I.C. SMITH

In Sunshine And In Shadow

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Hanssen provided voluminous information to the KGB and its successor, the SVR. He gave the KGB the names of three KGB officers recruited by the FBI; he told them of the tunnel the FBI had for years been digging under the Soviet embassy in Washington; he gave them copies of FBI budget requests, FBI Office of Inspection reports, and FBI human and technical surveillance procedures. There was much more, but even a mediocre intelligence service, would have easily figured out where Ramon Garcia, the nom de guerre Hanssen used in communicating with his handlers, was employed. Further, if Hanssen began to provide his handlers with information from his five-year assignment to the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions, a position openly known to the diplomatic community in Washington as being held by FBI personnel, then it is increasingly likely they would have known his actual identity. 
 
The fact that Hanssen’s actual identity was not included in the documents that the Russian source gave to the FBI and CIA that kicked off the investigation should not be surprising. In the shadowy world of intelligence, compartmentalization is practiced as a way of life and a source’s identity is not kept with the information that is being provided.
 
Not only had Hanssen provided information that clearly identified him as an FBI employee, he even wrote to the KGB about promotions, transfers, and other such information that would, if properly scrutinized, have identified Hanssen himself. There is much more that Freeh chose to ignore at the time, which he also neglects to mention in his book. For instance, a senior FBI agent, Tom Kimmel, alerted Freeh to the possibility of a mole besides Earl Pitts (an agent convicted of espionage). But no call was forthcoming from Freeh (who later stated he had no recollection of the communication from Kimmel). Having known Kimmel for years, I have no doubt that he wrote the letter, though I have no way of knowing if it actually made its way to Freeh himself.
How could Freeh have been so easily distracted from the multiple warnings of a mole within his own ranks? Because he had his sights set on the CIA’s Brian Kelley. Kelley had toiled at the CIA after a distinguished career in the Air Force and quickly developed a reputation as a knowledgeable and hardworking employee in the shadowy world of counterintelligence. Kelley had been intimately involved in the investigation and unmasking of Felix Bloch, the State Department official who, while never charged with espionage, is generally considered to have escaped prosecution only because of the intervention of a mole within U.S. counterintelligence.
 
But someone decided that Kelley himself was the mole who had tipped off Bloch and the full weight of both the FBI and the CIA came down upon him. Not since the era of James Jesus Angleton whose paranoia destroyed careers at the CIA has the government of this country gone after one of its own with so little evidence.  Kelley was polygraphed under a subterfuge; he was followed by surveillance teams; his telephone was tapped; his home was bugged and his house was searched. Agents interviewed his friends, and when they didn’t get the answers they wanted, accused them of covering up for Kelley. Finally, agents subjected Kelley to a confrontational interview and when Kelley resisted their allegations of spying for the Russians, they threatened to interview members of his family, including his ailing mother who was living in a nursing home.
 
While the FBI was interviewing Kelley, his daughter, who also worked at the CIA, was being confronted by FBI agents at CIA Headquarters. She was told her father was a spy for the Russians. When she said her father could not be a spy, one agent banged on a table, yelling that they knew what he did. These heavy-handed tactics were followed with other family members, including his siblings and even, his ex-wife. They did not, however, go so far as to interview Kelley’s ailing mother in the nursing home, but only after repeated pleas by family members. After the interview in which Kelley continued to deny being a spy, he was placed on leave and for the next 18 months was barred from returning to his office at the CIA. He became, in effect, a non-person.
 
Meanwhile, the FBI ignored the advice of several counterintelligence professionals within its own ranks who insisted Kelley was not the right person. The FBI could not imagine it had another spy among its own.
 
Kelley was cleared only after Hanssen’s arrest and months after receiving the documents from the former Soviet Union. It was another several months before he was allowed back into the CIA; never again would he occupy the positions of trust and confidence he enjoyed in the past. And, of course, it was Hanssen who had provided the Soviets with details of the Bloch investigation.
 
Through former CIA Director Jim Woolsey’s law firm, Kelley began to receive some help. Attorney John Moustakas wrote a letter to Freeh, asking that Freeh, personally, issue a letter stating that the allegations leveled against Kelley “have proved to be unfounded and that he has been exonerated unconditionally. We believe that you are the correct government official to issue such a statement.” Freeh did not respond. Instead, he had his deputy director, Tim Pickard, write a tepid response that stated, “I acknowledge and regret the impact of this investigation on the life of [Kelley]…and his family.”
 
Nowhere in Freeh’s book is there any mention of Coleen Rowley and the Minneapolis investigation, the Phoenix memo, the San Diego informant, and other information that has come to light since 9/11. Freeh basically blames the FBI’s failures on a lack of “technological sophistication,” and says in another understatement that “we let what could have been vital intelligence get trapped in the bureaucracy.”
 
The bureaucracy that failed was the one Freeh created. Those he promoted in the FBI’s Legal Counsel Division made the erroneous legal decisions that denied the FBI a search warrant for Zacarias Moussaoui’s computer until after the 9/11 attacks.
 
Freeh rightly points to many successes on his watch relating to international terrorism. But Freeh does not note that the FBI failed to analyze the reams of crucial information Philippine authorities provided in the Ramzi Yousef investigation. Freeh never understood the value of predictive analyses, especially in handling intelligence related to investigations. In fact, one of Director Bob Mueller’s first acts was to dismantle a useless analytical division at FBI Headquarters that Freeh had foolishly set up.
 
Beyond relatively minor incidents, Freeh cannot bring himself to admit his failures. During the Russert interview, he said, “We had an abysmal information technology system, and I take a lot of responsibility for that.” But he couldn’t stop there, and just as he does in his book proceeded to point the finger elsewhere. “I asked beginning in 1993 for millions of dollars, which we never got,” he said. Then, almost whining, he said, “They got $1 billion after 9/11.” What Freeh didn’t say is that throughout his tenure, monies budgeted for the purchase of computers and other technical projects went to other purposes.
 
That information from FBI offices in Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Oklahoma City went unnoticed is explained by Freeh’s emphasis on expanding FBI jurisdiction abroad. The FBI lost the sense that terrorism could occur in the U.S. itself. And another reason explains it: the information did not originate in New York itself.