Post Cold War Political Espionage: From the Rosenbergs to Hanssen

Frank Hagan, Mercyhurst College

Spying, the secretive theft of information by "sub rosa" criminals has been described as the world's oldest profession. Despite inattention to the issue in criminology, the activities of spies such as the Rosenbergs or Robert Hanssen have been more costly than most traditional crimes. Hanssen's treachery is one of the worst compromises of U.S. national security and the worst case of treason and espionage on the part of a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Hanssen spy case is compared with a previously developed typology of spies that includes: the mercenary, ideological, alienated/egocentric, buccaneer, professional, compromised, deveived (false flag recruit), quasi-agent, escapee and miscellaneous types.Hanssen was an egocentric spy with buccaneer and mercenary motivations. The changing nature of spying in postmodern society is also discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006