"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.


Postby admin » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:12 am

The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives
by Ted Gup
Copyright © 2000, 2001 by Ted Gup




Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past. -- George Orwell

Secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction. -- Edward Teller, Physicist

Table of Contents

• Prologue
• Forgotten Man
• A Pin for St. Jude
• By Chance
• Waiting for Godot
• Faith and Betrayal
• Deception
• The Two Mikes
• Homecoming
• Honor and Humiliation
• Privation and Privilege
• Indestructible
• Deadly Symmetry
• Damage Control
• The Last Maccabee
• Epilogue
• Afterword
• Author's Note and Acknowledgments
• Index
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Postby admin » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:12 am


I remember the first time I stood before the Central Intelligence Agency's Wall of Honor. It was during the Gulf War, February 1991. As a reporter for Time magazine, I had come to interview an Agency analyst, a specialist on Iraq. The interview was to be on deep background. I was not to reveal the analyst's name or link him to the CIA.

I arrived a few minutes early. The guards at the entrance to the vast 258-acre compound in Langley, Virginia, had been expecting me. They keyed in my Social Security number, issued me a plastic badge, and pointed me in the direction of the headquarters building. Stern-faced guards, a hedge of steel spikes in the roadway, and a landscape bristling with half-concealed monitors encouraged me to stay on course.

I remember entering the Stalinesque headquarters building, some 1.4 million square feet of marble and pillars and row upon row of recessed lights. The lobby was cavernous and cool, almost sepulchral. I had written about the CIA before, but this was my first visit to its headquarters. Set into the floor of the lobby was a huge medallion of the Agency seal featuring a vigilant eagle and a compass rose whose radiating spokes represented the CIA's worldwide reach.

Inscribed overhead, on the south wall, were words from Scripture, John 8:32: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." There was no hint of irony about it, though daily, covert officers trained in deception pass through the lobby, their identities a construct of lies intended to produce some greater truth.

It was the north wall, though, that caught my eye. There, rising before me, was a field of black stars chiseled into white Vermont marble. To the left was the flag of the nation, to the right, the flag of the Agency. I drew nearer. Above the stars were engraved these words: "IN HONOR OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THE COUNTRY."

There were five rows of stars. One by one I counted them. Sixty-nine in all. Below the field of stars was a stainless-steel and glass case. It was locked. Inside was a book.

The Book of Honor, it was called, a tome as sacred to the Agency as if it held a splinter of the true cross. It was a thin volume of rough-cut pages, opened to the center, a black braid, tasseled at the end, tucked into the valley between the open pages. In neat black letters were written the years that each CIA officer died. Beside the year, in some twenty-nine cases, were inscribed the names of the fallen. I recognized two: Richard Welch, gunned down in front of his house in Athens in 1975, and William F. Buckley, the Beirut station chief tortured to death in 1985. His remains were found in a plastic sack beside the road to the airport.

But beside most of the years, there were no names, just stars. Forty nameless stars, tiny as asterisks, each representing a covert officer killed on a CIA mission.

These nameless stars spanned half a century. There was nothing to provide even a hint as to their identities -- no month or day of death, no country or continent where they fell, and not a word to suggest the nature of their mission. All was veiled in secrecy.

I stood transfixed as scores of CIA employees swept past me on their way to or from the security desk, oblivious to the quiet memorial. In the minutes before my Agency escort arrived to take me to my interview, I took out a notebook and scribbled down the names and dates and stars in the Book of Honor. Who were these stars? I wondered. How and where had they died? What missions claimed their lives?

The first nameless star had died in 1950. What secret could be so sensitive that after five decades his or her identity still could not be revealed? I wondered, too, about the families these covert officers left behind, whether they were free to speak of the loss of a loved one or whether they were forced to grieve in silence. Were they told the truth of what had happened to their husbands or wives, sons or daughters? Did these stars, named and unnamed alike, represent unsung heroes, or were they, perhaps, saboteurs and assassins ensnared in their own schemes? And what, if anything, had the American people been told of these casualties? Had the U.S. government, perhaps the president himself, lied about their fates?

I had seen many such memorials before. The FBI, DEA, State Department, and even Amtrak have memorial walls to those who died in service. But all of these identify their fallen and celebrate their sacrifices. The CIA's is different, a memorial to men and women who are faceless. How, I wondered, could a memorial purport to remember those who are unknown to all but a few? And what sort of person would be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice -- the loss not only of life but of identity as well?

It was that notion of anonymity even in death that moved me. When I had finished jotting down the dates and names and stars, I tore the pages out of my spiral notebook and tucked them into the pocket of my jacket.

I suspected even then that this wall, this Book of Honor, and these nameless stars would stay with me, that I would revisit them again and again until I had unraveled their secrets. But I also knew that scores of Washington reporters, all who covered the intelligence beat, had walked past this same memorial and had similar ambitions. The Book of Honor was one of Washington's most abiding mysteries. There was a reason the secret of the stars remained intact.

A moment later a hand gently tapped me on my shoulder. It was my escort, ready to take me through the security turnstile, and to my interview. As we walked down the corridor, I asked him about the nameless stars. He seemed amused and deftly fended off my question. He had had this conversation before. In my asking, I had revealed that I was a newcomer to the beat.

Later, sitting across from him in a small conference room, I raised the subject once more. "Can't be of much help," he said, and invoked the CIA's most revered words: "sources and methods." It is a catchall phrase that encompasses the myriad ways in which the CIA gathers its knowledge of the world. It goes to the very core of the Agency's mission. Identifying the nameless stars, he said, could compromise ongoing operations, expose Americans and foreign nationals to grave risk, and reveal secrets adverse to U.S. interests. In short, it would harm America's national security.

I had been put on notice. The Book of Honor and its nameless stars were not to be trifled with. Any attempt to unmask them would be viewed as a kind of larceny, a theft fo the Agency's family jewels.

The inch-thick bulletproof glass and tidy lock that protected the book of Honor were only tokens of the security that safeguarded the secrets of the nameless stars. A hundred other unseen locks and keys, oaths of secrecy, and cryptonyms stood in my way. I asked my escort about two or three of the named stars. Surely he could discuss those. Wrong.

That evening when I returned home, I slipped the pages from my pocket into a manila folder and scribbled the words "CIA Stars" on the flap. Now and again, in the months and years after, I would pick at the story in my spare time. I made little progress.

Caught up in the press of events, I left the story of the CIA's stars for some indeterminate future. It would be five years before I could devote myself to it fully. I thought that I had been drawn to the story for the sheer journalistic challenge of it. This was, after all, the ultimate secret, the forbidden. I had broken secrets before, some of them extremely sensitive and hard to ferret out.

In 1992, for example, I uncovered the existence of a top secret government installation buried beneath an exclusive West Virginia resort, the Greenbrier. It was there that Congress was to go as a kind of government-in-exile in the event of an impending nuclear war. It had been one of the nation's most closely guarded secrets since its construction during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations four decades earlier. My article in the Washington Post led to its closure and considerable embarrassment to Congress which, but for a handful of senior members, had not been deemed trustworthy enough to have been informed of its existence.

That and other stories like it had convinced me that all too often government had used secrecy to conceal a multitude of other sins it did not want to come to light. I had seen how secrets could take on a life of their own. In time, it was not foreign enemies but domestic disclosure that the guardians of those secrets often feared most.

But my fascination with the CIA's Book of Honor went well beyond the mere challenge posed by secrecy. The nameless stars weighed upon me in ways I did not yet understand. I felt a need to restore the names to those marked only by a star. I imagined myself to be their instrument. The notion that such profound individual sacrifice could pass into oblivion disturbed me, doubtless more so than those represented by the nameless stars.

For three years I immersed myself in archival records, death certificates, casualty lists from terrorist attacks, State Department and Defense Department personnel lists, cemetery records, obituaries, and thousands of pages of personal letters and diaries, all in search of the identities of these nameless stars. I interviewed more than four hundred current and former covert CIA officers.

One by one, I learned the names of those behind the stars. But it was their lives as much as their deaths that intrigued me most. In the course of those three years I found myself looking not only into the individual faces of the nameless stars but also into the eyes of the CIA itself. In the aggregate, the stories of the stars form a kind of constellation that, once connected, reveal not only the CIA's history but something of its soul as well.

I am of that generation whose vision of the Agency is clouded by revelations of twenty, even thirty years ago. When I spoke with friends about my efforts to uncover the identities of the nameless stars, more than a few asked me if I feared for my life. They assumed my project would mark me out as a target for domestic surveillance and retaliation.

Their concerns represented a sad commentary on how the public perceives the CIA and, by extension, the tens of thousands of men and women who have worked there over the decades. No other arm of government has so sinister a public image or offers such fecund ground for conspiracy theorists. This is largely the Agency's own doing, part of a legacy that includes historic misconduct and ongoing efforts to prevent that past from surfacing.

But in the public's mind the CIA has always been seen less as an instrument of government than as a mythical creature dwelling among us. We yearn to know its secrets but wince at what they reveal about us as a people and a nation. I tried to draw a distinction between the individual and the institution, believing that what is noble in one can be put to ignoble ends by the other. Whether these stars, named and nameless, are heroes or villains, whether their courage was spent wisely or squandered in folly, is for others to decide. It is enough for me that their names be made known and their stories told.
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Postby admin » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:16 am

Part 1 of 2

Forgotten Man

THE ORDER to evacuate came down on July 29, 1949. It was a simply worded cable, direct from Secretary of State Dean Acheson. The Communist juggernaut had swept across China. The ascendancy of Mao Zedong was now certain. The lives of all American diplomats still in country were at risk. Embassies and consulates throughout the land were to be closed. The last remaining skeletal staffs were to torch any classified documents and beat a hasty retreat by any means available. No one was to be left behind.

No one, that is, except for one lowly vice-consul in China's hinterland. His name was Douglas Seymour Mackiernan. He had been posted to what was widely regarded as the most desolate and remote consulate on earth -- Tihwa (today called Urumchi), the wind-raked capital of Xinjiang (Sinkiang) province, China's westernmost state. He and he alone was to stay behind. Mackiernan's diplomatic title was "Vice-Consul," and he had willingly done all the scutwork the State Department had asked of him. But he took his orders not from State, but from a more shadowy organization whose very name he would not utter. Even with those he trusted most, he would simply intone the words "the Company." Those who did not understand the reference had no business knowing.

Just two years earlier, on February 17, 1947, Mackiernan had applied for the position at Tihwa, going through what had appeared to be normal State Department channels. But why Tihwa, an ancient city whose heyday dated back to the time of the ancient Silk Road? With just one main street, its nomadic population was Caucasian Russians, Mongolians, and dark-skinned Chinese. Only the Soviet Union, Britain, and the United States bothered to maintain a consulate there. It was so forlorn a place that the mere mention of its name sent shudders down the spine of even the most leathery of foreign service officers. That anyone should volunteer for such a place was beyond comprehension.

Even more curious, when Mackiernan, then a thirty-five-year-old ex-GI, applied for that posting, he had been so desperate that he was willing to work there as an entry-level clerk. The pay was an abysmal $2,160 a year. The job description held little promise for advancement. The duties: keep the trucks and jeep up and running, the radio in good repair, assist in overseeing supply needs, and provide an occasional hand in code work. The State Department had been overjoyed to snag anyone willing to go to Tihwa, much less someone as worldly and talented as Mackiernan. His superior at the State Department, barely able to contain his enthusiasm, spoke of Mackiernan as "ideally qualified for ... this wild territory."

To the few who thought they knew Mackiernan, or Mac, as he was known to many, it seemed a stunningly poor career choice. In the aftermath of World War II someone of his credentials could have had a wide array of choices. But then, Mackiernan could care less what others thought of his decision. Like a generation of covert CIA case officers to come, he would have to learn to silently endure the whispering and sympathetic looks of friends on the fast track who were ignorant of his true purpose and position. By day, Mackiernan would work his humble cover job without complaint. By night he would devote himself to the real work at hand -- espionage.

Mackiernan understood from the start that even if things went well he would receive no public credit. If things went "poorly" -- a euphemism that needed little elaboration -- he would be just another faceless functionary lost in far-off Cathay. A covert officer can ill afford ego or pride. Besides, these were the least of his concerns. Mackiernan had a wife, Darrell, and daughter, Gail, who had seen very little of him in years. They had hoped that with the end of the war in 1945, he might at last return to them. But with each passing month of absence, the strains of separation increased.

As for Tihwa, Mackiernan was content to let others think it was the end of the earth. At that precise moment in history, cataclysmic forces were gathering. Communism had seized much of postwar Europe and now was about to swallow the most populous land on the planet. The Soviet Union was funneling material across its border with China, destabilizing the region, all the while feverishly working on the Kremlin's first atomic bomb. The border separating the two giants, the Soviet Union and China, would for decades obsess the U.S. intelligence community. And there, posing as a lowly clerk, Mackiernan took it all in, dutifully reporting back to Washington and, in his own quixotic way, attempting to alter the course of history.

Tihwa, far from being the remote outpost others took it to be, was a front-row seat for Scene One of the Cold War.

There was a second reason that this forbidding region was of such intense interest to the CIA. Xinjiang possessed rich deposits of uranium, gold, and petroleum. The Soviets already held 50 percent of tile mineral and oil rights there. Some in Washington even suspected that the true aim of Moscow was to carve off Xinjiang and add it to its own empire.

It was into this cauldron of international intrigue that Mackiernan inserted himself. He was a quiet man, given to answering questions with a simple "yes" or "no." The compulsive talker has, at best, a short career in the clandestine service. At times, Mackiernan appeared painfully shy. He held his own counsel and respected the privacy of others as zealously as he protected his own. A lanky figure, he had boyish good looks, deep dimples, and an easy, somewhat awkward smile. His eyes telegraphed an alluring vulnerability. More than one woman saw a bit of Henry Fonda in him. Like many of his Agency colleagues, he was a wholly unlikely character for a spy, and as such, perfect for the part. Those who underestimated him made the mistake but once. He was a man of singular purpose.

Back in Washington, his personnel file was stamped "Secret." Inside was evidence of what pointed to a brilliant past and an even more promising future. Douglas S. Mackiernan was born in Mexico City on April 25, 1913. He was the oldest of five brothers, all of them with solid Scottish names: Duncan, Stuart, Malcolm, and Angus. His father and namesake, Douglas S. Mackiernan, had been an adventurer himself, running away from a boarding school at sixteen and signing on to become a whaler. Douglas Sr. would successively become a merchant seaman, an explorer, and a businessman of modest success. In Mexico City the young Doug Mackiernan attended a German school. By eight he had mastered English, French, Spanish, and German. As an adult he would add Russian, Chinese, and some Kazakh.

The family moved around a good bit in those early years, finally settling in Stoughton, Massachusetts. There the senior Mackiernan operated a filling station, named the Green Lantern. Mackiernan's mother was a talented commercial artist who dabbled in greeting cards. Mackiernan did not distinguish himself in the classroom -- he bristled at routine and discipline. But no one doubted his intellect. He and a brother designed and built a mechanical creature that rose out of the depths of the family pond and scared the dickens out of anyone unsuspecting. He also early on demonstrated a way with radios. As an avid amateur operator, his call letters were WIHTQ. An entire room in his home was consecrated to ham radios. The yard around his house was crisscrossed with antennae.

If ever a boy was cut out to be a spy, it was Doug Mackiernan. Even as a child he would draft elaborate declarations of war under a nom de plume, then attack one of his younger siblings, all in good sport. He scoffed at his brothers' decoder rings as juvenile, preferring more sophisticated models of his own design. He knew guns and was a crack shot with his own Remington .306.

Mackiernan's boyhood home in Massachusetts featured a huge sun-porch and thirty acres shaded by chestnut trees. There was even a small trout stream called Beaver Brook. The five Mackiernan boys had their run of the place.

Easily distracted in school, Mackiernan was delighted to see class end, even if it meant pumping gas at his father's filling station. His father was a stern and somewhat formal man who, even when he pumped gas, wore a felt hat and tie. In the evenings, Doug Jr. would often lose himself in elaborate science experiments. In September 1932, Mackiernan, then nineteen, went off to MIT to study physics. There, too, the routine did not agree with him. One year was enough. He never did get his degree -- too much bother. But his grasp of the materials was enough to impress his professors. From 1936 to 1940 he worked as a research assistant at MIT. In 1941 he served as an agent for the U.S. Weather Bureau.

That was the year Mackiernan, then twenty-eight, introduced himself to Darrell Brown. They met on a train and discovered they were both headed for a skiing trip. Later, on the slopes, they met again. Darrell had taken a spill. As Mackiernan whooshed by, he said, "You are going to have to do better than that." He then returned to help her to her feet.

They were married on July 19, 1941, in St. John's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, amid sprays of ferns, white gladioli, and delphinium. On November 6 of the next year they had a daughter, Gail. But the marriage was frayed from the beginning. Shortly after the declaration of war, Mackiernan virtually vanished.

He had early on demonstrated an invaluable gift for codes and encryption, as well as an encyclopedic interest in history and foreign cultures. By 1942, not yet thirty, he was named chief of the Cryptographic Cryptoanalysis Section at Army Air Force Headquarters in Washington. But he was often away on assignment. Through most of the next year he was plotting weather maps, on temporary duty in Greenland and Alaska, in charge of the Synoptic Map Section. In November 1943 he was assigned to the 10th Weather Squadron in China. There he was to oversee communications and train personnel in the use of radios and codes. One of his primary jobs was to intercept and break encrypted Russian weather transmissions.

For the duration of the war he served in China at Station 233-Tihwa. He also monitored emerging weather patterns that would soon pass over the Pacific, providing valuable data that helped U.S. war planners target their B-29 bombing runs over Japanese-held territories.

His letters home were few and far between. His daughter, Gail, had only the vaguest recollections of him. At Christmas she would receive a gift signed "from Daddy," but she knew it was really from Mackiernan's parents -- her grandparents.

It was hard for Gail to understand that her father was in a place so remote as China. Her mother would take her for drives in the black Mercury coupe and park at Cape Elizabeth. The toddler could see Wood Island out in the bay. She imagined that the island was this far-off place called China where her father was. She wondered why she did not see more of him. She was four when she saw him last.

By war's end, Mackiernan was a thirty-three-year-old lieutenant colonel. But though he had a wife and daughter, he knew that he was not cut out for a desk job or the security of peacetime civilian life. By the spring of 1947 he was desperate to get back to Tihwa. On May 12 he set out from Nanjing for the tortuous overland journey west. The trip would take four weeks and earn him a State Department commendation.


In many ways, Mackiernan was typical of those who joined the CIA in its infancy. Nearly all had a military background and were seasoned in combat, intelligence, counterintelligence, communications, or sabotage. Like Mackiernan, many possessed other skills, not only those of warriors but those of linguists, scientists, or historians. Some were closet scholars, well read in foreign cultures. Some had served proudly with the Office of Strategic Services, the OSS, the World War II intelligence group headed by the legendary William "Wild Bill" Donovan. A successful Wall Street lawyer, Donovan had assembled a corps of operatives and analysts, many from the ranks of America's elite. From the OSS would come such formidable postwar figures as Stewart Alsop, John Birch, Julia Child, Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Arthur Goldberg, Herbert Marcuse, Walt Rostow, and Arthur Schlesinger.

Donovan's brand of derring-do, his appeal to a sense of duty among those in positions of privilege, and, indeed, even the very structure of his OSS would continue long after to be the hallmark of the CIA. The heady victory of World War II, the sense of America's indomitability, and its newfound activist role in the world would characterize the CIA in those early days and ensure bold though often unsung triumphs. That same proud legacy would also condemn the fledgling agency in the not-too-distant future to highly publicized debacles and humiliations which would dog it forever.

No sooner had the war ended when the OSS was disbanded, many of its most talented and skilled people absorbed by private industry, Wall Street, and civilian government service. Those who stayed in the intelligence service found themselves either at the State Department or in a branch of military service. It was not until the National Security Act of 1947 under President Harry Truman that the Central Intelligence Agency came into being, reassembling many of the vital elements of the OSS.

Although the organization was profoundly weaker than its war-time predecessor, it was the constant victim of envy from the armed services branches, which maintained their own intelligence organizations. The State Department had its own research branch. Even the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover deeply resented the CIA, which wrested away from his Bureau authority over operations in Central and South America. Many in Congress, too, were suspicious of the need for an independent intelligence service in peacetime.

The CIA's uncertain status was mirrored in the tumbledown buildings to which it was relegated in the nation's capital. CIA headquarters was located in the old OSS complex at 2430 E Street. But most of the CIA worked out of what was collectively known as the Tempo Buildings. These were temporary structures left over from the war that were clustered about Washington's Reflecting Pool under the watchful gaze of Lincoln enthroned in his memorial. Each building carried a letter designation, as in "Tempo K" or "Tempo L." The buildings were dimly lit and foul-smelling, bone-chilling in winter and sweltering in summer. At lunchtime in August, Agency secretaries would roll up their skirts or pant legs to dip their feet in the Reflecting Pool to restore themselves. Offices were infested with mice and insects. Secretaries would sometimes suspend their lunches from the ceilings by a string to put them out of reach of the columns of ants.

Those same secretaries would spend their days typing and filing away the most sensitive materials in Washington, many of them related to preparations for an apocalyptic atomic confrontation with the Soviets. Some found themselves typing up top secret war plans. At day's end they would carefully account for each copy, remove their typewriter ribbons and lock them away in the vault until the next day. From the lowliest clerk to the senior-most director, there was the sense that the Agency's mission was of monumental import. Not even its grim surroundings could dull their devotion to duty. Communism menaced the world. Hitler and Mussolini and Hirohito had only recently been defeated, but now Stalin and Mao were taking their place. From the vantage point of those earliest to arrive at the CIA, it was not merely a contest between ideologies but a struggle of epic, even biblical proportions, pitting the forces of light against darkness. The fate of civilization itself seemed to hang in the balance.

