Monday, 2 February 2004

Why It Took So Long to Catch Spies Rick Ames and Robert Hanssen

by Trowbridge H. Ford

Despite what prosecutors, and publicists have stressed about the spying by the Agency's Aldrich "Rick" Ames, and the FBI's Robert Hanssen for the Soviets - its alleged causes, and obvious consequences - the most interesting aspect of the cases is why it took so long for them to be exposed, and punished, not what happened to them, and their victims along the way. Ames worked in place for nearly nine years before he was flushed out, and Hanssen had been retired as a Soviet spy for nearly a decade before authorities seriously began looking for him, catching him a year and a half later. CIA and the Bureau seemed most unconcerned about what was happening to their double agents, and operations in the USSR while, like Nero, they happily fiddled on, apparently oblivious of what Ames and Hanssen were doing.

When American intelligence agencies belatedly try to explain the delay, they stress the caution, callousness, and care that Ames and Hanssen allegedly displayed in carrying out their spying. Ames integrated his recruitment by the KGB with the CIA's efforts by Rodney Carlson to enlist another double agent from the Soviet embassy in Washington which was under constant FBI surveillance, allowing him all kinds of excuses if threatened with exposure. During Ames's long career of spying for Moscow, only seven Soviets knew his real name. Hanssen, we are told, never told the KGB his real name, never agreed to meet its handlers in person (James Risen, "Spy Handler Bedeviled U.S. in Earlier Case," The New York Times, Feb. 22, 2001, A1); and continually took advantage of Bureau laxness in security to troll its databases to escape exposure.

The simple facts of the matter are, however, that Hanssen used mail services to contact known KGB officers at the Embassy ("Excerpts From the F.B.I. Affidavit in the Case Against Robert Hanssen," ibid., A14); called one by telephone on Aug. 18, 1986 when he had something most important to contribute, and wanted to make sure it resumed contact with him; and was never given a lie detector test despite the fact that he was one of the Bureau's leading counterintelligence analysts. (David Johnston, "F.B.I. Never Gave Lie Test To Agent Charged as Spy," ibid., A15) Actually, the only reason the Americans exposed Hanssen is because the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service handed over his case file to Washington for $7 million when he, finally suspected of spying, was openly causing it trouble in order to improve his alibi.

Ames's license in contacting the Soviets is legion. Take, for example, his rushing off with no official excuse to inform KGB CI chief in the Embassy Viktor Cherkashin on Feb. 14, 1986, after he had debriefed defector Oleg Gordievsky about double agent Operation Courtship's current status (Christopher Andrew, For the President's Eyes Only, p. 499), contrary to operating procedure, and with the apparent connivance of Hanssen - what the British and Americans had planned for Olof Palme, and the Soviets at the end of the month. Four days later, Ames deposited $13,500 - an amount which would have to be reported to the authorites - in a Vienna, Va. bank account (James Adams, Sellout, p. 179), the same bank he had deposited $15,660 in exactly four months before, after he and his new wife Rosario had had even an unscheduled lunch with Vitali Yurchenko one Sunday during which he had explained to the "defector", it seems, the value, and ease of his "redefecting".

Actually, the Agency was willing to let Ames remain in place for fear of unprecedented blowback until the Soviet Union collapsed, and if and when the KGB's successor was willing to identify him. When this didn't materialize, author Pete Earley was given unprecedented access to Ames after he was finally arrested in the hope that he would be able to publicize the scope of his spying for the Soviets, but to no avail. (Pete Earley, Confessions of a Spy, p.1ff.) Hanssen might well have never been exposed if the Bureau had not been so aggressive in taking advantage of Ames's spying after it was finally exposed, what resulted in the FBI vastly expanding its counterterrorist operations at the expense of the allegedly mole-ridden Agency.

When Swedish statsminister Palme was murdered on the night of Feb. 28, 1986 in Stockholm by a professional assassin, assisted locally (Operation Tree), American and British intelligence agencies were confident that it would be exposed at Soviet expense, leading to such degrading of its underwater nuclear deterrent that it would soon be obliged to throw in the towel in its long anticipated slugfest with the West. While the apparent hitman, Captain Simon Hayward, Operations Officer of the 14 Intelligence Company's South Detachment in Northern Ireland, had a nearly iron-clad alibi for the shooting (as his operations in Ulster were so controversial, and reported so often that no one would even suspect his being in Stockholm to reassess the performance of Palme's bodyguards, security firm KMS's responsbility), and the double agents in the USSR (Operation Courtship) were to confirm was the result of Soviet complicity, there was no one much else to blame if plans did not work out at Moscow's expense - what Ames and Hanssen most effectively prevented.

The Soviets were on the highest state of alert without the West knowing it, their boomers under the Arctic icepack or protected by killer subs when Palme was assassinated, leaving no chance for US Navy Secretary John Lehman's attack submarines to start sinking Soviet nuclear ones going on station or already there but in a state of unreadiness. There were no expected communications either from double agents Sergei Motorin, Valery Martynov, Boris Yuzhin, and others (David Wise, Nighmover, p. 254ff.) about Moscow's lack of readiness, hasty moves, and apparent responsibility.

