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Who is Paul Whelan, the ex-US Marine arrested in Russia?

JacksinPA

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46757119

According to the Russian authorities, he is a US spy. According to his family, he is simply a man who wanted to attend a friend's wedding.

So what do we know about Paul Whelan, the 48-year-old who could face years in prison after being arrested in Moscow on suspicion of spying last month?
=============================================
A former cop & IT manager for Kelly Services, he served in the Marines & did 2 tours in Iraq. He was dishonorably discharged for writing bad checks & using a bogus SSN. He returned to Kelly Services being promoted to senior manager of global security and investigations in 2010. From their he moved to BorgWarner, who produce automotive parts. He was a Russophile & traveled often to Russia where he had set up a social media account. He had been caught receiving a digital storage device containing a list of intelligence officials & is charged with espionage.
 

Praxas

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46757119

According to the Russian authorities, he is a US spy. According to his family, he is simply a man who wanted to attend a friend's wedding.

So what do we know about Paul Whelan, the 48-year-old who could face years in prison after being arrested in Moscow on suspicion of spying last month?
=============================================
A former cop & IT manager for Kelly Services, he served in the Marines & did 2 tours in Iraq. He was dishonorably discharged for writing bad checks & using a bogus SSN. He returned to Kelly Services being promoted to senior manager of global security and investigations in 2010. From their he moved to BorgWarner, who produce automotive parts. He was a Russophile & traveled often to Russia where he had set up a social media account. He had been caught receiving a digital storage device containing a list of intelligence officials & is charged with espionage.

Hard to tell, his record would indicate he might be "capable" of what they said but given the timing and the fact Russia isn't exactly known for being the bastion of fair justice or the truth I would still give him the benefit of the doubt and say he is innocent until proven guilty.
 

Mr Person

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46757119

According to the Russian authorities, he is a US spy. According to his family, he is simply a man who wanted to attend a friend's wedding.

So what do we know about Paul Whelan, the 48-year-old who could face years in prison after being arrested in Moscow on suspicion of spying last month?
=============================================
A former cop & IT manager for Kelly Services, he served in the Marines & did 2 tours in Iraq. He was dishonorably discharged for writing bad checks & using a bogus SSN. He returned to Kelly Services being promoted to senior manager of global security and investigations in 2010. From their he moved to BorgWarner, who produce automotive parts. He was a Russophile & traveled often to Russia where he had set up a social media account. He had been caught receiving a digital storage device containing a list of intelligence officials & is charged with espionage.

Unless that's just the CIA cover story.


At any rate, let's see what/if Trump actually does about it.
 

Mr Person

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Hard to tell, his record would indicate he might be "capable" of what they said but given the timing and the fact Russia isn't exactly known for being the bastion of fair justice or the truth I would still give him the benefit of the doubt and say he is innocent until proven guilty.

I also wouldn't put it past Putin to strategically see what he can get away with while Trump is in office. He may only have two more years to make whatever moves he wants, given that an increasing number of people took a chance on Trump for whatever unfathomable reason have been rudely disabused of their earlier position.
 

SonOfDaedalus

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I don't know if he's really a spy or not. I do know that the Russians want Butina back. She probably hasn't told Mueller everything.

I wonder if Trump trades Butina for Whelan. This would hurt the Mueller investigation and give him the cover of helping a vet return home. We'll just have to see how this drama plays out.

Whelan is a pawn in a game. If anyone is playing 3D chess it's Vladimir Putin.
 

Xelor

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46757119

According to the Russian authorities, he is a US spy. According to his family, he is simply a man who wanted to attend a friend's wedding.

So what do we know about Paul Whelan, the 48-year-old who could face years in prison after being arrested in Moscow on suspicion of spying last month?
=============================================
A former cop & IT manager for Kelly Services, he served in the Marines & did 2 tours in Iraq. He was dishonorably discharged for writing bad checks & using a bogus SSN. He returned to Kelly Services being promoted to senior manager of global security and investigations in 2010. From their he moved to BorgWarner, who produce automotive parts. He was a Russophile & traveled often to Russia where he had set up a social media account. He had been caught receiving a digital storage device containing a list of intelligence officials & is charged with espionage.

It's long been my anecdotally obtained understanding that his criminal record would have disqualified him from being hired by the CIA, DIA, and other "alphabet soup" intel organizations of the US government. I never had a reason to question or care about the veracity of what I'd been told; however, given the Whelan matter's notoriety, I bothered to determine whether a cursory Googling might reveal info that corroborates what I'd heard.

