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Monday, July 21, 2014


MEMOIRS OF A TOP SPY—“Good Hunting” (Farrar-Straus and Giroux) is out this summer and the book tells eyewitness accounts from a CIA masterspy’s viewpoint many of the clandestine service’s most controversial episodes.  The book by retired CIA boss Jack Devine is told in a straightforward voice with interjections of self-deprecating humor amid some very fascinating revelations.  It’s a quick read and as you might suspect offers the CIA’s viewpoint most of the way.

Jack Devine ran Charlie Wilson’s War in Afghanistan. It was the largest covert action of the Cold War, and it was Devine who put the brand-new Stinger missile into the hands of the mujahideen during their war with the Soviets, paving the way to a decisive victory against the Russians. He also pushed the CIA’s effort to run down the narcotics trafficker Pablo Escobar in Colombia. He tried to warn the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, that there was a bullet coming from Iraq with his name on it. He was in Chile when Allende fell, and he had too much to do with Iran-Contra for his own taste, though he tried to stop it. And he tangled with Rick Ames, the KGB spy inside the CIA, and hunted Robert Hanssen, the mole in the FBI.

The accounting is refreshing in that Devine (now a top for hire private investigator and security consultant in Manhattan) admits where the CIA succeeded and failed.

Devine pretty much puts to rest how the world was duped to believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  Now we know.

Other most memorable threads follow how CIA traitor Aldrich Ames interacted with fellow CIA staffers through most of Devine’s career.  And, how the CIA got along with Congress and the President and the rest of the world.

The Ames stain has been the hardest to scrub away and according to Devine may never go away.  And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because any clandestine service can never let its guard down.  It has to constantly be on guard for threats within and from the outside.

Reading “Good Hunting” makes you appreciate what protection the CIA offers to Western Civilization.  The bad news is the world is not getting any nicer and never will.

Any organization, however that makes thugs sleep with one eye open is fine in this reporter’s mind.

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