Archive for the ‘CIA’ Category

I am quite remiss in posting about Sandra Grimes aka spy chaser extraordinaire. I created a draft on her after I posted on the Dames Hunting Ames, and but then instead followed up on her friend and cohort, the late-great Jeanne Vertefeuille after her passing, and then really meant to dig in and finish after Grimes and Vertefeuille published Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed. But alas, my dissertation work  is all consuming.

So here we are with something fresh: ABC TV doing a procedural on Grimes and the CIA in her hunt for the mole in the new show The Assets. Between that and a rather surprising reddit AmA by the illustrious Ms. Grimes, I feel obligate to finally, FINALLY giver her her due.

Grimes (1945 – ) is one of those individuals who is seemingly born to the life. Both of her parents worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (now Oak Ridge National Laboratories) on the Manhattan Project. The amount of secrecy surrounding not only the project, but the town itself due to the large number of people employed by the government there, could certainly influence or make one predisposed to a life of government service and national security in particular. Grimes studied and excelled in Russian during her teens and formally enrolled in Russian Studies at the University of Seattle where she received her degree.

Now this is 1966, the Cold War is well underway, and what is a gal to do with a degree in Russian if not work for the CIA? Starting off in clerical services and working her way up to the division handling  the double agent Dmitri Polyakov, a Russian asset and CIA informant (who was later arrested based on information provided by both Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, and executed for treason in 1988). Through diligence and no small amount of auto-didacticism, Grimes learned every facet of Soviet Intelligence and worked her way in to senior analyst position, then a division officer, a section chief, and later a deputy chief. It was through these experiences that she met her friend and colleague Vertefeuille.

By the late 1980s, it had become clear that CIA communications had been compromised by Soviet intelligence services. Through an extensive mole-hunt, Grimes and her task force had narrowed their gaze to Aldrich Ames, their fellow co-worker who had been taking large bribes from the Soviet Union in exchange for money for years resulting in the second greatest loss of assets in US history.

Grimes retired from the CIA in 1991.

So now Hollywood is getting in on the act with a TV series based on this infamous mole hunt. The show chronicles the years of initial loss and discovery of the existence of a mole within the CIA. And Grimes is front and center in the series which is refreshing for it’s under-played action sequences and patient story telling. It is incredibly fascinating in a particularly boring way, but yet still oddly riveting at the same. Maybe because it isn’t a hopped, testosterone soaked clam bake of sexed-up killer fembots indulging in typical Hollywood Spy-Fi? Most certainly.

And while the Grimes “character” in the show experiences the equally boring and typical “issues” facing women, like how to make time for family and career, here’s the kicker: she has an amazingly supportive husband who encourages her in her work. This is new. I have yet seen this kind of portrayal in the media for our Intel gals. Not that she should need male permission in the first place, because really, when are the gender roles ever reversed on that issue? But that said, I would have been just as happy having zero back story on Grimes, knowing nothing of her personal life, and having the story focus just on her doing her job. Sigh – c’est la vie. Maybe next time.

I cannot predict the longevity of such a show. Those in Intel will undoubtedly sink their teeth into the details, but that requires dragging out the narrative, and unfortunately that type of pacing may not last with a general audience – although it would most certainly be good for them.

Jennifer Matthews

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Blame a Dame, CIA

ImageIn my previous post, I discussed the increase of coverage of women in Intelligence in 2012. Increased coverage is good, but improper reporting of the facts is bad, so all in all, it ends up being a mixed blessing at best. The year kicked-off with renewed coverage of slain CIA agent, Jennifer Matthews, and her family speaking out on her behest due to what they felt was a misrepresentation of the facts surrounding her death, or as we refer to it in this blog, they are calling BS on what they feel is yet another round of “Blame a Dame”.

Jennifer Matthews (1964-2009), a 22-year CIA agent, an al Qaeda specialist (before there was such a thing), wife, and mother of three, was serving as the CIA base chief in Khost, Afghanistan when an asset, Jordanian doctor and double agent, Humam Khalil al-Balawi, visited the Camp Chapman base and detonated a suicide vest, thus killing not only Matthews, but six other CIA agents and a Jordanian Intelligence operative.

