(The Week Magazine) Chief Warrant Officer John A. Walker, who died in federal prison late last month at the age of 77, was the most consequential spy in American history.
Over the course of seven years, from 1967 to 1975, he turned over some of the country’s most significant military secrets to the Soviet Union.
When he retired, his friend, Jerry Whitworth, continued where he left off. Walker was arrested in 1985. His wife Barbara turned him in.
Walker’s motive was money. He spent lots on prostitutes and lots more to try and keep his wife happy.
When a woman looked at him crossways, a fellow sailor said, “he would unzip his breeches” in a heartbeat. He was unhappy and erratic, except on his binges.
His friends knew this; the Navy did not.
Walker was nearing bankruptcy and his most valuable asset was his security clearance: TOP SECRET, with access to cryptologic material.
Officially, he volunteered himself to the Soviet Embassy in Washington, walking in under the nose of the FBI, which monitored every movement in and out of the 16th Street complex. (His spying may actually have begun earlier.)
But when he did show up in Washington, he brought sample documents, including schematics of advanced submarine systems and diagrams of rotor wire settings for an encryption machine called the KL-47, which protected the U.S. Navy’s most sensitive traffic. . . . (read the rest)