Saturday, June 23, 2007

Even Spies Retire

“Did you ever know anyone who worked for the CIA?” I asked my husband on our way home tonight from a movie and dinner with some old friends and some new friends, the man of whom was a retired CIA agent. We both realized that our paths had never crossed with CIA employees, or so we thought.

After recently seeing “The Good Shepherd” and reading the Post article this week about the spilling of “the crown jewels”, I’ve wondered about the lives of those who were part of “the company.”

But this guy was just an ordinary guy, who while still telling us nothing of what he actually did for the CIA, said that he had been under cover for 17 years. That’s a long time. I wonder what he actually told people who asked where he worked during that time. Probably something non-revealing like “the State Department.” When I used to travel for AID, we always knew the Economic Officer in the US Embassy was more than likely CIA. But no one ever knew for sure.

We had an interesting discussion, including the revelation that when Valerie Plame’s cover was blown, so was the identity of those with whom she had worked. He said that the CIA often chooses not to bring on additional publicity when a leak occurs because the damage from the publicity is greater than that from the leak!

As for his thoughts about what US foreign policy should be in Iraq and Afghanistan, he quickly responded that we should get the hell out of both as quickly as we could, exactly my opinion.

There is still something so intriguing, so mysterious about people whose work is a secret. I could have said that of my own father, who dealt in mine warfare. I found myself wondering just what covert activities this guy had been involved in, whether he had been directly or indirectly involved in operations that resulted in the loss of life.

But today he has left his past life with its closets full of skeletons behind, instead selling real estate when the market is good and when he feels like it. I hope we see more of him and his wife in the future. They have become just ordinary people, who no longer have to pretend they are something other than what they really are. That must be a great relief.


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Merle Sneed, a member of my blog family, is about to retire, too - this coming week, I believe. Maybe you could jump onto his blog (link on my page) and offer some advice. He's been writing some posts that remind me of your thoughts as your days at work dwindled down.

As for secret work and your incredible imagination, you see, this is why i think you need to write a thriller novel with lots of secret work, intrigue and many sex scenes. It would be a bestseller, really, you have the mind to create it.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Aileen said...

Hmmmm...a man I've been on a couple dates with says he works for the "State Department"...(cue mysterious music)

10:28 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I cannot have imagine what may (or may not) be the coolest job in the world and not being able to talk bout it. I'm sure I'd fail. Miserably. But that's just me.

I fear it might be easier than I give it credit. People don't always want to know what you do. Not really. They'll buy anything you give them to move the conversation along.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

"cannot imagine having"

Apparently, I cannot write, either.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I'm with Reya...get writing!
Somehow dating a Mountie (Royal Cdn Mounted Police) doesn't quite hold the mystique of the equivalent south of us!

4:49 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- Thanks for your vote of confidence, but I need to learn how to write a short story before I attempt a novel!

Aileen -- Could be your guy's a spy!

Kristin -- I don't think I could have kept what I did a secret for more than 30 seconds. I don't lie well either.

MOI -- Mounties are pretty cute. Did you really date one?

11:11 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

No, but I DID drool over Paul gross in the tv series, Due South!

2:25 PM  

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