As a result of his suspected non-cooperation, despite a plea bargain through which his wife, Rosario, received a minimum five-year sentence, Ames says he has spent four months in "administrative detention in `the hole.' " He describes his life sentence as " the next step from capital punishment" . His one hope is an exchange of captured agents with Russia.
Ames, who spent 31 years with the agency, told CNN that there are probably other Russian spies working for US intelligence. Denying that he harmed US security by naming Soviet military and KGB officials working for the CIA, he says that the military and technological information they turned over was "very spotty". The CIA says that, as a result of information he turned over to the KGB from 1985, Moscow closed down more than 100 US intelligence operations and 10 agents.
Ames, who is being held in a federal jail in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, said he received $2m (£1.2m) and Russian intelligence was holding another $1.5m for him.
He showed most emotion when speaking of his family, particularly his son, Paul, who is being looked after by relatives in Latin America.
During the interview, for which the CIA insisted no classified information could be discussed, he said that his KGB handlers told him that the best way to fool a lie detector test was to have a good night's sleep and not to worry. He said the KGB officers with whom he dealt were "good people".
The CIA Director, James Woolsey has called Ames a "warped, murdering traitor." Several of the Soviet and East European double-agents he unmasked were executed. He said the United States "historically had hardly any agents who ever reported any valuable or significant political information about the Soviet Union".