INT: ...at some cost to yourself, 'cos you were due to retire and I wonder if you can tell me, you know, what the basis for your coming on to that team was, because I believe that it was motivated by your feelings about Polyakov, if I'm right about that. Can you tell me something about that, about joining and the reasons why you were prepared to do so?
SG: There was really only one reason I decided to join what has been termed the mole hunt team. I was going to resign my work from CIA. I was not old enough at the time to retire, but I was satisfied professionally. I had a family that I wanted to spend more time with and Paul Redman was aware of my plans to resign and he came to me and he said, Sandy, there's something that I would like you to do. And he told me about Jeanne's plans to take one more look the loss of our agents in 1985 and 1986 and he asked me if I would join Jeanne in doing that and I said, it's the only thing that would keep me here and yes, I'd be honored to work with Jeanne. And I felt if there was anything that I could do or make a contribution to at least try and find out what happened..., I didn't owe just Polyakov, I owed all those other assets and I also... I felt strongly, and I think Jeanne would agree with me, we also owed our employees, our officers who had died abroad, what... didn't make any difference whether they were working Soviet operations or not, but we owed all these people who had made the sacrifice.
INT: I think it's interesting... it very interesting that you saying that because it gets on to the question of how... I mean we have a picture if you like that spying's a callous and ruthless business and, it's hard somehow to identify it with the actual loss of people and responsibility and emotional response to those losses. You know, we think of faceless spies in trench coats who shoot people in alleyways and they don't care about it and they don't... you know they go and get drunk maybe, but then they're alcoholics anyway, we all know that. Do you see what I mean? There's no... whereas you respond... you know, can you put it into the context of these losses, in the context of your worries about them and your responsibility for agents in the field.
SG: All of us who worked against the Soviet target, Soviet East European target understood up-front that it was a dangerous business, that if people were caught, they'd be executed. But at the same time, you go through this day in day out. It is a business. We're not here for fun and games, we're here to collect intelligence and after year one, year two, year three, year ten, you have success after success after success, it becomes ingrained in you. You really couldn't see that there was going to be a failure. I think in some respects it was hard to accept that we would lose agents, because we were very good at what we did and we trained our agents to be very good at what they did. So then all of a sudden, when you're told your asset, the KGB officer you're running in country X has been caught, you know, it was like a brick falling on your head. It was a terrible, terrible reminder of the seriousness of what we did for a living, that we had responsibility for human lives, we had responsibility for producing intelligence, that certainly was the business aspect of it. I mean we didn't run these people just because we liked them. We had a job to do and what's important is they understood it as well as we, and Polyakov, I think, was a perfect example. When we had meetings with him, it was serious business. There wasn't chitchat, there weren't drinks. We only had a limited amount of time with him on each occasion and he had a lot to give us and important things to discuss and it was all business, because, as I say, I think in some respects he understood the seriousness of it, or had a better appreciation of the seriousness of it far better than we, that he also knew that his life was on the line.
INT: I'm going to ask you the same question I asked Jeanne, which was really... and again it relates to what we were saying before about how you had an intuition but nevertheless there was never a routine that you had to go through and you have to play a part in it. Why do you think these sorts of cases - just to save me getting an ear bashing from you like I did from Jeanne - why did these sorts of cases, like Rick Ames, take so very long to unravel? Can you give our audience any kind of understanding of the kinds of processes of elimination that you have to go through?
SG: I think these cases take a long time to sort through for a couple of reasons, and let's just take Rick. We have a hundred and something names, now what's so terribly important... Well, I personally felt that Rick was probably the spy. What if I'm wrong? Then the person who is the spy gets away. So you have to go through in excruciating detail, looking at absolutely everything. The other aspect is for each, what I would term clue, this continues to point the finger to Rick. he went down to visit his mother-in-law in Columbia, and he went on such and such a date, and Rosario didn't go with him. Well, there are a number of explanations for this, the least of which might be spying, and we were in a bind frequently. You know, OK, Rick's getting money, he's getting money from somewhere. How can we prove it he's getting it from the Soviets? He might be running drugs, he might be bringing emeralds in from Columbia, there were always so many different explanations that you had to go through, each one, until you eliminated it, and often you simply didn't have a complete answer.
INT: That's very good.
SG: I forgot he was smuggling coffee too.
INT: Now, at a certain point you got a breakthrough. You got actually ,as I understand it, there was a moment at which you became certain that you had sufficient information to be sure about him. Can you tell me about it? Again keep it as simple for an audience as possible, of the moment when you could become as sure as you could be? maybe I'm wrong about this and that you just got very suspicious, this is the connection between...
