Culture and Components

Directorate of Operations

S - Z

Sallinger, Rick. "CIA Expected To Move A Division To Denver." CBS4 (Denver), 3 Jan. 2006. [http://www.cbs4denver.com]

The CIA is expected to move its National Resources Division (NRD) "to Colorado within the next year." The NRD "is involved in recruiting businessmen and foreign nationals to provide information to the U.S. government."

Shirley, Edward G. (pseud., Reuel Mark Gerecht)

1. "Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?" The Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1998, 45 - 61.

The pseudonymous Shirley savages the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO), describing, in the words of the lead blurb to the article, "a corrosive culture in which promotion-hungry operatives collect pointless intelligence from worthless foreign agents."

When he stays within the timeframe that he was with the CIA (by his account from 1985 to 1993), Shirley's narrative can be accepted as a version of the "truth" as seen, heard, and interpreted by one individual. Even there, however, much of what he says resembles the generalized bitching that goes regularly in almost any organization. More important is that when Shirley strays beyond his firsthand experience, an event which occurs often, especially in remarks about how matters have transpired since his departure, little credibility can be given to his remarks. It is extremely doubtful that he has the kind of access that would allow any sort of meaningful criticisms of present policies and procedures.

Combined with the general lack of commonsensical judgment clearly shown in his book, Know Thine Enemy, Shirley's whining in this article leaves me very pleased that he has found employment outside the national security structure.

Two anonymous letters, similarly critical of the DO, are published in the May 1998 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, together with a response from Shirley. See http://www.theatlantic.com.

2. "CIA Needs Reform, Not New Missions." Wall Street Journal, 19 Nov. 1998, 22.

The author favors an Operations Directorate that is smaller, elite, more covert, and remote from politically motivated missions like its involvement in the Wye River Accords. DCI Tenet's success in getting new funding for the CIA allows it to avoid reform.

3. Know Thine Enemy: A Spy's Journey Into Revolutionary Iran. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997.

Clark comment: This book is not about intelligence, but about a purported private clandestine trip from the Turkish-Iranian border to Teheran and back by a former (and clearly disgruntled) CIA employee.

However, as Chambers notes, "intelligence does play an important part as one of the sub-topics of the book. Particularly, it deals with two dilemmas with solutions that Shirley did not like and that played roles in his decision to leave the CIA. One revolved around the question of whether the case officer should be a generalist or a specialist [he favors the specialist argument], and the other was around the problem of freedom of action of case officers" (with Shirley on the side of greater freedom of action for officers in the field). Click for CHAMBERS' full review.

Peake, History 26.4, suggests that a "book on intelligence written under a pseudonym should make one cautious, especially when no reason for hiding is given and no sources to support the story are provided." He also notes that the book's "subtitle just is not accurate."

As a former CIA Operations Officer, Chapman, IJI&C 10.4, has some real problems with Shirley's account: "If an agent gave me a report such as this book, my inclination would be to deep-six it in a burn bag, pay off the agent, and never see him again. Is this stuff for real?" Beyond that, the reviewer finds it difficult to believe the picture of contemporary Iran painted by Shirley -- one where everyone hates the mullahs and loves Americans. Chapman clearly feels that there is some larger goal behind the production of a book seemingly designed to further a new U.S. opening to Iran.

Smith, R. Jeffrey. "The CIA's Ill-Advised Dumping Ground." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 1-7 Aug. 1994, 32.

A "new classified study" by "a panel of independent experts," chaired by Jeffrey H. Smith, "sharply criticizes the CIA for what Smith describes as a series of management blunders during the period of Ames's admitted spying."

Tellaray, John. Intro., Michael Sulick. "A Defection Case that Marked the Times." Studuies in Intelligence 56, no. 4 (Dec. 2012): 1-4.

The author tells the story of his handling of a KGB officer after the end of the Cold War.

Thompson, Michael. "The Need for Integrity: Thoughts Provoked by The Very Best Men." Studies in Intelligence 39, no. 5 (1996): 25-34.

Ostensibly a review of Evan Thomas' book, this article is an excellent take (whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions) on the culture of the Directorate of Operations as seen by one former DO officer.

Tovar, B. Hugh. "The Not-So-Secret War, or How State-CIA Squabbling Hurts U.S. Intelligence." Studies in Intelligence 25, no. 1 (Spring 1981): 43-49. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 185-193. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

"[M]ore than one intelligence failure can be traced to the inability" of the State Department and the CIA "to collaborate effectively." Tovar mentions a proposal submitted to the Murphy Commission on Governmental Reorganization to create a unified personnel system for the foreign affairs agencies; needless to say, the idea went nowhere.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. CIA Analysis of the Warsaw Pact Forces: The Importance of Clandestine Reporting, at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/historical-collection-publications/the-warsaw-pact-forces/index.html.

A collection of documents examining "the role of clandestine reporting in CIA's analysis of the Warsaw Pact from 1955 to 1985.... This study continues CIA's efforts to provide a detailed record of the intelligence derived from clandestine human and technical sources from that period. This intelligence was provided to US policymakers and used to assess the political and military balances and confrontations in Central Europe between the Warsaw Pact and NATO during the Cold War."

Waller, Douglas. "Inside the CIA's Covert Forces." Time Atlantic, 10 Dec. 2001, 33.

Johnny Micheal Spann "was part of a secretive paramilitary unit of the CIA, a special-operations group of several hundred covert commandos skilled in sabotage, collecting intelligence in war zones and training foreign guerrillas…. The SOG is divided into ground, maritime and air branches that have light arms, surveillance gear, riverboats and small planes." 

Waters, T. J. Class 11: Inside the CIA’s First Post-9/11 Spy Class. New York: Dutton, 2006.

Clark comment: The author provides an interesting and fun read. I recommend it for anyone who would like to know how CIA case officers are initiated into their calling. It also makes plain the stresses that are placed -- even in the beginning phase of one's work life -- on the personal lives of those who choose the clandestine path. However, Waters' constant harping on the uniqueness of Class 11 becomes a bit annoying, if only because most classes (perhaps, every class) to go through the various versions of CIA training tended to regard themselves as unique. In addition, my class in the old JOT program of the mid-1960s certainly was not made up of a bunch of male-only, twentysomethings with no real-world experience (however true that may have been for me). That said, however, I laughed out loud at some of the events portrayed as they brought to mind similar (or even more outrageous) situations from a now-distant past. It seems to me that old Agency hands cannot avoid enjoying this book, even though they may not have experienced every element described. If the general public learns something from it, that is extra gravy.

LJ, AFIO WIN 15-06 (10 Apr. 2006), comments that the author recounts his days as a student learning the espionage trade and provides fascinating details about how contemporary spies are trained." Nolan, IJI&C 22.1 (Spring 2009), finds that the author's "description of the training he and his classmates underwent gives a tremendously detailed look at what is expected of the new recruits." However, there is no "serious analysis of the CIA's ills or those of the Intelligence Community overall."

For Lehman, Washingon Post, 26 Nov. 2006, this is a "very readable account of the first wave" of the rebuilding of the CIA's clandestine service. The author "offers a rare glimpse into what it is like to join this cadre and how its tradecraft is taught.... Waters has done an excellent job recounting his experiences." Johnson, I&NS 24.2 (Apr. 2009), says that "[s]ome of the more enjoyable aspects of the book are Waters' descriptions of various instructors and former case officers who attempt to teach these new recruits the tricks of the trade." This is a "highly readable and engaging book."

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