The Full Wiki

Aldrich Ames: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Aldrich Ames

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Ames
Born May 26, 1941 (1941-05-26) (age 68)
River Falls, Wisconsin, United States
Charge(s) Violations of the Espionage Act
Penalty life imprisonment (without parole)
Status Incarcerated
Occupation former CIA officer and analyst and spy for the Soviet Union and later Russia
Spouse Nancy (div.)
Rosario Dupuy
Parents Carleton Cecil Ames
Rachel Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Hazen Ames (born May 26, 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who, in 1994, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and later Russia.


Early life and work

Aldrich Ames was born in River Falls, Wisconsin, to Carleton Cecil Ames and Rachel Ames (née Aldrich).[1] His father was a college lecturer, his mother a high-school English teacher. Aldrich was the eldest child. He was later joined by two sisters. In 1952 Carleton began working for CIA's Directorate of Operations in Virginia. In 1953 Carleton was posted to Southeast Asia. He and his family were there for three years.

Aldrich attended high school at Langley High School in McLean, Virginia, and during school holidays worked for the CIA (1957 to 1960) in low-level clerical jobs and a maintenance job. Ames later stated he did not originally plan career employment with the CIA, seeing his low level work as a "stop gap" measure to help put himself through school, but over time became fascinated by CIA work. Over 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 Ames married fellow CIA agent Nancy Segebarth. They both moved to Ankara, Turkey, but Nancy had to find work as an administrator owing to a CIA rule forbidding married partners from working as agents from the same office.

Aldrich's job was to target Soviet intelligence officers for recruitment. He infiltrated the Communist DEV-GENÇ organization through the roommate of student activist Deniz Gezmiş, who was later executed. In exchange for $75, he requested the names of the DEV-GENÇ members Gezmis knew, and the details of their activities.[2]

In 1976 Aldrich was assigned to New York. He and his wife returned to the US.

In 1981 Aldrich accepted a posting to Mexico City. His wife Nancy remained behind in New York. In October 1982 Aldrich met Maria del Rosario Casas Dupuy, a Colombia born, CIA informant who was cultural attaché in the Colombian Embassy.[3] He commenced an affair with her.

In September 1983, Aldrich moved to CIA headquarters in Washington DC. He 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. In October he formally split from his wife, and in November Dupuy joined him in Washington DC.

In September 1984, Aldrich’s first wife filed for divorce on grounds of mental cruelty.[citation needed]

In 1985 Aldrich was heavily in debt. He owed money because of the divorce, and Maria was spending freely. After exceeding his credit limit on different credit cards Aldrich considered robbing a bank. Realising he had no experience in performing such a caper he instead decided to pursue the less hazardous option of selling information to the Soviets.

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 government the names of every American agent working in their country.

Altogether, the Soviets paid Ames approximately $4.6 million for his services, allowing Ames to maintain a lifestyle well beyond the means of a normal CIA officer.[4]

Betrayals of CIA sources

  • Vitaly Yurchenko was a KGB officer in the Fifth Department of Directorate K, and "the highest-ranking KGB officer ever to defect to the United States".[5] In August 1985, he defected via Rome to the US,[6] only to repatriate to the Soviet Union three months later.[7] 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.[8] Yurchenko returned to the Soviet Union in 1985 and was re-assigned to a desk job within the FCD, a reward for helping to keep Ames' spying a secret.[9]
  • In the mid-1980s, Major General Dmitri Polyakov was the highest ranking figure in Soviet military intelligence (GRU) giving information to the CIA. He was executed in 1988 after Ames exposed him.[10] Many agree he was the most valuable of the assets compromised by Ames. A CIA official said of Polyakov, "He didn't do this for money. He insisted on staying in place to help us."[11]
  • 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,[12] although the British SIS later managed to extract him.
  • Valery Martynov was a Line X (Technical&Scientific Intelligence) officer at the Washington rezidentura. While a CIA mole was suspected of working at the Washington rezidentura, no one was able to pinpoint who it was. Ames handed over information that led to his arrest and execution.[13]
  • Major Sergei Motorin was a Line PR (Political Intelligence) officer at the Washington rezidentura. The FBI blackmailed him into spying for the US.[14] He was one of two moles at the rezidentura who was betrayed by Ames.[13] Motorin too was quickly executed after he was exposed.[15]
  • Colonel Leonid Polishchuk was a Line KR (Counter-intelligence) 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.[16]
  • Sergey Fedorenko was a nuclear arms expert assigned to the Soviet delegation to the United Nations. In 1987, Ames was assigned to handle him, and Fedorenko betrayed information about the Soviet missile program to Ames. The two men became good friends, hugging when Fedorenko was about to return to Moscow. “We had become close friends,” said Ames. “We trusted each other completely.”[17] Ames was initially hesitant to betray his friend, but soon after handing over the majority of the information decided that he would also betray Fedorenko because to "do a good job" for KGB he should really tell them every secret he knew.[15] Back in the USSR, Fedorenko used political connections to get himself out of trouble. Years later, Fedorenko met his friend Ames for an emotional reunion over lunch and promised to move to the US for good. Ames promised to help. Shortly after lunch, Ames betrayed him to the KGB for a second time.[15] Fedorenko escaped arrest, defected, and is currently living in Rhode Island.[18]