Moreover, NATO's Anchor Express Exercise, comprised of 20,000 soldiers - what was to kick off a large-scale assault across Norway's Finnmark onto the Kola Peninsula to degrade Soviet air and land forces - was a complete fiasco, called off after an all-night-long emergency session by its organizers, including British SOD George Younger, when 16 Norwegian engineers were killed in avalanches while advancing through the dangerous Vassdalen Valley. (Tony Samstag, "Avalanche disaster stops Nato Exercise," The Times, March 7, 1986, p. 8) Also, Admiral Carlisle Trost's Task Force Eagle, made up of three carrier battle groups, never arrived on the coast nearby, the Atlantic Fleet Commander having decided that the showdown planned by his most unbalanced boss (Gregory Vistica, Fall from Glory, p. 252) was not worth the risk, though three Marines in Captain Steve Little's 10-man advance party suffered burns in a tent southwest of Tromsö while waiting for it to arrive. (op. cit)

The secret government in Washington was prepared to explain the lack of the showdown with Moscow to spying which had already been discovered, to failures of routine tradecraft or to just plain good luck. The Agency assumed that the naval disclosures by John Walker's spy ring, and Ronald Pelton, though limited in scope, had tipped the Soviets off, thanks to feedback that the 'redefecting' Vitali Yurchenko, CIA defector Edward Lee Howard, and the Mossad's Jonathan Pollard had somehow provided. At worst, the Soviets had determined by a most long-drawn out process of what has happening elsewhere, particular in the Sea of Okhotsk, that Washington and London were planning a showdown in the Barents and on the Kola Peninsula. At best, Moscow just happened to be in a full state of readiness when the showdown commenced. In any case, the West had gotten rid of the difficult Olof Palme, so all had not been lost.

During all of March, until American planes, with most reluctant British assistance from SOD Younger, attacked Libya after it had apparently blown up a disco in West Berlin, killing two US servicemen, and injuring 50 others (Robin Renwick, Fighting with Allies, pp. 249-51), Washington, London, and Stockholm were in the greatest disarray because of the statsminister's shooting: the failure of the Swedish police to find any real suspect, the continued division within the US Navy, and NATO about how to proceed, the embarrassment caused by the Palme funeral to Washington and London, Norwegian fury over the deaths of its engineers (Tony Samstag, "Norway angered by snow tragedy," The Times, March 10, 1986, p. 4), and the uncertainty, if not a lack of interest, within the intelligence community on both sides of the Atlantic about what had gone wrong, and why.

The biggest confusions occurred at sea when the intelligence-gathering ship Caron, and the Aegis cruiser Yorktown of gung-ho Vice Admiral Frank Kelso's Sixth Fleet, to make up for no spark having been struck in the Barents, sailed provocatively but without incident within a few miles of the Crimean coast, and the Black Sea Fleet headquarters at Sevastopol. (Vistica, p. 214.) Lehman achieved no better result by having another half dozen attack submarines, headed by the City of Corpus Christi, and including the famous intruder sub Dace, probe deeper into the Barents for Soviet "boomers" (Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Blind Man's Bluff, Appendix C, U.S. Submarine Awards, p. 427), though keeping on top of events caused Red Banner Fleet Admiral K. A. Markarov, responsible for containing the intrusions, considerable anxiety. Markarov, unlike his boss, Red Army Chief of Staff Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, was still in no state to joke about it with American maritime strategists, and operatives, particularly Team Charlie's Rich Haver, when he visited the Pentagon nearly two years later. (ibid., pp. 365-8)

The KGB's problems were still demanding, though, thanks to the failure of Swedish prosecutor Hans Holm´er to hold Victor Gunnarsson for the shooting (Chris Mosey, Cruel Awakening, pp. 171-3); of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan to show up for Palme's funeral because of the apparent security threat, a possibility made more real by a contrived American threat against the least deserving Secretary of State George Shultz, who appeared in The Gipper's stead; and of the Agency and the Bureau to keep track of what was happening to their double agents, and operations in the Soviet bloc. Gunnarsson's arrest was a feeble attempt to make a friend of Jovan von Birchan's (officer Joel Haukka's report to Swedish Military Intelligence (SSI), "Samtal med Jovan von Birchan, 4 april 1986") - who Felipe Vidal Santiago aka Charles Morgan had attempted to recruit as the assassin - and who was running around Stockholm with like-minded Nazis with walkie-talkies on the night of the shooting as decoys, it seems, for Captain Simon Hayward, the apparent assassin.

Since Haukka had not gotten round to reporting on their activities until April, Holm´er's attempt was deserving of more understanding than it received. In meantime, MI6 sent an agent - apparently Oleg Gordievsky - an acquaintance of a friend of Swedish Chairman of Civil Defence Karl-Gunnar Bäck, to tell him, and other officials that the group Vidal was recruiting an assassin for had done it, with the help of the Swedish Security Service(Säpo) (Lars Borgnäs and Tomas Bresky, Striptease, Swedish TV, 1994), but when pressed about the claim, SIS proved unable to provide any convincing evidence to back it up. The Swedish Justice Minister ultimately even sent a private emissary to London to determine what MI5 knew about the assassination, but Expressen, a Stockholm afternoon daily, leaked her letter to the press before the Security Service had to provide any help, resulting in her resignation, and MI5 breathing a great sigh of relief. (Duncan Campbell, "MI6, Whistleblowers in Baltic Battle," New Statesman, June 17, 1988, p. 7)

Gunnarsson's deceptions were less appreciated as time passed. When it was finally safe to arrest Ames, and the Swedes still had not convicted anyone for the assassination, Börje Wingren wrote a book, Han som sköt Olof Palme, reviving suspicions about Gunnarsson having been the gunman. In January 1994, he went to the States, apparently expecting official approval for what he had done. Instead he was gunned down by an assassin, and his naked body dumped on a highway, as if he were the victim of some kind of reprisal killing. (Leif Åke Josefsson, "Här hitttades han mördad," Aftonbladet, Jan. 15, 1994) The fact that he was only wearing his gold watch, and gold ring, apparently gifts from the Agency, was most telling. It apparently never takes back its presents to agents no matter what it does to their bodies. A month later, Ames was arrested by the FBI as he made his way to work in his Jaguar.

