Robert Hanssen

Robert Hanssen

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Encyclopedia
Robert Philip Hanssen (born April 18, 1944) is a former American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 FBI agent who spied for Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n intelligence services against the United States for 22 years from 1979 to 2001. He is currently serving a life sentence
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

 at the Federal Bureau of Prisons Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Colorado
ADX Florence
The United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility is a supermax prison for men that is located in unincorporated Fremont County, Colorado, United States, south of Florence. It is unofficially known as ADX Florence, Florence ADMAX, Supermax, or The Alcatraz of the Rockies...

.

Hanssen was arrested on 18 February 2001 at Foxstone Park
Foxstone Park
Foxstone Park is a park located at 1910 Creek Crossing Road in Vienna, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA and run by the Fairfax County Park Authority...

 near his home in Vienna, Virginia
Vienna, Virginia
Vienna is a town in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, it had a population of 15,687. Significantly more people live in zip codes with the Vienna postal addresses bordered approximately by Interstate 66 on the south, Interstate 495 on the east, Route 7 to...

, and was charged with selling American secrets to Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 for more than US$1.4 million in cash and diamonds over a 22-year period. On 6 July 2001, he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is one of two United States district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia...

. He was then sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

. His activities have been described as "possibly the worst intelligence disaster in US history."

Early life


Hanssen was born in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, to a family of mixed Danish-Polish
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 and German descent. His father, a Chicago police officer
Chicago Police Department
The Chicago Police Department, also known as the CPD, is the principal law enforcement agency of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, under the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Chicago. It is the largest police department in the Midwest and the second largest local law enforcement agency in the...

, was emotionally abusive to Hanssen during his childhood. For unknown reasons, Howard Hanssen arranged for his son to fail a driver's test. In later life, Robert Hanssen speculated that his father had done this in order to 'toughen him up'. The elder Hanssen constantly disparaged his son and said that Robert would never make anything of his life.

Hanssen graduated from William Howard Taft High School
William Howard Taft High School (Chicago)
William Howard Taft High School is a high school located at 6530 West Bryn Mawr Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, in the Norwood Park neighborhood. It is run by the Chicago Public Schools . It is perhaps most famous as being the high school attended by Jim Jacobs, the writer of Grease. Jacobs used Taft...

 in 1962 and went on to attend Knox College
Knox College, Illinois
Knox College is a four-year coeducational private liberal arts college located in Galesburg, Illinois. Knox is classified as a more selective institution by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and is ranked 75th among liberal arts colleges by the 2011 edition of America's Best...

 in Galesburg, Illinois
Galesburg, Illinois
Galesburg is a city in Knox County, Illinois, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 32,195. It is the county seat of Knox County....

, where he earned a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 in 1966. While at Knox, he took an interest in Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 through elective courses. It was also at this time when Hanssen applied for a cryptographer position in the NSA
National Security Agency
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting U.S...

 but was rebuffed due to budget setbacks. Originally set to become a doctor, Hanssen took the opportunity to enroll in the dental school
Dental school
A dental school is a tertiary educational institution—or part of such an institution—that teaches dentistry. Upon successful completion, the graduate receives a degree in Dentistry, which, depending upon the jurisdiction, might be a bachelor's degree, master's degree, a professional degree, or a...

 at Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

. He did well academically, but said that he "didn't like spit all that much". He switched his focus to business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

 after three years, and received an MBA in accounting and information systems
Information systems
Information Systems is an academic/professional discipline bridging the business field and the well-defined computer science field that is evolving toward a new scientific area of study...

 in 1971. After graduating, he took a job with an accounting firm but quit to join the Chicago Police Department
Chicago Police Department
The Chicago Police Department, also known as the CPD, is the principal law enforcement agency of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, under the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Chicago. It is the largest police department in the Midwest and the second largest local law enforcement agency in the...

 as an internal affairs
Internal affairs (law enforcement)
The internal affairs division of a law enforcement agency investigates incidents and plausible suspicions of lawbreaking and professional misconduct attributed to officers on the force...

 investigator, specializing in forensic accounting
Forensic accounting
Forensic accounting is the specialty practice area of accountancy that describes engagements that result from actual or anticipated disputes or litigation. "Forensic" means "suitable for use in a court of law", and it is to that standard and potential outcome that forensic accountants generally...