In what came to be called the Cold War, no action could be viewed as too extreme. It was the Agency's divine mission to blunt the thrusts of Communism worldwide and perhaps, in so doing, avoid nuclear Armageddon. If World War II had taught the nation's stunned intelligence community anything, it was that containment, not appeasement, was the only hope of staving off war. No longer was any act of barbarism deemed "unthinkable." Pearl Harbor and the ovens of Auschwitz had cured U.S. intelligence officers of that. The gentleman's code of conduct with which America's espionage community had begun World War II was the first document to pass through the shredder.

But like Mackiernan, many had joined the CIA as much out of a taste for adventure as a sense of patriotism. Following the war, it had been hard for men and women like Mackiernan, accustomed to exotic places and the rush of danger, to slip back into the routine of civilian life. Some, like Mackiernan, had discovered that they felt most alive only when they were living on the edge.

Besides, Mackiernan's life in Tihwa was hardly the stuff of hardship. Almost immediately upon arriving, the lowly clerk moved into a ten-bedroom villa he rented from a Russian. He had only enough furniture for three rooms. Soon he purchased a fine strong horse, an Arabian mixed with the breeds of the Kazakhs. On Sundays he would sling an aging English cavalry saddle over its broad back and ride out into the countryside for a day of hunting or exploration. Of course it was not all play. Sometimes he would go to where he had buried scientific equipment used to determine the mineral riches of the region.

In Tihwa, Mackiernan hired a twenty-four-year-old White Russian named Vassily Zvonzov, who would be both a caretaker of his home and a stableboy for his horse. Like Mackiernan, Zvonzov had no love for the Communists. Having deserted from the Russian army in 1941, Zvonzov had joined various anti-communist resistance efforts. Zvonzov shared the house with Mackiernan but not his life. Mackiernan could be affable, even entertaining, but he did not welcome questions. He rarely spoke of family and never of his true purpose in Tihwa.

But Zvonzov soon pieced together that Mackiernan was more than he appeared to be. Not long after arriving in Tihwa, Mackiernan sought out a leader of the Kazakh anti-Communist resistance. His name was Wussman Bator. He was then in his fifties, a striking figure in his traditional Kazakh robes. The rare times Wussman consented to be photographed he posed astride a great white horse, his silken warrior's hat crested with owl feathers. "Bator" was an honorific name, and Wussman already had a reputation for valor and cunning. His band of Kazakh horsemen were nomadic and viewed by some as bandits and horse rustlers. But no one doubted Wussman's determination to resist the Communists -- least of all Mackiernan.

Mackiernan would meet Wussman in the leader's yurt, a round tent-like affair with an opening at the center where light could enter and smoke exit. On his first such visit, Mackiernan brought Wussman a traditional gift of fine blue cloth and a small ingot of solid gold. The relationship between the two grew closer in subsequent months as the Communist threat increased. Exactly how Mackiernan assisted Wussman -- whether with tactical advice, encouragement, or outright weaponry -- is not certain. What is known is that the two came to rely on one another closely, each entrusting the other with his life.

Within a month after Mackiernan's move to Tihwa, a rare American visitor arrived in town. Her name was Pegge Lyons. She was a brassy twenty-four-year-old freelance writer who wrote under the name Pegge Parker. She had long legs, shoulder-length chestnut hair, and a high-spiritedness. And, like Mackiernan, she had a taste for adventure. Already she had put in three years as a reporter in Fairbanks, Alaska. Now she was hoping that Mackiernan might direct her to some good stories on China's ragged frontier. Mackiernan was happy to oblige. Without taking her fully into his confidence, he convinced her to take photos along the Soviet border and to focus on any movement of arms or equipment, transports, trucks, men marching, or weapons. Concentrate, he said, on the faces of anyone in uniform. He handed her his Leica camera and instructed her in how to avoid attracting suspicion. But Pegge Lyons was a step ahead of him. She donned bobby socks and a skirt and by all appearance was a dipsy young American tourist. By July 1947, some of the photos she took had begun to show up in a variety of newspapers -- but only after they had been closely scrutinized in Washington.

For two weeks, Pegge Lyons stayed in the consulate in Tihwa, dining on sweet melons and hot meals prepared by the Russian cook. Pegge Lyons and Doug Mackiernan's interest in each other went well beyond the professional. In Pegge's eyes, Mackiernan was a dashing figure with a disarming smile. Pipe in hand and dressed in a khaki shirt with epaulets, he was the very embodiment of adventure. Fluent in Russian and Chinese, he was equally conversant in geology, meteorology, and geopolitics. He was as comfortable fixing a jeep as he was sitting astride his Arabian. That he was a man of secrets only made him that much more attractive.

Mackiernan, for his part, found in Pegge a kindred spirit, a companion who shared his taste for the exotic, for risk, and his interest in the Russian language. It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to be stirred by a woman. His marriage to Darrell had long been a marriage in name only. They had barely seen each other in years. Ten thousand miles away, in the arid and forsaken town of Tihwa, Pegge Lyons and Doug Mackiernan seemed right for each other.


Doug Mackiernan and Darrell were divorced in a brief proceeding in Reno, Nevada. Not long after, Mackiernan and Pegge Lyons were married in San Francisco. In September 1948, they took a Pan Am flight to Shanghai. That same month, Pegge Mackiernan gave birth to twins -- Michael and Mary. For Douglas Mackiernan, it was a second chance to be a husband and a father. This time he was determined to do it right. In a photograph, a proud Papa Mackieman, dressed in suit and tie, is cradling his newborn son, Mike. It would be the only picture taken of Mackiernan with his son.

Shortly thereafter, Mackiernan returned to Tihwa -- alone. The situation in China was deteriorating rapidly. On November 10, 1948, the State Department ordered all dependents of American diplomats to evacuate the country immediately. Pegge wrapped her six-week-old twins in swaddling and tucked them snugly into a straw laundry basket, then boarded a Pan Am flight for San Francisco.


What was clear to many in China was less clear to American intelligence officials in the nation's capital. At 2:30 P.M., December 17, 1948, the senior-most members of the intelligence community gathered around a long table in the Federal Works Building in downtown Washington, D.C. Chairing the meeting was Rear Admiral Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Hillenkoetter was a tall man with close-cropped black hair, a Naval Academy graduate who carried his gold braids and ribbons well, but whose leadership qualities were suspect.

He, even more than most in that first generation of CIA directors, understood the harsh lessons of Pearl Harbor -- the need for constant intelligence and vigilance. As an executive officer on the USS West Virginia, he had been wounded when that ship was sunk at its Pearl Harbor berth on December 7, 1941. He fancied himself a student of history and took pride in being able to quote at length the writings of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. But nothing could prepare him for the likes of Mao Zedong.

That afternoon, Hillenkoetter admitted being dumbfounded by the speed and agility of the Communist onslaught. But he predicted the Communists would temper their advance, settling for a part in a coalition government -- preferring to be recognized by the United Nations and wanting to court the United States in order to obtain articles of trade they coveted which their ideological brethren, the Soviets, could not provide. "They are not going to force the issue now," Hillenkoetter said. "Maybe in six months."

But neither U.N. recognition nor U.S. trade was of great interest to Mao. One month after the Washington meeting, China's Nationalist president, Chiang Kai-shek, resigned. The next day, Communist forces took Beijing. On May 25, the Communists took Shanghai. Director Hillenkoetter was correct in only one regard. Six months after the meeting, there was no mistaking Mao's intentions -- he had taken it all.


On the evening of February 12, 1949, Mackiernan sat down with his old Remington portable, slipped a page of white paper in the cylinder, and typed the words "My Darling baby." It was a letter to Pegge and it was one of the few letters that would reach her. The others, Mackiernan surmised, were either intercepted or censored in their entirety. Only two of her letters had reached him in Tihwa in the three months since she and the twins had been forced to evacuate China and return stateside.

In the letter, Mackiernan spoke of what he called the "rather peculiar" political situation around him. the Chinese and the Soviets were growing closer, trade between the two was expanding markedly, Chinese newspapers had taken a decidedly anti-American tilt, the staff at the Soviet consulate was increasing, and Soviet influence in the region was spreading.

"To counter this," he noted, "there is the rumor that the Moslems of Sinkiang, Kansu, Chinghai and Ninghsia are joining forces to prevent the spread of Communism into the NW [Northwest] ... My personal opinion is that the Sovs will continue strong in Sinkiang, and that the Moslems will form a sort of anti-Communist island in Kansu, Chinghai, and Ninghsia ... In the event of a Tungkan (Moslem rebellion) life would be rather difficult."

What Mackiernan did not and could not reveal in the letter was that he was more than a passive observer of the events that he described, and that a key part of his mission was to embolden and advise the very resistance about which he had just speculated in such detached terms. By then, Tihwa was so isolated that the only route for supplies was by water to Chungking, and then by truck to Tihwa, a three-month odyssey. And even the water route was now closed till May due to drought. None of this deterred Mackiernan from inviting his wife and twins to join him. "As far as food for the infants is concerned," he wrote, "I am convinced you can get everything you need here. Sugar, milk, oatmeal (Quaker Oats in sealed tins), vegetables are all plentiful and cheap ..."

"So to sum it all up I am planning to try to get you all up here in March or April, provided of course that the Dept. will permit it ..." Mackiernan asked Pegge to ready herself and the twins so that if China's airline resumed a regular flight to Tihwa, they would be prepared to leave at once. But while the invitation seemed earnest enough, there was also a sense that it was Mackiernan's way of coping with the separation and of marking time. Mackiernan had already sacrificed one marriage and the pleasures of fatherhood to his work during the war. In six years of marriage he could have counted the time together in months, not years. Now again he faced the possibility of an interminable separation from the woman and the children he had only just begun to know.

Threading its way through his letter were unspoken anxieties about the deteriorating situation in China. If it became necessary to leave Tihwa, he said, the only route would be to India. That would be a tortuous journey. Mackiernan asked Pegge to send him through the diplomatic pouch two books, the "'List of Stars for the 60 deg. Astrolabe,' by W. Arnold (the big brown book) and the 1949 and if possible the 1950 American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac." Both tomes would be of service should he be forced to plot a route of escape using the stars as navigational reference points. Mackiernan also noted that a new jeep was slowly making its way by truck from Chungking. Within a month or so it would arrive in Tihwa, still in its crate. This could provide him with a means of escape.

"So much for business," he wrote. "How are you now and how are Mike and Mary ... I'll bet I wouldn't recognize them now. Give them both a kiss from me and tell them they will be up here soon." Mackiernan asked for a recent picture of the twins. The only one he had was of himself cradling son Mike as a newborn.

Mackiernan could be playful, self-effacing, and romantic. "I am sporting a beautiful (to me only probably) curly black beard and as soon as I get my photo stuff set up will send a picture of me in my hirsute glory," he wrote. "Have sworn a great swear not to shave it off till you arrive, so hurry before I have to braid the thing (like a Sikh)."

"Well honey bunch," the letter went on, "I will close this down now since they are sealing the pouch. Remember that I love you my darling, and only you, and that I want you up here close to me as soon as possible. Keep writing and soon we will be together again. Give my love and kisses to Mike and Mary, and all my love for you darling sweetheart. Good night for now, darling ... All my love -- Doug."

Two months later, on April 13, 1949, Mackiernan formally asked the State Department to grant his wife and twins permission to join him in Tihwa. Two weeks later came the reply: "Regrets conditions China make impossible authorization Mackiernans family proceed Tihwa this time." A month later, undeterred, Mackiernan informed his wife of the bad news but offered up an alternative plan: "Peggy return through China out. Trying India. No mail service now. Love, Doug!"

At her end, Pegge was trying to persuade the State Department to allow her to return to China. On June 8, 1949, she wrote Walton Butterworth, director for Far Eastern Affairs: "My husband, vice- consul at Tihwa, Sinkiang, has written me an urgent letter to make every effort to return to China, if need be through India ... Doug anf I are parents of twin infants. I would intend to take them with me ... I realize the undertaking at first consideration seems quite complicated. Offsetting this is my own personal knowledge of Sinkiang, the Russian language, the problems presented -- and the fact that my husband has just begun his tour in China. It is worth all the difficulties and hardships to keep our family together ..."

Two weeks later, on June 21, 1949, Pegge sent a cable through the State Department's Division of Foreign Service Personnel: "Please cable my husband following: PAA [Pan American Airlines] Calcutta every Saturday planning arrival when you can meet us impossible navigate alone advise supplies love Pegge." But the State Department refused to send the cable. "I regret that it is my unpleasant duty to inform you that the Department cannot at this time approve of your proceeding to Tihwa with your twin infants."

Desperate to see her husband, Pegge turned to the influential Clare Boothe Luce, whom she had come to know during her days as a reporter. She asked if Luce might intervene on her behalf and have her husband reassigned to a less perilous environment. On July 7, 1949, Luce wrote back: "I cannot possibly promise to get your husband moved to a consulate a little more accessible to a mother and twins than Chinese Turkestan -- but I just might be able to get him transferred to a spot as wild and woolly but a little more on the flat for an approaching caravan with cradles."

Luce acknowledged that as a Republican during a Democratic administration, her influence was limited. "My bridges, tho' not burned, are badly bent!" she wrote. The letter closed, "With a sound buss for Mike and Maryrose [the twins], Cordially Clare Boothe Luce." But nothing more came of Luce's offer.

Two weeks after the Luce letter arrived, on July 24, 1949, the minister-counselor of embassy in China sent a telegram to Secretary of State Dean Acheson acknowledging that it was wise to close the embassies in China. But Tihwa, he suggested, should remain open. "It seems to me Tihwa, properly staffed, could be a most valuable listening post and should be retained as long as possible. Withdrawal should always be possible by some route other than China."

Four days later the ambassador to China disagreed and recomended the immediate evacuation of Tihwa's personnel. The country's collapse was certain. "Tihwa even more isolated and bloody history of Sinkiang counsels that staff be removed before breakdown of law and order become imminent. Difficulty obtaining Soviet visa makes unlikely exit via USSR in event emergency, leaving only difficult mountain route to India or Afghanistan." On July 29, Secretary of State Acheson ordered the Tihwa embassy closed, its staff to leave ''as rapidly as possible ... while safe exit remains."

Bits and pieces of news were seeping out of China, all of it worrisome to Pegge Mackiernan. On August 23 she sent a telegram to the State Department: "Can you confirm NY Trib article Tihwa consulate closing and my husband coming out extremely anxious for news please telegraph collect." The next day the State Department responded that the consulate was closed but that her husband was staying behind to dispose of U.S. property.

The next morning, Mackiernan sent a telegram to Acheson informing him that the consulate had been closed to the public and that all employees had been discharged. In his haste to depart, Tihwa's consul, John Hall Paxton, had left everything behind. Mackiernan told Acheson he would "destroy archives, cryptographic material and motion picture films." The only thing he would spare was a radio and enough OTPs, "one-time pads," to communicate with Washington.

The one-time pads were notebooks that provided a system of encryption that could be used only one time for each message. The code was known only to the recipient of the message who possessed the corresponding pad and code. OTPs were standard issue in the diplomatic corps as well as in the ranks of the CIA's clandestine service.

The situation deteriorated rapidly. On the morning of August 31, 1949, Mackiernan sent a telegram to Acheson reporting that many of the potential overland escape routes from Tihwa were now closed due to banditry. Corridor cities, he reported, were crowded with refugees. Food was scarce. White Russians and Chinese officials were fleeing. One hour later, Mackiernan sent a second telegram. "Situation Sinkiang very grave." Resistance to the Communist troops, he predicted, would crumble. There would be no meaningful opposition.

While Mackiernan worked feverishly to destroy sensitive documents and to plan his own escape from Tihwa, Washington's eyes were focused elsewhere -- on the Soviet Union. At 10:36 A.M. on September 23, 1949, White House reporters were summoned by Truman's press secretary and handed a brief statement from the president: "We have evidence," it said, "that within recent weeks an atomic explosion occurred in the USSR." American B-29s taking high-altitude air samples had confirmed that the Soviets had detonated a nuclear device at its Semipalatinsk testing facility. So began the arms race, as a generation of American and Soviet war planners dedicated their lives to preparing for what each government unconvincingly called "the unthinkable."

For the CIA, the Soviet bomb was a stinging rebuke to its intelligence apparatus. Just three days before Truman's chilling announcement, the Agency had provided a top secret memorandum in which it estimated that the Soviets would be in no position to detonate such a device before mid-1950. Agency experts had predicted "the most probable date is mid-1953." President Truman's confidence in CIA estimates had to have been rattled.

Two days after Truman's announcement, on the morning of September 25, Mackiernan sent a telegram notifying the State Department that the provincial government of Xinjiang had accepted the authority of the Chinese Communist government in Beijing. It was to be Mackiernan's last official telegram from Tihwa.

Two days later, on September 27, Communist soldiers seized Tihwa and posted sentries at each of its four gates, watching all who attempted to enter or leave. Schoolchildren chanted "Long live Mao Zedong!"

That evening, Mackiernan prepared to flee. It was a perfect night -- dark and moonless. At his house, he and Vassily gathered classified papers and carried them to the small detached summer kitchen, tossing them by the armful into the fireplace. Vassily put a match to them. Then came the packing: ammunition, a radio to communicate with Washington, stacks of one-time pads, his Leica camera, army air force maps of the region, a compass, an aneroid barometer, and a sheath of personal documents containing, among other papers, his divorce decree and photos of the twins.

He also packed several kilos of gold bullion with which to barter for whatever might be needed along the way. Then, as now, gold was sometimes provided to CIA officers facing unknown perils in the field.

Mackiernan also packed two machine guns, several army sleeping bags, and a large tent. From his bedroom he removed a radio with keys for transmitting and receiving encrypted messages sent in Morse code.

Virtually everything in Mackiernan's sparsely furnished residence pertained to his trade craft as a spy. In addition to his Leica camera he had a Minox miniature camera, chemicals needed to develop and print film, binoculars, a portable Geiger counter, a shortwave radio, and a cowhide briefcase with a lock. His bookshelves were lined with dozens of specialized books, many of them purchased in the famous Vetch Book Shop in Beijing. Among the titles: Old Routes of W. Iran, The Thousand Buddhas, Innermost Asia (four volumes with maps), Peking to Lhasa, and Peaks and Plains of Central Asia.

Mackiernan had gone over the escape plan with his tiny band of men. There was Frank Bessac, a twenty-eight-year-old Fulbright scholar and former paratrooper who had wandered into Tihwa only weeks earlier. A prodigious reader, Bessac was nearly blind without his glasses. And there were the three White Russians who had worked with the U.S. consulate: in addition to Vassily Zvonzov were Stephani Yanuishkin, thirty, and Leonid Shutov, twenty. From Wussman Bator, the Kazakh leader and resistance fighter, Mackiernan had purchased twenty-two horses and provisions to last several months. One of Wussman's men was to meet Mackiernan east of Tihwa and lead them overland to a place where they might be safe before beginning the arduous -- some would say impossible -- trek to India over the Himalayas.

Mackiernan had his .30-caliber revolver in a holster on his belt. Over his shoulder he slung a carbine. Shortly before midnight, he and Bessac drove through the main gate in a battered jeep. Exiting the city was not the problem -- exiting the country was. Meanwhile, Zvonzov and his two companions, who knew that they would be executed for their anti- Communist activities if they were caught, scaled the city walls under cover of night and lowered themselves by rope to the other side. Three hundred kilometers away, they rendezvoused with Mackiernan, Wussman Bator, and Wussman's "Kazakh Hordes," as Mackiernan would write in his log that would carry a stamp of "Top Secret." So began a two-week trek eastward to Lake Barkol, closer to the Mongolian border.

Fifteen miles east of Tihwa, Mackiernan stopped the caravan just long enough to bury two of the embassy's radios, rather than risk having them fall into Communist hands. Three days after Mackiernan set out from Tihwa, on October 1, Mao Zedong stood triumphantly above the gate to the Forbidden City in Beijing and proclaimed the People's Republic of China.

But that was half a continent away. For two weeks Mackiernan and his men -- Bessac, the White Russians, and the Kazakh guide -- encamped in yurts on the southwest shore of Lake Barkol. Who could blame Mackiernan for being reluctant to leave the relative safety and comfort of the lake? The journey that lay ahead of him, even under the best of circumstances, was grim. Between Lake Barkol and the Chinese-Tibetan border lay a no-man's-land, more than one thousand hostile miles of the Taklimakan desert, known as White Death.



CIA case officer Douglas S. Mackiernan in his jeep in China's far west province of Xinjiang, where he was stationed undercover as a low-level State Department employee. (Courtesy of Pegge Hlavacek)

Douglas S. Mackiernan and wife Pegge in New York City's Central Park the winter of 1947-1948. (Courtesy of Pegge Hlavacek)

Passport photo of Douglas S. Mackiernan, then working for the CIA undercover as a State Department employee. While others shunned assignment to China's remote far west, he was only too eager to set up a listening post there along the Sino-Soviet border. (Courtesy of Pegge Hlavacek)

Douglas S. Mackiernan cradles his newborn son, Michael, in Shanghai in the fall of 1948. It would be the only picture of Mackiernan with his son. Weeks later Pegge and the twins were evacuated. Mackiernan, still posing as a State Department employee, was left behind to gather intelligence on the encroaching Communists. (Courtesy of Pegge Hlavacek)

Douglas S. Mackiernan, shirtsleeves rolled up and standing outside the embassy in Tihwa, China. Months later he would be fleeing the Communist Chinese across an endless desert and mountains. (Courtesy of Peggy Hlavacek)

Douglas Mackiernan (standing in the middle) against a snowy landscape not unlike that across which he attempted to flee the Communists. He was proud of his new beard and swore he would not take it off until he and wife Pegge were together again. (Courtesy of Peggy Hlavacek)

From the San Francisco Examiner, dated January 31, 1950. Mackiernan's widow, Pegge, with twins Mary and Michael, dismissing as "silly" the Chinese claim that her husband had been a spy. Fifty years later the CIA would still not utter his name or acknowledge that he worked for the Agency. (Courtesy of Pegge Hlavacek and the San Francisco Examiner)

[RIDICULES CHARGE -- Mrs. Douglas Mackiernan shown with her twins, Mary and Michael, yesterday said charges by Chinese Communists that her husband, an American consul missing since September, is a spy.

