Is it possible for a head of the US intelligence agencies to become a spy?

Is it possible for a head of the US intelligence agencies to become a spy? by Tony Garcia

Answer by Tony Garcia:

There is a misconception regarding Aldrich Ames that I wish to address first. First, the inclusion of Aldrich Ames in your argument is inapt as Ames was not a DCI (Director of Central Intelligence), nor was he FLUTTERED, i.e., given a polygraph test, without showing deception—despite his proclamations to the contrary which he expressed in a November 2008 letter to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.

The test took place in a rented suite with an unmarked door at the Tysons II Corporate Office Centers, in Tyson's Corners, Virginia, a business park west of Washington, D.C. where DCI Bill Casey had relocated most of CIA's Office of Security. The fact that the security unit was housed miles from headquarters in Langley, VA, illustrated its relegation to second-tier status within CIA.

Ames had taken his KGB handler’s advice, which was to be “nice to the polygraph examiner, develop a rapport, and be cooperative and try to maintain your calm.” For his part, the polygraph examiner was not neutral but extremely chummy.

Ames’ response to a baseline question,“ Have you been pitched?” (approached by a foreign intelligence service) caused a needle to move, showing deception. In fact, he had not been approached by the KGB—it was the other way around—but Ames’ fear of discovery was reflected in a deceptive response.

When asked about his reaction, Ames replied that everyone in the Soviet Division was sensitive to that question. He further explained that he was going to Rome and had concerns that he might be pitched there. This last addendum to his explanation was, in fact, true.

Given how little importance then-Director Casey placed on the polygraph, its operators were only looking for numerous, overt instances of deception. In Ames’ case, there was no immediate review of the results by a Quality Control Officer, as was normal standard operating procedure. Thus, Ames was passed despite deception having been recorded.

As for the director of an Intelligence agency being a spy? Unlikely. This is not the early days of the Cold War, replete with fascist and communist alliances made in college, such as the Cambridge Five. Today’s intelligence heads are monitored, not so much for possible treasonous acts as for their own safety. Above all else, spies not only need unfettered access to sensitive documents, but time alone to conduct their treachery. You’d be surprised at how little time alone someone like the DCI actually has.

As for verbally passing along policy secrets, one is more likely to get a trove of information from a stenographer, administrative assistant or adjutant, as this person is more likely to hear differing points of view not necessarily presented in executive sessions.

Is it possible for a head of the US intelligence agencies to become a spy?

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