UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper: July 24, 2006, 7:00 p.m. Robert Baer, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002; paperback 2003). Theme: Baer’s career has been “on the frontier, serving in the armies of civilization” (144) while the CIA, the institution to which he has devoted his professional career, is “systematically destroyed by political correctness, by petty Beltway wars, by careerism, and much more” (xviii). Acknowledgments. Former CIA colleagues and “my many Arab and Iranian agents and friends” (vii). Map. Middle East (x-xi). Foreword. By Seymour Hersh; written in Nov. 2001. Baer’s “riveting” account a “body blow” to the CIA (xiii). There is an urgent need for the CIA to return to its earlier “high standards”; it is now “a vast, broken agency” (xiv). Preface. Though jihadists were active in Europe in the mid-1990s, “[t]he CIA was shriveling up everywhere in Europe” (xvxvi). The CIA embraced technology and moved away from human intelligence (xvii). This “memoir” is based on memory, notes, and diaries (xvii). “The CIA was systematically destroyed by political correctness, by petty Beltway wars, by careerism, and much more” (xviii). Sept. 11 was “the reckoning for such vast carelessness” (xix). PART I: THE MAKING OF AN OPERATIVE Ch. 1. Mar. 15, 1997. Langley, VA. NSA Anthony Lake has Baer investigated for allegedly conspiring to assassinate Saddam Hussein (3-7). Ch. 2. 1962. L.A., CA. Two years in Europe aged 9-11 in the early 1960s [Baer born in 1952]; studies “the classics” with “lefty” (14) mother (8-9). Aspen, CO; ski racing (10-11). Paris in May 1968 (11). Prague Spring (12). Culver Military Academy in Culver, IN (12). Georgetown Univ.; George Tenet a fellow student (12-13). Living in S.F. & Berkeley in 1976, applies to CIA and is hired (13-23). Ch. 3. Aug. 1977. VA Tidewater. CIA training course; “the Farm” (24-44). Ch. 4. Aug. 197█. Madras, India. On “probation” in first assignment; first pitch fails (45-51). Ch. 5. 197█. New Delhi, India. Encouragement from “Wild Bill” (52-54). Moves to New Delhi, “the big leagues” (54-56). “Running a double agent is a very long walk in the wilderness of mirrors” (56). Pitch to Major Singh fails (56-58). “It took me a while, but I finally learned how to read the dark forest of other people’s minds and then walk them into espionage small step by small step. Toward the end of my career, I never had a pitch rejected” (59). Adventure with T72 manuals (59-62). Accepts offer of Near East Division’s two-year Arabic course (62). PART II: INTO THE FIRE Ch. 6. Apr. 18, 1983. Beirut. U.S. Embassy bombing (65-68). Trying to solve the case has been “a lifelong obsession” (68). Learning Arabic (68-69). Frustration with his chief, “John,” “a kind of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, do-no-evil model for the new CIA that was quietly building back in Washington” (69-71). Embassy bombing investigation stalls (71-72). “The Middle East is a place wired to obscure the truth” (73). Balabakk, where on Nov. 21, 1982,
Islamic Amal turned barracks over to Iran’s Pasdaran, “and every source we had indicated that the Pasdaran was about to go to war against the West” (73). 1982 kidnapping of the president of the American Univ. in Beirut (74). Need for human intelligence (74-75). Trip to the Biqa’; tip on kidnapping from Ali (7578). Bill Buckley kidnapped (79). Trip to Balabakk ((80-82). Ch. 7. Jan. 1986. Langley, VA. Joins Duane “Dewey” Clarridge’s Counterterrorism Center (83-86). Makes contact with Muslim Brothers (86-92). Proposes kidnapping ‘Imad Mughniyah’s family to trade for hostages (92-93). Clair George nixes Baer’s proposal to fake a failed Hizballah bombing of Syrian diplomats (94-95). “Burn notice” on Ghorbanifar (95-96). Washington to blame for no good back channel to Iran (96-97). Ch. 8. Apr. 1986. Washington, D.C. Investigating ‘Imad Mugniyah and the embassy bombing (98-100). Jeremy Levin & Father Jenco (100-02). Arafat’s connections to terrorists (102-03). Muhammad Na’if Jada’ (103-04). Ch. 9. Aug. 1986. Larnaca, Cyprus. Flight to Beirut “the bottom circle of hell” (105-10). “I loved working in Beirut . . . I would move around on the streets, where I had always been more comfortable” (109). Ch. 10. Mar. 1987. Beirut. Farid (11113). Telephone taps (113-14). Husayn Khalil (114-17). “Hasan” volunteers to infiltrate Hizballah (118-19). Imam says Muhammad Hassuna blew up embassy; brother says he died in Iran; but “the national security community no longer gave a damn who had bombed our embassy in Beirut” (120-22). Through “Jean” finds “Isam,” who is willing to kill Mughniyah for $12,000 (122-27).