. Hanssen left the department after four years, joining the FBI in January 1976.

Hanssen met Bernadette "Bonnie" Wauck while he was attending dental school in Chicago. Bonnie was one of eight children from a staunchly Roman Catholic family. The couple married in 1968. After Hanssen married, he converted from Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 to his wife's Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, becoming a fervent believer and being extensively involved in Opus Dei
Opus Dei
Opus Dei, formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei , is an organization of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. The majority of its membership are lay people, with secular priests under the...

.

FBI career and first espionage activities (1979–1981)


Hanssen joined the FBI as a special agent on 12 January 1976 and was transferred to the field office in Gary, Indiana
Gary, Indiana
Gary is a city in Lake County, Indiana, United States. The city is in the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan area and is 25 miles from downtown Chicago. The population is 80,294 at the 2010 census, making it the seventh-largest city in the state. It borders Lake Michigan and is known...

. In 1978, Hanssen and his growing family (of three children and eventually six) moved to New York when the FBI transferred him to its field office there. The next year, Hanssen was moved into counter-intelligence and given the task of compiling a database of Soviet intelligence for the Bureau. It was then, in 1979, only three years after joining the FBI, that Hanssen began his career as a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 (and later a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n) spy.

That year, Hanssen approached the GRU
GRU
GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

 (the Soviet military intelligence agency) and offered his services. Hanssen never indicated any political or ideological motive for his activities, telling the FBI after he was caught that his only motivation was the money. During his first espionage cycle, Hanssen told the GRU a significant amount, including information on FBI bugging activities and Bureau lists of suspected Soviet intelligence agents. His most important leak of information was the betrayal of Dmitri Polyakov
Dmitri Polyakov
Dmitri Fyodorovich Polyakov was a Soviet Major General, a high-ranking GRU officer, and a prominent Cold War spy who revealed Soviet secrets to the Central Intelligence Agency...

, code named TOPHAT. Polyakov was a CIA informant for more than 20 years before his retirement in 1980, and passed enormous amounts of information to American intelligence while he rose to the rank of General in the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

. For unknown reasons, the Soviets did not act on their intelligence about Polyakov until he was betrayed a second time by CIA mole Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Hazen Ames is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who, in 1994, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia...

 in 1985. Polyakov was arrested in 1986 and executed in 1988. Ames was officially blamed for giving Polyakov's name to the Soviets, and Hanssen's role remained unknown until after his arrest in 2001.

Hanssen was nearly exposed in 1981, when Bonnie Hanssen caught her husband in their basement writing a letter to the Soviets. Hanssen admitted to her that he had been giving information to the Soviets (motivated purely by his need for money) and that he had received US$30,000 as payment, but he lied and said that he was only passing along false intelligence. Hanssen stopped spying for the Soviet Union until 1985.

FBI counterintelligence unit, further espionage activities (1985–1991)



Hanssen was transferred to the Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 office in 1981 and moved to the suburb of Vienna, Virginia
Vienna, Virginia
Vienna is a town in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, it had a population of 15,687. Significantly more people live in zip codes with the Vienna postal addresses bordered approximately by Interstate 66 on the south, Interstate 495 on the east, Route 7 to...

. His new job in the FBI's budget office gave him access to information involving many different FBI activities. This included all the FBI activities related to wiretapping and electronic surveillance, which were Hanssen's responsibility. He became known in the Bureau as an expert on computers.

In 1983, Hanssen transferred to the Soviet analytical unit, which was directly responsible for studying, identifying, and capturing Soviet spies and intelligence operatives in the United States. Hanssen's section was in charge of evaluating Soviet agents who volunteered to give intelligence to the US, to determine if they were genuine or double agent
Double agent
A double agent, commonly abbreviated referral of double secret agent, is a counterintelligence term used to designate an employee of a secret service or organization, whose primary aim is to spy on the target organization, but who in fact is a member of that same target organization oneself. They...

s. In 1985, Hanssen was again transferred to the FBI's field office in New York, where he continued to work in counter-intelligence against the Soviets. It was after the transfer, while on a business trip back to Washington, that he resumed his career in espionage. This time, he became an operative for the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

.

