US started negotiating spy swap before arrests

posted at 6:52 pm on July 9, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Normally, an operation to roll up an espionage network entails secrecy, as any hint to the network’s home intelligence service would mean losing the opportunity of catching the agents and the data they have stolen.  That was not the case with the Russian sleeper agents arrested by the FBI this month in a dramatic if anachronistic display of the rivalry between Washington and Moscow.  In fact, the US tipped off their counterparts in Russia about the spies — and worked out the details of the swap before ever getting any of the suspects in custody (see update below):

The White House began deliberating a spy swap with Moscow nearly a month ago, well ahead of the arrests of 10 Russians in the United States less than two weeks ago, a White House official said Friday.

In the course of the following negotiations with Moscow, the United States put forward the names of the four people who were released by Russia on Friday as their part of the bargain, the official said, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House.

The swap took place Friday in Vienna. The official said all of the children of the Russian spies had left the United States for Russia or were in the process of leaving.

The Russian agents had been under observation by U.S. authorities for a decade. The decision to move against them was precipitated by indications that some planned to leave the United States this summer, the official said.

Why not just arrest the spies first?  After all, even if Barack Obama wants to perform a “reset” on US-Russian relations, the Russians were spying on us, and subject to arrest.  The four people the US wanted in the trade certainly weren’t given that kind of consideration, after all.

If the sleepers really had acquired no damaging information, the point is probably academic.  However, tipping off the Russians more or less made that conclusion certain.  The FBI cannot be so naive as to think that Moscow didn’t instruct their agents to destroy anything incriminating that would prove a crime more serious than the failure to register as a foreign agent, a felony that carries a five-year sentence but is far less serious than actual espionage.

Something about this doesn’t smell right — and the fact that the administration is only talking about it after the swap, and on a Friday night, makes it seem even more peculiar.

So who did we get in the swap?  The Washington Post offers a profile:

Three of the four whom Russia traded for them were professionals — once successful career officers in the Russian intelligence service.

One had been convicted of being a double agent for the United States, and another pleaded guilty to giving KGB secrets to the British intelligence agency, MI6. The third was never charged with espionage but was fired from the service under suspicion that he had developed a dangerous friendship with a CIA counterpart. He was arrested years later on charge of illegal weapons possession apparently unrelated to his KGB past.

The fourth was Igor Sutyagin, a 45-year-old arms control and nuclear weapons researcher for a Moscow think tank who had no known intelligence background yet spent the past 11 years in a prison camp after being convicted of passing sensitive information to the CIA through a British front company. Sutyagin had consistently maintained his innocence, noting that he had no security clearance and no secrets to reveal.

In terms of actual impact, these four would seem to have much more value than the professed failure of the Russian sleeper agents.  For the Russians to give up even one of these people would be significant — and four seems too good to believe.  And that also has me wondering why the US felt the need to give the Russians a heads-up on the arrests first, and why the Russians were willing to swap arguable traitors for ten supposed failures.

Update: One e-mailer says that the AP story quoted at the top doesn’t quite say that we negotiated with the Russians, but that we considered negotiating with the Russians before arresting the spies.  If so (and it seems that’s what Jennifer Loven meant), it’s hard to see what the point of the article was anyway.  Wouldn’t we be considering a swap as soon as we knew we had Russian assets to seize?  Why would we wait for years to have that cross someone’s mind?  The people who got sprung in Russia had been either in prison or fired years ago.

It still doesn’t explain the disparity in the trade, either.  If the idea was to seize the agents to put pressure on the Russians to release these four people, why wait until these ten were about to flee to do it?  Why are the Russians so eager to to trade four people who apparently did substantial damage to their security for ten flops?


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Sounds like Obama knew this was a minor leagues sopy team and just wanted to score points not against Russia but for himself against the American people.

It was like he was telling Russia “Hey we are gonna take down your weak spy ring for PR value hope you arent mad at us ?”

William Amos on July 9, 2010 at 6:56 PM

And that also has me wondering why the US felt the need to give the Russians a heads-up on the arrests first, and why the Russians were willing to swap arguable traitors for ten supposed failures.

But Captain Ed he is giving Russia Poland back by not putting in the missile defense system.

Dire Straits on July 9, 2010 at 6:57 PM

No, this doesn’t smell right at all.

They were NOT charged with spying. I don’t know the exact charges but they were along the lines of business fraud and illegal immigration. They were given a show trial where they plead guilty and the judge sentenced them to time served and the judgment gave the government authority to deport them.

