…revealed by the arrest of eleven alleged Russian spies yesterday has shocked our Russian experts, leading me to wonder how “expert” they could have possibly been. Because no one should have been shocked that Russia under Putin is still in the spy biz:
One message from bosses in Moscow, in awkward English, gave the most revealing account of the agents’ assignment. “You were sent to USA for long-term service trip,” it said. “Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc. — all these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles and send intels [intelligence reports] to C[enter].”
It couldn’t have been very difficult to do whatever it was they were supposed to do. The spies blended in quite nicely in such havens as New York and Cambridge, where:
Illegals will sometimes pursue degrees at target-country universities, obtain employment, and join relevant professional associations” to deepen false identities.
And buy homes, one of the perks of spying in the US, which doesn’t appear to have been all that arduous:
In Montclair, when the Murphys wanted to buy a house under their names, “Moscow Center,” or “C.,” the S.V.R. headquarters, objected.
“We are under an impression that C. views our ownership of the house as a deviation from the original purpose of our mission here,” the New Jersey couple wrote in a coded message. “From our perspective purchase of the house was solely a natural progression of our prolonged stay here. It was a convenient way to solving the housing issue, plus ‘to do as the Romans do’ in a society that values home ownership.”
You cannot make this stuff up—although perhaps someone will use it in a movie.