May 18, 2013
The Russian-based news agency rt.com yesterday published a story about this week’s much publicized arrest in Moscow of alleged CIA officer Ryan Fogle. At the bottom of the story, rt.com disclosed the name of the current CIA station chief in Moscow, Stephen Holmes. Then an hour or two later, rt.com placed online a revised and edited version of the same story, this time without giving Holmes’ name. See this side-by-side comparison of the two stories carried on cryptome.org for the full story.
Based on my experience in Moscow. someone in the Russian intelligence community almost crtainly called up rt.com and asked them to delete the name. It is one of the ironies of the intelligence business, even back during the Cold War, that the Russians keep our secrets, and we keep their secrets.
To give you an example, years back the CIA deleted out the names of several known KGB officers from a document about Russian spying in the U.S. in the 1980s, citing as the justification for redacting the names as the section of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) designed to protect the privacy of intelligence officers pusuant to the Privacy Act. I told the CIA that the identities of KGB officers was not protected by the Privacy Act, but Langley refused to budge and the deletions were allowed to stand.
I sometimes wonder if the boys and girls at the CIA FOIA office sleep well at night.