Saturday, February 23, 2013

Aldrich Ames: One Spy's Search for Significance

In February, 1994, Aldrich Ames was arrested and charged with selling secrets to the USSR. In his 30-year career with the CIA, Ames was promoted to chief of counterintelligence for the Soviet Division. He had easy access to the most delicate information of Soviet-American espionage.

In the early 1980's, Ames and his first wife divorced and as part of the settlement, he agreed to pay $46,000 over three years. But with an annual income of $60,000 and new wife who enjoyed the finer things of life, he was facing bankruptcy. Looking for a second source of income, he realized that the information at his fingertips could bring him a nice sum of cash

And so it was that Aldrich and Rosario began rather conspicuously to upgrade their standard of living. Stationed in Rome, Ames replaced his thrifty casuals for tailored Italian suits and $600 leather shoes. The new Jaguar in Ames' garage was worth more than his annual income but when zooming north through the Italian Alps and into Switzerland, he imagined himself a James Bond. 

Meanwhile, Russian informants were disappearing. The CIA had become alarmed and assigned a small team to investigate. In the video below, meet the pair accredited with catching Ames.

The list of Russian informants that Aldrich Ames sold to the Soviets included a General Deimitry Polykov who had supplied information for 20 years. One CIA source said that when a package of information arrived from Polykov, it was like Christmas. There was something for everyone. Polykov was described as the crown jewel, the perfect spy. And then he simply disappeared

Aldrich Ames is serving a life sentence without parole. He admits, The reasons that I did what I did in April of 1985 were personal, banal, and amounted really to kind of greed and folly. As simple as that.

The most cold-blooded traitor in US history, Ames was also the world's highest paid spy, having received more than 2 million cash with another 2 million dollars in a Moscow bank awaiting his retirement.

What really amazed me about Rick Ames is that I thought he had a feeling of loyalty to the people whom he dealt with and that is the betrayal that I can't understand, said FBI agent R. Patrick Watson.

As I see it, this drama comes down to money and what a person is willing to do in exchange for cash. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (I Timothy 6:10). Actually, at the root is discontentment, wanting to be more significant, or rather to feel more significant. And believing that significance can be bought. And that it can be purchased with people's lives.

Let us learn to be content. Let us learn that significance is a given, whether or not we feel it. 

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