By Joseph C. Goulden – Special to The Washington Times – Wednesday, August 15, 2012
DECEPTION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF EAST-WEST ESPIONAGE TODAY – By Edward Lucas
Much of the media, both domestic and foreign, found considerable merriment in the June 2010 announcement of the arrest and expulsion of 10 Russian intelligence agents who were in the United States as “sleeper agents” — that is, spies who would be dormant while they posed as unremarkable civilians and wormed their ways into positions where they could obtain valuable information.
Headline writers gloated about “Spies in the PTA” while self-appointed humorists wondered how much “intelligence” an agent could garner at a shopping center. New York magazine’s headline on an article was, “Russian Spies Too Useless, Sexy to Prosecute.” In London, the Guardian pronounced that “none of the 10 Russians had culled any secrets from their hideouts in U.S. suburbia.” David Cornwell, who writes spy thrillers under the name John le Carre, went so far as to suggest that out-of-control “rightists” in American intelligence agencies were trying to derail the “improvement” (an odd choice of words, given reality) in Russian-American relations.
Particular glee was focused on a redhead named Anna Chapman, a young Russian woman who had acquired an English husband and ostensibly pursued business “careers” in London and New York. Her shapely figure led a London tabloid to dub her “Ms. 90-60-90” — 35-24-35 in inches. The New York Post called her a “flame-haired 007-worthy beauty who flitted from high-profile parties to top secret meetings around Manhattan [with] a fancy Financial District apartment and a Victoria’s Secret body.”
But Edward Lucas, who is fast emerging as the most able nonfiction espionage writer of his generation, argues that Russia’s dispatch of the sleeper agents “is not a laughing matter.” For more than two decades, Mr. Lucas covered Russia and Eastern Europe for the Economist, and he has documented the descent of Vladimir Putin’s regime into a new authoritarianism and its increasing hostility toward the United States. He writes with authority. Continue reading