Mrs. Douglas Mackiernan of 67 Rocca Drive, Fairfax, yesterday described as "silly" a charge by Chinese Communists that her husband, an American vice consul missing in Red China since September 27, is a "spy."

Mackiernan's disappearance was disclosed yesterday by the State Department. As vice consul in Tihwa, in Sinkiang Province, he last was heard from the day he began a hazardous journey out of China, under State Department orders.

Mackiernan was left behind to close up the Tihwa consulate last August, when Consul J. Hall Paxton and other Americans were ordered out of the city. The Paxton group reached India in October. Mackiernan radioed on September 27 that he was leaving just ahead of Communist forces.

The Communist China radio, heard by the Associated Press in San Francisco, described Mackiernan as a "spy" who sought to organize bandits against the Communist advance. The State Department called the Red charges "the usual tripe."

Mrs. Mackiernan, who once lived with her husband in China, said the accusation may have come from "a Communist cook we had while there." She lives in Fairfax with her year-old twins, Mary and Michael.]
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Part 2 of 2

On October 15 they soberly set out "marching at night to avoid being seen," Mackiernan penned in his log. All along the way, he would record landmarks, latitudinal and longitudinal readings, and the availability of game and water. It was a carefully detailed escape route for those who might come later. As a check against his compass, Mackiernan converted a camera, long since ruined by sand and grit, into an octant.

Seldom were there roads. Mostly they crossed open desert, their feet crunching through the salty crust of its surface, sinking six inches or more into the powder-fine sands. It was an exhausting routine that repeated itself day after day. The monotony was broken only by the occasional sighting of a gazelle or lone wolf eyeing their tedious progress. Their course was set for south- southwest. With each passing day the elevation increased. Among themselves Mackiernan and his men spoke an odd mix of languages -- Russian, Chinese, and Kazakh -- but little English.

In the midst of the desert, Mackiernan and his men and horses went three days without even a swallow of water. Then they came upon a brackish well and fell upon their bellies unable to resist. Like wild animals, they gulped down the warm waters. For hours afterward they and the horses were racked with diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

The one constant of their odyssey was Mackiernan's insistence on stopping to radio his position to Washington. Each time, Zvonzov would set up the radio antennae while Mackiernan sent or received encrypted messages. No sooner completed, the message would be burned on the spot. Zvonzov never asked and was never told the content of those messages.

The rigor of the trek occasionally yielded to unexpected comforts. Mackiernan's log records that on November 14, at an elevation of 9,850 feet, they put in with desert nomads and feasted on mutton. Mackiernan traded gold for additional horses and camels, observing that the traders would likely spend it buying opium from the Kazakhs at one ounce of bullion per six ounces of opium.

But the journey was already taking its toll. Increasingly Mackiernan was being felled by gastrointestinal pains and diarrhea. At each stop along the way they would put in with Kazakhs who shared their yurt with them and fed them biscuits called bursak -- a favorite of Mackiernan's -- and thick fried steaks of bighorn sheep. Most of these nomadic peoples had never before seen a foreigner.

By late November, as the temperature began to drop, the terrain had become even more hostile. "Cold as hell -- no water, no grass, no fuel" wrote Mackiernan in his log. "Country absolutely barren. Many skeletons of men, horses, and camels." It was not until the morning of November 29 that Mackiernan reached a place known to him as Goose Lake, where he and his men received "a royal welcome." His Kazakh hosts had prepared for Mackiernan and his men the largest yurt they had ever seen, and set aside a dozen sheep for them to consume. And there Mackiernan would spend the long winter, waiting for the mountain passes to clear.

Meanwhile, on November 25, 1949, Pegge Mackiernan received a cable from Fulton Freeman, the State Department's acting deputy director, Office of Chinese Affairs. "I am happy to inform you," Freeman began, "that word has been passed to us from the British Consul in Tihwa that Mr. Mackiernan is proceeding to India via Tibet and that he is expected to reach early in December."

For Douglas Mackiernan, the next four months were filled with tedium. Winter had set in and a part of each day he gathered brush and yak droppings to burn for warmth. He spent many hours reading and rereading the few books he had brought with him, among them Tolstoy's War and Peace. When he could stand them no longer, they were sacrificed for toilet paper.

One afternoon, with the wind howling fifty miles an hour and the temperature twenty degrees below zero, the White Russians invited Mackiernan to join them for an outside shower. Mackiernan declined but watched in fascination. Undaunted, Zvonzov went first. They heated a cauldron of water, then cowered behind a tent flap as countrymen Leonid and Stephani hurriedly ladled warm water over him. Partly it was to stay clean, partly an effort to break the monotony.


During these long and dark winter days, Mackiernan spent many hours in quiet contemplation. The grandeur and the cruelty of the icescape that surrounded him felt strangely familiar, at once threatening and comforting. In the dark of the yurt, with the winds howling outside, it was impossible not to think back on his father's own saga of survival in a frozen wilderness. From earliest childhood, Mackiernan had heard the tale again and again, until it had become the defining parable of his youth.

Douglas S. Mackiernan, Sr., had run off at age sixteen to become a whaler out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. He spent years at sea. Then in July 1903, he responded to a solicitation from a wealthy patron of exploration, William Ziegler, who dreamed of financing an expedition that would be the first to plant the American flag on the North Pole. A year earlier, Ziegler had financed an aborted expedition to the pole. Now, with the blessing of the National Geographic Society, he was organizing yet another effort. His ship, the America, was a steam yacht, its flanks strengthened to resist ice floes.

The senior Mackiernan had signed on as a common seaman. Even if all had gone well, Ziegler's plan was a bold one. The America was to go north as far as the ice would permit, then anchor and put its thirty-seven men ashore. A year later, in 1904, a resupply vessel was to arrive, replenishing the stores. Instead, the America was crushed in the ice of Teplitz Bay early in the winter of 1903. Its vital provisions and equipment were lost and the ship was reduced to kindling. A full year later the ice was so thick that no resupply vessel could reach them. Seaman Mackiernan and the others were stranded.

Huddling there in a yurt forty-six years later, Doug Mackiernan could remember his father telling him of the endless nights of an arctic winter, of fifty-mile-per-hour winds that burned his face, and especially of the night of January 5, 1905, when the temperature sank to sixty degrees below zero. Inside their tents of pongee silk, the lanterns and stoves created vapors that condensed on the interior. They formed icicles that would later melt into tiny rivulets and find their way into the sleeping bags and then freeze again. A half hour's sleep constituted a full night's slumber. For cooking and warmth, the senior Mackiernan and the others had mined twenty tons of coal from frozen clay and carried it on their backs down a steep and slippery slope.

Mackiernan's father and the others stayed alive by eating polar bears -- 120 in all -- as well as walruses and seals. Decades later Mackiernan would tell his wide-eyed son and namesake that he could still taste the leathery walrus meat. So tough was it that it reminded the expedition's captain, Fiala, of chewing automobile tires. Desperate for variety in their diet, the men risked their lives to scale icy cliffs and stole the eggs of gulls and loons. The cold seeped through Mackiernan's mittens as he tended the dog teams. It cut through his boots, searing his toes with a numbness that turned to frostbite. For weeks he was hobbled, unable to walk.

By day, one or another of the crew would stand as a lookout on a spit of frozen ice searching with binoculars for the promised rescue ship. Nearly every week a shout would go out that the resupply ship was in sight, but it would invariably be just another iceberg mistaken for a sail.

None of them would ever reach the North Pole, or even come close. A fireman, Sigurd Myhre, had died of disease and was buried on the summit of a bleak plateau, "the most northern tomb in the world," Fiala would later reflect. These were the memories that Mackiernan's father passed down to his son and which now came back to him here in the midst of his own frozen wasteland.

For the entire winter of 1904-5, Mackiernan and another man were alone in a remote camp, left with a team of five dogs, a rifle, a shotgun, and limited supplies. They passed that winter playing a marathon game of poker.

But in July 1905, when the men of the Ziegler expedition had come to believe that they might never again see their homes, a ship appeared against the frozen horizon. It was the Terra Nova, a rescue vessel whose mission was literally the dying wish of the expedition's financier, Ziegler. The two-year ordeal was over in an instant.

On board, Mackiernan's father rejoiced in a hot bath, read through two years of mail, and slept in a dry warm berth. In minutes; he and the others were caught up on two years' worth of world events that had passed them by -- the war between Japan and Russia, the results of the international yacht race of 1903, and the usual litany of catastrophes that afflict the world. But the sweetest memory of all, his father recalled, was breaking free of the ice and feeling the rise and fall of the open sea once more, and with it the knowledge that home was not far off. That was forty-five years earlier.

But from such memories, the younger Mackiernan could draw comfort that his ordeal, too, would have a miraculous end, that he would have his own stack of mail awaiting him and feel again the embrace of his wife, Pegge, and the twins. His father had been at the mercy of others for salvation. Mackiernan was in control of his own fate. With each step toward the Tibetan border he was that much closer to being saved.


At CIA headquarters, the anti-Communist hysteria that gripped the nation also defined the Agency's agenda. On January 21, 1950, State Department employee Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury for denying that he had engaged in espionage for the Communists. Ten days later President Truman announced that he was proceeding with development of the hydrogen bomb. As the United States prepared for possible war with the Soviets, the CIA was expanding an already vigorous covert assault on Communism. This would include an ill-fated two-year attempt to overthrow the leftist government of Albania, as well as the creation of Radio Free Europe, a nettlesome embarrassment to Communist regimes. On February 9, Senator Joseph McCarthy announced his infamous list of 205 supposed Communists within the State Department, further putting pressure on the CIA in its counterintelligence role.

On the farthest edge of this ideological struggle stood Douglas Mackiernan. On January 30, 1950, Agency headquarters received a faint radio message from him. When conditions permitted, he said, he would be making his way across the Himalayas.


For Mackiernan two more months would pass at the frozen campsite. Finally, on March 20, 1950, he and his band said good-bye to the Kazakhs and commenced the final and most grueling leg of their journey, over the Himalayas, into Tibet, and eventually to India. From here on, Mackiernan and his men would be ever more exposed to the elements. At night, Mackiernan would lie down in his sleeping bag, huddled against the back of a camel to shield him from the wind. At morning he and Bessac, the two Americans, could no longer assist in saddling the camels. Their fingers were too numb.

Mackiernan and his party would take turns riding the camels and then walking. Too much riding and they could freeze to death. Too much walking and they would collapse from exhaustion. Their diet, too, required a delicate balance. From the White Russians, more seasoned in the ways of survival, Mackiernan learned what to eat and what not to eat. Too much meat at such an altitude and he could find himself wooed into a nap from which he would not awake. Instead, he nibbled on bits of sugar, rice, raisins, a few bites of meat, and the ever-present biscuits he kept in his pants pocket.

It was all a matter of balance upon which his survival depended. At elevations of sixteen thousand feet or more, the air was so thin that the already taciturn Mackiernan rarely spoke at all, trying to conserve his breath. All conversation ended. In its place were hand signals and one or two-word directives: "brush" or "dung" for fires, "snow" to be melted for water. By now, the ordeal of marching had become a mindless and silent routine, one foot in front of the other. Some days Mackiernan would lose sight in one eye or the other, the result of transient snow blindness.

Many of the horses had died from starvation. Others were useless, their hooves worn out. Knowing that the rest of the way there would be little grass to eat, Mackiernan had long before bartered for camels -- not just any camels, but those that ate raw meat. Before making the purchase he tied up his prospective purchases and waited a day to see which camels consumed meat and which were dependent upon a diet of grass. Those camels that resisted meat Mackiernan promptly returned. Where he was bound, there would be no easy forage.

Though there was an abundance of game -- wild horses, sheep, and yak -- the elevation presented its own unique problems of consumption. At sixteen thousand feet, Mackiernan found that water boiled at a decidedly lesser temperature. He could thrust his hand up to the elbow in furiously boiling water and remove it without a hint of scalding. One day Mackiernan shot a yak. The men salivated over the prospect of yak steaks. But after four hours in the boiling cauldron, the meat was still raw.

There were other problems too. A wild horse was spotted on a distant ridge and was brought down with a single shot. But almost instantly, vultures appeared overhead. By the time the men reached the animal, its carcass was nearly picked clean, its ribs rising out of the snow. After that, Mackiernan and his men shot only what they could reach quickly, then concealed their kill beneath a mound of grasses and stones until they had taken what they needed.

From morning to night the wind howled at fifty, even sixty miles an hour. It was a constant screaming sound, rising at times to a shrill whistle. In such cold, even the simplest manual tasks required superhuman resolve.

Mackiernan's clothes had long since become tatters, which he, like the other men, repaired as best he could. But a bigger concern was how to protect their feet in the deep and frigid snowdrifts. After so many miles, the men had virtually walked out of the soles of their shoes. One day, Mackiernan and Zvonzov spotted two yaks. Both men were thinking shoes and meat. Mackiernan let Zvonzov, the better shot of the two, have the honors.

From three hundred yards, Zvonzov brought the beast down. Right through the heart. They scurried through the snow to the animal as it lay on its side. They swiftly cut away its hide for soles and began removing steaks. But having cleared one flank, they were unable to flip the creature over, and were forced to abandon it, only half consumed.

As March, then April wore on, Mackiernan and his men plotted a course for the Tibetan border. At each new campsite, Mackiernan took out his radio and wired headquarters of his progress. He requested that Washington contact the Tibetan government and ask the then sixteen-year-old Dalai Lama to arrange that he and his men be granted safe passage across the border and that they be given an escort once they exited China. Washington sent back a confirmation. Couriers from the Dalai Lama would alert the border guards at all crossing points so that Mackieman and his band would be welcomed.

By now, Mackiernan set a course by ancient cairns and stone outcroppings. Nomads had pointed the way through the major passes, bidding them to be on the lookout for piles of rocks that rose like pyramids. Beneath each mound were the remains of others who had died in this harsh land. The ground was frozen too solid to yield to a grave, and so the bodies were simply covered with rocks. In so bleak a land, devoid of roads or signs, each such grave became a reference point, named for the person who had died there. Mackiernan passed by the grave of Kalibet and later Kasbek, fascinated at the small measure of immortality granted them. Each death was both a confirmation that Mackiernan was headed in the right direction and a reminder of the risks inherent in such a landscape.

Thousands of miles away, in Washington, the landscape of the Cold War was taking shape. On April 25, 1950, President Truman signed one of the seminal documents of the decade, National Security Council Directive 68. The blueprint for the Cold War strategy, it called on the United States to step up its opposition to Communist expansion, to rearm itself and to make covert operations an integral part of that opposition. The policy of containment was now the undisputed security objective of the era. The CIA had its marching orders.

But for Mackiernan it was not grand geopolitical issues that concerned him, but the ferocity of mountain winds and biting cold. The border had proved more elusive than he had imagined. Finally, at 11:00 A.M. on April 29, 1950, as he scanned the horizon to the southeast with his binoculars, he caught sight of a tiny Tibetan encampment and knew that he had at long last reached the border. It had taken seven months to cross twelve hundred miles of desert and mountain. A moment earlier he had been weary beyond words, his thirty-seven-year old frame stooped with exhaustion. Now, suddenly, he felt renewed and exuberant.

Mackiernan and Bessac went ahead, leaving the others to tend the camels. In the harsh terrain it was an hour before the Tibetans caught sight of Mackiernan, who was now a quarter of a mile ahead of Bessac. He was waving a white flag. The Tibetans dispatched a girl to meet him. They grinned at each other, unable to find any words in common. The girl stuck out her tongue at Mackiernan, a friendly greeting in Tibet, then withdrew to a hilltop where she was met by a Tibetan who unlimbered a gun. Then the two Tibetans disappeared over the hillside. Mackiernan followed and observed a small group apparently reinforcing a makeshift fortification of rocks. Their guns appeared to be at the ready.

Mackiernan decided that it would be best to strike camp here, on the east side of a stream that meandered through the valley. He chose a place in sight of the Tibetans. There he built a small fire to show his peaceful intentions. He suspected that the Tibetans might be wary of his straggling caravan, fearing them to be Communists or bandits bent on rustling sheep. As Mackiernan, Zvonzov, and the other two Russians drove tent stakes into the hard ground, six more Tibetans on horseback appeared, approaching from the northwest.

Moments later shots rang out. Mackiernan and his men dropped to the ground for cover. Bullets were whizzing overhead. Zvonzov reached for the flap of the tent and ripped it free. He tied it to the end of his rifle as a white flag and waved it aloft. The gunfire stopped. No one had been hit. Mackiernan directed Bessac to approach the first group of Tibetans and offer them gifts of raisins, tobacco, and cloth. As Bessac approached, he held a white flag and was taken in by the Tibetans.

Mackiernan, meanwhile, was convinced he could persuade those who had fired on him that his party was not a threat. His plan was a simple one. He and the others would rise to their feet, hands held high above their heads. Slowly they would approach the Tibetans as a group. Zvonzov argued against the plan. He feared the Tibetans would simply open fire when they were most vulnerable. Mackiernan prevailed.

Slowly he and the three White Russians stood up, hands aloft. They walked in measured steps, closing the distance between their tent site and the Tibetans. As they walked, Zvonzov eyed a boulder to the right and resolved that if there was trouble he would dive for cover behind it.

Mackiernan was in the lead, gaining confidence as the Tibetans held their fire. His arms were raised. Behind him walked the two White Russians, Stephani and Leonid. Fewer than fifty yards now separated them from the Tibetan border guards. Just then two shots were fired. Mackiernan cried out, "Don't shoot!" A third shot echoed across the valley. Mackiernan, Stephani, and Leonid lay in the snow. Vassily ran for the boulder. The air was thin and he ripped his shirt open as if it might give his lungs more air. A bullet smashed into his left knee. He tumbled into the snow and crawled toward the tent, his mind fixed on the machine gun and ammo that were there.

Moments later Bessac appeared, his hands tied behind his back, a prisoner of the Tibetans. Vassily, too, was taken prisoner. The six guards looted the campsite, encircled Vassily, and forced him to the ground. They demanded that he kowtow to them. Vassily pleaded for his life. Not long after, Bessac and Vassily, now hobbling and putting his weight on a stick, approached the place where Mackiernan, Stephani, and Leonid had fallen.

The wind was whipping at sixty miles an hour, the snow a blinding swirl. A half hour had passed since the shooting. Mackiernan was lying on his back, his legs crossed. Vassily looked at Mackiernan and thought to himself how peaceful he looked. Mackiernan even appeared to be smiling. It was a slightly ironic smile. Vassily was overcome with the strangest sense of envy.

Just then one of the border guards began to rifle through Mackiernan's pockets. He withdrew a bursak, one of those biscuits Mackiernan was never without. He offered Vassily a piece. Vassily turned away in revulsion. Then the guard pressed the biscuit to Mackiernan's teeth. The mouth fell wide open. Vassily was overcome with nausea. He turned and walked away. Mackiernan's body was already stiffening. But there would be one more indignity Mackiernan and the others would endure. The guards decapitated Mackiernan, Stephani, and Leonid, and even one of the camels that had been felled by their volley.

Shortly thereafter, the guards realized that they had made a terrible mistake, that these men were neither Communists nor bandits. They unbound Bessac's hands and attempted to put him at ease. Then Bessac and Vassily, in the company of the guards, began what was to be the last tedious march, to Lhasa and to freedom.

Five days after Mackiernan was killed, the two surviving members of his party encountered the Dalai Lama's couriers who were to have delivered the message of safe conduct and who were to have been part of Mackiernan's welcoming party. The couriers gave no explanation or excuse for their tardiness. It was small comfort that they offered Bessac the opportunity to execute the leader of the offending border guards. It was an offer he declined.

Three days later, Tibetan soldiers made the arduous trip back to the border to retrieve that which had been looted -- including the remaining gold -- and to return the heads of Mackiernan, Leonid, and Stephani, that they might be buried with their bodies. The camel head was taken on to Lhasa. While convalescing, Vassily carved three simple wooden crosses to stand above the graves on the Tibetan frontier.

Mackiernan and the others were buried where they fell.The place was called Shigarhung Lung. There was no funeral for Mackiernan, then or ever. His grave was marked by Vassily's cross. It read simply "Douglas Mackiernan." He was buried beneath a pile of rocks, not unlike those many simple graves that he had paused to admire along the way and by which he had plotted his own course. Eleven days after the killing, the border guards who had killed him received forty to sixty lashes across the buttocks.

On June 11, 1950, Vassily and Bessac finally reached the outskirts of Lhasa. In the final entry in the log, Bessac wrote, "Good to be here -- Oh God."

In the Tibetan army it is easy to recognise the difference between officers and men. The higher his rank the more gold decorations an officer wears. There seem to be no proper regulations about dress. I once saw a general who in addition to his gold epaulettes had a collection of glittering objects pinned on his breast. He had probably spent too much time looking at foreign illustrated papers and had decorated himself accordingly, for there are no Tibetan military medals. Instead of mentions and distinctions the Tibetan soldier receives more tangible rewards. After a victory he has a right to the booty, and so looting is the general rule. He is, however, obliged to deliver the weapons he has captured. A good example of the utility of this system can be found in the battles against the bandits. The local Ponpos are entitled to call on the Government for aid when they can no longer cope with the robbers. Small military detachments are then sent to help them. In spite of the ruthless manner in which the bandits fight, service in these commandos is very popular. The soldiers have their eye on the plunder and ignore the danger. The soldier’s right to the spoils of war has been the cause of a great deal of trouble. In a case with which I was personally connected, it cost the lives of several persons.

