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From the Book
On the morning of February 18, 2001, FBI Special Agent Bob Hanssen woke up, got out of bed, ate breakfast and followed his regular Sunday morning routine. Accompanied by his wife and children, Hanssen drove out to St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, Virginia. There were numerous Roman Catholic churches closer to the Hanssens' home in Vienna, but they had a special reason for traversing the rolling hills of the Washington, D.C., suburbs to attend St. Catherine's. Various high-ranking government officials also attended the church, including FBI Director Louis Freeh. They were all drawn to it, according to its pastor, Father Franklyn Martin McAfee, because of its traditional approach. The Hanssens also relished the church's close ties to Opus Dei, an elite and influential movement within the Catholic Church, and delighted in praying alongside some of the most powerful people in Washington. More members of Opus Dei attended St. Catherine's than any other church in the region. And several of its parishioners sent their boys to The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland, an Opus Dei academy where both Freeh and Hanssen enrolled their sons and had crossed paths recently.
Worship is serious business at St. Catherine's. "In the Washington area, we are the most traditional, the most High church," Father McAfee said. "We detest mediocrity." On Sunday mornings, High Mass, the Mass of Paul XI, is celebrated in Latin, with the choir singing Mozart, the priest facing a wooden altar shrouded in white linens, and a sculpted crucifix illuminated by sunlight streaming in from a hidden skylight. "There is an emphasis on devotions and spirituality and an emphasis on confessions," McAfee said. "We get a lot of confessions here."
The Hanssens always sat on the left side of the airy church near the statue of Mary, Mother of Sorrows. The Freeh family always sat on the right side of the church, close to the organ and choir. In addition to St. Catherine's and The Heights, Hanssen and Freeh had other things in common: both were married with six children, lived in northern Virginia, regularly dealt with sensitive matters of Russian counterintelligence and had decided long ago to devote themselves to careers in law enforcement.
Back at home following church that day, Hanssen struck up a conversation with his old pal Jack Hoschouer, a career soldier turned munitions salesman who was preparing to leave after visiting for several days. Hoschouer went outside with "Sundae," the Hanssen's black Labrador, and played Frisbee for about 15 minutes. Then, the two friends whose relationship dated back more than 30 years to high school in Chicago launched into one of their philosophical discussions about ethics. One point led to another until Hanssen went to get The Man Who Was Thursday, a book by his favorite author, G. K. Chesterton.
"Here, read this," Hanssen said, handing his friend the 1908 novel he had read and re-read many times. "You will probably enjoy it. Things are not always the way they seem."
Hoschouer had to put a rubber band around the tattered book to keep it from falling apart. He was used to such exchanges with Hanssen and didn't consider it out of the ordinary. The two had shared many books and secrets over the years, often talking about the nature of clandestine operations and the kinds of people who carried them out. After Hoschouer finished packing, Hanssen drove him to Dulles International Airport, where he got out of the car at the curb, and the two bid each other farewell.
Fifteen minutes later, a phalanx of armed FBI agents swarmed Hanssen after he deposited a black garbage bag filled with U.S. intelligence secrets at the base of a footbridge in a northern Virginia park. In exchange for the promised secrets, the Russians had left $50,000 in cash for him nearby. At the moment of the arrest, Hanssen's fellow parishioner Louis Freeh sat at the controls of the FBI's sleek, ultramodern crisis operations center, choreographing Hanssen's downfall and raising the curtain on a series of puzzling questions about why this churchgoing family man and FBI sleuth had become a double agent who sold more closely guarded national security secrets than anyone in the Bureau's 90-year history.
Two days later when the story broke, Hoschouer was stunned by the news. After all they had shared, Hoschouer thought that he really knew Bob Hanssen. In time, to better understand his complex friend, Hoschouer would follow Hanssen's suggestion by reading The Man Who Was Thursday. But while sitting with his parents in Arizona and watching the initial TV news reports about Hanssen's arrest and the allegations of espionage, Hoschouer had a sick feeling in his stomach. His head was swimming with questions.
Who is the real Bob Hanssen? he wondered. What caused such a patriotic American to spy? Why had he risked it all? The only thing Hoschouer was now sure of was what Hanssen had told him a few days earlier when he handed him the book.
Things are not always the way they seem.
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