I’m more used to breaking stories concerning the Mossad than I am the CIA. But in this case, Russia Today (now known as RT) dropped a scoop right in my lap.
The main thrust of this story deals with the exposure of an accused CIA operative, Ryan Fogle, who was arrested in Moscow several days ago. Fogle’s “cover” was a job as third political secretary of the U.S. embassy. His “crime” was an attempt to recruit a Russian agent to work for the CIA.
The entire incident, replete with fake wigs and an alleged letter of invitation to the Russian to spy on behalf of Uncle Sam, reeked of a put-up job. Either Fogle was the dumbest spy ever to work for this country; or the Russians are the worst con artists in the history of counter-espionage practice.
Though I have no idea what really happened, reading the RT story, it appears the FSB was extremely unhappy with unspecified CIA activities in Russia and had warned the station chief that it was walking a fine line. I’m guessing that nothing as extravagant as what the Russians claim actually happened. But that the Russians set-up Fogle, and his arrest and expulsion were a warning to the U.S. to get back into line.
But here’s the real scoop: in the RT story, it exposed the identity of the CIA’s Moscow station chief. His name is Stephen Holmes. You’ll find the original story displayed here. This is a link to the censored version.
So the real question is what happened to this story and why. Presumably, the FSB wanted to expose the CIA station chief. Doing so would blow his cover and render him less effective as a spook. If that’s the case, it might have been further revenge for Holmes’ refusal to rein in his operatives when the FSB requested that he do so.
But why censor the report after you’ve exposed him? A tug of war within the Kremlin? Political operatives cooling off the FSB? A complaint from the U.S. embassy? A threat the U.S. would expose the identity of the SVR (Russia’s overseas intelligence service) station chief in DC? At any rate, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. America will have to respond with a tit for tat. And where does that leave us?
Just when the U.S. and Russia were making attempts to patch up a frayed relationship, it appears that either Putin or the spy apparatus want to return us to the days of the very Cold War. It’s a time that ex-KGBniks like Putin remember well. Perhaps they feel nostalgic for it. Perhaps they don’t care whether Syria goes up in flames and want to topple a joint effort to negotiate an end to the crisis there.
At any rate, I expect that Mr. Holmes may be returning home himself a bit sooner than expected.
A number of media outlets have reported this story, though I don’t believe any have reported Holmes’ name. I do so here because RT has already done so. It will only be a matter of hours before someone else will do so in the western media.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.