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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Reading
The "mole" is an insidious exotic creature, a betrayer of trust and indirect slayer of his victims. The treason of Aldrich "Rick" Ames, the selfless investigators who tracked him down, and the ups and downs of how they did it are well and ably described in this long awaited book. The authors, Jeanne Vertefeuille and Sandra Grimes were at the center of the CIA's...
Published 21 months ago by Michael R. Davidson

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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, however, this book still doesn't complete the Ames story.
Although written by two insiders of the small mole-hunt unit in the CIA, the authors still will not or can not reveal the complete story of Aldrich Ames. I've read every other book on Ames and Hanssen, and many other non-fiction cold war/CIA/KGB books written by other CIA and KGB insiders, and at least one other book mentions an additional source/spy/defector that finally...
Published 18 months ago by busy mom


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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Reading, December 10, 2012
This review is from: Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed (Hardcover)
The "mole" is an insidious exotic creature, a betrayer of trust and indirect slayer of his victims. The treason of Aldrich "Rick" Ames, the selfless investigators who tracked him down, and the ups and downs of how they did it are well and ably described in this long awaited book. The authors, Jeanne Vertefeuille and Sandra Grimes were at the center of the CIA's counterintelligence effort from beginning to end and personally suffered the vicissitudes of the multi-year task but never flagged in their efforts. Both are veterans of the Cold War CIA and bona fide experts on the KGB. Several books, some good, some bad, have been published on the Ames case, but until now none has provided the inside information and accurate rendering of the story.

Vertefeuille and Grimes quite rightly, and for the first time, give pride of place in the story to the individual agents who died, penetrations of the KGB, GRU, and other Soviet entities. The story of GRU General Dmitriy Fedorovich Polyakov, who worked for the CIA for 20 years until he was betrayed by Ames, is especially touching. The respect CIA officers hold for such agents is brilliantly explained in this one-of-a-kind tour de force. The very real dismay upon learning of the brutal deaths of the people betrayed by Ames is palpable.

Operational details, the personalities involved on both sides, and the bureaucratic struggles of the authors are quite frankly breathtaking. No espionage novel, not even fine ones, such as Le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," come even close to the complexities involved in this real-life drama. This book is a must read for anyone interested in espionage, the KGB, the Cold War, or counterintelligence.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative and richly detailed study, November 29, 2012
By 
F. Carol Sabin (Bucharest, Romania) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed (Hardcover)
One of the most revealing, authentic and long-waited books yet published about Ames case written by two CIA veterans with direct knowledge of many dramatic episodes of the Cold War.
The authors - Vertefeuille&Grimes - two tenacious and experienced CIA officers made a superb team (supported by many other colleagues) and wrote, with authority and convinction, a book with many priceless stories.
What makes this book so compelling is that almost every word is true, but, by no means, a complete picture of many Cold War episodes, as you can see below.

The book starts in the first two chapters with a personal description of authors' careers, a fine team as I said, after a short, but explanatory, preface.
In chapter three we were provided with an insightful look and general overview of SE (Soviet and East European) division operations.
Starting with chapter 4 and continuing with the next two, we're providing with the best account about Polyakov case, the GRU general receiving a special attention from the authors and a special dedication at the beginning of the book.

The facts are as detailed as possible, but omitted one important factor - the death of one of Polyakov sons in US, because he was not allowed, by his superiors, to carry out a life-saving surgical operation in a US hospital (Cherkashin&Feifer/Spy Handler) a fact emerging in revenge on the Soviet system, a key element in supporting his double life.
I liked the story of Walt Lomac, an example of personal integrity, in the clash with his CIA superiors about Polyakov bona fide (page 33-34).
Major spy cases are presented in a genuine manner in the next two chapters (40 pages) summarizing the activities of Kulak, Chernov, Poleshuk Piguzov, Yuzhin among others, actually the most valuable CIA network in history. Speaking about B. Yuzhin I noticed, for the first time in the public domain, "the contribution" of FBI's Pitts in this case.
Vertefeuille&Grimes related with accuracy and in fascinating detail each case and I believe that no one knows as much background on these cases as they.
Chapters 9-16 are dedicated to the first reactions to the losses of 1985, gradually focusing on Ames investigation specifically.

