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James W. Hall III
James W. Hall III circa 1988

James W. Hall, III is a former United States 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. Hall was convicted of espionage on July 20, 1989; he was fined $50,000 and given a dishonorable discharge and is currently serving a 40-year sentence for those activities at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.



Hall was assigned to the NSA Field Station Berlin Teufelsberg, one of the premier listening posts of the cold war, between 1982–1985 and he spied for both East Germany and the Soviet Union. Between 1983 and 1988, Hall betrayed hundreds of military secrets, which includes the Project Trojan, a worldwide electronic network with the ability to pinpoint armored vehicles, missiles and aircraft by recording their signal emissions during wartime.[1]

Hall sometimes spent up to two hours of his workday reproducing classified documents to provide to the Soviets and East Germans. Concerned that he was not putting in his regular duty time, he consistently worked late to complete his regular assignments.

Using his illegal income, Hall paid cash for a brand new Volvo and a new truck. He also made a large down payment on a home and took flying lessons. He is said to have given his military colleagues at least six conflicting stories to explain his lavish life style. In 1986, Hall was stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and was returning to Germany. He was also applying for an appointment as a Warrant Officer. As a part of the routine background investigation associated with the warrant appointment, one of his supervisors, a major (Hall was, at the time, a Staff Sergeant), commented to the investigator that he found it strange that Hall could drive a car, the Volvo, that the major couldn't afford. The major went on to explain that he had, himself, asked Hall about this apparent dichotomy. Hall responded that he had a wealthy aunt who died and left him a large trust from which he received $30,000 annually. The major found the story plausible but reiterated it to the investigators during their visit with him. The investigators thanked the major for the information and told him they already knew about the "trust." Hall's co-workers were fully taken in by his duplicity and his unusual activities never drew much attention. He was the epitome of a hard-working non-commissioned officer.

After returning from Germany to the U.S., he traveled to Vienna, Austria, to meet with his Soviet handler. His co-workers wondered why he would re-enlist, and become a warrant officer, after several times conveying to them his dissatisfaction with army life. Of course, the Warrant Officer rank allowed him greater access to classified material.

During his tour at Detachment Schneeberg, an intelligence gathering outpost on what was the East-West German border during the "Cold War," Hall seemed to have a generally good working relationship with his associates, but would sometimes erupt and become upset over trivial day-to-day problems. Hall also associated with several "foreigners," thought to be Turks, at a club called Reissmann's, in Bischofsgrun, West Germany, the local hang-out for the GI's that worked on Schneeberg.

Hall was eventually arrested on December 21, 1988 in Savannah, Georgia, after bragging to an undercover FBI agent that over a period of six years he had sold Top Secret intelligence data to East Germany and the Soviet Union. At the time, Hall believed that he was speaking to a Soviet contact. During this conversation he claimed that he had been motivated only by money. He told the FBI agent posing as a Soviet intelligence officer, "I wasn't terribly short of money. I just decided I didn't ever want to worry where my next dollar was coming from. I'm not anti-American. I wave the flag as much as anybody else."

The case against Hall apparently began based on a tip from a Central Intelligence Agency source inside the East German Government. Officials said this source defected to the West and is in hiding.[2]

After his arrest, Hall said there were many indicators visible to those around him that he was involved in questionable activity. Hall's activities inflicted grave damage on U.S. signals intelligence and he is considered the "perpetrator of one of the most costly and damaging breaches of security of the long Cold War"[3]

Hall confessed to giving his handlers information on the U.S. Military Liaison Mission (USMLM)'s tank photography on New Year's Eve in 1984.[4] On March 24, 1985, while on a legal inspection tour of Soviet military facilities in Ludwigslust, German Democratic Republic, US Army Major Arthur D. Nicholson, Jr., an unarmed member of the USMLM, was shot to death by a Soviet sentry.

Hall believes himself only to be "a treasonous bastard, not a Cold War spy."[5]

The FBI also arrested Huseyin Yildirim, a Turk who served as a conduit between Hall and East German intelligence officers. Hall received over $100,000 in payments.

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:

  • George Trofimoff - a retired Army Reserve colonel, charged in June 2000 with spying for the KGB and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (or SVR) for over 25 years.
  • Aldrich Ames - A CIA mole charged with providing highly classified information since 1985 to the Soviet Union and then Russia.
  • 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.


  1. ^ Koehler, O. John. STASI: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police. Boulder, Col.:Westview Press, 1999, page 227
  2. ^ Stephen, Engelberg (May 7, 1989). "U.S. Says Soldier Crippled Spy Post Set Up in Berlin". New York Times.  
  3. ^ Herrington, Stuart A. Traitors among Us: Inside the Spy Catcher's World. New York, NY.:Harcourt Press, 2000 p. 252
  4. ^ Herrington, Stuart A. Traitors among Us: Inside the Spy Catcher's World. New York, NY.:Harcourt Press, 2000
  5. ^ James Hall as quoted in Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World by Kristie Macrakis. Cambridge University Press, 2008, interviewed in prison March 5, 2006


  • Herrington, Stuart A. (2000). Traitors among Us: Inside the Spy Catcher's World. Harcourt. ISBN 9780156011174.   Intelligence service—United States—History—20th century.
  • Koehler, John O. (1999). Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police. Ministerium für Staatssicherheit. ISBN 0813334098.   Secret service/ Germany(East)/ History.
  • Macrakis, Kristie (2008). Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052188747X.   Espionage, East German.
  • Miller, John J. The Last Cold War Casualty, National Review, 24 March 2005

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