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Wed, 6 Nov 2013

The Worst Case of Espionage in US History


The United States of America, however powerful they may be, has a long list of traitors in its rich history. And the even sadder news about it is that most are caught too late. Ever since Benedict Arnold started the notorious trend of treason, the country has become aware of betrayals from within its ranks. With the recent conviction of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning who was charged for violations of the Espionage Act for releasing restricted information including the Reykjavik 13, the "Collateral Murder" video, and 500,000 other reports now called the Afghan and Iraq War Logs, the government's and public's interest on spies has spiked.

And when there is talk of spies, it can't be helped to mention Aldrich Hazen Ames - the worst case of espionage in US history.



Aldrich Hazen Ames

Aldrich "Rick" Ames was born on May 26, 1941 in River Falls, Wisconsin. Rick Ames father Carleton Cecil Ames started working for the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA when the younger Ames was only 11 years old. Due to his work, the elder Ames moved his family around that included stops in Virginia where he first worked, and in Southeast Asia where they lived for three years.

Carleton would later have a problem with alcohol dependence which tarnished his career even if he still spent the latter years of service at the agency's main headquarters. Little did anyone know that the Ames name would carry more negativity and notoriety other than poor performance and alcohol addiction.



Ames Working For The CIA

Ames followed his father in working for the CIA. He was still a sophomore in high school when he spent his summers as a records analyst. After he dropped out of college, he took on a job at the agency as a laborer and later as a full-time records analyst. Ames went on to graduate from George Washington University and was accepted into the Career Trainee Program. He was later assigned in Turkey where he recruited Soviet intelligence officers and infiltrated the Dev-Genc group.

His work with the CIA mostly centered on Soviet assets and counterintelligence activities. All throughout his career, he was known to have problems with alcohol like his father. However, that would not be the cause of his downfall.

Ames had an affair with cultural attaché for the Colombian Embassy in Mexico and CIA informant named Maria del Rosario Casas Dupuy. He would later divorce his wife and former CIA officer Nancy Segebarth to pursue his relations with Rosario. As a result of the divorce, Ames was required to pay their debts and another $46,000 to Segebarth. This plus Rosario's penchant for spending too much would later lead to his illegal activities and be known as Aldrich Hazen Ames - the worst case of espionage in US history. On a fateful train ride from New York to Washington, Ames who was in deep financial pressure, remembered an instance where one of his subordinates mentioned how the KGB offered him $50,000 to spy for the Soviets.



Aldrich Hazen Ames And KGB

In 1985, Ames finally found a way to make his plans into reality. He came up with what he called the "perfect scam". He was to give the KGB the three names of Russian spies that are secretly working for the CIA in exchange for $50,000. But in reality, these three Russians were double agents who still worked for the KGB.

Since then, the CIA noticed that their Soviet agents and later even American assets were disappearing one by one who were actually arrested and most likely executed. After a series of investigations, the agency came up with nothing. With the help of the KGB, Ames was able to get the agency off his tail.



CIA Suspicious

Ames went on with his work and, by 1990, was transferred back to the Counterintelligence Center Analysis Group. This gave him access to the names of U. S. double agents and other sensitive information. It was also during this time that the CIA was informed of Ames' exorbitant lifestyle which included a $540,000 house in Virginia, a Jaguar valued at $50,000, and $6,000 worth of monthly calls to Colombia. Ames was placed under polygraph tests twice and passed under suspicious circumstances.

The agency didn't relent in their investigation of Ames, however, and for months placed him under surveillance. The combined effort of the CIA and FBI led to his arrest in 1994. He and his wife were consequently branded as a traitor of the United States. Headlines at that time and until recent centered on Aldrich Hazen Ames - the worst case of espionage in US history.