What’s happening with the Czech Republic? Who can forget 1968’s Prague Spring, a defeat that became much sweeter when Czechoslovakia finally achieved freedom in 1990? Is Obama allowing a defenseless Czech Republic to be Russia’s pawn, again?
CREW CO-FOUNDER BECOMES CZECH AMBASSADOR
Our story starts with the recess appointment of Norman Eisen as Ambassador to the Czech Republic. From the White House:
Norman L. Eisen, Nominee for Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Department of State
Norman L. Eisen has served since January 20, 2009 as Special Assistant to the President and as Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform. In that capacity, he has helped lead the Administration’s historic initiatives on government ethics, lobbying regulation and open government. His portfolio has also included financial regulatory reform, campaign finance law, whistleblower protection and other reform issues. Mr. Eisen before that was the Deputy General Counsel to the Presidential Transition. Prior to the Administration, Mr. Eisen was a litigation partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm Zuckerman Spaeder. He launched and co-chaired the firm’s Public Client Practice, representing government entities on an array of matters, as well as handling white-collar investigations and complex commercial matters. He is the co-founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog group. Between college and law school, Mr. Eisen served for three years as an Assistant Director of the Los Angeles office of the Anti-Defamation League, a national civil rights organization. Mr. Eisen received his J.D. in 1991 from Harvard Law School and his B.A. from Brown University in 1985, both with honors.
The co-founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the same group that’s going after the biggest ethical criminal of our time–the unelected Christine O’Donnell. CREW, the same group that’s funded (at least in part) by the greatest humanitarian of our time–George Soros. This CREW guy is appointed (bypassing the Senate) to be our Amabassador to the Czech Republic.
I’m sure there’s nothing to look at here, but let’s move on to the Russian spies.
Yes, our Czech tale has Russian spies! From the New York Times:
Russian Spy Tale Rattles Czechs
By DAN BILEFSKY
Published: December 23, 2010
PRAGUE — It could be the plot of a Cold War thriller: a Russian spy working undercover as a prison psychologist seduces an attractive female army major, dubbed the Czech Mata Hari, who passes on state secrets from three senior generals. The spy flees the country. The generals resign in disgrace.
But in what some here have called the worst espionage scandal in the Czech Republic since 1989, the Rakhardzho affair — named for Robert Rakhardzho, a wily Russian spy — appears to contain elements of both fact and fiction. Distinguishing the two is difficult, but the tale includes a subplot involving one of the largest nuclear power deals in Czech history, an intricate web of deceit and a cast of characters that has reached the highest levels of the army and government.
“It is disturbing to many Czechs that Russian spies are working here, influencing us, even as we don’t even realize it,” said Jaroslav Spurny, a leading investigative journalist who has written widely on the case. “We got rid of those people and now they are coming back.”
The scandal, which began to surface last summer, is still reverberating in a country where the memory of 40 years of communist rule overseen by the Soviet Union remains strong. Fears are intensifying that Russia, under Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, is seeking to re-establish its influence in its former satellites, using its vast energy resources — and a network of Russian spies masquerading as diplomats and businessmen — to dominate the region.
Have no fears, Czech Republic! You are a friend of the United States! We are led by our great president, Barack Obama! We stand by our friends! Just don’t do anything stupid, like building any Jewish homes in Jerusalem!
Fears about shadowy Russian influence have intensified in recent weeks with ferocious jockeying over a $20 billion project to build several nuclear reactors at Temelin, in the south of the country, that has pitted a consortium led by a subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear company, against separate bids by Westinghouse, which is owned by Toshiba, and Areva of France.
The government said in October that the winner would be chosen in 2013. State security officials despair that Russia will do whatever it takes to emerge on top of what has become a highly symbolic showdown between pro-Russian and pro-Western forces in the country.
That has set off alarms among the intelligence community that Prague — with its large Russian-speaking community, Slavic culture, and Russian-linked energy industries — is becoming a hotbed of Russian espionage not seen since the Cold War.
Nothing to see here, folks!
