On the Radar
There’s nothing better than a good spy story, except, of course, for a good spy story that’s actually true.
The new ABC miniseries “The Assets” depicts the true story of the CIA’s internal investigation to expose one of the country’s most notorious traitors: Aldrich Ames, a CIA counterintelligence officer who spied for the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
At the center of investigation was CIA officer Sandy Grimes. Grimes, long since retired from the CIA, sat down with “On the Radar” to discuss her role in uncovering Ames as the mole, a manhunt that lasted nearly a decade and culminated in Ames’ eventual arrest in 1994.
“The one thing about searching for a traitor in our organization is … it was going to be someone who was a colleague, simply because there was a limited number of people who had access to information about our lost sources,” said Grimes, who co-authored the book "Circle of Treason," on which the miniseries is based. “He'd be someone who we'd probably known for a very long time, as well as someone we saw probably every day in the hallways.”
Grimes, who said that at least eight Soviet intelligence officers working for the United States were killed and many others were arrested after Ames revealed their identities to the Soviet Union, said she wasn’t surprised when Ames was eventually uncovered as the mole.
Grimes recalled noticing a major change in Ames in 1989. He had just returned from a tour in Rome, and Grimes said he had become a “different human being.”
“He wasn't the good old Rick, a friend of mine, happy-go-lucky,” Grimes said. “All of that was gone in 1989. Something was very different, so no, it did not surprise me, and there was an arrogance that was over the top.”
And the motivation behind Ames’ betrayal, Grimes said, was money.
“He had a new wife or a wife-to-be who really loved to spend, and he saw no way out,” Grimes said. “He had a product to sell is really what it was.”
For more of the interview with Grimes, including the story of her meeting the granddaughter of one of the Soviet intelligence officers who became a victim of Ames’, check out this episode of “On the Radar.”
ABC News’ Alexandra Dukakis, Gary Westphalen, John Bullard and Bob Bramson contributed to this episode.
- Aldrich Ames