Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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***Blowing My Cover

My Life as a CIA Spy*

*And Other Misadventures

by Lindsay Moran

Reviewed February 5, 2005.
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2005.  295 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (MCN B MOR).

Here’s a funny, fascinating and scary book about one woman’s fulfillment of her childhood dream of becoming a spy.  Why is it scary?  Because it’s scary to realize that CIA agents are basically ordinary people who go through rather comical but intense training, lie a lot, and take themselves very seriously.

Most of this book is about Lindsay Moran’s training to be a Case Officer for the CIA.  Her stories of the ordeals they went through and descriptions of her fellow recruits make for entertaining reading.  Once she goes overseas, to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, her job is to find people who are willing to tell her secrets in exchange for cash.

She gets less and less satisfied with her job, her contacts, the bureaucracy, and the lies she must tell her family and friends.  After September 11th, she tries to cultivate a contact with an Albanian who used to be in a terrorist group.  After she files her report, Headquarters tells her to cease and desist from any further contact with the Subject, because “our information suggests that Subject may at one time have had terrorist ties.”

She eventually leaves the CIA partly because of the invasion of Iraq and the CIA’s role in bringing it about.  The most disturbing section of the book was this one:

“During my short tenure in Iraqi Operations, I met one woman who had covered Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program for more than a decade.  She admitted to me, unequivocally, that the CIA had no definitive evidence whatsoever that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed WMD, or that Iraq presented anything close to an imminent threat to the United States.

“Another CIA analyst, whose opinion I’d solicited about the connection between Al-Qa’ida and Iraq, looked at me almost shamefacedly, shrugged, and said, ‘They both have the letter q?’  And a colleague who worked in the office covering Iraqi counterproliferation reported to me that her mealy-mouthed pen pusher of a boss had gathered together his minions and announced, ‘Let’s face it.  The president wants us to go to war, and our job is to give him a reason to do it.’”

Blowing My Cover gives a look at the CIA from the inside that is entertaining, but not at all reassuring.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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