MYSTERY WIRE — In the movies spies like James Bond always get the bad guy. In real life it’s not that simple. Tom Hayden spent years working as a double agent for the U.S. Navy. He now lives in a quiet neighborhood near Las Vegas.
Hayden pretended to be a traitor and found himself involved in high-level intrigue against the treacherous KGB.
For four long, dangerous years Tom Hayden sold U.S. secrets to the Russians. As a Master Chief based in the U.S. Naval communication center in Naples, Italy, Hayden had access to sensitive military information, which he handed over to the KGB in exchange for thousands of dollars.
Hayden was not a traitor. He was a double agent recruited and trained by American spymasters to do work they said was vital to national security.
“It was initially discussed with me that I was going to be placed into a group in the United Nations in New York,” Hayden told George Knapp. “And that was nixed. I was told that the reason that didn’t happen was because the United Nations is hallowed ground and people don’t do that stuff there. Well, I was told later that the real reason was they already had somebody there.”
Hayden learned the tricks of the spy trade like using codes, locating safe houses, and how to memorize every detail he saw. As a former machine gunner in Vietnam, he already knew about danger.
Spies in movies would have a lot to learn from a real spy according to Hayden, “James Bond wouldn’t last very long because you know, he walks into a hotel and the first thing he says is ‘Hi I’m Bond, James Bond’ and the whole idea is to be just a face in the crowd. Never ever, ever draw attention to yourself.”
Hayden convinced his KGB contacts that he would sell secrets for money. The Russians were careful not to lose their new asset.
Hayden kept some of the coded messages the KGB delivered to him. He became so important while being a double agent, the KGB sent its number two man Vitaly Yurchenko to check him out.
The Russians were grooming Hayden to replace the now infamous traitor John Walker. “They told me that I was John Walker’s relief. I was the guy who was going to take John Walker’s place.”
But Yurchenko threw everyone a curve three days after meeting with Hayden. Yurchenko defected resulting in a major coup for the U.S. When the U.S. asked Yurchenko for the names of any Americans who might be spying for Russia he immediately said Tom Hayden.
Three months later Yurchenko defected back to Russia which meant Hayden’s days as a double agent were over.
Hayden said he has no doubt that similar operations are underway today and that while technology is valuable in espionage, nothing beats human intelligence. “There’s nothing as valuable as that person who’s sitting in the room listening to the conversation at the table.”
Hayden said even though he knew he was only acting the part of a trader, it still bothered him to assume that role and could not understand how spies like Robert Hansen can sell out their country.