Friday, December 3, 2010

FBI Allegedly Looking for Russian Spy Inside NSA

Via (h/t Fergie's Tech Blog) -

American counterintelligence investigators are allegedly trying to uncover at least one Russian-handled double agent operating inside the US National Security Agency (NSA), according to information published on Wednesday in The Washington Times.

The paper based its allegation on an interview with an anonymous “former intelligence official” with close ties to the NSA — America’s largest intelligence agency, which is tasked with worldwide communications surveillance as well as communications security. The anonymous source told the Times that the probe is directly connected to the arrest of nearly a dozen Russian deep-cover operatives by the FBI last summer. Washington eventually exchanged the Russian spies with several Western-handled Russian operatives captured by Moscow and held in Russian prisons.

But the FBI allegedly believes that the deep-cover operatives, most of whom used false identity papers and had lived in the US for years, were primarily tasked with aiding at least one Russian-handled double spy operating inside the NSA’s Forge George F. Meade headquarters, in the US state of Maryland. The anonymous intelligence source said that, not only the FBI, but the NSA is also “convinced” that “one or more Russian spies” are active inside the Agency, as well as perhaps in other Pentagon-affiliated intelligence agencies, including the Defense Intelligence Agency.


 Couple of things (and some crazy theories)...

1) Do foreign nations have spies inside of US spy agencies? Likely. This isn't new, this is what spy agencies do afterall. So this shouldn't be a surprise. I think it is safe to assume that looking for possible insiders is an ongoing and never ending process.

As Gordon Bennett, so exquisitely stated, in his March 2000 paper titled "The SVR Russia’s Intelligence Service":
"There are friendly states but there are no friendly intelligence services"
2) The 10 Russian spies that were released in a trade deal last spring were SVR illegals. Their tradecraft appeared to be less polished and outdated (burst transmitters, etc), which aided the FBI in bringing the ring into the light. Would you risk using illegals, which practiced less than ideal tradecraft, to interact with a mole buried in America's most secretive spy organization? I wouldn't.

Of course, the 11th suspect "Christopher Metsos" gave the FBI the slip, was held in Cyprus temporarily,  skipped bail and disappeared. He is believed to acted as an intermediary between the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York and suspects Richard Murphy, Cynthia Murphy, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills. He claimed to be from Canada and traveled between the US and Canada often. Interesting enough, in Dec 2006, CSIS arrested and deport a suspected SVR illegal that has been living in Montreal for more the better part of a decade.

Then you have a 12th suspect, which was discovered and deported (without being charged), shortly after the discovery of the others. He was believed to be just establishing cover and not directly connected to exposed spy ring.

What were the full extend of their roles? Who knows...

3) This makes me guess, any moles in the NSA might not be SVR, but the GRU. During the retirement of GRU Gen. Valentin Korabelnikov in early 2009, RIA Novosti highlighted, that according to some sources, the "GRU has six times as many agents in foreign countries as the SVR, which is the KGB's foreign intelligence successor."

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