On 1 October 1985, he sent an anonymous letter to the KGB offering his services and asking for US$100,000 in cash. In the letter, Hanssen gave the names of three KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 agents in the United States secretly working for the FBI: Boris Yuzhin
Boris Yuzhin
Boris Yuzhin is a former Soviet spy. He was a mole in the KGB, spying for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the 1970s and 1980s before being caught and imprisoned....

, Valery Martynov, and Sergei Motorin. Unbeknownst to Hanssen, all three had already been exposed earlier that year by another mole, CIA employee Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Hazen Ames is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who, in 1994, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia...

. Martynov and Motorin were executed, and Yuzhin was imprisoned for six years, and eventually emigrated to the United States. Since the FBI attributed the leak to Ames, the trail to Hanssen was diverted. The 1 October letter was the beginning of an active, long espionage period for Hanssen. He remained busy with KGB correspondence over the next several years.

In 1987, Hanssen was recalled yet again to Washington. He was given the task of making a study of all known and rumoured penetrations of the FBI in order to find the man who had betrayed Martynov and Motorin. This meant that he was looking for himself. For obvious reasons, Hanssen ensured that he did not unmask himself with his study, but in addition, he also turned over the entire study, including the list of all Soviets who had contacted the FBI about FBI moles, to the KGB in 1988. Also in 1987, Hanssen, according to a government report, "committed a serious security breach" by revealing secret information to a Soviet defector during a debriefing. The agents working underneath him reported this security breach to a supervisor, but no action was taken.

In 1989, Hanssen handed over extensive information about American planning for Measurement and Signature Intelligence
Measurement and Signature Intelligence
Measurement and signature intelligence is a branch of intelligence gathering activities.MASINT, may have aspects of intelligence analysis management, since certain aspects of MASINT, such as the analysis of electromagnetic radiation received by signals intelligence are more of an analysis...

 (MASINT), an umbrella term for intelligence collected by a wide array of electronic means, such as radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

, underwater hydrophones for naval intelligence, spy satellites, and signal intercepts. When the Soviets began construction on a new embassy in 1977, the FBI dug a tunnel beneath the Soviet embassy, right under their decoding room. The FBI planned to use it for eavesdropping, but never did for fear of being caught. Hanssen disclosed this detailed information to the Soviets in September 1989 and received a US$55,000 payment the next month. On two occasions, Hanssen gave the Soviets a complete list of American double agents.

In 1989, Hanssen compromised the FBI investigation of Felix Bloch
Felix Bloch (diplomatic officer)
Felix Bloch is a former director of European and Canadian Affairs in the US Department of State. He is known in connection with Robert Hanssen espionage case. Hanssen was a Soviet spy who reported to his KGB handlers about the ongoing FBI investigations of Felix Bloch and Reino Gikman to save both...

. Bloch was a State Department official who had served all over the world for more than 30 years when he came under suspicion in 1989. Bloch was seen by French intelligence agents meeting a known KGB operative and giving him a black bag. Bloch was a stamp collector
Stamp collecting
Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and related objects. It is one of the world's most popular hobbies, with the number of collectors in the United States alone estimated to be over 20 million.- Collecting :...

 and tried claiming that the bag contained stamp albums. In May 1989, eight days after the meeting of Bloch with the KGB operative, Hanssen warned the KGB that Bloch was under investigation. In June, the operative called Bloch and said that he could not see Bloch anymore, specifically saying, "A contagious disease is suspected". The FBI believed that the call was a veiled warning. Felix Bloch maintained his innocence through an aggressive investigation that continued for months afterward. The FBI was unable to produce any hard evidence, and as a result, Bloch was never charged with a crime (although the State Department later terminated Bloch's employment and denied pension to him). The failure of the Bloch investigation, and the FBI's suspicion of how the KGB found out about the Bloch investigation, drove the mole hunt that eventually led to the arrest of Robert Hanssen.

