Do as I say, not as I do
Each time we hear another American committed treason, we have every reason to be outraged. Yes, humans do fall prey to greed, to political disaffection and to blackmail. In the intelligence business, you come to expect that. But our outrage should also be directed against those who failed to take effective counter measures against hostile penetration.
Those senior officials who allowed the CIA to be penetrated by Aldrich Ames and the Navy by the Walker family of spies ought to have received some kind of punishment. You can almost bet they were not punished but some middle-level officials probably were.
These breaches of security are the result of the seniors in the intelligence community telling the lower ranks to observe certain time-tested defenses against foreign penetration while they do not place themselves under the same scrutiny.
Granted, it has been a long time since I turned in my cloak and dagger (actually, a .38 detective special) and put back on the uniform of an Army officer. But I remember full well the stringent precautions inflicted on junior intelligence officers to make sure we were not “turned” by the KGB or the East German Intelligence Service (EGIS).
For example, we had to undergo periodic polygraph examinations. The key questions put to us by the examiners were: Have you ever been contacted by Soviet or East German intelligence? Are you now or have you ever been working for the KGB or the EGIS? The questions went on and on.
Moreover, we were required to file an Agent Report on each and every contact with foreign nationals. Because we were working in West Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, my partner and I were in constant contact with foreign nationals. He and I were on pins-and-needles most of the time out of fear that we had talked to someone working for the other side, but didn’t know it and, therefore, didn’t report it.
We were even subject to attempts by the other side to discredit us. One day, a noticeably pregnant German female filed a complaint to the effect that my partner had impregnated her. This only proved that the KGB and the East German Intelligence Service can be stupid on occasion because my partner was on home leave during the time this impregnation had to have occurred. A devoted family man, he would not have engaged in that behavior had he been in West Germany at the appropriate time. Even so, our “team” was under a cloud. It took several weeks for us to regain the confidence of our superiors and be restored to our full operational capabilities.
Meanwhile, as we junior “spooks” were being hounded by our superiors to keep proving our loyalty to Uncle Sam, some moles in higher headquarters were busily betraying their country and getting away with it.
All this is a glaring example of: Do as I say and not as I do. It doesn’t work when raising children and it doesn’t work in the intelligence business either. What is good for the little geese out on the front lines should be good for the big ganders in their nice offices in Virginia or Washington, D.C.
They weren’t the ones who were being run off the autobahn by vehicles from the Soviet Military Liaison Offices in Hamburg and Frankfurt. They weren’t dodging the tacks dropped in front of our little VW bug by East German agents. They were busy dodging the simple and effective counter-penetration procedures to which we were subjected on an almost daily basis.
When James Jesus Angleton was head of CIA security, he was convinced the Agency had a least one mole. Too bad Mr. Angleton was not allowed to polygraph Aldrich Ames. Too bad the FBI did not detect their mole. He deserves the same fate as those he betrayed. Hopefully, his superiors will receive some sort of punishment as well.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist, worked in Europe as an intelligence officer in the early 1960s.
©2001. William Hamilton
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