The fact that the Agency and the Bureau were not more aware, much less concerned, about double agents in the Soviet bloc not showing up for work, rendezous, and dead letter drops can only be explained in terms of their basic satisfaction with having gotten rid of Palme, no matter what the so-called risks, betrayals, and collateral damage to other operations. The American intelligence agencies somehow convinced themselves that his murder led to a peaceful conclusion to the Cold War, when, in fact, without the spying by Ames and Hanssen it might well have resulted in nuclear annihilation. With their spying, the USSR could have achieved a short-term pyrrhic victory in the struggle which it wisely chose to avoid.

The new Swedish government under Ingvar Carlsson, though, made no signficant changes in its policies, especially about neutralism, a nuclear-free Scandinavia, and NATO - what had justified the assassination in the first place. In fact, Washington and London were soon doing business with CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, what Palme was only proposing to attempt with him if he had lived.

This was the same Gorbachev who had introduced KGB Chief Viktor Chebrikov to the Party Congress on the day of the assassination, when he announced that all the double agent operations by the West had been rounded up, on this note: "...the activities of the KGB would be expanded to counter what he described as growing subversion in the Soviet Union by Western intelligence agencies." (Christopher Walker, "KGB reveals big swoop on state spies," The Times, March 1, 1986, p. 1) Instead of making any assessment of the losses, and why, London and Washington were now obsessed with achieving an intermediate-range missile reduction agreement rather than the "zero option" with the new Soviet leader, who was promising to reform the USSR into a more effective rival. During all this, the Agency was only interested in solving leading defector Gordievsky's family problems rather than those of all the other double agents involved.

Actually, the KGB gave Washington and London another avenue out of their cul-de-sac while providing cover for the spying by Ames and Hanssen despite the former's claims to the contrary. (Sellout, pp. 110-1) Towards the end of March, one of its agents - who CIA thought was Gennady Smetanin, who had been dragged off a train with his wife the previous December for spying soon after returning to Moscow from Lisbon (Pete Earley, Confessions of a Spy, p. 196) - called the Agency's station in Bonn, claiming that he was a friend of the missing Gennady Varenik aka FITNESS. Courtship's CI chief Paul Redmond was not interested in any claims about Soviet moles because as head of the task force which had debriefed Vitaly Yurchenko (Wise, p. 131 passim), he expected double agents like Adolf Tolkachev to go down the tubes due to the defection of the Agency's Edward Lee Howard (Earley, p.193), who CIA had deliberately let defect in order to trick Moscow into thinking that it knew everything about operations. (Mark Reibling, Wedge, pp. 356-8)

The new "defector", "Mr. X", did not disappoint, claiming that the unexpected losses were due primarily to the KGB having tapped cables of its own, the CIA's secret communications center in Warrenton, Virginia. Other losses were due to poor tradecraft, and the like. In a takeoff of Konstantin Volkov's betrayal by Kim Philby at the end of WWII, he wrote that under no circumstances should his offer be communicated to Langley, an obvious allusion to the spying by Ames and Hanssen, or "by electronic means."

Immediately, Redmond and colleagues at headquarters (so much for any security for "Mr. X"!) paid him $50,000 (the same amount Ames was paid for his original disclosure) for any information, and he did not disappoint - Moscow, that is. Smetanin, while reviving all the disinformation from Varenik about the KGB contingency plans for blowing up West German restaurants to upset Washington's relations with Bonn (Earley, p. 194), claimed that his handler, Charles Leven, had pocketed some of the money Varenik was to be paid to pay off his KGB debts. While Redmond was checking out similar wild-goose tales in six subsequent letters from Smetanin, involving a six-month experiment to establish whether the Warrenton facility had been compromised, Washington took the bait about bombing restaurants in West Germany, what the KGB, it seems, so dressed up at Tripoli's expense in West Berlin, that Lehman's Navy jumped at another opportunity for action in Libya. Redmond even jumped at the disinformation "Mr. X" supplied about Sergei Fedorenko being Moscow's double agent (Wise, p. 264), leading ultimately to his being given a lie detector test in November 1990, and released by the Agency when he apparently failed it. (Wise, pp. 262-5)

This made rubbish of Redmond's claims that "Mr. X's" deceptions only confused the Agency for six months. Actually, it was more like five years. During the interim, Ames even discovered that Smetanin, code-name PROLOGUE, was working for CIA, so informing his handler Yuri Karetkin at their meeting in Bogota in December 1990. When Karetkin returned to Moscow, and excitedly recited the information to the new chief of the FCD, General Leonid Shebarshin, he was crestfallen to learn that PROLOGUE was simply a KGB fraud. "All the KGB documents that Vladimir Smetanin (PROLOGUE) had provided to the CIA about the 1985 losses were KGB disinformation." (Earley, p. 287) Little wonder that Langley only then stopped talking about PROLOGUE, though it seems that it could have been more original now than calling him Vladimir Smetanin, apparently in recognition of what former FCD head Vladimir Kryuchkov, and now unprecedented KGB chief had achieved.

