Everybody take a breath.
There's nothing special about the Russian security service's bust of a reported American spy -- beyond the weird paraphernalia that the FSB says it captured with the suspect, one Ryan C. Fogle, officially third secretary at the American embassy.
We bust theirs, they bust ours, but usually far more quietly. Indeed, two top former U.S. government counterintelligence officials suggested to me that perhaps there was a tit-for-tat at work here, that we had quietly expelled, or were closing in on a Russian spy at work here. And Moscow pre-empted.
But back to the spy gear.
Ted Danson wouldn't be caught dead in one of those wigs.
Then there's the written instructions that the FSB says Fogle allegedly carried to a meeting with a Russian he was trying to recruit.
Not very careful tradecraft, spy lingo for tricks of the espionage business.
"The FSB ... produced a typewritten letter that it described as instructions to the Russian agent who was the target of Fogle's alleged recruitment effort," according to the story
from Moscow by the Associated Press.
"The letter, written in Russian and addressed 'Dear friend,' offers $100,000 to 'discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation' and up to $1 million a year for long-term cooperation.' The letter also includes instructions for opening a Gmail account to be used for communication and an address to write."
If that really happened, maybe Fogle's bosses should be fired for indiscretion.
But it doesn't sound right.
Alleged wigs for American diplomat Ryan C. Fogle was briefly detained by the Russian State Security Service and then ordered to leave the country after being accused of trying to recruit a Russian officer to work as a U.S. agent. | Photo: Associated Press | Ryan Fogle, Cia, Wigs, Diplomat, Spy, Arrested, Russia, Moscow,
Before the aborted meeting, the unnamed FSB counterintelligence officer Fogle was allegedly wooing "refused to meet" with him, according to the AP's account of the FSB statement, so Fogle "called him a second time and offered him 100,000 euros if he would provide information to the U.S."
Talk about American aggression. That unnamed FSB officer will probably be digging up beets in Siberia before long.
"I can't imagine that the agency has dumbed down so much," said a retired CIA Russian operations specialist.
"The wigs don't bother me as much as the written instructions for an unrecruited spy. Heck, based on what we apparently know, he's not even a developmental" (a potential spy under assessment). "Are we now into cold calls in Moscow? Nothing computes."
But the former official quickly added, "At this point, there are just too many filters between us and what might be the truth." And ?"obviously the biggest one is the Russians."? ?