The newest clandestine tactic the FBI is using in its efforts to root out Russian spies isn’t very clandestine at all.
Donie O’Sullivan and David Shortell of CNN reported that the FBI is running Facebook ads in the Washington, D.C., area, with the aim of making contact with recent Russian spies or people who know about their work.
Alan E. Kohler Jr., special agent in charge of the Washington field office’s counterintelligence division, did not specifically address the Facebook ads, telling O’Sullivan and Shortell, “We cannot comment except to note that Russia has a large number of intelligence officers based in Russian diplomatic facilities around the world. They are very active and pose a security risk to the U.S. and our allies.”
He continued, “The FBI uses a variety of means to gather information, including the use of sources. The FBI will use all legal means available to locate individuals with information that can help protect the U.S. from threats to our national security. Russia has long been a counterintelligence threat to the U.S., (and the FBI will) continue to adapt our investigative and outreach techniques to counter the threat.”
One features an illustration of a man walking over a bridge, and the Russian caption translates to, “Time to draw bridges.”
Another contains an image of a chess set with a Russian caption that reads, “Isn’t it time for you to make your move?”
And the third features a stock photo of a young woman with her family at her graduation, and the Russian caption translates to, “For your future, for the future of your family.”
The ads direct people to this page on the website for the FBI’s field office in Washington, D.C., which provides details in English and Russian about the bureau’s counterintelligence team and encourages people to “visit us in person.”
O’Sullivan and Shortell also spoke with Bob Baer, currently an intelligence and security analyst with CNN and formerly an agent with the CIA, who told them, “The thing with Russian spies is that 99% of them are walk-ins, and these people make the decision on their own completely. Putting it out there and getting in this milieu and seeding the idea of volunteering for the FBI is a good idea.”