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Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America Kindle Edition
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“David Wise is a master at penetrating the invisible government. We won’t read a better book about this aspect of the Cold War.” –Seymour M. Hersh
“A brilliant, fascinating account of the CIA’s greatest trauma–whether it had been penetrated by agents of the KGB. It tied the Agency into knots for two decades, but the evidence outlined by David Wise now reveals that it was only a phantom. Paranoia is sometimes said to be the prerequisite for good counterintelligence–but the CIA’s history suggests that it can become its Achilles’ heel as well.” –William E. Colby
The Spy Who Got Away
“The most important book on intelligence since The Invisible Government . . . with the suspense and tension-building that you expect in John le Carré’s fiction.” –Ronald L. Ostrow, Los Angeles Times Book Review
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Mole Hunter
Inside the Soviet counterintelligence section at FBI headquarters in Washington, there could be no other word for what had happened: the two KGB agents who were the bureau's highly secret sources inside the Soviet embassy in Washington had somehow been discovered. Valery Martynov and Sergei Motorin had been lured back to Moscow and executed. Each was killed with a bullet in the head, the preferred method used by the KGB to dispatch traitors.
There would be no more visits to the candy store by the FBI counterintelligence agents; M&M, as the two KGB men were informally if irreverently known inside FBI headquarters, were gone, two more secret casualties of the Cold War. The year was 1986. The FBI quickly created a six-person team to try to determine what had gone wrong.
Meanwhile, the CIA, across the Potomac in Langley, Virginia, was having its own troubles. It was losing dozens of agents inside the Soviet Union, some executed, others thrown into prison. The agency formed a mole hunt group.
Two years later, in 1988, the FBI still had no answer to how Martynov, whom the bureau had given the code name pimenta, and Motorin, code name megas, had been lost. Something more had to be done, and the FBI now began thinking the unthinkable. As painful, even heretical, as it might be to consider, perhaps there was a traitor-a Russian spy-inside the FBI itself.
To find out the truth was the job of the bureau's intelligence division, which was in charge of arresting spies, penetrating foreign espionage services, and, when possible, recruiting their agents to work for the FBI. The division was divided into sections, one of which, CI-3 (the CI stood for counterintelligence), housed the Soviet analytical unit, the research arm of the bureau's spycatchers. Perhaps, the division's chiefs reasoned, something might be learned if the analysts, looking back to the beginning of the Cold War, carefully studied every report gleaned from a recruitment or a defector that hinted at possible penetrations of the FBI by Soviet intelligence. Perhaps a pattern could be seen that might point to a current penetration, if one existed.
Within the Soviet unit, two experienced analysts, Bob King and Jim Milburn, were assigned to read the debriefings of Soviet defectors and reports of Soviet intelligence sources who had, over the years, been recruited as spies by the FBI. The two shared a cubicle in Room 4835 with their supervisor.
The supervisor, a tall, forty-four-year-old, somewhat dour man, was not a popular figure among his fellow special agents, although he was respected for his wizardry with computers. He had been born in Chicago, served for a while as a police officer in that city, and joined the FBI twelve years before, in 1976. Now he was responsible for preparing and overseeing the mole study.
For the supervisor, directing the analysis to help pinpoint a possible mole inside the FBI was a task of exquisite irony. For he knew who had turned over the names of Valery Martynov and Sergei Motorin to the KGB. He knew there was in fact an active mole inside the FBI, passing the bureau's most highly classified secrets to Moscow. He knew the spy was a trusted counterintelligence agent at headquarters. He knew, in fact, that the spy was a supervisory special agent inside the Soviet analytical unit. He knew all this but could tell no one. And for good reason.
Robert Hanssen was looking for himself. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication date : October 22, 2002
- File size : 1680 KB
- Print length : 312 pages
- Publisher : Random House; 1st edition (October 22, 2002)
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B004SOVCBA
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #163,540 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Robert Hanssen is a former Chicago policeman and the son of a Chicago policeman who rose through the ranks of the FBI to a senior position in the FBI with access to the most sensitive intelligence information about US vs. Russia activities. For 22 years, Robert Hanssen divulged these FBI / CIA / NSA secrets to Russia that resulted in death to US spies and did considerable damage to US security.
Robert Hanssen is an enigma. He is a family man, a staunch neoconservative Republican, an anti-Communist, a devout Catholic (Opus Dei) who opposed homosexuality and abortion. He would be the last person you would suspect of being a Russian spy. Although the FBI had clues, the FBI couldn’t accept the fact that one of their own could be a traitor so Hanssen avoided detection for 22 years.
The book shows another side of Robert Hanssen as a man who patronized strip clubs and brothels and was a sugar daddy to a stripper. Hanssen was so sexually deviant that he shared nude photos of his wife with his friend and allowed his friend to secretly view him having sex with his wife.