When the Chinese Communists occupied Turkestan, the American consul, Machiernan, with a young American student named Bessac and three White Russians, fled to Tibet, having first requested the U.S.A. Embassy in India to ask the Tibetan Government for travel facilities. Messengers were sent from Lhasa in all directions to instruct the frontier posts and patrols to make no difficulties for the fugitives. The party travelled in a small caravan over the Kuen Lun mountains. Their camels stood the journey well, and they obtained fresh meat by shooting wild asses. By ill-luck the Government messenger was late in arriving at the spot where the party was to cross the frontier. Without challenging or finding out who was approaching them, the soldiers of the outpost, tempted by the sight of a dozen heavily laden camels, fired on the caravan, killing on the spot the American consul and two of the Russians. The third Russian was wounded and only Bessac escaped unhurt. He was taken prisoner and brought with the wounded man to the nearest District Governor. On the way the two men were insulted and threatened by the soldiers, who had first shared among themselves the spoils and had been overjoyed to find such valuable objects as field-glasses and cameras. Before they reached the next Ponpo the Government messenger came up with the escort, with orders to treat the Americans and their party as guests of the Government. This caused a change of attitude. The soldiers outdid one another in politeness: but the damage could not be undone. The Governor sent a report to Lhasa, and the authorities, horrified by the news, did their utmost to express their regret in every possible way. An Indian-trained hospital orderly w’as sent with presents to meet Bessac and his wounded companion. They were invited to come to Lhasa and asked to bear witness for the prosecution against the soldiers who had already been arrested. A high official who spoke a little English rode out to meet the approaching travellers. I attached myself to him thinking that it might be some comfort to the young American to have a white man to talk to. I also hoped to convince him that the Government could not be blamed for the incident, which it deeply regretted. We met the young man in pouring rain. He was as tall as a hop-pole and completely dwarfed his little Tibetan pony. I could well imagine how he felt. The little caravan had been months on the road, always in flight from enemies and exposed to dangers, and their first meeting with the people of the country in which they sought asylum brought three of their party to their deaths.

New clothes and shoes were waiting for them in a tent by the wayside and in Lhasa they were put up in a garden-house with a cook and a servant to look after them. Fortunately the Russian, Vassilieff, was not dangerously wounded and was soon able to hobble about the garden on crutches. They remained for a month in Lhasa, during which time I made friends with Bessac. He bore no grudge against the country which had at first received him so ill. He asked only that the soldiers who had ill-treated him on the way to the District Governor should be punished. He was requested to be present at the execution of the sentence, so as to make sure there was no deception. When he saw the floggings, he asked that the number of lashings should be reduced. He took photographs of the scene, which later appeared in Life as a testimonial to the correct attitude of the Tibetan Government. Everything was done to pay the last honours to the dead according to Western customs. So it is that three wooden crosses stand today over their graves in the Changthang. Bessac was received by the Dalai Lama and afterwards left for Sikkim, where he was met by fellow-countrymen.

The troubled times brought many fugitives to Tibet, but none were so unlucky as this party.

-- Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer

In Washington, State Department and CIA officials fretted over how they might keep Mackiernan's death a secret. They wondered whether, in the glare of public attention, his cover would be compromised. Such worries were overtaken by more pressing events. At 2:00 P.M. Washington time, June 24, 1950, thirteen days after Bessac and Zvonzov reached Lhasa, North Korean troops poured across the 38th parallel. The Korean War had begun.


Far from Washington, along the quiet coast of southern Maine, Mackiernan's first wife, Darrell, had just been told of Mackiernan's death. Now she would have to tell their daughter, Gail, not yet eight. It was a warm June day. She knew that there would be no keeping the news from her daughter, that sooner or later it would seep out in the press. Besides, it had been years since her daughter had seen her father. Already Gail's memories of him were faint. Still the little girl carried inside of her a gnawing pain that she had not heard from him in so long.

She missed him terribly, and though she understood that her parents were divorced, in the way that any seven-year-old may be said to understand, she could not grasp why he had not come back to visit.

Darrell decided that she would take Gail to their special place, that it was there she should tell her of her father's death. From their home at 47 Fifteenth Street in Old Orchard Beach, mother and daughter drove to Kettle Cove near Cape Elizabeth. She parked in a lot where Gail could look out on Wood Island, the tiny island that as a toddler she had long imagined was China, where her father was working.

The windows were down. The car filled with the sweet sea air. Now Gail's eyes were again fixed on the island as her mother told her that her father would not be coming back. He had been killed far, far away. The little girl's eyes filled with tears, her stare still fixed on Wood Island, as if it were there that her father had died.


It was an equally sunny afternoon in Fairfax, California, as Mackiernan's twins were taking their afternoon nap in the cribs and Pegge Mackiernan was finishing defrosting the refrigerator. There was a knock at the door. It was a gentleman from Washington, a Mr. Freeman. Pegge was embarrassed at the clutter in her living room but showed him in anyway.

He waited until she had taken a seat on the sofa. He was brief and to the point. Doug, he said, had been killed trying to cross into Tibet. Her husband, he said, had already been buried. Freeman was a man with broad shoulders, and from the moment he had entered the room, he seemed to fill it. Now he expressed condolences on behalf of all those in Washington. Before he left, he advised Pegge: "Say nothing to the newspapers. Keep your own counsel. Be so grief-stricken that you can't speak to anyone, and if you have a problem, let me know."

Pegge Mackiernan was now a widow with twins. Between changing diapers and caring for Mary and Mike, she barely had time to grieve. A few days later, on June 12, 1950, she made a humble request of the State Department: that her husband's remains be cremated in Lhasa and then returned to the United States. At least then, she and the twins would have a place to stand in remembrance.

But the U.S. government did not convey her request. It concluded that it could not ask this of the Tibetan government, given that the grave was some four weeks' travel from Lhasa and that the country was already absorbed in a struggle for its own survival against Communist China.


Even after Mackiernan's death, the CIA and State Department considered the incident extremely sensitive. A memo stamped "Top Secret," dated July 13, 1950, notes that "survivors of the Mackiernan party as long as they are in Tibet are in danger of assassination by Communist agents if latter have opportunity." But word of Mackiernan's death reached the world in a July 29, 1950, front-page article in the New York Times, date-lined Calcutta. The story reported that Mackiernan, the vice-consul of Tihwa, had been shot at the border.

That same day, the State Department issued a press release announcing Mackiernan's death. Immediately after, the killing of Vice-Consul Mackiernan was carried in newspapers across the country. But there would be no reference to the Central Intelligence Agency, or to the true nature of his mission.

Even as the CIA and State Department prepared to sort out the death benefits due Mackiernan's widow and children, there was a growing concern that Tibet itself would soon be lost to the Communists. On August 7, 1950, the U.S. embassy in New Delhi cabled Washington, warning that Tibetan officials were extremely anxious about their fate and were unsure whether to negotiate with the Chinese Communists or to resist invasion. The cable noted that a Tibetan oracle had advised that they should resist, and Tibetan forces were experiencing some success in border clashes, emboldening them.

New Delhi referred to "wild rumors" circulating that the Chinese were massing along the border ready to invade. Tibetan nobles had fled. Food and fuel in the capital were already scarce. The Tibetans were feeling abandoned and ignored by both India and the United States.

It was this moment that news of Mackiernan's murder swept through the capital of Lhasa. There the Mackiernan incident was interpreted not merely as a tragedy or border mishap but as a grim omen. "They seem to be extremely sad at the turn of events and are now attributing the incident to the destiny of Tibet," the report from New Delhi observed.

Tibetan officials seized upon the arrival of Bessac as an opportunity to send a message of desperation to Washington. No sooner had he arrived than Bessac became a kind of diplomatic courier carrying a plea for military support to hold off the impending Chinese invasion. On August 30, 1950, Bessac arrived in New Delhi. With him he carried a letter from the Tibetan government addressed to Secretary of State Acheson and stamped "Top Secret." The letter was an urgent request for howitzers, cannons, machine guns, and bazookas. It implored Acheson to approach President Truman on Tibet's behalf.

And in a bid to mollify the United States, the Tibetan government dispatched a photographer to take a picture of Mackiernan's grave. It was sent along with a letter of condolence to the State Department to be forwarded to his widow, Pegge. But the letter and photo were never forwarded. Instead, they ended up in a dusty box at the U.S. Archives.

In late September. Mackiernan's personal possessions were removed from a government safe and returned to his widow. Among the few items were twenty-seven war savings bonds, a Mongolian dictionary, his divorce decree from Darrell, a bill of sale for a 1941 Mercury coupe, and a photo of the twins. There were still many loose ends. Mackiernan had died without a will.

But he was not forgotten. On October 18, 1950, Secretary of State Acheson honored some fifteen diplomats during an hour-long ceremony in the department's auditorium. A single posthumous medal of service was presented to Douglas Mackiernan, Vice-Consul, Tihwa. On the west wall of the State Department's lobby, his name was inscribed among the columns of diplomats killed in the line of service. In death as in life, he would be remembered only by his cover story. His name would be the first CIA officer remembered on the State Department tablet, but it would hardly be the last.

Two days after the ceremony, L. T. Merchant, a State Department official from the Far East Division, met with Pegge Mdckiernan. Later he expressed the department's "deep regret over the tragic death of her husband but told her that she and her children should take comfort from the fact that he had truly died a hero's death for his country."

Merchant asked if there was anything he could do for her. Pegge said she would need a job. As a former newspaperwoman, she wondered if she might work for the State Department as an information officer. And she wanted to return to that part of the world she and Doug knew best -- Asia. In particular, she hoped to be close to where her husband had fallen.

The department was eager to help the thirty-one-year-old widow and her two-year-old twins. On March 15, 1951, the State Department could claim another "Vice-Consul Mackiernan," as Pegge Mackiernan was assigned to Lahore in northern Pakistan. It was the State Department's closest posting to where her husband had been killed. The twins would, for the time being, stay with Mackiernan's parents.

Not long after, Pegge Mackiernan traveled to Bombay, India, and sought out Angus Thurmer, the CIA's chief of base there. She entered his embassy office and closed the door behind her. "I have reason to believe my late husband, Doug Mackiernan, was not only a State Department officer but had other allegiances," she said quietly. "Among his effects I found this and I thought you could send it to the proper place."

With that, she unwrapped a hand towel and produced the largest revolver Thurmer had ever seen. The long barrel reminded him of one of those old six-shooters from the Wild West. Thurmer disassembled the gun, placed it inside an Agency sack, and put the package inside the diplomatic pouch to be returned to CIA headquarters. He also sent a cable giving the Agency a heads-up that the revolver was on its way. He had never met Mackiernan. He had only heard rumors that one of their own had been killed on the Tibetan border.

Little more than a year later, on October 20, 1952, Pegge Mackiernan remarried in a Jesuit cathedral in Bombay. The groom was John Hlavacek, a journalist for United Press.

Among the thousands of pages of State Department records today in the U.S. Archives relating to Mackiernan, there is but one incidental reference to the CIA. Following Mackiernan's death, the CIA's first general counsel, Lawrence Houston, formerly assistant general counsel of the OSS, requested that Undersecretary of State Carlisle Humelsine settle up the Mackiernan estate. That meant drafting a check for $658.90 for Mackiernan's father. Ironically it was Houston that in September 1947 had advised CIA Director Hillenkoetter that the Agency had no legislative authority to conduct covert operations -- at the very tune that Mackiernan was doing just that.

In late November 1951, the State Department decided to ask the Tibetan government to compensate the Mackiernan family for his wrongful death. The amount sought: $50,000. But the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi argued that Tibet was already in crisis because of the Chinese Communists, and that any such request for money might suggest the United States was hostile to them or deserting them in their hour of need. Concluding the matter was "politically inadvisable," the State Department dropped the request for compensation.

As for those who resisted the Communists and whom Mackiernan had aided, they fared no better. In February 1951 the guerrilla leader Wussman Bator and one hundred of his followers were arrested in China. Another five thousand "bandits" had been killed, wounded, or captured, according to Beijing. The Chinese government publicly charged that Mackiernan had been "an American imperialist agent," a spy, who had orchestrated the resistance against the Communists. The State Department dismissed the allegation as "the usual tripe."

A year to the day after Mackiernan was murdered, Wussman was executed, according to the Chinese, in front of ten thousand cheering citizens. Beijing boasted that when its troops searched Mackiernan's house, they found an entire arsenal -- 153 charges of high explosives, radio equipment, and 1,835 rounds of ammunition. According to testimony during the public trial of Wussman, Mackiernan had set up a kind of "Revolutionary Committee" with Wussman. Its purpose was to recruit battalions of Kazakhs who would lead a campaign of harassment against the Communists.

Mackiernan's first wife, Darrell, meanwhile was occupied trying to ensure the financial well-being of her daughter, Gail. She persuaded a U.S. senator from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith, to introduce a bill into Congress that would provide $15,000 ''as a gratuity to compensate ... Gail Mackiernan for the loss of her father." The measure failed to win passage. Instead, the government awarded a portion of Mackiernan's death benefits -- $47.15 per month -- to Darrell and her daughter.

Mackiernan's body was never returned to the States. The exact location of his grave, somewhere near Shigarhung Lung along the Tibetan border, has long since been lost. Over the course of succeeding decades, the few at the Central Intelligence Agency who knew Mackiernan or of his CIA employment either passed away or retired. His name, his mission, and his ordeal were, in time, utterly forgotten, erased as thoroughly as if he had never existed.

He was destined to be the CIA's first nameless star. But there was something Douglas Mackiernan had feared even more than death -- imprisonment at the hands of the Chinese Communists. That fate was reserved for another covert operative not long after him.
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Postby admin » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:18 am

A Pin For St. Judge

IN A MODEST working-class neighborhood of Yonkers, Nev. York, Bill McInenly dutifully retrieved from the basement a mahogany box containing what little was left from his Uncle Hughie's life. He placed the small treasure chest squarely on the dining room table and reverently lifted back the lid. Inside, neatly arrayed in a wooden drawer resting on slats, were all the objects Ruth Redmond could salvage of her son's life. A medal from the Boy Scouts. Honors for winning the broad jump and high jump at Roosevelt High. A silver cigarette lighter with the initials "HR" for "Hugh Redmond." He so loved his smokes.

Here was his weathered Selective Service card. It showed he did not wait for the outbreak of war to be summoned to service, but enlisted on July 1, I 941. He had blue eyes, it said, blond hair, and a fair complexion. He stood but five feet four inches and weighed 155 pounds Actually his eyes were a pale and gentle blue, his hair thick and wavy, his complexion white as flour. And there was nothing diminutive about him. His frame was broad and taut.

Beside the Selective Service card was a small box holding a collection of military patches, among them the Screaming Eagle from the 101 st Airborne. There were also a lieutenant's bars and a sharpshooter's medal.

From the contents of the box it might appear Redmond was among the lucky ones. On June 6, 1944 -- D-Day -- he landed near the Douve River in Normandy. Of the twenty paratroopers in his group, he alone was neither wounded nor killed. Here, in an old box of matches, was a twisted and dark fragment of metal. With it was a note held by yellowing tape. It reads, "Shrapnel dug out of hip in hospital in Brussels, 1944." This was a personal souvenir of his fight in the Market-Garden campaign in Holland. The date was September 22, 1944. Again he had been lucky.

But Redmond's luck faltered at the Battle of the Bulge. His wounds required a year in a hospital bed. Set into a blue leather box was his Purple Heart "for Military Merit." A Silver Star. A Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters. Beside it was a certificate of discharge from the military dated October 18, 1945. After that, judging from the contents of this drawer, he simply ceased to exist.

Mixed in with the possessions of Hugh Francis Redmond were a few things of his mother's, Ruth's. A small religious pin of St. Jude, her patron saint. On the back is inscribed "Apostle of Hopeless Cases." No other saint could have understood so well Ruth Redmond's prayers of vigil.

Beneath the drawer was a chest full of old newspapers, a passport, a birthday card to Hugh that was returned. Here and there was a scattering of old Chinese coins.

A box of clues. A life reduced to mystery

Moments later Bill McInenly went back to the basement and returned with a second, less decorous box. This one was more of a rubber tub, blue and covered with a snap-on lid. It was the kind of container in which one might find beers on ice at a tailgate party. But inside, carefully folded to a perfect triangle, was a musty American flag.


Any telling of Hugh Francis Redmond's life must begin where the contents of his nephew's box ends. It is Shanghai, China, on April 26, 1951 -- just three days shy of a year after Douglas Mackiernan was gunned down on the Tibetan border. Thirty-two-year-old Hugh Redmond was now living the good life overseas. But that good life appeared threatened as the Communists tightened their stranglehold on activities in Shanghai All foreigners were under suspicion.

A short time earlier, Redmond had secretly married. His bride was named Lydia, though he affectionately called her Lily. She was a White Russian and a piano teacher, a dark-haired and shapely woman who some would say was a femme fatale. With Redmond's help she had managed to leave China. Now it was his turn. He prepared to board a ship, the USS Gordon. But Redmond's voyage was abruptly ended even before it began.

Police from China's dreaded Public Security Bureau boarded the ship, escorted Redmond off, and led him away without explanation. Almost immediately rumors began to circulate around Shanghai and Washington that he had been executed.

The Chinese Communist regime under Mao Zedong had rounded up many foreigners, even missionaries attempting to spread the gospel. But Redmond was a case apart. As a commercial representative of Henningsen and Company, a British concern that specialized in the import and export of foods, Redmond appeared to be little more than a salesman -- hardly a threat to Mao's regime. Never one to raise his voice, Redmond seemed so ordinary a fellow that even at the smallest of gatherings he was all but invisible. It was no wonder, then, that when the police pinched him off the ship, he literally vanished.

His parents had grown accustomed to long periods without a letter from him. But even they, in time, began to worry when they didn't hear from him, especially his mother She was a cafeteria worker in a Yonkers public school. But it was not his personal life or business that kept her awake at nights. No, there were things that she knew about him, things that she had sworn not to discuss with anyone, that gave her ample cause for concern. His very life might depend on her discretion.

Ruth Redmond knew only that her son had joined a shadowy element of the War Department called the Strategic Services Unit, or SSU, and had gone to China on some sort of secret mission. In late August Hugh Redmond had arrived in Shanghai. His work as an import-export trader with Henningsen and Company was merely a cover, providing him the perfect pretext for travel and contact with the Chinese.

Even in the midst of China's tumultuous revolution, he appeared to prosper. On August 22, 1946, he wrote his parents. "I am living in the French section of Shanghai on the Rue De Ratard -- a very nice section of town. The house has large grounds and gardens, two tennis courts, a big patio, a bar in the dining room and plenty of recreational equipment -- pool tables, etc. Countless Chinese servants are running around to do anything you want." Unfortunately, wrote Redmond, he would soon have to vacate these opulent surroundings.

"Nothing much to say, everything quiet here except the Communists," he wrote. In a postscript he added, "May not write for quite a while."

"A while" stretched on month after month. A worried Ruth Redmond wrote the State Department in September 1949 -- long before her son's arrest -- to see if the government could provide any clue as to his whereabouts. A State Department employee, unaware of Redmond's covert status, cabled Hong Kong and made inquiries of him with his employer, Henningsen and Company. A spokesman for the firm said they had no record of a Hugh Redmond working for them. The State Department concluded Ruth Redmond was confused.

But the response alarmed Ruth Redmond even more. She saw it for what it was, a slipup in the cover story. At her request the State Department made a second inquiry with the British consulate in Shanghai. They confirmed that Redmond did indeed work for Henningsen and that he was just fine. For the moment her concerns were eased.

But her underlying fears persisted. For two years the United States had been urging its citizens to leave mainland China. It could no longer offer them protection or assistance. Red China, as it was known, was not recognized by the United States. There was neither an American embassy in China nor any official U.S. presence there. Anyone who stayed did so at his or her own peril.

Like Mackiernan, Redmond understood that each day he stayed in China the risk increased. Finally his superiors decided it was time to pull the plug on his operation. An encrypted message was sent to his apartment. It read simply, "Enjoy the dance." But Redmond delayed his departure a brief time longer, tidying up his affairs there.

At the time of Redmond's arrest in the spring of 1951, there were an estimated 415 Americans still in mainland China. On Apri130, 1951, four days after Redmond's arrest, the State Department compiled a secret list of Americans believed to be imprisoned in China. There were then thought to be twenty-three, eighteen of whom were missionaries. Beside Redmond's name was this notation: "may be executed." Four months later an embassy memo from Hong Kong to Secretary of State Acheson reported that "it was common belief among Chi [Chinese] and foreigners that Commies had proof against him and had executed him for espionage." The rumors were credible enough. Virtually any American still in China was suspected of spying.

There was no way of knowing if Redmond was still alive. Americans in Chinese prisons were held incommunicado. They had no right to a lawyer. Some were tortured. Few had been formally charged, though many had been accused of a wide range of offenses -- plotting against the government, spreading rumors, illegal possession of radios, currency violations, fomenting disorder, and even murdering Chinese orphans.

The U.S. government kept silent on Redmond's fate, as it did with nearly all those believed to be imprisoned in China. Taking the issue public might make the Chinese even more resistant to the idea of eventually releasing them. It might also endanger their lives. Behind the scenes, the State Department persuaded Britain and eight other nations to inquire about the well-being of Redmond and other prisoners and to work for their release.

