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OFFICIALS HOPE SPY WILL LET THEM IN ON HIS SECRETS

SHARE OFFICIALS HOPE SPY WILL LET THEM IN ON HIS SECRETS

A congressional intelligence committee has asked to interview convicted spy Aldrich Ames to "hear how he did it," a member of the panel said Saturday.

"It's sort of a rare opportunity to have someone that is in such a position and . . . willing to come to speak very openly," said Rep. Larry Combest of Texas, ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.Ames' testimony, if judicial authorities allow it, would be taken in closed session, said Combest.

Committee Chairman Dan Glickman, D-Kan., made the formal request in a letter to Ames' lawyer, who said his client was willing to appear and would "testify truthfully," according to a Washington Post report published Saturday.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees plan extensive hearings on U.S. counterintelligence issues arising out of Ames' spy activities. Ames, a CIA counterintelligence officer for three years, was sentenced April 28 to life in prison after pleading guilty to spying for Russia and the former Soviet Union for nine years.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has also been working on arrangements for an appearance by Ames, the Post reported.

Combest, in a telephone interview said, the House committee's interest in talking to Ames grew out of its role of overseeing U.S. intelligence activities.

"We want to find out where the problems are and try to see what can be done so this won't happen again," he said.

Combest said the committee is still discussing arrangements that would have to be made for Ames' appearance.

"There's nothing he dealt with in the CIA that, from our standpoint, he could not discuss with us." .

The committee, however, has yet to determine the impact of the federal court plea arrangement that prohibits Ames from "unauthorized disclosure" of classified information derived during his illegal activities, Combest said.