This is where the righteous pointing fingers rose up in indignation en masse. Now this is very normal human behavior, the need to make sense of tragedy, however, another common trait falls under Attribution Theory, where people, in trying to make sense of tragedy, will often arrive at conclusions that may be more a matter of convenience as opposed to fact in effort to assign blame. And this is where Jennifer Matthews comes in, as Chief of Base, her family feels she is being scapegoated for the entire ordeal when there is plenty of culpability go around.

The facts of the day are fairly straightforward: the doctor was transported to the base, and due to his previous visits, he was deemed trustworthy enough not to be searched. Matthews gathered her colleagues outside to greet the doctor where he then detonated the bomb he had concealed on his person. The mistakes are also straightforward: the doctor was not searched prior to transport, not searched at entry, and Matthews, apparently, had disregarded an internal security protocol by gathering her colleagues together in that manner. Official reports seemingly agree that many error across the board were made.

Where it gets mucky is that as Chief of Base, criticism leveled at Matthews was incredibly fierce. The fall-out of the event resulted in some people digging up Matthews name in connection to a scathing post-9/11 report that named Matthews and others partially responsible for Intelligence failures by not alerting the FBI to their information about a pending al Qaeda attack. Neither Matthews or others named in the report were disciplined because, frankly, a slew of people throughout the Intelligence Community have their own proverbial cross to bear when it comes to 9/11. Matthews can hardly be blamed for 70 years of non-cooperation between the CIA and the FBI. And post-attack, with more puzzle pieces in place, Matthews was a key figure in the capture of Abu Zubaida, a top al Qaeda leader, in March 2002, a mere six months after. Further, it is key to note that the doctor was a CIA asset before Matthews took the role as Base Chief. There would have been an assumption that he was properly vetted before Matthews ever knew him.

Other accusations that were leveled at Matthews was that she was not qualified to be in her position. Naturally, this gets spun in such a way to say that she was incompetent, especially given that she made the error of bringing her colleagues outside to meet the doctor, and super-especially given that her uncle, Dan Matthews, himself a noted CIA veteran, makes the ill-advised comments that she “was in over her head”. Jerky-move and family disloyalty aside, the elder Matthews’ comments reinforce the idea that she was not capable of handling the assignment.

Now here’s where I get “fussy” about wordage. Just because someone has not worked in a position before, does not mean they are unqualified. The CIA does acknowledge that of all of the applicants for the job, Matthews was the most qualified applicant. The assumption goes that you would receive a certain amount on-the-job-training in areas where you may need instruction. A sentiment voiced by Matthews’ husband, Gary Anderson, who clarifies that his wife had not received the proper training for the post.

But let me be clear: questioning Matthews’ action as Base Chief is fair play. Questioning her entire career, and certainly not in proper context, is not fair play. That, and I somehow don’t see this becoming the story it has become if Matthews were a man.

The truth in this case is a mixed bag. Yes, the good doctor should have been more thoroughly vetted, but the doctor was also an asset prior to Matthews working with him. Should she have performed her own vetting? No, you want and need to trust those you work with in that they have competently performed their own job. Should Matthews have followed strict protocols during the doctor’s arrival to the base? Definitely, but then the doctor should also have received a pat-down prior to entrance to the base. As with all things military and para-military, as the Chief of Base, the buck stops with Matthews. However, even with a pat-down prior to base entrance, the doctor would likely have detonated his vest anyway still incurring a body count. The problem here is that by gaining entrance, the doctor killed 8 high-level operatives inside a base instead of just those nameless schmoes transporting him.

The fact is, in the end, that should not matter. Anyone who dies in conflict, no matter who or where specifically, is a great loss and it should not be qualified according to rank and location. And Matthews is hardly responsible for the whole shebang, whatever her past, whatever her qualifications. This is a case where many small mistakes spread across many people culminated into a big disaster.

In the end, who do we “attribute” to this tragedy to? We attribute this tragedy where it belongs: to the abstract concept of War. As one anonymous person commented in a Washington Post story covering the Matthews story so eloquently stated:

“As a person who has gone to war “unprepared,” and by that I mean anyone who has been in a war zone has absolutely no idea what it will be like, let me tell you the instructions I have both my parents and spouse: Do not speak to the press, do not comment on my service or what I did if I am killed; I was killed because I was in harms’ way, not for any other reason. Remember that I love all of you but you are not in a position to judge what I do every day for a living. Sometimes, in war, tragic errors are made–they might be my errors or they might be others’; it’s war and the blame lies there and not with the people who had to make split-second decisions with bad information.”