On October 19, 1951, the secret list of Americans held by the Chinese -- which included Redmond's name -- was provided by Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk to U.S. Senator William Knowland at the senator's request. Knowland had pledged that the list would remain confidential. But on December 8 Knowland released the names to the press and issued a blistering denunciation of the Chinese. The next day Redmond's name surfaced publicly for the first time in front pages around the nation.

And that was how Ruth Redmond first discovered that her son had been imprisoned, or even executed. Given what she knew of her son's covert employment with the government, she was horrified that no one from the intelligence service had informed her of her son's situation. She might have been even more disturbed if she had known that by then her son had been largely forgotten by those in the recently reorganized clandestine service.

On December 18, 1951, she penned a letter addressed simply "State Department, Washington D.C." It read: "Dear Sirs, I have a son in China for the last few years. I naturally have been worried about him continually but was shocked beyond words to read in the newspapers that he has been in prison in Shanghai since April 26, 1951. This is the first news of any kind I have had of him. For obvious reasons he was listed as a businessman. After three years on the battlefield in Europe and now this -- is there any hope for my only son? Is it possible to find out if he is well, if he is hungry, if he is mistreated. Can we write to him, can he receive any packages from us and is anything being done to secure his release? Thank you for any information you may have. I am sincerely, Mrs. Ruth Redmond. My son's name, Hugh Francis Redmond."


There can be little doubt that Hugh Redmond understood the risks of his assignment. On July 24, 1946, just nine months after he had left the army, he joined a top secret intelligence organization within the War Department. Like many highly decorated veterans of World War II, he was eager to continue his service to country, but he had suffered grave wounds in the war. It was doubtful that he would have been eligible for active military duty. And so, like many other casualties of war, he sought out the next closest thing -- the clandestine service. In those early days the corridors of the clandestine service had more than their share of men with limps, eye patches, and other tokens of war.

Redmond had joined the Strategic Services Unit, the SSU. After President Truman ordered the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to be dismembered as of October 1, 1945, critical elements of that organization, particularly the Secret Intelligence and Counter-Espionage branches, were assigned to the SSU. The unit was initially under Colonel John Magruder, who had been Wild Bill Donovan's deputy director of intelligence at the OSS. SSU's role was to maintain networks of foreign agents, safe houses, and other vital elements of the intelligence apparatus in both Europe and the Far East. What remained from the glory years of the OSS was little more than a skeletal secret service. SSU would later be folded into the Central Intelligence Group, or CIG (created on January 22, 1946), and would finally become part of the Central Intelligence Agency when it was created in 1947.

With each change in name and function, the intelligence corps and its mission became more muddied, the bureaucracy more mired in paperwork and interservice rivalries. By the time of Redmond's arrest in April 1951, it had undergone so many transformations that Hugh Francis Redmond had been all but forgotten. His supervisors had been shuffled about from place to place, and Redmond, already out of country for four years, was at best a vague memory, a series of dusty file jackets in the bowels of a confused bureaucracy.

From the start his mission had been high-risk. Some might say fool-hardy.

In January 1951, four months before Redmond was seized, the CIA drafted a secret memo for the National Security Council and the President. It laid out what it knew of Mao Zedong's China and the prospects for dislodging him. Titled "Position of the United States with Respect to Communist China," it was a sober read. "For the foreseeable future," the memo began, "the Chinese Communist regime will retain exclusive governmental control of mainland China. No basis for a successful counter-revolution is apparent. The disaffected elements within the country are weak, divided, leaderless and devoid of any constructive political program."

The only opposition remaining, the Agency concluded, was bandits, some minor peasant uprisings, and "actual guerrilla forces, made up of Nationalist remnants, Communist deserters, adventurers, and a few ideological opponents of the regime." It was a dire take on events in China. The best that CIA clandestine operatives could hope for would be to create diversions that, for the time being, might distract if not contain the Chinese military. Seen in that light, Hugh Redmond was a double casualty. He had been sent into an impossible situation and then had fallen through the bureaucratic cracks.

While Doug Mackiernan had been gathering intelligence on the far western front of China, Redmond had been busy in the east, operating out of that country's major economic center, Shanghai. Mackiernan and Redmond were both early versions of CIA case officers. Their job, in the lingo of the Agency, could be reduced to three simple terms: spotting, recruiting, and running agents. Contrary to popular literature and film, "agents" were not employees of the Agency but foreign nationals with access to information, documents, or materiel that could be of national security interest to the United States.

Most case officers were like Mackiernan. They operated under "official cover," meaning that to the rest of the world they worked for the U.S. government but in a consular or embassy position. They often melted into the ranks of lower-level diplomats. But Redmond, posing as a businessman, enjoyed no such official cover. He was, in the jargon of espionage, a NOC, an acronym for "nonofficial cover." Such cover is deemed deeper and more difficult to penetrate, but also affords less protection if the person's cover is compromised. Without the guise of diplomatic cover, a covert operative is more vulnerable to arrest and incarceration for espionage. All the more so in the case of Hugh Redmond, who did not limit himself to gathering intelligence, but actively supported those engaged in resistance efforts and sabotage.

For the CIA, still in its infancy, the disappearance of Hugh Redmond, while disturbing, was hardly of major import. The Cold War had turned decidedly hot with the advent of the Korean conflict. The Agency's inability to predict that monumental event, following so close on the heels of its failure to forewarn of a Soviet A-bomb, further eroded confidence in its skills

Even the Agency's director, General Walter Bedell Smith, conceded that the CIA was not yet up to the tasks that faced it. Once-secret minutes from an October 27, 1952, meeting note: "The Director, mentioning that the Agency had recently experienced some difficulties in various parts of the world, remarked that these difficulties stemmed, by and large, from the use of improperly trained or inferior personnel. He stated that until CIA could build a reserve of well-trained people, it would have to hold its activities to the limited number of operations that it could do well rather than to attempt to cover a broad field with poor performance." Bolstering the ranks with highly trained officers was to be a top priority in the years ahead.

Adding to that pressure was the very real threat of atomic espionage and the witch-hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy from which not even the Agency itself was exempt. On November 1, 1952, the United States detonated the first hydrogen bomb, over the Marshall Islands, all but vaporizing the island. It was a none-too-subtle warning to Moscow and Beijing that the United States was not to be taken lightly.

But anti-Communist hysteria was rampant. Senator McCarthy held the government hostage with his bogus list of Communist infiltrators and his choreographed hearings. The very culture of the country seemed obsessed with "the Red Scare." In 1952 the film High Noon was released. Billed as a cowboy movie, it was a thinly veiled allegory of the plight of liberals and leftists nationwide and of the impact of fear and suspicion on a community.

The next year the Rosenbergs, Julius and Ethel, were electrocuted for selling atomic secrets to the Soviets. That same year Casino Royale, by British author Ian Fleming, was published. It introduced readers to suave and swashbuckling James Bond, Agent 007, who liked his martinis "stirred not shaken." Redmond and Mackiernan, trained in maintaining invisibility, would have scoffed at such high-profile antics.

Throughout these early years the CIA was busy trying to keep up with an ever-expanding mandate. Resigned to the fact that it had little chance of actually toppling the Soviet Union or China, it contented itself with sponsoring behind-the-lines acts of sabotage designed to divert and frustrate the two Communist giants who were seen as bent on expansionism. It also resolved that it would blunt any attempt to spread Marxism beyond the Communist states' existing borders. That meant turning its attention and resources to those regimes and proxy status that tilted even remotely to the left.

But the Agency's successes would have been of little consolation to Ruth Redmond. On May 20, 1952, more than a year after her son's disappearance, she wrote U.S. Senator Herbert Lehman, "My son is one of the Americans held in prison for more than a year and so far nothing has been done to secure his release -- one cannot help but ask why a country like ours for which he fought in World War Two can be so lax in behalf of her people. My one ambition is to again see my only son and beseech you to add your efforts in his and the other Americans behalf by appealing to the Dept. of State to take effective action."

Month after month Redmond's name appeared on the State Department's internal list of Chinese prisoners, always accompanied by the notation "may be executed." Even if somehow Redmond was alive, his condition was likely to be grim. In July 1952 the State Department interviewed an American attorney named Robert Bryan, who had been in Shanghai's notorious Ward Road jail -- here Redmond, too, would have been held, if he was still alive. Bryan had been living in Shanghai for years and had been arrested just two months before Redmond. He was placed in "the death cell," given a leaky bucket as a latrine, and branded an "American imperialist pig" by his captors. His treatment gave the State Department a picture of what Redmond, too, might be going through.

"Your hands are stained with the blood of our comrades," the Chinese had shouted at Bryan. He was subjected to an endless barrage of indoctrination and interrogation. He was beaten with a rubber hose. He was held in solitary confinement and lost forty-six pounds. Twice, he said, he was given a spinal injection of some kind of truth serum. Finally he signed a series of confessions and on June 26 was released and placed on a train to Hong Kong and freedom.

That summer, eighteen other Americans in prison or under house arrest were also set free. In the months after, more were released, many of them missionaries who had been tortured. But those stories were largely stifled at the State Department's request. Reports of brutality, they feared, could inflame the Chinese and endanger those Americans still captive.

But Redmond's arrest had no effect on the CIA's pursuing its high-risk operations against China. Notwithstanding its own findings that the Communist regime was firmly in command and control of the country, it continued to support and equip cells of resistance on the mainland, taking enormous risks in the process. One of those gambles went badly awry.

On November 29, 1952, an unmarked C-47 Dakota based in Japan and equipped with flame suppressors to render it less visible at night was flying over Manchuria on a top secret mission. On board were two American pilots, seven Taiwanese agents set to infiltrate the mainland and set up a communications post, and two covert CIA officers overseeing the operation. One of these Agency officers was twenty-five-year-old John T. Downey, nephew of the singer Morton Downey. A classic Agency blue blood, he was the son of a Connecticut judge. He had attended Choate, where he was voted "most likely to succeed," and Yale, where he was captain of the wrestling team. Downey had been one of thirty Yale students the spring of his senior year who had been drawn to a CIA recruitment notice posted on the New Haven campus. He and the others were wooed by an Agency recruiter, a tweedy veteran of the OSS who smoked a pipe and wore a Yale tie. Immediately after graduating in June 1951, Downey enlisted. Back then, the Agency was so young that most of these natty recruits had never even heard of the CIA.

The other Agency man aboard the C-47 that night was twenty-two-year-old Richard G. Fecteau. He was a shy and withdrawn man, a twin and father of twin three-year-old daughters.

At a preset rendezvous point the plane, part of the CIA proprietary airline Civil Air Transport, was to descend and scoop up an agent in a sling, then go on to drop a team of Chinese Nationalist paratroopers into the Manchurian foothills. As the plane came in on its approach, it came under small-arms fire and crashed. The two pilots, Robert Snoddy and Norman Schwartz, died in the crash and were buried on the spot. Their graves were never found. The paratroopers were executed by the Chinese. As for CIA officers Downey and Fecteau, nothing more was heard from them. Like Redmond, they had vanished.

The United States, clinging to the Agency's cover story, said Downey and Fecteau had been employees of the Defense Department on a routine flight between Seoul and Tokyo. Out of public view the CIA silently mourned the loss of Downey and Fecteau, as did the mothers and widows they left behind.

By then, more than a year had passed since Redmond's disappearance. The presumption was that he, too, was dead.

Then, on March 29, 1953, a former German citizen who had been held in a Shanghai jail since March 1951 was released and arrived in Hong Kong. With him he brought the first word of Hugh Redmond. Between March and October 1951 the German had occupied a cell next to Redmond in the Lokawei military barracks. At the time, he reported, Redmond appeared to be receiving relatively "soft treatment" in an effort to get him to confess to espionage. Then later, between March 17 and 24, 1952, at the Ward Road prison he could hear Redmond being interrogated on the floor below.

Others released from Chinese prisons later told U.S. authorities that while they had not seen or heard anything of Redmond, those who had associated with him prior to his arrest were being rounded up and charged with espionage.

By the fall of 1953 the State Department had begun to worry even more about the well-being of Redmond and the other twenty-eight Americans still held by the Chinese. Another winter was approaching. At least five Americans had already perished in Chinese prisons, presumably from maltreatment.


In November 1953, a year after the downing of the plane carrying Agency officers John Downey and Richard Fecteau, the CIA assembled a panel of experts in a conference room in the Curie Building, one of the temporary structures beside the Potomac. They gathered to weigh all available intelligence and decide whether it was reasonable to conclude that Downey and Fecteau were dead. Present that day was a representative from the general counsel's office, an Agency physician, all other from operations in the Far East Division, and someone knowledgeable about the terrain and conditions of the crash site. Also present was Ben DeFelice, soon to be named chief of the Casualty Affairs Branch.

Then, and in the decades ahead, it was DeFelice who was the liaison between the Agency and the families of those CIA employees who were imprisoned, killed in the performance of duty, or missing in action. It was a difficult job, balancing the need for continued security and secrecy with the demands of compassion and patience. DeFelice would repeatedly do battle with the bureaucracy on behalf of those who had suffered a loss. His gentle hand would assuage the grief of generations of widows and children orphaned by the not-so-cold Cold War, even as he reminded the families of the need to maintain silence.

It was DeFelice who inherited the Redmond, Downey, and Fecteau cases and who redefined how the Agency would help stricken families while shielding the Agency from unwanted exposure. He would quietly remind them that if the press should make inquiries, nothing need be said.

DeFelice would draft letters of condolence to the widows or widowers of those who suffered losses. Those letters would find their way to the desk of the Director Central Intelligence and go out under the director's name. So it was with Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, George Bush, and the other Directors Central Intelligence.

Such letters would typically be hand-delivered to the widow just after the funeral. The widow would be permitted to read the letter and then, in the interest of national security, she would be asked to return it to the Agency officer who was present. The letter would then be placed in the deceased's personnel file and the widow or widower would be left without any potentially embarrassing evidence to link the decedent to the CIA. As DeFelice would tell the grieving widow, he didn't want to burden her unnecessarily. Medals, too, would often be presented and then immediately withdrawn and secured in the personnel file at headquarters.

In November 1953 DeFelice and other Agency officers gathered for the sober purpose of reviewing the Downey and Fecteau files. After a person had been missing for a year, the Agency was empowered, under the Missing Persons Act, to deliberate whether it was reasonable to conclude that he or she was dead. After a year there had been not even a hint that the two CIA airmen had survived the shoot-down of their aircraft over Manchuria. The terrain of the crash site was rough and it was known to be rife with wolves. Had they been lucky enough to outlive the crash and avoid the hail of gunfire, then the wolves would surely have devoured them.

That was the official conclusion reached by DeFelice and the other CIA panelists that day as they issued a formal "Presumptive Finding of Death." With that finding in hand, DeFelice could start the process of releasing workers' compensation benefits to the families of the two men, as well as insurance proceeds. The case was closed, a copy of the finding was placed in the men's personnel folders, and benefits were settled. The Agency explained to the Fecteau and Downey families that no mention was ever to be made of their loved ones' connection to the Agency. Both families honored that request.


Meanwhile the fate of Hugh Redmond remained clouded. It would be some time before anyone at the CIA would take a personal interest or even be made aware of Redmond's fate. That person was Harlan Westrell. He had joined the Agency in 1948. By the mid-1950s he was chief of counterintelligence in the Agency's Office of Security. His office was in the decrepit Tempo I building. When it rained, the roof leaked. On sweltering days, and there were many, he had to peel off the classified papers that stuck to his forearms.

By all rights, the Redmond case should never have found its way to Westrell's desk. It had little if anything to do with counterintelligence. Westrell's job, among others, was to ferret out so-called penetrations, to look for moles and evidence that the Agency's security had been breached. It was not an easy job. He was often butting heads with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who refused to cooperate with Agency investigations. Hoover was still steamed that the FBI had been forced to relinquish to the CIA its intelligence jurisdiction over Central and South America. Westrell was also preoccupied with fending off Joe McCarthy's accusations that the Communists had plants throughout the CIA.

Sometimes Westrell's responsibilities bordered on the absurd. In one instance, he was called upon to dispatch one of his staffers to head up a CIA team consisting of a chemist knowledgeable about poisons, a physician, and an operative. The team leader was James W. McCord, later one of the Watergate burglars. Their mission was to investigate whether someone was slowly poisoning the U.S. ambassador to Italy, Clare Boothe Luce. The team concluded that Luce was not the target of any plot, but that over time, flakes of paint containing lead had fallen into her nightly glass of wine.

Westrell was also responsible for protecting case officers under deep cover from being exposed. The name of each such operative was written on a three-by-five index card -- just the name, nothing else. If someone inside or outside the Agency made an unauthorized inquiry about one of those individuals, Westrell's staff would investigate. His entire office was inside a vault. The cards containing the names of scores of deep-cover operatives like Redmond were locked in a safe within the vault each night.

Precisely how and when Redmond's name and fate came to Westrell's attention is not clear. An Agency unit called the Contact Division, which interviewed travelers returning from trips overseas, had learned from the International Rescue Committee that a recent emigre named Lydia Redmond, an attractive woman of Russian descent, was claiming that she was married to an American government employee who had been arrested in China. At the time, Lydia Redmond was living in Milwaukee.

The report piqued concern for Hugh Redmond's well-being; but also raised questions about his judgment. He had not mentioned to either his family or Agency superiors that he had gotten married. Simply fraternizing with a foreign national -- especially one of Russian descent -- would have raised eyebrows. A marriage would not only have been subjected to close scrutiny but might even have been seen as a career-ending error in judgment.

Word of Lydia Redmond filtered down to security chief Sheffield Edwards, who asked Westrell to investigate Lydia Redmonds claim. Westrell assigned it to the CIA's Chicago field office. A preliminary inquiry suggested that she was telling the truth, though the Redmond family knew nothing of the marriage and there was nothing in the old SSU files to support the claim. But then, the files were woefully incomplete.

Westrell arranged for Lydia Redmond to move to the Washington area. He helped her get a job with the Veterans Administration and an apartment in Arlington, Virginia. At their first meeting the two dined at (appropriately enough) a Chinese restaurant, the Moon Palace, on Washington's Wisconsin Avenue. The restaurant was new and they were its first customers. Lydia spoke Chinese to the waiter.

The deeper Westrell looked into the Redmond case, the more he was convinced that in the confusion that followed the transfer of SSU's functions to CIG and then to CIA, Redmond had fallen through the cracks.

He decided to go to Yonkers to meet Redmond's mother, Ruth. She had not heard anything from her son in more than two years. In Yonkers Westrell later selected a local lawyer, Sol Friedman, to be the Agency's "front man" representing Mrs. Redmond's interests and keeping the Agency informed of her situation.


What little was known of Hugh Redmond's situation came from interviews with those few Americans and foreign nationals who were released from Chinese prisons and later debriefed after entering Hong Kong. The one observation shared by all was that Redmond had remained steadfastly defiant of his Chinese captors.

It was ironic that, even as Redmond stood his ground, refusing to confess to espionage or to bend to relentless efforts at indoctrination, his own agency, the CIA, had become fascinated with the idea of mind control. Many were convinced that the Chinese possessed the ability to "brainwash" a man, to break his resistance and render him a willing pawn. During the Korean War the Agency watched in horror as some American servicemen held by their captors mouthed Communist propaganda. A few even opted to defect. In an effort to understand that power -- and to acquire it for themselves -- the CIA, under its esteemed director, Allen Dulles, began a massive research program into mind control in I953. The idea was partly that of Richard Helms, himself destined to become one of the most powerful and controversial of CIA directors. Code-named MKULTRA, the program involved the testing of LSD and other psychoactive drugs.

On November 18, 1953, one such experiment went terribly awry as an army civilian researcher named Dr. Frank Olson was unwittingly administered a dose of LSD. In the days following, Olson became depressed and underwent changes in his personality. The CIA, alarmed at his behavior, sent him to New York for psychiatric treatment. Eight days after the LSD was administered, Olson hurled himself through the window of his tenth-floor room at the Statler Hotel, plunging to his death.

After Olson's death, the cause of which was concealed from the public for two decades, the CIA decided it was imperative to have someone from its Office of Security present each time someone was administered LSD or other psychoactive drugs. It was Harlan Westrell and his office that were called upon to provide such protective services. The MKULTRA program continued unabated until 1961. During that time the American public knew nothing of the Agency's mind-altering experiments.

When a more detailed account of Redmond's condition finally surfaced, the news was not good. On April 23, 1954, the American consulate in Hong Kong sent a cable to Secretary of State Dulles reporting on its interview with a French Catholic priest who had just been released from a Chinese prison. The priest said he had secret conversations with Redmond and shared a cell with him from September 16, 1953, until April 19, 1954. Redmond was being held in Shanghai's Rue Massenet jail under tight surveillance.

The cable noted: "He is in a cell with Chinese prisoners, forbidden talk with them and given minimum exercise, low grade food, minimum medical care to sustain life. His spirits are quite good, he resists minor tyrannies of guards and interrogators, and steadfastly refuses confess accusations of espionage and possession of arms." But the prolonged incarceration was taking its toll. His health was deteriorating. For violating minor prison rules, his hands and feet were manacled. He had been interrogated relentlessly.

On June 21, 1954, the news was conveyed to Redmond's mother. She sent the State Department a note of thanks and asked if she might send food or clothing to her son or to write to him. "We have waited so long for news, she wrote.

On June 4, 1954, another Catholic priest, Father Alberto Palacios, was released from Shanghai's Lokawei jail, a special military facility reserved for political prisoners. On August 6 the consulate in Hong Kong sent a cable to Washington summarizing what Palacios had told them. Copies of the dispatch went to the CIA. Palacios reported that Redmond was completely without private funds and that he was wearing shoes provided him by prison authorities. His clothes were now little more than rags. He was no longer being interrogated, and though he was in good spirits his health was failing. He now had beriberi, near-constant diarrhea, and an inflammation of the corneas of his eyes. The prison guards were treating him with vitamins.

