WASHINGTON -- A two-year-long, highly classified internal Justice Department inquiry has concluded that the FBI was derelict in failing to aggressively pursue the case that ultimately led to Aldrich H. Ames, the most damaging spy in the history of the CIA.
A report on the Justice Department's inquiry, officials said, blamed the FBI for reacting slowly after two Soviet officials working in Washington, who had been recruited as spies by the FBI, were inexplicably recalled to Moscow in 1985. Both men, Valery F. Martinov and Sergei M. Motorin, were subsequently executed.
The report, the officials said, found that the loss of the agents should have been an alarming tip-off that someone inside U.S. intelligence had compromised the two men. But the question of who was behind the losses remained an unsolved espionage puzzle for nearly eight years until FBI agents arrested Ames in 1994.
In the intervening years, Ames rose through the ranks of the CIA while accepting more than $1.5 million in exchange for the identities of more than a dozen Soviet and East Bloc officials bTC working secretly for the United States. The entire CIA spy network within the Soviet Union was wiped out, with most agents killed or imprisoned.
Michael R. Bromwich, the Justice Department's inspector general, said yesterday that the report had been completed and that he expected an unclassified summary to be made public soon. He would not discuss the details of the inquiry or the findings.
John F. Lewis Jr., head of national security at the FBI, said yesterday that the criticism of the FBI's past performance was unfair. "Twenty-twenty hindsight is terrific in 1997 when you're looking back at mid-1980s," he said.
"But the state of our counterintelligence and counterespionage investigations in the United States are really only as good as the relationship between the FBI and the CIA. Back in the mid-1980s, we didn't have very good cooperation."
The report's findings represent the latest blow to the FBI and its director, Louis J. Freeh, who has tried to improve the relationship between the FBI and the CIA.
The FBI has been reeling from a string of recent setbacks, most recently an inspector general's report issued Tuesday that found the agency's crime lab was rife with unscientific practices that may cast a cloud over its forensic work in hundreds of criminal cases.
Pub Date: 4/18/97