The last chapters are more analytical describing Ames (as person and as spy), a comparison between Ames and Hanssen- a fascinating look into the minds of these two characters and concluding with "Final thoughts", a chapter filled with substantial evidence of a somehow troubled US intel community. The book did not spare criticizing some key figures of SE division- for example, M. Bearden activity receiving a particular "scrutiny" (page 19, 100, 133, 211 etc).
The interval between pages 194-207 is filled with an extremely valuable Chronology, a true intelligence history of events and main characters.
The book is well supported by 18 B&W photos showing the main characters of the book (5 are with Polyakov).
There is a useful and short notes section and bibliography to indicate the sources of various statements, so the readers can verify their accuracy, consider the context, or follow them further. There is also a comprehensive index.

In searching for a title to my review I was about to write "a complete study", but few "anomalies" convinced me to change my mind. Ocassionaly, I also did not like the switching between first and third person, often in a very confusing manner. (sometimes a third "person" is speaking about the authors!)
Firstly, there are no accounts about the help of a Russian defector in capturing Ames, a deliberately omission, in my opinion. The authors gave no details about the defector's support - providing no name, but dates, places and times that meshed with the background of Ames - a fact mentioned in two books (Bearden&Risen/The Main Enemy and Cherkashin&Feifer/Spy Handler) and named by R.Kessler (The secrets of the FBI) as being Alexander Zaporozhsky, one of the four Western spies involved in the July 2010 spy swap. This man truly deserves a book for the story of his life.
Another intriguing account referred to the fate of V. Vetrov, the famous "Farewell". It is hard to believe-after reading several books and professional opinions- that Vetrov, as KGB veteran, made the stupid mistake to confess his spying to an unknown person (in prison!), the story so frequently stated in earlier books about this case. Much close to the truth, I believe, is that he was betrayed by someone in the CIA (Bearden) or DST/DGSE (Kalugin).
Thirdly, the fact that both traitors were discovered with the help of ex-KGB/SVR agents was not included in chapter 18 - A comparision between Ames and Hanssen, obviously also a deliberate omission.

Eventually, throughout the book, the authors are not addressing rumors of an undiscovered KGB spy- another Ames or Hanssen- still at large in the US intel community, the so-called "the fourth mole", an interesting episode confirmed by both Bearden (as one involved in the investigations) and Cherkashin (who, as KR line chief, should have direct knowledge or could be the handler of this spy). However, inside the book (page 72) there are a few tidbits about some anomalies represented by O. Gordievsky and S. Bokhan cases. In later case, it is not clear when he was recruited (1975/page 97 or 1976/page 72 and 196); also, in some studies, Gordievsky is suspected that he was recruited as back as 1966, SIS taking over in 1974.

Written by two fine and skilled storytellers as a lesson in the murky world of intelligence during Cold War, this book is a remarkable and major contribution to the literature of espionage that treats spy wars between KGB/SVR and CIA.
For every serious student who likes dead-serious nonfiction books it should be a required and indispensable reading.
Five stars and recommended!
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than the Ames investigation, November 13, 2012
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This review is from: Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed (Hardcover)
This is a remarkable book. Although the investigation that led to the arrest of Rick Ames is its centerpiece, the authors are able to illuminate the intelligence battles of the Cold War from the perspective of counterintelligence experts who witnessed many of them. The book begins with the stories of Sandy's and Jeanne's CIA careers, and moves on to an overview of CIA operations targeting Soviet intelligence during the Cold War. From there, they present a series of case studies of CIA assets from the Soviet KGB and GRU. The common theme is that nearly every case ended badly by 1985, with arrest and sometimes execution, although some of the agents were fortunate enough to escape to the West. Once these stories are told, Sandy and Jeanne begin to describe the investigation that eventually led to the traitor Rick Ames. Nearly every sentence is rich with detail, yet the descriptions remain vivid and readable.

As I noted in my book, The C.I. Desk: FBI and CIA Counterintelligence As Seen From My Cubicle (Dog Ear Publishing, 2010), I worked closely with Sandy and her frequent partner Diana Worthen in the Moscow Task Force, which Sandy refers to as "the worst assignment of her career." I wasn't crazy about it, either, but it was extremely rewarding to have the benefit of their guidance and experience while cooped up in our tiny office. I was also able to learn from Jeanne, Sandy, and Diana in other assignments, both while I was in the CIA and in the FBI before that, and I am very grateful for knowing them. In the preface to Circle of Treason, Sandy and Jeanne note their frustration with prepublication review. The C.I. Desk was also subjected to lengthy review. Several times, Circle of Treason contains details that were removed from my manuscript, including not only names and cryptonyms, but descriptions of operations, programs, and both CIA and KGB tradecraft. Although I was also successful in appealing many cuts, I made the decision to let others go, and to an extent, I reoriented my book towards being more of a personal FBI and CIA journal than a detailed account of operations. Sandy and Jeanne are to be congratulated for their persistence in the prepublication review process; the book is much richer and more informative as a result.

