Ames' Motives for Betrayal Explored
Brian Barger, Host
May 21st, 1994, 12:10 pm ET
This is an exploration of the possible motives for the actions
of Aldrich Ames and his wife, tracing his drama interest in high
school to his disillusionment with the CIA.
Cathy Marshall, Anchor:
It was the worst American betrayal of the Cold War.
CIA official Rick Ames sells out his country, its secrets and
the lives of others.
The case left many in America wondering why.
CNN's Brian Barger takes a hard look at the man behind the
masquerade in this special assignment report.
[on tape] ….be one of the biggest spy stories of the century,
[on tape] ….CIA official Rick Ames and his wife were ordered
held without bail-
Barger, Investigative Correspondent:
From an early age, Rick Ames seemed destined to become the
His father was a spy for the CIA.
His first wife also worked at the agency and after high school,
Rick began his CIA career as a file clerk.
His apparent credentials- good grades and a flair for acting.
Horwatt, High School Friend:
I don't think it was an accident that his life in high school
was primarily drama.
He played a lot of roles.
Rick Ames' CIA career progressed steadily, with postings to
Ankara, Turkey, and then New York.
He met his second wife, Rosaria Cassas, in 1981, when the CIA
sent him to Mexico City as a counter-intelligence officer.
She was a Colombian diplomat.
Umana, Former Colombian Amb. to Mexico:
[through interpreter] Rosario told me that he make her very
happy, that she would marry him one day.
Shortly after meeting Ames, Rosario started working for the CIA
as a paid informant.
As diplomats in Mexico City, Rick and Rosario lived a lifestyle
that seemed to parallel the Mexican elite; expense accounts and
well-connected friends in government and in the arts.
But the affluence around them disguised the underlying reality
- that they were simply public servants, with modest incomes.
Money became a pressing concern for Rick and Rosario after
1983, when Rick was transferred back to Washington.
Rosario lost her salary from the Colombian embassy and,
according to the U.S. government, she also lost her income as a CIA
In a court hearing last month, Rick Ames said he was in debt by
1985, and had come to believe the espionage business had become
irrelevant and a self-serving sham.
At the time, Ames was CIA branch chief in charge of Soviet
Part of his job - to convince KGB officers to work secretly for
Instead, the KGB recruited Ames.
Frederick Rustmann, Jr., Chairman, CTC Intl. Group:
What happened to Rick was that the Soviet KGB officer was a
better case officer than Rick Ames was and Rick Ames was more
vulnerable to recruitment.
Ames' one-time superior, Fred Rustmann, thinks money is only
part of the story.
Rick thought he was smarter than everybody else and he wasn't.
His promotion level wasn't progressing the way he thought it
There are other motivations for recruitment; one of the best is
He wanted to stick it to the agency.
If living well is the best revenge, Rick Ames certainly took
In 1989, the Ames paid $540,000 - cash - for their Virginia
home and each morning, Rick shuttled to work at CIA headquarters in
his new Jaguar.
He was all of a sudden a real, real important guy and he was
pulling the wool over a lot of people's eyes.
Ames had CIA colleagues believing he inherited his new-found
wealth from his wife's rich Colombian family, but Rosario's family
The CIA did not bother verifying the source of Ames' money,
which colleagues say only bolstered his confidence that he wouldn't
I'm not sure that he had a sense of who he was.
His amusement was trying on other personalities, trying on
What role could he have been playing?
I'm going to fool them all.
I'm going to fool them all.