In fact, Redmond's pursuit of red herrings was so intense that Hanssen had gone underground after the assassination. One of the deceptions planned by Langley in the lead-up to the shooting was to make it look as if a Swedish, West German, Israeli, British, and South African arms consortium, YGGDRASIL - connected to Lt. Col. Oliver North's Enterprise, and concerned about Palme's clamp down on their activities - had killed the statsminister, what had led to Gunnarsson's arrest. The Swedes involved included, it seems, Peter Wallenberg, Erik Penser, Pehr Gyllenhammar, and several others. (See the alleged minutes of the January meeting of NATO's Special Operations Planning Staff (SOPS), provided by, it seems, the former chief of its Intelligence Tactical Assessment Center, Oswald Le Winter, who was also apparently Duane "Dewey" Clarridge's deputy for European operations.)

While Le Winter - the Agency's leading disinformer whose efforts include denying there was an October Surprise by candidate Ronald Reagan after having so claimed, contending that SIS was behind Princess Diana's murder, and alleging that President Bush conspired to make Sept. 11th happen for political advantage (Dismantling America) - has claimed that the notes of its meetings, and those of the industrialists' meeting in Wiltshire in January 1986 show that they were planning Palme's assassination, actually they show no such thing, only that they were being set up to appear so by the American and British representatives by apparently providing decoys with walkie-talkies for the actual assassin.

Redmond's concern about it all was demonstrated when he was directing the debriefing of Yurchenko. DCI Casey, to help pay off some of Reagan's re-election debts, wanted Redmond to ask Yurchenko whatever happened to Raoul Wallenberg (made an honorary citizen by act of Congress on Sept. 22, 1981 - the only other one being Sir Winston Churchill), Peter's second cousin who helped 100,000 Hungarian Jews escape the Nazi death camps. (Nationalencykopedin, vol. 19, p. 212) It is a question which has plagued the Swedish conscience ever since. Redmond refused to ask the "defector" for fear that he would say something which could affect Peter's role in the current murder. It showed that the Agency had the gravest doubts about Yurchenko's bona fides all along. When Casey persisted in his request, Redmond ultimately obliged, but he put the question in such a ridiculous way that Yurchenko would hardly be expected to think anything suspicious, as Redmond reported to his boss, Burton Gerber, for Casey's benefit: "Yurchenko says he doesn't know anything about Raoul Wallenberg. He also doesn't know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried." (Quoted from Earley, p. 215.)

On or about Feb. 16, 1986 at Bath, England, Special Branch arrested double agent US Navy Commander John Bothwell, another consortium member who was involved in arms trading between South Africa and the USSR, under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly preparing "...to pass sensitive information to an unidentified contact 'likely to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy'." (Ronald Ostrow and Tyler Marshall, "Defection of KGB official linked to arrest of American in Britain," The Boston Globe, Feb. 22, 1986, p. 3) Apparently, the information was confirmation to the KGB that the consortium was, in fact, going to killl Palme.

Bothwell's arrest was to indicate that the plan was no longer on, especially since Colonel Viktor Gundarev, who worked for the KGB in Athens where Bothwell also had a residence, was forced to defect to the West as a result. Gundarev worked with Yurchenko, who was still usefully employed by the Soviets, and it was felt that the Gundarevs' safety was at risk if he remained. In sum, Redmond's people were trying to fool the Soviets into thinking that the plan to assassinate the statsminister had been foiled, unaware of the spying by Ames and Hanssen. Three years later, Gundarev was so upset by the cyncial use of his family in this set-up that he was threatening to redefect. (Gene Johnson, "Filings Contradict CIA's Statements," AP, Oct. 5, 2000)

No sooner did Hanssen hear about the Bureau's debriefers of Gundarev asking him if he knew Viktor Cherkashin (letter, dated June 30, 1986 to Viktor Degtyar, "Excerpts..., op. cit.), his handler, than he went into a tailspin over possible exposure, fearing that Yurchenko had told Gundarev that he was a spy. While the Agency was so confident that it had no moles among its ranks that CI chief Gus Hathaway had so testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in November 1985 (Wise, p. 195), the Bureau was equally sure of the security of its operations. The FBI had no such confidence, though, in CIA, as its Executive Assistant Director Oliver "Buck" Revell's pursuit of potential whistleblowers, especially the Agency's Jack Terrell, of North's Contras (Peter Dale Scott, and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics, p. 125 passim), and of Cherkashin's possible agents attest. Now Hanssen suspected that the Bureau was monitoring Cherkashin's money transfers, what could lead to his payments. After three months of checking, however, Hanssen decided that Gundarev's debriefers had found nothing, leading him to reveal more about how the KGB could frustrate US technical surveillance of the USSR.

