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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Know thine neighbor

They were a nice married couple living in Cambridge. He's a Harvard grad, working as a consultant. She "was a friendly neighbor. She was gorgeous. She was nice.” They were immigrants -- from Canada.

They blended right in American society in Cambridge as did their friends and associates in Yonkers NY and Montclair NJ. Not a lot of questions raised about a white-skinned couple with middle class ways, college degrees and a command of the language. OK, so they were immigrants, but they must be here legally, right?

Well if you consider Russian spies legal residents, yes.

While the story of "Donald Howard Heathfield" and "Tracey Lee Ann Foley" reads a lot like a James Bond novel with invisible ink and passing papers in pre-assigned drops, the really chilling thought is they managed to pull it off in part through basic American bias.

They seemed like "us." No chance they were people who sneaked across the Arizona border. Or had a dark complexion or a funny-sounding name like Faisal Shahzad.

The tale of the 11 Russian spies arrested yesterday is also a tale of the dangers of labeling people by appearance or profession.
“I’m absolutely floored," said Paul Hesselschwerdt, president of Global Partners Inc., a Cambridge-based consulting firm where Don Heathfield has worked since 2000 as a sales consultant. “He’s a good person. He’s lived in the United States for a long time. We’re just completely shocked.’’
It all depends on the meaning of the word "good."

In the words of John E. Pike, director Globalsecurity.org, a military information website, we still have things to fear about Russia, despite a warming of relations from the days of "duck and cover."
“They’re the only other country on the planet that can wipe out civilization,’’ Pike said. “They are one of the few countries on the planet that could pose a military challenge to us."
Another good reminder that we can't simply tell a book by its cover.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Peter Porcupine said...

Said it many times - EVERY terrorist we've arrested, and the 9/11 bombers, all came into the US through CANADA. And we obsess about Mexico.

Saw a lady on WBZ, a Cambridge neighbor and allegedy an educated person, who said Russian spies weren't a big deal, because "they aren't the Soviet Union anymore". The fact that Russia is largely run by a mafia that makes the Gambinos look like the League of Women Voters who would sell our sensitive technology to Iran and Hammas in a heartbeat seems to have escaped her.

June 30, 2010 12:40 AM  
Blogger James Patrick Conway said...

Russian spies in Cambridge? But how did the FBI tell them apart from everyone else?

June 30, 2010 1:35 AM  

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