Redmond's prison routine was unvarying. He and the other prisoners were awakened at 5:30 A.M. and given half an hour to wash and relieve themselves. They were allowed forty-five minutes to sit on a cold wooden floor to meditate or read. Breakfast was liquid rice gruel and occasionally turnips. There was then an hour to clean the room and go to the toilet. Lunch was served at noon and consisted of dry rice and vegetables, supplemented with meat once a month. Three times a day, for fifteen minutes each, Redmond was allowed to walk around the nine-by-eighteen-foot cell. Dinner was rice and vegetables. Most days were to be spent in meditation or reading Communist literature, both of which Redmond steadfastly refused. There were times when he was forced to stand in a corner for up to forty-eight hours.

But after four years, Chinese prison officials had still made no progress in persuading him to confess or to embrace Communism. Instead, Redmond was increasingly hostile. When the ventilator fan was loud enough to obscure his voice, he would sing lustily. He had hectored the guards into granting him certain small privileges denied to others, including being able to go to the bathroom unaccompanied. Though the prison did not allow smoking, he had cajoled his interrogators into granting him a cigarette before he would even acknowledge their presence. And when two female interrogators attempted to interview him in Russian, he refused to speak the language, forcing them to revert to English. Slowly but surely, it was the guards who seemed to be wearing down and Redmond who appeared to be gaining control over his captors.

Conversation with Redmond had been difficult. He and Father Palacios had to wait until another inmate, a Communist informant, was out of the cell. "I was put in for spying," Redmond confided to the priest. Redmond told him that no decision had yet been made in the case against him. He spoke briefly of his wife, now in the States. In the three years of his incarceration Redmond had acquired a commanding fluency in both Chinese and Russian. Each day he read Shakespeare and studied Russian grammar. The lad from Yonkers who had dropped out of Manhattan College after only a semester was becoming a scholar.

In June 1954 the Chinese sent a signal that perhaps they were softening their position on Americans held there. At meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, the Chinese delegation announced that it would allow packages and mail to be sent through the Red Cross Society of China to American prisoners. The State Department notified Ruth Redmond, who immediately sent several letters and packages to her son.

For the first time in years, Ruth Redmond felt a buoyancy, an unspoken hope that Hugh might soon be released and his suffering brought to an end. Then came crushing news.

On September 12, 1954, the Chinese government, through its state-controlled New China News Agency, announced that Redmond had been tried and convicted of spying. The sentence was life imprisonment. Redmond was one of eight people that day convicted by the Judge Advocate General's Department of the Shanghai Military Control Committee. The regime boasted that it had smashed a major espionage ring operating out of Shanghai. It detailed Redmond's activities, from the time he was dispatched to China in August 1946 to his alleged spying in Mukden, Beijing, and Shanghai. The Chinese court said he had been part of a covert unit called the External Survey Detachment 44.

The other seven, five men and two women, were Chinese. Two of them, Wang Ko-yi and Lo Shih-hsiang, were sentenced to death and executed immediately -- in front of Redmond. Wang, the Chinese said, had worked with the OSS. Under Redmond's direction, it said he had set up radio transmitters, expanded the spy ring, and collected sensitive military and political secrets that were sent to U.S. intelligence officers in Hong Kong. They were also said to be preparing a campaign of sabotage.

The Chinese Public Security Bureau claimed that, in rounding up the spies, it had found a cache of sophisticated espionage equipment -- five radio receiving and transmitting sets, sixteen secret codebooks, six bottles of chemical developer for invisible messages, a case of machine-gun bullets, a suitcase with hidden compartments, and hundreds of pages of instructions and credentials. At the center of it all was Hugh Francis Redmond. The State Department forwarded a copy of the Chinese press release to the CIA.

In response to the espionage conviction, the State Department issued a vigorous protest. It declared that Redmond was nothing more than an American businessman who had been falsely accused. Ruth Redmond, too, though knowing full well that the charges against her son were true, publicly proclaimed her son's innocence. The image of a poor working-class mother stricken with fear and anxiety over her son moved the entire community of Yonkers and much of the region around it to rally in support of Redmond's release. In the anti-Communist hysteria of the day, the Redmond case became an emotionally explosive piece of evidence that the Reds were utterly heartless and duplicitous.

The day after Redmond's conviction, the news was stripped across the top of Yonkers's Herald Statesman: "Chinese Reds Jail Yonkers Man for Life." The State Department was quoted as saying that espionage was a "favorite trumped up charge of the Communists." The day's lead editorial was headlined "Yonkers Neighbor Tastes Red Barbarism." The editorial spoke of Redmond's heroic service in World War II. "We may well pray that such a fighting spirit can weather the filthy Red prison cells, the handcuffs and brain-washing or other barbarism that the Commies invent and use on him. And we can understand -- from our neighbor's plight -- why we must be grimmer and more determined than ever that such proved barbarians have no place in any civilized aggregation like the United Nations, if we can have anything to say about it."

Redmond had inadvertently become a cause celebre, an instrument of U.S. propaganda -- all of it predicated, of course, upon the simple fiction that he was innocent of the charges of espionage. In virtually every home in Yonkers, and far beyond, Redmond's name became synonymous with the evils of Communism.

In Yonkers, resolutions were passed and petitions signed by innumerable civic and governmental groups -- the Westchester County Board of Supervisors, local chapters of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, his alma mater, Roosevelt High, and foremost of all, the Yonkers Citizens Committee for the Release of Hugh Francis Redmond. Even New York's state Senate passed a resolution calling upon President Dwight Eisenhower to renew efforts to win Redmond's release. It cited "patently false charges of espionage." It noted that "his continued separation from his family and loved ones constitutes an affront to our sense of honor, decency and human treatment." Yonkers's High School of Commerce, where Ruth Redmond was a cafeteria worker, drafted its own resolution for Eisenhower.

In neighboring Ossining the Knights of Columbus called on "all Americans of all faiths to pray to Almighty God for the deliverance of Hugh Francis Redmond, Jr., and especially that all Catholics offer their Masses, Novenas and Prayers to implore God and His Blessed Mother to encourage and protect him." Yonkers Mayor Kris Kristensen called on Yonkers's 160,000 residents to observe a weekend of prayer in which clergy from all faiths would provide petitions to their worshipers. Every petition contained the same phrase. "false charge of espionage."

A week after Redmond's conviction, the State Department cabled instructions to its representative in Geneva, who was then meeting with a Chinese delegation. The directive was unambiguous: "You should protest charges against and sentence of Hugh F. Redmond as unwarranted and unjust, pointing out Redmond was known as legitimate trader, employed by respectable business firm, and that Chinese Communists have unfortunately been in the habit of regarding all foreigners as spies."

The U.S. delegation was to ask the Chinese to reexamine the Redmond case. Meeting at the plush Beau-Rivage hotel in Geneva, a member of the Chinese delegation told the U.S. representative that all hope was not lost, "that if Redmond's future attitude and conduct were found satisfactory by Chinese authorities his case might then be reconsidered."

It was a none-too-subtle invitation for Redmond to confess. And indeed, as would become increasingly clear, Redmond held the keys to his own release. If he admitted to spying, the chances were excellent that he would be set free, as had others before him. But then, Redmond was nothing like the others.

Why he resisted so fervently is not clear. His spy ring had been exposed, its members executed or imprisoned. There was nothing left to compromise or protect. Even within the CIA some were whispering among themselves, marveling at his resistance, but also secretly hoping that he might confess and bring to an end his suffering and that of his family. It had been four years since his arrest. In time, many at the Agency concluded it was nothing more than Redmond's own foolish sense of honor that blocked his release, and for that they saluted him.

The ordeal of Hugh Redmond in China mirrored that of his mother, Ruth, in Yonkers. On October 8, 1954, three weeks after his life sentence was handed down, Ruth Redmond wrote a plaintive letter to the State Department. "I have had absolutely no word from my son since later 1950," she wrote. "He was in prison almost a year when I accidentally read it in the papers. Then I realized why his mail had stopped. It has been just silence since then. It is the silence and the helplessness I feel that is driving me crazy. Is there nothing our State Department can do to send our only son home where he belongs?"


The CIA was soon to get a second jolt from China. In December 1954 the Chinese announced that two other Americans were about to go on trial for spying. Their names were John Downey and Richard Fecteau -- the two CIA men that two years earlier the Agency had quietly declared dead, shot down over China. Downey might well have wished he were dead. For the first ten months of his detainment he was in chains and leg irons and subjected to relentless interrogation.

As the show trial was about to begin, Fecteau was led into the court room past an array of cameras and lights. Downey, whom he had not seen in two years, was already in the dock. For the cameras Downey had been decked out in a brand-new black padded suit, shoes, and what resembled a beanie hat. The court officer ordered Fecteau to stand beside Downey. Fecteau could see that Downey looked discouraged. He whispered in Downey's ear, "Who's your tailor?" and a familiar smile broke across Downey's face, bewildering the Chinese guards. But the outcome of the so- called trial was never in doubt. Downey was sentenced to life. Fecteau, as his subordinate, got twenty years.

The United States reacted with predictable outrage. Henry Cabot Lodge, delegate to the United Nations, noted the incident was yet another reason why this "unspeakable gang from Peiping" did not deserve to be admitted into the ranks of that world body. The New York Times wrote a scathing editorial, and a U.S. senator suggested that the United States blockade the mainland. To listen to the U.S. government, Downey and Fecteau were simply innocents caught up in Beijing's vendetta.

Behind the scenes, and with a nudge from the CIA, the Labor Department agreed to waive recovery of those moneys already paid out to Fecteau's children, though certain lump sum payments were recovered. The CIA reclassified the two men as active. Henceforth they would be listed as on "Special Detail Foreign" at "Official Station Undetermined."

A year later, in 1955, DeFelice became chief of the Casualty Branch and set about to do what he could on behalf of all who were imprisoned, killed, or missing. He found himself haunted by the fate of Downey, Fecteau, and Redmond. One of his first actions as branch chief was to get permission to invest the ongoing salaries of the men, rather than have them accumulate year after year in CIA accounts. Then he worked out a complex formula that took into account the average career promotions of the men's peers at the Agency, and on that basis granted regular promotions to Downey, Fecteau, and Redmond, thereby increasing their salaries and benefits. Their cases were handled no differently than if they were still operational in the field.

DeFelice was in constant contact with the families. For hours on Sunday afternoons he would be on the phone to Downey's mother, Mary, trying to win the confidence of a woman who was profoundly distrustful of the CIA.

DeFelice also established what came to be called the Ad Hoc Committee on Prisoners, which met regularly to discuss what steps might be taken to win the freedom of those being held. It was made up principally of representatives of the operational side of the CIA. But its real purpose, as devised by DeFelice, was to set up an ongoing forum that would ensure that the men were not forgotten. That "ad hoc" group met for more than twenty years with DeFelice as the chairman.

Meanwhile the campaign by Yonkers citizens on behalf of Redmond continued to build, drawing in members of Congress. In the spring of 1955 Ruth Redmond and leaders of the Yonkers Citizens Committee for the Release of Hugh F. Redmond formally asked to see Eisenhower, both to present him with bound volumes of petitions and to call his attention to Redmond's plight. Eisenhower's staff expressed reluctance, fearing that publicity surrounding such a meeting would encourage the families of others to demand a meeting with the president. Redmond's advocates promised the meeting would remain a matter of strict confidence. The State Department drafted a memo encouraging Eisenhower to see Mrs. Redmond. But Eisenhower declined.

On Saturday, April 16, 1955, Ruth Redmond and William Gawchik, head of the citizens' committee, met with State Department officials. Eisenhower's refusal remained a sore point. A State Department memo notes that Gawchik "felt the government had displayed a deplorable indifference to the fate of Mr. Redmond." State Department officials, among them Edwin W. Martin, deputy director for Chinese Affairs, tried to reassure them that Eisenhower was aware of Redmond's situation but that the U.S. government had only limited options. "We might go to war with the Chinese Communists to satisfy national honor and pride but this would by no means assure the return of prisoners, even if we should win the war, since they might be killed in the process," the State Department official told her.

But talks in Geneva that resumed August 1, 1955, began to produce unexpected results. Within nine months, twenty-eight of forty-one Americans in Chinese prisons were released. That left only thirteen. Among these were the three CIA agents -- Downey, Fecteau, and Redmond. There followed agonizing months of silence.

Then, in the fall of 1955, the postman delivered a letter to the Yonkers home of Ruth Redmond. She recognized the handwriting instantly and felt her heart racing. The letter was undated and handwritten in ink on air mail stationery. The envelope had been forwarded by the Chinese Red Cross Society in an envelope postmarked September 14, 1955.

Inside were the first words from her son in the more than five years since he had been arrested. "I am very well," he wrote, "and I hope that everyone at home feels as good as I do right now." But Mrs. Redmond already knew something of her son's failing health and that anything he wrote would have had to clear the prison censor. Even so, there was a suggestion that not all was well with him. "Where I am right now," he penned, "there is a hospital, and I am receiving adequate care." He wrote that he no longer needed medicine for his beriberi or ointment for the inflammation that afflicted his eyes. His only request: heavy woolen clothes. Winter was fast approaching.

The brief letter ended with these words: "I'm sending all my love to you and everybody back home. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Love, Hughie." That he had been allowed at long last to write she took to be evidence that the Chinese were not without feelings. It was, perhaps, the sign she had been praying for that her son's deliverance was not far off. Even those at the CIA who monitored Redmond's case felt a tinge of optimism.

But for the Redmond, Downey, and Fecteau families, a long time -- seemingly an eternity -- would pass before their loved ones' fates would be resolved.


Hugh Redmond and his mother, Ruth, pose for a photo against the wall of a Chinese prison where Redmond was being held. After years of incarceration, the once-athletic Redmond would lose all his teeth and become afflicted with disorders of which he was forbidden to speak, even to his mother. (Courtesy of William McInenly)


At New York International Airport -- Idlewild -- the mothers of (left to right) Richard Fecteau, Hugh Redmond, and John Downey (Jessie Fecteau, Ruth Redmond, and Mary Downey) hold photos of their sons, each of whom was a CIA covert operative held in a Chinese prison. The date was January 1, 1957, and the three were on their way to China to visit their sons in prisons. (Courtesy of William McInenly)


A political cartoon from the July 11, 1970, New York Daily News that appeared after the Chinese reported that Hugh Redmond had committed suicide in one of their prisons. An accompanying editorial suggested what many already suspected -- that Redmond had been murdered or died of neglect. (© New York Daily News, L.P.)
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Part 1 of 2

By Chance

IT WAS June 1951. Little more than a month earlier Hugh Redmond had been dragged off in shackles to a Shanghai prison. John Downey was graduating from Yale and looking forward to a long career with the CIA. Doug Mackiernan's widow, Pegge, was settling in to her new job as vice-consul in Pakistan. The Mackiernan twins, Mike and Mary, not yet two, were spending the summer with Doug Mackiernan's parents in Massachusetts, playing on the long and sloping front lawn.

In Washington, D.C., at 2430 E Street NW -- once OSS and now CIA headquarters -- the specter of a third world war against one or both of the Communist titans, the Soviet Union or China, appeared to be less a matter of if than when. Chinese troops were pouring across the Korean peninsula. Americans under arms numbered nearly 3 million. And the CIA, just four years old, was embarking on one of its most ambitious periods of expansion. It set its eyes upon a whole new generation of Americans, those too young to have served in World War II but who were imbued with the same unvarnished patriotism that moved their parents and older siblings to enlist. The CIA's clandestine service, to the few who even knew of its existence, still carried the cachet of an elite and gentlemanly pursuit.

The Agency had recruiters everywhere -- among professors, administrators, and employers -- each one strategically positioned to flag young people possessing the requisite character and skills. A premium was placed on those with a knowledge of foreign languages or history as well as the sciences, in particular chemistry, engineering, and physics. But in the late spring of 1951, as a new crop of college graduates emerged, the Agency was the indirect beneficiary of yet another factor -- the military's draft. More than a few of those who did not relish the idea of spending a Korean winter in a foxhole thought the CIA an attractive alternative. Not surprisingly, not long after graduation ceremonies ended, the Agency's ranks began to swell.

Among those to sign on in June 1951 was one William Pierce Boteler. Known to his friends as Bill or Botz, he was but twenty-one years old. He had joined to become a covert operative.

Only a few months earlier the girls at Bryn Mawr had thought him a genuine Adonis. He stood just over six feet, had thick black hair, a swarthy complexion, and incandescent eyes of hazel. The coeds melted in his presence, though he was as yet unaware of his effect on them. He was neither vain nor overly self-assured, but possessed a quiet confidence rare in one so young.

He had just graduated from prestigious Haverford College on June 9, 1951. There he had immersed himself in literature, philosophy, history, and French. Often he could be found reading poetry, much of which he had committed to memory. His marks were, like everything else about him, rock solid. Studies had come easily for him -- so easily, it sometimes irked his friends, who had to spend long hours in the library while Boteler went out for a beer or burger.

On the playing field, too, Bill Boteler excelled. There was no bravado, just unwavering determination. He played receiver on the varsity football team and a catcher on the baseball team, of which he was co-captain. His closest friends were his teammates. It was Boteler who formed the nucleus around which other friendships took shape. There was Harold "Hal" Cragin, the catcher, Bud Garrison, quarterback and shortstop, Ed Hibberd, who played backfield, and roommate Peter Steere, a guard. All silently admired Boteler. Among them coursed an abiding affection that promised to endure long after college.

In the classroom Boteler was serious. Around his friends he was playful. The summer before graduation he and his chums Ed Hibberd and Bud Garrison worked as "social directors" at the fashionable Hotel Dennis in Atlantic City, on Michigan Avenue and the Boardwalk. Their job was to dance with the ladies, run the bingo games and volleyball, and walk the beach making sure no one felt left out. One Saturday evening, during an intermission between dances, Boteler and his friends strutted across the hotel stage in drag. 1t was a faux beauty contest judged by the former director of the Miss Atlantic City pageant. Boteler, his cheeks rouged, his lips ruby red with lipstick, won the contest. He was always a formidable competitor, and on this night he had particularly good reason to want to win. The prize was a date with the real Miss Atlantic City.

Boteler neither swore nor allowed himself to lose his composure. He was a proper gentleman, maybe even a little too preppy. His close friends thought he sometimes kept his feelings too bottled up inside. But he was never cold, just reserved. He dated widely but seemed immune to the crushes that afflicted his classmates.

He was close to his father, an insurance salesman in Washington, and was distressed over his mother's spiraling illness -- something he didn't talk about. He worshiped his older brother, Charles. Though seven years his senior, Charles's tenure at Haverford overlapped with Bill's. Like many on college campuses in those immediate postwar years, Charles had interrupted his college education for military service in World War II. Charles would go on to be one of Haverford's finest football players, even declining an invitation from the New York Giants.

As graduation approached, no one had to remind Boteler or his friends of the military draft that awaited them. Bud would enter the army's Counterintelligence Corps, as did Boteler's roommate, Peter Steere. Cragin had already served in the army's Military Police before college.

But Boteler, a child of Washington, D.C., was fascinated with the CIA. The first person he approached with Agency contacts was Frank Campbell, a Haverford alum, thirty years his senior and quite patrician. Campbell encouraged him and vowed to keep an eye on his Agency career. That was how it was done, how the old-boy network worked. It was less an act of recruitment than an anointing. In those early years one could be forgiven for mistaking the CIA for a kind of secret fraternity where new pledges had to be vouched for by those already accepted.

Shortly after signing up, Boteler found himself in the CIA's basic training program, then headed by the legendary Matt Baird, a Princeton man. But it fell to Harry T. Gilbert to mold the young Boteler into a first-rate case officer. Gilbert was a man of eclectic credentials. He served for a time at Los Alamos, was on General Patton's staff, and had taken part in the Normandy invasion. He would remember the fresh-faced Boteler as a standout, a sterling recruit.

Boteler was one of some thirty novitiates in that class. Under Gilbert's tutelage, he would learn to think like a case officer and acquire the essential skills of intelligence-gathering. He would also be instructed in how to keep himself and those who depended on him alive.

It was not long before Boteler got his first overseas assignment: Germany. A few weeks before departing, Boteler contacted his Haverford classmate Hal Cragin, who was then selling insurance in Philadelphia. Over lunch Boteler explained to Cragin that he needed a $5,000 life insurance policy. He never said he was with the CIA, only that his work would take him overseas and that it could involve some risk. Boteler knew he would have to pay higher premiums. There were some awkward moments as he filled out the form under his friend's watchful eye. Boteler could not reveal the nature of his work but neither could he write down anything false that might later nullify his policy on grounds of fraud. Cragin did not ask any more questions than he had to.

In the fall of 1951 Boteler packed his bags and went off to Germany. Precisely what he was doing there remains something of a mystery, though Agency colleagues say he was part of an effort to recruit Eastern European refugees there and dispatch them back behind the Iron Curtain to gather intelligence and engage in activities designed to disrupt and confuse the Communists.

In the spring of 1953 his Haverford classmate and friend Bud Garrison, then an officer with the army's Counterintelligence Corps based in Grafenwohr, Germany, received a call. It was Boteler. He was in town and eager to get together. The two met in Regensburg in Bavaria, not far from the Czech border. They rendezvoused at the front desk of a hotel. What struck Garrison instantly was that Boteler was in uniform. Indeed, Boteler sported the silver bar of a first lieutenant, outranking Garrison, who was then a second lieutenant.

"Hey, you're not in the army!" Garrison blurted out, and feigned jealousy that his friend outranked him. Boteler laughed it off and gave some evasive answer. Within moments the question was forgotten as the two friends caught up on one another's lives. But when the evening was over, Garrison was left with the curious feeling that despite hours spent together, he knew no more about how Boteler had spent the intervening years than before they had met.

