Transcript of Australian 60 Minutes, 23 May 1982
A Spy's Story: USA Traitor Gaoled for Forty Years
After Selling codes of Rylite and Argus Projects

-- Christopher Boyce, Traitor, Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, Kansas, maximum security prison.

-- Prison Warden

-- Bill Doughety, Boyce's lawyer.

RAY MARTIN: Christopher Boyce was the villain in the biggest American spy scandal for forty years. He was gaoled for selling secrets to the Russians. And why did he do it? He says he was angry at the CIA's dirty tricks to bring down the Whitlam Government.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: It was a worry. Mr Whitlam's Government was a threat. Aside from the fact that he was also a socialist.

RAY MARTIN: What about when he was forced out of office?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: It was a celebration.

RAY MARTIN: Now, locked up until he's 94, Boyce agreed to an exclusive interview about his spying career, the bad times and the good.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: We used to make daiquiris in the document destruction blender.

RAY MARTIN: What, the CIA shredder?


RAY MARTIN: To make daiquiri drinks.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Put it to some use. It wasn't my idea, but it made a hell of a daiquiri.

RAY MARTIN: Think back to Australia in the mid 1970s. Lots of strikes, the Whitlam Government in deep trouble, a growing controversy over American bases like Pine Gap, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, more and more involved in a Parliamentary crisis regarding supply. At that, as it all turned out, marked the start of a truly amazing spy story. Christopher Boyce, at that time, was a young telex operator working for an American company known as TRW. It was a private company that had close connections with the US Government, particularly the CIA, because TRW helped run America's super-secret spy satellite system. And being where he was, Boyce occasionally came across telex messages -- in this story you will hear them referred as twickses -- and other material pertaining to CIA activity in Australia. And what he heard and saw made him so angry, that his own country could cheat such a good ally as Australia, that he started selling information to the Russians. He was caught and convicted in 1977, one of the most important spies since World War II. He staged a daring escape and was re-captured only last year. Since then, the big American media groups have been trying to get his story but, instead, he agreed to speak only to us in a remarkable meeting that took place at Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. So why choose us?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Because you are Australian journalists and because what kicked this all off was deception by my government against yours.

RAY MARTIN: What you did, as we described, was the greatest security breach in decades.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Serves them right.

RAY MARTIN: Serves them right?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: That's my feeling on it. I've no regrets. What was going on in Australia, what the twickes I saw concerning your labour unions, like you say, kicked it off. But my primary purpose was personal, a personal grudge.

RAY MARTIN: I don't want to be overly dramatic at all, but did you want to be a martyr.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: I thought it was a unique way to express myself.

RAY MARTIN: Only the Russians know exactly what secrets Christopher Boyce gave them. But the CIA calls what he did the most damaging act of espionage in decades. Boyce says that what finally turned him into a spy was America's deception of Australia.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: My Government was deceiving an ally, perhaps had been an ally for two world wars, English speaking parliamentary democracy. I thought it was indicative of to what my country had sunk to.

RAY MARTIN: This is Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas. It's a maximum security prison. And right now there are 1,030 men locked up inside here. All of them are regarded as highly dangerous. There are kidnappers, hijackers, mass murderers and others. And there is also Christopher Boyce, the former Catholic altar boy who thought that, for a while, he might become a priest but instead ended up as a notorious Russian spy.

PRISON WARDEN: Ah, so why don't we go and take a look at the papers in here.

RAY MARTIN: It's almost as difficult getting into Leavenworth as it is getting out. There's a film magazine. It's much the same. The rest is just film. What exactly are you looking for?

PRISON WARDEN: Well, articles of contraband, you know, narcotics, weapons, drugs, anything of this nature.

RAY MARTIN: Boyce's new quarters in maximum security are a stark contrast to his family home in Palos Verdes in Southern California. His was a safe, affluent, comfortable childhood. The eldest of nine children, with a strict Catholic mother and an FBI agent father, Boyce was the student athlete with an IQ of 140. But the all-American schoolboy grew up to be a traitor.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, I have no problems with the label traitor, if you qualify what it's to, and I think that eventually the United States Government is going to involve the world in the next world war. And being a traitor to that, I have absolutely no problems with that whatsoever.

RAY MARTIN: Had you ever been one of those "my country right or wrong" kids?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Absolutely. I was brought up in a very conservative home, to the right of Kublai Khan. As I got older, I came to see that most everything that I believed in was hypocrisy in this country. Things just aren't as they appear.