Good advice.

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I did not post much last year, and while I feel massively guilty over this fact, it is tempered with the reality that such is the life of the PhD student. However, given that is is January, I resolve to be a better blogger…we’ll see if this holds…because I am due to defend my dissertation this year…

But despite my bad blogger-ing, I did notice a heartening trend, particularly in the closing of the year. I noticed that the media was actually giving credit to the women of the trade in ways that did not involve perceived princess-ness, beauty, or even sex.

Wha-wa-wah!? you say? Women actually being noted for their competence? Skill? Tenacity? Dedication? Talent? Is this Backwards Land? Did I slip into a wormhole? Did the media actual wake up in 2012 and not the Groundhog Day existence of the 1960s that reporting on women in Intelligence has been perpetually waking up to since, well, forever?

Let’s run it down:

It began last September when a former Navy Seal, Matt Bissonnette, who took part in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden (yeah, I know, Usama-Osama, tomayto-tomahto, whatever – dead), reported the existence of “Jen”, a CIA agent whom he credited with tracking down the infamous OBL. Though I didn’t much care the descriptions of her being “feisty”, I certainly appreciated the use of the term “wicked smart”.

So, while terrific and all, a gal getting her due, what was more interesting was in what followed this initial reporting; reports of not only the existence of wicked-smart “Jen”, but of other women, equally talented, who work among the ranks of the typical white-male patriarchy that has plagued the Intelligence filed for so long.

Quickly on the heels of this reporting, follows the film “Zero Dark Thirty” a film about the hunt for OBL featuring the said-same “Jen” in the form of “Maya” (more on her in another post), a CIA agent working tirelessly for years in the hunt of the world’s most famous terrorist. The story of Maya is not about her being a broad in the field, but a tough, frustrated and determined agent who is often pretty difficult to like, especially when she is right, a trait which is normally heralded in a man and disparaged in women.

And of course, given the awards-circuit dominance of the Claire Danes playing Carrie Mathison on the TV show “Homeland” (more on her in another post – yes, I know, I’m behind), we start to see a trend – the portrayal and reporting of complicated, tough women doing the job, doing it right.

All of this makes for great fodder in the media particularly when there is a new spin to put on the story. Women are no longer just preternatural bombshells practicing “sexpionage”, but are a “new breed of agent” described as “secret weapons“. Something new. Something innovative. Something not ever seen before.

And here’s where I call shenanigans.

It is again a case where men and media fail to learn their history. In the said same reporting it is discussed how women served as the best “targeters” for capturing senior al Qaeda leaders immediately following 9/11, especially Jennifer Matthews, an agent key to the capture of Abu Zubaydah in 2002 (although later scapegoated for larger Agency failures). And, ahem, let the record show this article is written in 2012 – a full decade later the fact. So these women are hardly new to the scene.

And of course, this again denies the existence of women who have served in Intelligence all along as engineers, mathematicians, cryptographers, agents, operatives, etc – all dedicated, tough, talented, and relentless in their pursuit of a more secure nation.

So it is during this time that we note the passing of Jeanne Vertefeuille, a long-time CIA analyst largely responsible for uncovering the country’s most dangerous mole, Aldrich Ames, in 1994. Of course, Jeanne worked alongside a team of talented women, who have come to be known as The Sisterhood, that despite being hired in the CIA during a time when women were not exactly appreciated, still performed brilliantly, establishing careers and performing feats that anyone – men or women – should aspire to achieve.

I mention Jeanne in this post, not because she stands out above a few centuries of women in Intelligence, but because in light of the reporting of “Jen”, and “Zero Dark Thirty”, and the not-so-new-breed of female agents and analysts, Jeanne Vertefeuille received her full due in the national media, and is hailed as a hero for her service to her country.

Just as a lot of other women should be.

For me, 2012 ended on a high note: Women being recognized for their great work in national security. Granted the facts are hardly right and the historical interpretation is not exactly sound, but still, all said – I’ll take it.

Here’s hoping the men folk and the media keep it up.

