INT: What... I mean, in the end, as I understand it, I mean the end of his spying career, he retired. Have I mean I want to make certain that I've understood that and perhaps you could tell us that, I mean, this is an unusual thing, a spy spies for so long, he actually takes on the sort of pattern of normal sort of life and retirement. Tell us about him retiring and how he saw it and did you sign him off, did you send him a thank you letter, I mean, was there any...?
SG: Well, Polyakov's retirement wasn't that straight forward unfortunately, maybe that's not the right word, but when he left New Delhi, he was in New Delhi on a second tour there, and he left unexpectedly in June of 1980. Now granted we were concerned. Anytime anything unusual happens in an operation there's fear. You know, why was he being asked to come back to Moscow? What were the real reasons he was being asked to come back to Moscow? He never returned to New Dehli. However, as time went on, our fear that something untoward had happened to him dissipated, went away., he was a great sportsman, an avid hunter, avid fisherman and really an expert in the Soviet Union, one of the Soviet Union's experts in such fields, and he wrote such articles for a Soviet sports magazine called Ogonyok. Well the articles started to appear, so we knew he was okay, if his articles were appearing in this magazine, he was fine., in addition to that, one of his sons was subsequently assigned to India., so we knew that the KGB would not let a member of his family come abroad if there were any problems, and we also knew he had reached mandatory retirement age, so we didn't know for a fact, but we assumed, and I think as is it turns out correctly, that he did indeed retire. He was working on his dacha, you know, playing with his grandchildren and, in terms of his story, it should have gone down in history as the greatest spy story of all time. Unfortunately Rick Ames decided to write another ending to that story and it was the most unpleasant one. We had all hoped that, as it turns out, Polyakov would have lived to see the end of the Cold War and no-one would have known about his participation in it or at a minimum he would have died just prior to the end of the Cold War, but as I said, Rick changed all that.
INT: 10962. Sandy, when did you personally become aware that there was a problem, that agents were being... that people, as it were, weren't answering the phone?
SG: I became the first time I became aware of us, CIA, having a problem was in October of 1985 and it happened to be a case that the branch I was responsible for was running. And we received word that this man had been arrested, so it was a case I was personally involved in. Now, there had been some problems with this operation many years ago, but we felt that he had the source had just come abroad and we instituted draconian security measures to ensure his safety and it was devastating, devastating to learn that your source was gone, your source has been arrested. we said to ourselves, what did we do wrong? that was the first time I had an indication. Then in January of 1986, Burton Gerber, who at the time was chief of the Soviet East European division, called me into his office and told me about some of the other operations we had lost in addition to the one my branch had been responsible for and the reason he told me was, he wanted to put me and one of my co-workers, Diana Worthen, in charge of running two new sources and that's the first time I learnt the extent of our losses.
INT: Just for the record, is that the Tolkachev case? It was another case? I just need to not make a mistake about that.
SG: It was Polychuke . [Inaudible] way.
INT: Right, right, OK.
INT: Were you involved in the mole hunt before or after you heard that Polyakov had been caught? And this is not a question, I'm just asking you to take the questions.
SG: I was involved after, I wasn't involved until '91, is that when we started?
INT: So in other words, the bad news about Polyakov comes in before...
INT: What role did you play? Can you talk about what role you played, you know, you began to play in trying to find out what the reason for these losses were.
SG: The role I played was one of... I always like to refer to it as an offensive role. I was in charge of handling the cases from the headquarter standpoint, handling our new agents who might have information that could shed some light on why we had lost our other agents. So, I would ask the questions, or see that the questions the right questions were asked of our new sources, and then get that information to Jeanne as soon as possible. So mine was, as I said, more of an offense.
INT: I mean just put this in much simpler terms, in the sense, what exactly does that mean? Does that mean, and if so can you tell me about it, does that mean that you are actually putting questions to new agents saying, is anybody talking in the corridors of the KGB about how there's a wonderful source in the CIA's offices here on the left and he wears glasses....
SG [Interrupts] Yes, that's exactly right.
INT: Can you just...
INT: Can you just find a way of telling me, 'cos it's interesting, it's an interesting piece of... Go on, I'm going to ask you again. Tell me about your role in this earlyish phase of the mole hunt, what part... tell to us about what part you played.
SG: Well, I was working in the Soviet East European division at the time and my job was to ensure that any of our new agents, new Soviet agents, be asked the right questions as to what they might know regarding our losses. Are there rumors in the KGB headquarters that there's a CIA document on Igor Ivanov's desk? Any little shred, any little clue that might... when, upon receipt and then getting it to Jeanne as soon as possible, might make the picture a little bit clearer.
