Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America

Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America

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by David Wise

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Spy tells, for the first time, the full, authoritative story of how FBI agent Robert Hanssen, code name grayday, spied for Russia for twenty-two years in what has been called the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”–and how he was finally caught in an incredible gambit by U.S. intelligence.

David Wise, the nation’s


Spy tells, for the first time, the full, authoritative story of how FBI agent Robert Hanssen, code name grayday, spied for Russia for twenty-two years in what has been called the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”–and how he was finally caught in an incredible gambit by U.S. intelligence.

David Wise, the nation’s leading espionage writer, has called on his unique knowledge and unrivaled intelligence sources to write the definitive, inside story of how Robert Hanssen betrayed his country, and why.

Spy at last reveals the mind and motives of a man who was a walking paradox: FBI counterspy, KGB mole, devout Catholic, obsessed pornographer who secretly televised himself and his wife having sex so that his best friend could watch, defender of family values, fantasy James Bond who took a stripper to Hong Kong and carried a machine gun in his car trunk.

Brimming with startling new details sure to make headlines, Spy discloses:

-the previously untold story of how the FBI got the actual file on Robert Hanssen out of KGB headquarters in Moscow for $7 million in an unprecedented operation that ended in Hanssen’s arrest.

-how for three years, the FBI pursued a CIA officer, code name gray deceiver, in the mistaken belief that he was the mole they were seeking inside U.S. intelligence. The innocent officer was accused as a spy and suspended by the CIA for nearly two years.

-why Hanssen spied, based on exclusive interviews with Dr. David L. Charney, the psychiatrist who met with Hanssen in his jail cell more than thirty times. Hanssen, in an extraordinary arrangement, authorized Charney to talk to the author.

-the full story of Robert Hanssen’s bizarre sex life, including the hidden video camera he set up in his bedroom and how he plotted to drug his wife, Bonnie, so that his best friend could father her child.

- how Hanssen and the CIA’s Aldrich Ames betrayed three Russians secretly spying for the FBI–including tophat, a Soviet general–who were then executed by Moscow.

-that after Hanssen was already working for the KGB, he directed a study of moles in the FBI when–as he alone knew–he was the mole.

Robert Hanssen betrayed the FBI. He betrayed his country. He betrayed his wife. He betrayed his children. He betrayed his best friend, offering him up to the KGB. He betrayed his God. Most of all, he betrayed himself. Only David Wise could tell the astonishing, full story, and he does so, in masterly style, in Spy.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

