US, Russian Experts Chuckle at Feckless 'Spies'

Operation viewed as 'nutty' throwback
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2010 9:25 AM CDT
This June 27, 2010 photo shows FBI agents in Cambridge, Mass., outside a residence owned by Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley, who were arrested by the FBI on allegations of being Russian spies.   (AP Photo/Richard Stanley)
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(Newser) – To espionage experts, the 11 alleged secret agents busted as members of a Russian spy ring look like something straight out of the spy spoof Burn After Reading: inept amateurs relying on outdated, cliched methods and delivering very little useful intelligence. One former CIA boss called the operation "nutty" and a Cold War throwback, while another CIA vet deemed the alleged spies "feckless."

"So many of the things they seemed to be after you can find out by listening to the right radio station or reading the right newspaper... It doesn't say a lot about the smarts of the SVR [Russia's foreign intelligence service]," the CIA vet added. Russian intelligence experts were equally unimpressed: "It sounds preposterous to me," one former Russian spy told the Daily Telegraph. "We've never used illegals like this. And it's a comedy to have 10 of them connected."

(Read more Russian spies stories.)

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