Despite Robert Hanssen’s moral shortcoming, the fact that he spied for Russia for 22 years is completely contrary to all that he politically and religiously espoused throughout his adult life. Nevertheless, Hanssen was able and willing to commit treason for money and the flattery that Russia heaped on him for being such a clever spy.
Amazingly, SPY: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE FBI’S ROBERT HANSSEN BETRAYED AMERICA points out that during this time, Robert Hanssen was not the only Russian spy that had infiltrated US intelligence agencies. There was Aldrich Ames, John Anthony Walker, Ronald Pelton, Earl Pitts, etc. During the time that Hanssen was a mole for Russia, the frequency and number of Russian moles who infiltrated US intelligence agencies was astoundingly high. There seemed to be so many Russian moles that US intelligence was playing a never ending game of whack-a-mole.
I don’t know if things have really changed at the FBI and CIA, but SPY: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE FBI’S ROBERT HANSSEN BETRAYED AMERICA highlighted problems within those agencies that contributed to Hanssen’s ability to spy for Russia for 22 years.
"Spy" was written by David Wise, who is an American journalist recognized as an authority on espionage and intelligence subjects. His expertise certainly is evident in this short but information-packed book. In the space of 320 pages, Wise narrates in his clear, concise, and easy to understand prose how Hanssen began his career as an FBI agent and, at the same time, a Soviet mole within the FBI. Wise explains how Hanssen was able to carry on his espionage activities undetected for over two decades. Wise also explores the connection between Hanssen's ultra-conservative Catholicism and his spying; and provides an overview of Hanssen's sexual peccadilloes, including his secret video-taping of himself having sex with his wife, and then his selling of those tapes to third parties, and his affair with a stripper.
"Spy" may be about as comprehensive an account of the Robert Hanssen case as readers are likely to get. David Wise not only covers what Hanssen did, but also provides a thorough analysis of why he did it. This is a brilliantly written, disturbing, but essential account of America's worst-ever spy. Highly recommended.
Top reviews from other countries
Within CIA (Aldrich Ames) and FBI (Robert Hanssen) were senior men caught spying for Russia. It was an unparalleled loss for American intelligence. Active over decades, they had access to serious secrets that they sold for sordid (as opposed to ideological) motives. Their colleagues had suspicions and evidence, yet failed to act. Why? So what? This is an incestuous world where spies mostly spy on spies, like small dogs chasing their tails. It was a game, actors playing many parts and almost comical. But real people were shot in the back of the head and billions (not millions) of dollars wasted.
Having watched the rather awkward (and largely inaccurate) movie "Breach", I was curious to find out more about Robert Hanssen. What was his "motivation?" He had spent 22 years spying for Russia, he was not coerced or persuaded, rather he volunteered and along the way made $1.4mn. Hanssen also has blood on his hands, implicated in the exposure and subsequent execution of Russian double agents.
Without deprecating David Wise, you are no nearer understanding the man at the end his book. That is inevitable. Being a spy and a traitor is never going to produce an uncomplicated individual. What Wise reveals is a lacklustre one. Hanssen was just doing dull tasks in a big bureaucracy. He was a loner, a computer geek, abrasive and largely disliked. Plodding his way, he had access to secrets that with reasonable skill he sold to the Russians. The most worrying aspect was that he had sight of highly classified information that he had no need to see. It raises extremely uncomfortable questions for the FBI.
Hanssen was a man of devout religious belief, a convert to Catholicism and a member of the cult Opus Dei; an "extremist" yet he served a Godless Russia. In a more civilised country his behaviour might have marginalised him but in America, a land where religion is a serious business, such zealots are comfortably accommodated. They are trusted in the highest places. His wife - also devout - found out in 1981, twenty years before his arrest, that her husband was a spy. We are told a confession was made to a priest and the money paid was given to charity! I was reminded of events in England in 1605, when the Attorney General Sir Edward Coke confronted the conspirators of the gunpowder plot. It raised the issue of Catholic loyalty (dilemmas that could equally apply to other religions, Jewish, Muslim et al). Who do you serve, "your" God or your county or yourself? The Doctrine of Equivocation might have helped him, very useful for a spy! Hanssen claimed he periodically admitted his espionage to priests in confession. Did they have a duty to act? Perhaps Hanssen merely concentrated on his sex life, which included a relationship with a stripper who he spoilt with gifts, trips and a car. He also might have mentioned peddling pornogpraphic pitures of his wife to his best freind.
Hanssen was caught. Had he been given a lie detector test it might have been sooner but he never was. He was revealed when a Russian was paid $7mn to remove files from the KGB. A plea bargain followed avoiding the death penalty. He has cooperated with authorities and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. David Wise has told the story competently, shone a mirror into the mirror. But so many loose ends remain. Was he sold out by the Russians to deflect from more productive agents? Robert Hanssen as a man or spy is not a compelling story, a rather mundane tale. How much is true, will we ever know? One thing we can be sure of is that he will not "discover" religion in prison, he had already found that well before.