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View Full Version : FBI mole Robert Hanssen - How has his family handled it?


Acsenray
10-13-2008, 10:49 AM
I just watched Breach, the movie based on the capture of the mole Robert Hanssen, whose passing of information to the Russians constituted perhaps the most serious damage to U.S. national security.

In addition to being a spy, Hanssen was also apparently an ultra-conservative Catholic, involved in Opus Dei, and had a habit of imposing his religious views on his subordinates.

Furthermore, Hanssen was also secretly making videotapes of his wife and himself having sex and sharing the tape with his friends.

(Hanssen pleaded guilty to numerous charges and is currently serving a life sentence.)

Hanssen's Wikipedia page indicates that his wife had some reason to suspect his spying, but overall, the family was portrayed as being very close.

What I'm curious about is what happened after Hanssen's capture and the disclosure of everything that went on. It seems to me that in a lot of criminal cases, family members tend to rationalize or justify the perpetrator's actions.

Is there any indication of how Hanssen's family has handled this? Do they believe he was innocent and all this was trumped up or a misunderstanding? Alternatively, do they think that his actions were somehow justified, that he was doing something good? Or have they reconciled themselves to the fact that he is a criminal and a traitor and deserves punishment?

Any ideas?

madmonk28
10-13-2008, 10:58 AM
Hansen's wife had discovered his spying for the Soviets earlier in their marriage. He portrayed it as selling worthless intel to the Soviets for quick and easy money. She went with him to a priest and Hansen promised he would never do it again, so she was aware of his past spying. The family is very conservative politically and very patriotic they live (or lived, they might have moved) in northern Virginia, I've been by their house and all the cars had bumper stickers promoting conservative issues. I'm not aware of any public statements from the family, but I remember reading in the Washington Post that they had accepted that he was guilty and that he had betrayed his family in many ways. He had a really bad childhood and I think I remember reading that the wife blamed a lot of Bob's behavior on his abusive father.

neutron star
10-13-2008, 08:04 PM
From the Crime Library story on Hanssen (http://trutv.com/library/crime/terrorists_spies/spies/hanssen/1.html):
Hanssen will spend the rest of his life at a federal prison in Lewisburg, Penn. It is a three-hour drive from Washington and his family has promised to be there each weekend. Bonnie Hanssen's Catholic faith does not allow her to waver, and when asked the inevitable questions about the future she always answers the same way.

"I'll never divorce him. I love him and I'll pray for the salvation of his soul every day for the rest of my life."Despite the personal sexual reports, Bonnie and the children continued their weekly visits. In an act of solidarity, his mother, Vivian Hanssen, moved from Florida to Virginia and now lives with the family.

e: that's a pretty interesting account of his life, BTW. I looked it up in an attempt to answer the OP, but I ended up spending nearly an hour reading the whole thing.

Acsenray
10-13-2008, 08:30 PM
It's hard to know what to think. I mean, obviously, the guy is pretty fucked up and he was a traitor and his actions resulted in numerous deaths. On the other hand, he's not the BTK killer.

On the other hand, so far as I know, Hanssen doesn't seem to have shown any remorse. And it's not entirely clear why he did what he did.

At what point does a man deserve to be repudiated by his family?

Icerigger
10-14-2008, 04:44 AM
They are Opus Dei Catholics and their priest told Hanssen to give the money to Mother Theresa, I wonder if any of it was returned?

Czarcasm
10-14-2008, 06:37 AM
I just watched Breach, the movie based on the capture of the mole Robert Hanssen, whose passing of information to the Russians constituted perhaps the most serious damage to U.S. national security.

In addition to being a spy, Hanssen was also apparently an ultra-conservative Catholic, involved in Opus Dei, and had a habit of imposing his religious views on his subordinates.

Furthermore, Hanssen was also secretly making videotapes of his wife and himself having sex and sharing the tape with his friends.

(Hanssen pleaded guilty to numerous charges and is currently serving a life sentence.)

