ARTHUR WALKER was interviewed by Washington Post Magazine staff writer Pete Earley during and after his trial. One of Walker's attorneys was present during the interviews and Walker was advised not to answer some questions. Walker requested that The Magazine acknowledge that he was not paid for the interviews.
ARTHUR JAMES WALKER leaned close to the wire screen that separates prisoners and visitors: "I'm no spy! I never intended to hurt my country. No way! No way!"
Less than 24 hours earlier in a Norfolk courtroom, Federal Judge J. Calvitt Clarke Jr. had found Walker guilty of seven counts of espionage, punishable by more than three life sentences in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
It had taken Clarke only 15 minutes to decide that Arthur Walker participated in a conspiracy with his younger brother, John Antony Walker Jr., to sell classified U.S. Navy documents to agents for the Soviet Union. The defense had not called one witness to testify. John Walker has pleaded not guilty to espionage charges and is scheduled for trial next month. He declined to comment for this article.
Clarke's verdict had stunned Arthur Walker. The morning after his conviction, Walker seemed depressed and shaken as he sat atop a metal stool in the interview room at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center. Walker said he had never expected to be acquitted, but he had not believed he would be convicted of all seven counts.
What troubled Walker the most, he said, was that he felt betrayed. During the trial, federal prosecutors had acknowledged that Walker might never have been charged with spying had he not confessed to the FBI during 35 hours of interviews that took place before he was arrested.
Walker said it was unfair that he had given the FBI so much damaging information about himself and his brother without receiving any leniency.
"There is no fairness anymore," he said. "I used to go to the movies and you would see John Wayne and there was a sense of fair play, okay? I mean, if you made a mistake and you were sorry and you tried to make up for it, everything would be okay in the end, right? Whatever happened to fair play? It just isn't out there anymore, is it?"
"You're wrong Art," replied one of Walker's court-appointed attorneys, Samuel W. Meekins Jr., who was also in the jail interview room. "There is fair play for robbers and rapists and even murderers. The courts can cut them some slack, but not you. This case got too big Art, too many headlines, too much television. It got bigger than you, Arthur, bigger than you."
"The documents that I gave my brother were commonly available," Walker said. "That's what I want the public to realize, commonly available. I can't think of myself as a traitor. I can't think of myself as a spy, although I must be one, right? I mean, I've been convicted."
Walker looked at Meekins. "I accept the guilt for what I did, okay? It was wrong, okay? But I don't think that it hurt the U.S. -- what I did. Did it Sam? I'm not a spy, Sam! I am not a traitor!
"Am I?" Arthur Walker: I was sitting in the den reading a book when the phone rang. It was Barbara. (John Walker's ex-wife) "I'm going to turn your brother in," she said. She sounded blammed and I thought that she probably wouldn't do it. She had called prior times and always said that she was going to do it. "Ha, Ha," I said, "What are you going to turn him in for? He isn't doing anything."
Now, we are talking about a time when I knew what John was doing and I knew what I had done. I just thought that no matter what she did, it would probably not affect me . . . Who's ever going to know if I don't say anything and if John doesn't say anything and if he does, is there still any proof?
The next day or that night I got word to John. "Hey John," I said. "Barbara called again. She says she's gonna turn you in." John always had the same answer because, like I said, it had happened more than once. "Okay," he'd say . . . I sometimes wondered how he kept operating with that hanging over his head. Evidently, his own ego convinced him that she wasn't going to do it. FBI records show Barbara Joy Crowley Walker telephoned investigators Nov. 23. She later told the press that she had been drinking that night. Agent Walter Price interviewed her a few days after her call. On May 20, John A. Walker Jr. was arrested in the hallway of a Ramada Inn in Rockville after he allegedly dropped a bag filled with classified documents beside a road for pickup by a Soviet agent. That same morning, at 6:50, four FBI agents walked up the curved driveway at Arthur Walker's three-bedroom brick home in a quiet residential area of Virginia Beach. It had been a perfect weekend. Everything was going great, really great! My son had graduated from school so there was the end of college tuition payments. I'd gotten a $1 an hour pay raise and that is significant when you think about it. My salary went from $10.50 to $11.50 per hour. And that weekend had been pleasant between my wife, Rita, and me. We were getting along, you know, okay.
