Posted by: Debby Durkee | July 9, 2010

From Russia with Love.

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From Russia with Love.

What do the START Treaty and the premature release of Russian spies have to do with one another? Is this just the reset button the Obama administration wanted to press with Russia? If so, what does reset mean? Does it mean, as has become a habit with this president, bowing to the former Soviet Union and putting America’s interests off to the side? Would that be a stretch? Not when you look at how this administration favors Mexico over Arizona in the immigration debate and drags its feet in the Gulf mess.

START Treaty should not be ratified.

Mitt Romney shoots and hits Obama in this detailed attack on the ridiculous, dangerous giveaway to Vladimir Putin and Russia known as the START Treaty. It begs the question: Is this naïveté on the Obama Administration’s part or is this administration enthralled in some strange way with the former Soviet Union?

…the president’s New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New-START) with Russia could be his worst foreign policy mistake yet. The treaty as submitted to the Senate should not be ratified.

New-START impedes missile defense, our protection from nuclear-proliferating rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. Its preamble links strategic defense with strategic arsenal. It explicitly forbids the United States from converting intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos into missile defense sites. And Russia has expressly reserved the right to walk away from the treaty if it believes that the United States has significantly increased its missile defense capability.

Hence, to preserve the treaty’s restrictions on Russia, America must effectively get Russia’s permission for any missile defense expansion. Moscow’s vehemence over our modest plans in Eastern Europe demonstrate that such permission would be extremely unlikely.

…New START does something the American public would never countenance and the Senate should never permit: It jeopardizes our missile defense system.

The treaty also gives far more to the Russians than to the United States. As drafted, it lets Russia escape the limit on its number of strategic nuclear warheads.  Snip –

New-START gives Russia a massive nuclear weapon advantage over the United States. The treaty ignores tactical nuclear weapons, where Russia outnumbers us by as much as 10 to 1. Obama heralds a reduction in strategic weapons from approximately 2,200 to 1,550 but fails to mention that Russia will retain more than 10,000 nuclear warheads that are categorized as tactical because they are mounted on missiles that cannot reach the United States. But surely they can reach our allies, nations that depend on us for a nuclear umbrella. And who can know how those tactical nuclear warheads might be reconfigured? Astonishingly, while excusing tactical nukes from the treaty, the Obama administration bows to Russia’s insistence that conventional weapons mounted on ICBMs are counted under the treaty’s warhead and launcher limits.

You can continue reading Romney’s critique and his call for the Senate to vote down this treaty here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/05/AR2010070502657.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Jim Talent, former House and Senate member of the Armed Services Committee, echoes Romney’s criticisms of START by stating the obvious: this treaty hampers the United States’ ability to defend itself. Now, why would any American president want that? This is from National Review Online.

There is powerful evidence — especially in the context of the president’s decision last year, at Russia’s insistence, to abandon the Polish and Czech missile-defense bases — that the treaty reflects an agreement that the United States will not build a missile-defense system that could be used against Russia. The implications of that agreement go far beyond America’s relationship with Russia, because it is impossible to build a robust missile defense against, for example, Iran, which could not also be used against Russian missiles. So to the extent that START limits missile defense against Russia, it must and will narrow the options we have to defend against Iran, and, for that matter, North Korea.

That is a key point that Romney and others are making. The Senate simply must demand a satisfactory answer. Ballistic-missile defense may be the most important defensive system the U.S. is building today. Even if the New START agreement were otherwise better than it is, the benefits would not come close to justifying any sacrifice in America’s ability to defend itself against nuclear missiles.  Snip –

Romney points out that START gives too much power to a “Bilateral Consultative Commission.” It would be able to make unilateral changes in the treaty with regard to missile defense. Senator Kerry claims that the treaty requires any such change to be ratified by the Senate. Actually the treaty permits the commission to agree unilaterally on changes that are not substantive, but never defines what is or isn’t substantive. Such ambiguity gives critics a right to be concerned…Snip –

So far, supporters of START have acted as if the treaty were a kind of aspirational expression of the desire for a nuclear-free world, and that anyone who opposes it is an enemy of such a future. But no one should doubt that this START treaty, like its predecessors, will require real changes that will have a real impact on American security. The more the administration ignores or dismisses the concerns of critics, the clearer it is that the changes embodied in this treaty will not be for the better, and could be disastrous. As the case now stands, the Senate should vote against ratification. 

