Aldrich Ames

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Ames mugshot.jpg
Ames' mug shot, taken on the day of his arrest
BornAldrich Hazen Ames
(1941-05-26) May 26, 1941 (age 72)
River Falls, Wisconsin
Occupationformer Central Intelligence Agency officer and analyst and agent for the Soviet Union and later Russia
Criminal charge
18 U.S.C. § 794(c)[1] (Espionage Act)
Criminal penalty
Life imprisonment (without parole)
Criminal status
Incarcerated
Spouse(s)Nancy Segebarth (div.)
Maria del Rosario Casas Dupuy
ParentsCarleton Cecil Ames
Rachel Aldrich Ames
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Ames mugshot.jpg
Ames' mug shot, taken on the day of his arrest
BornAldrich Hazen Ames
(1941-05-26) May 26, 1941 (age 72)
River Falls, Wisconsin
Occupationformer Central Intelligence Agency officer and analyst and agent for the Soviet Union and later Russia
Criminal charge
18 U.S.C. § 794(c)[1] (Espionage Act)
Criminal penalty
Life imprisonment (without parole)
Criminal status
Incarcerated
Spouse(s)Nancy Segebarth (div.)
Maria del Rosario Casas Dupuy
ParentsCarleton Cecil Ames
Rachel Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Hazen Ames (born May 26, 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency counterintelligence officer and analyst, who in 1994 was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. So far as is known, Ames compromised the second-largest number of CIA assets—second only to those betrayed by Robert Hanssen.

While spending nine years working in CIA counter-intelligence, he declared an annual income of $60,000 but his credit card spending of up to $30,000 a month funded a lifestyle that included a new Jaguar and a $540,000 house that was paid for in cash.[2]

Biography[edit]

Early life and work[edit]

Ames was born in River Falls, Wisconsin, to Carleton Cecil Ames and Rachel Ames (née Aldrich). His father was a college lecturer, and his mother a high school English teacher. Aldrich was the eldest of three children and the only son. In 1952, his father began working for CIA's Directorate of Operations in Virginia, and in 1953 was posted to Southeast Asia for three years accompanied by his family. Carleton received a "particularly negative performance appraisal" in part because of a serious drinking problem and spent the remainder of his career at CIA headquarters.[3]

Ames attended high school at McLean High School in McLean, Virginia. Beginning in 1957, following his sophomore year, Ames worked for the CIA for three summers as a low-ranking (GS-3) records analyst, marking classified documents for filing. In 1959, Ames entered the University of Chicago planning to study foreign cultures and history, but his "long-time passion" for drama resulted in failing grades, and he did not finish his sophomore year. Ames worked at the CIA during the summer of 1960 as a laborer/painter. He then became an assistant technical director at a Chicago theater until February 1962. Returning to Washington area, Ames took full-time employment at the CIA doing the same sort of clerical jobs he had performed in high school.[4]

CIA career[edit]

Five years later, Ames completed a bachelor's degree in history at George Washington University. Ames did not originally plan to have a career with the CIA, but after attaining the grade of GS-7 and having received good performance appraisals, Ames was accepted into the Career Trainee Program despite several alcohol-related brushes with the police.[5]

In 1969 Ames married fellow officer Nancy Segebarth, whom he had met in the Career Trainee Program. When Ames was assigned to Ankara, Turkey, Nancy resigned from the CIA because of a rule that prohibited married partners from working as officers from the same office.[6]

Ames' job in Turkey was to target Soviet intelligence officers for recruitment, and he succeeded in infiltrating the Communist Dev-Genç organization through a roommate of student activist Deniz Gezmiş.[7] In spite of this success, Ames's performance was rated only "satisfactory", and Ames, discouraged by the critical assessment, considered leaving the CIA.[8]