INT: Tell us about the stage you were getting to when really some information falls into place and I think it's you that are responsible for putting that information, the detailed information together, which made it pretty darn certain that this is the man who is doing the business.
SG: Before I describe the incident where everything as far as I was concerned fell into place, I think it's important to give you just a little bit of background. I had been working on a chronology of Rick's life and I referred to it as a daily log of his activities. Every piece of information we had about Rick, from our files, you know, when he entered the building, when he left the building for a cigarette break, when he came back in the building from the cigarette break, when he went to lunch, credit card charges, including the amounts, the stores, any description of the items and all of this was just mind-numbing work, but went into a computer run and we called it the famous chronology. In addition to that, I had reviewed all of Rick's Soviet and East European contacts, those people he had legitimate reason to be in touch with, because that was his job as a CIA Soviet East European division case officer. So I entered all of this information on the computer. Dan Payne, who was working with Jeanne and myself on the task force, had just received, and as I recall it was after five o'clock one afternoon, had just received records from one of the banks Rick had and Dan is reading these things off and I'm entering them in the computer and, my God, it was unbelievable. On seventeen May, Rick had reported having had lunch with his Soviet contact Chuvakhin , eighteen May there's a deposit into his checking account for nine thousand dollars. Well, it was getting kind of exciting, but that was only one, and this was 1985, which of course was the critical year. Then there were two other matches we had - I can't remember the exact dates, whether it was fourteen July he had a meeting with Chuvakhin, fifteen July another cash deposit - also all the cash deposits were under ten thousand dollars. Well, three matches don't make a conviction, but in my mind, Rick was the spy and it was really that simple. As I've always said, it didn't take a rocket scientist to add one plus one plus one.
INT: Was there a stage to which... I mean, is the next landmark in this case the point of which he is arrested? Was the bugging important, was that significant, 'cos I know there were taps put on his phone and I think there was a camera placed outside his house? I mean perhaps you should describe the way in which the neck closed around him?
SG: I'm not really the one to ask that question, it's an FBI thing, but I think it is important, at least from my perspective, that when I started this with Jeanne, just like I never dreamed that Rick Ames would become a traitor in the 1970's, I never dreamed that what we were doing would lead to the arrest and conviction of Rick or whomever it might be for espionage, never ever believed that. I thought that we would come up with the answer, but I just didn't believe in what was peacetime we'd ever see a conviction. So the day that sentencing was passed was a very strange day. It was complete relief, but again almost still disbelief that Jeez, it actually worked, we actually did it and he'll spend the rest of his life in jail.
INT: Was the arrest a similar kind of thing?
SG: We were at work, Jeanne and I were at work, waiting for work from the FBI, along with many other people, FBI agents and such, yes. It was... when was it?
INT: It's OK. I mean is it a story worth telling? But I mean is there anything about... did you get a call, is there anything dramatic, is there anything that would help an audience focus in on the arrest itself or is it not suitable?
SG: The arrest was relief.
INT: Just tell me what you can tell me about your feelings of the arrest and the...
SG: The arrest of Rick Ames, I think, to all of us involved, particularly from the CIA standpoint, was one of relief. That said, we also had to look forward to everything that was going to happen with respect to the press, the congress, the entire media show and I'm not so certain that we were prepared for the outcry. We anticipated such an outcry, because as I've always said, gee to me, and I'm certain to Jeanne, Rick Ames was a success story. We found a spy based on analysis. It had never happened before. Counter-intelligence is finding spies, it's finding out your worst secrets., winning the Super Bowl should have been... we had a wonderful trophy, we had Rick Ames and then we were crucified for finding out about Rick. But that is counter-intelligence, you can't have it both ways.
INT: I wanted to ask you how you understand Ames's motivation. It's a pretty horrific thing to do, and I wonder if you could tell me your response to try and work... you must have thought about it very hard, why did the guy do this thing? How essential, in a way, was it that he named names? Could he have made a healthy living from the KGB by telling them other stuff that wouldn't have actually wound up with guys' bullets in the back? I mean, do you understand why?
SG: I think all of us involved in our task force had a difficult time and will always have a difficult time understanding why any CIA officer would become a traitor. And it was particular difficult with Rick certainly because we knew him personally, but we were also aware that whoever it was, we would know, we would have known them personally, simply because of the type of information they had access to. So we had come to grips with that, but the one thing that at least I kept asking, whoever did it knew what the consequences were going to be when they gave up the names and in this case Rick. He knew that Polyakov would be shot, he knew all of 'em would be shot. I don't have an answer. I'm not so certain Rick Ames has an answer as to why he did it, as to why he gave up the names, because he certainly could have been paid big bucks for all kinds of other things. He didn't have to give up human lives.
