The CIA's station chief in Germany confirmed in an exclusive interview with TIME that he was among the 11 agency officials reprimanded Wednesday for bungling the Aldrich Ames spy case. But the chief, Milton Bearden, also told Bonn bureau chief Bruce van Voorst that he thought that even the reprimand was unfair, and that "senior agency heads know" he never tipped off Ames to a CIA mole hunt, as published reports alleged this week. CIA director James Woolsey's punishment by wrist slap -- none were fired -- angered many on Capitol Hill because of the toll caused by Ames' double-dealing: at least 10 deaths and widespread damage to the agency. Ironically, says Van Voorst, Bearden retires Friday as one of the CIA's most accomplished operatives. That's a move planned before the Ames affair. "He holds several medals, including the biggest of all: the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. He also ran the (U.S. intelligence in) the Afghan war, one of the CIA's unqualified successes."