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The Russia House.Just days after Barack Obama took his “solid and reliable partner” Dmitry Medvedev out for hamburgers in Arlington, the Justice Department announced the breakup of a major Russian spy ring operating right there in Northern Virginia — as well as in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The spies were so deeply embedded in the United States (and each other) that many of them were paired off to have children and live as yuppie families. They even did their information exchanges using wirelessly networked laptops at coffee houses. If only the 11 spies had grown fat and covered themselves in tattoos and constantly threatened to kill the president and blow up Congress, nobody would’ve ever noticed them.

What were they trying to do over the 15 or so years the Russian intelligence operation functioned clandestinely in the United States? Something about “influencing policy” and “nuclear arms,” so basically whatever it is the think tanks are doing. Who runs those think tanks anyway?

Also, the hard-ass Russian spies turned into house-obsessed freaks like every other power couple on the Eastern Seaboard:

The New York Times describes one secret-agent couple as they follow the same dreary path as so many other professional married people who eventually give up their city apartment for the perceived “good life” in a fancy suburb:

As the years went by, that arrangement sometimes led to friction, the complaint said, citing an acrimonious exchange of encrypted messages between a pair of alleged agents living under the names Richard and Cynthia Murphy. The couple, who have allegedly operated in the United States since the mid-1990s, decided in 2008 to move from an apartment in Hoboken to a house in Montclair, N.J. — leading to an argument over whether they or the S.V.R. would own it.

The agents eventually dropped the argument, writing: “We are under the impression that C. views our ownership of the house as a deviation from the original purpose of our mission here. We’d like to assure you that we do remember what it is. From our perspective, purchase of the house was solely a natural progression of our prolonged stay here. It was a convenient way to solve the housing issue, plus to ‘do as the Romans do’ in a society that values home ownership.”

Sure, and all those hours watching HGTV and visiting open houses long after they’d bought one of their own? Pure research, to find out what drives the American Elitist Power Structure. Did Moscow expect these people to live like common tenants after all they’d been through? Any idea how hard it is to get a jumbo mortgage in this borrowing climate? Jesus, just stop being such Stalinists and let us do our job …. [NYT/Telegraph]

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