The book concludes with lessons learned, and address criticisms of the length of the investigation, a point also raised in other books, including mine, where I relay the comments of security investigators I was working with at the time. The wealth of information provided in this book makes their case for how they conducted this vital, and ultimately successful, counterintelligence investigation. When people want to learn about U.S. and Soviet intelligence operations during this turbulent period, Circle of Treason is one of the first books they should reach for.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rick Ames: The Insiders' Account, January 9, 2013
By 
Bruce (Virginia, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed (Hardcover)
CI investigation is an art form carried out by experts. It is not a science and throwing money and unqualified personnel or helpers at such a problem does not guarantee or even improve the chances of success. ..Luck is involved--While there are several `must haves' for a successful CI investigation, knowledge of the target organization, in this case the LGB, is paramount. We had to be experts on the personnel, organization, tradecraft, and operational philosophy of the KGB to have a chance of success.

Sandra Grimes/ Jeanne Vertefeuille "Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames"

First things first: Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, the two CIA professionals most central to the uncovering of the CIA's most calamitous traitor, Aldrich "Rick" Ames, have produced an insider's description of the case which clearly outclasses five earlier treatments by outside authors, whose access was limited. Their analysis is certain to become the classic description of this treason which resulted in catastrophic damage to CIA's Moscow operations and the deaths of at least eight CIA agents. They tell not just the Ames case but embed it in a compendium of all the major Soviet KGB and diplomatic agents who worked for the CIA and FBI in this period. They are candidly critical of the FBI, especially the bungled surveillance of Edward Lee Howard, but equally censorious of many CIA misadventures--of which there were many including constant breakdown of compartmentalization. They forthrightly (remember the book was subject to the Agency's standard pre-publication "review") offer their pantheon of heroes--Soviet Division Chief Burton Gerber; Gus Hathaway; Paul Raymond; Ray Reardon; Dan Payne. And in their view the hapless--DCI Bill Casey; SE Chief Milt Bearden; and, worst of all, CIA's Counterintelligence chief, James Jesus Angleton. All of these are familiar figures to everybody in the CIA.

The book might equally have been entitled "Handbook on CIA," for it provides details on internal structure and the true names of many operatives long considered classified. Jeanne and Sandy (as they call themselves in the book) offer delightful accounts of their recruitment to the Agency, and how in the 50's women were deemed fit only for the typing pool, not professional intelligence operatives. What eventually brought them together was their Russian language and they ended up in the SR (Soviet Russia) division.
Of particular interest is their insider's view of the "maze of double and triple-think" which developed in the wake of the defection of the KGB's Anatoliy Golitsyn and subsequently Yuriy Nosenko. The unpardonable treatment of Nosenko is not only a huge debacle for the Agency but led to a vast witch hunt--led by Angleton--for a `mole' in the Soviet section. This was dubbed the "Monster Plot" by skeptics who baptized the subscribers to this plot theory the "Black Hats." "According to the Monster theory, every CIA or FBI success against the Soviet target was really KGB success, with the KGB controlling the operation from beginning to end--misleading, confusing, and deceiving the naïve Americans." The "Black Hats" virtually paralyzed operations against Soviet targets for a decade and shattered the careers of CIA officers.

Operations against the Soviets appeared to be going splendidly until suddenly in late May 1985 the Soviets began rolling up, one after another, all the Agency's Moscow assets, arrested and executed. DCI Casey designated John Stein to do a report. Parallel to this, Burton Gerber, recognizing by November the CIA faced a huge problem, instituted his own personal crusade to explain the arrests. A series of clever ploys made clear the problem was not with communications. In November 1989 a seemingly innocuous tidbit emerged which was to play a major role in catching Ames. A colleague of the authors who had known Ames in Mexico remarked how he suddenly seemed to have acquired a lot of money. Operating on the basis of "follow the money" the investigative team discovered unusually large bank deposits by Ames. A variety of indicators suggested a polygraph, which Ames took--and due in part to his ability to talk his way out of conflicts--and passed.

