Spy Vs. Spy: Latest Arrest Shows Cold War Still Resonates

May 17, 2013

Visitors flock to Red Square in Moscow
Credit Raul P / Panoramio

The embarrassing arrest of a suspected CIA officer in Moscow is the latest reminder that even after the Cold War, the United States and Russia are engaged in an espionage battle with secret tactics, spying devices, and training that sometimes isn't enough to avoid being caught.

"There's nothing new here," says Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. "We spy, everybody spies. There's a long history of spying between these two countries."

The Russians say Ryan Fogle was caught red-handed with a recruitment letter, a compass, two wigs, and a wad of cash.

"I think what's really interesting is the low-tech nature of what he was caught with," Grillot says. "Are we really to believe that this man was seriously trying to recruit a spy with this kind of low-tech gear on him?"

Mitchell Smith, the Chair of OU's Department of International and Area Studies and the Director of the  European Union Center, says the published photographs of Fogle's supposed gear resemble a 1950's mail-order amateur spy kit.

"Anything is possible," Smith says. "There's also a hypothesis that he went rogue in pursuit of a possible lead and really miscalculated."

Grillot says higher-tech equipment like an smart phone or a GPS is easier to detect and follow, and says future espionage activities revert to more low-tech activity.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.