I’m not sure I have fully processed this movie about a genetically engineered super-soldier in the form of a teenage girl locked inside one damn twisted fairy-tale-esque nightmare, but here we go…

The movie opens with a young girl in the Arctic tundra stalking an elk (or was it caribou?). She nabs her prey only to then be attacked by an older man, whereby an fantastic fight sequence ensues. Of course, we learn this older man is dear-old “Papa” and we begin to wonder what kind of home life this child leads.

Well, it’s one of languages, and encyclopedic knowledge, and living off the land, and mastery of both martial arts and any object you can get your hands on to kill another human being.

Hanna is on lam, born on the lam actually, and her home life has been crafted by Papa to prepare her for her enemies because Hanna, as we come to discover, is a highly prized asset by a certain American spy-outfit. Hanna was genetically altered as an embryo in a reverse-twist on the Bionic Woman, where Hanna wasn’t re-built as a super-human hybrid but constructed as one.

Long story short: Hanna ends up back on the radar where CIA baddie, Marissa Veigerly, a link to Hanna’s conception, is trying to track her down. Hanna must realize the truth of her beginnings and protect herself from those who would destroy her.

So what does it bring to the table? There’s your usual Spy-Fi stuff about experimental science, assassins, and rogue agents chasing each other around the globe, and while I thought this movie would go down the path of nepotism (a subject I loathe: supposed inherited greatness), it actually brings up a rather interesting debate on nature versus nurture.

Sure, Hanna is genetic engineering marvel. She was created to be great, stellar genetic material that also makes her a liability, but the irony of the movie is that it is only by relentess training and realizing her true and full potential that she can protect herself. Hence, growing up isolated in the woods in the Arctic circle, learning as many languages as she can master, and becoming the ultimate survivalist.

But the fly in the ointment is actually two-flies: one, Hanna’s isolation makes her susceptible to over-stimulation where a TV, a fan, and a light switch is enough to drive her bonkers; and two, Hanna is an adolescent girl with enough pubescent hormones to power a small city.

There’s no resolution to Hanna. I rather enjoyed that as I don’t care much for pat endings. But two things I have found really fascinating about this film: the first, the director, is re-knowned for English romance films; and two, the that in an all-United-Kingdom-and-Commonwealth acting troupe, the baddie, Marissa, played by Cate Blanchett, has a Southern accent, thus keeping alive a tradition where Americans represent the baddies as Brits but the Brits represent our American-evilness as somehow being Southern.

In Related News…

Posted: January 14, 2009 in CIA

…but definitely off subject, I was more than a little appalled when clicking through my backlog of RSS feeds, I came across this little gem of an article in the Washington Post that reports how the CIA is providing Afghan warlords with Viagra.

Given that Afghanistan is definitely on the list of “Places in the World Where it Sucks to Be a Dame”, I have some pretty strong feelings about this little piece of news.

imagesFirst, operatives playing doctor in the form of handing out pharmaceuticals seems like a pretty risky proposition. The side effects of Viagra, especially in men over the age of 60, can be pretty serious, and there’s nothing like an upset Afghan warlord who suffered temporary blindness as a side effect, and hence, believes you are out to kill him, and hence, will not be of aid to you, and as such, really wishes to see you not breathe ever again, to ruin your day, not to mention, your mission.

But of course, in the grand tradition of personal politics not coinciding with geopolitics, for a harem of women (as is customary in the tribal regions) with limited to no rights in their country, home, or marriage arrangements, an aging warlord husband who can’t perform has gotta be something of a relief…sweet, sweet relief. So to have said aging warlord back in play would not endear me to America if I were a dame there. Of course, maybe said aging, and now randy, warlord might go out and “procure” himself a sweet young thing which is equally revolting.

And yeah, I understand the whole argument of picking the most important battle first, but the problem in a place like Afghanistan is that first battle is never-ending, so the typical and invisible casualties of war, which are almost invariably women, get kicked to the permanent back burner.

So, sigh, such is life, which as we know, sometimes sucks, and definitely sucks for some more than others.

But maybe this whole news story wouldn’t have rankled so much had the author not written the piece with such obvious glee.

You say “potato”, I say “po-tah-toe”, you say “Mata Hari”, I say “get your facts straight”…damn this is getting tiresome…

So history is playing yet another round of “Blame Dame” with the acts of a cowardly US Colonel towards a dame being mislabeled as “Sexpionage”. Sigh.

