The whole escapade makes no sense. With the exception of the “money man” Christopher Metzos who escaped, none represented a threat. It would have been far better to keep the remaining 10 under observation, as they had been for years. So the question is why did the FBI roll the operation up at this time?
We tend to think operations like this are well thought out and run according to plan. But it is more likely this was an enormous screw up between the FBI and the White House. First, no FBI director in his right mind would conduct such an operation without first notifying the White House. It just doesn’t happen.
There was a sense of urgency however. Metzos was planning to leave the country and he was the one person who had some value. He knew the purpose of this group and he probably had contact or knowledge of other groups in the US. My guess is the FBI’s request for action languished on somebody’s desk at the WH or even made it to the President’s reading folder without action. When it became apparent Metzos was actually leaving the country, likely there was a flurry of activity but with a decision that came too late capture him before he boarded his flight.
The rest is history. At our request he was detained in Cyprus, granted bail and slipped away. The whole spy swap charade appears to be an afterthought. None of the four swapees are US operatives. It’s just an after the fact cover to give some rationality to all of this.