By Richard Walker
Bumbling Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Ryan Fogle was recently caught red-handed in Moscow by Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB) with wigs, tens of thousands of euros and other Cold War spying paraphernalia while trying to recruit a Russian intelligence operative.
Fogle was certainly no James Bond. He had been posing as a secretary in the United States Embassy in Moscow until his recent capture at his apartment. FSB agents filmed the arrest and turned it over to local news reporters, who then broadcast it on public television. Eventually it was uploaded to the popular video website YouTube for all the world to see.
That was undoubtedly embarrassing for the CIA and the White House but not half as embarrassing as the fact that Fogle’s arrest and exposure coincided with a visit to Moscow by Secretary of State John Kerry. It also came a week after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller met FSB chiefs in Moscow to discuss the Boston bombing.
Fogle had been trying to recruit an FSB officer who had knowledge of terror groups in Chechnya and Dagestan, two areas visited by accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
When caught, Fogle had in his possession a letter he intended to present to his target. The letter was to reinforce a financial offer he had made over the phone days earlier to the target:
We are ready to offer you $100,000 to discuss your experience, expertise and co-operation. The reward may be much greater if you are willing to answer specific questions. In addition to that, we can offer up to $1m a year for long-term co-operation, with extra bonuses if we receive some helpful information.
To get back with us, please go to an internet café, or a coffee shop that has Wi-Fi, and open a new Gmail account which you will use exclusively to contact us. As you register, do not provide any personal info that can help identify you or your new account.
Once you register this new account, use it to send a message to [email protected]. In exactly one week, check this mailbox for a response from us.
Thank you for reading this letter. We look forward to working with you in the nearest future.
According to reports, Fogle was eventually released into the custody of the U.S. Embassy and was quickly spirited back to Washington.
The episode turned into a total embarrassment for the CIA, which, with all its money and power, had one of its agents using a free Google email account to conduct his spying as well as a street map and compass to find his way around Moscow because his old cell phone lacked GPS capability.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.