INT: In fact, actually it's a side issue - Markus Wolf told us on film - I don't know whether we'll use it; it's interesting as a historical sideline - that in fact the loss of Brandt was a bad thing, that it might have been better... I mean, this is the clear implication... not to have Guillaume in there ...

AA: That's right.

INT: ... and for Brandt, as a supporter of Ostpolitik, to have survived.

10:34:50 AA: Yes, these are all interesting questions. Espionage, although it's financially cheap, carries some serious, from time to time, and increasingly today, carries very heavy risks, and this is what I think General Wolf was referring to. It may be cheap compared to putting satellites up, but it can cost you politically a great deal when the flap comes, as they so often do. And these are things that espionage managers and intelligence managers, and even policy-makers, have to keep and should keep in mind. Now, in the United States, of course, we've kept on the wartime tradition: risks... I mean, this is a war, so espionage risks don't exist, when in fact, and we see increasingly, they do: the French... the affair in Paris a couple of years ago. espionage can carry political risks, and it will do so increasingly f-for the United States, unless and until the policy-makers enforce on the intelligence managers, as I'm sure they're starting to do, saying, "Listen here, you've got to be careful about who you're going to recruit and run," because when they blow up, I mean, we can't have... you know, Japan and Germany and France, the EU -, there are terrible political costs to be paid in the future. The world has changed.

10:36:25 INT: You said once that you felt that it was, as it were, inherent in espionage that it was a betrayal of trust.

AA: Sure.

INT: And I wonder if you could... again I'd really like you to say that, and to sort of succinctly expand upon it. Tell me about... paint a picture of what the nature of espionage is for an audience that probably has a very romantic picture of it.

10:36:52 AA: Sure. Well, espionage, for the most part, involves finding a person who knows something or has something that you can induce them secretly to give to you that almost always involves a betrayal of trust, whether it's a Japanese businessman giving you some technical information that his company has entrusted him with whether it's an official of another government who obviously has a position of trust within that government whether it's the wife of a military officer whom you've induced to betray the trust placed in her by her husband, in order to get information that might enable you to recruit him. There's a betrayal of trust. espionage revolves around the many different forms of betrayals of trust. it's to be distinguished, for example, when... were the SIS or were the CIA to talk to a businessman, a British businessman or an American businessman, who travels abroad and sees something and debriefs him on his return - this is not espionage, even though it might have to be done secretly and discreetly to protect the people and the interests involved. There's no... there... it's not the s... the ... a betrayal of trust. It could easily cross the line; you could see how a businessman might cross that line but up to a certain point the betrayal of trust element isn't there. Just as, for example, let's say a Soviet exchange student back in the Seventies or Eighties, would go back and tell the KGB - reluctantly or eagerly, depending - you know, about people and places and things that he'd seen and done and been involved with. This is not really espionage; there's no betrayal of trust. So I think that's the key that distinguishes espionage from anything else, and of course the case officers, the manager... the recruiters and managers of agents are in the business of inducing, exploiting and making use of betrayals of trust. ...

(Change tape)


(Mr. Ames says he wants to see the transcript of the whole thing)

04:00:49 INT: You were going to say something to me and we veered off the subject. I wanted to go back on to it, just briefly - that's the question of the symbiosis, of the mirroring of the KGB and the CIA in this cold war. There was that run of cartoons which you must remember, the Spy Versus Spy cartoons, and sometimes you get a picture that that's actually sort of what's going on, is that you guys are playing some grand game by yourselves in some part of the forest, and only you people understand the rules and only you people understand the benefits.

AA: I think that that's a very fair characterization (Overlap). The Spy versus Spy...

(Interruption - request for full answer)

04:01:29 AA: The Spy Versus Spy caricature that implies a symbiosis on both sides, feeding their own careerism or their own romantic urges may have some validity in counterintelligence and counterespionage, in which you have each side peering deeply into the entrails of the other's organization and matching up names and faces, and playing games and feeding their egos and their professional careers with this kind of thing. So there is some validity. It breaks down a little bit when the names acquired get fed to the police, whether it's MI5 and Special Branch, the FBI, the Second Chief Directorate - then the symbiosis changes because these folks, the police, security police, or however you want to characterize them, they're not part of that symbiosis. And that's why, for example the counterintelligence specialists in the intelligence agencies always have such a rocky relationship with the counterespionage officials and police. This is as true on the Soviet side as it is on the British or American side. The symbiosis or the mirror imaging, or, as some people would say, the relativism, the morally bankrupt relativistic viewpoint, doesn't really hold true in what we would call the positive intelligence, and this is where, for example, you can see the big contrast between say the CIA's espionage operations producing very little, almost nothing, in terms of political and economic intelligence, whereas the KGB over the years had a much higher success rate a greater success in obtaining political and economic intelligence through espionage. So that's why I think this kind of mirror imaging doesn't really hold up. There is... but in this whole business, there is a temptation to see the mirror imaging. ... (Slight overlap) But it has to be limited; you have to really define your terms closely, or else you do find yourself in a wilderness.

