New Historian

Infamous CIA Double Agent Ames Finally Arrested

Aldrih Ames Mugshot

<![CDATA[One of the most successful double agents in history was arrested on 21st February, 1994, in Arlington, Virginia. Aldrich Hazen Ames, along with his wife Rosario Ames, had made millions of dollars transferring secret information to the Soviet Union, playing a massive role in the collapse of the CIA's spy network in the USSR. "They died because this warped, murdering traitor wanted a bigger house and a Jaguar," said the Director of the CIA, R. James Woolsey, in a New York Times interview in July 1994 - referring to the CIA agents in the USSR uncovered as a result of information Ames sold. At least twelve CIA operatives in Russia were apprehended due to information Ames gave to the KGB. All of them were jailed and many of them were executed. Both Ames and his wife would go on to plead guilty at their trials in 1994. Aldrich Ames was sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. Rosario, who had assisted her husband in providing information to the KGB, was sentenced to 63 months imprisonment in October 1994. Ames was a CIA employee himself, a fact which made the information he sold to the KGB priceless for them, and devastating for the United States. For almost a decade he passed information onto the KGB, often leaving valuable documents in a blue mail box before marking it with white chalk so his Soviet contacts knew messages had been left for them inside. A CIA report to the FBI claiming that a string of operational disasters in the field could only be explained by a double agent was the catalyst for the massive investigation which ultimately resulted in Ames' capture. For over a year leading up to his eventual arrest Ames was trailed by FBI agents desperate for him to reveal the crucial evidence they required to charge him. After repeated failed attempts to incriminate their suspect, the breakthrough for the FBI came in September 1993 when they searched Ames' trash. The operation yielded a decisive find, a torn up draft of a note from Ames to his Russian associates. The Attorney General authorised the FBI to search Ames' house, and a few weeks later agents broke in, discovering a host of incriminating data on Ames' computer including his procedures for secret communications with the KGB. Ames had joined the CIA in 1962, following in the foot steps of his father, who had worked for the agency as an analyst. He spent several years undercover in Turkey, before returning to work in the United States. After divorcing his first wife, Ames worked in Mexico City for several years in the early eighties, where he met Rosario. Following a promotion Ames returned to the USA yet again, taking up a position as head of the Soviet branch of the counter-intelligence division. His job essentially involved recruiting and assigning foreign agents. In 1985 he made his first deal with the KGB, selling to Russian embassy officials the names of two KGB agents in the US who had begun working with the FBI. Over the next nine years Ames, aided by his wife, would leak the name of every CIA agent operating in the Soviet Union (Russia after 1991), as well as a wealth of other critical information. They became the most highly paid spies in the pay of the Soviet Union, with Ames and his wife pocketing around $2.7 million. Ultimately, however, this also proved their undoing. The couple spent the money recklessly on houses, cars and other indulgences, eventually sparking the FBI's attention.]]>

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