John had stopped by the house Friday, and I borrowed his 35-millimeter camera because I was going to take pictures at the graduation. He didn't come into the house, of course. He always tried to avoid that because of Rita. She was cruel to him . . . It was just an attitude that built up over the years, you know?The FBI agents identified themselves and asked to come in. Walker's wife, Rita, asked if the agents would wait until she got dressed. They stepped inside. I was just on my way down from the bedroom, heading for the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee when I heard Rita at the door . . . My first thought was that something had happened in the neighborhood, you know? . . . Then they said: "Your brother, John, has been arrested . . . "
Oh God, Barbara finally did it, I thought. She turned him in!
Everything was happening fast at this point, but I still felt safe. Only John and I knew about what I had done, and I figured they were here just because he was my brother. My next thought was: Oh ----! The newspapers are gonna have in there: JOHN WALKER, SPY CAPTURED, etc., and, uh, which is exactly what happened later on, and then all the neighbors will know he's my brother.
Sometime during those first few seconds, it also hit me: Rita. What if she finds out about me? What if she learns what I'd done? I tried to keep calm and even poured coffee for everyone, okay? Two agents and I stayed in the den and two stayed in the kitchen with Rita. That didn't have much impact on me at the time, that they split us up, but I have learned a lot since then, a lot about the FBI. At 9 a.m., FBI agents Beverly Andress and Carroll Deane took Walker to the Norfolk FBI
office for six more hours of
questioning, FBI reports say.
"Arthur Walker advised he was
surprised to learn of his
brother's arrest, stating he had
no indication of his brother's
espionage activities," Andress'
report of that day's interviews
reads. "Concerning John
Walker's espionage activities,
Arthur Walker stated: 'I can
categorically say I had no
knowledge.' I denied everything when we
first started talking, just like
you are supposed to do . . .
But as we talked, the first
thing that I thought was: "I've
got to help them with John
because now he has been
caught." They had told me enough that I knew he was nailed.
Andress asked Walker if he wanted an attorney. He said no, he hadn't done anything wrong. An FBI report says Walker agreed to take a lie detector test, but before he was strapped to the machine, he said that in "hindsight" he had remembered some things. He had become "suspicious" of John about six months ago when he had suggested that "some people" would be willing to pay for information about ship repairs in Norfolk, information Arthur could obtain where he worked, at VSE Corporation, a Navy consulting firm. "Walker advised that on a scale of one to 10, at this point, he was approximately 9.5 as far as being suspicious that his brother was not doing something right," Andress wrote in her report.
The polygraph operator said Arthur Walker was "deceptive" in answering six questions. When told that, Walker said he once had let his brother read a single page of a classified document some two years earlier. Andress' report says: "Walker adamantly denied that he had furnished anything else." I began to do a damage assessment, okay? As I'm talking to the feds, I'm thinking . . . how could I tell them stuff about John without telling them about myself because all I know about John is what I did, okay? I started telling them and soon I was sliding right down into it, I was giving myself away, okay? Walker returned the next day to the FBI office. He then said he had shown his brother two documents, an FBI report says. He took another polygraph test and was told he still was being "deceptive." My feeling at that point, when I agreed to take the polygraph, okay, was that I had told them enough truth that, I mean, I had no idea what a polygraph entailed. Look, I had been carrying around a lot of guilt, okay? I knew that I should have turned him in before. I felt the most guilty about learning what John was doing and then not doing something about it. Remember, I'm a retired Naval officer. I took my oath and that was part of my oath. But I didn't have the moral courage to do it, to turn him in, or at least to punch him out or whatever would be necessary. He was my brother, and I didn't have the guts to turn him in but now he was caught and I thought, Okay, now I should help them. I should do what's right. okay? The next day, Walker told FBI agents that "he wanted to talk to help his situation." He brought along several pages of handwritten notes. Walker said he passed his brother plans for a Navy computerized command ship and a series of reports outlining problems the Navy had experienced with amphibious assault ships. Both were marked "confidential," the lowest ranking given classified documents.
Walker told the FBI that his brother paid him $12,000, but took back between $3,000 to $5,000 to pay off debts that they owed from a failed business. I felt like jello when I was doing it (photographing documents). The fact that I even considered it bothered me more than the documents themselves. I'm not even sure how to explain it . . . I was trying to help him at this point, okay? He is the man, I mean, uh, he needed something that said classified on it. He was trying to prove his value to someone else . . .
I don't want to sound naive. I knew what I was doing was wrong, okay? But I just couldn't turn him in and then the next thing that I did was let him talk me into getting him some documents, okay?
I don't know how to put this, maybe, except to put it in religious terms, okay? Once you start sinning, you either stop sinning or you just keep going and going and you carry this guilt around, subconscious perhaps, but there is always a bit of tenseness. It's one of those things that you push back inside, you know, that makes you worse for it. It eats on you and it would be nice to go tell someone, but who can you tell? Who? Who? Just John. It was strictly John and I, and I would remain pretty upbeat with John when I saw him because I didn't want to disappoint him.
