Home Page > Reading Room
The following is a declassified (with redactions) interim report of Project Slammer, a study of Americans convicted of espionage against the United States. Remarkably, the report states, without explanation, that, "[t]he security measure that was consistently most effective was the polygraph" and that "[a]side from polygraph, security procedures are not viewed as obstacles to espionage." Nonetheless, no convicted spy has ever been caught by the polygraph. The subject population did not include two double agents who beat the CIA polygraph: Larry Wu-tai Chin and Karel Frantisek Köcher (AKA Karl Koecher). (The former committed suicide shortly after conviction, and the latter was repatriated in exachange for the freedom of Soviet dissident Anatoly Shcharansky.) In addition, at the time this report was prepared, the U.S. Government was penetrated by at least two spies who were neither detected nor deterred by the polygraph: Aldrich Hazen Ames (CIA) and Ana Belen Montes (DIA). (Download this document as a 125 kb PDF file.)

Intelligence Community Staff
Washington, D.C. 20505
                                                  ICS 0858-90
                                                  12 April 1990

MEMORANDUM FOR:  Members, DCI Security Forum

FROM:            [                                           ]

SUBJECT:         Project SLAMMER Interim Report (U)

     As members will recall, Project SLAMMER is an innovative 
Community research program using state-of-the-art behavioral 
science techniques.  The intent is to better understand and 
deter espionage through the direct assessment of convicted 
American spies.  The interim report attached reflects much of 
the more recent work of the group engaged in the project.  This 
program is conducted under the sponsorship of the Personnel 
Security Committee (PSC) of the Advisory Group/Security 
Countermeasures (AG/SCM), with personnel from the various 
Community organizations participating.  The report is provided 
to Forum members for information, with the permission of the 
Chairman, PSC.  Any comments you wish to offer are welcomed and  
may be submitted to [       ] directly or through CCISCMO.

                                  [                       ]




              Project Slammer Interim Progress Report
                 Submitted to [                    ]
               Chairman, Personnel Security Committee
                          15 December 1989


     This is an interim presentation of observations developing in the progress 
of Project Slammer, an Intelligence Community sponsored study of espionage. 
This research examines espionage by interviewing and psychologically assessing 
actual espionage subjects.  Additionally, persons knowledgeable of subjects are 
contacted to better understand the subjects' private lives and how they are 
perceived by others while conducting espionage.  This "Slammer-gram" briefly 
shares subjects' self-perceptions and some of the implications that might be 
considered in view of these insights.  To date, cases studied have involved only 
male subjects, the majority of whom were volunteers in initiating espionage. 
The following observations are offered with the caveat that this is work in 
progress, each issue is worthy of continuing study and will be reported in 
greater depth in the next formal report scheduled for release in June, 1990.

HOW THE ESPIONAGE SUBJECT SEES HIMSELF (at the time he initiates espionage)

        He believes:

             - He is special, even unique.

             - He is deserving.

             - His situation is not satisfactory.

             - He has no other (easier) option (than to engage in espionage).

             - He is only doing what others frequently do.

             - He is not a bad person.

             - His performance in his government job (if presently employed) 
             is separate from espionage; espionage does not (really) discount 
             his contribution in the workplace.

             - Security procedures do not (really) apply to him.

             - Security programs (e.g., briefings) have no meaning for 
             him, unless they connect with something with which he can 
             personally identify.

                                                     [                 ]




He feels isolated from the consequences of his actions:

             - He sees his situation in a context in which he faces 
             continually narrowing options, until espionage seems 
             reasonable.  The process that evolves into espionage reduces 
             barriers, making it essentially "Okay" to initiate the crime.

             - He sees espionage as a "Victimless" crime.

             - Once he considers espionage, he figures out how he might 
             do it.   These are mutually reinforcing, often simultaneous 

             - He finds that it is easy to go around security safeguards 
             (he is able to solve that problem).  He belittles the security 
             system, feeling that if the information was really important 
             espionage would be hard to do (the information would really 
             be better protected).  This "Ease of accomplishment" further 
             reinforces his resolve.

He attempts to cope with espionage activity:

             - He is anxious on initial HOIS contact (some also feel 
             thrill and excitement).

             - After a relationship with espionage activity and HOIS develops, 
             the process becomes much more bearable, espionage continues 
             (even flourishes).

             - In the course of long term activity subjects may reconsider 
             their involvement.

               -- Some consider breaking their role to become an operative 
               for the government. This occurs when access to classified 
               information is lost or there is a perceived need to prove 
               themselves, or both.

               -- Others find that espionage activity becomes stressful, they 
               no longer want it. Glamour (if present earlier) subsides. 
               They are reluctant to continue.  They may even break contact.

               -- Sometimes they consider telling authorities what they have 
               done.  Those wanting to reverse their role aren't confessing, 
               they're negotiating.  Those who are "Stressed out" want to 
               confess.  Neither wants punishment.  Both attempt to minimize 
               or avoid punishment.




             - The security measure that was consistently most effective 
             was the polygraph.

             - Aside from polygraph, security procedures are not viewed as 
             obstacles to espionage.  Security procedures are seen by subjects 
             only as inconveniences.

             - Changes in affluence or travel abroad are easily (although 
             falsely) explained. Explanations are rarely challenged; if 
             so the reasons given are accepted by those who inquire.

             - Espionage subjects don't see themselves as traitors. Their 
             acts are usually sustained with some measure of comfort and 
             self justification.

             - The security briefings that seem to have any impact on this 
             group have something in the message with which the subject 
             can personally identify.  Among the areas subjects have 
             suggested are, the acknowledgment of espionage as appearing 
             reasonable to those who do it, that (in time) the honeymoon 
             is over and glamour turns to threat, and that some subjects 
             may want to come in from the cold, but they don't know how 
             to do that (without taking a deep plunge into punishment).

             - It is not until after they have been apprehended that they 
             feel remorse, which is perceived in personal terms, such as 
             their own stress and pain caused to loved ones.  National 
             security issues are of little or no relevance.

             - Subjects sometimes do think about turning themselves in, 
             but they are not sure how to do that.  Trying to find 
             out (how) has risks so high that they can be scared away. 
             The community may wish to consider procedures so that subjects 
             can (from their perspective) more readily approach authorities.

             - Subjects often tell people close to them what they 
             are doing, and sometimes even engage associates in the process. 
             Former intimates (spouses, lovers, close friends - people with 
             whom they spent a good deal of time) are a potentially important 
             source of information in all investigations.

             - Subjects almost invariably conceive of committing espionage 
             after they are in a position of trust.  While initial 
             screening continues to be important, focusing on update 
             and monitoring procedures seems increasingly worthwhile.


Transcription and HTML by Home Page > Reading Room