The cold war may appear to be over. The Berlin Wall has crumbled, the Soviet Union has splintered, and even North Korea has let down its guard, albeit slightly.
But the spy games between Moscow and Washington are as intense as ever - at least so say Oleg Kalugin and David Major, two top intelligence officials who were on opposite sides of the spy wars.
Today, these former adversaries are teamed up as business associates at The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, a company in Alexandria, Va., that teaches the intelligence community how to protect itself against snoops and moles.
Their message is simple.
"To think that the cold war is over and intelligence-gathering is over would be a gross mistake," says Mr. Major. "If you don't understand the role intelligence and counterintelligence has played in world events, you don't really understand world events."
Last week, while much of the capital was consumed with inaugural events, Major and Kalugin served up their own version of Washington - a city teeming with spies and double spies, hidden surveillance equipment, and sinister plots cooked up behind the spiked steel gates of the embassies that line Massachusetts Avenue.
Their "Spy Drive" tour through the narrow streets of Georgetown and Foggy Bottom casts light on some of the more notorious crime scenes of the 20th century. It's part educational, part macabre.
"This town was indeed a great playground for listening and intercepting," says Kalugin fondly, as the bus makes its way past the Mayflower Hotel, where Aldrich "Rick" Ames spent an evening, before turning over American secrets.
Ames was the CIA officer who spied for money from 1985 to 1994, and eventually sold Moscow the names of at least 20 Russians working for the US. Ten were later executed.
Kalugin, a retired KGB major general, was a top spymaster at the Soviet Embassy in Washington and later in Moscow. He had contact with virtually all of the well-known spies.
"Just before his death, Alger Hiss wrote me a letter asking me to write a letter stating he was never a KGB agent. And I did it," recalls Kalugin, speaking in a half-Russian, half-British accent. In fact, Hiss, a top State Department official in the 1930s and '40s, never did spy for the KGB - rather, he worked for the GRU, which was the intelligence agency for the Soviet military.
Later, Kalugin describes John Walker walking into the Soviet Embassy, then on 16th Street, not far from the White House. "We were convinced that this was the man who could be exceptionally important for our operations."
Walker provided Moscow with key Naval information from 1967 to 1976, which, if war had broken out, could have been devastating to the US.
Major, a retired supervisory special agent for the FBI, was also in on most of the big spy cases of the cold war. His job was to try to stay one step ahead of people like Kalugin.
"This mailbox on your right was used by Rick Ames," he says, as the tour bus passes the intersection of R and 37th Streets in Georgetown. According to Major, Ames used to mark the same mailbox with chalk to inform agents at the Soviet embassy that he was ready to make an information "drop," probably at a nearby park.
Major goes on to describe how nearly every federal agency in Washington was penetrated - at one time or another - by spies. He says the US made 141 espionage arrests, involving 22 countries, in the past 25 years. More than one-third of the time, however, the US intervened before any damage was done. "The Treasury Department was one of the most penetrated agencies," Major says, with an assistant secretary, Harry Dexter White, even passing along secrets in the 1940s.
According to Major and Kalugin, Moscow is putting even more emphasis on spying today - partially to compensate for its ailing military. One example: Stanislav Gusev, the Russian who was caught a year ago snooping on the State Department. The Chinese and Cubans are also active.
"Spying is alive and well, and it happens in your own backyard," Major says.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society