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Beyond Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Other Moles, Double Agents and Traitors
Posted November 29, 2011 to photo album "Beyond Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Other Moles, Double Agents and Traitors"
In TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDER, SPY, no one is what they appear, especially with a suspected Soviet mole at the very center of the Circus. But turncoats, traitors, moles, double agents, and sleeper cells are nothing new in the world of espionage.
Robert Hanssen: A Traitor for the Children
Robert Hanssen's mugshot; the Hanssen home in Vienna, VA.
On the face of it, no one would seem less like a traitor than Robert Hanssen, a family man with eight children and an ultra patriot who, as a member of the strict order of the Catholic sect Opus Dei, maintained a deeply conservative political and moral ideology. After getting an MBA, Hanssen worked his way up through law enforcement, first in the Chicago Police Department, where he worked for a secret internal affairs group spying on drug enforcement cases. Eventually he came to work at the FBI. While he rose up to middle management, his $40,000 a year job was barely enough to keep his large brood in the fancy Catholic schools Hanssen believed they should be in. After dabbling with selling state secrets in 1979, Hanssen contacted Victor Cherkashin, the head of Soviet Espionage, through a coded letter in 1984, handing over the names of three double agents. The Soviets sent him $50,000 in payment. Over the next six years, he handed over 6,000 pages of confidential info to the KGB, earning some $600,000 in payment. Much of this he used to keep his six kids in the Opus Dei school. Hanssen continued to make drops and collect money, long after the Soviet Union had begun to crumble. After a series of blunders brought him to the attention of counter-espionage agents, Hanssen was arrested in a sting in February 2001, and by June, the government had hammered together a deal in which Hanssen would get a life sentence but his wife would maintain his pension. After his arrest, secrets about him started to come out, including his affair with a D.C. stripper. A college friend, Robert Lauren, remembered how Hanssen had given him Kim Philby’s memoir in 1969 with the comment, “You know, someday I'd like to pull off a caper like that.” His story has inspired a number of films, including BREACH (with Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe), the made-for-TV film MASTER SPY: THE ROBERT HANSSEN STORY (written by Norman Mailer), and the documentary SUPERSPY: THE MAN WHO BETRAYED THE WEST. His wife, Bonnie, and his children continue to visit him in prison. Also a member of Opus Dei, Bonnie Hanssen explains, “I'll never divorce him. I love him and I'll pray for the salvation of his soul every day for the rest of my life."