Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed

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Overview

Circle of Treason details the authors' personal involvement in the hunt for and eventual identification of a Soviet mole in the CIA during the 1980s and 1990s. The search for the presumed traitor was necessitated by the loss of almost all of the CIA's large stable of Soviet intelligence officers working for the United States against their homeland. Aldrich Ames, a long-time acquaintance and co-worker of the authors in the Soviet-East European Division and Counterintelligence Center of CIA, turned out to be that ...
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Circle of Treason: CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed

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Overview

Circle of Treason details the authors' personal involvement in the hunt for and eventual identification of a Soviet mole in the CIA during the 1980s and 1990s. The search for the presumed traitor was necessitated by the loss of almost all of the CIA's large stable of Soviet intelligence officers working for the United States against their homeland. Aldrich Ames, a long-time acquaintance and co-worker of the authors in the Soviet-East European Division and Counterintelligence Center of CIA, turned out to be that mole. In April 1985 Ames walked in to the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D. C. and volunteered to the KGB, working for the Soviet Union for nine years until his arrest by the FBI in February 1994.

Ames was arguably one of the most destructive traitors in American history, and is most well-known for providing information which led to the death of at least 11 Soviet intelligence officers who spied for the West. The authors participated in the majority of these cases and the book provides detailed accounts of the operational contact with the agents as well as other similar important cases with which the authors also had personal involvement. The stories of the brave men who were executed or imprisoned by the Soviet Union include GRU General Dmitriy Fedorovich Polyakov, KGB Colonel Leonid Georgiyevich Poleshchuk, KGB Colonel Vladimir Mikhaylovich Piguzov, GRU technical officer Nikolay Chernov, GRU Lieutenant Colonel Boris Nikolayevich Yuzhin, KGB scientific and technical officer Vladimir Ippolitovich Vetrov, GRU Colonel Vladimir Mikhaylovich Vasilyev, GRU officer Gennadiy Aleksandrovich Smetanin, KGB illegals support officer Gennadiy Grigoryevich Varenik, KGB scientific and technical officer Valeriy Fedorovich Martynov, KGB political intelligence officer Sergey Mikhaylovich Motorin, KGB officer Sergey Vorontsov, and Soviet scientist Adolf Grigoryevich Tolkachev. Other operations include KGB technical officer Viktor Ivanovich Sheymov, GRU Colonel Sergey Ivanovich Bokhan, and KGB Colonel Aleksey Isidorovich Kulak. Of particular note in the preceding list of agents compromised by Aldrich Ames is GRU General Dmitriy Fedorovich Polyakov, the highest-ranking spy ever run by the U.S. government against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Described as the “Crown Jewel”, he provided the U.S. with a treasure trove of information during his 20-plus year history of cooperation.

The book also covers the aftermath of Aldrich Ames arrest: the Congressional wrath on CIA for not identifying him sooner; FBI/CIA debriefings of Ames following his plea bargain; a retrospective of Ames the person and Ames the spy; and a comparison of Ames and FBI special agent and Soviet spy Robert Hanssen, arrested in February 2001 and sentenced to life in prison for spying for the Soviet Union against the U.S. for over 20 years. Although not personally involved in the Hanssen investigation, the two authors were peripherally involved in what became, after many false starts the Hanssen case.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a brutally frank account of CIA traitor Aldrich Ames's career, Grimes, a 26-year veteran of the CIA's Clandestine Service, and Vertefeuille, a long-time CIA counterintelligence officer, pull back the curtain on the hunt for an American who spent years working for the KGB without being discovered. The now-retired authors focus on the CIA's crucial Soviet and East European (SE) Division, where efforts to recruit Soviet and East European officials snagged the U.S.'s highest-ranking Soviet spy, General Dmitriy Fedorovich Polyakov, who spent nearly two decades undetected. Ames's treason did particular damage to the SE Division, leading to Polyakov's execution and to the exposure of several other key U.S. agents. Espionage buffs will love the details taken from previously classified CIA files, as well as a penetrating view of him as an "All-American boy" and spy. Well-researched and written in a clear, no-frills style, this fascinating Cold War saga will allow any American without a security clearance to better understand how Aldrich Ames could have become one of the most damaging moles in U.S. intelligence history. (Nov.)
Library Journal

Here is the story of an intricate mole hunt straight from the source. Grimes and Vertefeuille are both veterans of the CIA’s clandestine and counterintelligence operations, respectively, and were members of the small CIA-FBI team investigating the disastrous 1985 loss of so many Soviet assets. A CIA mole must have caused it. But who? In the early 1990s, they narrowed the list of suspects down to one: Aldrich Ames, an apparently average CIA counterintelligence officer with increasing financial needs, who sold to Moscow his knowledge about U.S. operations against Russia. The authors also recount their careers in a male-dominated organization, the CIA’s corporate culture at the time, and debilitating Washington personality conflicts and turf battles. They honor those Russians who were arrested and executed as a result of Ames’s betrayal. The key lessons they know well: keep good records, watch everyone, follow the money, and note that such American traitors seem often to be very narcissistic.