Now we’re told they told the Russians ahead of time about what they knew? Why didn’t the Russians just… CALL THEM HOME. Why did the Russians go through the show? What happens to these “spies” children? (and I use that term loosely because they were never charged with spying and I seem to recall some constitutional thingy about innocent until proven guilty)

Again, I almost get the feeling that these Russians were wanted for crimes against the party in Russia and we just did a rendition of these people.

Skywise on July 9, 2010 at 6:59 PM

Still feeling burned by the whole Olympics thing, apparently.

TexasDan on July 9, 2010 at 7:01 PM

Get past the protective shell AG Holder will have up and obtain the telephone/email records to see if the russkie spies were in communication w/ any of Obama Commie Czars.

sbark on July 9, 2010 at 7:02 PM

It’s a damn shame that it’s gotten to the point that this government is so corrupted that everything they do has to be looked at with a strong hint of suspicion.

Jeff on July 9, 2010 at 7:05 PM

That’s what Obama meant when he mentioned TRANSPARENCY. Unfortunately it only applies to US enemies, not to the little people of America. :(

poxoma on July 9, 2010 at 7:05 PM

They were charged with not properly registering as foreign agents, which someone said was equal to a speeding ticket in spy terms.

Editor on July 9, 2010 at 7:06 PM

Obama obviously wants to push something thru that the American people hate, and is using this as some type of diversion. What about the Start Treaties? He is up to no good, that is for sure!

bopbottle on July 9, 2010 at 7:06 PM

..Everything about the Obama administration revolves around scoring political points.

..This is very similar to the bragging Obama and Panetta were doing months ago concerning taking out top Taliban leadership,
only to find out later on that it was Taliban leaders that had angered ISI and had become disposable to them.

…Most foreign leaders view Obama as nothing more than a two bit naive clown.

….what a joke.

Baxter Greene on July 9, 2010 at 7:07 PM

Something about this doesn’t smell right — and the fact that the administration is only talking about it after the swap, and on a Friday night, makes it seem even more peculiar.

Nothing about this administration smells right.

Disturb the Universe on July 9, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Spying in America,and Hopey can’t bend over far enough
to accomodate the Russians!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:09 PM

Russia…”hey Barry, there are these malcontents we want to talk to”….’NP, Vlad,,,,”

Limerick on July 9, 2010 at 7:10 PM

Get past the protective shell AG Holder will have up and obtain the telephone/email records to see if the russkie spies were in communication w/ any of Obama Commie Czars.

sbark on July 9, 2010 at 7:02 PM

Or if they worked for the Democrats in the last election.

zmdavid on July 9, 2010 at 7:12 PM

No effort to examine those who came in contact with these agents. No effort to examine what effect these foreign agents might have had on domestic politics. No effort to identify any Nongovernmental Organizations they might have had contact with. No effort to trace out any networks these agents might have set up.

No examination of the communications between these agents and any of their contacts. No effort to see if these agents might have tried to influence events within the United States that would destabilize or discredit the government, the GOP, individual Senators or Members of Congress.

In short, this was too easy, went too fast, too public, and just too convenient and the news media is buying everything this administrations is saying about the incident without any question.

Skandia Recluse on July 9, 2010 at 7:12 PM

The administration found out that they crashed a State Department dinner at the White House.

Now they’re pissed.

Get ready for Operation: Juevos in Georgia
or
The Ukraine Smackdown

Gunslinger on July 9, 2010 at 7:13 PM

Again, I almost get the feeling that these Russians were wanted for crimes against the party in Russia and we just did a rendition of these people.

Skywise on July 9, 2010 at 6:59 PM

By the way, this is very possible. Were there not reports of how afraid the girl was of being deported to Russia?

Editor on July 9, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Meanwhile, Francis Gary Powers is returned for further questioning.

Limerick on July 9, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Ya know,the Chinese got access to where the US Ballistic fleet was,and the latest Nuclear Warheads from Los Alomos,
and guidance gizmo thingy that helped their missiles hit
their targets during the Clinton years,

but,in Deja Vu Part 2,another Liberal President,Hopey to
be exact doesn’t seem to have a problem,appeartantly I th
ink the talk’n points are,that Red Headed Natasha,didn’t
steal anything THAT THEY KNOW OF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:20 PM

Nothing about this administration smells right.