In 1990, Hanssen's brother-in-law, Mark Wauck, who was also an FBI employee, recommended to the bureau that Hanssen be investigated for espionage. This was because Bonnie Hanssen's sister Jeanne Beglis had found a pile of cash sitting on the Hanssens' dresser in 1990 and then told Wauck. Five years earlier in 1985, Bonnie had told her brother that her husband once talked about retiring in Poland, then part of the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 and under Soviet domination. Wauck also knew that the FBI was hunting for a mole and so after some hesitation, Wauck spoke with his supervisor, who took no action.

Later FBI career, continued espionage activities (1992–2001)


The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 broke up into 15 countries, ceasing to exist in December 1991. Hanssen, possibly worried that he could be exposed during this time of upheaval in Russia, broke off communications with his handlers that same month and was out of contact for years.

Hanssen started his efforts at spying again in 1992, this time for the Russian Federation. He made a very risky approach to the GRU, with whom he had not been in contact since his initial foray into espionage in 1979–81. Hanssen, who in the past had always taken care to keep his face and his name hidden from the Russians, this time he went in person to the Russian embassy and physically approached a GRU officer in the embassy's parking garage. Hanssen, carrying a package of documents, identified himself as "Ramon Garcia" (the pseudonym he had used in his communications with the Soviets), a "disaffected FBI agent", and offered his services as a spy. The Russian officer, who evidently did not recognize the "Ramon Garcia" codename as belonging to the spy, got into his car and drove off. The Russians then filed an official protest with the State Department, believing the man in the garage to be a double agent. Despite showing his face, giving away his code name, and revealing that he was in the FBI, Hanssen escaped arrest because the FBI's investigation didn't go anywhere.

Hanssen continued to take risks in 1993. That same year, he hacked into the computer of a fellow FBI agent, Ray Mislock, printed out a classified document from Mislock's computer, and brought the document to Mislock, saying, "You didn't believe me that the system was insecure." This prompted an internal investigation by superiors. However, FBI officials believed him when he told them that he was merely demonstrating flaws in the FBI's security system. Mislock has since theorized that Hanssen actually went into his computer to see if the FBI was investigating him, and invented the document story to cover his tracks.

Hanssen expressed interest in a transfer to the new National Counterintelligence Center
Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive
The Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive directs national counter-intelligence for the United States government and is responsible to the Director of National Intelligence. The Office was established on January 5, 2001 by a directive from President Bill Clinton which also...

, founded in 1994 and placed in charge of coordinating counterintelligence activities. But when a superior told him that he would have to take a lie detector test to join, Hanssen changed his mind. Three years later, convicted FBI mole Earl Edwin Pitts
Earl Edwin Pitts
Earl Edwin Pitts is a former FBI special agent who, in 1996, was arrested at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Pitts was charged with several offenses, including spying for the Soviet Union and Russia...

 told the Bureau that he suspected Robert Hanssen of being a spy because Hanssen had broken into another agent's computer. Pitts was the second FBI agent to mention Hanssen by name as a possible mole (the first having been the brother-in-law Mark Wauck), but the FBI simply wrote this off as a reference to the Mislock incident, and again, no action was taken.

Hanssen was sent in 1995 to the Office of Foreign Missions at the State Department, as the senior FBI liaison, with the task of coordinating travel by foreign diplomats in the United States. On his weekly visits back to FBI headquarters he frequently visited Johnie Sullivan, Chief of the National Security Division's (NSD) Intelligence Information Services (IIS) Unit. Hanssen mostly wanted to chat about his interest in computer security technology and the new Intelink-FBI network that Sullivan's unit was building and installing throughout the Bureau's major field offices.

