Spy vs. Spy: How the Swap Hurt American Intelligence Community

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Posted: Jul 14, 2010 10:23 AM
Bill Gertz has an interesting piece in today's Washington Times that looks at the recent hasty swap of Russian and American spies, and how a public trial of the 10 Russians could have revealed significant intelligence. 

So why were they suddenly ushered out of the country before we had the chance?

The Obama administration's rapid release of 10 Russian intelligence officers removed the prospect of a public trial revealing embarrassing facts about Russian influence operations, like the targeting of a key Democratic Party financier close to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Current and former national security officials critical of the speedy exchange with Moscow also said trading the 10 spies for four Russians less than two weeks after their arrest also limited U.S. counterspies from learning important details of Russian espionage and influence operations.

Questions about the handling of the case were raised Tuesday during a closed-door briefing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, questioned the unprecedented speed used by the administration in moving the spies out of the country.

"We gave up the opportunity," he said. "Now that these people are out of the country, it's game off, not game on. We will get no additional insights or information from them."

Mr. Hoekstra said the House intelligence oversight panel will be briefed on the case this week and "tough questions" will be raised about the swap. "Right now, it looks like this is one time the government should have been a little more deliberate and taken its time before acting in haste," he said.

Read Gertz's full story here.