About this time, CIA finally brought the Pentagon's Samuel Loring Morrison to trial for spying for the Soviets, what was another covert operation to fool Moscow about what the West was up to when Palme was assassinated. (What it did in London by having former agent, and ambassador to Helsinki Mark Austad sue Private Eye successfully in January 1986 for claiming he said all Scandinavians, not just Palme, were Soviet stooges.) Actually, the difficult Morrison worked at the Naval Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland (Angus Mackenzie, Secrets, p. 135), the same facility from where Jonathan Pollard, and Ronald Pelton had carried on their spying about the navy taps on the Soviet communication cable in the Sea of Okhotsk (Operation Ivy Bells), the latter being another spent source Yurchenko had fingered. (Wise, p. 134)

After Morrison published a KH-11 photograph of a gigantic aircraft carrier the Soviets were building in a Black Sea shipyard in Jane's Defence Weekly ("The Samuel Loring Morrison Incident," Eye Spy!, Issue Nine, p. 27), part of his assignment, Redmond got Casey to have the Justice Department prosecute him a year later, just when Yurchenko was beginning to think of "redefecting". The real purpose of the prosecution was to reassure Moscow about what it already knew - this was as good discovery of targets as US satellites possessed, a fact which was only potentially harmful.

Actually, the US thought that it had far better satellites, MAGNUMs, "...designed to intercept Soviet missile test signals (telemetry) and data-links as well as microwaves." (Mark Urban, UK Eyes Alpha, p. 59) For good measure, CIA persuaded a Japanese company to ship a cargo container filled with electronic sensors by the Trans-Siberian railroad across the USSR to monitor all kinds of communications, and activities while in transit.(Operation ABSORB) Moreover, to keep track of the container's progress and potential, CIA had recruited an agent, codename EASTBOUND, on the scene. (Earley, p. 200) In sum, the Agency thought it could monitor even the slightest sighs by the Soviets.

Unfortunately, for it, the first MAGNUM that the space shuttle Discovery put in orbit apparently stopped functioning, and the second one exploded with the Challenger in January 1986, explaining the unprecedented outpouring of grief by Reagan's people over the losses. For good measure, Ames and Hanssen had tipped off the KGB about Operation ABSORB, leaving the Agency without a clue about what was going on in the USSR right after the Palme assassination. When Langley finally learned in May 1986 that EASTBOUND's handler, Erik Sites, had been declared a persona non grata, and expelled from the USSR - the diplomatic language for spying - it threw the book at Morrison, thinking that he might really be another spy, explaining most unconvincingly that it only discovered years later that EASTBOUND had been a KGB "dangle".

Then the fallout from Iran-Contra started descending on the Agency, and the Bureau, leaving them little time to worry about spies (much less prosecute them for fear of adding to their woes), and the fate of double agents. Hanssen was so excited by the prospect that he openly telephoned Degtyar's replacement, Aleksandr Fefelov, despite prior arrangements for meeting months later, and on Feb. 13, 1987, he started apparently telling Moscow from the inside the cover up of the scandal by the congressional intelligence committees, the Tower Commission, and the Joint Select Committee on Iran Contra. ("Excerpts...) Nearly 15 years later, the CIA-FBI team which finally caught Ames had two Bureau analysts who had worked with Hanssen for five years listen to the tape of the conversation, and they said "without reservation" that he was the caller. (Johanna McGeary, "The FBI Spy," Time, March 5, 2001, p. 35) September 11th obviously was not the first occasion of the intelligence "community" having failed to connect the dots.

By this time, Downing Street, Whitehall, and the British intelligence services were becoming increasingly anxious as the Iran-Contra scandal started to unravel in Congress while the solution of the statsminister's shooting was as far away as ever. While Britain did not have to worry about parliamentary inquiries into covert actions, unlike America (Ken Connor, Ghost Force, pp. 413-4), she did have to worry about prying by the press, especially by Duncan Campbell. He knew too much about special operations in Ulster, the setting up of the Swedes for the shooting, and the struggling satellite program. Using the pretext that he was going to report on the government plan to build its own satellite to eavesdrop on the Soviets (ZIRCON) on his BBC television series, Secret Society, Prime Minister Thatcher managed to have the series banned. (Urban, p. 56) When Campbell went ahead, and published an article on ZIRCON in the New Statesman, she had Special Branch detectives raid offices of the BBC in Glasgow, and the Labour weekly to see what else might be in the works - what silenced the press (ibid., p. 61).

For good measure, the MoD, Downing Street, and MI5 arranged for Captain Hayward to go on a mission in the Mediteranean which would end up with him in prison in Sweden on drugs charges, thanks to the leadership provided by the PIRA's 'Steak Knife', the British Army's leading informer in its Army Council, whose intelligence was essential in capturing Libyan arms shipments, particularly on the Eksund, intended for the Provisionals' 'Tet offense'. (Simon Hayward, Under Fire: My Own Story, p. 40ff., esp. p. 59) Whatever Hayward was intending to do, 'Steak Knife' would have none of it when he discovered who he really was. (This was also when American authorities finally locked up assassin recruiter Vidal for repeated drugs offenses, and put the unbalanced Navy Secretary Lehman out to pasture in a manner reminiscent of how the White House had disposed of Secretary of State Al Haig.) This essentially ended all prospect of the unraveling of the Iran-Contra scandal leading to the Stockholm shooting.

