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Students and alumni tour park involved in Hanssen spy case

Foxstone Park Tour, April 2013 (4)Every year, the late Professor Brian Kelley brought his class and interested students on a tour of Foxstone Park, one of his jogging routes, more famously known for being one of Robert Hanssen’s drop sites. 

There, Hanssen “dropped” classified documents on a concrete ledge under a small wooden bridge, in clear sight of the homes overlooking the well-trafficked neighborhood park.  Falsely accused of being the mole, Professor Kelley was finally exonerated after an 18-month forced leave when Hanssen’s duplicity was caught on a KGB tape. 

On April 6, 2013, Trish McCarthy Kelley and Brian Kelley, Jr. carried on Prof. Kelley’s legacy and shared his story to another class of alumni and students through the tour and their insights into the Hanssen/Kelley case.  Kelley was believed to be a “superspy” and dubbed “Evil Genius” and “Iceman” due to his clean record and show of innocence. Hanssen, on the other hand, was never on the FBI’s short list of suspects, but given his operational errors it is a wonder that he was able to be a Soviet agent for decades without getting caught.  

Some of the errors Trish and Brian noted include:

  • Hanssen wrapped classified documents in black garbage bags at the busy Route 7 plaza in Northern Virginia, in plain sight of passersby.
  • He parked, entered and exited Foxstone Park from the same location repeatedly.
  • Hanssen’s marker to identify when he dropped documents was a piece of white tape placed horizontally at eye level on the park entrance’s sign, which was highly conspicuous.  The Russians turned the tape vertically when they left him money.
  • He cased the park 17 times looking for the Soviet’s money drop.
  • In a park, where everyone dressed casually, Hanssen would make his drops in a three piece suit.
  • Hanssen most frequently used Nottoway Park, which was very close to his home, as a drop site.

Brian Kelley at Foxstone Park, photo from the Washington PostThrough the trials and tribulations, Professor Kelley managed to return to a happy and fulfilled life.  He met his wife, Trish, in the last four months of his leave.  Professor Kelley’s good name was restored upon Hanssen’s arrest in 2001.  He was intimidated and lied to throughout his forced leave, but, with true grace, stated that his only desire was to go back to work for the agency and country he held so close to his heart–making him the only officer to walk in back into Langley after a walk out.  He was allowed to come in from the cold.   

Prior to Hanssen’s betrayal, the FBI did not polygraph their employees as part of their clearance renewal process. The Bureau changed their policy and practice because of this case. 

Professor Kelley shared his story, as his children and wife now do in his stead, so that what happened to him will never happen to anyone again.

Thank you to the IWP Alumni Association for organizing this tour, and to Trish and Brian Kelley for leading it.

Foxstone Park Tour, April 2013 (2)

Top photo: Trish and Brian Kelley in front of Foxstone Park sign.
Middle photo: The late Brian Kelley at Foxstone Park, photo by Washington Post.
Bottom photo: Trish and Brian Kelley discussing the Hanssen spy case with IWP students and alumni.