A Day In The Life Of Covert Technical Support

[Phone rings]

[Man in cubicle, late 20s, wearing headset, playing FarmVille on computer under heavy florescent lighting]

Служба Внешней Разведки! Меня зовут Иван! Thank you for calling Directorate OT customer support. Your call is very important to us. How may I assist you today? This call definitely will be monitored for satisfaction.

[Female voice, exasperated]: You have to help me, no one at Directorate S has a clue about iPhones and Macs.

[Ivan]: Oh, uh, wow Directorate S! You know, procedure? You aren’t even supposed to be calling here? You’re an illegal.

[Female voice, sharp]: Well, I’m calling, aren’t I?

[Ivan] OK, OK. It’s just S . . . they’re touchy. You’re breaking cover and all. Is it true? I mean, the good life, yeah? All those Red Bull and vodka parties. Pay per view? I guess I can do some tech support, but if I help you out, how about you do the same? Put in a word for me? I look Belgian. Everyone says so.

[Female voice, heavy sigh]:

[Ivan]: First off, to open your account, may I ask your legend’s name and date of birth, please? (muttering under breath, ‘I am soo getting fired for this’).

[Female voice]: Anna. Anna Chapman, 1982, OK? Look, I can’t get my Mac to synchronize for my scheduled meetings. Something stopped working. We use an ad hoc encrypted drive-by wireless data transfer with the contact’s van. And I have all this huge, huge news on Facebook’s privacy policies . . .

[Ivan]: May I call you Anna? Your problem involves your van’s broken wireless network. OK, now I just need to verify your your account status. “I think we may have met before in Kharkov last June.”

[Anna]: What? I would never go to Kharkov in a million years. Help with this Mac now. Or do I need to ask for a supervisor?

[Ivan]: Thank you, Anna, that was the correct response. I can enter your general account now. One moment, please. I don’t have access to all your Directorate S accounts – their security is good. But I know some work arounds . . . [keys clacking].

Wow! All those illegals in France . . . Carla Bruni? No way!

Let’s see about you . . . [keys clicking]. . .and I’m in. Well, there’s the answer. Records do not indicate you are authorized to own a van with a WiFi network. You’ll have go through Directorate S during normal business hours.

[Anna, now yelling]: I DON”T HAVE A VAN! I AM TRYING TO SYNC UP WITH *YOUR* VAN WITH MY MAC! Can you fix my Mac?

[Ivan]: Yes, thank you for explaining. I understand you are upset. I will try to help. I understand that you would like a van to go with your Mac. That as I mentioned is a Directorate S matter but I can, Anna, put in a note in your records that you pre-qualify for a wireless upgrade to your next automotive provision. You’re eligible for an upgrade in just 18 months. Does that resolve your issue?

[Anna, hint of tears of anger] Боже мой, durak. MAC!! У меня есть ноутбук. Laptop. помогите мне shas ili ya . . .

[Ivan]: Oh, OK Anna, you have a separate problem with your notebook. It’s an Apple computer?

[Anna, sigh of relief]: Da, kak ya uzhe obyasnila. I’ve written about my beautiful Mac on my Facebook page. I can’t communicate with my contact wirelessly. No one in New York is able to help. And I’ve already tweeted Fradkov over 5 times.

[Ivan]: Yes, I can understand your frustration. [pause as keyboard clicks] Anna, do you have AppleCare? Is it under warranty?

[Anna]; What? No Applecare. It’s a rip off, everyone knows that. And yes, it’s brand new.

[Ivan]: As you know Anna, it’s Center policy for end users with personal computers under warranty to turn to the manufacturer first to resolve matters with customer assistance. I can’t speak for S, but I can give you the 1-800 number for Apple. You might also ask at your next meeting for the residence to make an appointment for you at the nearest Apple Store for the Genius Bar . . . [pause with clicks] and I see several Apple Stores in Manhattan. Directorate OT reminds you it is official policy to avoid mentioning any hardware or software changes made to the computer. We have found Americans often use this to claim the unit is outside warranty coverage.