RAY MARTIN: Do you think that shock would have been any less if you hadn't been brought up in such a strictly conservative family?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, it never would have happened. What has transpired never would have happened.

RAY MARTIN: Are you, or were you ever, a communist?


BILL DOUGHETY: He is rebellious, adventurous, ideological, a non-conformist.

RAY MARTIN: Bill Doughety once worked for the FBI. Now he's Boyce's lawyer.

BILL DOUGHETY: I don't know if it's enough reason or not, but that's probably why he did what he did.

RAY MARTIN: Why do you think, I mean, if you had to explain it to someone, why he sold secrets to the Russians?

BILL DOUGHETY: I think that the main reason was adventure. Then I think it was adventure in the crucible of the times of the Vietnam War, the disillusionment of American youth, being fed in the slaughter, time and time again, for no reason. I think these are some of the reasons he did what he did.

RAY MARTIN: Christopher Boyce worked here in Southern California for two years. It may not look like it, but TRW is a top secret installation. This is where they build satellites for the CIA, including the black satellites that spy on Russia and China, and use Pine Gap as a relay station for sending information back here to the United States. Now, within TRW, the most highly classified area was a place called the Black Vault. That was a room where they kept the messages and the codes. Though to work in there, you need to be passed by the FBI, to get a clearance then from the CIA, and beyond that, a clearance from the National Security Agency. At 21, and a College drop-out, Christopher Boyce had them all. Now, for other Californian kids, if they wanted to protest, they could smoke dope or they could burn their draft cards, or they could join the anti-war marchers. For Christopher Boyce, he had something else.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, I was pretty well astounded with all the gadgetry, and what was going on, and the fact that I had access to all this information. It had never in my wildest dream ever occurred to me that when I went to work for TRW that I would be, in fact, privy to information like that. It was pretty shocking.

RAY MARTIN: How did a 21 year old drop-out, earning $140 a week, get access to those kind of secrets?

BILL DOUGHETY: Well, through the "old boy" network. His father had been an FBI agent, the Chief of TRW Security had been an FBI agent.

RAY MARTIN: He said that. Is that all it takes?

BILL DOUGHETY: That's all it takes. They had absolutely no security in the Black Vault at TRW. Absolutely no security. The uncontradicted evidence in the trial is that there was a telephone with an extension cord outside the vault that could reach in and theoretically he could have sat at the code machine and read the code coming directly from Langley, CIA Headquarters, and dictated them on the telephone to anywhere in the world. You can't even do that at a race track.

RAY MARTIN: Boyce was a telex operator for a number of CIA projects, including the Rylite and Argus projects. These were sophisticated, highly-classified spies in the sky, monitoring and photographing military bases and missile launches in the Soviet Union and China. Because Pine Gap in the Northern Territory was an absolutely vital cog in the CIA's spy satellite network, Canberra and Washington had signed an Executive Agreement under which Australia was to share this secret information.

ANNOUNCER: Information derived from the research programmes conducted at the facilities shall be shared by the two governments.

RAY MARTIN: Boyce and his espionage accomplice, Andrew Dalton Lee, sold the Russians the codes and other secret details of both the Rylite and Argus projects. According to Boyce, that is much more than America's partner, Australia, ever got.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: When the Rylite project was first put in place, the Executive Agreement meant that all information was to be shared between the American government and the Australian government. And along came Mr Whitlam. When I went to work for the project, the initial security briefing that I had, I was told that, in fact, we weren't going to live up to that Agreement, and that we hadn't been. And that there was information that was being withheld. And also that the Argus project, which was the advanced Rylite project, was to be hidden from the Australians.

RAY MARTIN: What, you were told specifically that, by your ...

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: By Rick Smith, the Security Project Director.



RAY MARTIN: So you were told that the Americans would not live up to the Agreement, that they had entered into.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: That all information wouldn't be shared. No, and wasn't being shared.

RAY MARTIN: I mean, that's very important. I mean, there was no attempt to try and hide it. That was part of your briefing.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Definitely, yes.

RAY MARTIN: Were you aware, though, that those American bases in Australia had become a very hot political issue?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Not to the extent that it was, but there was definitely conversations in the Black Vault, and in the Security Area, with members of TRW Security about the problems with Mr Whitlam.

RAY MARTIN: What, they spoke openly about this, did they?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Yes, Mr Whitlam was not a popular figure at all, to say the least.

