Just before daybreak, alone in the gloom of his basement
office, he tapped out a letter to his Russian “handlers”
while still dressed in his jet-black pajamas. It was virtually
the only color he would wear over his bulky 6-foot-3-inch
The spy thought he could feel something or somebody getting
close. He had begun to believe his Ford Taurus was bugged. The
radio was making strange crackling sounds.
He was right. His phone was tapped, an FBI surveillance
squadron had bought a house across the street, and he was
Hanssen tapped out his resignation letter on an IBM laptop
365E. He encrypted it, copied it on to a disk, and added it to
the package he would be delivering late that afternoon.
I thank you for your assistance these many years. It
seems, however, that my greatest utility to you has come to
an end, and it is time to seclude myself from active
I have been promoted to a higher do-nothing Senior
Executive job outside of regular access to informaiton (sic)
within the counterintelligence program. I am being isolated.
Further, I believe I have detected repeated bursting
radio signal emanations from my vehicle. The knowledge of
their existence is sufficient. Amusing the games children
Something has aroused the sleeping tiger. Perhaps you
know better than I.
Life is full of its ups and downs.
I will be in contact next year, same time, same place.
Perhaps the correlation of forces and circumstance then will
Ramon Garcia was one of his code names. He thought he had
been cautious, never giving Moscow his real name and never
meeting with the KGB. But he had not been careful enough. His
biggest mistake had been leaving his fingerprints on the
plastic garbage bags in which he delivered state secrets. When
his file was sold by a former KGB higher-up in September 2000,
the FBI lab had asked for everything. Surprisingly, the
Russians had kept the Hefty bags and once the prints had been
dusted and traced, his fate was sealed.
Bob Hanssen had a friend staying at his house in Northern
Virginia that weekend. On this Sunday he took that pal, Jack
Hoschouer, to church with the family. The Hanssen brood was
large. There were six kids, though only two, Lisa and Gregg,
were still living at home. The other four had either married
or were in college. The Hanssen family members were Catholic
conservatives. They belonged to Opus Dei, a small but powerful
faction of Catholicism that many called a cult. The Hanssen
family displayed their conservative beliefs prominently,
marching in pro-life rallies, slapping anti-abortion stickers
on the family van, and attending gun shows. Bob collected
guns; there were 14 in the house ranging from an Uzi
semiautomatic rifle to Walther PPK pistols. The Walther PPK
was James Bond’s weapon of choice and Hanssen, a Bond fan,
had two in his collection.
Despite Hanssen’s conservatism, he and Hoschouer, buddies
since high school in Chicago, had done some kinky things
together. Bob had once taken nude photos of his wife Bonnie
and mailed them without her knowledge to Hoschouer when he was
in the Army and stationed in Vietnam. Years later, he topped
that by hiding a miniature video camera in his bedroom where
he photographed himself making love to Bonnie. Hoschouer and
Bob later watched the homemade sex film together in the family
After church Hanssen changed from his black suit to a black
turtleneck sweater with a black collared shirt over it. The
monotony was broken by a pair of dark gray slacks. He drove
Hoschouer to nearby Dulles Airport but surprised his friend by
not coming in with him to wait for the plane. There were some
errands to run, he said, and drove off.
“It struck me as odd that Bob didn’t come in for a
Coke,” Hoschouer would say later. “I may have been the
last friendly face he saw.”
But Hanssen was already speeding back down the Dulles
Access Road towards a strip mall near the Washington Beltway.
The team in the FBI surveillance vehicle was right behind him
and watched as he walked around to the trunk of his car. He
was photographed taking out documents from the FBI’s
intelligence files that were each stamped SECRET. There were
seven in all. Some detailed the bureau’s current
surveillance results in recent foreign counterintelligence
operations. He added his farewell letter and wrapped
everything in the sturdy plastic Hefty bag.
|Foxstone Park entrance, dropsite
Bob was being tailed by the FBI’s Special Surveillance
Group and it knew exactly where he was going: Foxstone Park.
The 14-acre flood plain-turned-recreation area was less than a
mile from his home in Vienna, Va. The group had already
watched him drive by the entrance to the park four times
in December trying to catch a glance of a white strip of tape
that would signal that his Russian handlers were ready to
receive his package. In January, his drives by the entrance
increased. The agents were certain that this would be the day.
They had already intercepted the $50,000 cash dropped at a
nearby nature center.