Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Cold War, this is not

The reporting on the Canada-Russia spy case makes it read more like a Johnny English script than a John le Carré novel.

From what we know so far... a very junior RCN intelligence officer rucks up to the Russian Embassy, flashe a badge speaks to a Russian military intelligence representative. Espionage ensues - involving a data-stick and top secret computer systems. Right mouse clicks for three grand a month. Not exactly a lucrative business, is it? Especially considering if the sort of intelligence our sailor was meant to be sharing is about 23 years out of style. That sort of maritime data would have been much more valuable during the Cold War. You know, when the Soviets were THE declared adversary and paid top dollar for such carnal services. Didn't he know China is the new Red?

Oh, but wait. His just-as-dumb handlers wanted to meet him in Brazil. Brazil? Seriously? Over cocktails and dancing girls I bet. And there they give him a mountain of cash that would raise the eyebrow of any diligent customs officer, especially in the post-9/11 air security context and if you're an officer in the RCN and only gone for a few days. One thinks the GRU folks have either been watching too many old Bond films or stood to gain something from burning their Canucklehead like that besides the attention of the Brazilian and Canadian intelligence services.

The cleverist people in this whole silliness were the CBSA people who picked up on something odd and did the right thing. 

The more interesting question for me is why Delisle did it, although I suspect the answer there will be just as provincial or banal. Hmm, on second thought, that might make for interesting reading in its own right. Page 397, 'In the end, Delisle didn't know why he did it, "I just found myself walking past the Russian Embassy one day and walked in."


Steve said...

Makes it kind of hard to justify the spy camolet.

Edstock said...

If you read Yuri Modin's My Five Cambridge Friends, and you look at the tradecraft the Russkies used 60 years ago and compare to this clusterfuck, my how the mighty have fallen.
Looking at the new HQ, staff-puke-palace, it occurs that Human-source intelligence is an art, not an MBA management exercise, which makes me wonder, does CSIS do "Smiley's People" type agent-handling? CSIS is not tasked with offensive espionage, theoretically its focus is on counter-espionage, protecting Canada.

Holly Stick said...

One of LeCarre's more recent books I think has the British working very delicately to turn an enemy agent into a double agent for them, and just when they appear to have succeeded, the CIA comes bulling in, arrests the guy and ruins everything.