The final phase began in early 1991 when Jeanne was authorized to revisit the 1985 losses in Moscow. The Agency set up a Special Investigation Unit--which diplomatically reached out to the sometimes cantankerous FBI for cooperation, eventually establishing excellent working relations with some agents. The first list of possible suspects they put together included 160 names. Despite this enormous number, members of the team were generally agreed that Ames was likely their man. Still, the investigation involved scanning thousands of documents and a whole litany of other time consuming and labor intensive efforts. One major problem was that Ames, in his normal assignment of recruiting KGB officers, was allowed to meet and fraternize with them. Thus his job provided cover for his espionage operations. Financial records remained critical. At one point reviewing the latest deposits, Redmond exclaimed, "Rick is a goddamn Russian spy." The CIA's extensive investigation paid off in May 1993 when the FBI took over for a criminal investigation. A combination of personal surveillance, cameras and other data prompted the bureau to act: On 21 February 1994, Ames was enticed on a ruse to the office and arrested. His wife, Rosario, was also later taken into custody.

The authors' last chapter, "Final Thoughts" is of particular interest given their decades of experience and insight. They cautioned future investigators to write more memoranda to cover themselves when, as happened, Congress asks questions such as why the CIA inquiry didn't proceed more quickly. They admonished themselves for not catching on to "follow the money" earlier. They advised successors to be more forthright with Congress with periodic updates.

Especially arresting, however, is the authors recognition that the challenges of counterintelligence have changed dramatically since the Cold War. They realize they worked in a simpler world than we have now. The Soviet Union was the enemy; there were no moral ambiguities. Now targets are scattered, amorphous, discrete, non-governmental."We could concentrate our efforts on one country and one government. Alas, the colleagues who have come after us do not have that luxury."
(Jeanne Vertefeuille died in December, 2012.)
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, however, this book still doesn't complete the Ames story., March 15, 2013
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This review is from: Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed (Hardcover)
Although written by two insiders of the small mole-hunt unit in the CIA, the authors still will not or can not reveal the complete story of Aldrich Ames. I've read every other book on Ames and Hanssen, and many other non-fiction cold war/CIA/KGB books written by other CIA and KGB insiders, and at least one other book mentions an additional source/spy/defector that finally fingers Ames.

In this book, throughout the first 14 chapters, the hunt for the mole is on, and although Ames evolves as a primary suspect, they can't seem to nail him down conclusively. Then, in the very last paragraph of chapter 14, the authors state: "Luckily, in 1993 additional information became available. This new information...pointed in his direction (and) forced the FBI to open a full-scale investigation of Ames". Thats it, end of chapter.

No clarification or any other discussion of this "additional information" is made. Nothing. It is obviously a major break in the whole investigation of Ames, yet the authors leave the reader with a huge hole. I had devoured this book up to this point, but when I realized no further details were coming, I totally lost interest.

I would have given this book 4 stars, however, with this one crucial piece of information missing, and also considering there were really only one or two new pieces of information in the whole book, I'll round up my 2.5 star rating to a 3-star.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Connie Sachs,more realistic, March 16, 2013
By 
Hugh Claffey (Co. Kildare Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed (Hardcover)
I read an obituary of one of the authors, and this book was mentioned. I was intrigued by the story of how they caught Aldrich Ames, a CIA traitor, and especially the part where they mentioned that the purpose of the book had been to give some details on the Soviets who had died due to his treachery. I suppose another part of me wanted to see if they were real-life Connie Sachs, the backroom genius who Smiley returned to on this various mole-hunts.

Actually the real-life story was even more interesting, though less dramatic, than le Carre's fiction. One amazing finding, was the lifespan of the traitors in US intelligence, over a decade in all the cases mentioned here. There was particular criticism by Congress committees of the time it took to capture Ames, and the authors find this criticism quite hurtful, though it has to be said that it was their persistence which revived the case on many occasions. The actual hunt might have tapered off with the end of the cold War, though it does seem quite strange that there was no systematic investigations of CIA/FBI employees lifestyle/bank records, at the time. Aldrich was motivated by money, and betrayed up to a dozen agents, most of who were executed.

The book does mention these agents, in particular General Polyakov, and is quite interesting about his motivation - he was no lover of democracy or capitalism, he felt that the Soviet regime was both corrupt and too thuggish to be beaten by the West, so he needed the West to be more aware of just what they were facing. I would have liked to know more about this man. Also I would have liked to know more about Adolf Tolkachev, who worked in Soviet arms industry, and gave the US significant help in assessing Soviet weaponry for many years.

