Did The Alleged Russian Spies Succeed?

Russian authorities say they’re waiting to hear more about the 11 alleged spies accused of working for the Russian government, all but one of whom have been arrested.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who’s traveling in Israel, says he's waiting to hear from the Americans, for “they have not explained to us what is going on.  I hope they will.”

The Washington Post's intelligence columnist, Jeff Stein, has an interesting piece today about how the FBI used "quaint" methods to catch the apparent undercover agents, who were fond of using old-fashioned methods themselves:

Moscow Center’s instructions were explicit: For the meeting in Rome, its American spy would approach a stranger and ask, "Excuse me, could we have met in Malta in 1999?"

"Yes indeed,” the answer should be. “I was in La Valetta, but in 2000.”

According to Moscow’s instructions, the stranger would then slip the spy a false Irish passport, for travel on to Russia.

NPR's Dina Temple Raston tells Morning Edition it's not clear the alleged spies ever gained access to critical intelligence.   It's beginning to resemble that Gene Hackman/Kevin Costner 1987 thriller, "No Way Out".

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In addition to the espionage plot twist, this even has former Tennessee Senator and Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson in it!

CONFIRMATION HEARINGS FOR KAGAN, PETRAEUS

The Senate Judiciary Committee gets down to business today with questioning of Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, currently the U.S. Solicitor General.  NPR has special coverage of the Kagan hearings, including liveblogging the hearings with Scotusblog.

Gen. David Petraeus appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee for a confirmation hearing at as President Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan.  The hearing gets underway at 9:30 am, eastern.  Find the committee's webcasts here.

WHY DID BELGIAN POLICE RAID CATHOLIC ABUSE PANEL?

The former head of the commission, retired magistrate Godelieve Halsberghe, alleges the Belgian group is concealing information about sexual abuse. The panel was created by the church more than a decade ago to examine cases of alleged sexual abuse involving Belgian clergy.  Belgian authorities conducted four raids last week, including at the residence of the country's Catholic Archbishop.  The Vatican is furious and the current panel says it's going to break up.  Panel chief, Peter Adriaenssaens, says his group was used as bait for police, after members promised alleged victims their cases would be confidential.

TEEN SAILOR RETURNS HOME

Abby Sunderland is back in Thousand Oaks, CA, after her attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world came to an abrupt end.  Her ship was damaged in the Indian Ocean, and the record was set by Australian sailor, Jessica Watson, in May.  She was rescued some 2,000 miles off the Australian coast by a French fishing vessel.

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