The Spectacle Blog

Russia’s Dirty Tricks

By on 8.5.11 | 1:21PM

Eli Lake reports:

In the past four years, Russia's intelligence services have stepped up a campaign of intimidation and dirty tricks against U.S. officials and diplomats in Russia and the countries that used to form the Soviet Union.

U.S. diplomats and officials have found their homes broken into and vandalized, or altered in ways as trivial as bathroom use; faced anonymous or veiled threats; and in some cases found themselves set up in compromising photos or videos that are later leaked to the local press and presented as a sex scandal.

"The point was to show that ‘we can get to you where you sleep,' " one U.S. intelligence officer told The Washington Times. "It's a psychological kind of attack."

Despite a stated policy from President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev of warm U.S.-Russian ties, the campaign of intelligence intimidation - or what the CIA calls "direct action" - has persisted throughout what both sides have called a "reset" in the relations.

They have become worse in just the past year, some U.S. officials said. Also, their targets are broadening to include human rights workers and nongovernmental organizations as well as embassy staff.

The most brazen example of this kind of intimidation was the Sept. 22 bombing attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. A National Intelligence Council assessment sent to Congress last week confirmed that the bombing was ordered by Maj. Yevgeny Borisov of Russian military intelligence, said four U.S. officials who have read the report.

Read the rest of the story for the gory details, which include a National Democratic Institute official being smeared as a child-rapist. In the face of all this (among other things), the Obama administration continues to tout its "reset" policy as a huge success. Kit Bond, the former Senator who was vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 2007-2010, puts it bluntly: "It's not the intelligence committee that fails to understand the problem. It's the Obama administration."

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