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The FBI Spy It took 15 years to discover one of the most damaging cases of espionage in U.S. history. An inside look at the secret life, and final capture, of Robert Hanssen.

In , Hanssen and his growing family of three children and eventually six moved to New York City when the FBI transferred him to its field office there. He never indicated any political or ideological motive for his actions, telling the FBI after he was caught that his only motivation was profit.

His most important leak was the betrayal of Dmitri Polyakov , a CIA informant who passed enormous amounts of information to American intelligence while he rose to the rank of General in the Soviet Army. Polyakov was arrested in and executed in Ames was officially blamed for giving Polyakov's name to the Soviets, while Hanssen's attempt was not revealed until after his capture. This included all the FBI activities related to wiretapping and electronic surveillance , which were Hanssen's responsibility.

He became known in the Bureau as an expert on computers. Three years later, Hanssen transferred to the FBI's Soviet analytical unit, which was responsible for studying, identifying, and capturing Soviet spies and intelligence operatives in the United States.

Hanssen's section was in charge of evaluating Soviet agents who volunteered to give intelligence to determine whether they were genuine or re-doubled agents. It was after the transfer, while on a business trip back to Washington, that he resumed his career in espionage.

Although Hanssen was unaware of it, all three agents had already been exposed earlier that year by Ames. Martynov and Motorin were condemned to death and executed via a gun-shot to the back of the head. Yuzhin was imprisoned for six years before he was released under a general amnesty to political prisoners, and subsequently emigrated to the U. The October 1 letter was the beginning of a long, active espionage period for Hanssen.

Hanssen was recalled yet again to Washington in He was given the task of making a study of all known and rumored penetrations of the FBI in order to find the man who had betrayed Martynov and Motorin; this meant that he was looking for himself.

Hanssen ensured that he did not unmask himself with his study, but in addition, he turned over the entire study—including the list of all Soviets who had contacted the FBI about FBI moles—to the KGB in The agents working underneath him reported this breach to a supervisor, but no action was taken.

Hanssen warned that Bloch was under investigation, causing the KGB to abruptly break off contact with Bloch. The FBI was unable to produce any hard evidence, and as a result, Bloch was never charged with a crime, although the State Department later terminated his employment and denied his pension. The failure of the Bloch investigation, and the FBI's investigation of how the KGB found out they were investigating Bloch, drove the mole hunt that eventually led to the arrest of Hanssen.

Later that year, Hanssen handed over extensive information about American planning for Measurement and Signature Intelligence MASINT , an umbrella term for intelligence collected by a wide array of electronic means, such as radar , spy satellites, and signal intercepts.

The FBI planned to use it for eavesdropping , but never did for fear of being caught. In , Hanssen's brother-in-law, Mark Wauck, who was also an FBI employee, recommended to the Bureau that Hanssen be investigated for espionage; this came after Bonnie Hanssen's sister Jeanne Beglis had found a pile of cash sitting on a dresser in the Hanssens' house. Bonnie had previously told her brother that Hanssen once talked about retiring in Poland , then part of the Eastern Bloc. Wauck also knew that the FBI was hunting for a mole and so spoke with his supervisor, who took no action.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in December , Hanssen, possibly worried that he could be exposed during the ensuing political upheaval, broke off communications with his handlers for a time.

He went in person to the Russian embassy and physically approached a GRU officer in the parking garage. Hanssen, carrying a package of documents, identified himself by his Soviet code name , "Ramon Garcia," and described himself as a "disaffected FBI agent" who was offering his services as a spy.

The Russian officer, who evidently did not recognize the code name, drove off. The Russians then filed an official protest with the State Department, believing Hanssen to be a triple agent. Despite having shown his face, disclosed his code name, and revealed his FBI affiliation, Hanssen escaped arrest when the Bureau's investigation into the incident did not advance. Hanssen continued to take risks in , when he hacked into the computer of a fellow FBI agent, Ray Mislock, printed out a classified document from Mislock's computer, and took the document to Mislock, saying, "You didn't believe me that the system was insecure.