A year later Boteler caught up with another college friend, Peter Steere, his former roommate, near Stuttgart, Germany. Steere was also with the army's Counterintelligence Corps. In the course of their evening together Boteler let it be known that he was working for the government. Beyond that he gave nothing away and Steere was too respectful to ask. In those days every fit young male had a military background. The culture and climate of those times suppressed the kind of gnawing curiosity that later would require those in espionage to be constantly on their guard, even with friends.

Yet another Haverford grad stationed in Germany remembers a visit from Boteler. But though this grad was also in the CIA, Boteler told him little of his work there. Such information was "compartmented," meaning on a strict need-to-know basis only.

Boteler returned to Washington in March 1953. Within a month he was readying himself to leave again, this time for Korea. His resume, meanwhile, was becoming increasingly a work of fiction. Between 1952 and 1953, the years he was in Germany, he had listed that he worked as a grade school teacher at the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland. A "Statement of Personal History," dated April 1, 1953, lists three credit references, all of them located at 2430 E Street NW, CIA's paltry headquarters building. On April 2 he filled out an application to extend his active-duty service with the United States Air Force, applying to the First Air Force, Mitchell Air Force Base in New York. Yet he never spent a day of his life in the military. It was all part of an elaborate cover to conceal his identity as a covert officer of the CIA. In Germany his cover had been with the army. In Korea he would be an air force officer.

One of those who remember Boteler in Korea is Frank Laubinger. But the man Laubinger came to know in Korea called himself Butler, not Boteler. It was common practice for operatives to assume pseudonyms. The safest course was to take a name with the same initials and one not too dissimilar from their real name. It cut down on slipups and allowed operatives to continue to wear monogrammed shirts and accessories. More important, those under deep cover seemed to respond more spontaneously to names not too unlike their own.

None of this seemed strange to Laubinger. He, too, had a pseudonym in Korea. It was either Larson or Larkin, he can't recall. He'd had more than a few false names. He had joined the CIA in 1952, a year after Boteler. Both Boteler and Laubinger answered to the CIA's deputy director for plans, or simply DDP as it was known internally. "Plans" was as bland a word as the spymasters could come up with. But it was this directorate that oversaw covert operations, ran the worldwide network of case officers engaged in espionage, and directed paramilitary operatives who, in essence, did what the military could not or would not do. The Agency, in this, its first decade, relied mostly on "humint" -- human intelligence -- as opposed to electronic eavesdropping, overhead surveillance, and other techniques that allowed for remote rather than on-site collection.

It was an era in spying that was less dependent on circuitry and science than courage and tradecraft, as the basic skills of espionage are called. Much that was gathered was information and documentation that agents -- foreign nationals -- brought back to their Agency case officers. Some intelligence was the product of "black-bag jobs" in which officers stealthily entered foreign embassies, factories, and offices to photograph materials or plant listening devices. Those raw data were then collated and analyzed in Washington by those working for the deputy director of intelligence, known as the DDI. The Agency was like a giant hive deploying thousands of worker bees to gather pollen and then return to the hive where it would be processed by regional analysts and interpreted. Ultimately the most productive intelligence would end up on the president's desk, there to guide his hand.

But though both Laubinger and Boteler were under the DDP, Laubinger reported to the Technical Services staff; or TS. He traveled extensively, in a support role, helping out officers in the field like Boteler. They could look to Laubinger and others like him for a miniature camera, a bug to be planted in a foreign consulate, and for help with myriad other technical problems that called for creative solutions.

In a James Bond film Laubinger and his colleagues in Technical Services might well be mistaken for the finicky character known as Q. One of the areas Laubinger concentrated on was SW or Secret Writing -- the development of invisible inks and other hard-to-detect means of writing. A staple of espionage, SW presented a constant challenge to stay ahead of the enemy. The Chinese during that very period were swabbing outgoing letters with chemicals that made visible those secret messages written in what were to have been invisible inks. Laubinger and others devoted themselves to developing countermeasures.

During the three years Laubinger was in the Far East, he met with Boteler in Seoul three or four times. It was during those TDYs, or temporary duties, that Laubinger came to know Boteler.

He made a lasting impression on him. He remembered the stress and conflict that sometimes erupted among CIA personnel in Seoul and at the enormous Agency station there. He also remembers Boteler deftly knitting the factions together, being a healing influence. Boteler may have had the demeanor of yet another Ivy Leaguer, but he was not a prima donna. Neither was he self-important, as were some of the Agency's pampered sons.

Laubinger remembers, too, that, like many Agency people in Korea, Boteler dressed in khakis and wore the kerchief that was symbolic of the unit. Because it was a fictitious unit, the kerchiefs posed a bit of a problem. Ultimately it was decided they would be made from a green camouflage parachute material.


During the nearly two years that Boteler was in Korea, the Agency grew feverishly under the spell of Allen Welsh Dulles, its most charismatic director. In February 1953 Dulles had been named Director Central Intelligence. The son of a Presbyterian pastor, he was a Princeton Phi Beta Kappa in philosophy. His was an unambiguous vision. It was the destiny of the United States, and the CIA in particular, to bring the Communists to heel. His moral persuasion and intellectual heft, his influential Washington network -- including his older brother, John Foster Dulles, then secretary of state -- and his OSS experience in the field made him the most formidable of CIA directors. His personal taste for covert action earned him the moniker of "the Great White Case Officer."

His objective was to develop worldwide covert operations aimed at rolling back the Communists, blunting their aggressions, and harassing them at every turn. Spurred on by the Korean War, the election of the staunchly anti-Communist Eisenhower, and increased Soviet activity abroad, Dulles elevated the CIA's role in covert action from what had been merely a collateral servant of foreign policy to one of its principal instruments. In 1952 three-quarters of the Agency's budget went to clandestine collection of information and covert operations. By 1953 the CIA was six times larger than it had been in 1947 when it was founded. That same year, 1953, the Agency, under Operation Ajax, helped engineer the ouster of Iran's premier, Muhammad Mussadegh. A year later, in the aptly named Operation Success, it was instrumental in ridding Guatemala of its leader, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman.

Three years into Boteler's CIA service, the Agency had shed any residual timidity. The most telling statement of its philosophy comes from a September 30, 1954, report done at the behest of Eisenhower. The author was famed World War II Lieutenant General James Doolittle. What he wrote was, in essence, the mission statement of the CIA for years to come.

"It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the United States is to survive, long-standing concepts of 'fair-play' must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated and more effective methods than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy."

At the CIA, it was now no-holds-barred. If free elections and open societies could be had in the process of blocking the Communists, all the better. But already it was the unspoken consensus that it was more important to halt the spread of Communism than to promote the democratic values it threatened. If installing or propping up totalitarian regimes was the cost of stopping Soviet expansionism, so be it. If the people of those nations saved from Stalin fared no better under Washington's favor than Moscow's boot, it could be justified.

World War II had taught nothing if not that war involved casualties, and though it was called a Cold War, it was a war nonetheless. Unwittingly the CIA was mirroring its Cold War foe. Behind the high rhetoric was a realpolitik dictating that entire nations must sometimes be viewed as pawns to be sacrificed in a larger endgame strategy. U.S. self-interest was equated with what was best for the world at large. After all, from the view of the Dulles brothers and Eisenhower, Soviet hegemony threatened to extinguish the light of civilization itself.

A second hallmark of the Agency's Cold War demeanor had emerged as early as June 1948 when the National Security Council passed Directive 10/2. It stated that, with regard to covert actions, "if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them." Over the years, deniability would expand in an effort to shield the president from his own actions as well as the nation from its foreign policy and domestic consequences. The White House, overseer of all major covert actions, attempted to institutionally separate itself from responsibility for those operations that had gone awry or that appeared contrary to basic American principles.

"Plausible deniability" enabled the president to distance himself from the darker hand of his own foreign policy, even freeing him to chastise those who carried out covert activities that he himself had set in play. Increasingly the Agency would be forced to fall on its own sword, to suffer not only the ignominy of occasional defeats but the full moral responsibility for that defeat. In failure it was to be cast not as the instrument, but as the author. A kind of political quarantine, it created a public image of the CIA as a renegade organization, full of rogue operatives accountable to no one. This was part of the price begrudgingly accepted by those in the clandestine service.

By the mid-1950s the CIA was no longer a fledgljng organization, but a mature and complex entity expected to gather, collect, and analyze intelligence and to thwart Sino-Soviet expansion with thousands of well-trained covert operatives. With such a broad mandate it could no longer rely solely on recruiting World War II veterans like Mackiernan and Redmond. Instead, it began to develop its own corps of covert case officers and paramilitary operatives from whose ranks future Agency leaders would arise. For this it turned to a former air force colonel, Matt Baird, who as the CIA's director of training was to forge the next generation of clandestine service officers. The army had West Point, the navy had Annapolis. Now the Agency, too, would have its place in which to orient, indoctrinate, and prepare its "junior-officers-in-training," or JOTs as they would come to be called. Later the word "junior" would be viewed as demeaning and the designation was changed to "career trainees," or simply CTs.

For training, the CIA transformed several thousand thickly wooded acres in southeastern Virginia near Williamsburg into the ultimate classroom for Cold War espionage. In earlier incarnations the site had been a Seabee base and even a camp for prisoners of war. Under the CIA it would have many code names, chief among them Isolation. Its name to the outside world was Camp Perry. To Agency recruits it was affectionately known as the Farm. For decades to come, there was hardly a covert operative who did not pass through its rigors and smile at the mere mention of the words "the Farm." Its existence was one of Washington's worst-kept secrets, but what went on there and who was there were matters of strictest secrecy. Even among those undergoing training, identities were sometimes tightly compartmented. Before the callow officers arrived, they would be assigned pseudonyms.

At the Farm, generations of covert officers were instructed in the basic skills of espionage -- known reverently as tradecraft. The courses changed in small ways from year to year, but new recruits could count on a core curriculum. "Picks and Locks" focused on how to open doors, windows, and safes. Such skills would be useful for "black-bag jobs" such as night entries into secured foreign embassies for planting a bug or photographing sensitive documents.

"Flaps and Seals" dealt with, among other skills, how to open mail and packages and then reseal them undetected. Years later it would be revealed that those same skills were practiced not only against foreigners but against American citizens as well. Under Project SRPOINTER, the CIA's Office of Security surreptitiously intercepted, read, and sometimes photographed letters coming from or going to addresses in the Soviet Union.

The Farm also offered a course in "caching," in which recruits learned how to select a forward position, often near a border or behind enemy lines, where arms, munitions, communications gear, even gold, could be buried and later retrieved for future use. JOTs were taught to think long-term, to imagine the terrain in five, ten, even fifteen years, and to select landmarks that would endure and be recognizable -- not transient objects such as trees or buildings, but immutable mountains, ravines, and boulders.

Others learned the rudiments of demolition and sabotage. Those earmarked for more specialized training would go on to even more exotic sites. Some would train at high altitude in the Rockies, others in the jungles of Panama. Most important of all were those courses that instructed case officers in the proper methods of recruiting and overseeing foreign agents.

During the 1950s Camp Perry featured what amounted to exact and elaborate reconstructions of Soviet and Eastern European border crossings. Each junior officer would be told which "border" he or she must attempt to cross. They were given three hours to penetrate undetected. The faux borders were watched by stern-faced sentinels in towers and protected by alarms, barbed wire, and toothy, though muzzled, German shepherds. Any slipup, and all hell would break loose. One savvy JOT with a way with animals prided himself in having "turned" an otherwise ferocious guard dog into a docile companion as he stealthily crossed the border.

Field trips were taken to Richmond, Virginia, forty-five minutes away. Aspiring case officers would be divided into teams of four. The cadets would be told to imagine themselves in Moscow, Budapest, or Prague. The first team would attempt to lose the second team, which was assigned to keep them under surveillance without being noticed. The first team, once it believed it had shaken the shadow team, would execute "a drop," an exchange of materials or messages. The second team would attempt to foil the exchange. It was all fun and games except that each participant knew that within months a slipup in the field could cost them their lives or those of the foreigners reporting to them.

It was that sort of rudimentary training that young Boteler had received.


In the summer of 1955 Boteler finished his tour of duty in Korea and returned to Washington. Actually it felt more like two separate Washingtons, existing side by side. Those not involved in defense or intelligence work were enjoying a halcyon summer with weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains or on Chesapeake Bay. The economy was sound and houses were filling up with children, part of what was dubbed "the baby boom."

But at the CIA, Pentagon, and White House, war planners grimly prepared for what the rest of the nation preferred to call "the unthinkable." On the sunny Friday morning of June 17, 1955, while many in Washington were planning an early weekend getaway, Boteler's ultimate boss, Allen Dulles, was already well out of town -- sequestered in a conference room buried deep inside a top secret mountain installation code-named Raven Rock.

It was but one of several relocation sites ringing the capital where the U.S. government hoped to ride out the coming nuclear war. An annual government-wide exercise, it was named Operation Alert. Dulles and his boss, Eisenhower, together with the cabinet, met in the bowels of the mountain debating the likely aftermath of a nuclear exchange. Some fifty-three cities were presumed bombed by the Soviets, the Treasury would be required to print more money to jum-start the economy, and 25 million Americans would be homeless. Top secret codes would be buried across the countryside and martial law seemed inevitable.

Boteler straddled both worlds -- that of the impending apocalypse and that of a young man with some easy time on his hands, It was a good summer for him, a chance to reintegrate with an America that had changed while he had been away in Germany and Korea. He shared his father's apartment, and the two of them would go to Washington Senators baseball games and catch up with each other's life. Boteler, now a dashing and well-traveled twenty-five-year-old bachelor, found himself in a city replete with eligible women. He bought himself a little Austin-Healey sports car and zipped through Washington enjoying a lifestyle long denied to him overseas. Each time he passed another Austin-Healey he would honk his horn playfully as if greeting a relative.

But there was also work to be done and preparation for his next assignment. Until then, he had been stationed in countries of obvious importance to the Agency -- Germany and Korea. Both were viewed as bulwarks against Communist aggression. They had been rife with opportunities to send agents back behind enemy lines to gather information and wreak mischief. There were innumerable Agency operatives in both countries, and Boteler had been but one member of that largely invisible corps of spies.

But when Boteler was informed of his next overseas assignment, he was rendered almost speechless. Cyprus, his superior had intoned. Boteler had only the vaguest notion of where it was, much less why the United States should care about the fate of so small and rocky an island in the Mediterranean. Comprised of a mere 3,572 square miles, it was about twice the size of Long Island and located 40 miles from Turkey and 530 miles from the Greek mainland. Worse yet, he was to be the only case officer on the entire island. There wasn't even a formal CIA station there yet. Boteler was to open a base there, bases being subordinate to stations.

But already by late 1955, Cyprus was assuming a strategic significance that dwarfed its diminutive size. The British, America's closest ally, were being pushed out of Egypt by Gamal Abdel Nasser and were now desperate to relocate their army, air, and sea bases. At stake was Britain's capacity to defend its lifeline to Mideast oil. Without it, Great Britain was lost, its industry crippled. Cyprus had been under British rule since the Crown acquired it in 1878 from Turkey, ironically in exchange for its help against the Russians. Expelled from Egypt, the Brits designated Cyprus their new Mediterranean redoubt. They set about to build formidable military bases even as their sources of oil came under increasing threats from Egypt's ultranationalistic Nasser.

But as Britain expanded its presence on the island, the domestic stability of Cyprus began to collapse. The Cypriot population was 80 percent ethnic Greeks and 20 percent Turkish Moslems. The Greek majority hungered to be unified with Greece, a movement known as enosis. A terrorist faction calling itself EOKA, for the National Organization of the Cypriot Fight, launched a campaign of violence against the British to drive them from the island and win unification with Greece. EOKA was headed by a shadowy figure who called himself simply Dighenis, but who was in fact a former Greek colonel, George Grivas. Adding to the volatility on the island, its ethnarch, or spiritual leader, the charismatic Archbishop Makarios, was championing enosis and secretly fomenting social unrest in aid of EOKA.

Meanwhile, a mere forty miles across the sea, the Turks feared that if such a union with Greece should occur, ethnic Turks would be persecuted or slaughtered. The millennia-old enmity between the Greeks and Turks was becoming more edgy with each passing month. In Turkey there were anti-Greek riots. In Greece there were anti-British riots. On Cyprus the number of Brits killed by EOKA was climbing.

The deteriorating situation in Cyprus was of far more than academic interest to the United States. The CIA and National Security Council watched in horror as three bedrock members of the NATO alliance -- Britain, Greece, and Turkey -- drifted further and further apart. Greece made not-so-subtle threats to abandon NATO and seek neutrality. It withdrew from some planned exercises. Turkey, a NATO member that bordered the Soviet Union, drew further away from the United States. If the situation unraveled much more, the alliance itself could crumble and the Soviets, emboldened by their closeness to Nasser and the erupting feud among NATO allies, might seek to expand their grip on the region. They might even make a play for its oil reserves.

The United States also had its own parochial interests in Cyprus. It was there that the CIA had a major communications relay station through which all cable traffic, open and encrypted, passed on its way to and from the Middle East and Washington.

As Boteler's briefings continued, he came to understand that far more was at stake than the little island of Cyprus.

In the months before being posted there, he steeped himself in the history and culture of Cyprus and the surrounding region. But because there was no U.S. military presence on the island, he could not use military cover to conceal his mission. Instead, he would have to adopt a more conventional cover -- that of the diplomat. Like Doug Mackiernan before him, his cover would be vice-consul. And to pass for a diplomat he would need to develop certain skills and familiarize himself with the attendant duties of a vice-consul.

He would also, it was decided, need to learn to dance. Cyprus was, after all, a proper British protectorate and there would be formal parties and balls to attend. They couldn't have this handsome young diplomat arrive with two left feet.

One morning Boteler got into his spiffy little Austin-Healey and drove from the Agency through Washington's downtown to 1011 Connecticut Avenue, the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. He walked down the small flight of steps, entered the studio, and made his way to the reception desk, where he filled out a form, enrolling himself in a series of dance classes -- at CIA expense.

The studio manager then led Boteler to a slender twenty-three-year-old dance instructor named Anne Paffenbarger. Who was this young man? she wondered as she extended her hand to him. He was simply the most beautiful of men, tall and lean and dark. It was all she could do to keep from giving herself away with a sigh. Boteler, too, was instantly taken by his own good fortune. Before him stood a heavenly woman of five feet six, her dress breaking at the knee, her hair short and dirty blond. Boteler thought of the actress Jean Simmons. Within moments his right arm was around her slender waist, his left hand in her right, as they swept across the wide floor of the ballroom, practicing a waltz and counting together: "one-two-three, one-two-three." The hour was over in an instant.

Over the course of the next several weeks Boteler learned the mambo, cha-cha, waltz, and swing, but mostly he returned to be close to Anne. She had graduated a year earlier from Columbia, majoring in Romance languages.

The man who never fell for anyone was now in something of a tail-spin. But neither Boteler nor Paffenbarger would let on to the other that there was anything between them beyond a contract for dance instruction. It was, after all, forbidden for instructors to date students or see them socially. After several weeks, Boteler showed up unexpectedly at one of the studio's evening sessions, an additional opportunity to practice. "I came in just to see you," he told her. That was the first time that Paffenbarger had any indication that Boteler was as drawn to her as she was to him. "Oh," was the only response she could muster. But Paffenbarger was not about to let Boteler slip away.

She quit her job at the dance studio and got a position as a clerk at Garfinkle's Department Store. Nearly every night the two went out on the town. One night he took her to see a film with Gregory Peck, one of his favorite actors. Another evening was spent in a cafe where a roving singer sang "Moonlight in Vermont." Paffenbarger imagined that, together, the two of them looked like moonlight itself. After that, the melody would always bring Bill Boteler to mind.

Boteler's father complained that after his son had spent so much time overseas with the government, he still had hardly any time together with him. Before long Boteler and Paffenbarger spoke of marriage. Boteler suggested that he would have a ring made especially for her. In the meantime he presented her with a pair of earrings, small and delicate silver scrolls with a cultured pearl in the center.

Finally she was introduced to Boteler's father. He asked what she had thought of his son when they first met. Paffenbarger stumbled for words that would not embarrass her. "She fainted!" quipped Bill. Later, on a country outing, Paffenbarger invited Boteler to climb Sugarloaf Mountain. Boteler feigned puzzlement. "I have been to Katmandu and Mount Everest," he said. "There aren't any mountains around here:" Still they drove to the top of Sugarloaf and had a quiet picnic.

They were well suited for each other. By nature, they were both cool and reserved. Both were sober and conservative, not given to emotional gushing. For both, this thing that had happened to them, this spontaneous romance, was as unfamiliar as it was intoxicating. Boteler once whispered to her that she was a female version of himself.

When Paffenbarger first asked what Boteler did for a living, he reverted to his old evasive ways. Finally he confided in her that he was with the CIA. But what startled her even more was his disclosure that for weeks the couple had been under CIA surveillance. The CIA's security section, he said, wanted to know whom he was seeing, how he spent his time, and where he was going. Boteler was ever conscious of being watched. Over time, said Boteler, the surveillance ended.

He would never discuss the specifics of his work, but he let it be known that he was proud of what he had accomplished and that it was thought he would have a bright future.
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Part 2 of 2

As the time for his next assignment drew closer, however, Boteler appeared more anxious. He confessed that his next mission had him worried. The night before his departure, Anne and he had dinner with Boteler's father. After dinner Boteler asked her not to see him off at National Airport. It was something he wanted to do alone As he prepared to leave, Paffenbarger rushed at him, threw her arms around him, and lost herself completely. She would remember herself flying at him as if she were a missile, and of him catching her in his arms and trying to calm her down.

