North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Families that spy together, stay together

A strange story of Russian spies - 11 in all, 8 of them living as four couples - who have been arrested by the FBI in the Northeastern US. Their charge - develop contacts of interest regarding economic and technological intelligence and then turn those over to a higher level of Russian intelligence agents for serious cultivation. As Time magazine described one arraignment, "Donald Heathfield was a man on the go. Neighbors rarely saw him, except for sometimes when he was returning from his travels, rolling a small suitcase up to the door of his Cambridge, Mass., home. But on July 1, Heathfield was handcuffed, his legs shackled, as he was escorted into a courtroom in the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. He sat restless, ... frequently leaning forward as prosecutors outlined the case against him and his partner, a woman known as Tracey Lee Ann Foley. He barely spoke, mostly nodding when questioned by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal. Foley, who for years claimed to be Heathfield's wife, sat still, occasionally resting her chin on her hand as she listened intently to her lawyer Robert Sheketoff's advice....

Heathfield and Foley are two of eleven people arrested in recent days ... accused of being Russian spies. The U.S. arrests took place on June 27 after a seven-year, federal investigation of a suspected espionage ring seeking information on U.S. government policy. ... The FBI believes the accused were "placed together and cohabit in the country to which they are assigned" and were told to "often have children together," as this "deepens an illegal's legend," according to the affidavit. Heathfield and Foley's "legends" — Tim Foley, 20, and Alex Foley, 16 — sat in the back of the courtroom Thursday. "My client and his wife right now are worried about their kids,"

So the obvious questions emerging are, "what information exactly did they gather, or who if anyone are the individuals who showed promise and were passed on to higher Russian intelligence agents" "how did they live normal lives and do spying?" And what's going to happen with their children - Tim Foley 20, Alex Foley 16, Katie Murphy 11, Lisa Murphy 7, Waldo Mariscal 38, Juan Lazaro Jr 17, and the two youngest, aged 1 and 3. Tim (left) and Alex Foley ...

The less obvious, perhaps more intriguing questions are: the FBI had been tracking these individuals for 7 years, gaining more on Russia's spying network and organization than the spies did gaining information, so why now were they "outed"? And even more odd, why, if this is so serious, did the Russian Prime Minister Putin, US White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs, and other high ranking officials in both nations all state that the spying fiasco would probably not affect US-Russia relations.

In fact, former President Clinton was in Moscow when the news broke, and he and Prime Minister Clinton conversed this way, "You came to Moscow at a right time. Your police got out of control and grabbed some people," Putin said, eliciting a laugh from Clinton. "But this is just their job. I really expect that the positive that has been accumulated in the recent time in our international relations will not suffer, and I also hope that those people who value the Russian-American relations understand this in today's situation as well."

Is it serious or not, is it theater, just a diversion then? Let's just say that there is far more to the story that may or may not ever come out.


Sarah said...

Thanks. I heard just the "soundbite" of this story but hadn't heard anything else... Curious.

pearl said...

i am so curious about spies. HOW ARE THEY CHOSEN, are they as prevalent today as they were in the past? can they kill or are they just information gatherers?
WAS julia child a spy? i'm serious.
Are there any famous spies still living that are retired?

Teatree said...

Hmm, governments select their spies. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for example, even interviews at college campuses for interested young folks. A lot of military types showing quickness, determination under stress, etc, are recruited.

Julia Child? Yes! In a way, in the 1940's she worked for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services and the forerunner of today's CIA) during WWII, helping develop shark repellent, a critical ingredient in protecting explosives used to sink German U-boats during World War II.

No real famous (notorious) spies living today, but plenty living quiet, protected lives after being negotiated back as in this story, and many we don't hear about, of course.

Sarah said...

I had no idea about Julia Childs - interesting! I vaguely remember coming across a story about "spy recruitment" on college campuses... It seems so weird - like they're just part of the "career fairs" where the investment firms and local GM manufacturer find their future employees too...??!!!