Aldrich Ames was one of the most notorious spys in United States history, single handily crippling the United States spy network in the Soviet Union, and compromising hundreds of Intelligence Operations around the world. Ames’ impact on the national security of the United States was devastating and the ramifications of his actions can still be felt today in the Intelligence Community. This paper will provide details into the background and the events surrounding Ames’ espionage and subsequent arrest for treason.
Aldrich Ames was born in 1941 in Rivers Falls, Wisconsin. His father, Carleton Ames, was college lecturer and in the latter part of his career worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a Case officer. His father moved Ames and his family to his first assignment for the CIA in Southeast Asia for three years under the guise of a college professor teaching abroad. Carleton had a less than stellar tour of duty in Southeast Asia receiving a negative performance report and subsequently was sent back to CIA Headquarters at Langley, Virginia. This caused Carleton to drink heavily and the rest of his career was mired in alcoholism and mediocre performance at work.
Ames attended High School in Virginia and it was during his sophomore year that he spent a summer working at the CIA as an intern doing low-level tasks. He spent the following 2 more summers interning at the CIA, ultimately working full time after dropping out of college in Chicago. While he worked full time at the CIA, Ames enrolled at George Washington University part time and finished with a Bachelor degree in History. Ames married his high school sweetheart and then attended training at the CIA’s Career Training Program with the ultimate goal of becoming a Case Officer. During his initial assessments he was given a psychological evaluation. Ames placed on the low end of the spectrum being evaluated to not have the qualities for a Case Officer. He was categorized as an intelligence homebody with poor social skills. In spite of this evaluation he was still allowed to continue on in the course. Upon completion of his training to be a Case Officer, Ames was assigned to various posts such as Turkey, New York, and Mexico City with the assignment of infiltrating Soviet circles and recruiting potential sources.
Ames did not excel as a Case Officer and his mediocre progress in this field led to a serious of security infractions and alcohol related incidents, which further pushed him towards alcoholism. Of the few assets Ames was able to recruit was his future wife Maria del Rosario Casas, the cultural attaché for the Columbian Embassy in Mexico City. They met while Ames was on assignment in Mexico City and Rosario was assisting the CIA with the management of safe houses. Rosario came from a prominent family in Columbia, although she was not wealthy by any means her family drew a lot of connections in Mexico City and therefore Ames identified her as a...