Cold War Redux, or The More Things Change . . .

An alleged Russian spy was arrested in New York about a week ago. The FBI picked him up and he's accused of, among other things, recruiting for a spy ring, two members of which have already left the U.S. An early report states the spies used coded messages to relay economic intelligence back to Moscow, and that they operated out of the Bronx.

First of all, the Bronx? Such is our modern world. It's hard to imagine Soviet spies at the height of the Cold War being able to operate out of the Bronx. I'm no expert on the historic demographics of New York, but I'm guessing that a nest of Russians running around the Bronx would have been pretty conspicuous in the '60s and '70s.

Second of all, economic intelligence? How about just picking up a Wall Street Journal or any one of about 50 other daily and weekly publications? Or maybe get a cable subscription? There's precious little economic information here in the good old U.S.A. that isn't flat out public. These guys could have taken a lesson from their predecessors. You see, back when the Soviets were collecting information on American military capabilities, rather than sweat sneaking around the Pentagon, they'd just wait for the weekly edition of Aviation Week and Space Technology, an OPSEC treasure trove published all during the Cold War.

Honestly, there were times when we made the whole game kind of easy for the other side, if they were paying attention. I suppose it's not much fun to tell people that your espionage activities consist primarily of making a daily trip to the corner newsstand and watching a couple of hours of TV before shooting off uncoded emails, with plenty of hyperlinks, to the folks back home. Sneaking around New York City using a fake identity, sending coded messages back to the mother country, and trying to round up other dopes to help you do more of the same is probably more exciting . . . at least until you get arrested. If you're looking for thrills, pick up a Nick Temple File, kick back in your Bronx apartment, set your DVR, and wait for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the goods. Your FSB bosses will be none the wiser, and you'll never get anywhere near a federal prison.