Saturday, May 25, 2013

Today in Skye's Spies: Spy Gadgets on Display, What's Wrong with Spook TV?

Whiz-Bang Widgets Galore...

 Catfish and Blond wigs?

No, it's not a new episode of Honey Boo Boo.

There's a super neat new spy gadget display.

I'm not referring to the one in FSB headquarters donated by recently arrested U.S. Diplomat Ryan Fogle. No, this one's in Philadelphia at the Franklin Institute, donated by FBI, CIA, and NRO.

From what I can see, it's very similar to the CIA Museum exhibits on display at Langley...lots of cool gadgetry from covert operations that happened in the good ole days--much of it collected or used during the Cold War. Even though you won't get to see the new whiz-bang spy widgets, I have to admit...even back then, we did some pretty cool sh*t. But that's only for us folks who have been subjected to highly invasive background investigations. You, "the uncleared," won't get to see that.

Which is all the more reason to see this one. Now. Well, it's open until October. For $25 bucks, you may just want to get a clearance and see the one at Langley. I'm just saying.

If you're in D.C., of course, you can always check out the Spy Museum which is pretty cool. FBI counterintelligence personnel got a special tour when it first opened. Lot's of cool stuff there. And I'm sure the Russians just LOVE what's buried in the bowels there...a Hall of Shame featuring their "Patriots," Americans busted for helping them...and other services...but mostly them. And one of the Russian's own (or who used to be their own) helped create it which I'm sure just THRILLS them to pieces. (For what it's worth, I don't much like the guy either I'm just sayin'). It's a unique collaboration that surely brings in big tourist it was intended.

And that's all I have to say about that!

What's Wrong with Spook TV?


They either get the intelligence world really right...or really wrong. When it comes to prime-time television, it's mostly WRONG. And not just a little bit wrong, but so incredibly wrong that, to those of us in the business, it's pretty freakin' comical.

To me, the funniest part of these shows, is that these agencies that were created to spy OVERSEAS do all their spying right here in the good ole United States...and don't involve the FBI.! Doesn't happen like that in the real world. Not even close. If you are engaged in any type of intelligence operation in the United States it HAS to go through the FBI, must be Mueller-Approved. If it doesn't, the operation just does not go down.

I'm always working or writing so I really don't get to watch a lot of television. But there are a few shows that I DVR out of pure desperation I think, some that are entertaining as heck...and some that made my eyes roll back so far they almost got stuck. 

Shows that get it kinda right... 

The Americans. 

I don't much like The Americans for some reason. I haven't figured out why--I think it is probably the violence. I'm not for a lot of gun play in spy stories because it's so RARE inside the United States.  It's about Russians who take on American identities but still spy for the Russians. Even though it's set in the 1980s, I think it was at least inspired by the FBI arrest of the illegals network in 2010. For the episodes that I did watch, most of the first season, it was pretty engaging...and they do include the FBI--amazingly accurate for Hollywood. If I were going to recommend a show as a way to learn about how Russian intelligence operates in the United States, I'd recommend this one, even though it didn't keep me hanging on.

 Covert Affairs

Another show that is entertaining and gets it kinda right is Covet Affairs. For me, this has just the right blend of spy ops, romance, and suspense. The problem? Well, the CIA runs foreign operations out of Embassies around the world, not Langley and not throughout the United States--in DC? Naaah. If something goes wrong, the CIA would be in a whole lotta trouble. Langley certainly has oversight over operations, but Station Chiefs pretty much run the show in country--overseas. So, in this way, they get it WRONG. You don't see them coordinate with the FBI. WRONG.

Aside from those two issues, this show gets two snaps up for entertainment value.

Another clip.

Shows that get it really wrong.


Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE this show. I am thoroughly addicted to it. I think it's great storytelling that keeps me on the edge of my seat and gets my blood racing. But I would be lying if it didn't give me my share of eye-rolling moments. Most of which have centered around two things: The Mole Hunt and All Things Huck.

First of all, that Mole Hunt. I don't even want to get into how many ways this was wrong. I mean it was just wrong wrong wrong. No FBI involvement, an officer in the Pentagon delivering classified intel to a "fixer," and running operations for the "President," the CIA conducting covert black ops in the United States...targeting American citizens...for ANY reason but ESPECIALLY without FBI coordination...I mean, somebody stop me! Please. Some of you might argue COINTELPRO and the anti-communist movement...but I'll guarantee you Hoover had his thumb in every pie...whatever pies were out there.

Then there's Huck and this B213...B345...B631...B757...whatever that number is. Well...I'll say no more. We'll just chalk it up to the brilliant imagination of Shonda Rhimes and the entertainment value is off the charts...even if the accuracy is a little (a LOT) off. Trust me, I'll be hanging on by a very thin thread until next season.


And last but not least a new show. For next season, CBS will be premiering a new show called Intelligence. It features a HUMAN COVERT OPERATIVE of the U.S. Cyber Command who has a computer chip installed in his brain...and he can pull information from any database. Yes, they've created a human computer. And in a not-so-subtle dig at Chinese intelligence--another chip--the only other chip--was implanted in the brain of a Chinese intelligence officer. So it's the Chinese MSS, PLA intelligence--or some Hollywood cyber version of them--versus U.S. Cyber Command.

For those of you who know what the Cyber Command does, you can stop laughing now.

I don't need to tell you how many ways this is wrong. First, it looks like a civilian agency when the word "Command" is a dead giveaway that it's military. Both the FBI and CIA have cyber elements, why not use them, I dunno. *shrugs* Okay...but then there's the operative...who is guarded by this cute chick from where???

I'll DVR this one for comedy night. I'm sure Chinese Intelligence will be laughing right along with me.

Cyber Command? They're mostly computer geeks in military uniforms.

Conducting covert operations? Yeah...not HUMAN ones.


*shakes head*

Here's a clip.

So that's it for my Spook TV wrap up. 

Suffice it to say, these shows have helped me realized one thing. If they can write that stuff...then writing a series about a lie-detecting FBI agent who recruits Russian spies to catch American traitors isn't odd or strange or off the wall.

Au Contraire Mon Frere!

It's Hollywood.

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