INT: I mean, is it actually feasible that you could have... I mean, supposing you had got important political sources, supposing you had a very important political source within the Central Committee or even the Politburo or whatever, and you had gone to Washington with that information, and you had said to the President in effect, via the channels that you guys operate through, "Actually, these people are not plotting world domination," how plausible is it, and in a sense how much could we approve of it, if the President said at that point, "Right, let's cut the CIA by 98%, let's cut the armed forces, in the light of this extraordinary information"? I mean, I'm not even thinking about that from a sort of... I'm not even trying to be, shall we say, a little bit sophisticated and blasé about it, but actually would it be right, or would the proper response of the President be: "Great. Here's more money - go for it"?

AA: "Press on."

INT: "Press on" - right. How do we believe this, anyway? How can we ever believe it? In other words... could you explain to me, then, Mr. Ames, within what context... what is the proper relationship between an espionage organization and the President of the United States, shall we say?

04:05:40 AA: All right. leaving aside covert action, overthrowing governments and what not, the proper relationship is no relationship. That is to say, what an espionage organization is a collector: it collects raw information, even if it happens to be the minutes of Thursday's Politburo meeting. That then gets processed, in the ideal view, by a machinery in the system that is supposed to vet it, that is supposed to resolve to the fullest extent possible its reliability, its bona fides, and to then place it in perspective with all other sources, and to present a finished product to the President. So the President is not placed in a position in which he has to agonize over its reliability. and in fact he is also given on a platter a context for this information, how it fits in. Now the intelligence agency, within which sits the espionage component, isn't recommending, is not recommending policy, it's not saying, "On the basis of this, you should do this." The President gets it, his senior Cabinet members and senior staff people get it, and then they might debate this question and try and resolve it. But the report, the finished intelligence report, and then the minutes of the Politburo meeting underlying it, don't engage in the debate. And I guess what we're talking about here is shorthand for saying that these debates really don't take place. That is to say, when this ... to the extent the information ever surfaces up, ever emerges into the sight of the policy-maker... a debate would be enabled, but there is no debate in most cases. I mean, there are some, but in terms of the central East-West security and defense issues and stuff, there is virtually no debate. What you have are interest groups contending, and a whole lot of other things. I mean, an American historian, John Produst, some years ago wrote a book about the Soviet estimate. Now there's been a lot of work done since by other historians and political scientists, which tend to show... and granted, we're not dealing with an espionage product usually, but the technically acquired intelligence... and this tends to show this same thing, and I would be surprised if Mel Goodman didn't give you a far more nuanced and articulate view of at least these issues that I'm talking about, and these present serious questions, not only for students of the Cold War, and "Do we now really know?" as Geddis Methwood said in his recent book, but for future policy in a different sort of world. In my case, probably.. one of the startling things that relates to this proposition of the lack of success of our espionage efforts, is that by the early to mid-Eighties we were as rich, the CIA was as rich in human sources in the Soviet Union as we had ever been. There are kind of peaks and valleys as we go back through the history: there were times when we had a lot, there were times when we dwindled down, built up. We were at one of the peaks, one of the biggest peaks in the early Eighties and mid-Eighties in terms of numbers and at least by their own lights, the quality of those sources. Then, between 1985 and ... [Break in text]... dropped off the screen, and it became clear that ... [break in text]... big problem. But for the point I'm making right now, the important thing is, there was no more production from these sources. Within a year-and-a-half period, there were no more reports from these agents. And what was the reaction? There was no reaction. The Secretary of State, the Deputy Director for Intelligence, and the later the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Bob Gates all the people in the National Security staff, all the people who were presumably the avid consumers of (Coughs)... of political and economic intelligence produced by the most sensitive sources, were all of a sudden cut off, and they must have asked "What's happening? Find out what's going on. This is terrible. We are suddenly blinded." And this is perhaps the big case for the damage that was done, apa

INT: There must have been some... would I be right in saying that nevertheless there must have been some component of, as it were, war-winning aspects to the loss? ... Let me ask you this question: from the point of view of the kind of information that a Tolkachev was in a position to give you, had America found itself - God forbid - in some kind of conflict with the Soviet Union during the Eighties, how bad could that have been? And it seems we can put it in personal terms here, because presumably, in giving up names which had, shall we say, a technical-military value, you were presumably making a guess that to give those names up was not to invite a nuclear missile from the Soviet Union on to your family's house?