots of money, a map of Moscow, and a “Dear friend” letter to a potential recruit in the Russian security service, the FSB.Much of this is unsurprising. So long as Russia spies on the US (which it does rather well), American spy-catchers will want to stop them. It did this brilliantly when it recruited Alexander Poteyev, who was in charge of the ‘illegals’ (deep-cover agents) in north America, who were rounded up in the summer of 2010. They included the sizzling but trivial red-head Anna Chapman, and the far more important Donald Heathfield. (I write about this in my book “Deception”.) Edward Lucas edits the international section of The Economist.last_img read more

Sturgill Simpson Reveals COVID-19 Diagnosis

first_imgSturgill Simpson is the latest notable entertainer to reveal they’ve tested positive for COVID-19. In a lengthy post shared to his Instagram on Saturday, the guitarist and singer revealed he has indeed tested positive for the deadly virus and is still contagious a month after he initially visited the emergency room for feelings of chest pains, fever, and pre-stroke blood pressure levels.Simpson had been performing in western Europe and North America alongside Tyler Childers on their A Good Look’n Tour earlier this year dating back to January and February until the 2020 run of shows was put on hold in March along with the rest of the concert industry.Related: Sturgill Simpson Releases Music Video For “A Good Look” [Watch]The post shared to Simpson’s Instagram reads,This photo was taken at 9am on March 13th when my wife took me to our local hospital ER due to chest pains, fever, and pre-stroke blood pressure levels. I spent an hour listening to a (highly condescending) Doctor refuse to test me because I “did not fit testing criteria” and tell me why it was impossible that I had contracted the virus due to its extreme rarity and that it was not in western Europe yet during that same period (which we now know is incorrect) even though I was told by two nurses that I was the first person their hospital had walk in requesting to be tested.Almost one month later on April 6th my wife and I were both tested after finally finding a free drive-thru testing facility outside a National Guard depot. Yesterday on Friday April 10th, after almost one month without any symptoms, I received a call from the Nashville CDC stating that my test resulted in a positive detection for Covid-19. My wife (who has been by my side since Europe) tested negative.Simpson continued,All I know is I first felt symptoms a month ago yet Im still positive and contagious and now on quarantine in the dojo until April 19th and really wishing Id taken my wife’s advice and put a bathroom in the floor and learn. But hey, at least our Government appointed task force headed by a man who does not believe in science is against mass testing and we now have a second task force in the works to “open America back up for business”! Dick Daddy out.Late last month Margo Price also revealed that the release of her forthcoming studio album produced by Simpson, That’s How Rumors Get Started, has been pushed back from its scheduled May 8th arrival to sometime this summer.Read Simpson’s entire post below – Feel better Sturgill!last_img read more