VIRGINIA BEACH - Retired FBI agent Robert Hunter has a unique perspective on spies and the impact they can have on the United States.
He cracked the Walker Spy Ring in 1985 that emanated from Hampton Roads. John Walker got his son, Michael, who served on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, to get documents that he then turned over to Russia.
The Defense Dept. said the Soviet Union made significant gains in naval warfare that were attributable to Walker's spying. The New York Times dubbed it "the most damaging Soviet spy ring in history."
Hunter talked about the arrest this week of retired Navy sailor Robert Patrick Hoffman, accused of attempted espionage. Federal authorities say the cryptologic technician tried to pass information about US submarines to someone he thought was with the Russian Federation. That person, they say, was with the FBI.
"It's great. Congratulations to them. I hope and suspect that they stopped him before he did anything like the damage Mr. Walker did," Hunter said.
He said it's likely lessons learned from the Walker case helped in this one.
"I know that they Navy still to this day uses the Walker case in their counter intelligence training, training their troops, so I suspect he has heard of the Walker case," Hunter added.
John Walker pleaded guilty and was given two life sentences. His son was released from prison in 2000. Walker's brother, Arthur, a retired Lieutenant Commander, also was part of the ring. He was given three life sentences.