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Thursday, August 7, 2014

12. SPOOK WRITER 2


CIA traitor Aldrich Ames


UNDERCOVER WITH FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE

OCTOBER 1993


A Fed Ex envelope from Howard arrived one week later.  Inside, a letter with this message:  Howard would meet me in Zurich, Switzerland, "13:00 hours," at the reception desk of Hotel Kindli, which, he instructed, we should refer to in all communications as the kids place

This greatly relieved Joseph and Sultan; promise of a face-to-face with Howard suggested progress, though they conceded his book would not be a spring title.

"And we're still hurting for finance," said Joseph.  "If we don't get any, we may have to kill the Howard book.  His literary agent is bugging us every day for the advance and we don't have it." 

I phoned Howard. 

"Big news, huh?"  I was referring to Aldrich Ames, a CIA official who had just been arrested for conspiracy to commit espionage. 

"Yeah."  Howard sounded shaken and stirred.  "It brings back old memories." 

"We still on for the kids place?" 

"Yeah," said Howard.  "When can you get there?"

"Four days after the date you suggested." 

"That'll be fine." 

Next I phoned John H.  "You boys have been busy."

"We sure have," he said.  "Now that it [the Ames apprehension] is out the way, Headquarters can focus on our project." 

John H was intrigued by Howard's shaken response to the Ames arrest. 

In his book proposal, Howard claimed that he had visited the United States with a phony U.S. passport in 1986, a year after his defection to Moscow; that he had met in a Washington park with an authoritative American, as arranged by the KGB, who warned him about seeking out his wife, Mary, because she was cooperating with the FBI. 

"Do you remember that guy The Author (Howard) wrote about?" asked John H. 

"I remember it well." 

John H’s implication:  The man Howard met on a park bench in Washington was Ames. 

I telephoned Howard and discussed with him the inability of National Press to pay his advance at the present time, Howard's writing progress, our imminent rendezvous, and the American spy he had met during his clandestine trip to the USA in 1986. 

ME:  Is it your belief that there's still somebody else (another spy beyond Ames)?" 

EH:  Well, I think that you, um, go to the last part of my trip to America, uh… 

ME:  Yeah, I remember that.  Is that the guy [Ames]?

EH:  No.  The man I met in the States is different.
  
This tipped me, and the FBI, to an extremely important truth:  Another American in a high-ranking post within the U.S. intelligence community was passing secrets to the Russians.    

John H arrived in Washington along with a thunderstorm of flashflood proportions.  The hunt for a new mole was about to commence.   

He greeted me at the door of room 922, Holiday Inn Chevy Chase. 

As a heavy, relentless rain lashed the window beside our small table, we got down to business:  A two-page shopping list John H had compiled from vetting Edward Howard's manuscript. 

Some items pinpointed contradictions about what Howard had written compared to what he had told other people. 

John H suggested I get Howard to trip up, further contradict himself, and thereby weaken his resistance to the truth by catching him in a web of lies. 

Howard had proposed to write about the Black Box.

What other secret operations would he reveal? 

Howard had written of traveling to Havana and giving Cuban intelligence officers insights into how CIA thinks and behaves.  The Cubans, wrote Howard, knew of a lesbian within CIA's ranks and wanted to compromise and blackmail her.  

What had become of their operation to entrap this officer? 

Howard had written about his good relationship with former KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov. 

"If Ed had nothing to offer the Russians, as he claims, how come he was able to get so buddy-buddy with Kryuchkov?" posed John H. 

Next item:  Howard wrote that the KGB had shown him photographs of suspected CIA personnel for identification.  

"This itself would be considered espionage," said John H.  "Will he confirm that he positively identified these officers?" 

Item five dealt with a CIA operative believed to have been compromised by Howard.  But Howard claimed that the Russians identified this officer "a year before my arrival." 

How did Howard know that? 

Next item:  Howard takes the view that he could never be convicted for espionage.  So why doesn't he return?

 "The answer," said John H, "is because we can convict him.  We have enough testimony.  Ed knows this and he knows we know.  From your perspective, Ed's got to be more believable about why he chose to flee to Moscow if he hadn't done anything wrong." 

Next item:  Howard's contradictions regarding Adolph Tolkachev, the Russian defense scientist arrested, tried and executed for espionage after Howard compromised him. 

Next item:  Howard's failed polygraph.  

"This is the pivotal point of his story," said John H.  "He should be prepared to tell all." 

"You'd make a good editor," I said.  "I wonder what Howard would say if he knew you are shaping his book?" 

(The irony of this unique situation was not lost on either of us.) 

Howard had written:  "The idea of running a train car full of computers and spy devices right through the heart of the USSR was something that the boys at Langley could not resist doing."   

John H posed these questions for Howard: 

Is this for real?  Do you know more details?   

"This is something that really happened," said John H.   "It's not so important now, but it was very important back then.  It's another example, we think, of something Howard gave away." 

Next:  Howard’s current drinking habits.   

"After too much drink," said John H, "he gets weepy and admits he spied." 

Next:  Howard depicted himself as a faithful married man.  But this was far from the truth. 

"Would any of this be a problem for you to handle?" asked John H. 

"You kidding?  I'm his editor, which makes me a notch higher than psychotherapist.  It's my job to play devil's advocate." 

"Good," said John H.  "People at the top have confidence in your ability to pull this off."  

He produced an envelope stuffed with hundred dollar bills, expense money for my trip. 

"You're on your own in Zurich.  Usually, CIA would watch the action, but we've told them to stay clear.  No notice will be given to the Swiss government.  You've got a clear playing field.  The downside, of course, is that there's no back-up, no one there for you."


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