The Navy, in which John Walker served for 20 years, was enormously damaged by his espionage. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger concluded that the Soviet Union made significant gains in naval warfare that were attributable to Walker's spying. His espionage provided Moscow "access to weapons and sensor data and naval tactics, terrorist threats, and surface, submarine, and airborne training, readiness and tactics," according to Weinberger. A quarter-century after John Walker's arrest, it is illuminating to revisit the story of his naval spy ring, both for what it reveals about espionage versus security and for how it highlights the ambitions and frailties at the heart of spying.The piece is worth reading, although "understanding" Walker's motives (bad childhood, family issues, needed money)hardly makes his situation unique nor acceptable.
As for the suggesting that part of the spy's motivation was to end the Cold War ("'The farce of the cold war and the absurd war machine it spawned," he commented, "was an ever-growing pathetic joke to me.'")seems like a pathetic attempt at self-justification for a man who sold out his country, family and shipmates for cold hard cash. That the author of the piece seems inclined to accept that Walker's spying may have added in calming tensions between the Soviet empire and the U.S. is not exactly a "value free" suggestion on the author's part.
Did Americans die as a result of what Walker and his "family" did? We don't really know, but it certainly cost a few billion dollars to turn the communications security systems around. Hard to justify that by a post facto claim of "good intentions." We all know the road those lead to.
By the way, Walker is reportedly ill in prison, but has a potential release date in 2015.