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No Way Out

Did you ever see that movie from the 1980s where Kevin Costner plays a Russian spy who has the job of investigating himself? The tension keeps building: he can’t give the job to anyone else, but the evidence keeps piling up pointing to himself. At some point, something’s gotta give.

From a review at the time:

The film makes such good use of Washington and builds suspense so well that it transcends a plot bordering on ridiculous.

That’s about right.

25 Comments

  1. D Kane says:

    I thought that this was going to be about Cuddy!

  2. Z says:

    No spoiler alert?

    Also, new season of The Americans starts March 7

  3. Carlos Ungil says:

    That reminded me of A Scanner Darkly.

  4. WB says:

    The Big Clock and No Way Out are both excellent!

    Rarely is a remake as good as the original. But this is the rare exception.

    • Andrew says:

      Wb:

      And now they’re remaking it in real life! We’ll have to see how this one turns out.

      P.S. Yes, I enjoyed both movies. They’re different: The Big Clock is a satire and No Way Out is played straight. But each is great in its own way.

  5. jrkrideau says:

    Gee Joe McCarthy would be proud.

    Sorry, I just don’t buy this “The Russians are coming” crap.

    Point 1
    The Russians were supporting Trump when every US commentaor was sure his canidateure was nonsense

    Well, presuably the Russian intelligence people are a lot better than the American political commentatores.

    Point 2
    Any reason the Russians want a mad ‘lose cannon’ to a nasty anti-soviet idiot with whom they have delt before. Clinton may have been mad but at least the Kremlin understood her insanity.

    • Of course the Russians are better than the American commentators. They have all the best election machine hackers and FBI plants

      Of course they want Trump. They bought him with 19℅ of their state gas company.

      • jrkrideau says:

        Damn, I missed this important fact. Of course Moscow was going to buy a reality show host because he was certainly going to be the US president.

        How could I have been so stupid?

      • Wayne says:

        Hmmm, sounds very NCAA-sports-like. The Chinese were more successful in the 90’s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_United_States_campaign_finance_controversy) while the Russians have come on strong lately. Then again, Snowden has chosen to live in and perhaps work for the Russians, while he only gave the Chinese for-a-limited-time-only access to his laptop and its classified contents — including “The Crown Jewels” of the NSA, who is responsible for not only cyber offense but also for cyber defense. So perhaps it all boils down to Russia’s smart draft picks (Snowden) and having more to prove than China.

        I think we could model this in Stan. Not sure how to integrate out some of the nuisance parameters, but…

        • Andrew says:

          Wayne:

          Integrating out the nuisance parameters is no problem; just declare them in the parameters block and use a measurement-error model.

          But if it’s “draft picks” then it’s NBA, not NCAA, right? Of course, maybe now the Russians will be in charge of the NSA . . . it really is Le Carre territory.

          Wasn’t there speculation that Harold Wilson and Willy Brandt were Soviet assets?

    • jcz says:

      Perhaps conjugation is the problem. If there are Russians, they’re already here.

      Also, whether or not there’s a Russian threat, members of the new administration seem hell-bent on lying, sometimes under oath. Perhaps you think it’s a coincidence that they just happen to lie about Russian contacts rather frequently?

    • Andrew says:

      Jkrideau:

      Joe McCarthy was full of crap and he knew it, but there really were Russian spies in the United States. Remember the atom bomb?

      Regarding your points 1 and 2: you’ll have to ask the Russians (or maybe the Attorney General if he investigates himself; see those links above) about their decision making process. It doesn’t seem so unreasonable for an intelligence agency to use the assets they have available. At least, that’s my expert opinion based on reading several books by John Le Carre and watching three seasons of The Americans.

    • Why does Google support Trump? I’m pretty sure the answer is so that they can preserve power in Washington. Google may not have chosen Trump if the decision were left to them, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t and aren’t continuing to hedge their bets big time. It’s just the pragmatic thing to do—get inside Washington by any means possible to control policy in your company’s favor. Any reason to think Russian intelligence isn’t just playing by the same book as Google?

    • Chris Kavanagh says:

      You don’t have to buy into extreme ‘the Russians are coming’ conspiracies to recognise the painfully obvious- Russia sought to influence the election in the latter stages in favour of Trump. Such an agenda accords fully with their broader foreign policy which has long been focused on destabilising Europe/the EU/the US and seeking to undermine any global authority the Western powers attempt to project. To offer just one salient piece of evidence: intelligence agencies reported that Russian hackers gained access to both RNC and DMC emails, but almost all of the email material leaked during the election was damaging to Hillary. Coincidence? I guess it’s possible, but I know where my priors are set.

      As to why Russia would prefer someone like Trump to win, I can think of a few reasons:

      – Trump has been uncharacteristically consistent in his praise of Putin throughout his entire campaign.
      – Trump’s rhetoric and persona has damaged America’s reputation worldwide.
      – Trump has repeatedly been critical of NATO and the US’ support of NATO.
      – Trump regularly paints the US as a country plagued with terrible problems and no real democracy.
      – Trump has praised Brexit and voiced his desire for the disintegration of EU.
      – Trump has harshly criticised the US media, the US intelligence agencies and the previous US’ administrations- casting doubt on their legitimacy.

      And so on and so on. If you don’t see how any of the above plays into Putin’s interests then ok.

      Russian intelligence might not have damaging material on Trump and their interference with the election and connections to the Trump campaign might be much less substantial than many imagine. But even if that is true, it doesn’t make all of the evidence that Russia sought to damage Hillary’s campaign and yet was conspicuously quiet about Trump- except to offer qualified praise- any less blatant.

      • +1 for a cogent response, Chris K.

        Russia likely didn’t expect (want?) Trump to win, but it serves their interests as a global player to undermine the status quo in the US. In other words, the Russians needn’t be masters of manipulation, they simply have to throw a wrench in the works and get lucky.

  6. Chris J says:

    Lately I have been thinking often about Kim Philby. “A Spy Among Friends” is worth reading if only to marvel at the sheer audacity of hiding in plain sight and getting away with it for so long. When so many were fooled, you even start to wonder which other players, consistently depicted as innocent, were also spies who were never unmasked.
    One difference – no one in 1955 could defend themselves by saying “better relations with Russia are a good thing.”

  7. Samuel says:

    Yo Sessions, I’m happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Robert Hanssen is the best Russian spy in the US government tasked with investigating himself of all time!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hanssen

  8. Jonathan (another one) says:

    From this week’s Novy Yorker: The working theory among intelligence officials involved in the case is that the Russian approach—including hacking, propaganda, and contacts with Trump associates—was an improvisation rather than a long-standing plan. The official said, “After the election, there were a lot of Embassy communications”—to Moscow—“saying, stunned, ‘What we do now?’ ” Wasn’t that also the last line of the Robert Redford movie The Candidate?

  9. Sebastian H says:

    It seems likely that while Russia wanted Trump to win, they like everyone else didn’t think it would happen. So they focused on weakening the presumptive winner so she would start with less authority when she won. Their major plays were to weaken Clinton when she won. Trump actually winning was a side chance that went great for them. (If they really thought he was going to win they would have hidden their contacts with him better).

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