Here we go: Kim Soo-Im (1911-1950) was a highly educated Korean Socialite. During the post WWII years, when Korea was trying to shrug off it’s Japanese controlled, colonial, feudal shroud, the young and educated were leaning left-towards communism-as a way to modernize their society.

Kim was an orphan who was raised by missionaries and was educated at a prestigious women’s college. She supported herself by working as an office administrator and ran in a highly fashionable circle of Korean intellectuals. In 1941, Kim met Lee Gang-Kook, an older married man who was also the head of Seoul’s leftist movement. They became involved and remained so until the Korea’s crackdown on communists in 1945 forced Lee to flee to Northern Korea.

Kim was left behind and due to her fluency in English, she became a translator for American forces stationed in Korea. Enter Col. John E. Baird. His role in Korea was to monitor the black market, Korean informants, and theft of US Army property. Kim became his assistant, and more, and Baird set Kim up with housing and eventually fathered her child, a son, Wonil Kim.

This went on until m1949, when the US Army began withdrawals, Baird’s American wife came to town for a visit, and Kim’s ex-lover Lee, had risen to political heights in the North and began to pubicly trash talk the Southern Regime.

In 1950, Kim was no longer employed by the US Army and Baird was skipping town back to his family across the pond. This left Kim vulnerable and she was rounded up in a leftist witch-hunt where the South Korean government charged her with a dirty laundry list of crimes, the most serious of which claimed that Kim relayed top-secret US withdrawal plans to her ex-lover Lee in the North.

No evidence was presented. No witnesses were brought forth to corroborate the charges. But on the third day of trial, Kim broke down and confessed. I’m willing to put money that the amount of torture she suffered during her imprisonment, in the form of water boarding, electric shock, and the terrifying use of pliers, played no small part in the matter.

Col. Baird, well aware of Kim’s dire circumstances, and who could have manned-up, stepped forward, and refute the charges, did nothing for her.

Kim was sentenced to death and was swiftly executed.

The US Army, well aware of the situation, did its own follow up investigation and recently declassified reports show that the charges against Kim were a set-up. Not only that, Col. Baird was not privy to any such sensitive information, hence, Kim could have not passed it along to Lee Gang-Kook.

Kim’s son, Wonil, was adopted by a missionary family who eventually headed back to the US. Well aware of his mother’s story since there was a few TV movies aired that trumped her up as an “Asian Mata Hari” (one narrated by an actor by the name of Ronald Reagan), Wonil began a life’s quest in clearing his mother’s name.

Wonil tracked his father shortly before he died in 1980, and despite the undisputable fact that he looks exactly like dear old dad, Col. Baird rejected him outright claiming a “Mr. Smith” as Wonil’s real father. Despite this, Wonil developed a close relationship with his father’s family after his death. Wonil is now collaborating with a Korean filmmaker on his mother’s life story in efforts to dispell the myths that have surrounded her so long.

And the kicker of it all: according the Army intelligence reports, Lee Gong-Kook was employed by the CIA’s Joint Activities Commission in Korea as a secret agent. He was executed in 1953 after the Korean War ended for being an American spy.

I’ve been a little loathe to write of Elizabeth “Betty” Thorpe Pack (1910-1963), famous WWII Spy-Dame, for the simple reason that she is too closely associated with a term this Agent truly dislikes: Sexpionage.

Sexpionage, quite simply, is a practice attributed to the dames who use those other “womanly charms” to get the intel or finish the op. This term is regularly and incorrectly attributed to ladies in the know,  just like the name “Mata Hari”.  And while this Agent won’t dispute the reality or even the necessity of utilizing such extreme methods to get a job done, this Agent does take issue with such methods garnering Ms. Pack the moniker of “Greatest Female Spy” because of them.

Okay, so here we go: Betty-Boop was born in Minneapolis, the daughter of a career Military man. Betty was a broad who, at a very early age, like to play the field. She was well educated and a striking beauty with her red hair and green eyes. She became the Paris Hilton of her day prowling the socialite circuit until she found herself knocked-up at 21 and set to marry a dull, British, embassy man twice her age.

Life wasn’t all bad as her husband’s career took her abroad to Chile, Spain, Poland, where she apparently continued to play the field. Around such time, Betty was put on the British payroll as a spy and set up to capture her first target: a Polish Prime Minister with access to the code-breaking work on the Enigma machine.

