‘America’s shame, Moscow’s gain, but little political impact’
On Tuesday, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced it had briefly detained a CIA agent who had been working out of the US embassy as the third secretary of the Political Section of the American embassy in Moscow.
The suspected agent, Ryan Christopher Fogle, was released and immediately ordered to leave the country, having been dubbed a persona non grata by the Russian Foreign Ministry. While Russia said that the capture of a foreign intelligence officer raised serious questions about its relationship with the United States Trenear-Harvey says it is all part and parcel of the great game of espionage which both countries are well acquainted with.
RT: Do you think this American spy deserves all the ridicule he's getting from the media?
Glenmore Trenear-Harvey: No, not at all. The whole thing
is that spying continues on both sides without any letup
whatsoever. We saw…the case of the Moscow rock: at every time there
is deniability. What this is is not so much a failure by the CIA.
Unquestionably, this CIA officer, operating as the third political
secretary – his cover at the US embassy – he wasn’t
particularly effective. It is a great success for the FSB – the
Russian domestic security service – their counter-surveillance or
counter-intelligence has been shown yet again to be remarkably
effective. What Fogle failed to do is follow a set of rules which
the CIA has always had: it’s called the ‘Moscow Rules’. It requires
that you vary the pattern of your behavior. You’re constantly alert
to what is happening. I don’t know enough about the young man in
question. But it seems to me he was a little bit of a tyro. He
would have been a Russian speaking intelligence officer assigned to
the Moscow station of the CIA. The paraphernalia he had – the wig –
which the media makes great fun of, it’s not so foolish after all
[when] you’re trying to disguise your appearance.
RT:The US still hasn't yet commented on the scandal. If Ryan Fogle IS a CIA spy, what does it tell us about their standards?
GTH: Spies are very effective until they get discovered. Then there’s huge embarrassment. The embarrassment, remember, is that Secretary of State John Kerry is currently meeting Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. This is going to be a most embarrassing encounter as far as the Americans are concerned. Lavrov will have a smile on his face, a smile he didn’t have when the suburban spies like Anna Chapman and Christopher Metsos and others were discovered three years ago; the illegals operating in America. As I say, it is one to the Russians, the FSB, and zero to the Americans. He has been declared persona non grata. He will be taken back to the United States and another CIA officer will replace him.
RT:The Russian Foreign Ministry has once again
expressed its disappointment over the latest spying scandal, saying
the CIA's actions undermine the governments' efforts to
What political impact is it likely to have?
GTH: Very little indeed. President Putin for many, many
years, both as a KGB intelligence officer operating in the former
GDR [German Democratic Republic] and then as head of the FSB is
absolutely wedded to the Russian security services. He is
surrounded by the siloviki [Russian politicians from the military
or security services]. He encourages his people all of the time.
Espionage used to be described by [Joseph Rudyard] Kipling as the
great game. Well in this particular instance, Russia has scored,
America has lost. But make no bones about it, there’ll be a few
ripples at the moment, and before we know it, relations will be
back to normal. As I say, the CIA will replace Fogle with another
intelligence officer, and the game will continue.