INT: And where did you get any feedback from these questions? Can you remember anything about that? Did anybody say to you there is somebody is it... or did you just draw a blank with that process?
SG: I draw a blank. It's not a question I want to answer, OK.
INT: That's absolutely fine. Are you able to tell us about when you first learned of the fate of this frightfully important man, Dmitri Polyakov, can you remember hearing about it and your reaction to it?
SG: I can remember learning that Polyakov had been executed, but there was a process to it., in 1986, we learnt that his son had returned from India back to the Soviet Union, short of tour, he did not come back to India. That was a little disquieting. The articles of Polyakov's that we had been seeing in the Soviet hunting magazine stopped appearing. You combine this with everything else that was going on, it certainly wasn't a pretty picture. However, we held out hope that nothing had happened to him, because he was retired, because he was not working for CIA. We thought you know maybe he slid through and it wasn't until Pravda published his execution in 1988 that we were aware of it, that we had confirmation. Certainly, we were nervous, but until you hear that word, you think he's survived, you still have the hope that he's survived, and then we learnt he hadn't.
INT: How did you feel?
SG: I was devastated. Of course I wasn't the only one who was devastated. Any of us who had had anything to do with the Polyakov case who then became aware of his execution felt the same way. This was a man of tremendous courage. It's someone we spent our entire professional lives with, many of us. he became a personal friend and then to lose him like this, when you were fairly confident that he had made it through, he had survived, he was retired, there was going to be a happy ending to this story, and when there wasn't, in some respects it was really more than you could bear. You understood when you started this job, when you signed the secrecy agreement and you became a CIA officer and you ended up in Soviet operations, that you were playing in the big leagues, you knew there were risks. There were risks for our people and there were risks for the Soviets or our agents. but, gee, we had managed to skate through a career without having to face this and when we had to face it, it was devastating, it was devastating professionally as well as personally.
INT: When you joined the mole hunt, I've got an impression and I may be wrong, but I'd really like you to tell me about it, that you formed an opinion, your opinions and your feelings about what was responsible and indeed who was responsible hardened up a lot earlier than other people, and I wonder if you could talk to me about that?
SG: I was always one of the camp who believed that our problems were probably caused by a mole, simply because I guess I had a pretty simplistic approach to it. I felt strongly that spies catch spies, traitors catch traitors. The perfect example unfortunately, Rick providing the information that allowed the KGB to catch Polyakov. So with that as the basis, Rick had access to all the information, which was the obvious, that's a given, you have to combine that though with my knowledge, personal knowledge of Rick. He and I had been friends, acquaintances, for many years, since the early seventies, we were young case officers together, we grew up together, we car-pooled. I had seen what I always called the old Rick. I liked him and if anybody had ever told me in the 1970's that Rick Ames would be a traitor, would be one of the most famous spies of all time for the opposition, I never would have believed it, never in a million years. He was a nice guy. But then after he came back from Rome, of course the transition had started before that time, but because he was overseas of course, we didn't see one another. When he came back from Rome he was just a different person and it wasn't just the dresses as I've said before, it wasn't the capped teeth, it wasn't the clean fingernails, it wasn't the Italian suits and the six hundred dollar shoes and the silk men's hose., his posture was different. Rick was always had been a slob and slouched and couldn't care less what he looked like, but he stood erect, he sat erect, there was an arrogance that was just... he exuded arrogance. It wasn't Rick Ames., and then the other thing, Diana Worthen, who had been a good friend of mine but also had served with Rick and Rosario when they were in Mexico City, Diana had told me that Rosario didn't have any money down there, so when Rick and Rosario come back to the United States from their tour in Rome and Rick is telling everybody this is Rosario's money, well Diana was saying that no, Rosario didn't have any money, where was it coming from? Rosario's father had died, so there was a possibility that maybe there had been some kind of settlement, but Rosario's mother still worked and in my experience wealthy Latin women don't work.
INT: I mean you have these feelings and this intuition, but you've also got to fit into a sort of schedule of operations with a mole hunter. I mean, I assume that it has like all complex operations that human beings engage in, it's got a kind of rituals and it has rules and it has things you've got to do before you can do other things, you can't just walk up to the guy and collar him and say you're the...
SG: [Interrupts] You're it, you're it!
INT: There's got to be some process, and you joined that process I believe...
SG: [Interrupts] Correct