RUSSIAN moles have “almost certainly” infiltrated US intelligence services, former spooks have warned in an explosive new book.
The shocking revelation was made during extensive interviews with New York Times bestselling author and former federal prosecutor Lis Wiehl for her new book A Spy In Plain Sight.
Ms Wiehl told The Sun that it comes just as the need to anticipate Putin's next move is greater than ever before.
Her new title is an in-depth look at the story of Robert Hanssen, considered America’s most damaging Russian spy ever.
Hanssen, who is currently serving 15 consecutive life sentences at a federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, was an FBI double agent who spied for Soviet and Russian agencies between 1979 until he was busted in 2001.
Former counterespionage operative Hanssen, now 78, sold secrets to the KGB including US strategies in the event of nuclear war and the identities of US intelligence assets in Russia who were later executed.
His espionage was described by the Department of Justice as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in US history”.
But as Russia’s war against Ukraine appears to be entering a new deadly phase, Ms Wiehl’s book finds that there are likely new Hanssens today who have already been recruited to Putin’s cause.
In an exclusive interview, she told The Sun: “We have to be very aware that this could happen again.
“It was shocking to me when I did my interviews and asked the FBI agents and CIA officers.
“Every interview I ended with, ‘Could there be another Hanssen today?’ and, to a person, a hundred percent, the response was yes.
“And the follow up with many of them was that there probably already is.
“That's critical when you're thinking about our national intelligence and what we need to know.
“What we don't realize is where we get our real intelligence to stay ahead, to find out what they're doing.
“The way you get that is by getting people in that country to spy for you. That’s just a way of doing business, it always has been.
“If we lose those people because of a counter spy here in this country, then we've lost a hell of a lot of information at a time like this where we need to be anticipating what Russia's next move is going to be.”
'IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN'
Ms Wiehl, 60, who has previously written about the Unabomber and Charles Manson, said she researched the new book for two years.
She chose the topic because her own father was an FBI agent and she is a third generation federal prosecutor who is drawn to law enforcement stories.
In one interview, former FBI Special Agent Jack Thompson told her: “After thirty years in the FBI, seventeen of those as the counterintelligence officer at the Department of Energy (DOE), I have no reason to believe there isn’t a recruitment in place right now in the FBI, the CIA, and the DOE.
“I can say almost with certainty that people in the DOE have been recruited by foreign intelligence services.”
Former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Dave Szady added: “Is it going to happen again?
“Well, is the bank going to be robbed again? Is somebody going to be murdered again?
“How about corruption? You’d think politicians would learn that corruption isn’t a good idea, but do you think it will occur again? Of course it will.
“People commit crimes, and they’re not going to stop. And espionage is a crime.”
Ms Wiehl said the recent case of a Maryland couple who were arrested on suspicion of trying to sell nuclear warship secrets to a country thought to be Brazil highlighted the problem.
Department of the Navy nuclear engineer Jonathan Toebbe, 43, and his wife Diana, 46, were detained in October last year after the FBI counterintelligence agents set up a sting operation.
The couple, from Annapolis, Maryland, pleaded guilty to espionage in February.
Ms Wiehl said: “The Maryland couple were trying to sell their secrets to a friendly country.
“That friendly country then did what they should do, which is say, ‘Hey, this is what's going on. Your people are trying to sell their secrets. We're not gonna buy, but you should know what's going on’.
“The FBI set up a sting operation and took them down.
"Imagine if that same couple had sent the same information to Russia.
“I would be very surprised if the Russians would've turned that information over to the United States.
“It really strains the imagination to think that could happen.”
The author said she found while researching Hanssen that he was motivated by money but also self-aggrandisement - and all the same motives will be present in some currently working in the spy world.
“I think he loved the thrill, especially because he himself was not a James Bond.
“He was not dapper, they called him The Mortician because he always wore black.
“I think he wanted to feel like he was always the smartest guy in the room, the guy that could outsmart the dullard FBI agents.
“I think it was a feeling of superiority, a feeling of exhilaration, money and being appreciated.
“The point that the agents made when I was talking with them was that those kind of motivations and those kind of people will always exist.
“The need for money, the self aggrandisement, the thrill - that's Hanssen one day, Joe Smith the next.”
Ms Wiehl added that as a former KGB agent himself, Putin would understand better than anyone the value of having assets behind enemy lines.
She said: "We can't be lackadaisical, we have to keep putting pressure on the institutions that are supposed to protect us like the FBI and the CIA to monitor their own.
"The information they have at the top level is absolutely critical to the wellbeing of all of us."
"A Spy In Plain Sight: The Inside Story of the FBI and Robert Hanssen - America's Most Damaging Russian Spy" will be out on May 3.