In the end, officials believed Hanssen's claim that he was merely demonstrating flaws in the FBI's security system. Mislock has since theorized that Hanssen probably went onto his computer to see if his superiors were investigating him for espionage, and invented the document story to cover his tracks. In , Hanssen expressed interest in a transfer to the new National Counterintelligence Center , which coordinated counter-intelligence activities.

When told that he would have to take a lie detector test to join, Hanssen changed his mind. Pitts was the second FBI agent to mention Hanssen by name as a possible mole, but superiors were still unconvinced. No action was taken. NSD chief Johnnie Sullivan ordered the computer impounded after it appeared to have been tampered with. A digital investigation found that an attempted hacking had taken place using a password cracking program installed by Hanssen, which caused a security alert and lockup.

Hanssen claimed that he was attempting to connect a color printer to his computer, but needed the password cracker to bypass the administrative password. The FBI believed his story and Hanssen was let off with a warning. During the same time period, Hanssen would search the FBI's internal computer case record to see if he was under investigation.

He was indiscreet enough to type his own name into FBI search engines. Finding nothing, Hanssen decided to resume his spy career after eight years without contact with the Russians. He continued to perform highly incriminating searches of FBI files for his own name and address. The existence of two Russian moles working in the U. Ames was arrested in ; his exposure explained many of the asset losses American intelligence suffered in the s, including the arrest and execution of Martynov and Motorin.

However, two cases—the Bloch investigation and the embassy tunnel—stood out and remained unsolved. Ames had been stationed in Rome at the time of the Bloch investigation, and could not have had knowledge of that case or of the tunnel under the embassy, as he did not work for the FBI. They formed a list of all agents known to have access to cases that were compromised. The FBI's codename for the suspected spy was "Graysuit. But Hanssen escaped notice. By , using FBI criminal profiling techniques, the pursuers zeroed in on an innocent man: The CIA and FBI searched his house, tapped his phone and put him under surveillance, following him and his family everywhere.

In November , they had a man with a foreign accent come to Kelley's door, warn him that the FBI knew he was a spy and tell him to show up at a Metro station the next day in order to escape.

Kelley instead reported the incident to the FBI. In , the FBI even interrogated Kelley, his ex-wife, two sisters and three children. He was eventually placed on administrative leave, where he remained falsely accused until after Hanssen was arrested.

FBI investigators later made progress during an operation in which they paid off disaffected Russian intelligence officers to deliver information on moles. Rifling through the rest of the files, they found notes of the mole using a quote from General George S.

Patton about "the purple-pissing Japanese. Waguespack listened to the tape again and recognized the voice as belonging to Hanssen. With the mole finally identified, locations, dates and cases were matched with Hanssen's activities during the time period. Two fingerprints collected from a trash bag in the file were analyzed and proved to be Hanssen's.

The FBI placed Hanssen under surveillance and soon discovered that he was again in contact with the Russians. In order to bring him back to FBI headquarters, where he could be closely monitored and kept away from sensitive data, they promoted him in December and gave him a new job supervising FBI computer security.

During his final days with the FBI, Hanssen began to suspect that something was wrong; in early February he asked his friend at a computer technology company for a job.

He also believed he was hearing noises on his car radio which indicated that it was bugged, although the FBI was later unable to reproduce the noises Hanssen claimed to have heard.

In the last letter he wrote to the Russians, which was picked up by the FBI when he was arrested, Hanssen said that he had been promoted to a " do-nothing job However, his suspicions did not stop him from making one more dead drop. After dropping his friend off at the airport on February 18, , Hanssen drove to Virginia's Foxstone Park.

He placed a white piece of tape on a park sign, which was a signal to his Russian contacts that there was information at the dead drop site. He then followed his usual routine, taking a package consisting of a sealed garbage bag of classified material and taping it to the bottom side of a wooden footbridge over a creek.

When FBI agents spotted this highly incriminating act they rushed in to catch Hanssen red-handed and arrest him. When they failed to appear, the Justice Department announced the arrest on February With the representation of Washington lawyer Plato Cacheris , Hanssen negotiated a plea bargain that enabled him to escape the death penalty in exchange for cooperating with authorities.

I am shamed by it," Hanssen told U. District Judge Claude Hilton. I have hurt so many deeply. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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