The Bureau and the Mole

Publisher
Atlantic Monthly

Author
David Vise

Central Theme
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Overview
The true story of Robert Phillip Hansen described by Vise as ‘the most dangerous double agent in FBI history.’ Hansen is a family man and devout Roman Catholic who attends mass daily and confession weekly. After arresting him the FBI is shocked to learn that he has been delivering top secret documents to the Russians for 20 of his 25 years of service and his wife learns that in addition to his infidelities early in their marriage (try two weeks), Hansen had developed a relationship with a stripper and mounted a surveillance camera in their master bedroom so his best friend could watch their most personal moments from the downstairs den. His professional betrayals included revealing to the Russians: the names of Russian double agents working for the FBI, the existence of a secret tunnel under the Russian Embassy in D.C., and the holy of holies (the annual intelligence plan of the agency). In his 25 years Hansen never underwent a polygraph, and experienced two near misses: one when his wife caught him and after consulting with a priest was advised to confess to the priest and donate $25,000 to a charitable cause and two, when his brother-in-law, also an FBI agent, became suspicious and reported him to the FBI after finding large sums of cash in his home. When arrested, Hansen reportedly said, ‘what took you so long?’ He was accused of 21 counts of espionage, 14 of which carry the maximum sentence of the death penalty, yet pleaded guilty to 13 and agreed to cooperate in exchange for a life sentence.

Beliefs num
–It is possible for someone to successfully live a double life.
–A double life requires an extraordinary ability to compartmentalize.
–Usually there are symptoms of the double life but friends, family and co-workers often overlook them.
–Hansen’s double life was, in part, due to the emotional and physical abuse he experienced as a kid.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–How could anybody be so successful in deceiving those close to them?
–Why would anybody betray his country and family in this way?
–What is the moral difference between the job requirement of deceptive practices as an agent and the exercising of those same practices as a double agent?
–Was Hansen not effective professionally, precisely because he was so good at deceiving people?
–Should he have been sentenced to death for his treasonous acts?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Things are not always as they seem.
==Hansen quotes G.K. Chesterton to his friend Jack Hoschauer
–What took you so long?
==Hansen to agents when they arrest him

Posted in Books, Staublog in December 1, 2001 by | No Comments »

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