Brian Kelley, veteran counterspy, dies at 68

Broke Moscow code, was falsely accused as KGB mole

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At the time of the Bloch case, the FBI theorized that the only person who could have tipped off the KGB to Bloch was Mr. Kelley, a theory that would prove false but not until years were wasted hounding him and trying to force him to confess to being a KGB spy.

Hanssen learned of that mole hunt in the spring of 1999, at a time when he was supplying secrets to the Russians, according to an FBI inspector general report.

On Aug. 18, 1999, FBI agents grilled Mr. Kelley for four hours in an effort to make him confess. Mr. Kelley refused and told the agents, according to an interview with this reporter: “Your facts are wrong. Your conclusions are wrong. Your underlying hypothesis is wrong.”

FBI agents continued to harass Mr. Kelley and his family for the next two years, sidelining his CIA career.

“It’s one thing to beat me up, come down hostile on me,” Mr. Kelley said in the interview several years ago. “My family was another matter. What the FBI did to my family - the threats, the outright lies, and the intimidation - was inexcusable.”

Another false lead that caused the FBI to target Mr. Kelley was the fact that a KGB officer was spotted in a park near Mr. Kelley’s McLean home. Agents were convinced the KGB was picking up documents left secretly by Mr. Kelley in the park, but failed to realize until later that the park was also yards from Hanssen’s house in the same neighborhood.

The false accusations against Mr. Kelley and his family continued until the FBI bought an audiotape from a KGB defector in 2000. Agents listened to the tape expecting to hear Mr. Kelley’s voice, but identified the mole as Hanssen, who was arrested in February 2001, ending Mr. Kelley’s nightmare.

Mr. Kelley eventually was cleared, and the FBI apologized after being pressured by Congress and not until five months after Hanssen was arrested.

He went back to work at the CIA and continued with the agency until 2006, when he retired.

In an interview in 2006, Mr. Kelley said in explaining his story that “I just want to make sure that what happened to me never happens again to anyone.”

Survivors include his wife, sons Barry Kelley and Brian T. Kelley, daughter Erin Kelley Aldrich and grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but a viewing will be held Sunday and a Mass on Monday.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon ( He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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