Spies. Subterfuge. Clandestine operations. Nothing gets people going like a thrilling tale of espionage — it’s no wonder that movie franchises like the Bonds and the Bournes have seen so much commercial success. These real-life spies, however, aren’t nearly as badass — and none of them were patriotically or ideologically driven. These six spies committed espionage against the United States in the name of livin’ the high life: for the love of sex, drugs, diamonds, and fame.
Aldrich Ames, who compromised the second-largest number of CIA agents after Robert Hanssen, is one of the most notorious spies in U.S. history. A former CIA agent turned KGB mole, Ames was known for his rampant alcoholism and frequent love affairs, according to a congressional assessment of Ames’ espionage case and its implications on U.S. intelligence. After a messy and expensive divorce, coupled with his new lover’s expensive shopping sprees, Ames fell into massive debt. In an effort to alleviate his financial distresses and to continue impressing his mistress, Ames approached the KGB, and ultimately received over $4.6 million for the information he passed. Ames spent nine years as a KGB mole, spying from 1985 to 1994, and was eventually caught after a mole hunt surrounding a series of leaks pointed investigators directly to him.
Martha Dodd was a novelist and journalist — and also happened to be the daughter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ambassador to Germany. Throughout her young adulthood, Dodd was a Nazi sympathizer who frequently met with high-level members of the Third Reich, including Hitler himself, who she claimed to be “excessively gentle and modest in his manners” — according to author and researcher Shareen Blair Brysac in her book “Chasing Hitler.” Dodd eventually turned away from the Nazi philosophy, but was recruited by one of her many lovers to become a spy for the Soviet Union. This lover convinced her to sell State Department and embassy-related secrets to the Soviets, who later assessed her as an uncertain asset — referring to her as a “sexually decayed woman ready to sleep with any handsome man,” reported by authors Allen Weinstein and Vassiliev Weinstein in their book, “The Haunted Wood.” She spied on the U.S. from 1936 to 1957, and was eventually caught by an FBI informant who implicated her in his exposure of the Soble spy network.
Jonathan Pollard is the only American spy who was given a life sentence for providing information to an ally of the United States. As an analyst for the Naval Intelligence Command, he leaked U.S. secrets to Israel for diamonds, cash, and even “heritage” in 1987. According to NCIS, he also released classified materials on numerous occasions to South Africa, Pakistan, and China in an effort to advance his wife’s business. Pollard was busted when a colleague discovered him removing classified materials from their work center.
Robert Hanssen is a former FBI agent who spied for the Soviets and later the Russian Federation for over two decades. Hanssen, who caused what the FBI calls the “worst intelligence disaster in history,” says he wasn’t motivated by political ideology, only profit. He was paid $1.4 million in diamonds and cash throughout his years as a spy, and was eventually caught in 2001 while trying to cover up an investigation. Hanssen pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage, but avoided the death penalty in a plea deal. He is currently serving 15 consecutive life sentences in a federal supermax prison where he spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. He is portrayed by actor Chris Cooper in the 2007 drama, “Breach.”
You may remember Anna Chapman as the hot Russian redhead who was busted in a New York City spy ring — the Illegals Project. What’s intriguing about Chapman’s case in particular is that she turned herself in when she surrendered what she thought to be a passport meant for another spy. Since being deported back to Russia, she has enjoyed celebrity status and has even posed (scantily clad) for an erotic photo session in Russian Maxim. When a reporter from the Daily Beast ran into Chapman in Moscow and asked her for an interview, she reportedly replied with a grin, “Why would I need it? My popularity rating is high enough, I don’t need more publicity.” She even has her own fashion collection, her own action-figure doll, and a television series entitled “Mysteries of the World With Anna Chapman.”
Andrew Daulton Lee spied on the United States from the early to late 1970s with his childhood friend, TRW Inc. contractor Christopher Boyce, in order purchase drugs to further his dealing business. The two men sold U.S. satellite secrets to the Soviets as a team: Boyce would steal the documents, and Lee would transport them to Mexico City and hand them over to the Soviets. With his share of the money, Lee purchased heroin and other drugs that were hard to attain in the United States. Lee was portrayed by Sean Penn in the film “The Falcon and the Snowman,” which depicts his life as a drug dealer. Lee was caught in 1977, when he was arrested under the suspicion of killing a Mexican police officer. Under extreme duress, he confessed to being a spy for the Soviet Union and implicated himself and Boyce.