With the possible exception of J. Edgar Hoover, no FBI employee in history has received as much unfavorable press as convicted traitor Robert Hanssen. This tight-lipped anti-Communist earned our attention with his long and damaging career as a Russian spy. What distinguishes this addition to the Hanssen shelf from its predecessors is David Wise's access to intelligence sources. In Spy, he tells the extraordinary story of Hanssen's exposure as a spy by FBI agents; tells where Hanssen hid his loot; and reveals even weirder details about the double agent's sex life.
The New York Times Book Review
A relentless reporter and true expert on the world of spying, Wise recounts Hanssen's story and the hunt to catch him in precise, if sometimes overwhelming detail.
Publishers Weekly
Four previous books have attempted to unravel the mystery of how and why FBI staffer Robert Hanssen was able to sell secrets to the KGB for almost 22 years. None, however, have been as penetrating as this account by veteran spy author Wise (The Invisible Government), whom Hanssen himself reportedly called "the best espionage writer around." Using a career's worth of contacts in the FBI and CIA, as well as exclusive access to Hanssen's defense psychiatrist, Wise presents a comprehensive portrait of Hanssen's life as a spy and the government's quest to uncover and prosecute him. Further, Wise reveals that the FBI's problems with internal traitors began as far back as 1962, with a tip from a KGB informant; that mole was never found. Years later, the FBI identified another internal spy, but bungled its surveillance; that spy was quietly "eased out" of the bureau and the entire affair kept out of the newspapers. And in the Hanssen case, a certain CIA agent was wrongly identified as the mole and suspended from duty for almost two years. By contextualizing Hanssen and providing an insider's account of the hunt that finally apprehended him, Wise covers aspects of the case that have been largely neglected to date. Well researched and ably written, this book is, so far, the definitive account of Hanssen's betrayal of the United States. (On sale Oct. 22) Forecast: It would be all too easy for readers to confuse David Wise with David Vise, author of the bestselling The Bureau and the Mole hopefully, reviews and bookstore displays will distinguish the two. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Many books about FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Hanssen have already been published, including David A. Vise's The Bureau and the Mole and Elaine Shannon's The Spy Next Door. While the story of how Hanssen was tracked down is certainly interesting, it is even more intriguing to speculate why this conservative Catholic with a modest lifestyle would betray us to the Soviets. Journalist Wise, who wrote The Spy Who Got Away, a similar book about escaped CIA traitor Edward Lee Howard, interviewed Hanssen's case psychiatrist and thus provides considerable informed discussion about motive. Was it for the money to support his big family, the thrill of playing a dangerous game, or to get back at a never-satisfied father? Hanssen apparently walked right into a Soviet office in 1979, which leads to the question whether the CIA and FBI were watching this office-and if not, why not? Recommended for the espionage collections of public and academic libraries. (Photos and index not seen.)-Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL
Kirkus Reviews
A solidly paced, richly detailed account, by intelligence-community insider Wise (Cassidy's Run, 2000, etc.), of the FBI desk jockey who sold secrets to the Soviet and Russian governments for two decades-and came close to getting away with it. Robert Hanssen was apparently an average sort of fellow, a good churchgoer and father who kept the lawn mowed and the bills paid; his fellow FBI officers thought of him as a colorless, humorless sort, "a computer guy, a weenie, a number cruncher," as one put it, "somebody you want to have on your team, to use. He was never going to lead the team." Wise hazards that Hanssen may have gone over to the Soviets, way back in the late 1970s, precisely because he felt the need to show that he had executive potential; whatever the case, in his checkered and sometimes clueless career as a traitor, he gave up as many as 50 double agents, spies, and informants working around the world, most of whom wound up dead. It took federal counterespionage agents from several bureaus years to track down the spy among them, in part, as Wise writes, because Hanssen himself was involved in the investigation-and in part, it seems, as is so often true, because the feds bungled and stumbled everywhere they went. Still, they finally caught up to Hanssen just a couple of years ago, to some extent thanks to Hanssen's own ineptitude. Wise is a bit easier on the FBI and CIA than are some of the operatives who worked on the Hanssen case-as one remarks, "There's absolutely no excuse for the FBI not, at some point, to have identified Bob Hanssen," as it could not do by itself. Wise writes well and capably, as always, but this story is largely narrative, if full of nice twists andturns, and readers may miss the analytical, explanatory power he has brought to bear on broader-themed works such as The Politics of Lying (1973) and The Invisible Government (1964). Still, a first-rate true-crime story that gets inside the shadowy-and astoundingly average-world of spooks, moles, and ops.

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Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The Mole Hunter


Inside the Soviet counterintelligence section at FBI headquarters in Washington, there could be no other word for what had happened: the two KGB agents who were the bureau's highly secret sources inside the Soviet embassy in Washington had somehow been discovered. Valery Martynov and Sergei Motorin had been lured back to Moscow and executed. Each was killed with a bullet in the head, the preferred method used by the KGB to dispatch traitors.

There would be no more visits to the candy store by the FBI counterintelligence agents; M&M, as the two KGB men were informally if irreverently known inside FBI headquarters, were gone, two more secret casualties of the Cold War. The year was 1986. The FBI quickly created a six-person team to try to determine what had gone wrong.

Meanwhile, the CIA, across the Potomac in Langley, Virginia, was having its own troubles. It was losing dozens of agents inside the Soviet Union, some executed, others thrown into prison. The agency formed a mole hunt group.

Two years later, in 1988, the FBI still had no answer to how Martynov, whom the bureau had given the code name pimenta, and Motorin, code name megas, had been lost. Something more had to be done, and the FBI now began thinking the unthinkable. As painful, even heretical, as it might be to consider, perhaps there was a traitor-a Russian spy-inside the FBI itself.

To find out the truth was the job of the bureau's intelligence division, which was in charge of arresting spies, penetrating foreign espionage services, and, when possible, recruiting their agents to work for the FBI. The division was divided into sections, one of which, CI-3 (the CI stood for counterintelligence), housed the Soviet analytical unit, the research arm of the bureau's spycatchers. Perhaps, the division's chiefs reasoned, something might be learned if the analysts, looking back to the beginning of the Cold War, carefully studied every report gleaned from a recruitment or a defector that hinted at possible penetrations of the FBI by Soviet intelligence. Perhaps a pattern could be seen that might point to a current penetration, if one existed.

Within the Soviet unit, two experienced analysts, Bob King and Jim Milburn, were assigned to read the debriefings of Soviet defectors and reports of Soviet intelligence sources who had, over the years, been recruited as spies by the FBI. The two shared a cubicle in Room 4835 with their supervisor.

The supervisor, a tall, forty-four-year-old, somewhat dour man, was not a popular figure among his fellow special agents, although he was respected for his wizardry with computers. He had been born in Chicago, served for a while as a police officer in that city, and joined the FBI twelve years before, in 1976. Now he was responsible for preparing and overseeing the mole study.