You can read Talent’s entire column here: http://article.nationalreview.com/437764/at-last-the-debate-has-started/jim-talent?page=1

Related: Why were Russia’s spies not kept in U.S. longer?

 A former KGB operative in Communist Romania, Ion Mihai Pacepa, says sleeper agents are put in place by Russian intelligence and have wound themselves into high places in other countries (such as the United Kingdom and Germany), so would it be a stretch to wonder if they haven’t done the same thing here in the U.S? He finds it strange that the Obama Administration let the ten agents go so quickly. Couldn’t Americans have learned a lot from these agents and possibly found others (maybe in higher positions in the government or elsewhere?) Hmmm…good question. You can learn a lot from this man’s article in The American Spectator.

The recent arrest of ten Russian illegal officers targeted against us — a superb performance on the part of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — proves that the Kremlin still looks upon the United States as the main enemy. Most of the details about these new cases are still classified by the FBI. One thing is clear, however; this is not just business as usual — “we spy, they spy.” The Kremlin’s illegal officers have traditionally been dispatched to enemy countries to form an alternative presence there, should war break out and force the legal embassies to close; and to constitute a “homegrown” skeleton of the pro-Moscow governments that the Kremlin dreamed of setting up in those countries at the end of the war. In other words, vitally important assignments.

Today, most of the American media seem to find the notion of illegal officers a joke, calling them spy-novel fantasies, hilariously funny characters or do-nothing sleepers. No wonder. There are no books on the subject. The true nature of illegal operations, unique to the Russian intelligence community, has been an extremely tightly held secret. In 1964 I became a deputy chief of the Romanian foreign intelligence service, the DIE, but it was only eight years later that I realized now little I had actually known — that was when my former KGB adviser, General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, by then the Soviet Union’s spy chief, gave me supervisory authority over Romania’s illegal operations.

The term “illegal” has nothing to do with the idea of law breaking. Every spy breaks the law. In Russian intelligence terminology, a legal officer is one who is assigned abroad to a Russian embassy or other official government representation. An illegal assumes a non-Russian identity and appears abroad as someone who has no connection whatsoever with Russia. In any Western country, an illegal looks and acts just like your next-door neighbor.

Pacepa goes on to show how these “illegals” work in their foreign countries. If you’ve ever seen the Kevin Costner movie, “No Way Out,” you’ll get the idea.

It is very difficult to identify an illegal living in the West under a new biography. I approved many such biographical legends. All were supported by Western birth certificates, school diplomas, pictures of alleged relatives, and even fake graves. In some important cases, we also created ersatz living relatives in the West by using ideologically motivated people, who received life-long secret annuities from us. No wonder the FBI needed ten years to document the real roots of the Russian illegals recently arrested. Snip –

He goes on to describe a German Communist who spent WWII in Moscow, but then was given a cover story of spending the war in Sweden and then sent back to Germany after the war and became a member of the West German government (from 1969-1983).

…His KGB affiliation was known to the West German counterintelligence service, but it could not be proved.

High-level illegals like Wehner helped the Kremlin attract other ranking West German politicians to their side. It was no coincidence that in 2002 Gerhard Schroeder, chancellor of the traditionally pro-American Federal Republic of Germany, agreed to join Putin in opposing most of the U.S. foreign policy initiatives. And it was certainly not an accident that in 2005, when Schroeder lost elections for his third term as chancellor, he became one of the top officials of Gazprom, a giant, state-owned Russian company headed at that time by today’s Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.   Snip –

Could it be a stretch to wonder if there are similarly connected American politicians? Well, the way this administration and Congress have been acting this last 18 months, it certainly does give one pause.

(Late) yesterday, the U.S. intelligence community lost a unique chance to learn what was behind Russia’s current illegal operations. It is a huge mistake to have wasted this opportunity by rushing to exchange the ten illegals for, among others, a Russian who was framed as a spy (and does not want to leave Russia). There is nothing in this exchange for the United States. We should have first learned what we can from the ten illegals, before starting to think about exchanging them. Even the infamous Abel was not exchanged until five years after he was sentenced. And he was exchanged for an American who had made history for the U.S.

The way this current administration is acting toward Russia (take the START treaty above) and the fact that these “illegals” were released back to Russia without the U.S. getting much for them or out of them — perhaps they are high up in the ranks of the powerful. Scary thought, but if not a reality, it would make a really good spy novel.

You can read all of Pacepa’s interesting insights here: http://spectator.org/archives/2010/07/09/the-truth-about-illegals

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