The Spy Who Talked to Me

Glenn Reynolds links to an article that suggests Marina Butina was railroaded. I met Maria Butina briefly at an NRA function at the annual meeting. I still have her business card. She was completely up front that her organization had the blessing of the Kremlin. I remember her saying that, and saying that they were not an opposition group, since such things aren’t allowed.

I didn’t think much of it because at the time the UN Arms Trade Treaty was among the buzz, and the Kremlin was opposed. So I figured the outreach was to build alliances against the treaty. I don’t recall her claiming she was just a little old Russian girl from Siberia who started a gun rights group, though she did pitch she was hoping to build an RKBA movement in Russia.

I take the Spectator article with a grain of salt. I accept that Butina is probably sitting in prison for engaging in what a lot of foreign nationals in DC routinely do. I accept that she was unlucky enough to get caught up in the Russian collusion narrative and that her activity would never have risen to the level of being noticed otherwise. I do agree she wasn’t a spy in the sense most people understand it. But she is, in my opinion, guilty of what she was charged with, along with a lot of other foreign nationals that will never be unlucky enough to get caught up in a red scare-like whirlwind.

11 thoughts on “The Spy Who Talked to Me”

  1. “I met Maria Butina briefly at an NRA function at the annual meeting. I still have her business card. She was completely up front that her organization had the blessing of the Kremlin.”

    FINALLY! we found some Russia collusion.

    1. I didn’t say much back to her, to be honest. I don’t think she was interested much in someone with a media badge. Just the elevator pitch for her org and that was about the extent of it.

  2. It really seems like you’re downplaying her actions due to her connection to the NRA. I can’t imagine you would do the same if a foreign spy was caught trying to infiltrate the Brady Campaign or Everytown.

    1. I’m downplaying her actions because if her elevator pitch says she has the Kremlin’s blessing, and she’s not an opposition group, she’s not much of a spy, is she?

      I’m not saying she’s not connected with the Russian government, or that she isn’t guilty o what she was charged with, but that if you’re engaging in an influence campaign, you might want to be a bit less obvious.

      I couldn’t care less about foreign spies in the Brady Camping or Everytown. If they are planting spies there, they are wasting their time.

      1. “if you’re engaging in an influence campaign, you might want to be a bit less obvious.

        With all due respect, her approach was clearly adequate to influence you enough to believe in her innocent intentions.

    2. I mean, for fucks sake, it’s not like you couldn’t Google Torshin at the time and realize he was a Russian oligarch. None of this shit was a surprise. The surprise was that anyone thought this was a smoking gun.

  3. There’s then the question of whether what she was convicted of should even have been a crime…but then, if we go down that rabbit hole, we’d get into the weeds of what should and shouldn’t be a crime, and I’m not willing to do that.

    I personally think that, whether she’s guilty of what she was convicted of or not, she probably shouldn’t be in prison for it, to be consistent with others who either break this law and are ignored, or break it and get slaps on the wrist.

    But then, if you’re on the wrong side of the political spectrum, if the State wants to punish you, the State will punish you — as Dinesh D’Souza found out the hard way. It’s rather sad that this happens, though, and I can’t help but wonder: what, if anything, can we do to stop it?

    1. Hate to say it, but the only way this stops is to go find political activists on the left who have run afoul of a technicality and make an example of a few of them. As long as the knife only cuts one way there will be no political will to change things.

      1. I hate to have to agree with you, but I’m beginning to think the same way as well. If we have to go down that road, though, we may very well end up with a banana republic.

        Although the case can be made that so long as political prosecutions exist, we already *are* in a banana republic. Or will be, if we do nothing to stop it….

        1. “as political prosecutions exist, we already *are* in a banana republic.”

          I’m won’t debate whether we already are a banana republic, but to wax philosophical, all prosecutions are political, in the sense that there exists “prosecutors discretion” regarding what to bring charges for, and many “crimes” are inherently political crimes – laws passed not so much to prevent tangible harm, but because people at one time really, really didn’t like something or someone, so legislators created law to go after them, entirely for political reasons. (Sometimes that is referred to as “morality”.) Things like gun or alcohol or drug prohibitions usually exist independent of whether they are accomplishing anything good, and the fervor with which authorities enforce those prohibitions are usually more a function of their public popularity, and of economics, than of their efficacy. Whether discretion in enforcement becomes a “technicality” is usually in the eye of the beholder.

          1. There are times where I wonder if we could somehow route around prosecutorial discretion; in particular, for people who have been harmed to be able to bring up charges when the prosecution refuses to do so. To try to come up with a method to do so that doesn’t open the door to abuse would be tricky, though…

            And the biggest problem isn’t so much “prosecutorial discretion” as it is that there are so many laws, that any given prosecutor has a lot of wiggle room concerning what laws to be discrete about!

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