Hanssen's Wikipedia page indicates that his wife had some reason to suspect his spying, but overall, the family was portrayed as being very close.

What I'm curious about is what happened after Hanssen's capture and the disclosure of everything that went on. It seems to me that in a lot of criminal cases, family members tend to rationalize or justify the perpetrator's actions.

Is there any indication of how Hanssen's family has handled this? Do they believe he was innocent and all this was trumped up or a misunderstanding? Alternatively, do they think that his actions were somehow justified, that he was doing something good? Or have they reconciled themselves to the fact that he is a criminal and a traitor and deserves punishment?

Any ideas?I think you are looking for links to what his family thinks, not just our blind opinions, so I am moving this thread from IMHO to General Questions.

smiling bandit
10-14-2008, 12:42 PM
In addition to being a spy, Hanssen was also apparently an ultra-conservativeCatholic, involved in Opus Dei, and had a habit of imposing his religious views on his subordinates.

Furthermore, Hanssen was also secretly making videotapes of his wife and himself having sex and sharing the tape with his friends.

:dubious: Does anyone see some weird contradictions here? :D

gonzomax
10-14-2008, 12:50 PM
:dubious: Does anyone see some weird contradictions here? :D

No. The ones who pretend to be closest to god are the real perverts. We have a bunch of evangelical leaders doing all those weird things with men .women and livestock. Watch the ones who speak the loudest. They are covering up.
I saw the movie and Hanssen was very outwardly religious. They spent a fortune to catch him.

KneadToKnow
10-14-2008, 12:54 PM
"I love him and I'll pray for the salvation of his soul every day for the rest of my life."
That's an attitude I don't understand, frankly. Aside from any other points, either God will forgive him or he won't. What good does nagging God every frickin' day do? Some avowed deeply religious people seem to have an awfully low opinion of the Man Who Lives in the Clouds.

brickbacon
10-14-2008, 09:30 PM
It's hard to know what to think. I mean, obviously, the guy is pretty fucked up and he was a traitor and his actions resulted in numerous deaths. On the other hand, he's not the BTK killer.

What he did may not be as grisly or gruesome, but what he did was just as bad if not worse. Not only was he responsible for the deaths of several people who were responsible for the nation's security, but he also undermined the efforts of thousands of others. I think what he did was worse, and if his wife knew he did that, she should be in jail too. I think it's also bullshit that they get to keep part of his pension.

neutron star
10-14-2008, 10:57 PM
Is there an account anywhere of the deaths that were directly attributable to his actions? The Crime Library article only mentions two: spies for the U.S. in the KGB who were outed in his initial communications and subsequently executed by the Soviets.

neutron star
10-14-2008, 11:19 PM
I think what he did was worse, and if his wife knew he did that, she should be in jail too. I think it's also bullshit that they get to keep part of his pension.
According to her accounts, "verified" by lie detectors, the only thing she knew about was the incident mentioned by madmonk28. I have to think that if there was more to be known, FBI interrogaters could have gotten it out of a housewife.

And it's not entirely clear why he did what he did.
I don't think you can pin it on one reason. One that stood out to me was this rather poignant quote:
His hero, Kim Philby, may have explained his mind best. Just before his death in 1988, Philby said, "To betray, you must first belong. I never belonged."
The only place he really did belong was Opus Dei, and he used most of the money he made from selling secrets to put his six children through expensive Opus Dei private schools. I'd have to think that making enough money to fit in in the only group where he could fit in was a motivating factor.
His children were good students, and he believed they might in the future be part of a holy war that would remerge God and country, whose leaders would then ban abortion, divorce and other evils of the world that he and Opus Dei opposed.

A 1998 research paper from Brigham Young University studied 139 spies and concluded that half of them did it for the money. "People usually spy for some combination of emotional gratification and remuneration," John Pike, a specialist in intelligence issues, said, "but in all cases, money is how they keep score."

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