Normally, we try to stay pretty high-minded here at The War Room, but now and then the demands of informed reading about national security force us to examine, with regret, stories that might seem otherwise mere tabloid fodder.
I’m talking, of course, about Russian spy-babe Anna Chapman.
In the kind of irony usually found only in cheesy 80s movies like No Way Out, the one spy everyone assumed was the dumbest cheerleader at KGB High now looks like she nearly scored the coup of a lifetime, if today’s story at Wired’s “Danger Room” is to be believed.
Turns out that the Russian minx nearly bagged a U.S. Cabinet secretary, and was close enough that the FBI decided to shut the whole circus down in 2010. I swear I’m not making that up. According to the story:
The FBI’s counterintelligence chief tells a BBC interviewer that Chapman was getting “closer and closer to higher and higher ranking leadership.”
“They were getting close enough to a sitting U.S. cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue,” says C. Frank Figliuzzi, the assistant FBI director for counterintelligence, according to the Independent. That alleged — repeat: alleged — sexual “closeness” prompted Figliuzzi’s agents to shift from monitoring Chapman’s crew of ten spies to arresting them in 2010.
Figliuzzi doesn’t say which “serving” cabinet official was this close to shtupping Anna Chapman. It would be irresponsible to speculate. But it’s so, so, so hard not to.
Talk about a “sleeper agent.” (Thank you, I’m here all week. Try the veal!) For those of you not hip to spy lingo, Chapman was a “honeypot,” the term used in the trade for a sexual lure. (Males who seduce female targets are “Romeos.” Shtupping, technically, is not a term used in the intelligence community.)
I did some due diligence on this story — meaning I Googled a lot of it — and it turns out that Mr. Figliuzzi is an assistant director of the FBI. I also double-checked the date: April 2, not April 1, so the story, at least from Wired and the British press, is legit.
The question, of course, is whether Chapman was really all that close to hitting the sheets with a government official, especially since the FBI seems to confirm that she was in no danger of winning Spy of the Year anytime soon:
Anna Chapman appears to have been a pretty incompetent spy. Her crew used what intelligence reporter Jeff Stein termed “primitive radio techniques” and hid loosely encrypted messages in plain sight on the Internet. She traded in “routine political gossip and policy talk,” as the New York Times put it, rather than real secrets. Bedding a cabinet official would seem to be past her means, comely as they are.
I haven’t seen any odds yet on which Cabinet secretary Chapman targeted, but as Wired writes, it was unlikely to be former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was also the Director of the CIA and thus the nation’s top spook for a while. The New York Observer added:
It’s easy to guess who it wasn’t–we can probably write off the Secretary of State or Homeland Security–but that still leaves plenty of interesting targets.
Specifically, if we take out the other two females in the Cabinet, that still leaves 11 people.
All snickering aside, there are other possibilities here. One, of course, is that Chapman really was closing in on a relationship with an an important person (which probably says more about bad judgment than her skills as a secret agent), or that while Chapman may have been targeting someone, the potential threat is being, uh, overblown. (Sorry. Very sorry.)
Still, keeping abreast of the intelligence news — sorry, again — requires comment on the story, as well as one more cheesecake shot of Chapman, who now, apparently, is trolling to turn her 15 minutes of fame as a celebrity into a job as a…well, as a celebrity. (She also tried to sell her story, according to the Brits. No takers; apparently, men weren’t interested in hearing her speak.)
Intelligence officers will often say that their work, while interesting, isn’t very glamorous or dramatic.
Well…not all the time.