In 1972, Ames returned to CIA headquarters where he spent the next four years in the Soviet-East European (SE) Division. His performance reviews were "generally enthusiastic", apparently because he was better at managing paperwork and planning field operations than at agent recruiting. Nevertheless, his excessive drinking was also noted, and two "eyes only" memoranda were placed in his file.[9]

In 1976, Ames was assigned to New York City where he handled two important Soviet assets. His performance was excellent, he received several promotions and bonuses, and was ranked above most operations officers in his pay grade, although his tendency to procrastinate in submissions of financial accounting was noted. Ames's inattention to details also led him to make two important security violations, including once leaving a briefcase of classified operational materials on the subway. Ames apparently received only a verbal reprimand.[10]

In 1981, Ames accepted a posting to Mexico City while his wife remained in New York. His evaluations in Mexico were mediocre at best, and he also engaged in at least three extramarital affairs. In October 1982 Ames began an affair with María del Rosario Casas Dupuy, a cultural attaché in the Colombian Embassy and a CIA informant. Despite CIA regulations, Ames did not report his romance with a foreign national to his superiors, even though some of his colleagues were well aware of it. Ames's lackluster performance reviews were in part the result of heavy drinking. At a diplomatic reception in Mexico City, Ames got into a loud, drunken argument with a Cuban official that "caused alarm" among his superiors.[11]

Nevertheless, in September 1983, the CIA assigned Ames back to the SE division in Washington, placing him "in the most sensitive element" of the Department of Operations because it was responsible for Soviet counterintelligence. Ames had access to all CIA plans and operations against the KGB and the GRU, Soviet military intelligence.[12]

In October he formally separated from his wife, and in November, he submitted an "outside activity" report to the CIA noting his romantic relationship with Rosario. As part of his divorce settlement, Ames agreed to pay the couple's debts plus provide his wife monthly support for three-and-a-half years, a total of about $46,000. Ames thought the divorce might bankrupt him, and he later said that this financial pressure first led him to consider spying for the Soviet Union.[12] Rosario also proved to be a heavy spender--after her arrest the FBI discovered in the Ames's house sixty purses, more than five hundred pairs of shoes, and 165 unopened boxes of pantyhose.[13]

Espionage[edit]

Ames routinely assisted another CIA office that assessed Soviet embassy officials as potential intelligence assets. As part of this responsibility, and with the knowledge of both the CIA and the FBI, Ames began making contacts within the Soviet Embassy. In April 1985, Ames provided information to the Soviets that he believed was "essentially valueless" but that would establish his credentials as a CIA insider. He also asked for $50,000, which the Soviets quickly paid.[14]

Ames later claimed that he had not prepared for more than the initial "con game" to satisfy his immediate indebtedness, but once having "crossed a line," he "could never step back." Ames soon identified more than ten top-level CIA and FBI sources who were reporting on Soviet activities. Not only did Ames believe that there was "as much money as [he] could ever use" in betraying these intelligence assets, but their elimination would also reduce the chance of his own espionage being discovered.[15]

By 1985, the CIA's network of Soviet-bloc agents began disappearing at an alarming rate. The CIA realized something was wrong but was reluctant to consider the possibility of an agency mole. Initial investigations focused on possible breaches caused by Soviet bugs or by a broken code.[16]

The CIA then blamed asset losses on another former CIA agent, Edward Lee Howard, who had also been passing information to the Soviets. But when the CIA lost three other important sources of information about whom Howard could have known nothing, it was clear that the arrests (and executions) originated from another source.[17]

As one CIA officer put it, the Soviets "were wrapping up our cases with reckless abandon," which was highly unusual because the "prevailing wisdom among the Agency's professional 'spy catchers'" was that suddenly eliminating all the assets known to the mole would put him in danger. In fact, Ames's KGB handlers apologized to him but said the decision to immediately eliminate all American assets had been made at the highest political levels.[18]