Anglo-American intelligence relations were still on the verge of imploding, not because of possible moles in their midst, or double agents disappearing (though Redmond had finally issued a watered-down memo on the double agent losses), but because it now seemed that false defectors Golitsyn, Gordievski, and Yurchenko - agents officials still officially denied the KGB ever used - had taken over their operations for Moscow's benefit. Washington and London were increasingly suspecting that the KGB knew about everything from the beginning because they had really driven the agenda. In order to stop accusations of betrayal, and finger-pointing about failure on both sides of the Atlantic, far worse than had occurred after the JFK assassination, the Agency employed analyst Richards J. Heuer, Jr., to write an article about the bona fides of defector Yuri Nosenko in the wake of the Dallas assassination. ("Nosenko: Five Paths to Judgment," Studies in Intelligence, vol. 31, no. 3 (Fall 1987), pp. 71-101)

It said, on a cost accounting basis, Moscow would not have sacrificed what the defectors contributed for any ulterior ends, like the assassination of JFK, though the names of the other defectors were avoided for reasons already indicated. For good measure, when the article was declassified, and published by H. Bradford Westerfield in Inside CIA's Private World, the Agency editor's note introducing it fuzzed up the matter further by contending that Ames's spying might never have flourished if the Agency had not destroyed the work of Angleton and his trusted Golitsyn! Ames had become a spy solely to stop Golitsyn's latest handiwork in New Lies for Old against the Soviets - what would be triggered by Palme's assassination.

Protecting secrets, and avoiding jail became the order of the day back in 1987. While a book could, and should be written on the subject, we shall just have to settle for what was revealed about DCI William Webster, DDO Claire George, Clarridge, Redmond, Revell, and others. Given the liberties Attorney General Ed Meese, the congressional intelligence committees, the Tower Commission, the joint Select Committee on Iran-Contra, other congressional committees, and Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh allowed them to destroy evidence, and concoct stories which would prevent any prosecution, there was little more they needed to do to obstruct justice, and avoid committing perjury.

Britain amplified the cacophony of deception to prevent discovery by putting the kingdom through the wringer by only trying to prevent publication of Peter Wright's Spycatcher, the former Assistant Director of M15 conveniently claiming that Britain was not only no longer carrying out assassinations, though MI6 might approve the use of retired SAS personnel by others (p. 161), but also the Security Service had never allowed Golitsyn the license CIA had. (p. 315) While this charade was being played out in the courts in London, Hayward was having the book thrown at him in Stockholm, the cases often being covered in adjoining columns in the daily press. (See, e.g., Peter Murtagh's articles about the drugs trial in The Guardian.) For good measure, MI5 subsidized books, particlarly "Ruth Freeman's" (aka Simon Freeman) Death of a Statesman, which implied that people like Hayward and his girl friend were the last ones to suspect of the shooting.

The most unexpected American performance was by Judge Webster, who had come over from the Bureau to replace the dying Casey. Before even firing North's immediate CIA underlings in Central America, forcing George and Clarridge to retire, and reprimanding a few others, Webster appointed fellow Amherst graduate Richard Stolz, an Agency veteran, the new DDO. (Wedge, p. 389) Ultimately, the prosecution of any Agency people by the Independent Counsel would depend upon basic facts about their employment, operations, etc., routine classified information whose release was expected as a matter of course.

Stolz, however, absolutely refused, and Webster made no attempt to overrule him. "What will they think in Oslo?," Stolz exclaimed. (Quoted from Lawrence Walsh, Firewall, p. 216) While Walsh considered the exclamation irrelevant, it wasn't, as Stolz was referring to the Norwegian recording facility at Vardö, what had recorded things like the fiasco resulting from the attempt to sneak the 80 HAWK missiles through Sweden, the disaster surrounding Anchor Express Exercise, Lehman's attack submarines confrontations with the Soviets in the Barents, etc. Any release of this information could set a precedent which threatened everyone.

Clarridge was treated as if he were the Agency equivalent of the NSC's North, though he denied having had any role in trying to sneak missiles through Sweden, and the Agency was unable to provide the alleged cable which would prove otherwise. (William S. Cohen and George J.Mitchell, Men of Zeal: A Candid Inside Story of the Iran-Contra Hearings, p. 255) Consequently, his indictment for lying was such a fiasco that he was never tried, and in the end, he was pardoned by Bush. DDO George was CIA's stand-in for NSA Admiral John Poindexter, the guy who would carry the can for the sins of others, and was never convicted of anything, though the Independent Counsel tried twice. Revell, who was also a member of the Restricted Interagency Group for Terrorism (RIG-T), and supported the most pro-active role by the Bureau and CIA in combating it, supplied Webster with such a sanitized version of what RIG-T had been doing when Iran-Contra broke (Wedge, p. 376ff.) that he was never even indicted for anything. Webster only learned from Stolz nearly two years later of the double agent losses. (Wise, p. 197) Redmond's role, it seems, escaped everyone's notice.

While this was going on, CIA tried to prove, using police state tactics, that Marine guards Clayton Lonetree, and Arnold Bracy at the Embassy in Moscow were really responsible for the betrayals of all the double agents. Once Bracy confessed that he had let Soviet agents into the code room to satisfy his lover, though the charge was later dropped, and he was never prosecuted, some analysts still believed that it was part of a larger plot to deceive the U.S. about deeper penetration of its intelligence services. (Wedge, p. 396) Lonetree was sentenced ultimately to 25 years in prison for having fallen into a similar "honey trap" with an attractive translator Violetta for the Embassy who was also working for the KGB.

