Teaching Case - James Woolsey and the CIA: The Aldrich Ames Spy Case (Sequel)

James Woolsey and the CIA: The Aldrich Ames Spy Case (Sequel)


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  • Product Description

    When Washington attorney and longtime Capitol Hill staff member James Woolsey became director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1993, he inherited a bombshell that would soon become public. A joint CIA-FBI investigation had found that Aldrich Ames, a longtime Agency employee, had sold intelligence secrets to the Soviet Union. Ames had compromised the safety of Soviets, who had sought to help the US, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars, with which he bought a large home and fancy cars. The public announcement of the Ames scandal in February 1994 would pose a dilemma for Woolsey. Public and Congressional reaction -- focused on the failure of the CIA itself to detect Ames' duplicity for almost a decade -- was harshly critical of the Agency. There was a widespread expectation that Woolsey would mete out harsh punishment for those who had failed to detect Ames' activity. For his part, however, Woolsey was unsure as to what sort of punishment, if any, was appropriate. As a public clamor grew for "heads to roll," Woolsey would have to consider what was fair to long-time CIA officials, what was best for the morale of a beleaguered agency, and what was expected by the public.

    Learning Objective:
    This case allows for discussion of what would be the proper course of action for Woosley in dealing with this scandal that, if handled improperly, might negatively impact the agency's reputation and authority in the long term.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 1996
    HKS Case Number: 1339.1
    Case Author: Esther Scott
    Faculty Lead: Philip Heymann
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 4
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    _year: Older than 2000
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: US & Canada
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