Are your backyard barbecues breeding Bolsheviks? Deep cover agents posing as a two car garage, 2.3 kid, suburban, all-American family? Mysterious sultry, salon dyed Slavic redheads friending you on Facebook? Foreigners who dazzle with superb hydrangea pruning skills? Watch out America, the Russians are coming, and one of them might look just like you.
There isn’t much to be said about the busted Russian spy ring at this point. We all know the story of 11 secret agents planted by the “Moscow Center” to dig up information about nukes, policy, and backroom rumors in Washington. We all have fawned, or read about the fawning over the PG-13 pics of “Anna Chapman,” the femme fatale of this real life Naked Gun movie (if the Chapman obsession wasn’t pathetic enough, now the Marines are now using her to warn sailors about “the use of good-looking women to lower a man’s defenses.” Oh, brother.) We’ve also have seen how Moscow has laughed all of this off, and though it has questioned it’s timing, hasn’t retaliated in its usual way by expelling American diplomats. We also know that this scandal will probably not effect any future burger lunches between Obama and Medvedev. We pretty much know, unless FBI documents reveal otherwise, that Moscow’s “illegals” weren’t very good spies at all. Finally, we also were informed that Christopher Metsos flew the coop in Cyprus and Juan Lazaro would sell out his kids before violating his “loyalty to the Service.”
Not by a long shot.
Besides all the manufactured drama of this spy ring, which James Meek over at LRB Blog rightly calls “a kind of performance art” fit for an HBO series, what has intrigued me about all of this is how the spies were “a typical, child-obsessed American family.” Indeed, as Meek notes, the deep cover Russian spies are a real life analogy to the suburban mafiosi in the Sopranos, the drug lords cum legit businessmen in The Wire, or the faux-humanoid aliens of V. They attended block parties and barbecues, showed up at PTA meetings and picnics, babysat the neighborhood kids, joined social networking sites, and had pretty ordinary jobs.
According to the FBI complaint to the court, becoming just like us was the Russian spies’ primary mission:
The FBI’s investigation has revealed that a network of illegals is now living and operating in the United States in the service of one primary, long-term goal: to become sufficiently “Americanized” such that they can gather information about the United States for Russia, and can successfully recruit sources who are in, or are able to infiltrate, United States policy-making circles.
It appears that they were good at the first part–becoming sufficiently Americanized–but bad at the second–infiltrating US policy-making circles. Win some, lose some.
For me this dose of spymania says more about America than it does about the ineptness of Russian espionage. What several of the “illegals” proved was how vapid and boring American suburban life really is. All “illegals” like the Murphys had to do was pounce around in polo shirts, swig a couple of Diet Cokes, parent a couple of blond children, drive a Beemer, and don a pearly white smile fit for a real estate agent. They were so good at it that they were able to do it without being married, though some spy to spy booty call was not out of the question. For spy turned tabloid sensation Anna Chapman, posing as an ambitious twenty-something ready and able to hang out in the NY party scene was easy. All she had to do was pour some five-and-dime red dye on her head and hit the clubs. According to one former lover in Britain, Chapman knew how to work it.
Shocked Charlie Hutchinson, 31, said after seeing Anna Chapman’s picture in The Sun: “While we had sex she was talking and moaning in Russian. It lasted for 2½ hours and was so sexy. She was incredible.
The bespectacled law student told how the temptress – arrested by the FBI – was on a night out in Southampton when she jumped into his cab as he headed back to the university’s halls of residence.
He had earlier got talking to her as he boozed with chums at a student pub – called the White House.
Charlie, who is still studying in Southampton three years on, said: “Both of us were drunk. When we got into my room she began doing a striptease while I sat on the bed.
“She has a stunning figure – and had no underwear on. She really knew what she was doing.”
A week later they met up again for a romantic meal at an Italian restaurant – followed by more romps. He said: “She was wild in bed – a 14 out of ten. She knows positions I had never imagined.”
Hubba. Hubba. But hey Chapman’s ability to go into deep cover was in her genes. It has been revealed that her father was a KGB officer. A certain VVP perhaps?
After reading several stories about how ordinary these “spies” lives were (okay, maybe Chapman’s wasn’t too vanilla), I can imagine that all their training to capture “American realism” was to watch Hollywood movies. The LA Times suggested as much with: “If their cover jobs were ordinary, their secret lives had a humdrum side that sometimes seems more like Woody Allen than John LeCarre.”
Or check out the itemized expense report from Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley to the “Moscow Center”:
Got from Ctr. 64500 dollars, income 13940, interest 76. Expenses: rent 8500, utilities 142, tel. 160, car lease 2180, insurance 432, gas 820, education 3600, payments in Fr. 1000, medical 139, lawyers fees 700, meals and gifts 1230, mailboxes, computer supplies 460, business (cover) 4900, trip to meeting 1125.
If you asked me, it sounds like Heathfield and Foley got themselves sucked into American middle class suburban hell.
Now that they’ve been busted, the spies can now join the pantheon of other “dark forces” who’ve managed to burrow into American suburban life. Middle class whitey is already wrecked with anxiety over the death of the American dream, the collapse of suburban schooling, sexual predators, illegal immigrants, serial killers, and terrorists. Now they have to worry about spies too? And ones that look, act, and consume like them! I sense someone reaching for their Xanax.
Just because infiltrating into American life may be easy, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous. Not dangerous for those unsuspecting suburbanites, but for the infiltrators themselves. Barbecues and Beemers are tempting and the ‘burbs can be seductive. “Americanization” is luring to many despite, or perhaps, because of its vapidness. This is probably why the “Moscow Center” grew suspicious when the Murphy’s wanted to buy a house in Montclair, New Jersey. The Murphy’s wrote to the Center after being rebuffed:
In order to preserve positive working relationship, we would not further contest your desire to own this house. We are under an impression that C. views our ownership of the house as a deviation from the original purpose of our mission here. We’d like to assure you that we do remember what it is. From our perspective, purchase of the house was solely a natural progression of our prolonged stay here. It was a convenient way to solve the housing issue, plus to ‘do as the Romans do’ in a society that values home ownership.
According to the LA Times, the Murphys had already embraced middle class entitlement. One one them later “whined” that their handlers in Moscow “don’t understand what we go through over here.” They won’t let me own a house just like my neighbors! Whaaa!
The lesson in all this is that whitey needs to be more vigilant. Apparently living in Obama Nation has caused them to slip. Tsk. Tsk. Wake up white people! We not just taking about your children’s purity anymore. It’s not just the perverts and brown people you need to look out for. The ones that look, act and do as you do are the most dangerous. We’re talking about the protecting America from the evil Russians. Remember Communism? The Cold War? Reds in the State Department? Do you really want to be responsible for the Russianization of America? I didn’t think so. To borrow an often quoted line from the great philosopher Donald Rumsfield:
“There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
It is the “unknown unknowns” that we need to watch out for. For they could be living unbeknownnst right next door to you.