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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Saturday, 8 September 2007
Some people need a double-life.
Topic: Misc.

I saw a very interesting film earlier this week. "Breach" is the true story of the FBI agent and Soviet spy Robert Hanssen, who was arrested in 2001. His treachery is described as "possibly the worst intelligence disaster in US history". I recommend you see it while it's still in cinemas. It stars the excellent Chris Cooper.

Hanssen wasn't what you'd expect a spy to be. He was nothing like Burgess, Philby or Maclean. He had no ideological affinity to communism or socialism. In fact he was ferventy anti-communist. He also was extremely religious, devoutly Catholic; a member of Opus Dei, who went to church every day. He criticised the Soviet Union for its godlessness and believed that it was a lack of religion that caused its collapse. But notwithstanding the above, he supplied it with classified information and thereby caused the deaths of dozens of people. And despite his conservative views on sex, he secretly videotaped himself in bed with his wife and posted copies to friends. He even wrote about his sex life on fetish websites, using his own name!

He wasn't motivated by money. Although he took $1.4m over many years, he told his Soviet handlers on one occasion that he did not want more than $100k as he had no need for it and couldn't spend it without drawing attention to himself.

Something else, something much darker lay behind Hanssen's betrayal. An abusive father can't have helped, but what appears to be the underlying motivation was a desire to lead a double-life. As a youth he was inspired by hearing of Kim Philby's espionage. He later told the Soviets that he decided on his course of action at the age of 14.

Meanwhile in the present day, another high-ranking American has been brought down by the exposure of a double-life. Senator Larry Craig has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a men's lavatory in Minneapolis airport. He insists that he's not gay, but as Christopher Hitchens points out, many men who seek out such activity do not believe themselves to be gay. This was demonstrated nearly 40 years ago in a doctoral thesis by Laud Humphries (see the Hitchens link). In public life, they will profess conservative opinions on such matters. Craig for instance voted to prohibit homosexual marriage. 

What might seem more shocking than the thought of a hypocritical politician is the fact that in this day and age, police are being paid to entrap homosexuals in this way. It seems a bit excessive to me, but as a straight man who wants to be able to use public lavatories without being approached for same-sex activity, perhaps I should be grateful for it. Now that homosexuality is legal, gays can meet in their own homes and leave the men's room alone.

I shudder to think what it must have been like for a normal man to need to use a public convenience for its intended purpose back in the old days. As one, unnamed source told Hitchens, the men's facilities at Clapham Common were so popular with those seeking sex that "If someone comes in there for a good honest shit, it's like a breath of fresh air."

_ DY at 7:08 PM BST
Updated: Saturday, 8 September 2007 7:19 PM BST
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

Sunday, 9 September 2007 - 2:10 PM BST

Name: "anonymous"

Don't knock cottaging until you've tried it.

Thursday, 20 September 2007 - 3:48 AM BST

Name: "James Feeny"

Thanks for the recommendation. Great film.

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