Spies Like Us

“I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home.” –George Washington

Anna Chapman — one of the Russian spies arrested by the FBI

“When the FBI announced the arrest of 10 Russian spies living in deep cover for years, aka sleeper agents, Moscow’s feelings were hurt. As if it were the announcement, not the arrests, that was the big problem. To quote the Russian foreign ministry: ‘We don’t understand the reasons which prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to make a public statement in the spirit of Cold War spy stories.’ Why make a scene? Hasn’t the new, enlightened American president just reset relations with the Soviet Union — excuse me, Russia? … Despite the spy-story trappings, this is scarcely a return to Cold War days. The Cold War was serious. This sounds more like one of Maxwell Smart’s battles with KAOS; it’s less John LeCarré than Mel Brooks. … What were these sleepers supposed to be doing over here anyway, besides enjoying the American way of life? … It seems even Soviet agents are hooked on the American Dream — a cushy job, an SUV, and a townhouse in Cambridge conveniently near Harvard, or maybe a bungalow out in the leafy suburbs. In short, the good life. … If there was anything suspicious about those arrested, it was that they were more American than the Americans. Which figures. They were American for all intents and, according to the FBI, subversive purposes. But there’s no evidence, not even a whisper, of espionage. What would be the point? This is an age when state secrets are splashed all over the front page of the New York Times — not just with impunity but with Pulitzer Prizes to follow.” –Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editor Paul Greenberg

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