Disturb the Universe on July 9, 2010 at 7:08 PM

+1000

amen dtu

cmsinaz on July 9, 2010 at 7:22 PM

Meanwhile, Francis Gary Powers is returned for further questioning.

Limerick on July 9, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Limerick:D*mmit,I’ve been reborn again,its 1959 all over
again!!

Good one Lim!!!:)

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Not being a conspiracy theorist even I find this fishy. Me thinks the trail might have led to Obama or his administration. We’ll never know now . Of course if we had a media that weren’t Obama boot lickers, maybe we could have found out what’s behind this.

sandee on July 9, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Not being a conspiracy theorist even I find this fishy. Me thinks the trail might have led to Obama or his administration. We’ll never know now . Of course if we had a media that weren’t Obama boot lickers, maybe we could have found out what’s behind this.

sandee on July 9, 2010 at 7:23 PM

sandee: I’m in your boat,your idea is sheer logic!!

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:25 PM

The little man in my head is telling me that President Obama swapped something else for the release of the spies held by Russia (and possibly other things we know not of) and that the spy swap is simply a cover.

Makes me wish Art Bell was still on the air.

29Victor on July 9, 2010 at 7:25 PM

+1000

amen dtu

cmsinaz on July 9, 2010 at 7:22 PM

cmsinaz:Yuppers:)

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Something to think about: That we were tipped off by a defector. Let’s face it, FBI doesn’t have the greatest track record uncovering spies- even within its own organization (ahem, Robert Hanssen). Not that CIA has been much better (Ames), but anyway, Skywise has a good point about all this not adding up. Detecting foreign intelligence officers is hard enough. To catch a group of “illegals,” to use the SVR term (NOCs in US lingo), is harder by orders of magnitude. We only caught a fraction of the illegals operating in the US during the 1930s and 40s. Venona proved there were many more.

Did we interrogate the group at all to get an idea of the extent of their work? And I’m not talking about an Abdul Mutallab interrogation.

Did the Russians accept the deal so fast because they want to protect more illegals who might have been uncovered had a full trial went on? Of course there’s more of them, but you’d think we’d try to figure that out before we let them go. US counterintelligence shouldn’t operate like CBP’s catch and release.

AuH20 on July 9, 2010 at 7:26 PM

burgers and fries spies

cmsinaz on July 9, 2010 at 7:29 PM

Obowma would screw up a baloney sandwich…

… The Russians told Obowma what to do, and he did it.

Seven Percent Solution on July 9, 2010 at 7:30 PM

What this really smells of…………………….

is………………………

CHICAGO THUGGERY DEALING/WHEELING CORRUPT POLITICAL BACKROOM
SMOKED FILLED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS……………..

how will it benifit ME FIRST……………….

DNC Party SECOND……………………..

AMERICIAN SECURITY……….DEAD LAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:34 PM

Makes me wish Art Bell was still on the air.

29Victor on July 9, 2010 at 7:25 PM

We still have George Noory!

Dire Straits on July 9, 2010 at 7:34 PM

Did the Russians accept the deal so fast because they want to protect more illegals who might have been uncovered had a full trial went on? Of course there’s more of them, but you’d think we’d try to figure that out before we let them go. US counterintelligence shouldn’t operate like CBP’s catch and release.

AuH20 on July 9, 2010 at 7:26 PM

But why not… charge them with spying?! Okay, they cut a deal with the Russians, fine. But not to charge them with spying? To serve NO jail time at all in US prisons? They had BAD stuff, remember? We had TONS of evidence on them and they were going to… to what? What was the evidence? What was the goal of their spying?

Then we cut a deal with the Russians BEFORE we arrest them. Huh?!?!

I’m hard pressed to see how the official story can be factual at all.
In fact, the only way this can be factual is if these guys WERE nobodies (corporate spies) and Obama trumped this all up to make himself look good and Medeved went along. But then again, we supposedly traded them for some Russian Military people who turned states secrets for us. Why would Russia swap nobodies with real and damaging spies?

