Free «Ames and Hanssen Cases» Essay Sample

Aldriach Ames and the CIA corruption

When a CIA officer Aldrich Ames was arrested in 1994 as a spy for Moscow critics, the question arose how the agency allowed such espionage to go undetected for almost a decade. Federal Bureau of investigation officials helped in building the criticism with complaints that the CIA had not succeeded to share the most sensitive information that could stifle the investigation.

The FBI found itself in yet another problem by allowing a senior official in the bureau to spy for the Russian for twice the time Ames had done. After the arrest of Robert Hanssen in a suburban park in Virginia, where he was suspected to leave classified information to his Russian counterpart officials, he was declared the most dangerous spy the intelligence service had encountered in history (Vise, 2002).

In an extensive affidavit released in 2001, the government officials charged that Hanssen compromised the US spies, including three Russian officers who Ames had betrayed. Two of those officers were executed and the other was imprisoned but released later. Hanssen was also suspected to be the person who stood behind leaking some intelligence information to Moscow in 1989, to state department official F.S Bloch. The former American official also stated Mr Hanssen might have been helpful in explaining.

Harold Nicholson case

As compared to the past years, the CIA spent tie fumbling on the Ames case, the FBI also perused on another suspicious character, Harold Nicholson, with promptness and the most admirable consideration. Nicholson, a highly advancing CIA officer, was accused of selling sensitive intelligence information to Russia. However, this matter was progressively relative, because it also took long for the CIA and the FBI to detect and investigate the case that surrounded Nicholson’s activities.  According to the court prosecutor in this case, the betrayal had lasted for about two years where the accused seriously impaired the American intelligence operations. He disclosed the notches of a variety of secrets. CIA agents where independent investigators and reported that he was paid $120 000 to provide information from Moscow (Havill, 2001).

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Nevertheless, preliminary investigation disclosed that Mr Nicholson could not match the damage caused by Mr Ames, who had a decade of spying for Moscow. Ames had revealed the most important information about the cold war, including the identities of the Russian military and intelligence officers who worked for the US. However, any breach of CIA security principles is alarming and Mr Nicholson turned to be the highest ranking officer in the United States to be accused of espionage.

Instead of being deterred by the cases of Ames and Hanssen, Nicholson apparently started his own association with the Russian in early 1994, soon after Ames was arrested. This happened despite having well publicized efforts by the CIA to monitor the travel and the expenses of its officers more carefully. He took the spending measure less serious because there were accusations and counter accusations that he placed large amounts of deposits in a bank in Oregon and lavishly spent on foreign trips. He attracted the alarm on the lie detector test by acting deceptively.

No clear records are found to say when exactly the investigators put Nicholson under close scrutiny but full investigation may have been opened a year after his arrest. He had all the time to take all the information to the Russian before the investigators could catch up with him.  It was also difficult to determine when to arrest a spy as ample time is required to assemble the necessary evidence for prosecution, and, at the same time, suspects can also be used to pass information to foreign intelligence service that recruits them.  Enough damage had already been made long after the CIA first attracted suspicion from Nicholson.  He had also accessed various classified information such as the details of CIA officer working undercover in Russia.

Cause and Effects of Ames and Hanssen Cases

In both cases the identifiable bad result is that there is betrayal of classified information where the soviet officials who spied for the US were arrested and imprisoned or executed. The cases were also simplified, though not made so explicit, that some of the technical operation collections were closed down as a result of the information details conveyed to the soviets. Surely, such things called for the highest level of condemnation and the punishment it deserved. However, during the time when Hanssen and Ames, Nicholson and others conveyed large amounts of top secret information to Russians, these events took place:

1) Disintegration of the Warsaw pact where some of its members joined NATO

2) The Soviet Union collapsed and immediately disintegrated

3) The Russian economy, the military and the general public went into a hasty decline

4) The United States won one of the non-trivial war so easily

5) The United States emerged as one of the most dominant economic, cultural and military power on the planet and, thus, the sole remaining super power.

There was one different thing that had some perceptible bad effect on the United States national security, such as embassies, barracks, buildings, ships and the Somalia debacle. There was no known link that connected them to the lost secrets to the Russians. Therefore, while Hanssen, Ames and Nicholson were apparently guilty of criminal activities, they did no harm to the individual people, particularly those assigned for the United States intelligence operations (Hitz, 2004). Not all the things that had negative effects on the overall national security to the US or much positive effect on the national security of Russia and the Soviet were obvious.

In these cases, there is a feeling of cognitive desolation on listening to the characterisation like ‘exceptionally grave’. Of course, it could have been taken for a relative other than absolute characterisation, in such case there could be fewer problems. 


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