Then he was under arrest. They had him. I thought, I have to help them now. I can tell someone now, okay? It's not me turning him in. I don't have to face our mom. She wasn't going to open a newspaper one day and read, "Art turned in John." Walker continued to give the FBI information about himself and his brother. He told agents that
John Walker kept a map of
Vienna, Austria, hidden in an
electrical wall socket behind
the chair of his desk that
identified where John could
deliver his secret film.
John had recruited him one
day when Arthur was "truly
down in the dumps," an FBI
report says, because a business
that they had started together,
an auto-radio installation
service, had failed. He told the
FBI that he and John were
sitting outside a waffle house in
Norfolk when: "I said I could
cry. So he gets out of the truck.
Says come on, let's walk . . . I have friends who will pay for classified information." I've always told everybody: "Don't do anything without a lawyer." I've always told my kids that, okay? . . . And who was the first dummy that you know who . . . walked through the door without a lawyer? Why? Why? It was just dumb. But I didn't think I had passed any documents that were worthwhile. Judge Clarke held a hearing before Arthur Walker's trial to determine if the FBI had improperly enticed Walker to confess.
Meekins questioned FBI agent Andress at that hearing:
Q. "Wasn't there in fact a discussion regarding, 'If it's worthless information, Arthur, you probably won't be prosecuted; that probably the government won't want to go to that expense to prosecute you?'
A. "Absolutely not . . . "
Q. "You don't remember saying that, that there may not be prosecution if those documents are harmless?"
A. "That was never said."
Clarke ruled Walker's confession was admissible. They tell you that they'll be truthful with you if you'll be truthful with them, okay, and then they lie. No, that's not fair, they don't really lie, you can't say that they are lying, they are just selective, okay, you know, they take the most damaging stuff that you tell them and that's what they use . . . Arthur Walker had never been held in a jail. He was kept, at first, in isolation with a light on at all times. He was monitored by a TV camera. The priest here, he's a little older than me, in his 60s and real nice and I made confession and he gave me communion and, man, it had been a long time. We had a chitchat and I mentioned that I had been an altar boy when I was age 7 or 8 for quite a few years and that John was one too, and I liked it, everything was in Latin and it was fun and he says, "Do you remember any of it?" and I said, "I don't know," and he gives me the first line: Introibo ad altare Dei (I will go to the altar of God) and the response popped right out of me -- ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum (to the God who gives joy to my youth). And he grabs my hand and shakes it and that was really neat, really neat. Of course, they've been saying I have a great memory, haven't they?The government and Walker's two court-appointed attorneys first began discussing plea bargaining in July. Minutes before Arthur Walker's trial was to begin on Aug. 5, Meekins and his co-counsel, J. Brian Donnelly, told Judge Clarke that Walker would plead guilty to conspiracy, which carried up to a life sentence, and nolo contendere to the other six counts, which would mean he could be sentenced on all counts. But the Justice Department rejected the offer. Meekins and Donnelly were amazed.
"We were not going to give up the public's right to see into an espionage case," said Stephen S. Trott, an assistant attorney general. "You don't put a knife in your country's back and come in and ask for some kind of deal."
Arthur Walker was to be an example.
ARTHUR WALKER was squirming. It was the third day of his trial and he was noticeably upset. Finally, he leaned close to Meekins. "It's that damn picture," he whispered, pointing to his left.
Earlier in the trial, federal prosecutors had introduced a large portrait of John Walker as evidence. During the lunch recess, someone had leaned the picture against the jury box so that it now was facing the defense table. Regardless of how Arthur Walker sat, he had to look directly into his brother's eyes. I don't know if I really understand my relationship with John when I really think about it. It developed over a period of years, okay, our upbringing, me being the oldest and there were some bad times in our home, okay? Some bad times. I remember when I was about 20 and was in the Navy at New London. I went home one weekend to Scranton to see Rita, really, not the family, but I was sitting in the house and I could see that John was going under because of our home life. I had gotten out, okay? I was still sending my paychecks home to my mother, but there was little money and my father was drinking heavily then, okay, and he and Mom were fighting. It was before he left and it was bad, really bad . . .
I had been in the Navy about two years and it was a whole new world to me. I had seen opportunities open for someone who wanted to learn something and I said to him, "Hey man, here it is . . . " So I took him down to the Navy recruiting office.
