The Worst Spy In Us History, Robert Hanssen and the Movie, Breach

robert_hanssen.jpgI have a piece coming on a war documentary the soldier and I are watching and this post is related. The documentary we are watching sticks to actual facts and allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions. Compare that to the freakish piece of film making that is ‘Breach which left the soldier and I both absolutely bewildered.

Breach is a “based on a true story” movie of Robert Hanssen, the FBI man tagged “the worst spy in US history”. He is now in prison for life and spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement for reasons I have not been able to discover though I’d like to.

But what this blog about is the way the soldier and I think. Neither of us believed the movie. It just made no sense to us on any level and I mean not a frame of it jibed with anything either of us know or think we know about anything in life.

For example the guy is supposed to be high level spy having tricked everyone for 25 years and he is very well played by, Chris Cooper. They state in the movie he is very bright and they send a newbie in to trick and betray him. Now the soldier went nuts on that alone but I could think of all kinds of reasons why this might be the case so asked him to hold on and see what the director or the FBI was going to do. You know. Suspend judgment!

So the newbie goes in and the Hanssen character who is very intense challenges him at their first collision. “Tell me five things about yourself. One of the things should be a lie…”

breachmovie.jpgThe point of this was that Hanssen would be able to pick out the lie. It’s a game he said he’d played with others to stay sharp.

“Well golly gee,” the newbie says. “I couldn’t do anything like that..”

“That would have been your lie,” Hanssen said sharply.

And personally, I know brilliant psychos and I am telling you if you ever answered a question like that so poorly you’d be written off in 2 seconds. Er.. dismissed!

So how does a guy like this go on to trick a guy like Hanssen? It’s completely implausible.

And it’s not like he gets smart at some point because he is only playing dumb. That never happens in the movie. What happens is everything in the film seems not only far fetched but impossible and as a result, Breach does not seem a movie about how the worst spy in US history was caught but a movie about how an innocent man was framed!

Now I suppose this can’t be, right? Hanssen is guilty so I guess the director lost the plot? But it left me thinking all kinds of things.

For one, what does the FBI think of this lousy movie? Are the soldier and I paranoid? What did others think when they saw this… did they believe it? Are we weird… or normal?

But mostly it just made me more aware than ever you have to beware your source of information. That and I wish people with no skills would stay out of the “true story” business. Jupiter in Capricorn – This story is not real! It’s a story but it’s not a good one and it is definitely not a real one which is sickening because the real story as got to be good!

You know how they say information is power? I say information is precious and good luck getting any these days because I think it’s just about hopeless.

16 thoughts on “The Worst Spy In Us History, Robert Hanssen and the Movie, Breach”

  1. I have also been interested in this spy from a while back when he was in the news. I looked at his solar chart and saw Pluto retro in Leo conjunct North Node in the solar 4th. Thats like dirty laundry on a sunny day as a magnet in his own home. And he is a naivetee Aries, with moon in Pisces in solar 12. I think the man was so naive to imagine he could even be endless agents inside himself to fool even himself. (Maybe his mom knows everything). Even making a movie about this subject is naive in itself, but with Pluto conjunct North Node, that “true story” is taboo, just beyond reach, and might look different in a Pluto in Capricorn re-telling.

  2. I haven’t watched the movie Breach so I’m hardly an expert, but I did see the preview and within 15 seconds I thought: either buddy’s having a mental breakdown or he’s…having a breakdown. Either way, he was broken. Way, way, way too emotional and stormy to be believable.
    And I’m sorry Ryan Phillipe? He looks like he’s 10 years old,no matter how buff he is or how many tattoos he has!

  3. Hi Elsa, I saw Breach and never really thought about whether it was plausible or not, although I didn’t find it a very good film. It seemed to me that Hanssen was supposed to like his young aide and therefore let his guard down — but I don’t recall too much about it.
    The 23-hour lockdown is under what are known as Special Administration Measures (SAMs) for those who are a security risk. They are not allowed to speak to anyone, write to anyone, see anyone, because the worry is they will find a way to pass on more classified info that they no longer have access to! It’s crazy and it should be outlawed. The SAMs are also what allows the Justice Dept. to (themselves) spy on attorneys and their clients now, in violation of attorney/client confidentiality, which raises all sorts of other constitutional issues beyond the one of the cruel and unusual punishment of solitary.

    All this seems to me like an overzealous hard Pluto/Saturn aspect in somebody’s chart!

  4. We went to see this in the theater, but honestly I don’t remember a damned thing about the movie except how impressed I was with the guy playing Hanssen. Before then I hadn’t seen him do anything but supporting roles.
    Considering the basic facts, though, I would guess he’s imprisoned for treason. For good or ill, we don’t hang ’em anymore, so. . .. *shrug*

    Kash, double werd on Ryan Phillipe — pouty schoolboy ahoy!

  5. Well it just doesn’t make sense they send a newbie in after a target like this… and then the newbie quits after he busts the guy. Something doesn’t add up. Also his wife kept his pension. Whaaaaaaaaat? Something (everything) about this story is squirrley, it’s just not how things work.

    Jennifer, I did not think Hanssen liked his young aide because he was too stupid to like for a brainy type. He reveals is low intellect very quickly and is deemmed “Clerk”. A guy like Hanssen ( a real one) would have never had someone “grow” on him. That guy would have “Clerk” until the end of time. Crap, man you are doing all kinds of stuff you’re not going to take chances.

