The spies coming into the cold

There was probably no shortage of takers, but they could have saved a lot of the moving expense if they'd simply run the same employment ads here in the U.S.. If it sounds like a nice cushy gig, it is. In this country, we call people like that "lobbyists."

One can't help but wonder why the SVR, which is what they call the KGB these days, would spend so much time and money on gaining information that is widely available on the Internet, and communicating with equipment that is far less exotic than many iPad apps.

One can only conclude that in Russia, just like this nation, there are still a lot of Cold Warriors longing for the good old days before they became irrelevant — well, almost irrelevant. They do pop up all the time on TV as foreign policy and national security experts.

It looks like a lot of these Soviet throwbacks still have their government jobs, just like their American counterparts. Without a doubt, they have their own civil service protections, too. They are known as "apparatchiks" over there; here we call them "bureaucrats.” For too many of either, the imperative is to preserve the old rigid ways of thinking and doing things — and, of course, their positions.

This all surfaces at a particularly delicate moment in relations between the two superpowers. It was just a few days ago that President Obama was caught on camera trying to kill President Medvedev by feeding him cheeseburgers. That is particularly suspicious because, as the White House acknowledges, Obama was aware of this alleged spy caper.

We can expect some sort of retaliation from the other side. That's what always happens in these espionage affairs. So don't be surprised at all if Dmitry invites his new best buddy Barack to sample Russia's national dish. If memory serves, that's vodka.

What this goes to show is just how similar we are. Apparently both governments have their gangs that couldn't spy straight. And both have outsiders who try and worm their ways in so they can exert influence.

Of course, we shouldn't take the similarities with lobbyists too far. So many of them come from the ranks of highly placed government staff and elected officials. None of the Russian plants do. That we know of. But that's classified.



Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.