Lo and behold, in mere seconds I came upon several sources that confirm what I'd been told. Per Ron Patrick, the CIA’s head of recruitment, "One thing we can’t get past is if the applicant is a convicted felon. Even if they have been out of jail for five to ten years, it doesn’t matter." Also, in "Can You Work for the CIA if You've Been Arrested?", Neil Kokemuller, describing "integrity considerations" the CIA factors into its hiring decisions, writes:
It is noted in the agency's application process that the type of activity, seriousness and recency of illegal or unethical behaviors will be considered in evaluating your application. In essence, a 10-year old arrest for a simple misdemeanor may not preclude you from acceptance. However, it is specifically noted that illegal drug use in the last 12 months would certainly lead to denial of security clearance. Other felonies and recent arrests would likely cause a similar fate.​
Does that mean Whelan absolutely couldn't have been knowingly performing some sort of spying activity, perhaps as a asset rather than as an agent? I suppose not. Intel organizations have very different "guidelines" about whom they will use as information conduits than they have for whom they'll hire. That is to say, they're unlikely to forswear availing themselves of opportunities when/where they present themselves.


Red:
That is what the Russians allege. I really can't say whether that is a truthful claim. I'm sure relevant individuals in the USIC know whether that claim has any likelihood of being true; however:

  • if it is a true claim, the USIC is going to deny that it because it's classified,
  • if it's not true the USIC is going deny it because it is in fact not true, and
  • either way, it's not as though the Russians and Putin's government are the most honorable and truthful folks one might come by.
Accordingly, I see little point in sifting through the details of the matter and their veracity. I'll just have to wait and see what be the outcome.
 

JacksinPA

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It's long been my anecdotally obtained understanding that his criminal record would have disqualified him from being hired by the CIA, DIA, and other "alphabet soup" intel organizations of the US government. I never had a reason to question or care about the veracity of what I'd been told; however, given the Whelan matter's notoriety, I bothered to determine whether a cursory Googling might reveal info that corroborates what I'd heard.

Lo and behold, in mere seconds I came upon several sources that confirm what I'd been told. Per Ron Patrick, the CIA’s head of recruitment, "One thing we can’t get past is if the applicant is a convicted felon. Even if they have been out of jail for five to ten years, it doesn’t matter." Also, in "Can You Work for the CIA if You've Been Arrested?", Neil Kokemuller, describing "integrity considerations" the CIA factors into its hiring decisions, writes:
It is noted in the agency's application process that the type of activity, seriousness and recency of illegal or unethical behaviors will be considered in evaluating your application. In essence, a 10-year old arrest for a simple misdemeanor may not preclude you from acceptance. However, it is specifically noted that illegal drug use in the last 12 months would certainly lead to denial of security clearance. Other felonies and recent arrests would likely cause a similar fate.​
Does that mean Whelan absolutely couldn't have been knowingly performing some sort of spying activity, perhaps as a asset rather than as an agent? I suppose not. Intel organizations have very different "guidelines" about whom they will use as information conduits than they have for whom they'll hire. That is to say, they're unlikely to forswear availing themselves of opportunities when/where they present themselves.


Red:
That is what the Russians allege. I really can't say whether that is a truthful claim. I'm sure relevant individuals in the USIC know whether that claim has any likelihood of being true; however:

  • if it is a true claim, the USIC is going to deny that it because it's classified,
  • if it's not true the USIC is going deny it because it is in fact not true, and
  • either way, it's not as though the Russians and Putin's government are the most honorable and truthful folks one might come by.
Accordingly, I see little point in sifting through the details of the matter and their veracity. I'll just have to wait and see what be the outcome.

Whelaan oos fluent in Russian & had the right cover story. His elevation to top global security services at both Kelly & BW smells funny given his criminal record. I would not put it past the CIA to recruit Whelan & suspiciously provide him with the Kely/BW cover because his age & linguistic skills made him 'perfect' for this kind of spying.
 

Mr Person

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It's long been my anecdotally obtained understanding that his criminal record would have disqualified him from being hired by the CIA, DIA, and other "alphabet soup" intel organizations of the US government. I never had a reason to question or care about the veracity of what I'd been told; however, given the Whelan matter's notoriety, I bothered to determine whether a cursory Googling might reveal info that corroborates what I'd heard.

Lo and behold, in mere seconds I came upon several sources that confirm what I'd been told. Per Ron Patrick, the CIA’s head of recruitment, "One thing we can’t get past is if the applicant is a convicted felon. Even if they have been out of jail for five to ten years, it doesn’t matter." Also, in "Can You Work for the CIA if You've Been Arrested?", Neil Kokemuller, describing "integrity considerations" the CIA factors into its hiring decisions, writes:
It is noted in the agency's application process that the type of activity, seriousness and recency of illegal or unethical behaviors will be considered in evaluating your application. In essence, a 10-year old arrest for a simple misdemeanor may not preclude you from acceptance. However, it is specifically noted that illegal drug use in the last 12 months would certainly lead to denial of security clearance. Other felonies and recent arrests would likely cause a similar fate.​
Does that mean Whelan absolutely couldn't have been knowingly performing some sort of spying activity, perhaps as a asset rather than as an agent? I suppose not. Intel organizations have very different "guidelines" about whom they will use as information conduits than they have for whom they'll hire. That is to say, they're unlikely to forswear availing themselves of opportunities when/where they present themselves.