In 1997, IT personnel from the IIS Unit were sent to investigate Hanssen's FBI desktop computer following a reported failure. Johnie Sullivan, NSD's IIS Unit Chief, ordered the computer impounded after it appeared to have been tampered with. A digital investigation by Sullivan and his IT staff found that an attempted hacking had taken place using a password cracking
Password cracking
Password cracking is the process of recovering passwords from data that has been stored in or transmitted by a computer system. A common approach is to repeatedly try guesses for the password...

 program installed by Hanssen which caused a security alert and lockup. Following confirmation by the FBI CART Unit, Sullivan filed a report with Office of Professional Responsibility requesting further investigation of Hanssen's attempted penetration of the Bureau's high-security network operated by the National Security Division. Hanssen claimed all he wanted to do was connect a color printer to his computer, but needed the password cracker to get around the administrative password. The FBI believed his story and Hanssen was let off with a warning never to do it again. However, Sullivan felt that Hanssen's story was grossly inconsistent with the evidence and refused to withdraw the security violation report. The report was first ridiculed and later ignored by the NSD Security Countermeasures Unit.

During the same time period, Hanssen would go onto the FBI's internal computer case record and search to see if he was under investigation. He was indiscreet enough to type his own name into FBI search engines. Finding nothing, he decided to resume his spy career after eight years without contact with the Russians. He established contact with the SVR
Foreign Intelligence Service (Russia)
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service is Russia's primary external intelligence agency. The SVR is the successor of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB since December 1991...

 (the successor to the Soviet-era KGB) in the fall of 1999. He continued to do highly incriminating searches of FBI files for his own name and address. In November 2000, he sent his last letter to the Russians.

Investigation and arrest


The existence of two moles working simultaneously – Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Hazen Ames is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who, in 1994, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia...

 at CIA and Hanssen at FBI – complicated counterintelligence efforts in the 1990s. Ames was arrested in 1994, and his capture explained many of the asset losses American intelligence suffered in the 1980s, including the arrest and execution of Martynov and Motorin. However, two cases stuck out and remained unsolved. For one, the Felix Bloch case remained a mystery. Ames had been stationed in Rome at the time of the Bloch investigation and the mysterious telephone warning. Authorities were satisfied that Ames had no knowledge of the case, as he did not work for the FBI and is not thought to have had access to the case files. In addition, the exposure of the tunnel under the Russian embassy in Washington was a second intelligence failure that could not be blamed on Ames.

In 1994, after Ames, the FBI and CIA formed a joint mole-hunting team to find the suspected second intelligence leak. They formed a list of all agents known to have access to cases that were compromised. The codename of the FBI for the suspected spy was Graysuit. Some promising suspects were cleared, and the mole hunt found other penetrations such as CIA officer Harold James Nicholson
Harold James Nicholson
For the English diplomat, author, diarist and politician, see Harold Nicolson.Harold James Nicholson is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and a twice-convicted spy for Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service...

, but Hanssen escaped being noticed.

By 1998, using FBI criminal profiling techniques, the hunters had zeroed in on the wrong man: Brian Kelley, a CIA operative. Kelley had identified the very KGB agent who took the bag from Felix Bloch, but now found himself suspected to be the leak who had blown the case to the Soviets. The CIA and FBI searched his house, tapped his phone, and put him under surveillance. In November 1998 they had a man with a foreign accent come to Kelley's door, warn him that the FBI knew he was a spy, and tell him to show up at a metro station the next day in order to escape. Kelley instead reported the incident to the FBI. In 1999 the Bureau even called Kelley in for questioning and directly accused him of being a Russian spy. Over the next two days the FBI interrogated his ex-wife, two sisters, and three children. Kelley and his family denied everything, and his CIA career was badly damaged. He was eventually placed on administrative leave, where he remained, falsely accused, for nearly two years, until after Robert Hanssen was arrested.

A full year after interrogating Brian Kelley, and having failed to either bring a case against him or find another suspect, the FBI decided on a new tactic: buying the mole's identity. They searched for possible candidates to buy off and found one: a Russian businessman and former KGB agent whose identity remains classified to this day. An American company cooperated by inviting him to the United States for a business meeting. He came to New York and the FBI offered him a large sum of money if he would give the name of the mole. The Russian responded that he did not know the name, but that he could get the actual KGB/SVR file, which he had secretly taken out of headquarters. The file covered the mole's correspondence with the KGB from 1985 to 1991 and even included an audiotape of the voice of "Ramon Garcia". The FBI agreed to pay US$7 million for the file and set up the KGB officer and his family with new identities in the United States. In November 2000 the FBI finally obtained the file, consisting of a package the size of "a medium-sized suitcase". Among the host of documents and computer disks was an audiotape of a 21 July 1986 conversation between the mole and a KGB agent.