Ch. 11. Arafat & his fundamentalist background (128-31). “In 1972 Ayatollah Khomeini and Arafat signed an accord in Najaf, Iraq, to train Islamic fighters at Fatah camps in southern Lebanon. Almost every leader of the Iranian revolution passed through these camps” (130). “This book isn’t about Israel, but I should point out that many of its statesmen started out their political lives conduction what we would now define as terrorist operations against Britain” (131). Ch. 12. Aug. 1988. Beirut. Baer suspects Iran in the Pan Am 103 bombing of Dec. 21, 1988 (132-35). CIA “in the process of closing up shop overseas” (136). Proselytizing case officer (13638). A “fatal malaise settled over the CIA” (138-40). Ch. 13. Oct. 24, 1992. Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Bored after Rabat assignment, Baer “wanted back in the action”; aside on marriage (three children) and divorce (141-44). Evacuation from Dushanbe (144-46). Uses skiing & parachuting to get close to Russian military (146-48). Grigor, a Russian spy (148-57). Drinking party with Maggie in Tavildara (158-61). Trip through the Pamirs (161-64). CIA becoming incompetent, a tour agency (164-67).
PART III: YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN Ch. 14. Mar. 3, 1995. Salah al-Din, Iraq. NSA Tony Lake sends message scrubbing anti-Saddam coup (171-76). Ch. 15. Jan. 21, 1995. Northern Iraq. Learns from an Iraqi general of an intended coup to overthrow Saddam on visit to northern Iraq (177-80). U.S. intelligence “blind when it came to Iraq” (180-82). CIA demurs (182). Coup
plotters reveal plan; still the CIA holds back (183-84). Ch. 16. Mar. 3, 1995. Salah al-Din, Iraq. Kurds: KDP-PUK rivalry risks wrecking coup (186-87). Ahmad Chalabi (187-89). David Litt of State Dept.’s promise a $2m “interposition force” to separate the Kurds comes to nothing; failure to consult with CIA destroys Baer’s credibility (18990). Chalabi plans uprising (191-92). Masud Barzani of KDP, smuggler of Iraqi oil (192-93). Barzani’s KDP shells PUK from inside Iran (194-95). Jalal Talabani, “an Iraqi nationalist,” “also a first-rate actor and a world-class politician,” resolves to attack Iraqi army south of Irbil (195-99). Ch. 17. Mar. 3, 1995. Salah al-Din, Iraq. Chalabi and Iraqi general decide to go ahead anyway (200-02). CIA pretends nothing happened, pulls Baer back home (203-05). Ch. 18. Mar. 6, 1995. Salah al-Din, Iraq. Talabani’s attack goes forward, but fails; U.S. turns its back on the Kurds; Lake is out to get Baer (206-13). PART IV: A POLITICAL EDUCATION Ch. 19. Mar. 1995. Washington, D.C. Baer cleared in investigation (217-18). Culture shock in Washington: “After putting my life on the line for two decades in places few people would choose to live, I was earning the same salary as a midlevel career civil servant who never leaves his desk. Worse, I seemed to be carrying around a set of job skills that were constantly diminishing in value. . . . It was like The Odyssey, I finally figured out. While we were off fighting Troy, the people back home were drinking and whoring” (21819). NSC staffer Sheila Heslin wants dirt on oilman Roger Tamraz (219-22). Baer accepts running him in the Caspian Basin as an agent (222-23). Meeting with Tamraz, who is pushing a Caspian-to-
Mediterranean pipeline project (223-25). Tamraz’s business history, which includes bribing foreign officials (225-28). Tamraz’s possible involvement in Azerbaijan coup attempt in 1995 (22829). “Avis Capital” citation doesn’t check out (229). Following the Rick [Aldrich] Ames arrest in 1994, the FBI investigates the CIA and “eviscerates” it (229-32). CIA becomes “even more risk-averse . . . No one was meeting anyone. . . . All over the Islamic world, cells were forming, ancient grudges were boiling to new surfaces, the infidel West was being targeted for destruction, and we didn’t have a real ear to the ground anywhere” (233). Successive Directorate of Operations heads have no current field experience (233-36). “Worst of all, the CIA seemed to have stopped caring about its own people, especially the ones who took the greatest risks” (236-37). Ch. 20. Oct. 3, 1995. Washington, D.C. Tamraz’s close relations with the Clinton administration (238-39). Azerbaijani president says Clinton administration pressed Exxon’s 5% cut in oil deal (24041). Lake held Exxon