|BETRAYAL OF TRUST|
February 20, 2001
A career FBI agent is charged with spying
for the Russians. Ray Suarez leads a discussion.
SUAREZ: For more on the arrest, we turn to: Paul Redmond, who served
as chief of counterintelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency after
the 1993 Aldrich Aimes espionage case; and Elaine Shannon, who covers
the FBI and justice department for Time magazine.
Paul Redmond, again and again the words "grave", "very serious," were used. What makes it so?
|A devastating charge|
PAUL REDMOND: Well, he worked in the place for 15 years. Over a period of that length of time he obviously could give away a lot of secrets. I think one of the key issues will be the mention in the affidavit of tremendous compromises in the area of technical collections to which the affidavit refers. That's obviously extraordinarily serious in terms of the affidavit.
RAY SUAREZ: But is there classified and classified, a sort of hierarchy of value of the kinds of things that he might have given away?
PAUL REDMOND: From a moral, ethical point of view, the compromising of human sources who then get executed obviously is the worst thing. But from the point of view of overall collection, probably the business of the technical case... the technical operations that appear to have been compromised will be even more important.
RAY SUAREZ: Elaine Shannon, does Louis Freeh's statement earlier today and the complaint itself give you any hint as to where to look as far as what was given away?
ELAINE SHANNON: The complaint is very rich reading. This man has not been tried and he's not been convicted to we have to give him the benefit of putting on a defense which we have not heard yet. This affidavit is absolutely devastating. It has page after page after page of his... of the defendant or the subject's own writings or those attributed to him in which he expresses hostility towards the United States, arrogance, hostility towards his fellow FBI people. Then they describe electronic means that we use to survey hostile powers. It says that he told the Soviets, now the Russians, how to evade all of our human-and-electronic surveillance.
RAY SUAREZ: Is there any indication of the kinds of things that they will allege Mr. Hanssen was able to get his hands on in order to pass on to others?
ELAINE SHANNON: Well, sources -- human source people that we turned, people that they turned that we knew about -- a whole technical program, a way that we use of gathering signals and electronic intelligence. Our threat list, our... which means things that we... counterintelligence threats for the future, things that we want to collect about their system from the future -- the list is long. And it's quite chilling.
RAY SUAREZ: Does the fact that he was able, in the view of the FBI, the government's charging that Mr. Hanssen was able to do this work for 15 years, tell us that he was very good at it?
PAUL REDMOND: Well, if in fact he was spying for 15 years he was good at it clearly because he got away with it. But that's understandable because he was a counterintelligence officer himself. He knew what the Bureau were doing in this town to try to catch the KGB and the SVR, therefore he could tailor his activities, plan his activities around that knowledge to help the KGB and SVR meet him - excuse me -- put drops down for him and therefore get away with it.
RAY SUAREZ: This would, if the indictment turns out to be true, this is work that would have continued through the blow-ups after previous spy revelations, where we were told that security was tightening, that internal systems were tightening. Should we... how should we read that?
|Plugging internal leaks|
PAUL REDMOND: It apparently continued through the FBI's own other case, Mr. Pitts, and it appears that the Bureau pre-emptively asking Judge Webster to do some sort of investigative commission have inferred from what this gentleman allegedly has been able to do by way of getting a hold of information to pass to the Russians, have inferred that their own internal control of secrets are not very good.
RAY SUAREZ: So could that be a silver lining, if there is one, that by understanding how this was able to happen you can plug leaks internally?
ELAINE SHANNON: I suppose. But, you know, we hear this, as Mr. Redmond says, after every case. We weren't paying much attention before. Now we're really on the case. One of the things they found was that he was regularly running through the databases with his own name, his own address, the dead drops he was using, other things, to see if there was any hint that he was under investigation. If you read these writings that are attributed to him, as time passes they become more arrogant and more cocksure. You know, maybe at one point he says well maybe these agents could possibly step in a cow pie. Can you translate that into Russian he writes to the Russians.
RAY SUAREZ: Eventually you make a mistake? Is that part of what we take away from this?