Fears of Russian infiltration have been swirling for years. In the summer of 2009 the Czech Republic evicted two alleged Russian agents from the embassy in Prague. A June report by BIS, the domestic intelligence agency, warned that up to 150 people connected to Russian intelligence were operating in the country, coordinated by the Russian ambassador to Prague.
Read the whole thing.
THE CZECH REPUBLIC IS GETTTING A MISSILE SHIELD, RIGHT?
The START treaty was signed into law, so we have nothing to worry about, right? Obama says the treaty allows for missile defense; Russia says that it does not.
From the Prague Post:
Year in Review: News
Posted: December 29, 2010
By Benjamin Cunningham – Staff Writer
More missile defense
In a story The Prague Post first broke in February, but was not publicly acknowledged until August, the Czech Republic was deemed to be the site of an “early warning center” as part of amended European missile-defense plans.
Confirmation came as the Obama administration requested $2.2 million in funding for the project next year, followed by a separate public statement from Prime Minister Petr Nečas.
U.S. President Barack Obama scrapped Bush administration plans for a radar base 90 kilometers southwest of Prague in September 2009. Since then, the missile-defense project has morphed from a U.S.-driven project into a NATO one, with the military alliance’s members pledging their support at this year’s annual summit. The new system is said to include some form of cooperation with Russia, though details on that, and the specifics of what the Czech-based “early warning center” entails, are still murky.
From the Pitts Report:
Obama Dims the Light on Missile Defense
December 30, 2010
By Paul Kengor
For Barack Obama, call it the anti-Reykjavik.
Sadly, some Reagan administration members, including George Shultz, are arguing that Ronald Reagan would have backed this treaty. They cannot logically assert that. As one of Reagan’s closest aides told me last week, with unusual anger: “That’s a damned lie. You can only say that if you haven’t read the treaty.”
There’s more to the argument against the treaty. And the “more” underscores how missile defense continues to lose under Obama. Recall Obama’s action on September 17, 2009:
That day, Poles and Czechs grappled with a stunning announcement by America’s new president, another shocker that was the utter antithesis of Reagan’s thinking, and specifically Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Obama cancelled plans for joint missile defense with Poland and the Czech Republic. The American left, and the KGB — literally, in Putin’s case — finally got what they wanted.
Poles and Czechs cherished this defense alliance. Few partnerships made them so proud. It was the crowning touch, a peaceful one, forged from the Cold War crucible. It was defensive, not offensive. Missile defense hurt no one.
From the Prague Daily Monitor:
U.S.-Russian summit dominates Czech diplomatic scene in 2010
ČTK | 30 December 2010
Prague, Dec 29 (CTK) – The U.S.-Russian disarmament summit in Prague, the choice of Prague as seat of the EU’s Galileo navigation system, development of relations with Germany and the closure of selected foreign missions abroad for austerity reasons are the events that dominated the Czech foreign policy in 2010.
The U.S.-Russian summit on April 8, 2010, at which the two countries’ presidents signed the new arms reduction treaty START, was the biggest diplomatic event in the Czech Republic, with world dimensions.
An affair that is unusual in diplomacy is the long absence of a U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. The previous ambassador left Prague almost two years ago, before Barack Obama’s administration came to power in the USA. A new ambassador is not expected to arrive soon, as the U.S. Senate has rejected Norman Eisen, the president’s candidate for the post, and Obama will have to propose another candidate.
Schwarzenberg says openly he wonders at this unusual situation. Washington, nevertheless, has made it clear that its relation with Prague as a close ally remain unchanged.
Unofficial speculations have it that Washington may have stopped paying special attention to the Czech Republic after the Bush administration’s plan to install a missile defence radar on Czech soil was scrapped, and also because bilateral relations are problem free.
Maybe Norman Eisen really is a good guy. Maybe he has the best interests of the United States and the Czech Republic at heart. Maybe all that Senate questioning of him would have been a waste of time.
Maybe the new START treaty is fantastic. Maybe it’s not.
Maybe the lack of a missile shield for the Czech Republic is a good thing. Maybe it’s not.
Maybe having Russian spies all over the Czech Republic is a good thing. Maybe it’s not.
Nothing to see here. Watch Snooki tonight and have a happy new year.