Why You Don’t Want Chemically-Enhanced Partners In Treason — Andrew Daulton Lee

By Jay Holmes

Last week we looked at the early days of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee — the Falcon and the Snowman — and how they went from childhood friends to conspirators in spying for the Soviets. When Altar Boys Get Bored — The TRW National Security Disaster brings them up to 1975. At that time Christopher Boyce worked in the Black Vault at TRW. This is where the company stored Top Secret Codes, and where incoming data from satellites were decoded.

Cocaine Canstock

In 1975, Christopher Boyce, a.k.a. the Falcon, suggested to his longtime friend Andrew Daulton Lee, a.k.a. the Snowman, that Lee traffic Top Secret information to the KGB. Lee was quick to agree. In Lee’s mind, the chance to help Boyce spy on the US government seemed like the perfect opportunity. By that time, he had already served prison time for dealing cocaine and heroin, and, after being busted on drug charges again, he had worked as a snitch for the police. Lee knew enough about the drug dealing world to know that his long term prospects for health and happiness as a snitch were rather dim. For him, spying not only meant money, but the prospect of broadening his criminal horizons. It also provided the emotionally fragile Lee with a sense of importance.

Lee traveled to Mexico City and made a personal visit to the Soviet embassy, where he told the receptionist that he had very important information for the Soviets. The receptionist alerted senior resident KGB officer Vasiliy Okana, and Okana agreed to interview Lee in a secure room in the embassy.

The bright and talented Okana was very well educated, well trained, and experienced. He was used to using patience and hard work to gather intelligence. Based on his long experience, Lee seemed like one more mentally unbalanced, third rate crook trying to run a poorly designed spy cam.

Unfortunately for the US, Okana was highly disciplined and listened to Lee dispassionately in spite of the horrible first impression that Lee made on him. By the end of the conversation, Okana realized that, although Lee was indeed a flake, he likely was working for someone with access to valuable information. Okana decided to invest time, effort, and scarce KGB cash to see what information Lee could supply.

Working with the emotionally unbalanced Lee quickly became a nightmare. The coke snorting, booze gulping Lee grew impatient and recklessly ignored the protocols and procedures that the KGB had given him to keep him safe from detection by the US and Mexican authorities. Even though he had been told that the Soviet Embassy was under constant surveillance by the Mexican government and foreign intelligence services, Lee visited the embassy and demanded attention.

Lee knew that the KGB would have happily cut him out of the operation and replaced him with a professional KGB courier, so Lee was careful to not identify Boyce to the Soviets. Okana and his boss must have had to exercise every last ounce of patience and persuasion to keep Lee from self-destructing. They despised Lee, but he served as a vital link between the KGB and the mysterious agent that was sending such a windfall of valuable intelligence.

In addition to daily message and telemetry codes, Boyce sent decoded messages and information about the satellites. We now know that the Soviets had other sources that were delivering the same technical intelligence about the same US spy satellite systems. However, the KGB was not about to tip its hand by failing to show an interest in the technical intelligence that Boyce was providing along with the precious codes and message copies.

In spite of having to rely on one of history’s least talented spies—the Snowman—the Soviets managed to keep the operation working for two years. The damage that Christopher Boyce did to US security was tremendous. The code strips allowed massive volumes of secret US communications around the world to be quickly decoded by the USSR.  Besides having a clear picture of US military and diplomatic intentions, the information was a great help to the KGB’s counter-intelligence efforts. By adding valuable pieces to the many puzzles that the KGB was constantly trying to complete to identify spies in the Soviet system, Boyce indirectly helped the KGB round up people behind the Iron Curtain who were working for the West.

On one of his chemically-enhanced, unwelcome visits to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City, Lee aroused the suspicion of the Mexican police. They recognized him as a criminal, but they were mistaken about which particular flavor of criminal he was. The police arrested him with the mistaken belief that Lee had murdered a Mexican policeman.

Lee demanded his rights as a US citizen, and the Mexican police did what they always do to felony suspects. They laughed and then continued to torture him. Lee confessed to spying against the US for the Soviets. The Mexicans realized that he was, in fact, not the criminal that they were looking for and deported him to the US. When he crossed the border into America, he was arrested.

Using his full powers of intellect and every ounce of his self-discipline, he resisted the verbal interrogation at the hands of the FBI. For about two minutes. Then he talked a blue streak and identified his lifelong best friend, Christopher Boyce, as the source of the intelligence that he had been delivering to the Mexicans. Had Lee been slightly brighter, he would have traded Boyce for a light sentence. He wasn’t slightly brighter, so he spilled the beans in exchange for nothing.

The FBI and US Marshal Service quickly detained Boyce, capturing him on the seaside cliffs of Palo Verde. Boyce’s last act before his arrest was to free his pet falcon. Lee and Boyce were convicted of spying for the Soviets, and they received life sentences.

But the Falcon’s adventures were not quite over yet. In our next episode, we will look at how the Christopher Boyce managed to escape custody.

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13 comments on “Why You Don’t Want Chemically-Enhanced Partners In Treason — Andrew Daulton Lee

  1. Doc Sheldon says:

    One has to wonder how many times Boyce mentally kicked himself for having entrusted his fate to such an idiot.

  2. tomwisk says:

    Snowden doesn’t fall into the same class as Boyce and Lee. He’s a misguided fool who believes that the universal sharing of classified knowledge will bring world peace. He’s a traitorwho should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. As for the movieFalcon and Snowman with your background I can view it in a new light, a comedy. Spying isn’t humorous but when idiots try it, it becomes high farce.

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Tomwisk. They are indeed clownish yet they managed to do tremendous damage. that says something about the NSA and CIA security procedures for the satellites and codes. It also says something about TRW.

      • tomwisk says:

        I remember TRW when it was small and buying small bearing companies in CT. Now they’ve diversified to the point that they’re into everything. Part of the problem lies in the fact that companies can grow into multinational juggernauts and insinuate themselves into national security. Government business should be government business. Keep the intel close to the vest not in a safe where somebody hired by someone in HR who had no idea where the person would wind up.

  3. Apart from wondering why Boyce linked up with Lee, let’s be grateful that he did – it could have been worse. I can’t help but think that calling somewhere the “Black Vault” might not have been a bit much of a carrot to those of the wrong mindset to be in somewhere that deserves that name.

    Interesting story.

    Cheers!

  4. Dave says:

    We’re fortunate that most (not all) criminals of every stripe have character disorders that make them unable to maintain discipline and secrecy. The others run the government, though the only things they keep secret are their own…indiscretions. The rest is just political capital to be traded for power and influence.

    • Jay Holmes says:

      Hi Dave. I wish I could disagree with you but I have to say that I agree 90%. As a member of the incurable optimists club I have to hang on to that 10% margin.

  5. […] In the past two weeks, we looked at how two of America’s recent traitors, Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee, developed from childhood friends into spies for the Soviet Union. See When Altar Boys Get Bored–The TRW National Security Disaster, and Why You Don’t Want Chemically-Enhanced Partners in Treason. […]

  6. DC says:

    Fascinating article Jay. Just wondering how we know “the Soviets had other sources that were delivering the same technical intelligence about the same US spy satellite systems”?

    And if this was the case, then why would Boyce’s leaks be considered ‘tremendously damaging’?

  7. Jim C says:

    I really enjoyed the movie The Falcon And The Snowman. The part i will never understand is how Boyce did not see Lee for the complete idiot he was from the beginning. Lee could be completely alcohol and drug free but still have the intelligence of a goldfish. As intelligent as Boyce supposedly is he definitely lacks common sense.

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