Presumably, all heads of state for major countries know that their lands, at any given time, are getting spied on. And spied on by allies! So when Obama had burgers this month with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, he probably knew full well that a few dozen Russians were trying to find out "'roumors' [sic] about White house internal 'kitchen'" in order to see what health food Obama would really eat when he got back home and barfed up those bread-and-butter pickles. Medvedev himself likely knew how many such spies there were at the moment (though, according to a former Russian agent, he probably didn't know exactly what they were doing). Occasionally, though, the cloak of secrecy slips and reveals a country's hand at work. Or, in this case, boobs. The nearly dozen accused spies busted by the Justice Department were so obvious and inept that the U.S. had to say something. Wouldn't you tell a friend if their boobs were showing?
"I really expect that the positive achievements that have been made in our inter-governmental relations lately will not be damaged by the latest events," Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin said today. "We really hope that the people who value Russian-American relations understand this." Putin also joked with former President Bill Clinton, who is hanging out with him, that he'd "come to Moscow at the exact right time." "Your police have gotten carried away, putting people in jail!" Carried away! Arresting spies hoping to penetrate our top levels of government!
No, seriously. Russia's mad. The foreign ministry released a statement saying that "such actions are completely unfounded and serve unseemly goals." Also, the allegations are "in the spirit of Cold War spy mania." The allegations, you see. Not the people whose secret verbal signal was "Excuse me, could we have met in Malta in 1999?"
Russia's worried that the public arrests will affect a possible Senate vote on the Obama-supported Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between our two countries — not an illegitimate fear. "They haven't explained to us what this is about," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today. "I hope they will. The only thing I can say today is that the moment for doing that has been chosen with special elegance." Then he walked off to bury some cash in the ground to get picked up two years later.