Bummer: Hot Russian spy, 9 others to be traded?
posted at 10:12 am on July 8, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
While the sports world frets over which city LeBron James will choose for his next basketball team, the blogging world has to deal with a trade situation of its own. LeBron guarantees that arenas will get filled, but Anna Chapman guarantees that comment sections will flow freely. Now the US will apparently offer the Russians a swap that will send the incompetent espionage sensation back to Moscow for … a couple of dissidents to be named later:
The United States and Russia are negotiating a swap in which 10 Russian spy suspects would be freed after a plea deal in exchange for Moscow’s release of a defense researcher held for the past decade on espionage charges, a U.S. official said.
The official confirmed that talks between the two governments began last week shortly after the June 27 arrest of the suspects, who have been charged with conspiring to act as secret Russian agents in this country. Nine of them are also charged with money-laundering. An 11th person, also named in the indictment, is at large.
The diplomatic discussions depend on lawyers reaching a plea arrangement in federal court in New York, which an attorney for one of the suspects said could come as early as Thursday. Three arrested in Northern Virginia and two arrested in the Boston area were transferred to New York on Wednesday, joining the five others.
In Moscow, an attorney for Igor Sutyagin, a Russian arms researcher who has spent 11 years in prison on espionage charges, said her client was unexpectedly brought to the capital on Tuesday from a penal colony in the far northwest and told that he was being included in the exchange. Sutyagin, who has maintained his innocence, was also issued a passport.
Sounds a bit like Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio, doesn’t it? Somehow, I see a big hotness deficit in this trade. Predictions for the number of comments on blog posts about an arms researcher named Igor: 12. If I include a picture … 7.
Of course, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but this is actually a serious issue. If Russia wants a trade for these spies — incompetent and useless as they apparently turned out to be — then we should make sure that Russia releases people who are worth the trouble. Sutyagin sounds like he fits the bill. During the Cold War, it often seemed that these exchanges served Soviet PR more than benefited the US, and were usually disproportionate in numbers.
If people have a hard time taking this seriously, it’s not hard to blame them. The whole affair has been a giant anachronism, as if the Russians really can’t quite believe that the Cold War is over. Every nation conducts espionage, but the kind of information these “sleepers” attempted to access through stealth was more or less out in the open anyway. The US probably has sleepers and deep cover agents in other nations, too, but hopefully those assets are in countries where information is much more closely held, and where deep covers actually produce information that governments don’t post on the Internet.
The spy swap is just one more anachronism, and a perfect end to the affair And after all, the best part of the Internet is that hot Russian spies can continue making a public spectacle of themselves anywhere in the world, and no one has to feel they’ve lost anything. Now if we can just get LeBron to play for every NBA team as easily …