Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Boris Solomatin Interview

Page 8

William Casey (AP)
William Casey (AP)
A: My government has never said that Ames was a spy. Your CIA violated this rule when Vitaly Yurchenko [a high-ranking KGB agent] defected to the United States. Director [William] Casey told everyone that Yurchenko had become a U.S. spy and that was very foolish. It creates legal problems back home for the families of the spy. The only reason why I have discussed Walker is because there appeared some distorted stories about the Walker case in the books and in the press.

Q: Let me speak hypothetically, if Ames were a KGB spy, how would you compare the information that he provided to what John Walker provided?

Aldrich Ames (AP)
Aldrich Ames (AP)
A: I would not compare the Ames affair with the Walker affair. Why? Because they operated in different fields of intelligence. Walker supplied military strategic information and ciphers. And judging by newspaper accounts, Ames mostly gave the information in the field of counter-intelligence - the names of Russians working as CIA agents. Of course, both of these people were sources of important information, judging from the media reports. But the results were much different. Information from Ames would have been used to identify traitors. That is a one-time event. But Walker's information not only provided us with on-going intelligence, but helped us over time to understand and study how your military actually thinks.

Q: Do you believe the two men have similar personalities?

A: You have met both. Perhaps you should answer your own question. (laughs) The personality of Ames is not known to me, so I cannot make any comparison with Walker. Still, in my opinion, one may say that there is something common between these personalities. First of all, both were adventurous types. Both wanted money. And finally, both of them made a lot of mistakes which caused their arrests.

Q: Ames blames the KGB for his arrest. Your people began rounding up the CIA's spies and executing them as soon as Ames provided their names. He says it was like putting a big sign over CIA headquarters that read "MOLE."

A: My friend, Ames was not arrested until 1994. He began in 1985 according to his own statements. Is your CIA really so incompetent? No, it was not the KGB. Something else happened well after 1985 that led to his arrest.

Q: Do you mean a leak of some sort?

A: It is not something which I know. But I would like to say a few words about the atmosphere which was created after the arrest of Ames. You will remember that all of America was furious at Russia. You will remember the angry statement that President Clinton made about our spying. You will remember that he ordered several of our people out of your country and that he even sent a special CIA team to Moscow where it demanded to look into our very files. You will remember the angry speeches in Congress and the threats about cutting U.S. aid. So I would like to ask you: `What is all this fuss about?' Stop and think. Do you really expect us Russians to believe that there is a quite, little, nice monastery in Langley, Virginia [CIA headquarters] where good, harmless monks spend their time in prayers.

Aerial view of CIA headquarters, Langley, Virginia (CORBIS)
Aerial view of CIA headquarters,
Langley, Virginia (CORBIS)

Gentlemen, before making all these loud protests, better to look at yourself. Why were the Russians - who Ames supposedly exposed - executed and jailed? The answer is simple: because they were spying on the Russian people. And who were they spying for: the CIA and the very government and very president who now is so outraged because Ames was caught spying for us. Why is it honorable for you to spy on us, but not for us to spy on you?

One point more, in my opinion, a great power like the United States should admit its defeat with self respect and not protest in front of the whole world when someone like Ames is caught. A great power should not act like a child who stamps the ground when somebody deprives him of his new toy. I would hope your leaders remember the cases of Penkovsky, Polyakov, and Tolkachev [Russians caught spying for the West] and many others. I think you should follow our example. We took all these defeats without hysteria and with dignity.

Q: Yes, you also executed them.

A: That was our law at the time. I do not tell you what to do with Walker or with Ames. Are there not many in America who wish them to be executed?

Q: Now that the Cold War is over, do you believe that the United States and Russia will stop spying on each other?

A: The activity of both intelligence services will not stop and never will. But the end of the Cold War gives us an opportunity to put an end to uncivilized methods. Do you understand this?

Q: Please explain yourself.


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