When the FBI listened to the tape, they expected to hear the voice of Brian Kelley, still the prime suspect. However, the voice on the recording was definitely not Kelley. FBI agent Michael Waguespack, listening to the tape, recognized the voice as familiar but could not remember who it was. Rifling through the rest of the file, they found notes of the mole using a quote from General George S. Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

 about "the purple-pissing Japanese". FBI analyst Bob King remembered Robert Hanssen using that same quote. Waguespack listened to the tape again and recognized it as the voice of Robert Hanssen.

The FBI finally had its man. Once the name was known, everything else fell into place – locations, cases, dates, references to Chicago and Mayor Daley etc. All these factors were a perfect match with Hanssen's activities during the time period. Also in the file was one of Hanssen's original packages for the KGB, complete with trash bag and with two fingerprints on it, which when tested were shown to be Hanssen's. The weight of evidence against Hanssen was overwhelming and conclusive.


The FBI placed Hanssen under round-the-clock surveillance and soon discovered that he was again in contact with the Russians. In order to bring him back to FBI headquarters, where he could be monitored and kept from sensitive data, they promoted him in December and gave him a new job supervising FBI computer security. In January, Hanssen got an office and an assistant, Eric O'Neill, who was actually a young FBI employee assigned to watch Hanssen. O'Neill ascertained that Hanssen was using a Palm III
Palm III
The Palm III was a personal digital assistant made by the Palm Computing division of 3Com. It went on sale in 1998 as a replacement for the PalmPilot handheld. It was the first Palm handheld to support infrared file transfer and a Flash ROM-capable operating system...

 PDA
Personal digital assistant
A personal digital assistant , also known as a palmtop computer, or personal data assistant, is a mobile device that functions as a personal information manager. Current PDAs often have the ability to connect to the Internet...

 to store his information. When O'Neill was able to obtain Hanssen's PDA briefly and have agents download and decode its encrypted contents, the FBI had its "smoking gun
Smoking gun
The term "smoking gun" was originally, and is still primarily, a reference to an object or fact that serves as conclusive evidence of a crime or similar act. In addition to this, its meaning has evolved in uses completely unrelated to criminal activity: for example, scientific evidence that is...

".

Hanssen realized in his final days with the FBI that something was wrong. In early February, he asked a friend of his at a computer technology company for a job. Hanssen also believed he was hearing noises on his car radio that indicated his car was bugged, although the FBI was later unable to reproduce the noises Hanssen claimed to have heard. In the last letter he ever wrote to the Russians (which was picked up by the FBI when he was arrested), Hanssen said that he had been promoted to a "do-nothing job...outside of regular access to information", and that "Something has aroused the sleeping tiger."

However, his suspicions did not stop him from making another drop. After dropping a friend at the airport on February 18, 2001, Hanssen drove to Virginia's Foxstone Park
Foxstone Park
Foxstone Park is a park located at 1910 Creek Crossing Road in Vienna, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA and run by the Fairfax County Park Authority...

. He placed a white piece of tape on a park sign, which was a signal to his Russian contacts that there was information at the dead drop
Dead drop
A dead drop or dead letter box is a method of espionage tradecraft used to pass items between two individuals by using a secret location and thus does not require them to meet directly. Using a dead drop permits a Case Officer and his Agent to exchange objects and information while maintaining...

. He then followed his usual routine, taking a package that consisted of a sealed garbage bag full of classified material and taping it to the bottom side of a wooden footbridge over a creek. The FBI, having caught him in the act, swooped in and arrested Hanssen on the spot. Upon the arrest, Hanssen realized his espionage days against the FBI were over, and said, "What took you so long?" The FBI waited two days for any of Hanssen's SVR handlers to show up at the Foxstone Park site. When they failed to do so, the Justice Department announced the arrest on February 20.