Verdict A fascinating detective story for those interested in the spy scandals of the 1980s, the CIA’s painstaking investigative techniques, and how bureaucratic intelligence agencies really operate.—Daniel Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From the Publisher

"You can now read the insiders' own, long-awaited account of the unmasking and capture of Aldrich Ames, the most notorious and damaging CIA officer to ever work as a KGB mole inside the Agency. This is the team that caught him. This is the story of how they did it. His betrayal greatly damaged U.S. national security, led to the executions of at least 8 courageous Soviet intelligence officers, and roiled the U.S. Intelligence Community for years. No picture of this infamous case is complete without this gripping narrative by the investigators themselves." --Peter Earnest, Executive Director, International Spy Museum

"…[A] fine book which is gripping without any pyrotechnics, a story that could not be told except by the women who brought Ames down." -- The Dispatch (Columbus, MS)

"All in all, Circle of Treason is a disturbing read, but an essential one for anyone interested in the intricate detail work involved in a counterintelligence investigation -- and a tribute to two women who helped push it to a conclusion." -- The Washington Times

"Circle of Treason is an enormously important account of a complex, often frustrating, case written by those who did much of the work to break it." --Studies in Intelligence, 2013

"The authors provide intriguing insights into the background and tradecraft of a number of productive operations the CIA ran against the GRU and KGB from the 1960s through the 1980s. They also show how, when operations went wrong or were compromised by traitors, sources paid with their lives. Circle of Treason has the advantage of being written by two intelligence professionals, not by academics or journalists, and thus is an authoritative account of the Soviet sources that were providing the U.S. with invaluable information during the Cold War until Ames betrayed them. Because classified material on operational cases was going to be made public, the CIA took over three years to approve the book's publication. T he authors note that 90% of the disputes were resolved in their favor." --The Wall Street Journal, 12 December 2012

"A story that only two CIA mole hunters could tell, Circle of Treason fills the gaps in earlier books, giving readers a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of how America's worst CIA traitor, Aldrich Ames, was unmasked. Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille put human faces on his many victims, revealing important details about their personal lives, motivations, and the incredible secrets they provided us that cost them imprisonment or their lives. A thoroughly researched and riveting, must read." --Pete Earley, author of Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames

"In a brutally frank account of CIA traitor Aldrich Ames's career, Grimes, a 26-year veteran of the CIA's Clandestine Service, and Vertefeuille, a long-time CIA counterintelligence officer, pull back the curtain on the hunt for an American who spent years working for the KGB without being discovered. Espionage buffs will love the details taken from previously classified CIA files, as well as a penetrating view of him as an "All-American boy" and spy. Well-researched and written in a clear, no-frills style, this fascinating Cold War saga will allow any American without a security clearance to better understand how Aldrich Ames could have become one of the most damaging moles in U.S. intelligence history." --Publishers Weekly, 3 December 2012

"Writing with inside knowledge and access, retired CIA officers Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille bring clarity and vivid color to the complex and often misunderstood story of the Aldrich Ames spy case. They were involved, supporting CIA's most important cases in the Soviet Union, first witnessing the arrests of valuable agents and then uncovering Ames' treachery with hard work and brilliant insights. Circle of Treason is a page-turner, the real story a thousand times more interesting than spy novels and fictional movies." --Burton Gerber, retired CIA operations officer, co-editor of and contributor to Transforming U.S. Intelligence and Vaults Mirrors and Masks: Rediscovering U.S. Counterintelligence

"What makes this volume interesting is that it was written by longtime CIA insiders, who saw firsthand how the agency's network inside the Soviet Union crumbled. They write authentic sketches of agents working for the CIA who were betrayed by Ames, such as Dmitriy Polyakov, a general in the GRU (Soviet military intelligence), the highest-ranking Soviet official in uniform to spy for the United States during the Cold War, who was arrested and executed after Ames identified him. This book adds an insider perspective to the bookshelf…" --The Washington Post, 2 December 2012

"The Ames story of vast treasonous duplicity may have been often told, but this is an insiders' perspective, with clarifying details and upfront identification of the vicious damages, the sad glories and the assorted 'warts' of the case. It provides an extraordinarily detailed discussion of the agents and their secrets betrayed by Ames, with stunning assessments of the devastating losses for all structural and human components. Having met the criteria and demands of the CIA's Publications and Review Board provides prima facie notice of cooperation, but the depth and intricacy of the revelations simply must be seen in print to be believed. Whatever the rationale for the unabashed candor, there is a truism [that has always been known inside Langley but not always in a Hollywood context], 'you could not make up this stuff.' Indeed Mmes. Grimes and Vertefeuille, did not make it up, but relate it in intimate, excruciating, and spellbinding details, making it all the more extraordinary and worth reading." -- American Ex-Prisoners of War Bulletin, 7 December 2012
"Circle of Treason, written by two women CIA employees--Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille--is an extraordinary tribute to their training, ingenuity, years of service and access to CIA top secret files, Soviet agents collaborating with the CIA, and FBI colleagues. It took them years to uncover the CIA mole in their midst. The book is a tribute to their work." --Betty McIntosh, retired CIA officer and author of Sisterhood of Spies