stock when NSA (241). CIA increasingly involved to facilitate oil deals (241-43). Heslin and Deputy NSA Sandy Berger advancing interests of the “Foreign Oil Companies Group” (242-44). Tamraz gives Baer’s CIA number to Don Fowler, Democratic National Chairman (244-46). DO memo on Tamraz cause of anxiety (an example of what Baer calls “political correctness”) (246-47). Tamraz has met with president, sees prospect of “a channel to Russia” (248-49). Baer gets Don Fowler to say that Heslin is “Amoco’s ambassador at the NSC” (249-50). In early 1990s “the Iranian Pasdaran [Revolutionary Guards] opened a training base in the Biqa’ [Bekaa Valley] for Saudi Hizballah terrorist cadres” (250). Bombings in Saudi Arabia in Nov. 1995 (Saudi National Guard facility in Riyadh) and Jun. 1996 (Khobar Towers) (250-51). Heslin interferes with spying on Pasdaran
to protect Amoco from blowback (25152). Ch. 21. Mar. 1997. Washington, D.C. Tells Bill Lofgren he’s decided to “blow the whistle” (253). Difficulty finding politicians or press interested; helps block Lake’s nomination to CIA director (254-56). Investigated for supposedly trying to badger Sheila Heslin to have Roger Tamraz’s name removed from the Secret Service blacklist of people the president should not meet with (257-58). Task force from Justice headed by Laura Ingersol arrives to investigate (258). Signals to keep mouth shut (259). In grand jury and Senate investigations of campaign financing, Baer framed as “a venal CIA officer playing the system” (259-61). Resolves to find out “what the truth was behind Iranian-sponsored terrorism” (261). Feridoun Mehdi-Nezhad and Hossein Mosleh seem “at the center of every major Pasdaran terrorist operation” (263). Concludes the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) is really a front name for Pasdaran terrorist operations; that the CI A knew this; that “Ayatollah Ali Khameini [sic: correct spelling is Khamenei] and President Rafsanjani approved every terrorist operation to come out of Iran,” and that “The Islamic Republic of Iran had declared a secret war against the United States, and the United States had chosen to ignore it” (264). “Jim” at CIA confirms (264-66). Mehdi-Nezhad works with Iranian President Khatami (266). “One of bin Laden’s most dangerous associates was calling one of Mughniyah’s offices in Beirut” (266). “[G]rowing rage” at “horrendous neglect” of Clinton administration, determined to “Get through the term. Keep the bad news from the newspapers. Dump the naysayers. Gather money for the next election—gobs and gobs of it—and let some other administration down the line deal with it all” (266). Resigns and is given a Career Intelligence Medal— secretly (267).
EPILOGUE. Reflections on Sept. 11: U.S.’s demonizing Osama bin Laden helps terrorists (268-69). Claims he passed on information relevant to Sept. 11 that was ignored by U.S. and Saudi Arabia (270-71). Complains the CIA is “enamored of satellite technology and scared of its own shadow” and urges that the CIA must “go out and start talking to people” because “[w]e are at war in America and throughout the Western world” and “the only way to defeat such an enemy is by intelligence” (271). Afterword. Return to Beirut in 2002: “On the surface, at least, Lebanon looked like it was finally done with its civil war. Still, I wondered if it wasn’t a mirage. After all, we had gotten it wrong before. In 1982, after the Israeli invasion, almost no one—at least almost no one in Washington—recognized Lebanon was sitting on a volcano ready to erupt. . . . My fear is that we are facing something similar two decades later” (273-74). Talks to “an Iraqi friend” who tells him Saddam will fight “to the very end” with “biochemical weapons” and predicts the fall of the Saudi royal family if Iraq is attacked (274-75). Meets relative of Ziyad Samir Jarrah, alleged Sept. 11 Flight 93 hijacker (276-77). “Future Ziyad Jarrahs and the groups they belong to” are “our real problem”; asks whether the U.S. should not fight them rather than Saddam Hussein (278-79). Glossary. 3 pp. Very summary definitions of acronyms, individuals, organizations, and terms (E.g. “Case officer: A CIA employee who recruits and runs foreign agents” ; “Hizballah: A Lebanon-based organization officially founded on February 16, 1983” ). Index. 8 pp. No entry for Israel.