The Institute of World Politics
February 25, 2011
Due to space constraints, registration for this event is closed.
It was a quarter to five on the evening of 18 February, 2001 when FBI supervisory special agent Robert Philip Hanssen approached his vehicle parked in close proximity to Foxstone Park about one mile from his home in Vienna, Virginia. Hanssen had just emerged from a path located inside the park where he had placed a package wrapped in black plastic underneath a park bridge. Inside the package were hundreds of highly classified US documents which were to have been picked up later that evening by a Russian SVR intelligence officer. That action would never occur, because just as Hanssen approached his vehicle, a dark van screeched to a halt in front of him. From inside the van, four men brandishing a variety of weapons leaped out and screamed out at Hanssen, “FBI, you are under arrest.”
After slapping handcuffs on the startled Hanssen, the FBI agents searched him and then hustled him into a waiting van which transported him to a waiting jail cell. Several months later, Hanssen would plead guilty to fifteen counts relating to espionage and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for release.
The arrest of Hanssen represented the culmination of an intensive seven year investigation which looked deep into the US counterintelligence community in an effort to find a devastating mole who was known to have continued to operate after the February 1994 arrest of CIA operations officer Aldrich “Rick” Ames. The arrest of Ames allowed US counterintelligence officials to identify the person who was responsible for the compromise of so many critical CIA secrets to Soviet and later Russian intelligence during periods of the Cold War. At least ten Soviet officials were executed as a result of Ames’ treasonous actions. Ames’ heinous actions put our nation at significant risk. But the arrest of Ames had not answered all the questions about other related compromises, primarily tightly held FBI secrets, which were known to have been sold to the Russians. There was another devastating mole; one described as even more damaging than Ames. Who was he?
In announcing the arrest of Hanssen to the American people on 20 February, FBI Director Louis Freeh commented that the work of the FBI in the case represented a “counterintelligence coup” by the FBI and had represented the highest standards of the FBI. But was this pronouncement valid? What was not stated during the press conference was that for more than three years, the FBI pursued the “wrong man” believing him to be the mole despite there being no real evidence to support that contention.
On 25 February at 6PM, IWP Professor Brian Kelley, a retired CIA officer who knew and worked with Hanssen, will provide the intimate details about the “story behind the story” relative to the investigation of the FBI traitor.
Using the actual video clips taken of the arrest of Hanssen, along with salient clips from the movie Breach and from a 60 Minutes story which document the events leading to Hanssen’s arrest, Professor Kelley will walk the audience through the complex case of the bizarre traitor focusing on Hanssen’s lack of operational “tradecraft” coupled with salient investigative issues which took this investigation down the wrong path for many years. In addition to his talk, Mr. Kelley will introduce some special guests who were connected in various ways to the investigation.
The event will take place at The Institute of World Politics at 1521 16th Street NW, Washington, DC. Please click here to register.
This event will be in honor of IWP’s 1947 Club members, who support student scholarships at IWP.