When war broke out, Betty found herself back on home turf where she was further recruited by the British (remember, the US was still neutral at this point) to set up shop in Washington DC. Her task was to obtain Italian naval codes from a certain sailor at the Italian Embassy. Betty employed her “usual methods” and voila! the Italian battle fleet is hitting skids.

Next up: Vichy France and their cipher codes. Betty set her sights on Charles Brousse, French Embassy Press Officer in order to gain access to the French Embassy in DC. She began a passionate affair with Brousse (a married person not unlike Betty, it’s easy to forget about that fact). Brousse was “turned” by the enticement of money, his dislike of Germans, and apparently Betty’s charms. The intel flowed into British hands but the cipher books were proving difficult to obtain and despite Betty’s “best efforts” with other men in the embassy, she unable to get them into the hands of the Brits.

A last ditch effort to obtain the books involved Brousse and Betty working in tandom over several nights at the French Embassy with a safe cracker. Guards were paid, others drugged, and the pinnacle event was while the safe cracker was doing his deed, Betty and Brousse engaged in the deed themselves, in flagrante delicato no less, in order to thwart discovery of their true activities when a security guard happened into the room they were in at the embassy.

So, of course, after all that hooplah, the codes were obtained. Pearl Harbor went down, America ended its neutrality, and we can all pretty much remember what happened after that.

After the war, Brousse divorced his wife and Betty’s long forgotten husband committed suicide leaving Betty and Brousse free to marry, which they did. Betty pack died in 1963 of throat cancer at the age of 53.

So what do we take away from all of this? Perhaps an argument about what makes a successful spy versus what makes a great spy? Betty was certainly successful and the intel was important, but do you compare that to the exploits of Hall, Szabo, Cornioley, and the host of other dames being dropped out of airplanes, wrangling ammo, sending secret communiques, waging war, and generally risking their lives? Does a broad using sex as her tradecraft really equate a “great” spy?

I’m not trying to undermine Betty’s accomplishments because to a certain extent we are comparing apples and radiators, but tallying up this skirt’s love of adventure and promiscuity, both of which seemed to have fueled her actions, makes this Agent glad for one thing:

That Betty Pack was on our side.

Nada Nadim Prouty, aka “Jihad Jane” is a Lebanese immigrant who over-stayed her welcome on a visa in 1990. She faked a marriage for citizenship which then allowed her to not only received clearance and a job at the FBI in 1999, this dame cross-channeled and went to work for the CIA in 2003 as well!

She must have very busy to-do lists.

So let’s get down to it: Overstayed visa? Crime #1. Fake marriage? Crime #2. Lied on application to FBI/CIA? Crime #3. Used position at agencies to check up on herself and the criminal activity of a brother in law who supports terrorist groups? Crime #4.

The list of offenses against this skirt is adding up.

Side note: Seems that Prouty’s brother-in-law, a Detroit-based restaurateur, had been funneling money into a charity operation that supports Hezbollah. He was about to get nabbed for tax evasion when he hiked up skirts and fled the country back to Lebanon where he currently resides. The question is for what purpose Prouty used her position to make unauthorized checks on herself, the family, and Hezbollah.

Wow, this whole story is one big twisted knot of yarn. And this Agent can see both sides of it. On one side, you could say this dame was crafty enough to find a chink in the armor of the security clearance process to infiltrate the FBI & CIA and use the place as her own personal playground for aiding and abetting terrorism.

The other side of this is that, yes, this Prouty did some bad things, like immigration fraud, but she is also regarded as one of the CIA’s top-guns and proved to be ever so helpful in all that nastiness in Iraq in the Clandestine Services. The FBI seems to think pretty highly of her as well. This broad was involved in the investigations of the USS Cole bombing, a high-profile kidnapping, and an overseas assassination of a US diplomat.

Obviously, the Intelligence Community leaned towards door #2, because Prouty, who fully cooperated, fessed up, had her citizenship revoked, paid a nominal fine, and is serving no jail time. Possibly in rewards for what was a job-well-done in service to this county.

The thing to take away from all of this seems to be the flaws in the background checks. Prouty was screened prior to an overhaul in 2001 of the Security Clearance process which was instituted after the whole Robert Hanssen affair. But she passed the polygraph and other checks into family in Lebanon seemed to check out. So this really comes down to a matter of ill-timing.

