Right to the Point

We want spies — just not in the U.S.

By Kayla Purvis

Russia’s suspicions of the United States were cemented by our 1945 dropping of two atom bombs to end fighting with Japan and the rest of the Axis countries. The three major Ally countries were the United States, the United Kingdom and the U.S.S.R.

America and the British knew about, and even arranged, the usage of two atom bombs. Russia, under Stalin’s leadership, was left uninformed. By this time the United States knew more about Russia’s conditions under Stalin’s rule than we had before; he had successfully isolated his country from the rest of the world for many previous years. Reportedly prosperous exports gave the rest of the world the illusion that Stalin’s leadership was healthy for the country. In reality, deep social oppression left its people brainwashed, indoctrinated and desperate. The United States, while suspicious, remained at a distance.

It should not be a shock, then, that close to a dozen people in the United States were arrested over the weekend on charges of spying for Russia. The New York Times reported that 10 of the 11 arrested individuals were compiled into five couples living in the suburbs across the country, hoping to crack what they called “policy making circles.” In other words, they wanted to analyze how our societies work by living within and being accepted by them.

It has also been reported that they used technology one might see in a futuristic movie, like secret embedded codes in Internet photos and laptop communication by two passing agents, invisible ink messages and exchanging bags of cash. Desired information included foreign policy toward Iran, nuclear weapons details, Congressional politics and leadership of government operations and organizations, among other things.

The United States used similar James Bond-like tactics to penetrate the spy ring: monitoring phone calls and e-mail and planting microphones.

When I heard the news that 11 people had been arrested for being Russian spies, I was surprised. Not because there are spies, but because I never hear about spies and suddenly 11 of them are being arrested in my country.

Nobody wants spies for another country living in their country, especially inconspicuous ones. But what would we do without our own spies in, say, Russia? Some countries are prone to secrecy and isolation from the world. Sending in spies to these countries could potentially keep our country from being surprised or left in the dark.

In 1991 the United States and the U.S.S.R. signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START, acknowledging that both countries wanted to reduce their numbers of nuclear weapons. In 1993 we signed the second START, banning two more types of nuclear-equipped missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles. I don’t know much about weapons or our more modern military tactics, but when two countries agree not to use specific types of weapons, is curiosity not natural? Curiosity about what they are planning to use instead, curiosity about whether or not they are building said weapons, curiosity about their true intentions behind signing such a treaty. And how do we get the information we want? Spies. Nobody will directly come out and say that we have spies — in any country — but how could we not?

We value our spies gathering information in other countries and dislike the idea of other countries having spies here. But the reality is, America is not as invincible as she sometimes thinks. Many countries are not pleased with us, and many would launch missiles at us just to make a point. We have to remember that there will be people working for other countries; we are not the only country planting spies. We are, however, a huge political powerhouse that needs to prevent itself from becoming a bigger target. How do we reduce the amount of information foreign spies get without limiting the public? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer, but it’s something to think about.

Plus, despite the national security part, the spy toys are kinda cool.

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a rising senior at Champlain Valley Union High School.