RAY MARTIN: Did they say why?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, first of all, his politics - socialist. And the fact that enquiries were being made about the base. You were ... Mr Whitlam was, by wanting to know what was going on there, and by publicising it ... compromising the integrity of the project.

RAY MARTIN: Compromising the integrity, what's that?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: That's a familiar term that I heard quite a bit. Mr Whitlam had no business sniffing around the Rylite project, to their view he was on the wrong ball court.

RAY MARTIN: Even though the bases were in Australia?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, yes. Mr Whitlam's Government was a threat.

RAY MARTIN: That's the way they described it?


RAY MARTIN: Did you get the impression that things had changed once the Labour Government, the Whitlam government, came into office, from what they had been before? And did they change after he left?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: There was a bit of celebration that Mr Whitlam had been canned, but my instructions as to what was to be sent on to Marino and Casino ...

RAY MARTIN: You mean, Marino was Canberra and Casino was Alice Springs?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Correct: Did they change - no.

RAY MARTIN: So after Mr Fraser was elected Prime Minister, after Mr Whitlam, the instructions were still the same?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Remained the same.

RAY MARTIN: Did they talk about how, or why, he was forced out?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: No, but there was references to your Governor-General by the Central Intelligence [Agency] residents there at TRW in the Rylite project. They called Mr Kerr "our man Kerr".

RAY MARTIN: What - the CIA man said that?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Yes, Joe Harrison said that in the Security Area, one time I overheard that.

RAY MARTIN: Christopher Boyce telling what he knows about the CIA and its meddling in Australian politics. But he goes on to mention other disturbing events, including CIA infiltration of Australian unions. More of that part of the spy story after this break ...

RAY MARTIN: More of the story of Christopher Boyce, the disillusioned spy. As he told us in our meeting at Leavenworth Prison, he went over to the Russians after discovering some of the dirty tricks the CIA was ready to play on a good ally like Australia. Working, as he did, on the US spy satellite programme, Boyce could talk to CIA agents and read various telex messages, or as he called them, twixes, coming from and to Australia. What you will hear next are details of how the CIA infiltrated Australian unions, and more of its double dealings, even when the new conservative government of Malcolm Fraser came to power. That was after the sacking of the Whitlam government by this man, the then Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: There was references to your Governor-General by the Central Intelligence [Agency] residents there at TRW in the Rylite project. They called Mr Kerr "Our man Kerr."

RAY MARTIN: Just two days before a Federal Parliamentary debate was due on the American satellite bases, a CIA telex arrived in Canberra. It warned that Prime Minister Whitlam was in danger of blowing the lid off Pine Gap. The next day, the Whitlam Labor Government was dismissed.

GOUGH WITHLAM: The proclamation which you have just heard read by the Governor-General's official secretary was countersigned Malcolm Fraser, who will undoubtedly go down in Australian history from Remembrance Day 1975, as "Kerr's cur".

RAY MARTIN: How long did this deception, to use your word, how long did that go on?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Concerning the Argus project and not sharing the information? The entire time I worked for the people, and I imagine it continued right up until the point of my trial, until the Executive Agreement was renegotiated.

RAY MARTIN: So at least two years, the two years that you were there.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Yes, and it never changed.

RAY MARTIN: In your trial, you mentioned interference in the Australian unions. What was that?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: In this particular instance, we had hardware, software and personnel to ship out of Alice Springs, and there was worry over strikes at your airports. They had to do with pilots and air controllers. And there was an area that Petal had a definite need to know because ...


CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Right. Because strikes would wreck our schedule, and so in this one instance, a twix came from Pilot which said "Pilot will continue to suppress the strike, continue shipment on schedule". Words to that effect.

RAY MARTIN: So Pilot was the CIA Headquarters at Langley?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Langley, Virginia. Yes. The hub of the entire intelligence operation.

RAY MARTIN: Was there any more discussion about that? I mean, what did that imply? That the CIA had infiltrated those unions?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, my conclusion is, that either Central Intelligence directly or through intermediaries would had to have infiltrated the hierarchy of your trade unions at some level.

RAY MARTIN: So Boyce now had the motivation for espionage, what he calls the CIA's deception and interference in Australia. Working inside the Black Vault at TRW gave him the opportunity. For two years, Christopher Boyce found it ridiculously simple to steal America's most highly prized secrets, and hand them to the Russians.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: My superiors would send me on booze runs to the liquor store, and they would send me out with a satchel, past the guards. The guards knew what the satchel was for, never interfered with what was in it. That way I could take out whatever I wanted. Bringing it back was a bit more trouble if I had to keep it overnight.