CI's Gus Hathaway finally used the fury raised over "master spy" Lonetree to have a four-man Special Task Force appointed, including two retired counterintelligence officers, and all without investigative training or financial expertise, to investigate the losses from scratch, obliging the Bureau to do likewise with the six-man "Anlace Task Force." (Adams, p. 147) Up until then, gentlemanly John Stein, Jimmy Carter's Deputy Director for Operations instead of expected, gung-ho Ted "The Blond Ghost" Shackley, had been investigating the losses for DCI William Casey, and Stein concluded predictably and wrongly that they were the result of anything but betrayals.

The operation of the task forces was so ineffective that it recalled the relation between the Agency and the Bureau during the days of DCI Helms and Director Hoover. (Wise, pp. 178-9) The Agency's Jeanne Vertefeuille, once she finally returned from a posting in Africa, was asked by Redmond to find out who or what might have compromised all the double agents by conducting a paper chase of all that was known, and had been done about them throughout the CIA - what made finding a needle in a haystack simple by comparison. According to the Agency's Inspector General, the result after six years of looking was that the task force didn't even have an official list of suspects, though an anonymous source, sounding much like Redmond, was willing to volunteer for Wise that this was far from the case. (pp. 177-8)

The Bureau, instead of casting such a wide net that it came up with nothing, conducted such a narrow investigation that it never got anywhere, as it reported to its benefit in September 1987. Its scope was only the disappearance of its double agents, Motorin and Martynov. The trouble with Tim Caruso's team was that it only included James Holt, Martynov's handler (Wise, p. 178), who knew what was essentially planned at Moscow's expense. Martynov was the deepest sleeper in the whole operation, though - expected to supply unexpected information and confirmation of how the set up of Moscow was going because of his scientific and technological contacts through Operation ABSORB and agent EASTBOUND - what was abruptly terminated when he returned to the USSR under arrest with the 'redefecting' Yurchenko.

Motorin's handlers, James Stassinos and MIke Morton, were somehow not included in the group, though they could have helped provide some answers for the joint disappearances. Motorin was to supply similar confirmation to Martynov's through telephone calls to his girl friend in America, what his handlers were monitoring, that the set up of Moscow for Palme's assassination was working. (Wise, p. 257) Motorin's calls abruptly stopped in February 1986, and after Ames was arrested, the FBI concluded that Motorin had been forced by the KGB to make the calls he did. This demonstrated just how well the KGB had covered Operation Armageddon.

In the interim, the Bureau was not concerned that Stassinos, only 54, died unexpected of a heart attack on May 31, 1990, and Morton, only in his forties, suffered the same fate a year later. The FBI had not considered 1989 suspicions by fellow FBI agent Mark Wauck that his brother-in-law, Hanssen, was a spy serious enough even to investigate. It was only after Judge William Webster had finally quit as DCI that the just created joint-FBI-CIA task force, under Redmond's direction, started looking seriously for a mole. This time, the FBI's James Holt would be assisted by James P. Millburn, the Bureau's leading analyst of KGB operations.

While the seperate task forces had slowly gone about their business, giving higher priority to any other task (Wise, p. 204ff.), the Bureau and the Agency's CIC fumbled chances to prove that Felix Bloch was a mole who had betrayed the double agents (Reibling, 397-9), efforts that Ames and Hanssen helped frustrate. Hathway's people were so discrete in carrying out their surveillance of the State Department officer in Brussels, for fear of angering Belgium counterparts they distrusted, that they came up with nothing. Then the FBI, fearing another fiasco like the Howard one, so confronted Bloch when he declined to meet with his Soviet contact, the KGB illegal Reino Gikman who had been tipped off by Moscow of the danger, that he simply clammed up, and shut down.

When the Bureau hoped to keep the case alive by advertising in German papers for a source to come forward who could apparently nail Bloch, the CIA station chief in Bonn, Ed Pechus, refused, causing the FBI to seek an obstructuion-of-justice indictment against him, but without success. (Adams, p. 181). Bloch was finally fired by the State Department in Nov. 1990, and the case against him simply died.

When the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union collapsed without either the KGB or the Stasi revealing the identity of Ames and Hanssen, the joint task force was obliged to make the obvious case against the former, and there is no need to describe its elementary, well-known details, especially latecomer Dan Payne's pursuit of Ames's money. One can only wonder why it took the Bureau so long to look into Hanssen's equally unexplained, large banks deposits, and to have Holt and Millburn ask his coworkers if they could identify who had called Aleksandr Fefelov, a KGB officer in the Soviet Embassy, on Aug. 18, 1986.

At CIA, the interesting bits occurred when James Woolsey had to deal with the damage caused by Ames's spying. The new DCI, who forced the Agency to give the same recognition to the leading double agent, the recently executed Dimitri Polyakov, that it had afforded beloved Oleg Penkovsky (Adams, p. 98), reprimanded 11 DO officers, even naming the current DDO Ted Price for censure, and involving many who were now retired, including Stolz. At the same time, Woolsey promoted Redmond, the CI official more responsible than anyone for the shooting, and the screwups, "...to the new position of special assistant for counterintelligence in recognition of his role in catching Ames." (Wise, p. 310)

When some DO veterans still wanted to recognize personally the efforts of Milton Bearden, Pechus's successor at Bonn, despite his reprimand, Woolsey forced the retirement of its promoters. While the Agency was looking for a new DCI, Redmond's team decided to celebrate Ames's capture, but acting DCI Admiral William Studeman would not hear of it, cancelling the formal affair without notice. (Earley, pp. 335-6) Studeman had been chief of the Naval Intelligence Service when Lehman's showdown with the Soviets occurred, and he knew that there was nothing to celebrate about Ames's spying - it, more than the Walker ring, had given the Soviets war-winning chances if they had so chosen. ("Meeting the Espionage Challenge: A Report of United States Counterintelligence and Security Programs," September 23, 1986, on file at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California) After Studeman left, Redmond decided to have a private party for the mole hunter team, but its real leaders, Vertefeuille, and Sandy Grimes, refused to attend.

