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Aldrich Ames
Please vote to return to collections (Voting Results will appear on Right Sidebar).
    (May 26, 1941- )
    Born in River Falls, Wisconsin
    CIA counterintelligence officer
    Began providing information to the Soviet Union (April, 1985)
    Received $4.6 million from the Soviets
    Arrested by the FBI (February 21, 1994)
    Charged with espionage
    Pled guilty (April 28, 1994)
    Sentenced to life in prison
    He got lackluster performance reviews – including reprimands for drunkenness and insubordination -- in most of his postings, yet continued to be given access to top secret material.
    He left a suitcase of classified documents on the New York City subway and got only a verbal reprimand (1976).
    During a posting in Mexico City, he got into a loud, drunken argument with a Cuban official at a diplomatic reception that ‘caused alarm’ among his superiors.
    He started selling CIA secrets to the Soviets to get money to pay a divorce settlement.
    He spent way beyond his earnings as a CIA officer without attracting suspicion for years.
    He blew the covers of at least a hundred CIA assets, at least ten of whom were executed.
    At the height of his activities, the CIA stopped recruiting Russian agents out of fear that it could not protect them (1990).
    There was an uproar in Congress after CIA Director James Woolsey decided no one would be fired or demoted for their failures in catching Ames earlier. (The resulting controversy forced Woolsey himself to resign.)
    He passed two CIA polygraph tests while spying for the Soviets.
    He noted how he was able to explain his sudden wealth to his interrogators: ‘They never asked.’
    He cooperated with CIA and FBI investigators, resulting in his wife getting only a five-year sentence for tax evasion and conspiracy to commit espionage.

Credit: C. Fishel

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