Culture and Components

Directorate of Operations

A - B


Arnold, Tony. "Run-ins with Walk-ins." CIRA Newsletter 25, no. 2 (Summer 2000): 53-54.

Anecdotes about problems handling walk-ins.

Babcock, Fenton. "Assessing DDO Human Source Reports." Studies in Intelligence 22, no. 3 (Fall 1978): 51-57. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 194-203. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

Babcock's focus is on the "systematic collection of consumer feedback" by the DDO's Evaluation Group, "a direct staff element of the Deputy Director for Operations." Westerfield's headnote in the Yale collection, "In this article, the Directorate of Operations pats itself on the back...," may be off the mark, Babcock may have been writing from the vantage point of the Intelligence Community Staff, not the DO.

Baer, Robert. See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism. New York: Crown, 2002.

According to Gellman, Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2002, "Baer leaps from these pages as a zealous and creative man, courageous to the brink of recklessness, and altogether lacking the political and diplomatic judgment that an intelligence agency needs at the top. What the book does well is provide a spy's-eye view of CIA intrigues by one of the agency's best. And it makes a persuasive case, with much amusing evidence, that the CIA lost interest in the skills Baer had to offer....

"Baer can write authoritatively on one page and with cartoonish fancy on another.... [He] adds an intriguing chapter to the literature on the Clinton administration's betrayal of Iraqi coup plotters in 1995. But he undermines the reader's trust with assertions that then-national security adviser Anthony Lake masterminded an FBI investigation meant to punish Baer for his role. No one who knows the mutual loathing between Louis Freeh and the Clinton White House will buy that."

Peake, AFIO WIN 31-02, 5 Aug. 2002, and Intelligencer 13.2, finds that See No Evil is "a memoir of disillusionment written in a positive style, not the bitter tone of those who wrote because they could not cope with the demands of the clandestine life.... Baer's comments on the tradecraft of espionage as practiced on the ground ... will enlighten historians and laymen interested in the profession.... This is a fine memoir, one of the best ever written." To Berkowitz. IJI&C15.4, this book "is a great read." The author "is direct and honest ... and tells a good story."

Clark comment: I enjoyed reading Baer's See No Evil. The words flow in a spritely fashion from the page, and Baer certainly touched plenty of potentially important events in less frequented parts of the world. Much of what he writes rings true whether or not the reader is familiar with the details of each episode he spotlights. That does not mean, however, that he has captured the "capital T" truth.

Baer's view is that of the classic field operative -- essentially, "if politics/Headquarters/ Washington hadn't screwed it up, we could have pulled it off." It is true that too often those making the decisions back in Washington do not share the field operative's intimate knowledge of the situation on the ground. But it is just as often true that the person in the field has little understanding of the factors at play beyond his/her vision.

Baer complains that some Headquarters-based personnel considered him a "cowboy." From reading his memoirs, I have to conclude that they were correct. I would argue, however, that the CIA and the United States need a few such cowboys, although we probably should not put them in charge of things.

Baer, Robert, and Dayna Baer. The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story. New York: Crown, 2011.

Goulden, Washington Times, 14 Mar. 2011, and Intelligencer 18.2 (Winter-Spring 2011), sees this as "one of the better insider accounts of life in the modern CIA." For Schickel, Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar. 2011, this book "is curiously weightless -- all windup and virtually no delivery. It offers a few hints about their 'trade craft' but nothing that radically alters" what you know from elsewhere.

For Kanon, Washington Post, 14 Mar. 2011, says this "is a breezy, often fascinating account" of the authors' "CIA romance, with tradecraft details and war stories thrown in to make it catnip for any fan of espionage fiction." Wippl, IJI&C 24.4 (Winter 2011-2012), comments that what he misses in this book "is some direct acknowledgment" that the Baers' "individual lives in the CIA were worthwhile and made them what they are." See also, Rohde, New York Times, 18 Mar. 2011.

Barnes, Bart. "Lucien E. Conein Dies at 79: Fabled Agent for OSS and CIA." Washington Post, 6 Jun. 1998, B6. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"Lucien E. Conein, 79, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and covert intelligence agent whose career ranged from landing by aircraft in Nazi-occupied France during World War II to participation in the coup d'etat that brought down South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, died June 3 at Suburban Hospital....

"Col. Conein's career also included orchestrating the infiltration of spies and saboteurs into Eastern Europe after World War II, training paramilitary forces in Iran and a secret mission to organize anti-communist guerrillas in North Vietnam after the country was partitioned following the French defeat in Indochina in 1954. He retired from the military and CIA in 1968 but later joined the Drug Enforcement Administration, where he directed an intelligence-gathering and operations unit until his civilian retirement in 1984."

Conein became "the stuff of legend and romance in the intelligence community. Author David Halberstam, writing in 'The Best and the Brightest,' described him as 'someone sprung to life from a pulp adventure.' Stanley Karnow, in 'Vietnam: A History,' said he was an 'eccentric, boisterous, often uncontrollable yet deeply sensitive and thoroughly professional agent.' Henry Cabot Lodge, President John F. Kennedy's ambassador to South Vietnam, called him 'the indispensable man' and a vital liaison between the U.S. Embassy and the South Vietnamese generals who plotted the overthrow and subsequent assassination of Diem in 1963....

"Col. Conein's decorations included a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, a Bronze Star and the CIA's Intelligence Star."

Clark comment: I cannot allow the passing of Conein without noting that whether his stories were true or not is immaterial; they should have been.

Boifeuillette, Louis. "A Staff Agent's Second Thoughts." Studies in Intelligence 11, no. 1 (Winter 1967): 61-65.

The author provides some thoughts about his four and a half years under non-official cover (NOC) in West Africa. He points to the strain associated with a NOC's "being cut off from the mainstream of his life's work." However, "all the agents and nearly all of the contacts" he developed were persons he "met and developed through [his] cover activity." But there were other groups of people who he could never have met in the cover position.

Briggs, Thomas. "The Emperor's New Clothes." Intelligencer 10, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 1-2.

The author argues that the DO is disarray today because "[t]here are too many managers and not enough leaders." The better new recruits are leaving the DO because they become frustrated with the mediocre managers above them.

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