    Also, if you’ve been put in this job and suspicious someone is on to you, you’d be especially vigilant, not leaving you palm lying around. According to the movie, Hanssen could tell the kid had been in his office snooping from day one but now he trusts him? That’s laughable. The kid was busted in the first 3 minutes!

    No guilty person would act as he did which means he is either innocent and being railroaded (possible), the director / storyteller is an idiot or most likely the actual facts of this case will never be told.

    If the latter is true (I think) then why make a stupid movie and some fake facts? It’s just surreal.

    And for the solider watching this movie would be like me watching an astrologer on screen say the Moon rules the 11th house. No astrologer would say that! This is just not how things in real life are… not even close.

  6. The kid watching the sex tape at his house too. Hah! And leaving it in the VCR! That would never happen. This shit is top secret – you’d be watching it a work, most likely with peers. Talk about taking liberties. My point here is the idea this crap passes as real scares the hell out of me.

  7. I often feeling nothing is real anymore. A friend and I have been saying that to each other all year, and we both mean it in different ways coming from different directions. And she is now believing things I think are so incredibly distorted and I dare say she’d say the same about me, if we were going to be honest with each other about it. (but we won’t.)

    I saw Breach. I found it entertaining (plausibility wasn’t very important to me and I agree it wasn’t plausible.) I thought the Clerk’s catholicism was supposed to have exploited a blind spot in Hanssen. I never really thought Clerk grew on Hanssen so much as created some sort of weird religious distortion of Hanssen’s usual caution. Found his achille’s heel sort of thing.

  8. “And she is now believing things I think are so incredibly distorted and I dare say she’d say the same about me, if we were going to be honest with each other about it. (but we won’t.)”

    Having similar experience except I call it out. (Not that it does any good.) :0

  9. I don’t call it out even though I know that must mean the friendship isn’t real either (!), but I can’t see any reason to call it out. I know it won’t do anything other than push us apart, and I don’t have that many friends. Although truthfully, it’s pushing us apart anyway. I find I don’t want to spend time with her because of what she believes these days. Bet she feels the same.

  10. Elsa, I hear what you (and others) are saying. I also think Bew is right about the catholicism thing (which I had forgotten) and SaDiablo is right about Chris Cooper being great. He was in American Beauty and was superb. He’s great in Bourne Identity, Syriana, too!

    I think one trouble nowadays is that films are built on an audience’s learned expectations. If you watch the first Die Hard, there is so much more of what we would now see as “filler” than in the later ones, because now we fill those things in ourselves in our minds and get bored if the movie spends time detailing them. But sometimes, too much is left out and then other things are added randomly.

    But also sometimes there are incongruities in real life, too. Like the most famous spy of all time; it took, what, 20 years to find him out and he was right under all his fellow spy’s noses the whole time. And what about 9/11, while we’re at it? Is it plausible that no fighter jets AT ALL would be scrambled? Or that both towers of the WTC would collapse strraight down on themselves?

    I admire your nose (ear?) for discrepancies, Elsa. It doesn’t surprise me then that you feel scared by others’ lack of discernment. Before you found me here doing astrology, I was doing legal commentary — and it was pretty scary to be seeing what I saw in the laws being enacted, as well as to see the complete and utter lack of concern in people. Reminds me of what Josephine Bonaparte said during the French Revolution about all discerning people needing to go into hiding!

  11. Jennifer your comment reminded me of what my lawyer told me after we lost our fight for my insurance claim:
    “There is a difference between the truth and what you can prove.”

  12. Kashmiri, sad but all too true. I was (terribly) ill for TEN years (I’m not exaggerating) and ultimately sustained permanent irreversible nerve damage as the result of negligence of a dentist and could not sue him!

    But, back to astrology and spies, it’s all about Neptune, eh? So, while Uranus and Saturn are doing their back and forth dance (Uranus now moving back toward the aspect with Saturn — ahhh, pressure pressure pressure!), what’s Neptune (in my Sun sign of Aquarius) doing?? He’s squaring Mars in Scorpio! Eeeek! And trining Moon and Mercury in Libra! Joy and rapture!

    But the possibility of lies….?

    Elsa, you picked up my stuff on Obama — but have you posted anything about McCain yet?? 0.0?

  13. Jennifer, I don’t know what you are talking about. The Dispatch? The feed to your blog is in the mix / system so whatever you post will have a headline show up there…

    Er.. if you are referencing something you just posted, a delay is typical.

  14. That particular scene is one of those altered somewhat for the dramatization. Hanssen, very much at odds with his strict religiosity, did get a big kick out of letting his friend Jack Hoschauer witness him having sex with Bonnie. What differs is that, rather than videotaping it to mail to Jack, he first let him peek from a deck on the house, and later (using FBI-owned equipment) set up a closed-circuit system so Jack could watch during his occasional visits to the Hanssens.

    Hanssen’s interest in taking his wife’s sexuality beyond their closed doors didn’t stop there, though that is as far as he was able to realize; other things he would have liked he was never able to arrange. He did, however, post highly explicit stories based on his fantasies on the Internet, using their real names. A simple search will find them.

    Also differing from the movie is that O’Neill was informed of the real reason for the investigation from the outset and learned of the sexual stuff later. Again, that is the kind of departure from literal fact for the sake of a dramatization that in no way invalidates it.

  15. Oops. Forgot something in the last post: a few URLs of resources. Would anyone have us believe that O’Neill could invent this story, convince, among many others, the following news and video sources of its truth, dummy up all the other accounts of what happened, and not one person (none I can find searching the net anyway) would have come forth to dispute it?

    Now THAT’S what I call implausible.

    ABC News:



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