Skywise on July 9, 2010 at 7:35 PM

burgers and fries spies

cmsinaz on July 9, 2010 at 7:29 PM

cmsinaz: Hopey the Hamburgler!!haha:)

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:35 PM

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:34 PM

couldn’t have said it better myself…

cmsinaz on July 9, 2010 at 7:38 PM

I’ll give you ten of the hundreds I know about and approve of if…

mjbrooks3 on July 9, 2010 at 7:38 PM

cmsinaz: Hopey the Hamburgler!!haha:)

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:35 PM

+1
good one :)

cmsinaz on July 9, 2010 at 7:39 PM

Editor on July 9, 2010 at 7:15 PM

I would believe it. Even if they aren’t wanted for something specific, I bet Putin/Medvedev welcomes them back as heroes and then as soon as the media show is over uses them as examples of poor discipline. I don’t know that I would want to go back if I were one of them. I could see a “car accident” happening in a few months time. Just look at the President of Ukraine, Russian anti-Putin journalists, Alexander Litvinenko, etc.

AuH20 on July 9, 2010 at 7:40 PM

Did Obama and Putin negotiate the number of Russian spies to be arrested?

ICBM on July 9, 2010 at 7:41 PM

Maybe Team Obama could create a few jobs and rent the house
next to former Governor of Alaska,Sarah Palin,and get some
binoculars and telescopes,and that way,from the kitchen
window,they would be able to keep servaillance on those
pesky Natasha Red Head types!!!

Wait a tic,upon reflection of the idiocy I typed,it won’t
work,because the more I think about it,the intel gathering
group would probably waste all their time downloading porn,
all day,like the SEC group!!(snark)

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Skywise on July 9, 2010 at 7:35 PM

I know, I hear ya. Anyway you look at it it doesn’t look good. I have no idea why we told the Russians before we arrested them. So incredibly dumb. The Left always cries about how the Right unfairly paints them as soft on national security. Umm, well yeah, and this whole debacle just proves it even more.

AuH20 on July 9, 2010 at 7:45 PM

Ed, I don’t read the article that way. It says that they were deliberating over who should get swapped… not that they were negotiating with the Russians ahead of the arrest.

Also, think back to the initial Russian reaction to the arrests. It was not the reaction of a people who had been made aware that the arrests were imminent.

lexhamfox on July 9, 2010 at 7:45 PM

Makes me wish Art Bell was still on the air.

29Victor on July 9, 2010 at 7:25 PM
===========================
We still have George Noory!

Dire Straits on July 9, 2010 at 7:34 PM

Dire Straits: Well praise be,I’m a CoasttoCoasty!!

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:46 PM

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:46 PM

Are you a Coasty? :)

Dire Straits on July 9, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Perhaps Russia just wanted this embarrassing failure of its pages. I’m sure that there would be more embarrassing details coming out.

Illinidiva on July 9, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Sounds a little showy, like maybe a distraction from the get-go, didn’t it.

tarpon on July 9, 2010 at 7:50 PM

We still have George Noory!

Dire Straits on July 9, 2010 at 7:34 PM

Nobody could replace Art in my book. I used to work graveyard and listened to him all night, way back when Dreamland was only on weekends and he still talked straight politics with the Nazis, Commies and other assorted fruits and nuts what would call in. Ahhhhh, those were the days.

29Victor on July 9, 2010 at 7:52 PM

I’m amazed that Obama got anything from Russia. Really amazed. If Putin wanted his spies back, it seems to me that all he had to do was make the demand, criticize Bush, and Obama would have handed them over.

So the fact that Obama got four important spies released tells me he must have given up something far more important. The facebook spy ring was probably just for show.

joe_doufu on July 9, 2010 at 8:14 PM

29Victor on July 9, 2010 at 7:52 PM

I agree that Art was the best! I am most impressed that there are this many radio fans! :)

Dire Straits on July 9, 2010 at 8:16 PM

This gave the Russian amatuers plenty of time to hide any trail to professional spies of whom they might have some knowledge.

burt on July 9, 2010 at 9:00 PM

The Russians told Obowma what to do, and he did it to get the oil-spill stories off the news cycle…

Seven Percent Solution on July 9, 2010 at 7:30 PM

added my 0.02

macncheez on July 9, 2010 at 9:31 PM

In any other administration, this would potentially be a presidency-toppling scandal.

In the Obama administration, it’s just another Friday.

Cylor on July 9, 2010 at 9:47 PM

To catch a group of “illegals,” to use the SVR term (NOCs in US lingo), is harder by orders of magnitude. We only caught a fraction of the illegals operating in the US during the 1930s and 40s. Venona proved there were many more.

Interesting, isn’t it, that this particular group of “illegals” were shipped out of the country so much quicker than OTHER people who are here “illegally”?…..

TeresainFortWorth on July 9, 2010 at 9:50 PM

Skandia Recluse on July 9, 2010 at 7:12 PM

Precisely.

