Wednesday, May 15, 2013

CIA spook in Moscow - just incompetent or mental? (UPDATED)

I have been listening to the Russian reports about yesterday's CIA SNAFU and unless the Russians are lying through their teeth, the details which are emerging just make no sense to me.

According to the Russian media, Ryan Christopher Fogle, the third secretary of the Political Section of the American embassy in Moscow and CIA spook, gave a telephone call to a Russian security services officer who specializes in anti-terror operations in the North Caucasus and offered to recruit him (yup, over the phone!).  The Russian officer refused.  Then Fogle called him again and insisted that they meet, offering him 100'000 Euros.   If that is true, this is already mind-bogglingly dumb.  Worse, according to some Russian sources Fogle also made the same offer by email (leaving a paper trail of his clumsy recruitment efforts).

Then it get outright hilarious: Fogle showed up to the meeting wearing a wig and with, I kind you not, sunglasses even though the meeting took place at 23:30 (11:30PM).  In his bag, he had a total of 3 pairs of sunglasses, a compass, a knife, a flashlight, an plan of Moscow, an old cellphone, 2 wigs and lots of money.  Take a look for yourself:

Now, I have never been a great fan of the CIA whom I always viewed as a nasty but only semi-competent outfit who instead of serving the interests of the US people is really serving the interests of the US plutocracy, the "1%" which owns the USA.

But, honestly, that kind of kindergarten-level of gross incompetence and wannabe Hollywood spy gear really looks weird to me.  Either they are all gone totally apeshit at Langley, or there is more to this story than anybody is willing to report.

First, maybe the Russians are lying just to make fun of the CIA while the CIA can hardly refute it all.  Possible, but extremely unlikely.  That would be plain silly and, besides, that could invite a retaliation in kind.

Or, and that is my hypothesis, maybe there is something really wrong with Fogle.  What if Fogle (whether he ever was CIA or not) simply had mental issues?  What if he just "lost it" and *wanted* to be caught?

Look at this guy's face and expression:

Doesn't he remind you of somebody?  Yes, exactly!  He looks like the type of squeaky-clean guy who shows up unannounced and uninvited at your door and asks you with a blissful grin on his face "have you met Jesus?".

I admit - looking like a blissful idiot is hardly a proof of anything, but when you consider that in the context of all the crazy circumstances of this arrest, it makes me wonder.

Finally, there is the demeanor of everybody on the videos shown on Russian TV: US diplomats are summoned to the FSB where they are introduced to a rather peaceful looking Fogle who shows no sign of fear or even embarrassment.  As for the US diplomats, they seem puzzled.  Normally, being arrested by the FSB at the moment you are carrying a bag full of compromising material should at the very least startle and upset you.  Ok, Fogle knew he had diplomatic immunity, but at the very least being caught means expulsion, a huge embarrassment, and a rather unpleasant series of debriefings in Langley.  And yet, Fogle looks like he does not give a damn.

Again, I have to admit that all of the above is 100% pure speculation and maybe one day we will get the real picture of what happened.  But so far my personal feeling is "this is just too much, too much....".

So what do you think: incompetent or mental?

The Saker

UPDATE: New info just came in: turns out that Fogle is CIA, and that since he had arrived in Moscow in 2011 he had already participated in several CIA operations in Moscow.  Also, the Russian media has confirmed that the officer Fogle was trying to recruit was with the FSB (previously, that info was not officially confirmed).