Friday, November 5, 2010
In November 1977, 23-year-old Kampiles resigned from the Central Intelligence Agency, having worked for the Agency for just eight months as a trainee and a watch officer, after he was informed that his poor performance evaluations obviated any future in the elite Clandestine Service. However, when he showed up at the Soviet embassy in Athens, where he was interviewed by a GRU officer, he sold a highly classified KH-11 KEYHOLE satellite manual. Until that moment the Soviets believed that the BIG BIRD satellite was a signals intelligence satellite and had not bothered to conceal sensitive sites from overhead surveillance. Within a very short time after Kampiles sold the manual for $3,000, the Soviets began to camouflage their installations. What Kampiles did not realize when he visited the Soviet compound was that the GRU officer who interviewed him, Sergei Bokhan, was himself working for the CIA and promptly identified Kampiles to his CIAhandler. When Kampiles returned to the United States, he was arrested, and in December 1978 he was sentenced to 40 years in prison despite his assertion that he had always intended to become a double agent for the CIA. Much to the CIA’s embarrassment, it emerged that a further dozen KH-11 manuals had gone missing and a request had been made to the Justice Department to prevent a public trial of the young trainee.