President Barack Obama enjoyed his “hamburger summit” with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev last week. The two men chowed down at Ray’s Hell Burger in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington. You can just imagine the president, whom his advisers say has developed a strong relationship with the Russian head-of-state, saying: “Hey Dmitri, pass the ketchup.” Very American.
Dmitri, on the other hand, was involved at that moment in passing something else: American nuclear secrets. The FBI this week announced the arrest of ten suspected Russian spies. These spies were Russians who were given false identities (one had the papers of a dead Canadian).
They were living in American suburbs, apparently pursuing their part of the American dream. Two of the accused spies were living in Arlington, Virginia. Perhaps they were sitting at the next table at Ray’s Hell Burger. Two others, Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracy Lee Ann Foley, lived in a Boston suburb, Cambridge, Massachusetts. That’s the hometown of Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and James Crowley, last heard from at the president’s famous “beer summit.”
The Hamburger Summit was hailed only last week as evidence of a growing closeness between the U.S. and Russia. President Obama said we still had “differences” with the Russians. Like, maybe, that little matter of the Russians invading the independent nation of Georgia and ripping off a chunk of South Ossetia. Still, this cozy lunch was offered to the media as an example of the Obama administration’s “resetting” of U.S.-Russian relations.
Georgia was not on their minds as the two men chomped their burgers. The FBI, however, seems to have its own ideas about reset buttons. Their counter-espionage pros have been following these Russian spies for years.
Richard Clarke--the famously anti-Bush CIA man--says the Russians are “using cold war techniques and cold war tactics.” The question for this administration might well have been: Have they ever stopped?
Medvedev recently announced the launch of a new Russian nuclear “attack” submarine. You don’t have to be able to speak Russian to see some very interesting things in the online video. First, that red star blazing in the upper right of the TV screen. Hmmm. Where have we seen that before? Wasn’t that red star the symbol of the Soviet Union? Next, listen to that military band. That music is familiar: It’s the Stalin-era Soviet national anthem. Oh, Putin changed the Russian words, but the tune is still there.