Aldrich Ames is one of the most famous spies in the history of the United States. Similar to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, whose story is available here, he was also a Russian spy working for the Soviet Union. Unlike the Rosenbergs, he was not convicted to death penalty.
Ames started working for the CIA in 1962. At the beginning of his career he did not hold any major position. He got promoted after seven long years, and got his first real mission in Turkey. Although his career was moving faster and faster, his family situation was miserable. His then girlfriend, later wife Rosario was accustomed to rather luxurious life, and his salary was not high enough to stand up to her expectations. At that time Ames was getting divorced with his first wife plus he had alcohol problem. This situation made him think of other ways to get profits from working for the CIA.
In April 1985 Ames visited The Embassy of Russia in Washington, D.C., where he offered KGB secrets of the CIA in exchange for money. He was fluent in Russian, and when he decided to betray his country, he was working in the Russia and Eastern Europe section. That gave him access to large quantity of confidential data concerning US actions against Russia and KGB itself. This information proved highly valuable, because during the period of espionage against his country, Ames earned about 4,6 million dollars!
While acting as a double spy Ames disclosed more than a hundred of secret operations and exposed about 30 secret agents, 10 of them were shot.
How did the CIA learn that there is a spy in the Agency?
Jeanne Vertefeuille was born on December 20, 1932. After graduating from university and many lesson in French and German language she joined the CIA in 1954. Initially she noted down scripts from audio formats, but in 1970, owing to her missions in Ethiopia, Holland and Finland, she was promoted. She became a sort of an expert on disclosing spies working for the Soviet Union. Fifteen years later the CIA noticed that American agents working in Russia disappear for no apparent reason. Jeanne joined a small investigation team with the purpose of clarifying what was going on. For the long 9 years the crew of this confidential operation was wondering how KGB obtained information on CIA. One of the hypotheses was that the US embassy in Moscow was bugged. Some agency employees speculated that there could be a mole in the organization, what turned out to be true.
Nine years of spying
Aldrich Ames was working for the Russians to the day of his arrestment, February 21, 1994. Through all these years he earned a lot of money by disclosing over a hundred confidential operations and revealing many American agents. The double spy was yet reckless, due to his lavish lifestyle that was beyond the salary of an ordinary CIA agent, he was one of the main suspects from the beginning. The key to solving the case was linking the dates of his meetings with Russian embassy officers with big payments made into his bank account. After summing up all information on Ames and unexplainable cash flows, in May 1993 the FBI began an official investigation in his case. For the next ten month he was under electronic surveillance and his house was being searched. In October 1993 information on his next meeting with a KGB agent in Bogota was found in his e-mail box. On 1 October agents were watching Ames and the Russian agent in the agreed spot. When the main suspect finally planned the foreign trip, including a stop in Moscow, as a part of his official duties, the plan of his arrestment was approved.
Aldrich Ames confessed to all charges and got a life sentence. His wife Rosario took part in the trial and was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment. Jeanne Vertefeuille was also present in the courtroom as the person who substantially contributed to his conviction. During interrogation the double spy admitted that he gave Jeanne‘s name to the KGB. As she said herself, at first she wanted to jump over the court fence and strangle him, but then she began to laugh as he was the one in handcuffs.
Sources: FBI.gov, CIA.gov