Robert Philip Hanssen

20 - 28 February 2001

Materials presented chronologically.

Pino-Marina, Christina. "Virginia FBI Agent Arrested on Espionage Charges." Washington Post, 20 Feb. 2001. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to an FBI spokeswoman, Robert Philip Hanssen, a 27-year FBI veteran, was arrested on 18 February on at least one espionage charge and will appear in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on 20 February.

Johnston, David. "F.B.I. Agent Charged as Spy Who Aided Russia for 15 Years." New York Times, 21 Feb. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

Robert Philip Hanssen, a "senior F.B.I. agent who worked as a counterintelligence supervisor at the agency's headquarters," was charged on 20 February 2001 "as a spy who passed highly classified information to Russia for 15 years.... Hanssen, 56, was accused of turning over to Moscow a huge array of secrets, including the identities of three Russian agents ... recruited to spy for the United States. Two of the Russians were subsequently tried and executed; the third was imprisoned and later released. In return, F.B.I. officials said, the Russians paid Mr. Hanssen a total of $1.4 million."

Shenon, Philip. "From Dour 'Mortician' of F.B.I. to Suspected Russian Superspy." New York Times, 21 Feb. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

The Russians apparently never knew Hanssen's name. Details of the case released by law enforcement officials on 20 February 2001 "offer little explanation for the motivations of a man who, unlike the brazenly greedy Mr. Ames, was never obvious about enjoying the hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and diamonds that his Russian handlers supposedly provided." Hanssen is remembered by FBI colleagues as "dour, colorless, socially awkward 'the mortician,' as he was called behind his back, both for his personality and his penchant for dark, unstylish business suits."

Johnston, David. "F.B.I. Never Gave Lie Test to Agent Charged as Spy." New York Times, 22 Feb. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

According to law enforcement officials on 21 February 2001, the FBI never polygraphed Robert Philip Hanssen "to determine whether he might be a security risk during the 15 years when, it is charged, he spied for the Soviet Union and then Russia." Hanssen "was not under suspicion until late last year, when American intelligence obtained what officials have said was the entire Russian case file on his activities as a secret agent."

On 21 February 2001, "William H. Webster, the former F.B.I. and C.I.A. director, said in an interview that he was assembling a team to assess the bureau's security procedures and methods for detecting penetrations by foreign agents. Mr. Webster said he would focus on the F.B.I.'s polygraph policy and other counterespionage methods."

LaFraniere, Sharon. "Russia Says FBI Agent's Arrest Shouldn't Hurt Relations." Washington Post, 22 Feb. 2001, A6. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 21 February 2001, Boris Labusov, a spokesman for the Foreign Intelligence Service, "played down the arrest of Robert Philip Hanssen, saying espionage is a normal part of political life."

Lewis, Neil A. "The Prosecution Case: Zigs and Zags of Spy Cases Put a Damper on Predicting." New York Times, 22 Feb. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"The espionage case against Robert Philip Hanssen as outlined in a 100-page document from the F.B.I. looks as strong as can be, with investigators possessing computer disks, bundles of cash, a fingerprint and other incriminating evidence.

"But lawyers and others familiar with espionage prosecutions know that even the best cases can take legal twists and turns. The criminal complaint is also the beginning of a process in which Mr. Hanssen and the government will have to deal with many questions, the most important of which may be whether he will, in exchange for avoiding a death sentence, agree to tell intelligence officers what secrets he may have handed over to Moscow.... The espionage act under which Mr. Hanssen is charged provides for the death penalty in a variety of circumstances, including one in which the defendant is found guilty of disclosing the identities of agents who die as a result."

Loeb, Vernon, and Brooke A. Masters. "Spy Suspect Had Deep Data Access, Ex-Associates Say." Washington Post, 22 Feb. 2001, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Three of his former colleagues said on 21 February 2001 that the damage from Robert Hanssen's "alleged spy career could be particularly severe because he possessed both access to intelligence information across the government and computer skills that made him among the most technologically sophisticated officials at the FBI.... Two years after he allegedly began spying for the KGB in 1985, Hanssen served as deputy director of the FBI Intelligence Division's Soviet section, giving him full access to information about counterspy activities against the Soviet Union."

