Monday, June 28, 2010

The Russians Are Coming: Emergency! Everyone to Get from Trowbridge Street

I'm walking down Broadway Street early this evening on the way to the Cambridge Public Library. And there is a low flying helicopter overhead. That is unusual in and of itself, but it seems to be hovering over the library. Why is it the helicopter always hovers over the one place in the city you are going?

In fact, the helicopter turned out to be hovering over Trowbridge Street staking out a house on Trowbridge Street where two suspected Russian spies were arrested Sunday evening, and a second townhouse on Trowbridge where the two had until recently lived. Their arrests were part of coordinated arrests of 10 people around the country suspected of being part of the same Russian spy ring. Russian spies? Yes, suspected deep undercover Russian spies.

The two people arrested in Cambridge are Donald Heathfield and Ann Foley, who lived together as a married couple in a $650,000 townhouse on Trowbridge Street before recently trading up to an $850,000 condo also on Trowbridge Street. The FBI says they masqueraded as Canadians to enter the U.S. and then used forged identifies to become U.S. citizens. They have two teenage sons.

Don Heathfield has a website listing him as the inventor of My Future Map offering management consulting services in in the areas of organizational learning, strategy, scenario thinking, global business development and executive education. His website says he was worked with as a consultant with General Electric, AREVA, Boston Scientific, Ericsson, Motorola, Microsoft, Michelin, Philips, STMicroelectronics, SAP, T-Mobile, and United Technologies.

It is also being reported that Ann Foley has a website as a realtor working out of a Somerville real estate office near Union Square. Her bio lists her as a native of Montreal, who lived and was educated in Switzerland, Canada, and France. Her bio says she previously worked as a Human Resources officer in Toronto and ran her own travel agency in Cambridge that specialized in organizing trips to French wine regions for small groups of enthusiasts.

The cloak and dagger part of the story indicates the FBI has had suspicions about the two since 2001, when they searched a safe deposit at a Cambridge bank and found negatives of photos of Ann that had been developed by a Russian film company (should have used Kodak). In 2006, their townhouse on Trowbridge Street was searched without their knowledge, and deleted information on their computer hard disks was recovered and copied. So the implication is that the FBI has spent the last decade connecting the dots and identifying other members of the spy ring.
There has been even more speculation about statements in the FBI affidavit indicating Heathfield had also established ties to former congressional staffers and faculty members of an unidentified university, including an unnamed "former high-ranking United States Government national security official." Who could thse people be?
Heathfield's website lists a master's degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, so it's not hard to figure what university was "infiltrated." If by infiltrated you mean taking classes there and befriending faculty and other staff. One of his Kennedy School classmates, state representative Marty Walz reports getting a $50 donation from Heathfield and Foley in 2004, in response to a solicitation to all members of the class.

I do remember the days of the Cold War in Cambridge, when you would see manned guard houses at the entrance to some of the MIT and Harvard laboratories and at some of the defense contractor facilities around the city. But that level of security mostly dropped away in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Why bother sending deep undercover agents with false identities? I have met a number of young emigres around the city from Russia and other Eastern European countries. They get into classes at the universities, they get access to professors, they get jobs, they get U.S. citizenship. It would seem easier and safer to hide in plain sight, I would think.

Eventually Moscow got impatient: "You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc. -- all these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US and sent intels."

Here's some interesting bedtime or beach reading that reveals a lot of elements of the alledged conspracy and the methods the FBI used to uncover it:

Unsealed complaint #1
Unsealed compliant #2

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