RAY MARTIN: So you'd take out the top secret information on the American satellite system, under the pretext of going out to get some liquor.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Many times, yes.

RAY MARTIN: And how did you get it back?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: I had a roll of documents, hundreds and hundreds of them that I'd taken out in the satchel. I bought a pot that evening. I put the documents in a plastic bag, set them in the pot, put dirt over the documents, took a plant that I had bought in a store and stuck that on top of the dirt. I went to the gardener and told him to go out to my car and bring in the potted plant and put it in the Security Area.

RAY MARTIN: So the gardener brought back the documents.


RAY MARTIN: Was there no trouble?




RAY MARTIN: But was there no trouble, in terms of getting that out. I mean, if you are really determined to take out one of these top secret documents, you can do it?


RAY MARTIN: Time and time again. Take them out, photograph them.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Oh, I'd photograph them inside. I would sometimes would just bring the Minox camera inside and do it in the Black Vault. But then no one had access there but myself and a limited amount of other people.

RAY MARTIN: That Black Vault you speak of, I mean, there were stories there of booze parties, of sex parties.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Marijuana growing in the plants inside the Communications room. A pretty wild scene. I walked into it, the Black Vault was almost like the project bar. We used to make daiquiries in the document destruction blender.

RAY MARTIN: What, the CIA shredder?


RAY MARTIN: To make daiquiri drinks.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Put it to some use.

RAY MARTIN: Now, again, that's the Centre. That's where the top information ...

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: They were doing it before I got there. It wasn't my idea but it made a hell of a daiquiri.

RAY MARTIN: Was there any excitement of being in espionage? Was there a thrill to that?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: At 21 years old, that's quite a thrill, yes. It's high adventure.

RAY MARTIN: High adventure, and pretty dangerous stuff.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: It gets a little hard on your adrenalin gland but it's a very exciting thing to become involved in. There is no way around that. You never knew when they were coming to get you. It tainted everything else in your life. Much as you tried to lead a normal life, above board, regularly you still had this other life behind the curtain which, at any moment, could destroy everything else you had.

RAY MARTIN: How much were you paid by the Russians?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Personally or ? About $20,000. Money was never important to me. I knew from the beginning that I would eventually be caught. There was no escape from it.

RAY MARTIN: Once you'd started, there was no escape.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Absolutely not. After all, I'm an amateur, 21 years old, and the Central Intelligence Agency had been in business a lot longer than I had. And, to tell you the truth, I didn't think it would go on longer than a month or two. I was amazed that it went on for two years. Almost two years.

RAY MARTIN: Boyce was finally caught in January 1977. Tried and convicted of espionage, he got the maximum, 40 years. But just two years later, Boyce went over the wall and escaped from Longpoc Federal Prison in California.

RAY MARTIN: There were reports at the time of the fact you'd got out of Longpoc, that you could only have done it with the help of either the Russians, or with the help of the CIA.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: I did it with the help of the incompetence of the United States Bureau of Prisons. I had no outside help.

PRISON WARDEN: Why did you order this stuff for? You don't look like the painting type to me.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: The Bureau of Prisons showed a movie _Escape from Alcatraz_, and it's a true story. A man escapes from Alcatraz by making a paper maché dummy, putting it in his bed, and he's counted and then he leaves. I then went to the arts and crafts people at the prison and I asked them for paper maché class, which then showed me how to make the dummy. And I did exactly what was in the movie. I just repeated it. Made the dummy, put it in the bed. And in the meanwhile I was out in a drain by the fence, fences. And, the dummy was counted. So I had an eight hour jump on them. And then I went over the fence, through the razor wire in front of a tower that - the guard in the tower wasn't on the ball.

RAY MARTIN: Once outside, Boyce survived alone in the woods for months, living off acorns and berries he'd read about in the prison library books.

RAY MARTIN: There were reports at the time that you'd gone to South Africa. Did you go to South Africa?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: No, I didn't go to South Africa.

RAY MARTIN: Australia? Alice Springs?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: No, I missed out on that too.

RAY MARTIN: Were there times when you came close to being caught in those 19 months you were away?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: When I was pulled over by six officers up in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, late at night, with no ID, driving the car and - but up in Idaho, they asked me where I was going and I mentioned a friend of the sheriff's and they let me go.

