Espionage Expert: There Will Always Be Spying

They're gaining fame as the "The Spies Among Us": Eleven alleged Russian agents who federal prosecutors charge were trained by Moscow and sent to infiltrate America.

Most posed as couples and quietly set up house in the suburbs around New York, Washington, and Boston.

But, one opted for the spotlight: Manhattan parties, Facebook, and YouTube.

Anna Chapman, a socialite and real estate entrepreneur and now accused spy is becoming the face of the caper that has intelligence experts a bit baffled.

"It is a serious spy effort," former CIA officer Peter Earnest told CBS News correspondent Bob Orr. "This is not being done for comic relief."

Earnest spent 25 years running spies during the Cold War. He says the Kremlin invested heavily in the alleged suburban spies.

"It sounds like they were assigned initially to do that with the aim of gleaning what we would call political intelligence," he said.

The accused spies were directed to mingle with policy makers and think tank experts. But, they apparently didn't get much.

One of the suspects claimed he chatted up a former U.S. government official. Another reported to Moscow that he'd met a staffer working on nuclear weapons development.

But, officials say no state secrets were stolen. In fact much of the information collected would be readily available on the internet, a resource that did NOT exist when the snooping program started.

The suspects were also instructed to look for potential recruits: Americans who may be willing to sell secrets.

Journalist and leading expert on espionage David Wise said while the alleged spies did not turn over any classified information, they were part of a robust Russian network.

"Well, the cold war ended 19 years ago. But the KGB never stopped working. And they never will stop working. Nor will we," said Wise. "This is what countries do. They spy on each other."

There have certainly been spies who have done more damage: Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen are just a few.

But, the FBI spent a decade working this case, a clear sign the government still views espionage as a leading threat.