"This is an important contribution to the field of literature. Although there are a half dozen books dealing with the Aldrich Ames case, they are of very differing quality and none contains all the background information on sources which CIA recruited inside the KGB and GRU that this book contains. Also, this is an 'insider' story. These two women actually participated in the running of some of these operations, watched their sources being arrested and executed by the Soviets, and then spent years of their lives uncovering Ames, the 'mole' who gave it all away. Very engagingly written. For me it was a page-turner!" --RADM Thomas A. Brooks, USN (Ret.), former Director of Naval Intelligence

"Only the authors of Circle of Treason could write this fascinating insider account, which not only deals with their tenacious, painstaking pursuit of the CIA's most damaging spy but also reveals the extraordinary efforts the CIA took to ensure the safety of its sources fighting the oppressive Soviet regime. This is essential reading for intelligence professionals and for anyone interested in the day-to-day reality behind Cold War espionage." --Michael Sulick, former Director of CIA's National Clandestine Service

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591143345
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2012
  • Pages: 228
  • Sales rank: 262,684
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra V. Grimes was a twenty-six year veteran of CIA's Clandestine Service who spent the majority of her career working against the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Born in New York State and spent her childhood and formative years in Colorado. Joined the CIA in July 1967 shortly after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Russian. A mother of two grown daughters and four grandchildren, currently lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her husband of forty-plus years.

Jeanne Vertefeuille was a CIA officer during the Cold War 1954-1992, specializing in the Soviet target, particularly in the Counterintelligence area. She led the small task force which resulted in the arrest of Soviet mole Aldrich Ames in 1994. Subsequently served on contract as an analyst 1993-present and lives in McLean, VA.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Chapter 1 Jeanne's Story 1

Chapter 2 Sandy's Story 10

Chapter 3 Overview of SE Operations 20

Chapter 4 The Polyakov Case-The Beginnings 26

Chapter 5 The Polyakov Case-The Middle 37

Chapter 6 The Polyakov Case-The End 48

Chapter 7 Early Major Cases 55

Chapter 8 Later Major Cases 80

Chapter 9 Things Begin to Go Wrong 95

Chapter 10 First Attempts 102

Chapter 11 CIC Formation 112

Chapter 12 Beginning of the Focus on Ames 120

Chapter 13 The Investigation Gets New Life 127

Chapter 14 Ames Emerges as a Major Focus 138

Chapter 15 The FBI Takes Over 145

Chapter 16 Reactions to the Arrest of Ames 149

Chapter 17 Ames the Person, Ames the Spy 161

Chapter 18 Hanssen and Ames-A Comparison 183

Chapter 19 Final Thoughts 188

onor Roll 193

Selected Chronology 194

Notes 208

Selected Bibliography 213

Index 219

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2012

    Do not recommend

    Book is poorly written. 3/4 of book has nothing to do with Ames. Most is the life history of the 2 writers. Of the books I have read about Ames this is definately the worst.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2014

    OK book.

    I expected this book to be more of an account of how they tracked and arrested Aldrich Ames. I have read other books that explain this, but none by authors as close to the case as these authors.
    However, this book is excellent at explaining the real-life consequences of Ames's betrayal of the U.S. The reader truly comes to understand the costs of Ames's treason--the Russian lives that were lost because of Ames.
    This book standing alone would not satisfy me--I just happened to have read other accounts of how Ames was tracked and arrested. This book is a great compliment to those books.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

    Must read . . .

    Exceptionally well-written account of the many unsung heroes whose lives were lost as a result of US traitor, Ames. Grimes and Vertefeuille should be given high accolades for the expansive historical account, including never before shared information; while at the same time keeping the reader engaged in the lives of those who were betrayed. Underpinning the entire book is the story of Grimes and Vertefeuille, two remarkable women who worked tirelessly to protect our country and those who were helping to protect our country. They are true American heroes who should be recognized for their remarkable selfless acts.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014

    Not a good read for the average reader

    Most of the book is facts and titles that most people are not aware of or interested in and too much information on subjects that have nothing to do with Ames. I cannot give this book anything but less than one star and certainly not worth the almost $17.00 for the e-book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2012

    This book is okay but it sheds light on the CIA and how confused it is.

    If your interested in the CIA and all the code names and abbreviations, this is your book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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