Rick Ames' Motives for Betrayal Explored
CNN Television (Transcript)

Brian Barger, Host
May 21st, 1994, 12:10 pm ET

    Introduction:  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. 

   First Announcer:  [on tape] .be one of the biggest spy stories of the century, as-

   Second Announcer:  [on tape] .CIA official Rick Ames and his wife were ordered held without bail- 

   Brian Barger, Investigative Correspondent:  From an early age, Rick Ames seemed destined to become the perfect spy.  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.

   Michael 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.

   Barger:  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.

   Ignacio Umana, Former Colombian Amb. to Mexico:  [through interpreter] Rosario told me that he make her very happy, that she would marry him one day.

   Barger:  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 informant.  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 counter-intelligence.  Part of his job - to convince KGB officers to work secretly for the CIA.  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.

   Barger:  Ames' one-time superior, Fred Rustmann, thinks money is only part of the story.

   Rustmann:  Rick thought he was smarter than everybody else and he wasn't.  His promotion level wasn't progressing the way he thought it should.  There are other motivations for recruitment; one of the best is revenge.  He wanted to stick it to the agency.

   Barger:  If living well is the best revenge, Rick Ames certainly took his.  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.

   Horwatt:  He was all of a sudden a real, real important guy and he was pulling the wool over a lot of people's eyes.

   Barger:  Ames had CIA colleagues believing he inherited his new-found wealth from his wife's rich Colombian family, but Rosario's family wasn't rich.  The CIA did not bother verifying the source of Ames' money, which colleagues say only bolstered his confidence that he wouldn't get caught.

   Horwatt:  I'm not sure that he had a sense of who he was.  His amusement was trying on other personalities, trying on roles.

   Barger:  What role could he have been playing?

   Horwatt:  I'm going to fool them all.  I'm going to fool them all.


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