CIA response

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.

As early as 1985, the CIA's network of Soviet-bloc agents began disappearing at an alarming rate. The CIA noticed that something was very wrong, but was reluctant to admit that there was a mole in the agency. Initial investigations were far more focused on a communications breach caused by Soviet bugs or by a broken code. By 1990, the CIA was certain that there was a mole, but could not find the source. Recruitment of new Soviet agents came almost to a halt.[4]

The CIA was harshly criticized for not focusing on Ames sooner, given the dramatic increase in his standard of living. One of Ames's co-workers (also a friend of his wife) noted that Mrs Ames was able to make payment in full for drapes in their house, even though that co-worker (in similar circumstances) was obliged to pay in installments. Despite Ames's official salary of $60,000 USD he was able to afford:

  • A $540,000 house in Arlington, Virginia, paid for in cash;[19]
  • A $50,000 Jaguar automobile;[20]
  • Home remodeling and redecoration costs of $99,000;[19]
  • Monthly phone bills exceeding $6,000, mostly calls by Ames's wife to her family in Bogotá, Colombia;
  • Tailored suits replacing Ames's former 'bargain basement' clothes, conspicuously better than those of his CIA colleagues;
  • A superior credit score — Ames maintained premium credit cards whose minimum monthly payment exceeded his monthly salary.[21]

It has been alleged that investigation of 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.[4] Another explanation is that the CIA was anxious to avoid a repetition of the internal turmoil generated by the brilliant, but extremely paranoid, former ADDOCI (CIA's Associate Deputy Director of Operations for Counter-Intelligence) James Angleton, whose obsessive conviction that the CIA was riddled with Soviet double agents adversely affected agency operations during the 1970s.

In 1986 and again in 1991, Ames passed two polygraph screening examinations while spying for the Soviet Union and Russia, respectively. Ames was initially "terrified" at the prospect of taking the test, but had received advice from the KGB on how to pass it.[22] Critics claim that the CIA's over-reliance on the device is harmful to national security.[23]

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 and put him under constant surveillance.

Markus Wolf, the retired director of the Stasi's foreign intelligence directorate, claimed in his memoirs that Gardner Rugg "Gus" 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 in the belief that he would have to compromise moles he had placed and that he had insufficient guarantees that the CIA would not betray him.


Ames' mug shot, taken on the day of his arrest

In February 1994, Ames was scheduled to fly to Moscow as part of his duties for the CIA and the FBI feared that he would defect. The FBI arrested Ames and his wife on February 21, 1994 for providing highly classified information to the Soviet KGB and its successor organization, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. Upon being taken into custody, Ames stated to the arresting officers, "You're making a big mistake! You must have the wrong man!"[24]

In the plea Ames made to the court, he said that he had compromised "virtually all Soviet agents of the CIA and other American and foreign services known to me" and provided the USSR and Russia with a "huge quantity of information on United States foreign, defense and security policies."[25]

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 could have faced the death penalty, since his betrayal had resulted in several CIA "assets" being killed.[4] However, he 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 Ames was released from federal custody after her sentence was completed.[26]

Ames is federal prisoner #40087-083 and is currently housed in the high security US Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.[27]

Ames received a total of $4.6 million for his spying, over $2 million of which remains to this day in an undisclosed bank account. Russian intelligence has refused to reveal the account, which the United States would then seize. Russia's position is that the money was rightfully earned by Ames and will remain his (although it is unknown how he could collect it.)