PAUL REDMOND: Well, he apparently didn't make a mistake. It appears that the FBI and or the CIA had quite a source who was able to provide all this massive amount of data that appears to be documents that appears in the affidavit. That appears to me as an outsider now how they caught him.
RAY SUAREZ: So there would be indications from the other side, the kinds of things you're turning up with the countermeasures they're turning up with that tip you off?
PAUL REDMOND: Well, when I was still working there were still some questions that the intelligence community, some of the technical collection operations were being compromised. One could not at that time reasonably attribute those to Ames. Therefore some other people wondered what else was going on. But apparently nothing... nobody was able to find anything until somebody provided all this massive amount of data to the U.S. Government, either the Bureau and/or -- the bureau and/or the CIA -- the same amount of data you see in the affidavit.
RAY SUAREZ: Maybe we don't know this yet but how does the noose tighten? How does an institution like the FBI, like the CIA look internally and try to figure out what's going on?
PAUL REDMOND: It's an extraordinarily hard thing to do because, one, psychologically you're investigating one of your own comrades or colleagues, excuse me. You are going to keep it secret which is a hard thing to do in the organization. The Bureau clearly did an absolutely brilliant job of investigating this guy and billing the case on him and surveilling him all over the place. They're very, very good at that.
RAY SUAREZ: What are we still... what are the Russians -- what were the Soviets in the final stages of the Cold War looking for?
ELAINE SHANNON: And what were they looking for when he serviced the last drop allegedly in December and January? They still want economic intelligence. They still want political intelligence. They still want military intelligence. They're still building weapons systems. He had access to information about all the people that we have compromised and that are now spying for us in their system. And while they... the successor agency to the KGB is -- the SVR is working with us on some limited areas, Osama bin Laden, for instance, they're still spying on us according to everybody I've talked to and, you know, thousands, tens of thousands of dollars in money was changing hands in this case and probably some others fairly recently.
|An ongoing Cold War?|
RAY SUAREZ: Has it changed with the end of the Cold War, the kinds of things that are being looked for, the kinds of methods that are being used?
ELAINE SHANNON: Not that I've heard.
RAY SUAREZ: Really?
PAUL REDMOND: Ms. Shannon makes a very important point in the access this guy had, that after the Aimes case the Bureau gained a great deal of insight and complete visibility into CIA's operations against the Russians. It will be very interesting to see what comes out of the damage assessment of this case assuming it goes to fruition to see how much damage was done as a result of that.
RAY SUAREZ: What can an institution do to make itself a harder target? Once this damage assessment is done, as the director mentioned....
PAUL REDMOND: Well, it's hard for Americans to understand; Americans don't like spying. It's a yucky business. But there always be spies. We're the only major power that doesn't like spying. Russians don't spy on us because they're Communists; they spy on us because there's a sovereign Russian nation. The only way you can protect yourself is by a good compartmentation, one, keeping information to as few people as possible as you can manage and still do your job and secondly having a good counterintelligence organization and good cooperation as one clearly has between the Bureau and the agency today. That's the only way this country can protect itself. There will always be spies - the US media and the US Congress some of their members notwithstanding.
RAY SUAREZ: Americans, as Mr. Redmond, suggests may not like spies very much. We also have a long tradition of open trials. Is this one going to be particularly tricky when you put on evidence that the kinds of things that the government will allege was transferred?
ELAINE SHANNON: Well, I think that if you read the 100-page document and the references to the death penalty -- which he himself makes - he says to his handlers I am risking my life -- I think the whole point is to get him to negotiate a plea agreement, as Aimes did, and he's got Aimes' lawyer Plato Cacheris. And if I were in trouble, Plato Cacheris is one of the people I'd call, and I think at the end of the day we're going to see a plea agreement so that they don't have to go to trial. But if they have to go to trial, I think it will be a good lesson for everybody including the FBI And CIA, Americans don't like snitches either, but the fact is this guy got away with an awful lot and nobody - it didn't seem to occur to anybody to even put him under investigation. He had a good career and good ranks and complete access for a long time.
RAY SUAREZ: Elaine Shannon, Paul Redmond, thanks a lot.
PAUL REDMOND: Thank you.