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Funny, you don't look like an ambassador.

I have tried to warn my fellow liberals that in their understandable zeal to get Libby, Rove, and Cheney, they don't swallow the CIA line that the covers it has used should be taken seriously. I now have support from Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing in The Wall Street Journal. Gerecht's views are sometimes too neocon, but he knows the CIA. Here's what he says:

"The vast majority of CIA officers overseas operate with little to no cover and have done so since the foundation of the post-World War II clandestine service in 1947. Most case officers posted abroad carry official cover, which usually means they serve as fake diplomats.

"Today, operational camouflage is usually shredded within weeks of a case officer's arrival at his station, since the manner, method and paperwork of operatives is just too different from real foreign-service officers.... Minimally competent foreign security services know a great deal of what occurs within US. embassies and consulates since these institutions are completely dependent on local employees--the State Department calls them 'foreign-service nationals'--who, through patriotism or coercion, often report on the activities of their employers.

"The situation is better with nonofficial cover officers who live overseas.... [But a]s a general rule, the more dangerous the country, the less likely the NOCs, who don't benefit from diplomatic immunity, will be stationed or visit there" In other words, the truly covert agents are mostly not where they are most needed.

Back in the mid-'70s, William Colby, who was then the head of the CIA, conceded to me that the Russians knew who our agents were. He was trying to talk me out of running an article that made clear how easy our spooks were to spot. His only argument seemed to be that I would be exposing the agents to weirdos like Lee Harvey Oswald.
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Title Annotation:Tilting at Windmills; Central Intelligence Agency's Reuel Marc Gerecht
Author:Peters, Charles
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:Thrown for a loop.
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