They did dead drops, passed bags of money to each other, and went to parties. And sympathized with Castro, which is so moronic as to be its own punishment.
But they have been charged merely with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent for a foreign government and with conspiracy to commit money laundering. No espionage charges were filed because of the simple fact that they were never observed sending classified information. Their dispatches were the kind of stuff you'd find on the web, such as the outlook for the global gold market and President Obama's goals for a summit in Russia.Which begs the question, why should Moscow have bothered?
The answer is that Moscow thinks it's 1971. Not to say they're dump or importent, but there's a mixture of denial and wishful thinking akin to a midlife crisis: if we toss the ball around like it's the old days, then we still got it.
The past 15 years of Russian history can be summarized with these two charts:
Which means this:
and everything else you can surmise.
While the youth of Russia live by the internet, the government really doesn't get it. At Davos, Michael Dell asked Putin how he/companies can help build IT infrastructure in Russia. Putin's response: "You know, the trick is we're not someone in need of help. We're not invalids."
So while Russians are inventing Chatroulette and banging out the warez, this is what's going on in upper management:
I have absolutely no doubt that every word of that caption is true. Meanwhile, Fox News would drown in its own ejaculate if Obama ever used a phone given by the Russians.
For the most part, the country's security services are run by the very old (Lebedev, Shlyakturov), non-technical (Fradkov, Shlyakturov), ex-KGB, miltary dreamers, and Darths. Without the Force.
As far as I know, Russia has never admitted anyone was a spy for them, let alone 11 people. So why admit it now?
Because they were admitting it to Russians. "See? We still go it."
Where it gets messy is here: why would America admit it? Why is such a non-event all over the news? Why does the American media care so much about this story?
(CNN) The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement the arrests are "unfounded and have unseemly goals."
"We do not understand the reasons why the U.S. Department of Justice has made a public statement in the spirit of the Cold War," said the statement, posted on the ministry's website. "Such incidents have occurred in the past, when our relations were on the rise. In any case it is regrettable that all these things are happening on the background of the 'reset' in Russian-U.S. relations announced by the U.S. administration."
The question isn't just why, the question is why now:
The Russian operation was believed to date back to the 1990s... the FBI conducted extensive electronic surveillance of the suspects for years, including secretly recording and videotaping them and surreptitiously entering residences to take photographs and copy documents.
Public choice theory is about private choice practicality, and the inevitable question: who benefits?
Government and media on the same page. "Time to get control of the internet."