RAY MARTIN: This is the most, perhaps at that stage, the most wanted fugitive in the country.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, that's how they classified it. Then up in Idaho during the '80 elections, I was sitting in a restaurant in Sandpoint called "Connie's", eating a ham and egg omelette, and in walks Senator Church, campaigning with his whole entourage, reporters, body guards. And he walks in that restaurant, come up to my table, shook my hand and told me how much he needed my vote. Ruined my breakfast.

RAY MARTIN: But obviously someone was looking after you at that stage. Luck was on your side. Did you think ...

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: I have been incredibly lucky. I was lucky to escape. I was lucky that it continued for two years as it had. Incredible luck.

RAY MARTIN: But your luck ran out.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Luck always does.

RAY MARTIN: Now you were close to escaping again, weren't you?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Yes, I was taking pilot lessons up on the coast of Washington. I was being instructed by a Brigadier-General in the Air Force, General Georgi, which made me a little nervous.

RAY MARTIN: He didn't know who you were, of course.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: No. Then I had two weeks to go to get my pilot's licence, and then I would have left the country. So the Government caught me within two weeks of my complete freedom.

RAY MARTIN: Why did you stay around for so long? I mean, you were in the country for nineteen months. Why didn't you go, for example, to Russia?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, I'll tell you. If you have ever gone to Boundary County, Idaho, it's some awful nice country, and I had a whole lot of friends up there. And there were so many neat things to do. And I did a lot of hunting, and I hunted bear and elk. And I liked it up there.

RAY MARTIN: So many neat things to do. That doesn't sound like the Number One Fugitive.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: Well, I'm not a, I'm not a professional spy, and I'm not a professional anything. I'm an amateur at everything I do, or else I wouldn't be here right now, sitting here in this prison.

RAY MARTIN: Boyce robbed seventeen small banks whilst on the run. Bank cameras filmed this hold-up with Boyce in disguise. Finally re-captured by the FBI, he was sentenced to a further 25 years in prison, and that was on top of his 40 years for espionage.

BILL DOUGHETY: It's a terrible waste. He's a, depending on who you want to believe, which study, he's got an IQ of 127 or 140. He is personable, charming guy. Young man, I should say. He is a student of history. Women like him. I don't want to say that he's a ladies' man in that sense, but young girls are drawn to him.

RAY MARTIN: Was there any other way to do it?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: I suppose there was, but I was 21 and saw things black and white. And it seemed to me my Government had betrayed me long before I ever betrayed them.

RAY MARTIN: Prison wardens are taking no chances this time around. Only three men have escaped from maximum security here at Leavenworth. And they don't intend Boyce to be number four.

PRISON WARDEN: Will you stand there a second? OK, guy, you've got one.

RAY MARTIN: But if there is no hope of getting out, then Boyce says he'll have to consider suicide.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: It would be a viable option.

RAY MARTIN: If the front door was opened, would you walk out.

CHRISTOPHR BOYCE: I'd take off like a jack rabbit.

RAY MARTIN: Christopher Boyce didn't kill or kidnap anybody. He's just not a violent man. But what he did do was commit treason. And nobody loves a Russian spy, whatever the reason. As Boyce himself says, the chances of him getting paroled are next to nil, so unless he escapes once again, which seems unlikely, unless he is murdered in here, which is always on the cards, or unless there is some kind of a deal, which nobody is talking about, Christopher Boyce is going to be 94 years old before he walks out of these doors here at Leavenworth.

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: I think that if Mr Nixon's Government hadn't gone in flames, I don't think that this would have happened. But at the same time, it goes way beyond Richard Nixon and Watergate. I think that it's just the whole general drift of where this government is headed. I think that this Government is a threat to mankind. You can't protect freedom and liberties behind stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and nuclear weapons. My Government built atomic weapons, used them first, stockpiled them first, moved our ICBMs first, which was a grotesque escalation, and now that the Russians have played catch-up for 20 years and finally achieved equality, the only policy to come out of the White House is build 17,000 more of the monsters. And to me that's madness.

RAY MARTIN: Your motivation is not pro-Russia as against anti-Washington, anti-American?


RAY MARTIN: Could it be said that, in getting those secrets for the Russians, that in fact you had thrown into jeopardy the lives of every American man, woman and child?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: They are already in jeopardy. A Third World War is inevitable.

RAY MARTIN: So you don't think you added to that at all?

CHRISTOPHER BOYCE: It's a hard one.

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