INT: Is there a particular irony in your opinion that he gave up... I mean, Polyakov seems to be in a slightly even different category, in that he's now actually a working agent, it's almost gratuitous or something, I don't know, but...
SG: I certainly am not a psychiatrist, but I think Rick has always wanted to be special, to be important. I do know he felt himself intellectually superior to all of us and particularly his contemporaries., he was far brighter than we. His career was not going anywhere. He was not being recognized for his abilities. And maybe this was revenge, maybe this is a way of making himself look important in the KGB's eyes.
INT: What about the point about Rick, the specifics of Rick being of him giving Polyakov's name when Polyakov is a retired man on his... I mean he is a retired man?
SG: Well... Rick certainly had to justify in his own mind... giving up all the names and I don't think with Polyakov that he really thought much about it. But I don't know. I mean, it's something he's really never talked about, or at least when he has, to my mind explained it satisfactorily. You know, he likes to say, phew, that's just part of the game, these people knew what was going to happen to them.
INT: I'm not certain whether you're ducking the point that you've made in the past and don't want to say it or you haven't...
SG: [Interrupts] No, no, no.
INT: ...you said, 'cos I've read you making the point, which I think is a very sharp point, which is if you're going to give names, you give names of people who are actually active so that the KGB can stop them from doing it, but if all the guy is doing is shooting pheasants in the back of his dacha, why the hell give his name up? Was your answer to that that he didn't actually make a distinction, if you like, between Polyakov and the others, because sometimes I've read you saying things like why did he have to give Polyakov up? I can understand him giving up the other names, but why give the name up of a guy who was retired? I think it's in the early book - am I right, I can't remember?
SG: It's not that I'm ducking it.... I guess I was rhetorically asking myself that question. I don't think Rick thought about it. I don't think he cared. I think he was caught up in this whole business.
INT: I wanted to ask you something that struck me and it's a complicated one to unravel and it's this business of naming of names and the reason why I wanted to raise it with you in the particular case of Polyakov 'cos you were closer to him than Jeanne, he was one of your cases, if somebody working for the West gives up the names of people who are working for the KGB, they probably will simply get arrested, that their lives are not... we're not executing. Britain doesn't and America certainly doesn't execute spies in peacetime. Is there a complexity in the case of Polyakov, because there are a couple of deaths associated with people whom he did name. I'm thinking now of one agent in particular, whose name, I think, was Dunlap. Does this ring any bells with you?
INT: [Interrupts] Is it not true? There's a...
SG: Dunlap, Okhota, Drummond, they all gotten long... they got [inaudible] terms, but no one was executed.
INT: It wasn't an execution, it was this strange thing...
INT: Sandy, are you able to make a distinction between... I mean, unravel that problem for us which is this one that spies... Some people say that technical intelligence, that SIGINT actually was what the Cold War was about and that these spies are rather kind of grubby and that they're a bit of a nuisance and they're over-estimated, because we, people like us, make a big thing of them, because we can get excited over a Polyakov or a Penkovsky, you know, but we can't get too worked up about a satellite, in that they're not so interesting and they don't have private lives and so on and so forth.
INT: 10963. Sandy, there are people whom one hears saying, you know, that early on there are spies and it's OK 'cos we didn't have satellites, but then when we got U-2s and satellites and we listened to things and we bugged things and we had all kinds of technical means, the spy, in a sense, became somewhat outmoded and was not as important and later on in the Cold War., how do you feel about that balance? Is it fair, I mean, what do you think about it?
SG: I don't feel that that description is fair. To me, and a pretty straightforward approach to it, satellites don't think and satellites can't think, people are the ones who think. People are the ones who explain intentions and without the human source, I don't think we would have won the Cold War. I've always believed that in order to win anything, you have to know your enemy better than your enemy knows you. it was a little bit easier for the KGB to try to learn about us, become we have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, there's so much out there that's available that tells them what kind of people we are, how we approach problems. Whereas for our intelligence service it was very difficult. Everything was secret in the Soviet Union. We didn't have such a luxury and I firmly believe that intelligence played a vital role in our acquiring that information and in particular people like General Polyakov and in the end, we won. The Cold War is over and the Soviet Union was dissolved.
END OF INTERVIEW