Suspected Russian Spy Discovered Working at U.S. Embassy in Moscow

[Content Note: Racism; sexism; sexual harassment.]

The United States Secret Service has been plagued by bad actors for many years. At the end of the Bush administration, a white Secret Service agent was fired after leaving a noose to be found by an African American agent. During the Obama administration, there was a series of Secret Service scandals: Partying with sex workers in Colombia; sexual harassment and other awful behavior; and wanton drunkenness.

In October 2014, Julia Pierson, the first woman to serve as director of the Secret Service, resigned after serving in the position for only 18 months — and after essentially being set up to fail: Brought in to be a female face for an agency getting a notorious reputation for being a boys-will-be-boys' club, but not given the resources to actually implement meaningful changes.

And, shockingly, firing a woman because she didn't magically solve an entrenched problem that existed long before her brief tenure didn't result in meaningful changes, either: Six months later, two senior agents, including the second-in-command on President Obama's protective detail, were under investigation for getting drunk and crashing a government car into a set of White House security barricades.

All of this is important background about the state of the Secret Service over the past decade — because it was the Secret Service who hired a Russian national who is now suspected of being a Russian spy, after working at the U.S. embassy in Moscow for years.

Nick Hopkins at the Guardian reports:
U.S. counter-intelligence investigators discovered a suspected Russian spy had been working undetected in the heart of the American embassy in Moscow for more than a decade, the Guardian has learned.

The Russian national had been hired by the U.S. Secret Service and is understood to have had access to the agency's intranet and email systems, which gave her a potential window into highly confidential material including the schedules of the president and vice-president.

The woman had been working for the Secret Service for years before she came under suspicion in 2016 during a routine security sweep conducted by two investigators from the U.S. Department of State's Regional Security Office (RSO).

They established she was having regular and unauthorised meetings with members of the FSB, Russia's principal security agency.

The Guardian has been told the RSO sounded the alarm in January 2017, but the Secret Service did not launch a full-scale inquiry of its own. Instead it decided to let her go quietly months later, possibly to contain any potential embarrassment.
Ah. So, are we to understand that the Secret Service first inexplicably hired a Russian national to work at the U.S. embassy, and then quietly fired her to cover up their own stupidity once they discovered she was almost certainly a spy, without even doing the most cursory probe into how she may have compromised U.S. national security?
"The Secret Service is trying to hide the breach by firing [her]," the source said. "The damage was already done but the senior management of the Secret Service did not conduct any internal investigation to assess the damage and to see if [she] recruited any other employees to provide her with more information."

"Only an intense investigation by an outside source can determine the damage she has done."
There is much more at the link.

Although the failure to launch a rigorous investigation into the spy's activities happened on Donald Trump's watch, the responsibility for this clusterfuck is shared by at least three presidents, from both parties, who continually kicked the can of accountability and meaningful reform down the road.

The Secret Service has needed a major kick in the pants since the George W. Bush administration, and possibly even earlier. But it hasn't happened.

And hasn't happened. And hasn't happened. And hasn't happened.

And now here we are.

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