Monday, October 18, 2010

Russian Spies Granted Top Honors, Bin Laden Found Yet Once Again, Or Not...

EJ Dionne Jr
Ross Douthat
Shannyn Moore
''My only regret in creating 23 million new jobs is that two million of those jobs were for right-wing pundits.'' —Bill Clinton
'There a few things in life harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate.'' — President Barack Obama
''In Washington, we know there's a huge difference between a prostitute and a politician. There are some things a prostitute won't do.'' — Sen. Claire McCaskill

Remember those Russian spies who were living like 1950's moles, were caught and traded a few months ago in a spy swap with Russia? Today, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev bestowed the state's highest honor to them, in a ceremony at the Kremlin: "In June, the group of 10 spies, many of whom had been working undercover for years in the US as sleeper agents, returned to Russia in a sensational spy swap that saw Moscow send four Russian convicts to the West. The spies received a hero's welcome in Russia, with Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, leading them in a patriotic sing-along in July.

Anna Chapman, the most famous of the agents, visited the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan this month for the launch of a Russian spaceship, boosting her celebrity status in Russia and abroad. Chapman was in Baikonur ostensibly as the new celebrity face of a Moscow bank. FondServisBank, which works with Russian companies in the aerospace industry, said it had hired Chapman to bring innovation to its information technologies. It did not escape Russians' attention that the initials of the bank, FSB, are the same as Russia's main spy agency.

Many ex-KGB spies have gone on the record slamming the shoddy and apparently antiquated spy craft of the 10, who were working for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, a successor of the Soviet KGB. Putin, who served as a spy in East Germany before going into politics, said in July that he had met with the spies to celebrate their return and warned that the "traitors" who exposed them could end up "in a ditch". The US is one of the few countries that will actually do spy swaps, or consider that a spy has value, which may be one reason that Iran wants to try the US hikers in their jail as spies. Israel wanted to use an agreement to extend the construction freeze in the West Bank, in exchange the US would release a convicted spy, who has been in our custody since the Clinton administration... Currently, there has been a rash of industrial espionage, where a Chinese national had been working for a US or Canadian company long enough to steal company secrets, then transfer that knowledge to a Chinese company that had set itself up as a competitor. One Chinese gentleman was caught at the airport with a briefcase full of company documents, while another is awaiting trial in Illinois... China is already the largest producer of fake prescription drugs, the darker side to the Gucci knock-off handbags and Rolex watches...

CNN is reporting that NATO officials are saying that Osama bin Laden is alive and well in northwest Pakistan No, he is not living in a cave, but in a house near his #2 go-to guy, living in relative comfort. Usually by the time a headline like this becomes public, it means that Pakistani intelligence has had them in custody for at least a month. If he is turned over to the US, the Democrats could use him to make a commercial for the November elections, double points if he mentions Ken Buck and Rand Paul by name!

The area mentioned is in the most rugged area of the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with at least four different Taliban militias and other drug traders, who can muster up 30,000 men to protect bin Laden. The Mullah Omar is said to have moved from Quetta to the seaside town of Karachi, much like I was joking in an earlier post, I hope he likes their version of mojitos... Pakistani officials are denying all reports, saying that bogus tales like this surface every so often, all trying to discredit the great state of Pakistan. Personally, I think that bin Laden has recently been where he witnessed the devastation from the recent monsoons and it moved him to make a tape asking for help.

If Osama were in custody, it would explain why the US is moving to talk directly with the Talibans seeking peace, and even including Iran in the equation. Iran has been holding Osama's last wife and her children hostage in a house on the outskirts of Tehran since 2006. Some kind of coalition government  would form in Afghanistan, and hopefully it would last longer than the one in Iraq... If Osama were in custody, it could change the political landscape overnight in southeast Asia and the Middle East. If he were brought to trial in Saudi Arabia, would there be riots? If he were extradited to the US, would they try him in a civilian or military court? And would they keep him in the Supermax facility here in Colorado? Or, maybe Osama has changed his ways and would prefer to speak out on environmental issues from now on, inspiring all al-Qaeda members to drop their guns and plant trees instead, around rural campfires at night they will tell the story of how a mighty fighter became known as Muhammad Appleseed...

Tonite is the debate between Alaska's Joe Miller and his Democratic opponent. Hopefully, CSPAN will carry it, I can't wait to see who he will handcuff next...

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