Aldrich Ames, according to this account by a team of New York Times reporters, was an incompetent, office-bound, alcoholic spy in the middle of an undistinguished career. Even so, he was promoted to lead the counterintelligence branch of the CIA's central Soviet division, and there, in 1983, he began calling for the files on every important CIA operation involving Soviet spies in every corner of the world. He sold these files to the Soviets in order to fund tastes not appropriate to his salary; dozens of U.S. operatives were exposed, and many were killed. Until his arrest and conviction for espionage in 1994, Ames received nearly $3 million for his treason, about which he was quite unsubtle. Yet the CIA took years to wonder why Ames could afford an expensive home in a Washington, D.C., suburb and frequent weekend trips to Europe. The agency was so slow to act, the authors suggest, because its leadership was more concerned with institutional self-preservation than with doing its job properly. This suspenseful book draws on interviews with Ames himself to show that major housecleaning is in order at Langley.
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