Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Den Of Spies McFauled In Russia

Promises of millions, a new face and detailed instructions on a double-agent conspiracy in Moscow. Bearing the hallmarks of a Cold War spy thriller, Russia’s counterintelligence agency says it caught a CIA officer trying to flip a Russian operative.

US Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McFaul refused to comment on the detention of his subordinate or his alleged part in the cloak and dagger plot.
On his Twitter account the ambassador simply wrote ‘no’ when questioned about Ryan Fogle.
McFaul has a date with the Russian Foreign Ministry, however, where he has been summoned to give an explanation for the not-so-undercover incident.
Former assistant secretary of state Jon Alterman told RT the timing of the incident was “strange” in light of the upcoming international conference on Syria spearheaded by Moscow and Washington.
“It clearly will have an effect on the talks. I don’t think it tells us anything new about US-Russian relations. What is strange is the timing, because when it comes to catching spies – if this even was a spy – you get to choose when you take action. And the decision to act immediately before the summit seems to me calculated to affect the summit,” he argued.
The website of the American embassy in Russia says that its Political Section is engaged in “bringing to the attention of the Russian government the US position on the issues of foreign policy and security.” The section’s other task is to “inform Washington about the main provisions of the foreign and defense policy of Russia,” as well as Russian domestic political life.
Ambassador McFaul's comments seem to link this sting to Syria, and that brings me to wonder about the assassination of Ambassador Stephens in Bengazi, at what we now know was not even a US Consulate  but a secret CIA front. Yep. And my question then, as now, was why was Stevens meeting his Turkish counterpart ib Bengazi instead of at the US Embassy in Tripoli? 
some links: (for FYI only. Their opinions, not mine)

"Documents from the U.S. Espionage Den"

Many people will recall that when Iranian revolutionaries seized the U.S. embassy in Teheran in 1979, they acquired a large cache of classified U.S. government documents, some of which had been shredded and painstakingly reassembled, which they proceeded to publish. What no one seems to have noticed, however, is that they never stopped publishing!

By 1995, an amazing 77 volumes of "Documents from the U.S. Espionage Den" (Asnad-i lanih-'i Jasusi) had been collected and published by the "Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam" (Center for the Publication of the U.S. Espionage Den's Documents, P.O. Box 15815-3489, Teheran, Islamic Republic of Iran, tel. 824005). Each volume contains original documents along with Farsi translations and, for no extra charge, an inflammatory introductory essay.

"The seizure of the embassy meant that the radicals gained access to a veritable treasury of secret and confidential documents covering some thirty years of Iranian history," wrote Amir Taheri in Nest of Spies (Pantheon Books, 1988). "They reveal the techniques of superpower diplomacy first hand and on a day-to-day basis." Although Taheri's book was not particularly well- received by reviewers, it seems to be the only book-length study to exploit the Iranian collection, or at least the 58 volumes that had been published as of 1987. The documents were also rather superficially examined by Edward Jay Epstein in an article titled "Secrets from the CIA Archive in Teheran" and published in Orbis (Spring 1987).

Ironically (not to say Iranically), publication of the documents represents an extraordinary service to scholars and to the interested public, particularly in light of the CIA's destruction of portions of the historical record on Iran.

Although there are a handful of obvious gems, the Iranians' criteria for publication are weak or nonexistent-- they seem intent on publishing everything that they recovered from the embassy, from detailed CIA procedures for handling defectors to a discussion of whether the Boy Scouts of America should plan on attending the 1979 Boy Scout Jamboree in Iran. The indiscriminate character of the collection is both its weakness and its strength.

Along with voluminous embassy cable traffic, CIA intelligence assessments and estimates that remain classified in the U.S., some of the documents in the Iranian collection are of a sort that would never be released by the CIA, since they contain detailed information on sensitive sources. Indeed, at least one execution of a CIA source is directly attributable to the capture of these records
But since the documents have already been disclosed, all possible damage has already been done, and the collection offers American readers a unique window on diplomatic and intelligence activity that is completely unobscured by classification constraints.

The Iranian records cannot replace the CIA records of the 1953 coup in Iran that have been destroyed, since they originate overwhelmingly from the late 1970s. But they could add considerably to the history of that later period.

Professor Warren Kimball, chairman of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee, told S&GB that "These documents may be worth considering as a source for reconstructing American foreign policy toward that region, particularly if other records remain classified or do not exist."
Some, though not all, of the volumes are available at the excellent Iranbooks in Bethesda, Maryland.


(unfinished, more to come)

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