After that, I think that he knew that if he needed something, he could ask me and I would do it for him . . . We got a phone call or letter once and all he said was that he needed 100 bucks and that was a lot of money back then, I was only getting about $150 a month back then, and we decided to ask him if he was in trouble, and Rita kept saying, "If he got a girl pregnant, he doesn't have to marry her." And he hesitated a bit and then he said that he needed the money because he had quietly gotten married to Barbara and he needed money for the rent, so I wired it to him.
It wasn't always monetary, okay? A lot of what was between us was protective feelings for one another in childhood, watching out for each other, protecting your brother, you know? It's what you did, what you were supposed to do. Attorney Meekins, who has spent more time with Arthur Walker than anyone else since his arrest, said Walker passed classified information, but, "if you define a spy as someone who intentionally set out to injure his country or help a foreign power, then Arthur isn't a spy." Meekins said Walker was a "sap," easily influenced by his brother.
The scenario Meekins saw was this: Walker retired from the Navy at age 39, after a successful career. He and John opened a business together and it failed. Arthur Walker had marital problems. Meanwhile, his divorced younger brother had new cars, a houseboat, an airplane, attractive girlfriends. As Meekins told Judge Clarke, John Walker badgered Arthur Walker for classified information, and he eventually took the bait.
Says co-counsel Donnelly: "I keep coming back to this: What would have happened in this case if his name hadn't been Walker and he hadn't been John's brother?" There was no evidence introduced at the trial that Arthur Walker ever met any Soviet agents or that the documents he passed ever injured the United States. Everything in court was John. His picture. His fingerprints. Was I jealous? No. Well, maybe an occasional twinge of envy. But I think I was satisfied to cut the grass and stay home. John always felt that I was itching to get out and booze it up more often and have more fun, but I was happy to go home at night. I never had any desire to be rich, no more than anyone else. My boys would say when they were growing up, "Boy I wish we were rich like so and so," and I'd say, "Well, if I wanted to be rich, I wouldn't have made the Navy my career because that's not the way that you get wealthy." It wasn't greed.
I have mixed feelings about him, John, now. It would be wrong to say that I'm angry. I don't know if I feel angry, like I'm going to punch you in the nose type anger, I just feel, I don't know what I feel, okay? I just might be forcing myself to be ambivalent, okay?
. . . He wrote me a letter after he was arrested . . . He told me not to worry. He said that he would tell them that I didn't do anything and then he asked me to get him some clothes, short-sleeve shirts . . .
I'm not the type to show much of any emotion, okay, prior to this. It started when I was young I guess. When we lived in Richmond, we three boys had one big room upstairs, they'd made one big bedroom out of it, and my dad would come home and I'd be the one who would have to go down and take the flak, the two younger ones would stay up there hiding and I would have to go down and take whatever flak a drunk wants to give you, a whipping or whatever, okay? . . . I worked hard at masking emotions, which you learn in the Navy. It's a close life on the submarine, you can't let your emotions get the better of you whether it is anger or sadness. You got to keep the stiff upper lip, you can't show anyone that you are afraid. It's the fear that you really have to mask, you know. You can't let anyone know about that, the fear.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tommy E. Miller and Robert J. Seidel Jr., have no doubts about Arthur Walker's guilt. "Arthur Walker absolutely is a traitor," says Seidel. "His motive was simple greed."
Adds Miller: "No one who rises from seaman, without a college education, and becomes a lieutenant commander, is a sap. There is other evidence that he is not a sap too."
Arthur Walker said he never passed classified information to anyone during his 20-year naval career. But during his two polygraph sessions, Walker was asked: "During your service in the U.S. Navy, did you ever cause sensitive or classified material or information to be given to anyone that represented the intelligence service of another country?"
Both times Walker answered: "No."
Both times, the polygraph operator said his answer was "deceptive."
Polygraph examinations are not considered dependable enough to be used as evidence, but Miller and Seidel are convinced that Walker knows more and did more than he has admitted.
"He is a spy," says Miller. The moral question is: Should I testify against him? John. And in the moral sense, I guess I should, and I probably would and if not out of anger, my sense of guilt, okay? Maybe I am angry . . . it will still be hard to do. I can psych myself up into doing it. It is my duty. Maybe that's how I will look at it. It will be my duty, the biggest motivation will be that I will finally be doing what is right, meeting my obligation, okay?
But it will be hard. In some respects I could blame him, okay? But it was still my choice, okay? It was still my choice. I could have said no, but I couldn't say no. Let me rephrase that -- what I mean is, well, I should have said no to him, but I couldn't really. I just couldn't.
He is my brother.