For the supervisor, directing the analysis to help pinpoint a possible mole inside the FBI was a task of exquisite irony. For he knew who had turned over the names of Valery Martynov and Sergei Motorin to the KGB. He knew there was in fact an active mole inside the FBI, passing the bureau's most highly classified secrets to Moscow. He knew the spy was a trusted counterintelligence agent at headquarters. He knew, in fact, that the spy was a supervisory special agent inside the Soviet analytical unit. He knew all this but could tell no one. And for good reason.

Robert Hanssen was looking for himself.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

David Wise is America’s leading writer on intelligence and espionage. He is coauthor of The Invisible Government, a number one bestseller about the CIA. A native New Yorker and graduate of Columbia College, he is the former chief of the Washington bureau of the New York Herald Tribune. He was a commentator on CNN for six years and has contributed articles on government and politics to many national magazines. He is married and lives in Washington, D.C.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Spy 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
sharpshooter21 More than 1 year ago
Good book that at times was tough to put down. It appears to have been very well researched; I'm not sure who the author could have additionally interviewed that would had added anything to the book. I was very impressed with the interviews and comments from Russians, as those must have taken quite the effort to secure. Very good, detailed account of the entire life of Hanssen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found this true story to be as absorbing as any work of crime fiction. A thorough and informative look at the enigma of Robert Hanssen. The glaring contradictions in Hanssen's life truly astound the reader. The harm he did to the country is shocking, but the pain and humiliation he inflicted on his family are inestimable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I lived near the drop off spot that Robert Hanssen used and wanted to know just how much damage he had done to the US Government. This book not only gives you information on the extent of the damage to the government but also background information of Hanssen's life at home and previous missions conducted. It shows just how smart Hanssen was at not being detected by the government. Great story and a worthwhile read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing from start to finish. Better than the movie! This book kept me on my toes for days and the ending is perfect and all true!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fascinating... full of facts, not opinions... very clear and concise... and probably the best book to get into the mind of this spy... as much as is possible. It made you want to keep reading... almost read like a novel in the way it was written. One of my favorites for sure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Mr. Wise delves deep into the archives and questions many people at length to get the amount of information presented here. This is no joke of a book. The writing is superb and the author had all the information to back it up. This book shows what sets an amateur writer/researcher apart from a great one. The abundance of information (which he claims to have partly gathered from 350 interviews from 150 people) is very accurate. He also writes in a style that keeps the reader interested which he achieves by jumping from one interesting anecdote of Hanssen's life to the next. This is one of the better (and more thrilling) spy books I have read. The amateur should be encouraged as Wise writes in a straightforward manner and usually explains any questions that the reader might have.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had watched the television movie about Robert Hanssen and wanted to know more about this story, so I looked for a book. This one seemed to have good reviews, but my impression is it is little more than a chronology: Bob sold this information to the Russians and got this much money. Then he changed jobs and sold some more information for another sum of money, etc. The last few chapters were the best an providing some insights into this troubled man and his escapades. The movie was far more interesting.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
David Wise write a splendid book about a man whose soul is poisoned for eternity. Having the book in my apartment for more than four days gave me goosebumps.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a well written book that goes into detail about the atrocities commited by Hanssen, this book will not dissappoint. Most importantly it is highly entertaining and reads like a novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book I read on R.Hanssen. the best part about it is that it is based on proven facts and not personal opinions. The book gives just enough history and background information on other key players (except Hanssen) to keep the reader from being confused. Excellent book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and informative really keeps you reading.,
Guest More than 1 year ago
As the critics have noted, Wise probably has written the best book to date on the Hanssen case. Nevertheless, even with his sources (Current and former FBI agents involved in the investigation who have prostituted themselves out to the media in order to make their role in the investigation seem more significant and noble) Wise's effort still falls way short of being accurate. Someday the whole truth may be told, but not in this forum. Until then, kudo's to the FBI agents whose integrity and committment to the National Security of this country outshine the need to see their name in print.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything that Robert Hansen did in life was just a cover up everything he did was just like chameleon. He did not have a very good self worth of himself as a person. He was always trying to please everyone else but himself. Now look back at what he made a mess in his life for being a spying for the Russians and he only received around $750,000 million dollars and he now gets to spend the rest of his life in prison for espionage. All he needed to do was just look at what he was making and how many years would he spend behind bars and he would of received his answer. Lets take a look at what might of been making as FBI agent $60,000 a year then he spends 30 years in prison and would have made from the FBI 1,800,000 million dollars. Was it worth the pain that Robert put all of his close friends through this ordeal? He just did not hurt himself but everybody around him.