The remarkable story of the last American spy of the Cold War: Aldrich “Rick” Ames, the most destructive traitor in the history of the Central Intelligence Agency
Tim Weiner, David Johnston, and Neil A. Lewis, reporters for The New York Times, tell how the barons of the CIA could not believe that its headquarters harbored a traitor. For years, the Agency was baffled by a wily Russian spymaster who played a high-stakes chess game against the Americans, deceiving the CIA into thinking that there were other moles—or no moles at all.
It took nearly eight years for the CIA to share the full facts of the scenario with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Once they knew those facts, the men and women of the FBI tracked Aldrich Ames day and night for nine months before they arrested him. They tell their story here in astonishing detail for the first time.
The interviews are entirely on-the-record. There are no pseudonyms, anonymous quotes, or invented scenes. The men betrayed by Ames were real people, and the stories of their lives are the true history of the espionage game in the waning years of the Cold War.
This New York Times reporting team's taut, riveting, remarkably vivid account of former CIA agent Aldrich Ames's treason, arrest and 1994 conviction as a mole for Moscow reads like a spy thriller. The Wisconsin-born son of a history professor-turned-CIA-agent, Ames, depicted here as a slovenly, procrastinating, inept, mediocre, alcoholic bureaucrat, rose to become counterintelligence chief of the CIA's Soviet division. In 1985, he revealed to the KGB the identities of 12 Soviet intelligence officers who were secretly working for the CIA. Despite the ensuing wave of KGB arrests and executions, the CIA would not acknowledge that someone within its ranks was a traitor, and the agency's slapdash mole-hunt made progress only after 1991, when the FBI was called in to crack the case. Through hours of jailhouse interviews with Ames, sentenced to life without parole, the authors establish greed as his overriding motive-he stashed away $2 million in payoffs from Moscow in secret bank accounts. This is an amazing tale of institutional hubris and bungling. Photos.