Risen, James. "The Spymaster: Spy Handler Bedeviled U.S. in Earlier Case." New York Times, 22 Feb. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

According to an FBI affidavit, KGB colonel Viktor Cherkashin "was instrumental in handling" both Aldrich H. Ames and Robert Philip Hanssen. "Cherkashin was chief of counterintelligence in the K.G.B.'s Washington station in 1985 when Mr. Ames and, according to the F.B.I., Mr. Hanssen also volunteered to spy for Moscow.... To ensure his security, Mr. Hanssen never met with Mr. Cherkashin or any other K.G.B. officers, and did not tell the K.G.B. his name or where he worked in the United States government, federal officials said."

Vise, David A., and Dan Eggen. "FBI Faulted For Rejecting Warnings." Washington Post, 22 Feb. 2001, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"The FBI failed to heed a series of blunt warnings to adopt security measures that might have allowed agents to detect the kind of espionage that Robert P. Hanssen allegedly conducted for much of the past 15 years, government officials said" on 21 February 2001.

Masters, Brooke A., and Vernon Loeb. "CIA Officer Had Been Focus of Spy Probe." Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2001, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"Until FBI investigators targeted Robert P. Hanssen as a possible Russian spy late last year, they focused on a covert CIA officer who now may be cleared as a result of Hanssen's arrest, sources close to the case said [on 22 February 2001]. The CIA officer has been on paid leave since August 1999 while the FBI has investigated whether he was a Russian spy.... Now that Hanssen has been charged as a Russian spy, authorities are attempting to determine whether to clear the initial suspect and put him back to work." See also, David Johnston and James Risen, "U.S. Had Evidence of Espionage, but F.B.I. Failed to Inspect Itself." New York Times, 23 Feb. 2001.

Eggen, Dan, and David A. Vise. "To Russia, With Longing." Washington Post, 24 Feb. 2001, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"[A] spy's success still often depends on the psychologically complicated relationship with a foreign patron. That bond is clearly evident in the case of [Robert Philip] Hanssen,... whose alleged illicit correspondence is part spy tale and part Valentine." A 109-page affidavit filed "in U.S. District Court, as well as statements by FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and other U.S. officials, portray a tangled and, at times, almost intimate relationship between Hanssen and his .. 'handlers.' What began as an alliance solely on Hanssen's terms became, over time, a murkier compact, a dance between two parties united in suspicion and dependent on trust."

Loeb, Vernon, and Walter Pincus. "Bush to Speed Clinton Spy Changes." Washington Post, 24 Feb. 2001, A4. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Senior U.S. officials said on 23 February 2001 that "the Bush administration intends to swiftly carry out recommendations left by President Clinton for a government-wide reorganization of counterintelligence [CI] efforts.... Both FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and CIA Director George J. Tenet have strongly endorsed David Szady," a CI expert "serving as special agent in charge of the FBI's field office in Portland, Ore.," to be national counterintelligence executive. The position would oversee CI "spending by all federal agencies and ... identify the most important technologies, weaponry and other national assets that must be protected from foreign spies."

Risen, James. "Spy-Hunt Team Followed Trail to F.B.I. Agent." New York Times, 24 Feb. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

According to officials on 23 February 2001, a joint FBI-CIA "mole hunting" unit "established in 1994 to identify the source of a series of damaging intelligence losses played a crucial role in the counterespionage probe that led to the arrest" of Robert Philip Hanssen.

Gordievsky, Oleg. "What Makes the Double Agent Tick." telegraph.co.uk, 25 Feb. 2001.

The former KGB officer suggests that the "most important component" in Hanssen's "survival as a spy ... was his decision never to meet anyone from the KGB face to face.... Hanssen's caution ensured that he never attracted any attention from the FBI's molehunters.... [H]is survival in a position where the usual life-span is measured in months rather than years is a testament to his toughness."

Masters, Brooke A., and Walter Pincus. "FBI Left Hanssen an Opening as His Debts Mounted." Washington Post, 28 Feb. 2001, A2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to court documents and sources revealed on 27 February 2001, "[t]he FBI gave alleged spy Robert P. Hanssen an opening by failing to monitor the mail of known KGB officers and may have ignored evidence that he was running up large debts over the past decade."

Risen, James, and Philip Shenon. "Accused Spy Suspected Loss of Access to Secrets, Prosecutors Say." New York Times, 28 Feb. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"A Russian intelligence source warned the United States in the mid-1990's that Moscow had a spy inside the Federal Bureau of Investigation.... The tip from the Russian official prompted the F.B.I. to briefly begin a counterintelligence inquiry within its own ranks, officials said. But the investigation was abandoned after the same Russian source returned, several months later, and told the Americans that Moscow's agent was in the Central Intelligence Agency, not the F.B.I."

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