Meanwhile, Ames continued to meet openly with his contact at the Russian embassy, Sergey Dmitriyevich Chuvakhin, and for a time, Ames summarized for the CIA and FBI the progress of what he portrayed as an attempt to recruit the Soviet. In fact, Ames received $20,000 to $50,000 every time the two had lunch.[19] Ultimately, Ames received $4.6 million from the Soviets, which allowed him to enjoy a lifestyle well beyond the means of a CIA officer.[16]

When, in August 1985, Ames's divorce became final, he immediately married María del Rosario. Understanding that his new wealth would raise eyebrows, he developed a cover story that his prosperity was the result of money given him by his Colombian wife's wealthy family.[20]

In 1986, Ames told the KGB that he feared he would be a suspect after the loss of several CIA assets. The KGB threw US investigators off his trail by constructing an elaborate diversion whereby a Soviet case officer told a CIA contact that the mole was stationed at Warrenton Training Center (WTC), a secret CIA communications facility in Virginia. US mole hunters investigated 90 employees at WTC for almost a year and came up with ten suspects, although the lead investigator noted that "there are so many problem personalities that no one stands out".[21][22]

Ames was posted to Rome in 1986. There his performance once again ranged from mediocre to poor, and included evidence of problem drinking. Nevertheless, in 1990-91, Ames was reassigned to the CIA's Counterintelligence Center Analysis Group, providing him with access to "extremely sensitive data", including information on US double agents.[23]

CIA response[edit]

Replacement of the mailbox used by Ames: a horizontal chalk mark above the USPS logo would signal a needed meeting. 37th and R Sts. NW. Original in the Spy Museum.

In late 1986, the CIA assembled a team to investigate the source of the leaks. The team, led by Paul Redmond and consisting of Jeanne Vertefeuille and four other investigators, examined different possible causes, including the possibilities that the KGB had either bugged the agency, intercepted its communications, or placed a mole.[24]

By 1990, the CIA was certain that there was a mole in the agency and recruitment of new Soviet agents came to a virtual halt from fear that the agency could not protect its current assets.[16]

Prior to this, in November 1989, a fellow employee reported that Ames seemed to be enjoying a lifestyle well beyond the means of a CIA officer and that his wife's family was less wealthy than he had claimed. Nevertheless, the CIA moved slowly. When the investigator assigned to Ames's finances began a two-month training course, no one immediately replaced him.[25] Investigators were also diverted by a false story from a CIA officer abroad who claimed that the Soviets had penetrated the CIA with an employee born in the USSR.[26]

In 1986 and 1991, Ames passed two polygraph examinations while spying for the Soviet Union and Russia, respectively. Ames was initially "terrified" at the prospect of taking the test, but he was advised by the KGB "to just relax".[27] Ames's test demonstrated deceptive answers to some questions but the examiners passed him, perhaps in the later opinion of the CIA because the examiners were "overly friendly" and therefore did not induce the proper physiological response.[28]

The CIA finally focused on Ames after it realized that despite a salary of only $60,000, Ames had been able to afford:

Arrest[edit]

In March 1993, the CIA and FBI began an intensive investigation of Ames that included electronic surveillance, combing through his trash, and a monitor installed in his car to track his movements.[32] From November 1993 until his arrest, Ames was kept under virtually constant physical surveillance. When in early 1994 he was scheduled to attend a conference in Moscow, the FBI believed it could wait no longer, and he and his wife were arrested on February 21, 1994.[33] At arrest, Ames told the officers, "You're making a big mistake! You must have the wrong man!"[34]

On February 22, 1994, Ames and his wife were formally charged by the United States Department of Justice with spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. Ames's betrayal resulted in the deaths of a number of CIA assets.[35] He pleaded guilty on April 28 and received a sentence of life imprisonment. His wife received a five-year prison sentence for tax evasion and conspiracy to commit espionage as part of a plea bargain by Ames.[36]

In court, Ames admitted that he had compromised "virtually all Soviet agents of the CIA and other American and foreign services known to me" and had provided the USSR and Russia with a "huge quantity of information on United States foreign, defense and security policies".[37] It is estimated that information Ames provided to the Soviets led to the compromise of at least a hundred US intelligence operations and to the execution of at least ten US sources.

