Aldrich Ames smokescreen.The US was served.
profrv at nex.net.au
Sun May 9 08:35:19 PDT 1999
Death of 'spy who got away' ends Cold War chapter
BY MARGARET COKER
Cox News Service
ZHUKOVKA, Russia - The two-story brick house complete with garage and
painted wooden fence has all the trappings of a typical American suburban
home. But the occupant for the last 15 years was not a typical American.
Edward Howard, 50, the only CIA official to defect to the Soviet Union,
lived in this small community about 10 miles north of Moscow. When his body
was found early July 12 laying face up in the garden outside the house, an
embarrassing chapter of U.S. Cold War espionage came to a close.
Yet the life he built in Moscow, which included a cozy relationship with
his family and freedom to travel, raises questions about why U.S. law
enforcement agencies couldn't bring one of their most wanted fugitives to
justice after he defected in 1985.
Described as a drunken fool by former colleagues and a traitor by U.S.
intelligence officials, the New Mexico native always maintained his
innocence, saying in a 1995 memoir: ``I never gave information that could
hurt America or Americans.''
Neither the CIA nor the FBI would comment on Howard's case.
According to Russian sources, however, the ''spy who got away'' traveled
repeatedly to the United States after his defection without being detected
by the CIA or FBI.
'SMUGGLED' TO U.S.
Victor Andrianov, who retired in 1992 as the deputy head of foreign
intelligence, recalled in an interview last week how the KGB ''smuggled''
Howard back to the United States, via Canada, in the late 1980s.
''He wanted to see with his own eyes that his wife and kid were alright,''
Andrianov said. ``It was extremely risky . . . but we owed it to him.''
Indeed, former KGB officials who knew Howard say he traveled widely during
his last 17 years. Trips to Nicaragua, Hungary and Switzerland provided
U.S. officials ample opportunity to ask for his arrest and extradition. But
apparently this was never done, even though the information Howard
allegedly sold the Kremlin reportedly resulted in the execution of a Soviet
citizen working for the CIA and the dismantling of the U.S. spy network in
the Soviet Union.
The history of Howard's case reads like a John le Carre thriller. Hired by
the CIA in 1980, Howard was training for a posting in Moscow when he was
fired in 1983 for lying about drinking, drug use and theft.
Soon afterward, Howard got a new job with the New Mexico Legislature, but
ran into trouble with the law. Although under probation for a misdemeanor
conviction and prohibited from leaving the state, Howard left New Mexico
three times: once to attend a conference in Washington, then to visit Italy
and Austria with his wife Mary and then one quick trip alone to Vienna.
It was the 1984 trip to Austria that piqued the FBI's curiosity -- they
allege this is the time when Howard sold secrets to the KGB for $6,000.
On Sept. 20, 1985, FBI agents interviewed Howard and put him under
surveillance. With his wife's help, he eluded the tail and fled the country
on Sept. 21 on a flight bound for Helsinki.
From Finland, Howard was smuggled into the Soviet Union with KGB help,
according to Howard's former handler, Vladimir Kryuchkov, and given
political asylum in Moscow on Aug. 7, 1986.
Howard admitted in his 1995 memoirs Safe House that he identified for the
KGB photographs of people he had worked with and described general CIA
procedures for recruiting agents. But this was the extent of his
interaction with the Soviets, he said.
Russian versions of Howard's importance vary wildly.
The Federal Security Bureau, the successor organization to the KGB, refused
to comment on the allegation that Howard's information resulted in the
death of Adolf Tolkachev, a Soviet scientist researching stealth aircraft
technology in the 1980s.
Andrianov said Howard was crucial in unmasking CIA moles, including Tolkachev.
''Howard helped clarify the then-CIA list of residents in Moscow, the
covers the U.S. spies used. He told us that the CIA was widely using
Hollywood-style masks to leave the embassy building unidentified when going
on operative assignments,'' Andrianov told the Moscow daily Komsomolskaya
Pravda. ``Edward revealed to us the features of a valuable U.S. agent. We
identified the agent as Soviet scientist Adolf Tolkachev.''
AMES TRUE SOURCE
Yet other former KGB contacts, who insisted on anonymity, say Howard's
colleague convicted spy Aldrich Ames was a far more important source.
They said the CIA mistakenly blamed Howard for information sold by Ames.
The KGB exploited this confusion, they said, using Howard as a smoke screen
to hide Ames, who when he was finally caught 10 years after Howard's
defection, was considered the most dangerous traitor in modern U.S. history.
Howard's wife, a former CIA secretary, was never prosecuted for helping her
husband flee the United States. She and Howard's son, Lee, traveled at
least once a year to Russia to visit Howard. The family also reunited on
Howard's trips abroad, according to Russian intelligence agents responsible
for guarding Howard.
Mary and Lee came to Moscow to collect Howard's remains after a cremation
ceremony in July attended by former KGB pals.
For those who attempted to apprehend Howard, the news of his death ended an
unsuccessful and complex chase.
John Hudenko spent half of his 31-year career with the FBI in New Mexico on
He traded faxes with Howard, tracked his movements and even met him in
Sweden, where Howard lived for a year after his KGB protector, Kryuchkov,
was jailed in 1991 following a failed coup aimed at overthrowing Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev.
Yet Hudenko said he was never able to catch Howard in a misstep that could
lead to him being brought to prosecution in U.S. courts.
In a July interview with the Associated Press, during which he was told of
Howard's death, Hudenko expressed no disappointment. ''Justice was
served,'' Hudenko said.
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