A spy in plain sight The inside story of the FBI and Robert Hanssen--America's most damaging Russian spy

Lis W. Wiehl

Book - 2022

As a federal prosecutor and the daughter of an FBI agent, Wiehl has an inside perspective. She brings her experience and the ingrained lessons of her upraising to bear on her remarkable exploration of the case, interviewing numerous FBI and CIA agents both past and present as well as the individuals closest to Hanssen. She speaks with his brother-in-law, his oldest and best friend, and even his psychiatrist. In all her conversations, Wiehl is trying to figure out how he did it--and at what cost.... But she also pursues questions urgently relevant to our national security today. Could there be another spy in the system? Could the presence of a spy be an even greater threat now than ever before, with the greater prominence cyber security has taken in recent years? Wiehl explores the mechanisms and politics of our national security apparatus and how they make us vulnerable to precisely this kind of threat.

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2nd Floor New Shelf 327.1247/Wiehl (NEW SHELF) Due Oct 16, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York, NY : Pegasus Books 2022.
Edition
First Pegasus Books cloth edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xviii, 316 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 283-290) and index.
ISBN
9781639361717
1639361715
Main Author
Lis W. Wiehl (author)
  • Prologue: Strange encounter
  • TOPHAT
  • Spying 1.0
  • "What are you hiding?"
  • Grooming a mole
  • Spying 2.0
  • "Holy shit!"
  • Who is Robert Hanssen?
  • ll-American boy
  • Black is white/good is evil
  • Trust me!
  • Puffs of smoke
  • "Do you think Bob could be a KGB agent?"
  • Sumo wrestling
  • The vault people
  • Odd couple
  • First blood
  • And the winner is...
  • Whac-a-mole
  • He's back!
  • PENNYWISE
  • Baiting the trap
  • Takedown
  • Collateral damage
  • The mind of a spy
  • Another Hanssen?
Review by Booklist Reviews

For some 20 years, FBI agent Robert Hanssen sold classified information to the Soviet Union. Even after the Soviet Union collapsed, he made contact with Russian intelligence apparatus to continue his betrayals. Something of an outlier within the ranks of FBI agents, Hanssen was adept in information technology and in financial crimes. A very conservative, devout Roman Catholic convert, he seemed the least likely person to be a turncoat. But living an upper-middle-class life in New York and Washington proved more expensive than his salary could afford, so he clandestinely exchanged documents for cash, passing information that led to the deaths of Soviet citizens who had been aiding American intelligence. Hanssen is now serving multiple life sentences in a federal maximum security prison. Wiehl (Hunting the Unabomber, 2020) relates Hanssen's treachery in vivid, emotionally laden prose, sparing no judgment. She seems particularly revolted by Hanssen's outward religiosity, sexual escapades, and utter disdain for the oaths he had taken to protect the U.S. Fans of spy stories will revel in Wiehl's recounting of deadly serious real-life espionage. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Bestseller Wiehl (Hunting the Unabomber: The FBI, Ted Kaczynski, and the Capture of America's Most Notorious Domestic Terrorist) more than justifies another book about Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who had been a spy for the former Soviet Union for decades until his arrest in 2001. She uses new interviews, including with Hanssen's brother-in-law, and extensive research to flesh out the story of Hanssen's consequential betrayals. Those included high-level asset Dmitri Polyakov, a Soviet general who had provided the U.S. with essential intel since the 1960s and who was tortured and executed after Hanssen informed the Soviets of his activities. The collateral consequences of Hanssen's treachery make this anything but a cold-blooded account. Among his unintended victims was CIA officer Brian Kelley, who was falsely suspected of being the Russian mole and who suffered psychological brutalization by his employers, who subjected him to harsh interrogations, and whose family members also were suspected of complicity and stigmatized while the criminal case against Kelley was still pending; the case was ultimately dismissed; the author's access to Kelley's emails makes that experience vivid. Wiehl closes with a valuable section exploring whether America's national security apparatus is better prepared today to prevent such an event from happening again, concluding, disturbingly, that another Hanssen is possible. This is likely the definitive look at a spy case that continues to shock years later. Agent: Todd Schuster, Aevitas Creative. (May) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A legal analyst for NPR, NBC, and CNN, delves into the facts surrounding what has been called the "worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history": the case of Robert Hanssen--a Russian spy who was embedded in the FBI for two decades"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A legal analyst for NPR, NBC, and CNN, delves into the facts surrounding what has been called the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”: the case of Robert Hanssen—a Russian spy who was embedded in the FBI for two decades.  As a federal prosecutor and the daughter of an FBI agent, Wiehl has an inside perspective. She brings her experience and the ingrained lessons of her upraising to bear on her remarkable exploration of the case, interviewing numerous FBI and CIA agents both past and present as well as the individuals closest to Hanssen. She speaks with his brother-in-law, his oldest and best friend, and even his psychiatrist.   In all her conversations, Wiehl is trying to figure out how he did it—and at what cost. But she also pursues questions urgently relevant to our national security today. Could there be another spy in the system? Could the presence of a spy be an even greater threat now than ever before, with the greater prominence cyber security has taken in recent years? Wiehl explores the mechanisms and politics of our national security apparatus and how they make us vulnerable to precisely this kind of threat.   Wiehl grew up among the same people with whom Hanssen ingratiated himself, and she has spent her career trying to find the truth within fractious legal and political conflicts. A Spy in Plain Sight reflects on the deeply sown divisions and paranoias of our present day and provides an unparalleled view into the functioning of the FBI, and will stand alongside pillars of the genre like Killers of the Flower Moon, The Spy and the Traitor, and No Place to Hide.