Ames said he was not afraid of being caught by the FBI or CIA but was afraid of Soviet defectors, saying, "Virtually every American who has been jailed in connection with espionage has been fingered by a Soviet source".[38] Additionally, when asked about the polygraph tests, Ames said, "There's no special magic. Confidence is what does it. Confidence and a friendly relationship with the examiner. Rapport, where you smile and you make him think that you like him."[39]

Post-sentence[edit]

Ames is Federal Bureau of Prisons prisoner #40087-083, serving his sentence in the high-security Allenwood U.S. Penitentiary near Allenwood, Pennsylvania.[40]

The CIA was criticized for not focusing on Ames sooner, given the obvious increase in his standard of living.[16] There was a "huge uproar" in Congress when CIA director James Woolsey decided that no one in the CIA would be dismissed or demoted at the agency. "Some have clamored for heads to roll in order that we could say that heads have rolled", Woolsey declared. "Sorry, that's not my way." Woolsey was forced to resign.[41]

Ames's attorney, Plato Cacheris, had threatened to litigate the legality of FBI searches and seizures in Ames's home and office without traditional search warrants, although Ames's guilty plea made the threat moot. Congress then passed a new law giving the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that specific power.[42]

Some CIA sources betrayed[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

Other agents in place in the U.S. government or military who worked as moles for either the KGB or the SVR, include:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Aldrich Ames Criminal Complaint". cryptome.org. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  2. ^ Robinson, Stephen. Books:The disreputable drunk who betrayed America, The Sunday Telegraph 2 July 1995
  3. ^ An Assessment of the Aldrich H. Ames Espionage Case and Its Implications for U.S. Intelligence: Report Prepared by the Staff of the Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Senate [84-046] (Washington: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1994), 4.
  4. ^ "Assessment," 4.
  5. ^ "Assessment," 5; "Ames, Aldrich Hazen Biography". S9.com. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  6. ^ "Assessment," 5. Nevertheless, Nancy Ames performed part-time administrative work in her husband's office.
  7. ^ Suzal, Savas (1997-03-02). "Disislerinde CIA Köstebegi". Sabah (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-10-13. . Ames made multiple payments for information that included the names of the DEV-GENÇ members Gezmiş knew and the details of their activities.
  8. ^ "Assessment," 6.
  9. ^ "Assessment," 6. At a Christmas party in 1974, Ames was discovered intoxicated and in "a compromising position" with a female CIA employee.
  10. ^ "Assessment," 6-7.
  11. ^ "Assessment," 8.
  12. ^ a b "Assessment," 8-9.
  13. ^ Maas, 222-23.
  14. ^ "Assessment," 11-13.
  15. ^ "Assessment," 13-14.
  16. ^ a b c d Powell, Bill (2002-11-01), Treason: How a Russian Spy Led an American Journalist to a U.S. Double Agent, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-2915-0
  17. ^ "Assessment," 14-15.
  18. ^ "Assessment," 15-16.
  19. ^ "Assessment," 18-19. To deposit the money, Ames maintained several bank accounts and broke the cash into amounts under $10,000 to avoid bank reporting requirements.
  20. ^ "Assessment," 19.
  21. ^ Pincus, Walter (September 24, 1994). "CIA: Ames Betrayed 55 Operations; Inspector General's Draft Report Blames Supervisors for Failure to Plug Leak". Washington Post. p. A1. 
  22. ^ Weiner, Tim (November 2, 1994). "Senate Report Faults C.I.A. for Ineptitude in Spy Case". New York Times. p. A1. 
  23. ^ "Assessment," 33-35. Ames's immediate supervisors were aware of his alcohol abuse and proclivity to sleep at his desk, but his annual performance reviews "consistently rated him a strong performer."
  24. ^ "The People of the CIA ... Ames Mole Hunt Team — Central Intelligence Agency". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  25. ^ "Assessment," 40-41.
  26. ^ "Analysis," 48. The investigation into this tale suggested a fabrication "for career enhancing or financial reasons."
  27. ^ "Assessment," 44-45; Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, pp. 89–90 The KGB advised Ames to get "a real good night's sleep. Be fresh and rested. Be cooperative. Develop rapport with examiner. And try to remain as calm and easy as you can."