Guilty plea and imprisonment



With the representation of Washington lawyer Plato Cacheris
Plato Cacheris
Plato Cacheris is an American lawyer.Cacheris is the son of a Greek immigrant. He grew up in Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father co-owned a chain of restaurants including the historic downtown restaurant The Waffle Shop in Washington, D.C. In 1951, he joined the U.S. Marine...

, Hanssen negotiated a plea bargain
Plea bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...

 that enabled him to escape the death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 in exchange for cooperating with authorities. On 6 July 2001, he pleaded guilty to fifteen counts of espionage in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is one of two United States district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia...

. Hanssen was then sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

. His wife, along with their six children, received the survivor's part of Hanssen's pension, $38,000 per year.

Hanssen is Federal Bureau of Prisons
Federal Bureau of Prisons
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is a federal law enforcement agency subdivision of the United States Department of Justice and is responsible for the administration of the federal prison system. The system also handles prisoners who committed acts considered felonies under the District of Columbia's...

 prisoner #48551-083. He is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Bureau of Prisons Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Colorado
ADX Florence
The United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility is a supermax prison for men that is located in unincorporated Fremont County, Colorado, United States, south of Florence. It is unofficially known as ADX Florence, Florence ADMAX, Supermax, or The Alcatraz of the Rockies...

.

Modus operandi


Hanssen never told the KGB or GRU his identity and refused to meet them personally, with the exception of the abortive 1993 contact in the Russian embassy garage. The FBI believes the Russians never knew the name of their source. He went by the alias "Ramon" or "Ramon Garcia" when corresponding with the Soviets. He passed intelligence and received payments through an old-fashioned dead drop
Dead drop
A dead drop or dead letter box is a method of espionage tradecraft used to pass items between two individuals by using a secret location and thus does not require them to meet directly. Using a dead drop permits a Case Officer and his Agent to exchange objects and information while maintaining...

 system where Hanssen and his KGB handlers would leave packages in public places and place unobtrusive but visible marks in the area to let the other party know that a package was waiting.

In the words of David Major, one of his superiors at the FBI, Hanssen was "diabolically brilliant". He refused to use the dead drop sites that his handler, Victor Cherkashin
Victor Cherkashin
Victor Ivanovich Cherkashin , born in 1932 in the village of Krasnoe in the Kursk region was a counter-intelligence officer of the KGB. He joined the KGB in 1952 and retired in 1991. He was the case officer for both Aldrich Ames, a CIA counter-intelligence officer, and Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent,...

, suggested and instead picked his own. He also designated a code to be used when dates were exchanged. Six was to be added to the month, day and time of a designated drop time, so that, for example, a drop scheduled for January 6 at 1pm would be written as July 12 at 7pm.

Despite these efforts at caution and security, he could at times be reckless. He once said in a letter to the KGB that it should emulate the management style of Mayor Richard J. Daley
Richard J. Daley
Richard Joseph Daley served for 21 years as the mayor and undisputed Democratic boss of Chicago and is considered by historians to be the "last of the big city bosses." He played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F...

 – a comment that easily could have led an investigator to look at people from Chicago. He took the risk of recommending to his handlers that they try to recruit his closest friend, a colonel in the Army. In an early letter to Cherkashin, he claims, "As far as the funds are concerned, I have little need or utility for more than the $100,000."

Personal life


According to USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

, those who knew the Hanssens described them as a close family. They attended Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 weekly and were very active in Opus Dei
Opus Dei
Opus Dei, formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei , is an organization of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. The majority of its membership are lay people, with secular priests under the...

. Robert Hanssen's three sons attended The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland
Potomac, Maryland
Potomac is a census-designated place in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States, named for the nearby Potomac River. The population was 44,822 at the 2000 census. The Potomac area is known for its very affluent and highly-educated residents. In 2009 CNNMoney.com listed Potomac as the fourth...

