Russia and The CIA
Who Was the Fourth Man on the Inside?
Cristal M Clark
When we think of the spy game, we more often than not tend to romanticise the notion of being a spy. The realities are a bit more harsh and well not so romantic. According to a new book, a mole hunt for the “fourth man,” the individual who was suspected of being a CIA officer, began in the 1990s, but no one has ever been arrested or charged in the case. Secret details of that investigation are being disclosed for the first time in “The Fourth Man,” a new book by former CIA officer Robert Baer.
To better understand we need to go back to the1980s, in the final decade of the Cold War, 3 Americans in fact, spied for the Soviet Union, CIA officers Edward Lee Howard and Aldrich Ames and FBI agent Robert Hanssen. They are known to have helped Moscow identify, arrest, and imprison or execute most of the Soviet agents who were secretly spying for the United States. Quite shameful if I do say so myself.
Ames and Hanssen were eventually caught and arrested and today remain in federal prison, while Howard defected to Moscow, where he died in 2002. This caused quite a bit of a problem for the US because as you might imagine having no spies in the Soviet Union meant that we were blind.
A mole hunt for the “fourth man,” who was suspected of being a CIA officer, began in the 1990s, but no one has ever been arrested or charged in the case. “The story of the Russian double agent in the CIA who got away may sound like some unfinished piece of business from the Cold War,” Robert Baer writes in his book. But “it’s starting to look more like the mystery of the fourth man is a lot more historically significant than an old-school spy tale. It’s part of the much larger story of how America completely missed Putin and the KGB’s resurrection.”
He is not wrong in that assumption either.
But, to be clear U.S. officials believe there was a “fourth man” inside the CIA was first disclosed in 2003 in “The Main Enemy,” by former CIA officer Milt Bearden. Robert Baer has now provided a wealth of new details about the case, including the key role of a KGB agent who supplied crucial information to the CIA on the fourth spy.
“Absolutely there was a fourth man,” John Lewis, former FBI assistant director for national security. “We had a lot of unexplained things that couldn’t be explained by the three others.”
In 1988, a CIA officer stationed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, first met a KGB officer named Alexander Zaporozhsky. The CIA gave Zaporozhsky the code name “GTZORRO” and nicknamed him “Max.” As a series of CIA officers continued to meet Zaporozhsky over the years, he began to provide clues revealing that the KGB had moles inside U.S. intelligence, according to Robert Baer. At some point, Zaporozhsky suggested that the KGB had two moles, one in the CIA and another in the FBI, although he didn’t know their names. One was known inside the KGB as “Karat,” and the other as “Rubine.”
In 1994, Aldrich Ames was arrested and charged with spying for Moscow, thanks in part to the information Zaporozhsky had provided.
In 1996, a CIA officer met again with Zaporozhsky, this time in Tbilisi, Georgia. He told the CIA that he believed he had come under suspicion in Moscow. But he also said he had heard that Russian intelligence had recruited another American CIA officer. This officer had been recruited in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and was now assigned to “the Farm,” the CIA’s training center outside Williamsburg, Virginia. With Zaporozhsky’s information, the CIA was quickly able to identify CIA officer Harold Nicholson as a Russian spy, and he was arrested in November 1996.
After Ames was arrested, the CIA secretly created a new counterintelligence team to try to determine whether there were any losses that could not be explained by Ames or Howard, who had defected to Moscow in 1985. The agency’s team, Baer writes, included CIA officers Laine Bannerman, Diana Worthen, and MaryAnn Hough. They began to sift through old tips, leads, and other evidence relating to compromised agents and operations that couldn’t be explained by either Ames or Howard. Eventually, they became convinced that there were at least two more moles. Some of their evidence pointed toward Hanssen, who was arrested in 2001. Robert Baer’s book discloses that the team still believed there was another, fourth mole thus coming to the same conclusion as Zaporozhsky. This was confirmed to The Intercept by one of the now-retired CIA investigators: “I do believe there is a fourth man,” said Worthen in an interview this week.
Sadly, they never found the fourth mole, is he/she still deeply embedded in the ranks of the CIA or FBI? Did they retire, move away, fall off the face of the earth perhaps? No one knows except for Russia and good luck getting that lot to speak unless you were to find a double agent who is not all that happy about the going ons over in the Ukraine.
It’s anyone’s guess who the fourth mole is, or was and if the CIA is still in fact looking. It is a fact that the US spy organisation is truly and remarkably impregnable and weak.
As for Zaporozhsky, some time after he had been relocated to the US by the CIA, he made the mistake of going back home for a little visit and was swiftly arrested and jailed.
Cristal M Clark