Alex Constantine - August 24, 2008
" ... What really bothers this desk-jockey polygrapher is that I might have shattered some idealistic fairy-tale persona that the agency has tried to maintain with the American public ..."
" ... When Mr. Sullivan rose to say how 'appalled' he was at my book, he was openly called a 'jerk' by another CIA employee and was told to sit down. ... "
Letter to the Citizen
As the author of Enter The Past Tense, the book being critiqued, I read John Sullivan’s letter (Aug. 12) with interest. I normally don’t argue with quacks or CIA apologists, but in this case I felt I had to respond.
Yes, Mr. Sullivan was a CIA polygrapher; but that raises two interesting points.
1. A polygrapher does not have unrestricted access to operational files. He does not have the “need to know” anything beyond the scope of the questions he is asking pertaining to a specific case. To imply that being a CIA polygrapher gives him any insight at all about CIA operations is the height of arrogance.
2. As a “loyal” CIA retiree, Mr. Sullivan is acting on the agency’s behalf, doing what the agency itself will not do, i.e., calling me a liar.
Now, to the meat of his letter. Mr. Sullivan states that the “fact that the CIA doesn’t assassinate people is a fact.” Yet in June 2007, all of the major news outlets reported that “... the agency (CIA) has declassified hundreds of pages of long-secret records that detail some of the agency’s worst illegal abuses during about 25 years of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying and kidnapping. The documents are known in the CIA as the ‘Family Jewels’”
I don’t think that there is an American alive who is naive enough to believe that the CIA doesn’t get involved in targeted assassinations. So is Mr. Sullivan discounting the files released by the CIA itself? Or is it just that he doesn’t keep up with the news?
Yes, “the East Germans had the best intelligence service.” I said as much in my book. By not sneaking in by ground, I did not trigger any Stassi (East German Intelligence) interest. To “roll (me) up within hours,” they would have to have had some indication that I entered the country. How many terrorists have managed to infiltrate the U.S. just recently because there is no “trigger” to prompt suspicion — this despite the great leaps and bounds in sophistication of counterespionage techniques since I operated?
The CIA would not recruit 19-year-olds to be assassins? Why not? We recruit 18-year-olds by the thousands every year to become soldiers, sailors, airmen, etc. Many of them immediately go off for special operations training. Many of them end up killing the enemy and many of them die.
Is Mr. Sullivan questioning the qualifications of these fine men and women in uniform? Is the CIA somehow more “elite” in whom they recruit?
Would I go in under my own name? Why not? Sometimes the best way to hide is right out in the open. And by the way, I never stated that I always acted under my own name. I made it clear that when working in East Germany I had an alias. Did Mr. Sullivan even bother reading the whole book?
I notice that Mr. Sullivan didn’t counter my claim of having worked at the detention facility in Cuba, according to my orders which were reproduced in my book, to “coordinate intelligence activities.” Answer?
I recently had my Top Secret clearance revalidated (fact). This involves an extensive investigation into everything I have said or done. A person who would fabricate the story I wrote WOULD NOT, under any circumstances, be granted a Top Secret clearance. In fact, a person who admitted to the dependencies I had would also NEVER, EVER, be granted this level of clearance. Does Mr. Sullivan have a theory about this also?
I currently work as the Deputy G2 (Intelligence) for the U.S. Army Reserve Command (fact). Do you think that I would still be serving in that capacity if there were any doubt about my story? As a matter of fact, I have been investigated by members of Congress a number of times since my book was published, and one of those congressional investigations was initiated by Mr. Sullivan. Each time the allegations by Mr. Sullivan have been found to not have any merit.
The kind of verification Mr. Sullivan is calling for is either: 1. acknowledgment of what I did by the CIA, as if that would ever happen. The CIA NEVER comments about things like that; 2. pictures of what I did. I’m sorry, but I am not like some senators who brought their own camera crews along in Vietnam to document staged exploits.
What really bothers this desk-jockey polygrapher is that I might have shattered some idealistic fairy-tale persona that the agency has tried to maintain with the American public; i.e., other countries resort to dirty deeds, but the U.S. is a nation of laws that fights wars by following rules and regulations which would hamstring any efforts to truly defend our political system and way of life.
The last country that tried to fight a clean, orderly, by-the-rules war was the British during the American Revolutionary War. Where did it get them? This totally insults the American public in suggesting that they are both blind and naive.
Unfortunately, Mr. Sullivan is a man with both an agenda and an axe to grind. I have encountered him while speaking in Washington, D.C. (where I was also invited by the Department of the Navy to speak at the Naval Museum). When Mr. Sullivan rose to say how “appalled” he was at my book, he was openly called a “jerk” by another CIA employee and was told to sit down. He chose instead to leave.
The bottom line is that, yes, they were dirty jobs, and, yes, they were necessary, and, yes, somebody had to do them. I was as qualified as any long-term veteran, and, more importantly, I was willing to risk my own life to do them. And that is a fact.
Roland W. Haas
Author, Enter The Past Tense
Peachtree City, Ga.