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WASHINGTON D.C.-The FBI released documents yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Associated Press. The documents, many of which were very heavily redacted, told the story of Russian sleeper agents on the prowl to gain access to secrets from people at the highest levels of the government.
The identity of the spy ring was reportedly given to the U.S. Government by a mole with the Russian Foreign Intelligence. The mole, Colonel Alexander Poteyev fled Russia shortly before the arrest of the spies. He was convicted in absentia for high treason and desertion.
These agents were, “the cream of the crop” according to C. Frank Figliuzzi, the FBI’s assistant director for counter-intelligence. He went on to say that, “Several were getting close to high-ranking officials.” He would only say that one spy had gone to work for a person close to a cabinet member. He would not go into detail about the relationship or cabinet member.
But, that cabinet member has been identified as Hillary Clinton. The spy was identified as Cynthia Murphy. Murphy, according to the documents, had gained employment providing financial planning to Alan Patricof. Patricof was Clinton’s top Democratic Donor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid as well as finance chairman in her campaign.
Another of the spies, Donald Heathfield, attended Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he gained a degree. This school is the training school for many of the government’s senior officials. Whether he had gone to the school to gain employment in government or to gain access to future government officials is unknown. The school has revoked his degree after his true identity was discovered.
Heathfield, like five others in the spy group, had assumed the identities of dead persons to conceal their true identities. This prompted the FBI to label the investigation as “Operation Ghost Stories.”
During their investigation, the FBI witnessed many information drops to their handlers. They used quick hand-offs labeled “brush passes,” or “dead drops” where information was left at pre-determined locations. Other methods, like the method that was used by Anna Chapman, another spy, who was caught on videotape walking through a department store all the while transmitting coded messages through her laptop. Unlike the other spies, Chapman was not as highly trained as the others, but, was able to use her real name and so was better suited for operations after the 2001 terrorist attacks where persons were under greater scrutiny.
By early 2010, the FBI had gained greater access to the spies and their communications. It was then that they were able to pose as handlers in order to get the spies to incriminate themselves. Then, after a particular report on one of the spies classmates, who had joined the CIA, as well as other troubling intercepted reports, the FBI decided to bring the operation to a close.
The ten spies were rounded up and a short time later, traded to Russia in a spy swap that released four Russian spies jailed after being convicted of spying for the west. After their return to Russia, the spies were awarded the highest Russian honors at a ceremony at the Kremlin.
The FBI documents, photos and videos can be found at http://www.fbi.gov.