There is quite an undercurrent about FBI-CIA rivalry, and the tension between Operatives and Analysts in the CIA. One particular bugbear of the authors seems to be Milt Bearden (whose book I also read) , I can find no reference to him that does not call his judgement into question. He seems to have been the gung-ho type, and, at least according to the authors, over estimated his own skill and under-analysed his opponents on almost every occasion. I recently saw the movie Argo, and I think the main character was an operative type in the CIA, very derring-do. Its difficult to judge who is right, but I did enjoy reading the book. What a callous man Ames is/was.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book needed to be written, January 17, 2013
By 
Janice Boyette (Annapolis, Maryland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed (Hardcover)
I loved it but I spent 32 years working intel. I think it is a very compelling picture of the difficulty and complexity of intell research. I was especially relieved that the authors included the obstacles and distractions often thrown in the analysts way and finally someone wrote about the big happy trip Congress and leadership of the intell agencies took once the wall came down in Berlin. The authors described the frustration analysts felt when we were directed away from important areas and the years wasted while leadership engaged in busy work. It's one thing to reduce the focus but another thing to pretend that focus is not needed. Bravo to the dedicated analysts at CIA.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How They Caught the Traitor, April 4, 2013
This review is from: Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed (Hardcover)
We love our spy movies, but no one is going to make a thriller out of _Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed_ (Naval Institute Press) by Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille. The book lacks the explosions, scalings of the outsides of skyscrapers, and high-tech gadgetry that we associate with our onscreen spies. What it does not lack is a sturdy and detailed insiders' account, often grim and dismaying, of one of the worst betrayals in American espionage and how it was uncovered. Grimes and Vertefeuille were lifetime CIA employees, and neither would have wanted their greatest contribution to their firm to have been the fingering of a traitor within their midst, but their work was an eventual triumph that ensured Ames made no further betrayals. It is a story of long, difficult, and frustrating tracking of details (obviously not Hollywood fodder). The authors say it has been frustrating to get the book out, too. The CIA did want the story told, but naturally it had to review the book to ensure no secrets were leaked. The authors say they took more than three years to come to terms with the CIA's Publications Review Board, although 90% of the disputes were settled in their favor. What resulted is an inside look at how real spies work, with determination and drudgery rather than explosions.

Aldrich Ames was a lackluster CIA officer, who needed money. He got it by giving information to Soviet agents and being paid for it, and the information was names of Soviets who were helping get information to the CIA. The men he betrayed were executed. When it finally became clear to the CIA that there was some mole within its midst, Grimes and Vertefeuille were on the case, and they and their team turned out to be formidable, tenacious bloodhounds. Much of the book gives details about the search, including many frustrating dead ends. The real breakthrough came when correlating Ames's meetings with his Soviet contact and next-day deposits into his bank account. The team turned over its findings to the FBI, which arrested Ames in 1994. The CIA has no power to arrest, and the FBI had helped in the case, but there was a subsequent and unpleasant tussle over credit between the agencies. The CIA also seems to have been peculiarly negligent in gratitude to the authors and their team; a couple of days after Ames's arrest, however, President Clinton and Vice President Gore both came to Vertefeuille to express thanks, which she relayed to the team.

Ames pled guilty and will be in federal prison until he dies. Vertefeuille died at the end of last year, leaving her friend Grimes to take care of what she wanted, a simple cremation with no spreading of the ashes, no burial, no funeral, and no obituary. She must have thought, for all her dedication, that she had just been doing her job, and she obviously liked the obscurity of it. She didn't completely get her wish; her obituary was in the _New York Times_. And then there is this fine book which is gripping without any pyrotechnics, a story that could not be told except by the women who brought Ames down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ... and what about the 28 Marine guards?, December 19, 2013
By 
J. Martens (Winnetka, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Circle of Treason (Paperback)
The authors dedicate their book to the dozen or so mostly KGB officials who switched sides during the Cold War to work for the United States and who were betrayed by Aldrich Ames, a CIA employee who also switched sides and began working for the KGB.

In June 1985, shortly after he started to spy for the Soviet Union, Ames delivered to the Soviet embassy in Washington his "big dump," files revealing the identities of Soviet officials working for the CIA. That act led to: KGB firing squads, mutual KGB and CIA deceptions (efforts to mislead each other), dangles (agents of one side pretending to want to defect to the other side), the overhaul of U.S. embassy Moscow's secure communications, the sending home of all twenty-eight Marines guarding the embassy, new strict compartmentation by Washington counterintelligence officials and a temporary ending of electronic communications between CIA HQ and the field.