Of course, Ames's exposure, and Al-Qaeda's first attack on the World Trade Center, given the fact that FBI Director William Sessions had cut back drastically on counterintelligence because of the Bloch affair, gave the Bureau, now under Louis Freeh's leadership, a great boost in scope, and operations. Of course, all the agents who had equally screwed up at the Bureau were unduly rewarded. Robert "Bear" Bryant, who demonstrated his nickname by trying to prosecute the Agency's Ed Pechus for obstructing justice in the Bloch case, was named the head of the Bureau's new National Security Division for securing Ames's arrest, Director Freeh explaining a bit disingenuously that he had enjoyed "CIA's unwavering assistance every step of the way." (Quoted from Riebling, p. 444.) Bryant reciprocated the favor by telling the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Stasi files could produce more espionage prosecutions if only the CIA was willing to come clean about its penetration, a sentiment that his prececessor Harry "Skip" Brandon at the Intelligence Division fully endorsed.

While the Bureau chalked up some early successes (Riebling, p. 441), its failures at Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City really dragged it down. It was only after the last tragedy that the Bureau finally managed to arrest its 'Unabomber', Ted Kaczynski, who had been on record since 1970 inThe Saturday Review of having a motive for such attacks, but had somehow managed to avoid arrest for a generation. This was after Woolsey's replacement, MIT's John Deutch, had proven even worse by reprimanding the same DO personnel for allowing Soviet double agents, in the wake of Ames's betrayals, to take over completely the Agency's agenda, an affront which led to his ouster for security violations while working on Company business on his home computer. (Deutch's last-minute pardon by Clinton raised the temperature higher at Langley.)

Freeh's Bureau was still so confident of its position vis-a-vis the Agency that when another mole was suspected, thanks to more input from Hanssen, David Szady succeeded in having CIA agent Brian Kelley placed on indefinite leave until the matter was resolved. Kelley's career was, consequently, ruined in the process of finding Hanssen himself, but Szady was still named in March 2001 by President George W. Bush the Bureau's new Counterintelligence Czar for his efforts.

For CIA, though, the most egregious error occurred when former DCIs Webster, and Woolsey joined on the dustrjacket in praising Wise's latest demolition of the Agency, Cassidy's Run: The Secret Spy War over Nerve Gas, a work only made possible by Bureau assistance from mole hunters of Ames, especially John Lewis, Bryant's assistant director, who had worked with Redmond to make sure that the spy did not ultimately escape. (Wise, pp. 250-1) The book contended that Air Force sergeant, and double agent Joseph Cassidy, who allegedly deceived the Soviets for 22 years, was the supreme model for how they should work, though he helped make the USSR into a leading chemical warfare power through his "dangles", especially the manufacture of Novichok, and a few Bureau agents were killed while handling him.

FBI Director Webster even publicly acknowledged the achievements by Cassidy and his wife. For CIA, especially Redmond, the Bureau's publicizing its attempt to prosecute it for refusing to do the same to one of Cassidy's Soviet handlers, Univ. of Minnesota professor Gilberto Lopez, was apparently the last straw. Lopez was a Cuban double agent the Agency once had recruited to help prove that Lee Harvey Oswald had killed JFK for Castro. (For part of the story, see Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy, pp. 419-20.)

The last straw for the Russians was when Hanssen revealed in a Nov. 17, 2000 letter that he had just helped Bloch as a financially-rewarding effort by a low-level spy - "Bloch was such a shnook....I almost hated protecting him, but he was your friend, and there was your illegal I wanted to protect...." ("Excerpts..." op. cit.) Hanssen had also protected himself then, and was trying to do so now.

He was obviously feeling the heat, what I had alluded to in my Oct. 29, 2000 letter to Ames, questioning him, along with operational matters, about whether he was being a bit disingenuous in saying that the KGB had done almost nothing to protect him, and that he had done all the spying. Ames, after engaging in an ad hominem attack about my lack of understanding, and experience in counterintelligence, and politics - what my professional careers would certainly deny - claimed that my misconceptions were beyond the recall of anyone. He concluded: "Is it possible that you believe I would expose myself to the risks of writing to you about a raft of highly classified and sensitive matters in an uncertain attempt to put your speculations on a reasonable footing? Or that my censors would permit it? Surely, you joke." (A. H. Ames's letter, Nov. 23, 2000) Surely, Ames protested too loudly, contradictorily, and unnecessarily.

Hanssen's debriefers - especially Redmond and FBI Director Robert Mueller through their demand for the death penalty, but what Judge Webster had to moderate for alleged reasons of national security, thanks to input from former SOD William Cohen about operations against Sweden - made sure that he was no more forthcoming about what he did, and why. In the process, reality had been stood on its head, with those most deserving of understanding, recognition, and reprieves being sent to prison for life while those politicians and operatives most deserving of exposure and punishment for their reckless operations which threatened the world with extinction being acclaimed, promoted, and rewarded after their hamhanded cover ups. Only in America would such exceptionalism be the rule.

No comments: