The Bureau and The Mole: The Unmasking of Robert Philip Hanssen, the Most Dangerous Agent in FBI History
After reading about the Mossad, I got curious and ordered a bunch of books about other spy organizations. NSA, which I didn’t realize was so massive; CIA spycraft; economic espionage; and the one I’m currently reading about the FBI, its notorious traitor Robert Philip Hanssen and the man who caught him, Louis J. Freeh.
All I knew back then, several months before 9/11 erased the entire affair from the headlines and briefs, was that Hanssen sold classified information to the Russians. What I didn’t know was the huge amounts of information, including policies the government follows if under nuclear attack, where POTUS and the head of government hide out, defense systems, double agents spying on Russia, counterintelligence measures employed by the government and so forth.
Essentially, if we went to war with the Russians, they would’ve had our playbook. Trick plays and all.
I own Breach, the movie about Hanssen, and was mesmerized by Hanssen’s audacity. But the book, as usual, goes into so much more detail that I’m dumbfounded at easily he got away with it right under the noses of the very agency tasked with preventing it. He gave away the NSA’s secret tunnel under the Russian embassy. He gave away satellite links and crypto-codes. He gave away the identities of those who was doing what he did for us.
But it’s not only the spying he did that surprised me. Hanssen’s ultimate fantasy was watching his best friend [if not only friend] having sex with his wife. But since his devoutly religious wife would never even entertain such a thought, Hanssen secretly recorded and/or had his friend peering through a window watching him [Hanssen] having sex with his wife.
While his best friend was in Vietnam, Hanssen sent him photos of his wife. Naked.
Hanssen also spent thousands on a stripper he met at Joanna’s, a strip club in DC. He took her on trips, gave her gifts including a Mercedes, and all kinds of other things until she used an American Express card he gave to her for car maintenance and gas on Easter gifts for family. He then cut her off completely. He slipped into drugs, prostitution and is now worse off than before she met him.
I’m only halfway through the book and already disturbed by what Hanssen got away with. To think he did all this while Aldrich Ames was also feeding the Russians information from the CIA. How did we win the Cold War again?
But the book is also about FBI Director Louis Freeh. Didn’t know how illustrious his career was before being named FBI Director. His work to bring down the global network of the Mafia was impressive. It’s one thing to take down a don or two, but Freeh’s ambition and patience spanned the Atlantic Ocean where the don of all dons was brought down in Italy.
Sometimes when I read books like The Bureau and the Mole, I wonder how much of that is going on as we speak. Was there someone who knew and tried to inform Osama bin Laden we were coming? Is Iran peaking into our playbook hence their defiance to our attempts to shut down their nuclear program, be it for energy or weapons? Is someone feeding Israel and the Mossad classified information as Johnathan Pollard did back in the day?
To think, as I ride the Metro reading The Bureau and the Mole, I could be sitting next to the next Hanssen. Or his handler.