As the authors make clear throughout their narrative, little should be taken at face value in the world of espionage. After receiving the "big dump," the KGB needed to verify the accuracy of Ames' materials. False accusations, if acted upon as true, would wreak havoc. The KGB's problems didn't stop there, for once the KGB confirmed the accuracy of the materials, it needed to punish its traitors without endangering its new source, Ames, who they hoped would continue to provide valuable information.

The authors' narrative is straightforward. After recounting the case histories of CIA's lost Soviet "assets" (i.e., Soviet citizens who worked for the CIA), the authors describe how a small group of dedicated counterintelligence officials worked to uncover Ames' treachery. CIA officials focused their hunt on two major possibilities: either CIA communications were compromised or a mole was present (i.e., a CIA employee was working for the Soviets).

Technology-based spying comes easiest to the U.S. intelligence community, and CIA specialists, together with the NSA, immediately focused their attention on examining the Moscow embassy's communications equipment. The authors' depiction of these efforts is somewhat limited, perhaps revealing either their lack of involvement or censorship by CIA officials. Such a high-priority, money-is-no-object technical effort was likely wrapped up within a year, probably by the late fall of 1986 when the CIA and FBI created their special task forces.

While CIA's countermeasures reduced Ames' access to information and thus CIA's losses, Ames remained in place. Once the CIA's communications equipment passed the inspection by experts, attention was concentrated on hunting down the mole. The authors present a blow-by-blow account of this hunt with counterintelligence officials painstakingly sifting piles of data to narrow their focus on only a handful of CIA employees, one of whom was Ames, out of over 100 possible individuals. It's a good picture of the unglamorous drudgework that makes up much intelligence analysis. In the end it was these officials' perseverance, combined with some new information, which brought the hunt to a close.

This reader wonders why the book paid so little attention to one Moscow-related episode, widely reported in the press at the time: the Marine guard scandal. The authors state in their preface that the book stems "from a project conceived by the Agency to tell its side of the Ames story." Why did the CIA push to expel all twenty-eight Marine guards from the Moscow embassy long after concluding that its secure communications remained uncompromised? Some CIA actions undertaken while hunting Ames roughed up innocent bystanders and it appears that the CIA would rather leave them out of the story.

According to the authors the KGB hoped to keep the CIA distracted, examining communications equipment, by sending false reports via a Mister X and other KGB sources. It's hard to believe that the CIA sat idly by and didn't seek to mislead the KGB at the same time. In mid-1987, almost two years after beginning the tests of its communications equipment, the CIA likely deemed the equipment safe; yet it feigned doubts to keep the Soviets in the dark. The Naval Investigative Service interrogations of the Marine guards were allowed to continue and favored journalists (e.g., Ronald Kessler and William Easton) were given spicy, sensational inside information to spread the story.

Twenty-eight Marine guards were summarily sent home, with their careers under a cloud, in an action that bears the marks of a classic intelligence deception. A harsh thirty-year sentence was meted out to one Marine, Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, who had violated regulations and passed relatively insignificant information to the Soviets.

My suspicions of a CIA rough tactics are heightened by my own unpleasant experience with heavy-handed treatment by CIA counterintelligence officials in mid-1986. I was assigned to the Moscow embassy in mid-1986, but CIA counterintelligence officials canceled my assignment in a clumsy and highly unpleasant way.

In this reader's view, the book's depiction of the victims of Ames' treachery is too narrow and focuses mainly on the lost Soviet assets, not on innocent bystanders outside of the intelligence community. These stories are probably unknown to the authors who worked in a strict need-to-know and highly-compartmented environment, but they illustrate further the widespread destruction caused by Ames' actions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catching a Rat, May 30, 2013
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Sandra writes a tale of bureaucratic failures that led to this horrific circumstance of valuable assets being wasted during the height of the cold war. There are many good arguments that can be made that the blind eyed leadership in the US perpetrated a prolonging of the cold war to serve the interest of the military-industrial complex. Maybe this was due to the leaders cultural blindness, or predisposed prejudices, or something else.

Whatever the reason, the CIA took too long to root out its problem and Grimes finally accomplished it with the help of others who were committed to the endeavor, inspite of the poor leadership exerted from top over several leadership generations.

Although this book reads like an bureau reorganization manual in some sections, it is readable in very informative.
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