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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Vows to Expel Spy's Contacts

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton said Friday he would move quickly to expel Russian diplomats suspected of managing an alleged Russian spy in the CIA unless Moscow voluntarily withdraws them.


U.S. officials said that given Russia's intransigence so far an announcement of the expulsions was likely later Friday afternoon.


Clinton strongly hinted that the FBI and the CIA are trying to determine whether there is another spy in the U.S. intelligence ranks in addition to Aldrich Ames, the veteran CIA officer arrested along with his wife Monday.


At a news conference, Clinton said he would act to expel the Russian diplomats, believed to number two, if Moscow did not move quickly to withdraw them voluntarily.


"If they do not do that, we will take action and we will take it quickly and it will be apparent what we have done," Clinton told a news conference. "We think appropriate action will be taken one way or the other.


The president's hesitancy on expelling the Russians was called into question during a meeting with members of Congress, particularly by Senator Sam Nunn, the Georgia Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.


Russia has basically shrugged off U.S. demands for Moscow to take specific steps in response to the arrest of Ames and his wife on espionage charges.


Ames, who worked for the CIA for 31 years, had held one of the agency's most sensitive jobs -- head of a Soviet counterintelligence branch whose mission was to prevent penetration of the CIA by the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency.


The case has resulted in demands by congressmen to suspend U.S. aid to Russia while an investigation determines how much damage may have been done through any spying.


"Clearly the president opposes any efforts to curtail U.S. aid to Russia," White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers said.


"Our policy is one that the president believes is in the U.S. interest, including aid to Russia," Myers said. Most of U.S. aid does not go to the Russian government but to specific programs aimed at promoting economic reforms, she said.


Myers said she could not confirm a report in The Washington Post that a high-level CIA team sent to Moscow to discuss the spy case had been unable to extract useful information from the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.


Meanwhile, the CIA and the Defense Department are studying ways to tighten internal security.


CIA Director James Woolsey told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday that lie-detector tests of agency and Pentagon employees and audits of their personal finances are among issues already being examined by an existing advisory commission.


The future role of polygraph tests and financial audits in counterintelligence is particularly relevant now because of what many in Congress are calling Ames' incredible success in evading detection for several years.


Government officials said Ames passed CIA polygraph tests twice during the 1985-94 period he is accused of having sold some of the U.S. government's most sensitive secrets to the former Soviet Union and to Russia for payoffs totaling $1.5 million.


(Reuters, AP)