Guess CIA did not get the memo.
Michael Ross is a former deep-cover officer with the Israel Secret Intelligence Service (Mossad).
National Post, 24 January 2012
I have to admit that the arrest of alleged spy Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle has made me somewhat nostalgic for the Cold War. Intelligence services of all stripes and nationalities practice the same expedient amorality in the name of national security, but there was a sense of higher duty that seemed to transcend the moral indefensibility of the profession itself. There was a time when spying was more a chess match than a fist-fight and the essence of espionage was like opening one of those Matryoshka dolls that progressively reveal another doll hidden within another doll and so on.
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While I’m not “read-in” on the detailed circumstances of Sub-Lt. Delisle’s case, I can make a few guesses where things went wrong for the Russians based on what’s been reported in the media so far. No modern intelligence service operates out of an embassy any more. This anachronistic practice has gone the way of the Dodo and diplomatic cover is now considered useless. The counter-intelligence component of every domestic security service worth its salt (such as CSIS) knows all the personnel and everything that goes on in the Russian embassy in their country. Progressive thinking intelligence services have taken to setting up in commercial and non-governmental entities that have no official connection to their home state or nationality. All CSIS had to do was watch and listen to the staff at the Russian embassy to see with whom they have contact.
Phi Beta Iota: CIA does not do discomfort, nor does it have a clue how to do non-official cover (NOC) at scale. According to open sources, of the twenty-one cover companies it set up, twenty had to be closed as abject failures. There are singleton NOC officers that are spectacularly successful but all too often blown by lazy official cover officers who fail to do counter-surveillance–the best NOCs have learned not to do in country meetings. It is rather amusing to learn that the last two really rotten clandestine services are the Russians and their erstwhile counterparts, the Americans. As wags have long maintained about CIA, it does not live cover, it lives immunity (or obliviousness), and the only people it keeps secrets from are those in Congress.