The Spy Who Couldn’t
When I was a child, the big rule in our house was that you didn’t share our family secrets with the outside world. In fact you were not supposed to share anything “going on” at all. Well me being me, did not follow that rule really good at times. There were many situations that you just had to spill in order to save face on the playground. “My daddy is on a big aircraft carrier!” “Well my daddy flies fighter planes” (Did I mention I did some growing up on a military base?) So there I was, “Oh yea? Well my daddy listens to radio conversations and was in Vietnam and ate a Russian bear! So there!!” Yea, not good at the secret thing and got in trouble a lot as well.
I would have made a very bad spy, but I don’t think I would have been as bad as these people:
In the early 2000, a spy ring was established at MIT by the Russians. The SVR (KGB successor) managed to put together the most inept spies ever. They were so bad that the FBI didn’t in bother to go after them for a while. It was just too easy to monitor. The agents were all given American names with the ringleader being called Anna Chapman. They all had computer based jobs in London, New York and MIT.
The spies transferred data using PC-to-PC open wireless networking. This meant that information being sent to another computer could easily be intercepted and deciphered, and it was. Another problem the mental midgets had was the spy programs kept freezing their laptops, so this crack team of Soviet agents posing as computer experts had to send back their laptops to Moscow for trouble shooting. But wait, it gets better. They used 27-character-long random passwords to protect their computer, which is good. It makes the password harder to guess at and harder to crack through brute force, but it also makes it harder to remember. So the Russians did what a lot of folks did. They wrote it down on sticky notes and attached them the laptops. When the FBI decided to move in on the ring they found lots of secret spy information right there on the laptops, as icons. Just point and click and, there it was, all the super-secret stuff.
Adolf Tolkachev was on of the best sources of information for the Americans. In 1976 he worked at radar station in Moscow. He was still a little miffed at how the communists treated his wife’s family so he decided to get back at them. He was going to give out all the secrets he knew, about Mother Russia. So how did he do this? He chased cars. Yep, he would go to the embassy and put notes on the windshields of cars leaving the embassy. Even with the KGB monitoring all the cars leaving thinking there might be a spy among them, there was Adolf chasing them down leaving notes. No one paid attention to him for a while. One day, for whatever reason, the Americans decided to listen, probably to be polite and then get him to leave. Well as soon as he started to talk, the Americans knew they had found the Mother Lode, er make that the Mother Russia Lode. He was eventually arrested and executed by the Russians.
Ryan Fogle was arrested last year in Russia for attempting to recruit a Russian counter-terrorism officer. Ryan was the third secretary at the US embassy In Moscow. So what makes this guy such a terrible spy? It was his tools of the trade, his spy things. When he was caught he had a compass, a map of Russia, several pairs of dark glasses, wads of cash and two wigs, one blonde and one brown. He also had a letter in his possession going over how to make a clandestine account on Gmail. I think it may have been a case of someone watching allthe bond movies in one night on Netflix or something. As author and expert on the KGB, Yevgeny M. Albats, told The New York Times, “Why did he have to do it in such an old-fashioned way? It sounds like the ’70s.”