I frankly wasn’t all that interested in the news that Russian spy Anna Chapman was setting a honey trap for an Obama cabinet official…
In a documentary broadcast last night, FBI counter-intelligence chief Frank Figliuzzi claimed the glamorous Russian agent got close enough to ‘disturb’ U.S. spy catchers.
He said the fear that Miss Chapman was close to seducing a sitting member of the Obama administration spurred agents to swoop on the 10-strong spy ring of which she was a part.
Mr Figliuzzi told the Channel 4 documentary the auburn-haired spy got ‘closer and closer to higher and higher ranking leadership… she got close enough to disturb us.’
‘We were becoming very concerned,’ he said. ‘They were getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue.’
Until Laura Rozen noted that Peter Orszag left the White House in July 2010. Since most of the cabinet level officials with some base in NY, where Chapman lived and socialized–like Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice–are female, I simply hadn’t thought that much about who her target could have been. Though Orszag presents an interesting possibility (not least because he was personally involved in our cybersecurity efforts at the time). And an even more interesting date, to me, is the day the White House announced his departure: June 22, just 3 days before they started rolling up the Russian spy network.
Now, whether or not Orszag was the target (I’ve got some other suspicions, and if he was, Chapman would have been targeting Orszag during the period after he got engaged but before he got married), her comment was enough to get me to refer back to my coverage on Chapman’s arrest.
And there are a few interesting details about it. Here’s a timeline I put together:
June 9: Chapman’s laptop chats with Russian Official #1 surveilled
June 11: Obama briefed about Russian spy swap
June 16: Chapman’s laptop chats with Russian Official #1 surveilled
June 18: Obama chairs NSC meeting on Russian spy swap
June 24: Obama and Dmitri Medvedev go to Ray’s Hell Burger
June 25: Complaint against 9 spies dated
June 26: FBI collects evidence against last two remaining spies; FBI agent says to Chapman, “I know you are going back to Moscow in two weeks.”
June 27: Spies arrested
Week of July 5: White House almost cancels spy swap because names of proposed spies in Russia leaked
July 10: Two weeks after FBI Agent said Chapman would be traveling to Russian in two weeks
Of particular note is the June 18 NSC meeting. Most key cabinet members that would make interesting targets for Russian spies are members of the NSC. Director of OMB attends NSC meetings that pertain to its area of responsibility. They all learned–at least in the abstract–of the looming spy trade on June 18, 2010, a week before the FBI started rolling up the spies.