Red:
That is what the Russians allege. I really can't say whether that is a truthful claim. I'm sure relevant individuals in the USIC know whether that claim has any likelihood of being true; however:

  • if it is a true claim, the USIC is going to deny that it because it's classified,
  • if it's not true the USIC is going deny it because it is in fact not true, and
  • either way, it's not as though the Russians and Putin's government are the most honorable and truthful folks one might come by.
Accordingly, I see little point in sifting through the details of the matter and their veracity. I'll just have to wait and see what be the outcome.

The thing with the CIA and such intelligence agencies is that even if a requirement like that is written into law, ignoring that law would provide an even better cover story for someone. I'm sure have many ways of paying/supervising someone without making a record of it.
 

markjs

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Let's not forget, not all espionage is government sponsored. Corporations engage in espionage of sorts for all kinds of reasons. The Intelligence agencies may not hire a guy like that directly, but using him as an asset could be another matter as well. Thing is, being "larcenous in the military, not that uncommon and those guys can be super resourceful guys. He could still have friends in governmment from the old days.
 

Xelor

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Whelaan [is] fluent in Russian & had the right cover story. His elevation to top global security services at both Kelly & BW smells funny given his criminal record. I would not put it past the CIA to recruit Whelan & suspiciously provide him with the Kely/BW cover because his age & linguistic skills made him 'perfect' for this kind of spying.

I don't understand what point you're making, besides that of your believing the CIA would use Whelan as an asset. I can't disagree with that. Pretty much any expat has the potential to be thus used; their having, on their own and legitimately obtained whatever role they have working abroad is among the things that make them fitting assets because they're already "in position" before an operative approached them to get them to do his/her bidding.
 

SonOfDaedalus

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The thing with the CIA and such intelligence agencies is that even if a requirement like that is written into law, ignoring that law would provide an even better cover story for someone. I'm sure have many ways of paying/supervising someone without making a record of it.

Whenever I hear about all the reasons he can't possible be a CIA agent that just makes me think those reasons are great cover.

Whelan, should you or any member of your IM force be caught or killed the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

 

Xelor

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The thing with the CIA and such intelligence agencies is that even if a requirement like that is written into law, ignoring that law would provide an even better cover story for someone. I'm sure have many ways of paying/supervising someone without making a record of it.

Yeah, so there're people who are actual intel agency employees and there are people who are agents. The latter aren't employees, but they may be paid to do stuff. Whelan may be an agent (non-employee); he cannot be an operative, an employee. One can think of the distinction as that of a firm's own staff (operatives) and the staff of consultants, suppliers and contractors (agents/assets) who provide various goods/services to the firm and its personnel.

An agent shouldn't need a cover story. Their status as whatever it is they do/are, prior to the CIA approaching them, is their so-called cover. That status is among the things that makes them worth approaching and converting from "someone having no connection with the CIA" to "someone who has a relationship of some stripe with the CIA or with someone else who has a CIA relationship." An asset's value is that their gathering/transferring information the CIA wants is unlikely to seem unusual to officials (employees) of the country wherein the asset obtains or passes-on information the CIA wants.


Frankly, I find it hard to believe that Whelan was in possession of a USB drive containing a list of (presumably) Russian intelligence officials. I don't think Russia would openly and truthfully acknowledge that sort of information was gathered by a US agent. Why?
  • Because information of that sort isn't likely going to be available to any expat working in Russia, which means there'd have to be someone in Russia's own intelligence organization who obtained/compiled that list and provided it to someone (maybe Whelan, maybe someone else(s)). Accordingly, there'd have to be a massive "mole hunt" going on (or that happened) in the wake of their capturing Whelan.
  • Because revealing that would, if it's true, mean that Russia either had no opportunity to, or opted to forgo the opportunity to, convert someone into a "double." Why do that?
  • Because revealing that implies Russia has infiltrated the USIC sufficiently enough to know or deduce that the US had underway an operation to gather than information. The US would then have to go looking for the mole in its own USIC units. It doesn't make sense that Russia would want to give the US any reason to look for such as asset that Russia had developed. One's goose that lays golden eggs isn't a goose one risks someone else capturing, and far and away the easiest way to minimize such a risk is to keep one's own counsel about having such a goose.

What does make sense to do is to capture a patsy who's circumstances evince, to the public, enough plausibility that he is/was an agent, frame the guy and then avail oneself of the already established American president and populace's imprudent predilection to hew to conspiracy theories. Why would one do that?
  • To create opportunity for oneself when none otherwise exists.
  • To use the thus crated opportunity to trade a non-agent for someone who is in fact one's own agent, or worse, one's own operative whom the US has captured because one thing that's worse than having an agent get caught is having an operative get caught.
Countries want their captured operatives and agents back for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is so they can find out what they revealed to their captors. After all, how else is one to know the nature and extent to which one's networks have been riven and exposed? I suppose one could wait around until other members of the networks start "dropping like flies" or until other operations one's running start getting foiled or SNAFU'd. Sooner or later, more likely the latter, it'll become obvious that one's "stuff" has been compromised. By then, however, it'll be too late.
 
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