Aldrich Ames

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Aldrich Hazen Ames (born June 16 1941 in River Falls, Wisconsin) is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who in 1994 was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union.


[edit] Early work

Ames began working for the CIA in 1962 in a low-level job. For the next few years, he graduated from college and advanced through the ranks while working in the Records Integration Division of the Operations Directorate. In 1969, on his first assignment as a case officer, he was stationed in Ankara, Turkey, where his job was to target Soviet intelligence officers for recruitment. He first began spying for the Soviet Union in 1985, when he walked into the Soviet embassy in Washington to offer secrets for money.

Ames was assigned to the CIA's Europe Division / Counterintelligence branch where he was responsible for directing the analysis of Soviet intelligence operations. He had access to the identities of U.S. sources in the KGB and Soviet military. The information Ames provided led to the compromise of at least 100 U.S. intelligence operations and to the execution of at least 10 U.S. sources. He ultimately gave the Soviet Union the names of every American agent working in their country. The Soviets paid Ames approximately $2.5 million, allowing Ames and his wife to maintain a lifestyle beyond the means of a normal CIA officer. Ames, who struggled with alcoholism, had no ideological affinity for the USSR. Before he was caught, he was assigned the task of preparing the damage assessment of Jonathan Pollard's activities, and it is believed that he used the opportunity to attribute to Pollard the act of uncovering CIA agents and assets in the USSR.

[edit] Various Betrayals

  • Yurchenko was a KGB officer in the Fifth Department of the Directorate K. He defected to the US only to later repatriate to the Soviets. Ames was privy to all the information that Yurchenko gave to the CIA, and was able to report all the information Yurchenko handed over to the KGB which allowed easy cover-ups of lost information (Cherkashin 219).
  • Colonel Oleg Gordievsky was the head of the London rezidentura (residency). He spied for the SIS. Ames handed over information about Gordievsky that positively identified him as a traitor (Cherkashin 179-180), although the SIS later managed to extract him.
  • Valery Martynov was a Line X officer at the Washington rezidentura. While a CIA mole was suspected to work at the Washington rezidentura, no one was able to pinpoint who it was. Ames handed over information that led to his arrest and execution (Cherkashin 187).
  • Major Sergei Motorin was a Line PR officer at the Washington rezidentura. He was one of two moles at the rezidentura who was betrayed by Ames (Cherkashin 187).
  • Colonel Leonid Polishchuk was a Line KR agent in Nigeria. He too was betrayed by Ames. His arrest was attributed to a chance encounter where KGB agents observed a CIA agent loading a dead drop. After some time, Polishchuk was seen removing the contents (Cherkashin 191-192).

[edit] CIA response

The CIA noticed that something was very wrong, but were reluctant to admit that they could have a mole, something that had never before befallen the CIA, to their knowledge. Initial investigations were far more focused on a communications breach caused by Soviet bugs or by a broken code. It has been alleged that investigation into the breach was discouraged in the late 1980s when the CIA was reeling from the Iran-Contra Affair and was desperate to avoid another major embarrassment. Another explanation is that the CIA was anxious to avoid a repeat of the internal turmoil generated by the brilliant, but extremely paranoid former ADDOCI James Angleton, whose obsessive conviction that the CIA was riddled with Soviet double agents adversely affected agency operations during the 1970's.

In 1986 and again in 1991, Ames passed two polygraph screening examinations while spying for the Soviet Union and Russia, respectively.

Due to the inability of the CIA to uncover the leak, and the fear that the counter-intelligence division may not have been secure, the CIA turned to the FBI to investigate the matter. The FBI soon focused on Ames as one of the prime suspects, putting him under constant surveillance.

Markus Wolf, the retired director of the Stasi's foreign intelligence directorate, claimed in his memoirs that Gardner Hathaway, recently retired as CIA counterintelligence director but haunted by his failure to identify Ames, approached him in 1990 with an offer of cosmetic surgery, lavish compensation, and a new life in the United States if he were to defect and help the CIA identify the source of Ames's ongoing leak. Wolf also claimed to have declined the offer on the view that he would have to compromise moles he had placed and that he had insufficient guarantees that the CIA would not betray him.

[edit] Arrest

In February of 1994, Ames was scheduled to fly to Moscow as part of his duties for the CIA, and the FBI feared that he would defect. This led to the arrest of Ames and his Colombian-born wife, Rosario, on February 21, 1994, by the FBI who charged him with providing highly classified information to the Soviet KGB and its successor organization, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

On February 22, 1994, Ames and his wife were charged by the United States Department of Justice with spying for the Soviet Union. They were later convicted; Ames received a sentence of life imprisonment, and his wife received a 5-year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit espionage and tax evasion as part of a plea-bargain by Ames. Rosario is now believed to be living in South America.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Ames is currently housed in the US Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. [1]

[edit] Movie

Ames' story is dramatized in the 1998 movie Aldrich Ames: Traitor Within, with Timothy Hutton as Ames.

[edit] In fiction

Ames was included as a character in the 1997 Frederick Forsyth novel Icon, in which several Soviet agents recruited by the United States were betrayed by him. [2]

[edit] References

  • Cherkashin, Victor, and Gregory Feifer. Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer: the True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

[edit] Further reading

fr:Aldrich Ames he:אולדריץ' איימס pl:Aldrich Ames sv:Aldrich 'Rick' Ames

Aldrich Ames

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