The whole mess stinks.

And that’s saying something these days.

CPT. Charles on July 9, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Perhaps the spies, with families and enjoying the pre Obama American life, decided they wanted to stay here and live out their pretend lives as Americans and told Russia to kiss off or they spill some beans. The Russians wanted them back, quietly as possible, gagged and on the first flight home, and tossed in some harmless Russian prisoners to make it look legitimate. Of course Obama would do that for Russia, if for no other reason than his loyality to his Moscow appointed mentor and Communist Party USA leader, Frank Davis. Recall Barry’s distain for celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I feel sorry for the American children who were deported as well without even a trial or hearing on their rights. That is a clear indication that a child born here to an illegal parent is not automatically an American citizen, or at least not until they are 18 and can apply for recognition of their citizenship. Too bad their parents did not come from Mexico.

Franklyn on July 9, 2010 at 10:18 PM

As I said in an earlier blog-because of the obvious amateurishness of the spies and lack of evidence that they secured (or even attempted to secure) vital data useful to the Russians- this whole mess raises the hairs at the back of my neck with feelings that the American public has been set up to show Obama was a kick-ass foreign policy dealer.I even wondered if these spies could be actors (and bad ones at that) hired to bolster Obama’s image.

If negotiations with the Russians took place BEFORE the alleged spies were apprehended, then we could be talking treason (on the part of Obama and his team-NOT the “spies”) or, at the very least a conspiracy shell con-game in which BOTH the US and Russia are going through meaningless posturing for the consumption of the gullible home folks in both countries. Picture Obama wearing orange-such a nice color.

MaiDee on July 9, 2010 at 10:30 PM

Absolutely nothing about this makes any sense at all.

I have no problem with cover stories. I neither need nor want to know everything about how America deals with foreign spies, or uses our own.

But there is no way in Hell this case could possibly have been investigated fully in the time available after the arrest of these spies. If you want to trade them, fine. But keep them long enough to fully debrief all of them and cross check everything they tell you. And that takes AT LEAST several months, and often a year or more.

This crap about “We already knew everything, and they didn’t get any information, so there’s no need to ask any more questions.” Complete gibberish.

My take on this: The FBI did a phenomenal job, and now Obama is working feverishly to destroy everything they accomplished.

logis on July 9, 2010 at 10:46 PM

There has got to be more to this story. This link has more information than I’ve seen elsewhere so far http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/world/europe/29spy.html?_r=1. Saw a piece yesterday about how some of the Russians were employees of a business with connections to USAID. Hopefully the National Inquirer is on it.

indypat on July 9, 2010 at 11:10 PM

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 7:46 PM
=====================
Are you a Coasty? :)

Dire Straits on July 9, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Dire Straits:All the way back to Dreamland!!!:)

canopfor on July 9, 2010 at 11:56 PM

Ok, here is what I found weird… news reports of spies living the American dream, Putin is outraged, we exhcnage spies, news refers to them as “sleeper agents” – huh? Weirdness abounds.

I’m with the rest of you – where is Art Bell? I’ll bet he’d have on some marvelous tin foil hat interview to curl our hair.

Queen0fCups on July 10, 2010 at 12:15 AM

The other weird thing… why would Russia need spies, they can just read the NYT and other liberal blogs.

Queen0fCups on July 10, 2010 at 12:20 AM

Not that this administration would have done it. But if you are watching the controllers, letting it slip that a bunch of spies are going to be arrested, might make it possible to unmask spies you have not yet uncovered.

Slowburn on July 10, 2010 at 12:27 AM

The US got the best in the spy-swap, and there has to be a reason – Putin [actual head of Russia] isn’t going to give without REALLY getting some blood from Obama.

Money’s on Obama signing the SALT treaty in pretty short order.

He’s as meek/feeble with the Russians as he is with the islamists.

GGMac on July 10, 2010 at 12:41 AM

How about a blatant transfer of sensitive info

this is so wierd and Obama and his punks are so antiamerican nothing would suprise mr

Sonosam on July 10, 2010 at 12:54 AM

I knew this story stunk. So , Barry swapped the Keystone KGB – a group of harmless, pseudo-spies for some real spies, I’d wager.

Anyone keeping score at how often Team Barry loses one to a foreign power?

reaganaut on July 10, 2010 at 12:55 AM

The spy-arrests here coincided with Medvedev’s behind-closed-doors visit with Obama. The spy-swap is accomplished within mere days. The Russians get back a group of westernized, happy-go-lucky, ineffective ‘spies’; we get high-value actual spies in exchange.

