Close Call with Alleged Russian Spy Mikhail Semenko?


Mikhail Semenko TWN.jpg
I learned today that recently arrested, alleged Russian spy Mikhail Semenko had my business card. “Really?!” I asked. “Really,” I was told back.
I have a massive pile of business cards on my desk at the office, so I assume I have his also — and then looked at my personal laptop contacts list, which is large — but still select, limited only to people I have some interest in or connection with. I send folks on my email list an occasional article or event alert if it’s something really interesting and which will stream live, as most of my list is comprised of people outside Washington.
Sure enough, Mikhail Semenko is in my personal database note as “Russia/China expert”.
Semenko publishes (at least until June 24th of this year) the blog, Chinese Economy Today, which I have looked at before.
I didn’t recall his name until I saw his picture today — and now, I remember him well and was impressed by him when we met. He was knowledgeable about two countries that I have big projects in play with now — Russia and China — and he and I agreed that we should get together and chat some time. But never got to it.
In any case, spying is something countries do — in good times and bad. They do it. We do it. The best of friends do it. Jonathan Pollard comes to mind.
But it feels odd today to have had a brush with someone very much in the news reminding many of the Cold War’s high stakes drama. I remembered Semenko’s awkward modesty at the time — and now, after seeing the pic, I do recall him.
Any other folks of John LeCarre-ish habits running in my circles??
— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “Close Call with Alleged Russian Spy Mikhail Semenko?

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    How many of them were concerned with the energy sector?
    Brewster Jennings was out of Boston.


  2. Don Bacon says:

    And — credit where credit is due — Stanley Douglas cleverly mentioned them above. “He attempted making small talk about a squirrel and a moose.”


  3. Linda says:

    I mentioned “Rocky and Bullwinkle” on an earlier thread about the Russian spy story. For those who are too young to recall,just look at the Wiki for that TV show and scroll down to the section on characters. Then scroll up and read Stanley Douglas’ comment above.


  4. Don Bacon says:

    The term marketing concept holds that achieving organizational goals depends on knowing the needs and wants of target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions. It proposes that in order to satisfy its organizational objectives, an organization should anticipate the needs and wants of consumers and satisfy these more effectively than competitors.
    The government is here for you.
    Watch them kill foreign terrorists.
    Listen to them say how things are improving.
    See them arrest Russian spies.
    The government is working for you.


  5. samuelburke says:

    Ray McGovern, former senior analyst at the CIA, discusses the hype
    surrounding a seemingly benign Russian spy ring in the US, the
    sorely needed FBI public relations boost from their apparent
    counter-espionage success, CIA director Leon Panetta


  6. ... says:

    dons – wigwag will not give you an answer as it is beneath his esteemed image to even respond… either way, you hit the nail on the head..
    it amazes me how the russian spies are getting the coverage, when all the israel spies back before and after 9-11 where a non event… just goes to show you when the usa wants to make war, or gear up for a war with others they first have to make them or their allies out to be terrible people…


  7. Don Bacon says:

    A squirrel and a moose? I had a male pekingese and a female shepherd once and they . . .never mind.


  8. Stanley Douglas says:

    I recall being approached a short foreign-looking fellow
    accompanied by a tall slender brunette with heavy eye makeup. I
    believe he had a tiny mustache and wore a black hat. He attempted
    making small talk about a squirrel and a moose, but as a trained
    newsman, I smelled a rat and sent him packing. I wonder.


  9. JohnH says:

    Wig and birnbaum: I think Steve was just seeing if you were paying attention…
    His point was that friends spy on each other. But you take umbrage at the obvious (as usual)?


  10. larry birnbaum says:

    Pollard “[came] to mind.” Of course he did. There are so many similarities between the two cases.


  11. Jackie says:

    You might need to get a better class of spy to hang out with. I’m not sure how good these guys are.
    So, how is Oakley the amazing?


