FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

Robert Philip Hanssen

April 2001and Later

 

Materials presented chronologically.

Risen, James, and David Johnston. "F.B.I. Rejected Spy Warning 2 Years Before Agent's Arrest." New York Times, 22 Apr. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

According to "current and former" FBI officials, two years before Robert Hanssen's arrest on charges of spying for Russia, Thomas Kimmel, a senior FBI investigator, "concluded in a still-classified report that Moscow might have recruited a mole in the bureau's ranks.... In early 1999, F.B.I. Director Louis Freeh was told by ... Kimmel ... about his findings. In response, the officials said, senior bureau officials convinced Mr. Freeh that Mr. Kimmel's reasoning was flawed and investigators focused their hunt for a mole at the Central Intelligence Agency, not the bureau."

Risen, James. "Former F.B.I. Agent Indicted in Spy Case." New York Times, 17 May 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 16 May 2001, a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, returned a 21-count indictment against Robert P. Hanssen on charges of spying for Moscow for more than 15 years. The indictment came after negotiations over a possible plea agreement broke down over prosecutors' refusal to negotiate a deal that would spare Hanssen the death penalty.

Risen, James. "Jailed Agent Says He Voiced Suspicion about Spy Suspect." New York Times, 28 May 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

Interviewed at the federal prison in Ashland, KY, where he is serving a 27-year sentence for spying for Moscow, Earl Pitts said that he told FBI investigators in June 1997 "that he knew of suspicious activity by his fellow agent Robert P. Hanssen that indicated he might also be spying."

Masters, Brooke A., and Dan Eggen. "'79 Contact by Hanssen Is Detailed: Account Suggests Spying Predated 1985; Agent Told Wife That Deal Was a Ploy." Washington Post, 16 Jun. 2001, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to government officials and others familiar with the case, Bonnie Hanssen, the wife of accused FBI spy Robert P. Hanssen, became suspicious of his activities in 1979. At that time, he "told her he had exchanged information for money from Soviet agents, but only in a gambit to trick them." This suggests that "Hanssen had surreptitious contacts with Moscow at least six years earlier than prosecutors have publicly alleged. It is also the first public indication that his wife ever suspected him of espionage before his arrest." See also, James Risen and David Johnston, "Wife Says Suspect Told a Priest 20 Years Ago of Aiding Soviets," New York Times, 16 Jun. 2001.

Risen, James. "Ex-Agent Pleads Guilty in Spy Case." New York Times, 7 Jul. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 6 July 2001, in Federal District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, Robert P. Hanssen pleaded guilty to charges that he had spied for Moscow since 1985. "In return for his guilty plea, the government agreed not to seek the death penalty.... Hanssen, who is 57, will be sentenced to life without parole, and he has agreed to undergo extensive debriefings by officials from the F.B.I. and other agencies to discuss the extent of his espionage.... As part of the agreement, the government will let Mr. Hanssen's wife ... receive the survivor's portion of his F.B.I. pension, and retain ownership of their home in the Washington suburb of Vienna, Va."

Novak, Robert. "Who Is the Real Hanssen?" Sun-Times (Chicago), 12 Jul. 2001. [http:// www.suntimes.com]

"Three-and-a-half years ago [24 November 1997], I reported that a veteran FBI agent resigned and retired after refusing a demand by Attorney General Janet Reno to give the Justice Department the names of top secret sources in China. My primary source was FBI agent Robert Hanssen."

Eggen, Dan. "Robert Hanssen, Man of Many Mysteries." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 16-22 Jul. 2001, 31.

"Spies are often quite clear in their motives.... But Hanssen is still a riddle. The more information that emerges about his behavior and beliefs, the more contradictory they appear. None of the usual motives for espionage -- greed, ideology or revenge -- seem sufficient to explain the multiple deceptions he engaged in at work, at home, and at church."

Risen, James. "Spy in F.B.I. Is Said to Have Given Secrets to 2 Soviet Agencies." New York Times, 8 Aug. 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com]

Hanssen has told counterintelligence debriefers that at different times he spied for both the GRU and KGB.