The more I think about it, the more my gut tells me this whole deal was initiated by Putin, with Obama’s SALT treaty signature as his goal.

Have to wait and see…I’d rather be wrong on this.

GGMac on July 10, 2010 at 1:00 AM

Lets assume instead of the story it had, the 10 were mostly thugs & criminal types; with dangerous looks and (possibly) dangerous secrets. How would the media have reacted then? And our leader Obama chooses to keep them for debriefing and trial; what kind of gains could that have been worth?

Tough on criminal activity, tough on foreign spies, good security/national defense PR… and all from a prearranged deal? A success for Government employees and government doing it’s job correctly; catching them before “their plan” was enacted (whatever that story’s plan happens to have been). Yeah, that’s worth a try anyhow. Especially when your own sides’ polling has you running under 50% and issues with major topics… you need to generate some good press. Oh, and bury the gulf spill story for a bit too. Wins all the way around if it works.

Of course the pretty girl as the face of the spies, and her clear incompetence at being a spy ruined that. The story was a joke and not a scare; so the deal was finalized quickly to end the story.

When your plan backfires, better to put out the fire than to try to spin and salvage a clear failure. There will always be another chance.

Ok, does this sound entirely plausible and rational, or conspiracy theory lunatic and deranged… or can anyone tell anymore with Obama running things the way he has been?

gekkobear on July 10, 2010 at 1:05 AM

Amature Hour

the Coondawg on July 10, 2010 at 1:28 AM

Some comments.

1. Negotiating for a swap before apprehending the spies seems really odd. The update (regarding considering) makes more sense and that doesn’t discount the possibility that a swap had been considered before as well.

2. In Russia people widely believe that the spies were not for real and that the story was concocted by the evil US. Saving them in a swap allows Putin to show how much he cares for his subjects – he saves ten innocent Russians from the clutches of US and is ready to give up four actual spies in return.

3. Russia has in recent years arrested and convicted people of spying in cases where it is very hard to believe that there was any actual spying. Now as part of the deal the four were forced to confess. So Putin can show his sometimes doubting subjects that Russia has nabbed actual spies.

4. Even if the Russian spies were a bunch of bumbling amateurs, it does good for the morale of those remaining (and you can bet there are those) that Russia swapped them out and didn’t leave them to rot in jail.

kittysaidwoof on July 10, 2010 at 1:54 AM

Count on everything Obama does to be corrupt.

scotash on July 10, 2010 at 3:07 AM

It could be as simple as giving communists sympathizers in the administration information they felt needed to be given to the Communists in Russia.

They have no moral loyalty to our nation! Why think they would feel obligated to keep secrets from Mother Russia?

archer52 on July 10, 2010 at 7:37 AM

The Russians used to be good at spying. Was this the team designed to screen the real team? Hopefully there are several more persons, the real spies, already in custody that might be part of the deal.

MarkT on July 10, 2010 at 9:11 AM

…why the Russians were willing to swap arguable traitors for ten supposed failures.

Better question yet #1 – why the “arguable traitors” were alive and available to be swapped. KGB turncoats typically get a bullet to the back of the head pretty quickly. Allowing non-US spies to be seen to be snatched away to the West, presumably to a hero’s welcome, a new identity, and life of comfort is not the message Putin would logically want to be sent!

Better question yet #2 - why the US media covered this so openly and approvingly. Any time the media uncritcally covers a story that portrays US national security work in a positive light, and the Russians as actual threats (instead of the boogey-men under the conservatives’ bed), you just know they are reading from somebody’s script!

Like everything else about this administration and their pals in the media, this smells like horse manure.

drunyan8315 on July 10, 2010 at 9:21 AM

Obama administration sanctioned the Lockerbie bomber swap; terrorist for international Libyan oil contracts. Another bedtime story for muslims.

Then Obama allowed Bill Clinton to be used as swag to release those selfish girls from North Korea. Short story for Maoists.

This seems to be a bedtime story for Cuba. Instead of arresting Cuban spies or Cuban sleeper cells (because they sympathize with Fidel) identified or outed from the old State Dept. couple who confessed to being communist spies early into the Obama administration, they went with the Russian subset.

FeFe on July 10, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Medvedev & Obama, two communist Presidents- make a deal at the burger shop. Enough said.

flintstone on July 11, 2010 at 12:59 PM