The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA

By Antonio J. Mendez

From the writer of Argo comes an unforgettable behind-the-scenes tale of espionage in motion. within the first ever memoir by way of a top-level operative to be approved through the CIA, Antonio J. Mendez unearths the crafty tips and insights that helped retailer 1000's from lethal situations.

Adept at growing new identities for an individual, wherever, Mendez used to be all for operations worldwide, from “Wild West” adventures in East Asia to chilly warfare intrigue in Moscow. In 1980, he orchestrated the get away of six americans from a hostage state of affairs in innovative Tehran, Iran. This striking operation encouraged the motion picture Argo, directed by means of and starring Ben Affleck.

The grasp of Disguise provides us a privileged examine what relatively occurs on the optimum degrees of overseas espionage: within the box, undercover, and at the back of closed doors.

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We have been proven photos and diagrams of captured Soviet bloc listening units embedded in a diplomat’s shoe, within the backbone of a e-book provided to an American officer in another country, or even within the nice Seal of the U.S., which the Soviets had provided as a “good will” gesture to our ambassador in Moscow. I got here clear of those periods with the information that the shadow battles at the chilly War’s espionage entrance will be fought relentlessly, with nice crafty, for years yet to come. With this in brain, i attempted to take in up to attainable in regards to the real effect of the images operation. I discovered that our items needed to face up to the serious scrutiny of antagonistic prone that have been at this enterprise longer than we had. a lot of what we produced used to be agent and officer documentation, which went past uncomplicated id playing cards to incorporate whole households of documents—birth certificate, institution documents, army carrier dossiers, the total gamut of paper had to authenticate an alias id, or “legend. ” Early in my photographs project, i found that the paramount problem dealing with us with appreciate to documentation used to be embodied within the query: “How sturdy is sweet adequate? ” how you can solution that query used to be with one other: “Would i take advantage of it myself in opposed territory? ” by means of the Sixties, the enterprise had discovered the painful lesson that operating brokers at the back of the Iron Curtain was once much more tough than operating with resistance teams within the Nazis’ castle Europe in global conflict II. in contrast to the OSS, lets no longer parachute an agent into Hungary, Poland, or Rumania to be supported by way of a sympathetic and powerful underground. That unhappy lesson was once back realized with the Bay of Pigs catastrophe. An armed and arranged resistance easily didn’t exist in Soviet bloc democratic republics because it had in international locations lower than Nazi career. On many early cross-border operations into the Soviet bloc, brokers have been “rolled up”—seized and maybe by no means heard from again—or “doubled back”—taken lower than Soviet control—or easily disappeared, by no means having meant to undercover agent for the West within the first position. the extraordinary defense structures of the Communist governments (the East German Stasi being the main infamous example), coupled with a long time of indoctrination, made whole populations suspicious and prepared to secret agent on acquaintances or coworkers for the collective sturdy. even supposing the fascist governments had by no means been capable of penetrate the cloth of the societies they occupied, the Soviets, operating with safeguard companies akin to the Stasi, nearly managed the societies in their satellite tv for pc empire for many years. This made operating intelligence operations in these international locations super tough and unsafe. We now understand, for instance, that the Stasi operated gigantic networks of informants, a lot of them reporting on each other, frequently family, even husbands and better halves. lower than Soviet suggestions, the Stasi proficient “fraternal” intelligence enterprises, reminiscent of Cuba’s DGI. in the course of my profession, the Stasi and the DGI have been answerable for essentially the most profitable double-agent operations run opposed to Western intelligence.

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