Ames appeared in the documentary series The Cold War (1998), commenting on the way espionage was conducted, and how he, as a double agent, had operated.

To date, Aldrich Ames is the highest paid spy in American history. He is one of five known spies to have earned the "big money" -- $1 million or more. Clyde Lee Conrad, Larry Wu-Tai Chin, John Anthony Walker, and Robert Hanssen are the other four.

In popular culture

Ames' story is dramatized in the 1998 movie Aldrich Ames: Traitor Within, starring Timothy Hutton as Ames. 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.[28]

In The Recruit, Al Pacino states that operational security is almost entirely focused on external espionage and that the CIA will always be vulnerable to internal espionage, citing the examples of "Ames, Nicholson, [and] Howard."

Ames is referred to several times in the 2007 movie Breach, which tells the story of FBI spy Robert Hanssen. ("Have you heard of Ames?", Hanssen's character asks.)

In the boardgame Twilight Struggle one of the most powerful cards is called 'Aldrich Ames'.

Other notable American moles

Other Agents in place in the US Government or Military who worked as a Mole for either the KGB or the SVR, include:

  • James Hall III - An Army warrant officer and intelligence analyst in Germany who sold eavesdropping and code secrets to East Germany and the Soviet Union from 1983 to 1988.
  • Robert Hanssen - Arrested for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for more than 15 years of his 27 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Earl Edwin Pitts - An FBI agent charged with providing Top Secret documents to the Soviet Union and then Russia from 1987 until 1992.
  • Harold James Nicholson - A senior-ranking Central Intelligence Agency officer arrested while attempting to take Top Secret documents out of the country. He began spying for Russia in 1994.
  • Jonathan Pollard - a Jewish American who sold intelligence data to Israel.
  • George Trofimoff - a retired Army Reserve colonel, charged in June 2000 of spying for the KGB and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (or SVR) for over 25 years.


  1. ^ "Ancestry of Aldrich Ames". Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  2. ^ Suzal, Savas (1997-03-02). "Disislerinde CIA Köstebegi". Sabah. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  3. ^ NNDB Aldrich Ames, accessed on 19.09.2009
  4. ^ 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 0743229150
  5. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, p. 45
  6. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, pp. 44-45
  7. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, pp. 69-70
  8. ^ Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, p. 219
  9. ^ Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, p. 174
  10. ^ "Key Players". Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  11. ^ Wise, David. Nightmover: How Aldrich Ames sold the CIA to the KGB for $4.6 Million, HarperCollins, 1995, ISBN 0060171987. Excerpted in Time: Victims Of Aldrich Ames
  12. ^ Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, pp. 179,180
  13. ^ a b Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, p. 187
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c "CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames". Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  16. ^ Cherkashin & Feifer 2005, pp. 191,192
  17. ^ "CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames". Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  18. ^ "videofact". Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  19. ^ a b Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, p. 144
  20. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, p. 145
  21. ^
  22. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, pp. 89-90
  23. ^
  24. ^ Weiner, Johnston & Lewis 1995, p. 9
  25. ^ "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". Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  26. ^ "FBI History: Famous Cases". Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  27. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons". Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  28. ^ "Icon by Frederick Forsyth - Books - Random House". Retrieved 2008-10-14. 

Further reading

  • Cherkashin, Victor; Feifer, Gregory (2005), Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer: the True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, New York: Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-00968-9 
  • Weiner, Tim; Johnston, David; Lewis, Neil A. (1995), Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, An American Spy, New York: Random House, ISBN 978-0-679-44050-5 
  • Earley, Pete. Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1997. ISBN 0-399-14188-X
  • Maas, Peter. Killer Spy: The Inside Story of the FBI's Pursuit and Capture of Aldrich Ames, America's Deadliest Spy, Warner, 1995, ISBN 0-446-51973-1

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address