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Soviet Warning to Ames Points To Another Mole inside Agency

By Walter Pincus
The Washington Post

The Soviets warned alleged spy Aldrich H. Ames in 1989 to be careful in his use of CIA computers not long after the agency began a secret computer-based program to trap any double agents inside the CIA, according to prosecutors and former high-ranking CIA officials.

The warning to Ames, contained in a nine-page letter he received from his Soviet handlers in the summer of 1989, is cited by CIA and FBI officials as a reason to believe there may have been someone else inside the CIA supplying highly sensitive information to the Russians, sources said.

A former top CIA official, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that the agency's operations directorate had instituted a computerized entrapment program in 1987 after a number of American-paid Soviet agents were lost in the previous two years, suggesting that information was coming from someone inside the CIA.

"I don't know how the Soviets could have found out about this" program, the former official said.

The warning is not the only lead that a joint CIA-FBI counterintelligence investigation is pursuing as a result of the review of documents found in his possession, sources said.

A June 1993 search of Ames's office at CIA headquarters discovered several top secret agency documents referring to Russian intelligence matters that had nothing to do with his job then as an officer in the counternarcotics center. These documents were cited last week by sources as another reason investigators believe Ames may have had accomplices within the agency.

Prosecutors last week described one of these documents in court as relating to methods that Russians employ to "foil our attempts to detect and track Soviet and now Russian nuclear submarines." One former top CIA official said this document represented one of the highest targets on the Soviet or Russian intelligence wish lists and "should not even have been in his (Ames's) possession when he was handling Soviet counterintelligence."

Another former CIA counterintelligence official said Ames would have had "to steal that document or have someone give it to him."

Former CIA officials, particularly those who have worked in counterintelligence, see the 1989 instructions to Ames as the firmest indication that there may have been another mole inside the agency.