[Anna with vehemence]: Unbelievable! I risk everything here in New York, traveling to London, making contacts, going to parties and creating a $2 million real estate company. Everyone’s useless. No wonder our national hockey team sucks!

[Ivan]: I understand that you are upset. If the original manufacturer can not restore your illicit equipment to proper working order, you are then authorized to ship it to us prepaid in Yasenevo in its original manufacturer’s boxes with return postage attached. A technical specialist will contact you in the usual way embedding his diagnostic in the Taylor Momsen Flickr collection.

Have I resolved your issues to your satisfaction, Anna?

[Anna]: Hell no! Give me a damn supervisor. Right now! Because of you, all of you, New York can’t send back vital information on Facebook privacy changes! And my new iPhone keeps dropping calls. I think it’s the FBI. I’m going to get a pre-paid phone just in case.

[Ivan]: I am sorry we could not solve your problems to your satisfaction, Anna, please hold for transfer to a supervisor.

[90 seconds elapse]

[Male, speaking in heavy Indian accent]: Hello? My name is Vlad, how can I help you today? . . .


  1. Comment says

    Just a guess, Chapman was 1 degree from meeting a Cab official, and Bureau just extrapolated that would lead to sex. They just assumed (for their own purposes) that Chapman would succeed seducing Mr. X. But Chapman would have set off alarm bells for all but the most rabid horndogs. imho

  2. says

    FBI now claiming Chapman was ‘close’ to bedding a Cabinet official. Apparently, you *can* make this stuff up.


    One can think of a variety of reasons for the FBI to float this now, most centrally, to direct attention from its (mis)handiing of SVR Illegals defector Col. Poteyev and the botched crash meeting with Chapman (who saw through the ploy immediately). There’s no other way to describe that than a #fail.

    To somehow claim now that the rollup of the SVR agents was because Chapman was close to bedding a ‘cabinet member’ – as opposed to a panicked response once Chapman signaled she was alerting Moscow — is, well, it would be typical FBI.

    Unfortunately for the Bureau, it’s hard to spin this ring as an acutely imminent danger. Shutting down an illegals ring is a good thing, no doubt. But the proximate cause for the rollup appears to be the messed up Chapman meeting in NYC, not some Profumo-type dangerous liaison.

    The CI work overall was pretty good but endings matter. And it’s not like the Bureau was caught cheating on an open book test.and lying about it . . . oh wait.

  3. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Defector convicted in abstentia. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/27/russian-double-agent-tried-absence

    If you recall, Bruce Lockhart et al. threw a party in London to celebrate their convictions. Cheeky. And as it was the beginning, many of them didn’t have a sense of the future.

    There are enough dead bodies now. Although Putin stated in public no retribution will be taken, that should be of modest comfort (both because Putin said it, and the major rivalries and factionalization, let alone non-State actors). We are not talking about a FCD/SVR officer gone rogue from a UN posting.

    He’s got to be smart enough to know when to listen to Americans and when to nod, tuning them out. The past should be his guide. Regardless of who’s resetting whom. One should think at a minimum he’ll avoid umbrellas. And have a lot of radiation detectors all over the place. Everywhere.

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Putin on ‘Poteyev’:

    One of the most emotional moments of the day came when Mr. Putin — who served as a counterintelligence officer for the K.G.B. — was asked about a turncoat official who reportedly revealed the identities of members of a ring of Russian sleeper spies living under assumed identities in the United States.

    Mr. Putin said Russian intelligence services would not seek to “liquidate” the officer for what he had done, but he said traitors “will snuff themselves out.”

    “A man betrayed his friends, his comrades in arms,” Mr. Putin said. “How can he live with this all his life? How can he look his children in the eyes? Pig.”

    “No matter what happens, and no matter what 30 pieces of silver those people got, it will stick in his throat, I assure you,” he said. “A person who chooses this fate will regret it a thousand times.”


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