  28. ^ "Assessment," 45-46. Pete Early depicts Ames as being able to convince himself that the answers he was giving were actually truthful. Also, according to Early, except for a handful of staff members, the CIA had largely abandoned trying solving the case, and more credit for the resolution should be given the FBI. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "Aldrich Ames: Brilliant or Bumbling?" New York Times, February 24, 1997, review of Pete Early, Confessions of a Spy.
  29. ^ a b Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, p. 144
  30. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, p. 145
  31. ^ "Crime Library – Crime News and Stories". Crimelibrary.com. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  32. ^ "Assessment," 50-51. The monitor sometimes failed, frustrating the FBI on several occasions.
  33. ^ "FBI History: Famous Cases - Aldrich Hazen Ames". FBI.gov. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  34. ^ Weiner,Johnston,Lewis 1995, p. 9
  35. ^ Bromwich, Michael R. (April 1997). "A Review of the FBI’s Performance in Uncovering the Espionage Activities of Aldrich Hazen Ames". Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  36. ^ "FBI History: Famous Cases - Aldrich Hazen Ames". FBI.gov. Archived from the original on 29 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-12. . Rosario Ames was released from federal custody after she completed her sentence.
  37. ^ "An Assessment of the Aldrich H. Ames Espionage Case and Its Implications for U.S. Intelligence - Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - 01 November 1994 - Part One". Fas.org. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  38. ^ Pincus, Walter (April 29, 1994). "Money wasn't only reason Ames sold U.S. secrets". Waterloo Courier. The Washington Post. p. A3. Retrieved 2014-01-03 – via Newspaperarchive.com. 
  39. ^ "Ames: Separated Spy, Agent Lives". Daily Press. Articles.dailypress.com. April 29, 1994. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  40. ^ "Aldrich Hazen Ames Register Number: 40087-083". Bop.gov. Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 2014-01-03.  (Search result)
  41. ^ Maas, 242.
  42. ^ Maas, 242
  43. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, p. 45
  44. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, pp. 44–45
  45. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, pp. 69–70
  46. ^ Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, p. 219
  47. ^ Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, p. 174
  48. ^ Zanontian, Anthony. "Complete Guide to the Russian KGB - Key Players". Math.ucsd.edu Cryptography Archive. Archived from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  49. ^ Wise, David. Nightmover: How Aldrich Ames sold the CIA to the KGB for $4.6 Million, HarperCollins, 1995, ISBN 0-06-017198-7. Excerpted in Time: Victims Of Aldrich Ames
  50. ^ Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, pp. 179,180
  51. ^ "Tolkachev, A Worthy Successor to Penkovsky". Cia.gov. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  52. ^ Maas, 6.
  53. ^ a b Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, p. 187
  54. ^ a b c "CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames". Crimelibrary.com. p. 3. Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  55. ^ Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, pp. 191,192
  56. ^ "CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames". Crimelibrary.com. p. 2. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  57. ^ "videofact". Videofact.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  58. ^ Aldrich Ames: Traitor Within (TV Movie 1998) - IMDb
  59. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 23, 2013). "ABC Orders Cold War Limited Series 'The Assets' For 2014". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  60. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (November 19, 2013). "ABC Releases Midseason Schedule: 'Betrayal' in Limbo, 'Revenge' Moves to 10PM, + 'Suburgatory' Premieres January 15". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  61. ^ "Icon by Frederick Forsyth - Books - Random House". Randomhouse.com. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]