, an all-boys preparatory school
University-preparatory school
A university-preparatory school or college-preparatory school is a secondary school, usually private, designed to prepare students for a college or university education...

. His daughters attended Oakcrest School for Girls
Oakcrest School (McLean, Virginia)
Oakcrest School is an independent Roman Catholic school for girls grades 6–12 located in McLean, Virginia. It is inspired by the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church under the auspices of Opus Dei....

, an independent Roman Catholic school
School
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

. Both schools are associated with Opus Dei. Hanssen's wife, Bonnie, taught religion at Oakcrest.

The priest at the Oakcrest School said that Hanssen had regularly attended a 6:30am daily mass for more than a decade. Opus Dei member Father C. John McCloskey III said Hanssen also occasionally attended the daily noontime Mass at the Catholic Information Center in downtown Washington, D.C. After going to prison, Hanssen claimed he periodically admitted his espionage to priests in confession
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

. He urged fellow Catholics in the Bureau to attend mass more often, and denounced the Russians as "godless," even though he was spying for them.

However, there was a second side to Hanssen's private life much as there was a second side to his professional life. Unbeknownst to his wife, and at Hanssen's suggestion, a friend would watch the Hanssens having sex through a bedroom window. He also began to secretly videotape their sexual encounters and shared the videotapes with him. Later, Hanssen hid a video camera in the bedroom that was connected to a closed-circuit television line so that his friend could observe the Hanssens from his guest bedroom.He also explicitly described the sexual details of his marriage on Internet chat rooms, giving information sufficient for those who knew them to recognize the couple.

Hanssen frequently visited DC strip clubs, and spent a great deal of time with a Washington, D.C., stripper
Stripper
A stripper is a professional erotic dancer who performs a contemporary form of striptease at strip club establishments, public exhibitions, and private engagements. Unlike in burlesque, the performer in the modern Americanized form of stripping minimizes the interaction of customer and dancer,...

 named Priscilla Sue Galey. She went to Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 with Hanssen on a trip and on a visit to the FBI training facility in Quantico, Virginia
Quantico, Virginia
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there are 561 people, 295 households, and 107 families living in the town. The population density is . There are 359 housing units at an average density of .-Racial composition:...

. He gave her money, jewels and a used Mercedes
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

, but cut off contact with her before his arrest, when she fell into drug abuse and prostitution. Galey claims that although she offered to sleep with him, Hanssen declined, saying that he was trying to convert her to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

.

Popular culture


He is talked about in Ronald Kessler's book "The secrets of the FBI" in chapter 15, "Catching Hanssen," and chapter 16, "Breach". The story of Eric O'Neill's role in the capture of Robert Hanssen was dramatized in the 2007 film Breach
Breach (film)
Breach is a 2007 American historical drama directed by Billy Ray. The screenplay by Ray, Adam Mazer, and William Rotko is based on the true story of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and later Russia for more than two decades, and Eric O'Neill, who worked as his...

, in which Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper (actor)
Christopher W. "Chris" Cooper is an American film actor. He became well known in the late 1990s. He has appeared in supporting performances in several major Hollywood films, including The Bourne Identity, American Beauty, Capote, The Town, The Kingdom, Syriana, October Sky, Seabiscuit, and...

 played the role of Hanssen and Ryan Phillippe
Ryan Phillippe
Matthew Ryan Phillippe , better known as Ryan Phillippe, is an American actor. After appearing on the soap opera One Life to Live, he came to fame in the late 1990s starring in a string of films, including I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, and 54...

 played O'Neill.

The 2007 documentary Superspy: The Man Who Betrayed the West describes the hunt to trap Robert Hanssen. Hanssen also was the subject of a 2002 made-for-television movie, Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story, written by Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S...

 and starring William Hurt
William Hurt
William McGill Hurt is an American stage and film actor. He received his acting training at the Juilliard School, and began acting on stage in the 1970s. Hurt made his film debut as a troubled scientist in the science-fiction feature Altered States , for which he received a Golden Globe nomination...

 as Hanssen. Robert Hanssen's jailers allowed him to watch this movie, but Hanssen was so angered by the film that he turned it off.

External links