“The spies in history who can say from their graves, the infomation I supplied to my masters, for better or worse, altered the history of our planet, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Richard Sorge was in that group.”
Born 1941 in River Falls, Wisconsin, the son of Carleton Ames, a teacher at River Falls State Teachers College and grandson of Jesse Ames, the president of the school. His mother was also a teacher. Carleton Ames, struggled with alcohol but introduced his son to the theatre, a passion that Aldrich would follow for years as he participated in plays throughout high school.
The Ames family moved to McLean, Virginia in 1951 when Carleton Ames took a position with the CIA where he worked for a time with James Jesus Angleton. Aldrich enrolled at George Washington University, majoring in history and took a part-time position, arranged by his father at the CIA in 1959. Was believed to be one of the youngest employees ever with the agency. Eventually received a degree from George Washington in 1967.
Continued working with the agency and was assigned to a post in Turkey where he was sent to try to recruit new intelligence agents. Unfortunately, was unable to recruit any new spies. Was considered aloof by those around him. This, along with his tepid performance as a case officer, caused resentment from fellow workers. Was recalled from Ankara in 1972 and assigned to a post at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia where he was given the task of recruiting Soviet officials. At headquarters, Ames was looked upon with disdain by his colleagues, many of whom believed that he was a product of nepotism. Despite this, he was made privy to top secret information on Soviet operatives. Still, he failed to recruit any new agents. Was assigned to the New York office in 1980, instructed to recruit new Soviet agents from the United Nations delegation. Married his girlfriend Nancy in 1980. The couple struggled early in the marriage and Aldrich began drinking, a habit that would become problematic in the years to come.
After being passed over for a promotion (due in part to his ineptitude as a recruiter in New York), Ames applied for and was assigned to a post in Mexico City, Mexico. His wife, however, stayed behind. Met with continued lack of success as a recruiter in Mexico City, prompting him to fall further into his drinking habit. Also was becoming disillusioned with certain activities by the CIA in Latin America.
Met Columbian socialite Maria del Rosario Casas, the cultural attache for the Columbian embassy in Mexico City. Her father was a former member of the Columbian Senate and she was raised in a world of privilege. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of the Andes in 1974 and became a faculty member at the University shortly thereafter. Was extremely close to her mother, Cecelia Depuy de Casas, a lover of music and also a faculty member at the University. Rosario had on occasion loaned out her apartment to CIA operatives for meeting with Mexican spies. After being introduced to Ames, she was recruited by him into service with the CIA. The two were romantically involved and traveled among the more prominent circles in Mexico.
Aldrich Ames - Spy Who Betrayed CIA (1/2)
Aldrich Ames - Spy Who Betrayed CIA (2/2)
Ames was promoted in 1983, heading up the CIA Soviet counterintelligence branch, and was assigned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In his new position, he was given access to nearly all information available on Soviet cases, including U.S. assets operating within the Soviet Union. After a period of time, he brought Rosario to the United States to live with him. She pressured him to divorce his wife Nancy and she consented, keeping most of the couples assets (the divorce was finalized in 1985). Rosario began running up huge bills, shopping and placing calls to her mother in Bogota. Ames was soon almost $60,000.00 in debt, but was earning only $45,000.00 each year. Burdened by his overwhelming debt-load, Ames began searching for means of obtaining additional money. He had once heard that a co-worker had been offered $50,000 to spy for the KGB, and he began to consider that as a possibility.
In April 1985, Ames tried to meet with Sergey Chuvakhin, a Soviet arms expert to suggest that he might be willing to spy for the Soviet Union. Instead, he decided to approach Stanislav Androsov, a Soviet agent at the Soviet embassy. Ames passed Androsov a note, offering to provide the name of three Soviets working for U.S. intelligence in exchange for $50,000.00. Androsov introduced him to Victor Cherkashin, the KGB counterespionage chief at the embassy. Cherkashin accepted Ames' offer and Ames was given a bag containing $50,000.00.