Written by Peter Fitzgerald
History of War - Spies
CIA agent who was spying on America for Russia and the Soviet Union for many years while working for the CIA.Aldrich Ames is a man who many will know of in the present day. The reason why Aldrich Ames is so famous is because he was a
In the mid 1990’s a huge media frenzy occurred that Aldrich Ames, a well respected CIA counter-intelligence officer and analyst, was arrested for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. This was compounded by the fact that he was found guilty and convicted later on.
Aldrich Ames Prior to the CIA
Aldrich Hazen Ames was born on the 26th May 1941 in River Falls, Wisconsin. Ames was the oldest of three children and his parents were both teachers. By the age of 11 Ames’ father Carleton had changed careers and started working for the CIA in Virginia, a year later the family moved to Southeast Asia because of Ames’ father’s job.
Ames father ended up with an alcohol related problem and didn’t progress in the CIA; eventually he was stationed at the CIA headquarters.
Ames himself had a good schooling and went to college, during this time he also enjoyed three summers with the CIA in a low grade position as an analyst.
In 1962 at the age of 21 Ames left college and went to George Washington University where he gained a degree and went on to join the CIA.
Aldrich Ames in the CIA
Ames completed his Career Trainee Program and was stationed in Ankara, Turkey. His job in the CIA was to try and recruit intelligence workers to spy for America whilst also managing to Soviet organizations to gain information for the US.
His rating for his work was only satisfactory which irked Ames somewhat, although he still continued working for the intelligence agency.
By 1972 Ames was back in CIA HQ where he proved exemplary at paperwork and organizational skills, although like his father he was starting to drink heavy and it was noted by the organization.
In 1976 Ames was moved to New York where he was in charge of two Soviet spies, here he proved his worth and gained many promotions and pay increases. This improved his stance in the CIA.
1981 saw Ames end up in Mexico where his work was deemed below par and to top it off he also ended up having three affairs with CIA informants and political figures. These actions saw Ames brought back to Washington to work in the department he was in post Ankara.
It was around this point that his marriage ended in divorce and Ames having to pay a financial settlement he thought he could not afford.
To alleviate his financial issues Ames, who had gained relationships with Soviet embassy officials agreed to trade information to the Soviets for a sum of $50,000. This money was swiftly put into his account and the information given.
While Ames must have thought this was a one off to appease the divorce settlement, this was not the case as he handed information over time and again to the Soviets for hard cash.
The CIA realised there was a problem and initially blamed another CIA operative, but they soon realised the depth of knowledge the Soviet informer had went beyond what the CIA operative blamed previously could have known.
Ames carried on his activities and amassed a fortune running in the millions. With his divorce finalised Ames married a Colombian and used the cover story that her family were very rich to show that his new found richness was not out of the ordinary.
In 1986 Ames was sent the Italy where he was found to be drinking heavily again and his work ethic was deemed poor. Even with this being the case he was left to continue his operations before being posted back in the highly sensitive CIA's Counterintelligence Center Analysis Group in 1990.
During this same time period a fellow CIA operative reported Ames for living a lifestyle that did not fit the salary he was on. The CIA then reviewed his situation and deemed this to be right, Ames was then put through a lie detector test. Ames passed the test because the Soviet’s told him how to relax during the test and also because Ames knew the people carrying out the test so they were lenient on their analysis.
It was in 1993 that a full blown operation was carried out to investigate Ames, this is when everything fell into place and the CIA were able to find the mole giving the Soviet and Russia information for almost a decade.
In 1994 on the 22nd February, Ames and his wife ended up in court and Ames pleaded guilty to the charges put forward to him. This plea saved his life as he would have had the death penalty if he had not because his actions caused the deaths of CIA assets. Instead Ames was given life imprisonment and his wife a five year term.