Pincus, Walter. "Hanssen Gave Away Identity of One of U.S.'s Top Sources." Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2001, A6. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Robert P. Hanssen has reportedly "told government debriefers that in his first round of espionage for Moscow 22 years ago, he gave away the identity" of Russian army general Dimitri Polyakov (codenamed "Top Hat"), "one America's best intelligence sources inside the Soviet military." Although Hanssen said he betrayed Polyakov in 1979, the KGB did not arrest Polyakov until 1986. "Until Hanssen's disclosure, it was believed that Polyakov was one of more than a dozen U.S. agents first betrayed to the KGB by CIA turncoat Aldrich H. Ames, who was arrested in 1994. See also, Damian Whitworth, "FBI Traitor Reveals Identity of Agent," Times (London), 4 Oct. 2001.

Thompson, Cheryl W. "Book Says FBI Was Told in '90 Hanssen Might Be Spy." Washington Post, 16 Dec. 2001, A2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"In 'The Bureau and the Mole,' Washington Post reporter David A. Vise writes that Hanssen's brother-in-law, Mark Wauck, an FBI agent in Chicago, discovered in 1990 that Hanssen 'was hiding thousands of dollars in cash' in his house and 'spending too much money for someone on an FBI salary.' Wauck reported his suspicions to his supervisors in Chicago, telling them he thought Hanssen was spying for the Russians. The book contends that the FBI did nothing, allowing Hanssen to continue spying for 10 more years."

Vise, David A. "From Russia With Love." Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2002, W18ff. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"FBI agent Robert Hanssen was a frustrated loner isolated from co-workers, family and friends. Finally he found someone to appreciate his mind and talents: the nice folks from the KGB." [Article adapted from Vise's The Bureau and the Mole (2002).]

U.S. Department of Justice. Commission for the Review of FBI Security Programs [Webster Commission]. A Review of FBI Security Programs. Washington, DC: 31 Mar. 2002. Available at: http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/websterreport.html.

From "Executive Summary": This commission "was established in response to possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history: the treason of Robert Hanssen.... During our review of FBI security programs, we found significant deficiencies in Bureau policy and practice. Those deficiencies flow from a pervasive inattention to security.... In the Bureau, security is often viewed as an impediment to operations, and security responsibilities are seen as an impediment to career advancement." See also, Walter Pincus, "Hanssen Blamed for Identifying 50 FBI Informants to Russians," Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2002, A4.

Masters, Brooke A. "Hanssen Sentenced to Life in Spy Case." Washington Post, 11 May 2002, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 10 May 2002, Chief Judge Claude M. Hilton of U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., sentenced former FBI agent Robert Hanssen to life in prison. See also, James Risen, "Former F.B.I. Agent Gets Life in Prison for Years as a Spy," New York Times, 11 May 2002.

U.S. Department of Justice. Office of the Inspector General. A Review of the FBI's Performance in Deterring, Detecting, and Investigating the Espionage Activities of Robert Philip Hanssen. Washington, DC: Aug. 2003. [Available at: http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/oig/hanssen.html]

Clark comment: This is the 31-page unclassified executive summary of Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine's report. It provides a public version of the main findings in the lengthier classified reports, two classifications levels of which were prepared.

The summary states: "In 1985 and 1986, the CIA and FBI lost nearly every significant human asset then operating against the Soviet Union. These losses were unprecedented in scope, quantity, significance, and timing, yet the FBI undertook no sustained effort to determine their cause. Senior management was almost entirely unaware of the scope and significance of these losses, and throughout the 1980s the FBI failed to work cooperatively with the CIA to resolve the cause of these losses or to thoroughly investigate whether an FBI mole could be responsible for these setbacks. We now know that Hanssen compromised many of the assets and operations lost during the mid-1980s."

Jonkers, AFIO WIN 33-03, 22 Aug. 2003, calls the report "a painful picture of our Cold War FBI counter-espionage posture.... The report of this long-running espionage and treason-from-within is disturbing reading. It confirms my own suspicion, based on career observations, of the security (or systemic insecurity) of some HUMINT assets, even if never imagined in this proportion and magnitude. The report shows the damage from leadership feuds and bureaucratic turf protection, such as between the Justice Department and the FBI, which possibly colors this DoJ/OIG report on the FBI to some extent.... This is an interesting report, worth reading in full."

According to Dan Eggen, "Report: Spy Gained From FBI Laxity," Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2003, A4, Fine's report says that "Hanssen ... was a reckless and 'mediocre agent' who succeeded because of the bureau's poor oversight and lax security.... The inspector general's findings ... appear to differ sharply from previous characterizations by many Justice Department and FBI officials, who had sought to portray Hanssen as a savvy and experienced counterintelligence agent who outwitted pursuers."

Return to Hanssen Spy Case Table of Contents

Return to FBI Table of Contents