Roger L. Simon

Old statues never die

Dzerzhinsky.jpgIt was in the fall of 1991 that Russian citizens, in the joy ofnew found democracy, knocked over the statue of Comrade Felix Dzerzhinsky, the godfather of the Cheka and attendant vicious organs of Soviet intelligence. Apparently this wasn’t enough. That massively self-destructive and paranoid streak in the Russian culture, unbroken since the Tsars, lives on. Today the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service has dismissed claims that they gave confidential information on US forces to Saddam’s thugs: “Similar, baseless accusations concerning Russia’s intelligence have been made more than once,” agency spokesman Boris Labusov said. “We don’t consider it necessary to comment on such fabrications.”

Thank you, Comrade Labusov, you lying sack of @#@&! Meanwhile, in the same AP report:

Yevgenia Albats, a Moscow-based journalist who specializes in intelligence matters, said she suspected there was “at least a certain truth reflected in the Pentagon report,” considering Russia’s close relationship with the ousted Iraqi leader.

But she cautioned that didn’t necessarily mean the Kremlin was involved.

“It is sometimes difficult to figure out whether certain steps were undertaken with the knowledge of top Russian authorities or whether those were steps undertaken by certain intelligence officers on their own,” Albats told The Associated Press.

What Albats is describing, however, is in many ways a distinction without a difference. On my visits to the Soviet Union I was endlessly tracked by intelligence agents masking as translators and journalists anxious to probe my thinking and in two cases even to recruit me. It was almost a national sport or employment agency. Sometimes it was funny in a macabre sort of way, other times frightening. But looked at from even the slightest distance, self-destructive in the extreme. If you think the world is a conspiracy, indeed it is. Unfortunately, on a more recent trip to the Russian Republic, the atmosphere did not feel radically different. There were just more SUVs.

But the real question, no matter how you fall out on the above, is how we could be trusting the Russians on the Iran issue. [Perhaps the release of all this information right now has something to do with that, you birdbrain.-ed. Watch it, pal. Who’s paying whom around here?]