Aldrich Ames was a Central Intelligence Agency counterintelligence officer and analyst who, in 1994, was convicted of being a mole for the Russian Federation (formerly Soviet Union). He started working for the CIA in 1962 and began spying for the Soviet Union in 1985. For nearly a decade, Ames provided them with a wealth of information, including exposing U.S. intelligence sources and operations.
Many of the secrets Ames revealed led directly to the capture or killing of U.S. intelligence assets in Russia. One such example was the betrayal of Dmitri Polyakov, a high-ranking GRU officer and one of the most valuable U.S. sources, who was subsequently executed by the Soviet Union.
His spying had major consequences, leading to a significant loss of U.S. intelligence operations and shaking up the intelligence community at large. The aftermath was both vast and destructive, exposing the vulnerability of intelligence agencies and leading to an overhaul of security measures within the CIA. Ames himself was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
- Aldrich Ames was a CIA officer who spied for the Soviet Union/Russian Federation.
- Ames started spying in 1985, causing significant damage to U.S. intelligence operations.
- Many U.S. intelligence assets in Russia were captured or killed because of Ames.
- As a consequence, Ames was sentenced to life in prison in 1994.
- The fallout from Ames’ betrayal led to an overhaul of security measures within the CIA.
1. What did Aldrich Ames do at the CIA before he started spying?
Before he started spying, Ames was a counterintelligence officer and analyst at the CIA. He was responsible for analyzing and assessing foreign intelligence threats.
2. How long did Ames spy for the Soviet Union and Russia?
Ames spied for the Soviet Union and, subsequently, the Russian Federation from 1985 until his arrest in 1994, a total of nine years.
3. Why did Aldrich Ames choose to spy?
Ames had various personal and financial reasons. He was disillusioned with his career at the CIA and in need of money. The Soviet Union offered him financial rewards for providing classified information.
4. How was Aldrich Ames caught?
Ames was caught through a CIA-FBI investigation which noted his extravagant lifestyle that went far beyond his CIA salary, and other suspicious activities.
5. What happened after Aldrich Ames’ capture?
Following Ames’ capture, an intensive government review and overhaul of CIA security measures were conducted in an attempt to prevent such betrayals in the future. In addition, the U.S. government worked on rebuilding and restructuring their intelligence network, which was damaged by Ames’ actions.