Source thinks embarrassed Putin faked the CIA spy arrest (poorly)

Christopher Bedford | Editor in Chief, The Daily Caller News Foundation

The Tuesday Russian arrest and deportation of a career U.S. diplomat accused of being a CIA officer was a “staged … political, domestic display” by the government of Prime Minister Putin, an unnamed source high in U.S. intelligence and familiar with intelligence operating procedures told The Daily Caller.

The source, who asked to remain nameless because the person is not authorized to speak on the record, said the Kremlin is “sending a message,” likely motivated by anger and embarrassment over Chechen-linked terrorism in Boston.

“The whole thing,” TheDC’s source said, “screams of stupid.”

The FSB, Russia’s security services and the KGB’s successor, detained Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, overnight, touting him on camera before handing him over to the United States for deportation. He was accused of trying to recruit Russians for the CIA.

The source cited how Fogle was arrested, the objects he was allegedly arrested with, what he was allegedly doing, judging that the “whole thing reeks of bullshit.”

Russia Today, a Kremlin-funded network, reports that Fogle was found with numerous wigs, “multiple pairs of dark sunglasses and a lot of cash in euro — along with a Moscow atlas, a compass, a knife, and an American Bic lighter.”

In addition, FSB said Fogle had a letter saying the $100,000 payment is a “down-payment from someone who is very impressed with your professionalism. … Your security means a lot to us. This is why we chose this way of contacting you.”

The Arrest

“The counterintelligence threat in Russia is extremely high,” TheDC’s source said. “As a result, those being sent there go through extra training after the farm [CIA Camp Peary training center]. There is no way in hell that this situation [as descried by FSB] would have happened to a CIA officer.”

The source said that Fogle, however, is likely a U.S. intelligence officer — just one who was set up for the cameras: “No one is making a comment [on the arrest and deportation of a U.S. diplomat], which is a pretty good indication that he is an intelligence officer working on diplomatic cover. He likely applied sloppy trade-craft or bad OPSEC [operations security] and was identified by the Russians.”

In addition to the alleged officer not following basic precautions, the FSB did not follow basic procedure.

“Normally, if he was ID’d as an intelligence officer they would just follow him for a while to see who his Russian sources were,” TheDC’s source said. “Once they were confident that they knew who all his sources were, he would be asked to leave the country quietly and his sources would be arrested.

Instead,” the source continued, “they staged this ridiculous set-up.”

“When tensions are tight diplomatically, sometimes you will expel a ‘diplomat,'” the source explained. “Unless there are extremely hostile relations between the two countries, or if the spying is particularly egregious, you normally won’t see an arrest of the intelligence officer. The host country will arrest and prosecute their citizens that have given classified or sensitive information to that spy, but the spy is usually just kicked out of the country. Either way, it’s normally handled quietly.”

The Props

Fogle was allegedly arrested wearing a blond wig, with another in his possession and a number of pairs of dark sunglasses.

“When you wear a disguise or make several changes of clothing it’s called polishing. When you do make a change, you change everything — you don’t just throw on some random wig,” TheDC’s source explained. “His shirt, shoes, hat, etc. would be noticed when he first wears them, and just putting on a wig would do nothing for you. He would have failed the farm if he tried to do that in training; that is just part of basic [spy] trade-craft; a first-year hire would know better.”

The FSB’s charge that Fogle was found with a compass was even more suspect to TheDC’s source: “What the fuck do you need a compass for in a metropolitan city,” TheDC’s source asked. “What is he, a Boy Scout? Stupid.”

But “the real stupid thing was the letter,” the source said. “Never in a million fucking years would an American intelligence officer be walking around Moscow with a letter like that — he would fly somewhere in, say, Europe to meet and recruit his asset. That’s way too dangerous to be done in Moscow.”

“We [U.S. intelligence] do not do that,” the source continued. “We would never allow someone to walk around with a letter like that in a place such as Moscow for someone under State Department cover, let alone a NOC [non-official cover]. Totally out of the question.”

Finally, the huge amount money is a reason for suspicion: “The sum is way too high and he wouldn’t be walking around with that kind of cash in Moscow,” TheDC’s source said.

The Operation

The agent-recruitment operation Fogle was allegedly on stinks, TheDC’s source charged.

“We don’t recruit Russians in Russia — we meet them elsewhere. If a CIA officer was going to try and recruit a Russian intelligence officer, there would be a period of assessment to determine if the person has a vulnerability and is likely to spy for us,” TheDC’s source explained. “If so, they would rendezvous outside of the country — somewhere else, where they would do the formal recruitment to spy for us. Never in a million fucking years would it be done in Moscow.”

In addition to the above, The Washington Post’s Max Fisher listed the speed with which Russian TV had the images and video of the arrest up and the timing — the exact moment the U.S. Ambassador to Russia began a public Q&A — as signs that there’s “something fishy” going on.

The Motive

Though TheDC’s source suggested that the Russian motivation may be related to U.S. involvement in Kremlin-allied Syria, they said it is more likely connected to the bombings in Boston — an attack the video the FSB released mentions repeatedly.

“The Russians were embarrassed by the Boston bombing because they let one of the bombers they knew was a radical get into the Caucuses and get training from terrorists,” TheDC’s source said. “Media has implied that if the Russians did their job, they could have prevented Boston. They also have the Olympics coming up soon and are trying to portray a clean image.”

Additionally, “the intelligence officer our guy was purportedly trying to recruit was said to be a counter-terrorism officer working in the Caucuses. That is probably one of the few areas that we have good cooperation on, so not likely we would risk trying to go after someone with that placement and access. The whole thing reeks of bullshit.”

“Everyone spies on everyone — it’s just part of the game,” TheDC’s source concluded. “To come out so quickly with what are clearly staged photos and this ridiculous set up means the Russians are trying to send a message. It maybe just as much for their domestic audience as it is for us, but it is an indication of just how bad our intelligence relationship is with them.”

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