  12. DonS says:

    Hell hath no fury like a Zionist scorned, or at least slighted.
    Get over it Wig wag. Pollard was the worst sort of spy who should have gotten worse than he did.
    Why are you trying to redeem this Zionist spy by arguing that he is — what — not so bad???
    Are you an American Wig wag, at heart, or a Zionist? Don’t try to argue the points of law. This is about stone cold espionage, and it is incredulous that you would even attempt to mount an argument in his favor.
    You’re probably not even embarrassed. But I must say you make a valiant effort to change the subject. Steve was entirely right to bring the despicable Pollard into the discussion.


  13. Don Bacon says:

    The Iron Law Of Institutions
    The Iron Law of Institutions is: the people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution “fail” while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to “succeed” if that requires them to lose power within the institution.– Jonathan Schwarz


  14. WigWag says:

    The hypocrisy of Obama supporters is stunning. If Bush/Cheney tried to get away with half of the fascist behavior that the Obama Administration is engaging in, the hue and cry would be deafening. Instead, it’s the silence of the Obama supporters that’s deafening.
    Why is the Obama Administration prosecuting Thomas Andrews Drake? Because he leaked information to a reporter for the Baltimore Sun that showed the Obama Administration was squandering hundreds of millions of dollars developing a computerized data base for monitoring terrorists that would never work. To deter insiders with real information from releasing it to the press, Obama wants to put Mr. Drake, who has never even received a parking ticket, in federal prison for 10 years.
    Here’s the New York Times story on this travesty,
    But of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Just 7 months ago, a linguist who worked for the FBI, Shamai Lebowitz, was forced to plead guilty to turning over FBI documents to a blogger; again, the Obama Administration didn’t want information critical of its programs leaking out.
    Just this month, the Obama Administration arrested Army Specialist Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, for allegedly disclosing a video of an Apache helicopter shooting and killing unarmed Iraqi civilians to the website Wikileaks, which the Pentagon then made the subject of a world-wide manhunt.
    Here’s the wiki on that,
    And let’s not forget that the Obama Administration


  15. WigWag says:

    “Now this is MUCH different than the Jonathan Pollard case. Pollard’s case involved the passing of classified information to a country that has nuclear weapons, whose political behavior is extremely destabilizing, and whose actions run counter to what is helpful to creating a peaceful world.” (Erichwwk)
    I guess its escaped Erichwwk’s attention that Russia actually possesses about 100 times as many nuclear weapons as the country Pollard spied for does. It also says alot that Ericwwk thinks the Russians are contributing to a stable world and that their actions are peaceful. Perhaps Erichwwk has never heard of Chechnya, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Georgia, the Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan.
    He is right about one thing though; the case against the Russians seems bizarre. Yes, they failed to register as foreign agents and yes they entered the United States under false pretenses. Their behavior surely merits expulsion. But are they really spies? Were they really committing acts of espionage if all they were doing is using publically available material to gather information on the United States? Doesn’t this make them more like research librarians than KGB agents (or whatever the KGB is called now)?
    Like the Bush Administration before it, the Obama Administration is way too quick to call things espionage and to violate the spirit of the law by obsessively clinging to the letter of the law. During the Bush years, the FBI and Justice Department did this during their absurd attempted prosecution of Larry Franklin, Steve Rosen and Keith Weismann (the so called AIPAC Spy Case).
    Now the Obama Administration is using the same ridiculous statute (the so-called Espionage Act) to prosecute Thomas Andrews Drake, a former employee of the NSA for what was little more than whistle blowing. The behavior of the Obama Administration is extraordinarily despicable and all we can do is hope that there is a civilized federal district judge out there who will dismiss the case against Drake in the same way the case against Rosen, Weismann (and eventually Franklin) was tossed out.
    Here is some more information about the case that was brought by Eric Holder and his fellow idiots in the Justice Department,
    Does the Obama Administration even understand what a threat to national security really is?
    It seems to me that the biggest threat to national security isn’t the recently arrested Russians and it isn’t Thomas Andrew Drake; it’s the moron who currently occupies the Oval Office.


  16. erichwwk says:

    I for one am thankful that Steve Clemons was included in Mikhail Semenko’s contacts. Can’t think of a person I would rather have the Russians learn from in order to understand American politics than Steve.
    Similarly, after looking at Mikhail’s blog,there are further benefits of the relationship, if Steve did read “Chinese Economy Today. The most recent entry begins with:


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