Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Philip Hanssen: The Spy who Stayed out in the Cold

The Last Day In the Sun

Robert Philip Hanssen
Robert Philip Hanssen

Bob Hanssen was about to retire from his life's work. But instead of receiving a gold watch or a modest pension like most employees, he would instead be getting $50,000 in non-sequential $100 bills. And he would have to pick it up in a local park. In five more weeks he would also be retiring from his day jobas an FBI agent. His first job was trading American secrets to the Russians for cash.

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 frame.

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 being followed.

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.

Dear Friends:

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 service.

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 play.

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 have improved.

Your friend,

Ramon Garcia

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.