For starters, there’s the nuclear program, which starts with the Bushehr reactor. The Russians have just announced that it is now fully operational. Years late, to be sure, but now it’s switched on. Then there are the Iranian air defenses, which the Iranians claim are mostly missiles based on Russia’s S-300s. The Iranians say they are homemade, but I have my doubts. I suspect that at least some of them, and maybe even all of them, were smuggled into Iran via Venezuela. Certainly lots of military materiel has taken that route, along with plenty of freshly laundered cash.
And then there’s espionage. Remember that case in 2010, when we caught ten Russian “illegals” and quickly sent them back to Moscow (Vienna, actually) in exchange for four prisoners in Russia who had been convicted of spying for us (two cases) and the Brits (two others). Alas, there was nothing like serious interrogation of the “illegals,” because we didn’t want a spy story to interfere with our sensitive negotiations about arms control and Afghanistan. What a shame! Illegals are the most secret of all agents, operating outside any “official cover,” and it would have been invaluable to uncover their missions, which could have revealed the Russians’ strategic plan for the penetration and manipulation of the United States.
Which takes us to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. In the old days when we paid attention to KGB operations, we would have suspected that these guys were involved in anti-American disinformation, and that they got help from Moscow. It would have been obvious: the leaks were damaging to us, not to our enemies. They came from our filing cabinets, and they sometimes compromised people who worked with us. More: when Assange, the chief wikileaker, was threatened with arrest, where did he run? To the Ecuadorian Embassy. And what is Ecuador? A member of that global anti-American alliance that unites jihadis and leftists. An ally of Chavez.
The trial of Bradley Manning doesn’t get under way until next February or March, but I hope that some smart Army lawyer asks him how he knew what to do with all those documents he stole, and whether he got any help in transmitting them to Assange’s group.
To be sure, this is all deduction based in part on the experiences of an older man who saw a lot of Soviet disinformation in the 1980s. It may well be that Wikileaks is just a group of activists, and that Bradley Manning figured it all out himself. But we live in a wired world, right? And any intelligence organization worth its vodka is part of the wiring diagram, right?
Time will tell, of course, but I’m worried about the Russians. I’m worried because Nagle says I should, and also because a lot of what’s happening smells — to me at least — of them.