As the “legendary agent” mentioned so prominently in Dr. Philip Jenkins’ article (“The Next Intelligence Crisis,” Vital Signs, June), I would like to make a few points of my own.
I agree with much of what Dr. Jenkins says, particularly that “the United States needs a much stronger and more proactive intelligence apparatus.” I also subscribe to the point touched on throughout his piece, that intelligence agents (or “case officers,” as they are known in the CIA) move by necessity in a corruptive environment and need to be alert to its dangers. We were warned in training and repeatedly throughout our careers to avoid “being corrupted by the tools of the trade.” Some failed to heed the warning, and their names are mentioned in Dr. Jenkins’ article.
However, I am perplexed by Dr. Jenkins’ willingness to cite David Corn, an editor of the extreme-left Nation. As a contributor to the “paleoconservative” Chronicles, Dr. Jenkins demonstrates the kind of neutrality that an historian must always strive for. However, to rely so exclusively on the uncorroborated word of a partisan journalist reveals a painful absence of skepticism.
Some of what Corn had to say about me in his book is true. Some is not. I don’t believe, though, that even Corn said about me what Dr. Jenkins has written—that I “was at the center of every CIA?horror story for half a century.” For one thing, the expression “half a century” puzzles me. It is a verifiable fact that I?served the CIA?for 28 years. How, then, does he account for the other 22 years? In a way, Dr. Jenkins has already accounted for them, because, in an earlier paragraph, he wrote, “nobody ever really leaves the CIA.” In a more scholarly publication, this assertion would have required at least a footnote, for it is not a true statement.
It is hard, too, for me to come to grips with the words “every CIA?horror story,” for what horrifies Dr. Jenkins may not horrify me, and vice versa. I am horrified by the fact that a CIA?officer once administered LSD to unwitting people, but I was not at the center of that horror story; I was not even in its periphery. I am horrified by the CIA’s maltreatment of a Soviet defector, but I had nothing to do with it. Perhaps Dr. Jenkins is referring to the Bay of Pigs. I am chagrined by the Bay of Pigs, but it does not horrify me; and, in any case, I was not involved. More likely, Dr. Jenkins has been affected by fallout from the notorious RICO trial in which I was among those accused of conspiring to murder the Sandinista defector Eden Pastora. The judge, however, dismissed the case as without merit, and he ordered the plaintiffs to pay my legal expenses. And, in the end, the true culprit was identified. Still, the mud lingers. A lie truly has a life of its own.
I neither ask for nor expect an apology. Apologies might better be rendered to the victims of the “Halloween Massacre,” whom Dr. Jenkins has tarnished as “dubious characters.” Far from being perpetrators of widespread criminality, as he calls them, these men and women were specialists in human intelligence—i.e., officers who knew how to work with spies. And they were “purged,” as Dr. Jenkins puts it, because the then-director of the CIA, Admiral Stansfield Turner, preferred to put his trust in technical intelligence. The loss of these people, and of the successors whom they would have promoted and trained in HUMINT collection, is now being felt. As Dr. Jenkins quite correctly says, “the intelligence walls that should have been defending America” are sadly in need of repair.
—Theodore G. Shackley
Glen Echo, MD
Dr. Jenkins Replies:
I am very grateful for Mr. Shackley’s corrections, and I apologize for any inadvertent misrepresentations. As the months have gone by since September 11, I suspect that I have not been alone in undertaking a prolonged and sometimes pain-ful revision of my previous beliefs about the role of the U.S. intelligence community in the 1960’s and 70’s. In light of that reevaluation, I am much more sympathetic to what he writes about the agen-cy’s factional struggles of that era.