Last heard on Prouty: she is in Immigration Limbo. Because she is so heavily vetted with national security information, for her safety as well as the for the protection of top-secret info, she has not yet been deported.

1990’s were not a good time for the US intelligence community. Both the FBI and CIA has suffered terribly at the hands of traitors in the form of Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, but it is Ames who is considered to have done the most damage to the CIA’s overseas assets.

Ames began working for the CIA in 1962, by 1969, he was a case officer. Adultery, followed by a consequential divorce, alcoholism, and not being able to live within his means made Ames the perfect candidate as a double agent. Ames began spying for the Soviet Union in 1985 and did not cease until his arrest in 1994. During Ames’ career as a traitor, 10 Soviet agents working for the US were executed, at least 10 others were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Gulag, and it is assumed that hundreds of intelligence operations were revealed to the Soviets.

The CIA suspected a mole but put little resources toward the endeavor. The idea that someone within The Old Boys Club betraying them, was too much for the guys at the top to deal with. But finally, in 1986, an obligatory team was put together to track down the CIA’s most deadliest mole.

Enter Jeanne Vertefeullie. Jeanne was a quiet, solid, 54 year old case officer for the CIA since the 1950’s. She was a bit of loner but was in possession of an astounding institutional memory. Before the time of supercomputers, if you needed to sniff out clues in a thousand or so case files, one needed to have a supa-dupa memory chip in their noggin. One would need to be intimately familiar with every fact from every case related to that problem. Jeanne had not only the experience but that memory chip and set to work tracking down the mole.

Jeanne was given a small team and only a smaller wink of hope, but the addition of fellow Intel-gals from the Agency, Fran Smith and Sandy Grimes, both veterans in Soviet Intelligence, gave Jeanne the experience she needed to set to work.

Now no one ever said that the CIA was a bastion of Female Empowerment, in fact, sadly, after so many years, it is still quite the opposite, but the skirts who have had the fortitude to stick it out and carve out a place for themselves inside the Agency, must be admired. Of course, during the time of this investigation these dames on the Mole Hunt were often referred to as the “Little Gray-Haired Old Ladies”, but these ladies were going to have the last laugh.

Eight years of diligent work finally paid off in the capture and imprisonment of Aldrich Ames. Consider this: Jeanne turned 60 in 1992 and was thus forced to retire from the CIA as was policy. Sure, she could of traipsed off into the sunset and left this Mole Hunt behind to become someone else’s problem, but she stayed on at the CIA as a contractor for the sole purpose of catching her man. After 6 years investment into the case, Jeanne was not about to give up when her quarry was in her sites.

Also consider that during the final years of the chase, Ames was assigned to the CIA Counterintelligence Center where he was in an ideal position to cover his activities and direct the investigation towards other colleagues. Which he did.

When Ames was brought in for questioning and sat face to face with Jeanne Vertefeuille, the broad heading up the team that brought him down, Ames calmly and casually informed her that he had offered up her name as a possible mole.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Jason Bourne, ever since that 26 hours I spent rained in at Chicago O’Hare airport with nothing but a sweater and a dog-eared copy of the Robert Ludlow book. So when the films came out, I was first in line.

CIA Agent, Pamela Landy, appears in the second installment of the Bourne movie trilogy, “The Bourne Supremacy”. A CIA investigation of an agent murdered in Berlin brings Landy hot on the tail of a framed Bourne. While the character of Landy is subordinate at best, only an actress of Joan Allen’s skill can make her such a dominate force. Landy is tough, decisive and unrelenting. Her methodical search for Bourne hints that nothing short of actual death, and by this, I mean either Landy’s or Bourne’s, is going to end this cat and mouse game.

Landy presents an important and overlooked aspect of the intelligence process: management. I know, yawn, how interesting. But when you have a team tasked with an enormous problem, you need a leader to delegate, to make the hard calls, to decide the direction, and to make sure everyone stays focused. And of course, the thanks these managers often get is their hiney in a sling when things go wrong. This makes an intelligence manager not all that different from a project manager at a construction company, or an account manager at an advertising agency. Apply whatever industry you want, it relates.

The star of the show is definitely Bourne, but if you pay attention, Landy will draw you in. The quiet ferocity with which Landy pursues her quarry is nothing short of chilling. Landy is certainly one broad who can put a dent in your day.