The next day Boteler went to the Agency to complete his checkout procedure. In Tempo Building L he bumped into his friend from Korea, Frank Laubinger. The two lunched in the cafeteria. It was a brief get-together, thirty minutes at most, but Laubinger could not shake the ominous feeling -- call it a premonition -- that this would be the last time he would see Bill Boteler. Laubinger was not a superstitious man, far from it. But this would be the most intense feeling he would have in his twenty-eight years with the Agency. In his mind, Boteler's going to Cyprus was tantamount to his friend putting his neck in a noose. He never shared a word of his misgivings with Boteler except to wish him well and to bid him to take care of himself.

On May 7, 1956, Boteler boarded BOAC flight 510 for London. Acting Secretary of State Herbert Hoover, Jr., had arranged for Boteler to be briefed at each of the capital cities involved in the Cyprus dispute -- London, Athens, and Ankara. Boteler's first two days were spent in London being briefed by the CIA's station chief and by the British. Three days later he began the second leg of his trip and wrote his first letter to Anne. "Sweetheart," the letter began, "Pardon the pencil, but I'm out of ink. At the moment, I'm 22,000 feet over Switzerland -- I think -- on my way from London to Rome, thence to Athens. I'm flying on one of the new Viscounts, which, unfortunately, is not much different from any other plane I've ever been on."

Boteler recounted his two days in London. Between briefings he had walked throughout London, around Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park. On his second night he took in Noel Coward's comedy South Sea Bubble with Vivien Leigh. "I found time to indulge in my favorite sport, barhopping," he jested, "and thus investigated the insides of several representative public houses." The next morning he left for Athens and a second round of briefings.

He remained focused on the situation in Cyprus. "Things are not improving on Cyprus; if anything, getting worse," he wrote Paffenbarger. "The government has refused to suspend the execution of two convicted Greek terrorists, and have announced they will be hung this week. This touched off riots in Athens yesterday, and strikes in Nicosia [Cyprus's capital]. Right or wrong, the British are sticking by their guns, and there certainly isn't likely to be any settlement for some time; the people I talked with in the Foreign Office and Colonial Office are frank to admit that."

"I miss you and am pretty lonely, despite all the new places, people I'm seeing," he wrote. "I'll be glad to get settled into a routine of work again, & to get my mind on other matters as much as possible. I'm still not quite sure how I got into this in the first place, but there's no denying that I'm in it.

"Be good and don't step on anybody's feet. Write whenever you can, and smile. My love, Bill."

In the predawn hours of May 10, the day Boteler wrote his first letter to Paffenbarger, the British hung the two convicted EOKA terrorists, Michael Karaolis and Andreas Demetriou. Both were only twenty-three years old. Their bodies were quickly buried in the corner of the prison grounds, in the hope that behind high walls topped with broken glass, their graves would not become a rallying point for terrorists. It was unhallowed ground where the orthodox priest could not hold service. Just outside the gates, Karaolis's mother sat in a chair waiting for the news.

Retaliation was not long in coming. Twenty-four hours later EOKA's Grivas ordered two policemen shot and buried in secret.

For months the situation in Cyprus had been slipping into chaos. Even as Boteler made his way there, the State Department began to evacuate dependents. Terrorist attacks were now a daily affair. Thus far, attacks had been restricted to assaults on the British, but everyone was now wary. The Brits now had more than 22,000 troops quartered there. British soldiers had taken to covering their cars with wire screens to ward off stones from angry schoolchildren. In the twelve months before Boteler's arrival, British casualties numbered 47 dead and 125 wounded. At least as many Cypriots had fallen.

The terror campaign was stepped up following the March 9 arrest of Archbishop Makarios. He had been placed aboard a British frigate and exiled to the remote Seychelles islands, a British Crown Colony in the Indian Ocean a thousand miles east of Kenya. The new British governor of Cyprus, Field Marshal Sir John Harding, believed that with a firm enough hand he could quash the unrest. He had won a get-tough reputation fighting the Mau Mau in Kenya and now swore to crush EOKA as well.

But NATO threatened to unravel. Greece had withdrawn its ambassador from London. In Athens the street where the British Embassy stood was renamed for the two EOKA terrorists hung in Cyprus. At Athens's request, the United States canceled a planned visit of the Sixth Fleet to the Greek island of Crete. NATO's southern flank was now on the verge of disintegration. The Soviets watched with relish as their foes fell to arguing among each other over a rocky scrap of island.

On May 15 Boteler arrived in Nicosia, Cyprus, having completed briefings in Athens, Istanbul, and Ankara. The next day he wrote his father. "Living here is going to be much more of a problem than in Germany or Korea, but also much more pleasant. I have had to find and rent an apartment, furnish it, hire a maid, and in general, set up housekeeping. Fortunately, the bills will be footed by you know who ... Things are pretty restricted here, although, by and large, you wouldn't be outwardly aware of any difficulty ... The British are very wary, and terrorism continues. Lord knows it should be an interesting tour; however, it's a damn pretty island, and I hope things calm down somewhat, so that I can enjoy it more fully."

His second day in Nicosia he took out a fountain pen and wrote a letter to Anne. "I'm not disappointed in Cyprus," he wrote, "although it's a shame things are the way they are, as movements are severely restricted. The British are really taking it in the neck, and top British officials are guarded by hordes of soldiers." Meanwhile Boteler attended to the mundane duties of a vice-consul, his cover position, furnished his apartment, and tried to orient himself. Back in Washington, Anne had returned to Arthur Murray. In closing his letter, Boteler wrote, "Hope things aren't too grim at A.M. [Arthur Murray]; write whenever you can, & don't forget I miss you. Much love, Bill."

Boteler was fascinated with Cyprus, particularly Nicosia's old city within the walls, where most of the shops were and where, unfortunately, much of the violence was as well. Boteler had asked permission to live inside the old city but was turned down for security reasons. That first week in Nicosia was even more violent than the previous week "The British are taking extreme repressive measures, but they don't seem to be doing much good -- the entire population is solidly against them," Boteler wrote his father.

Day by day, Boteler observed the British crackdowns even as he developed an increasing fondness for the local Cypriots. "Despite the continuing violence, you seldom feel as if there's anything unusual going on," he wrote. "Americans are well thought of, and on friendly terms with the locals; still they have to stay at home at night also." Boteler had not yet met many of the nearly three hundred Americans still on Cyprus. He was now beginning to chafe against the restrictions he faced. He was young, lonely, new to the country, and unable to explore it with the vigor with which he had become accustomed in Germany and Korea.

"No one, of course, has the slightest idea how things are likely to turn out, but it seems fairly certain that the situation isn't going to be settled any time soon," he wrote his father. "All of which makes my job more enjoyable, but my social life more restricted."

Under diplomatic cover he was now representing the U.S. government. He immersed himself in the Greek language and made good headway. He marveled at the British, who showed no such interest in learning the language. It was late spring and he yearned to keep up with what was going on with baseball. He asked his father to pass along "a little inside dope on our heroes" from time to time. "Incidentally, didn't I say Mantle [Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees] would have a great year -- and didn't I also say the Phils would win a pennant? Forget the last."

By the end of May, Boteler was feeling cooped up. "We as Americans aren't at war with anybody and nobody seems to hate us, but we have to go through the same drill as everybody else in most respects," he wrote Anne on May 27, 1956. He felt confined, and instead of his beloved Austin- Healey, he had settled for a Morris Minor, a two-door sedan with what he contemptuously described as a "1/2 cylander [sic] engine." Again he expressed his fascination with the old part of Nicosia, dangerous though it was.

By June 2 Cyprus seemed to be slipping into a war. Wrote Boteler to his father: "Things are indeed progressing unsatisfactorily, at least from a personal point of view. Otherwise, they couldn't really be much worse, or at least so it seems at the moment. My arrival seems to have touched off a chain of events which has generally tended to heighten the tension here, and no doubt to attract more publicity for Cyprus elsewhere. The latest event was the bombing of an American home last night ... generally regarded as accidental, but you never know ... Lord knows where it will all lead." No one was hurt in the bombing, but it was a reminder of everyone's vulnerability.

Boteler marveled at the Brits' ability to tune out the violence. "Through it all," he wrote, "the British cling grimly to their social traditions; the Queen's birthday was celebrated the other night in all due pomp and splendor, in as heavily-guarded a location as you could imagine. The invitations for the affair carried a little note requesting everyone to check their personal weapons at the door."

Four days later, on June 6, 1956, Boteler wrote his brother, Charles, and Charles's wife, Deenie. "I certainly covered a lot of ground in switching from Korea to this place, although I suppose the change would be remarkable in any place after Korea. One thing is certain -- I'm not likely to get bored from inactivity here. So far, as an American, I'm a man nobody hates, which can't be said by anybody else -- except other Americans." Boteler wrote admiringly of the mountains. Each Sunday he would go for a swim in the Mediterranean.

But the security precautions were taking an ever greater toll on him. "All the restrictions imposed by the trouble have made living a little difficult," he wrote. "It's hard to get around at night, which cramps my style no end, and you always have to be careful where you go, and how ... Still, with reasonably prudent behavior, the chances of getting involved in anything are almost non-existent -- about the only way would be by chance."

Three days later, on June 9, he seemed to relax somewhat. In a letter to his father that began "Dear Dad," and was timed to arrive for Father's Day, he wrote, "Most every night EOKA drops a bomb on the front porch of some Englishman's home, making a big noise and not much else." His Greek lessons were going well and he was becoming accustomed to his diplomatic cover. "I diddle around with routine consular tasks, such as issuing visas, dealing with problems of assorted Americans, etc. The rest of my time is spent trying to find out what's going on here in the political field. This job will be a good deal different than the last one I held; it shouldn't prove nearly so demanding of time and nerves, but a great deal more interesting and rewarding."


The week passed. The temperature climbed to 112 degrees. Boteler was now making friends with a number of local Greeks, some of whom took him to the racetrack on Sunday. There he bet every race and lost each one. In his off-hours, when he wasn't playing bridge with the locals, he was reading. He had polished off a number of novels since arriving, among them Fraulein and Islands in the Sun.

On June 11, 1956, he wrote Anne. "Dear Sweetheart," the letter began. He described his efforts to meet as many locals as possible, part of his covert assignment to gather intelligence on the political situation on the island and to find a way to penetrate the terrorist group EOKA. Near the end of his letter he wrote, "I've finished 'Marjorie Morningstar' which I found interesting, although certainly not very weighty. It's about a girl whose true love runs off overseas because she won't go to bed with him. You never quite find out whether the author thinks she was right or wrong. In case you're wondering, that's not why I came to Cyprus, incidentally."

Boteler described the grand celebration for the Queen's birthday. Some fourteen hundred people were in attendance amid the strictest of security, but, lamented Boteler, "no dancing -- after $400 worth of preparation for the big moment, I didn't have a chance to show off at all."

He closed, "Your letters arrive regular as clockwork -- every day, almost, or so it seems. I'll have to set a schedule if I'm going to keep up with you. Be good, darling; I miss you. Love -- Bill."

There followed another letter five days later. It was dated June 16, 1956. Boteler was at the consulate. It was afternoon. He had just finished reading a letter from Anne. "There are signs that the situation is improving here," he wrote. "The British appear to be having much more success in dealing with EOKA, although that's certainly not the answer by itself. I personally don't expect any radical political changes for quite some time, but then I could be wrong." His letter ended simply. "Well, back to work ... Don't worry too much about missing me -- I like it. All my love -- Bill."

The next day, June 17, the British continued their massive manhunt for EOKA's leader, Grivas, who was believed to be in the forests of the Troodos Mountains. For ten days some five thousand crack troops worked to cordon off sixty-five square miles of rugged mountain terrain, closing in on their prey, as if driving a tiger out of the concealment of high grass. But even as the British believed they were closing in, the wily Grivas had already slipped through their clutches and had given orders for a renewed terrorist assault on British positions throughout the island.

The hunters became the hunted. As British troops in the mountains narrowed their search, a forest fire broke out, likely the work of EOKA. The winds changed and many soldiers were within range of exploding petrol tanks. Twenty soldiers died and sixteen were severely burned. At an abandoned campsite all that was found of the elusive Grivas was a dashing photo of the mustachioed leader wearing a beret, a cardigan, a Sam Browne belt, and a .45 automatic slung at his side.

That same evening, June 17, 1956, Boteler worked late. He was tired and needed a break. He had spotted a small cafe, the Little Soho, in the old walled part of the city, that he had been eager to try. By then the U.S. consul, Raymond F. Courtney, had warned American personnel not to visit the old city at night and to avoid popular restaurants. Each member of the consulate had promised to honor the restriction. Courtney considered such outings too risky.

On the way out of the consulate, Boteler bumped into Courtney and told him he was headed for the Little Soho. Courtney raised an eyebrow as if to remind him of the restrictions. He told Boteler that if he felt he had to go because it was in the line of duty -- related to his collecting intelligence -- then he understood. Otherwise, it was simply too dangerous. Boteler nodded and went out into the hot night air.

He reached the Little Soho shortly after 7:30 P.M. It was a small cafe on a narrow lane, barely wide enough for a British jeep, and just a block off Ledra Street, dubbed "Murder Mile" for all who had recently been killed there. The cafe's windows were covered with wire to deter any would-be terrorist from hurling a grenade into the restaurant. Ordinarily the door was locked and opened only when the owner, Mr. Tunk, recognized one of his patrons. But on this night of stifling heat, it was too hot to observe that precaution.

The door was wide open, letting in a welcomed breeze that offset the heat from the kitchen and its ovens, plainly visible through a large plate-glass window. Inside were nine or ten tables. The specialty was Hungarian fare. It was known to be especially hospitable to the British and their Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Sometimes it even served as an impromptu command post when the Brits made security sweeps through the city, raiding Cypriot homes and businesses or searching for caches of weapons and fugitive terrorists.

When Boteler arrived, many of the tables were taken. Boteler took a seat at a small table closest to the door. Just behind him was the owner's parrot, perched on a wooden swing in his cage. Boteler nodded a hello to several groups of men whom he had come to recognize as fellow Americans in the preceding week, though he did not know them by name. Despite the consulate's warnings and the pledges by U.S. personnel not to venture out unnecessarily, most of those in the restaurant were Americans, and all of these, CIA.

It was curious that Boteler, while the only employee of the CIA's Plans Division on Cyprus, was virtually surrounded by covert CIA officers posing as State Department employees. They were there to man one of the CIA's largest radio relay facilities. The age of Morse code was in its final years, and these men, tethered to headsets and keys, spent their days transmitting all the open and encrypted messages that flowed between Washington and its embassies throughout the Mideast, including Baghdad, Kabul, Ankara, Damascus, and Cairo.

Cyprus was the ideal spot for such a facility. It was free of industrial interference and centrally located. On clear days the CIA communicators could even listen in on the conversations of cabdrivers idling at hotels in Cairo and Beirut. Their division of the CIA was known by the cryptonym KU CLUB. It was the communications agency within the Agency.

On this hot night in mid-June, many of them had gathered in disregard of security restrictions that they had signed and initialed only months earlier. They had also been advised to do whatever they could to distinguish themselves from the British, who were targets of the terrorists. One longstanding CIA suggestion was to wear bow ties, something the British never did. But on this night they could not be bothered. They were just out to enjoy a cold beer and a decent meal.

Seated behind Boteler, at a table for two, were Jim Dace and Jim Coleman. Dace was thirty-one and dining on one of his favorite meals, chicken livers and rice. At a larger table in the center of the restaurant, fifteen feet from Boteler, sat Chuck Groff and Donald P. Mulvey. Mulvey was an Agency "commo" man who maintained the radio equipment. He had arrived in Cyprus six days earlier. With them was Jack Bane, who was enjoying a steak and nursing a Tom Collins. He was a CIA engineer who worked on the heating and air-conditioning units at the relay station. At precisely 9:39 P.M. the movie let out up the street and a commotion could be heard as people exited the theater. Just then two boys, neither yet in their teens, appeared at the door of the Little Soho restaurant. Each had something in his hands, an oblong pipelike object that they tossed into the restaurant. Both objects came to rest beneath Boteler's table. The boys ran, disappearing into an alleyway.

Dace remembers the smell of punk like the Fourth of July. It was the fuse burning, the scent of cordite. Coleman, too, smelled it. Their glances met, then Dace turned away for a second, and when he looked back in Coleman's direction, he found Coleman curled up on the floor. Dace threw himself as far from the smell as he could, crouching so low he remembers it was as if he were trying to crawl into his own shoes.

He looked up just long enough to see Boteler rising from his chair, attempting to distance himself from the impending blast. But Boteler's feet became entangled in the legs of the chair.

Groff stood up and flipped the table over for protection. In the brief moment that followed, Bane and Groff dove to the floor. Mulvey remembers hearing the hiss of a fuse.

Then came the first of two deafening blasts.

The room filled with smoke. The lights went out. Shards of glass from both the front window and the rear one by the kitchen flew in all directions. Shrapnel ripped into Boteler's heart, his stomach, and his legs. And still, somehow, he stumbled forward toward the door.

When the bombs exploded, whatever came out of them skidded across the terrazzo floor. Bane, who was lying facedown, felt a hot piece of shrapnel slash at his chest, leaving what would be an oblong scar. It came to a rest in his neck, a quarter inch from his artery. His corduroy pants were tattered and bloodied. In all he suffered five wounds, the deepest one being in his right leg. Dace felt the searing of shrapnel in his buttocks and feet. His shoes and pants were full of blood. He looked down to see his left hand, between the forefinger and thumb, peeled open like a rose.

Dace gathered himself up and staggered to the door, blood squishing in his shoes. There, lying in the doorway, was Boteler, his stomach opened by the blast and his legs mangled. The blood from his left femoral artery rose like a gusher, three feet into the air. A British soldier looked on in horror. "My God," cried the soldier, "he is still alive." But an instant later the blood stopped and Boteler was still. The life had gone out of him. He was twenty-six.

The concrete walls and floor of the restaurant had been pocked by fist-sized holes from the shrapnel, but somehow the parrot that perched directly behind Boteler had survived the blast with only a few ruffled feathers.

Greek Cypriot witnesses to the explosion milled about the scene, showing no apparent concern either for the explosion or for the young man's body lying in the doorway. None of them offered assistance to the wounded, and several were observed to be grinning and chatting away as if at a social gathering.

Boteler's body was taken to the British military hospital. Bane and Dace were taken into surgery. Both recovered. Shortly after the attack, police took into custody three youths. Privately the police admitted they doubted the boys were the perpetrators.

That night, in Washington, Boteler's father, Charles, received a telegram. "Department regrets to inform you of the sudden death your son at Nicosia as result bombing cafe, and extends deepest sympathy. Advise religious preference and disposition effects and remains." Signed "Myron S. Garland, Department of State."

News of Boteler's death spread quickly. Anne Paffenbarger's mother handed her the morning paper. That was how she learned that Boteler had been killed. She ran upstairs to her bedroom and collapsed on her bed, and spent the day crying hysterically. Her father knelt down beside the bed and tried to comfort her, but it was no use. For a long time she would wake up in the depths of the night sobbing uncontrollably.

Boteler's teammates from Haverford learned one by one of Boteler's death from the morning paper or from the news on their car radios. As the first American fatality in the Cyprus conflict, his death was front-page news. But it was reported as the death of a State Department employee, a vice-consul. Never was there the suggestion that he was a covert operative of the CIA. His cover was intact.

Boteler's body was shipped to Washington's Gawler Funeral Home at 1752 Pennsylvania Avenue. His diplomatic passport -- number 7758 -- an essential part of his cover identity, was returned to the State Department.

In Washington the State Department declared Boteler's killing "a blind and senseless" act. In Nicosia Governor Sir John Harding expressed his sorrow to the U.S. consulate and visited the two Americans still convalescing in the hospital. In Athens the Greek minister of foreign affairs, Evanghelos Averoff, expressed that government's "deepest regret" at Boteler's death but also did not miss a chance to exploit it for political advantage. "As all Greeks," he said, "I am deeply saddened by the fact that American blood was shed on the martyred island of Cyprus, which is under British Administration." In London former president Harry Truman was asked by reporters if Boteler's death might affect U.S. views of the Cyprus problem. "I sincerely hope that it will not have any terrible repercussion at home, although it is likely to do that," he said. "I shall be very happy indeed if that situation can be cleared up and settled."

There were also private expressions of sympathy to the Boteler family. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, whose brother, Allen, headed the CIA, wrote Boteler's father the day after the killing. "He died in the line of duty, courageously advancing the high interests of the United States. In the short time he served with the Department of State he earned the friendship and admiration of all his colleagues."

The CIA, even in its official letter of condolence, did not let on that Boteler had still been working for the Agency. Deputy Director Lieutenant General Charles Pearre Cabell wrote Boteler's father: "Since we knew him better and longer than his more recent associates, I can add that his service with us was marked by rapid advancement and assignments of unusual responsibility. He had been promoted twice and a third promotion was in process when he resigned to accept the appointment with the Department of State in Cyprus, an assignment which he knew to be hazardous and challenging. During his employment with this Agency, William was characterized by his superiors as 'an outstanding young officer' with special reference to his initiative, drive, managerial ability, high standards of accomplishment, and acceptance of responsibility. We regarded him as a young man of highest promise, whose death is a serious loss to the public service."

Boteler's funeral was held at 2:30 P.M. on Thursday, June 21. Family, friends, and CIA colleagues gathered at Gawler's Funeral Home, a few blocks from the White House and just five blocks from CIA headquarters. Seven pallbearers carried the casket. Three were teammates and friends from Boteler's days at Haverford -- Hal Cragin, who had sold him his life insurance policy five years earlier, Bud Garrison, and Ed Hibberd. A fourth was Haverford line coach William Doherty. The other three men had been Boteler's childhood friends or under his watch at summer camp.

As organist Marguerite Brice played "Hark -- A Voice Saith All Are Mortal," mourners entered the room and penned their names into a book of remembrance. Among those in attendance were Archibald Macintosh, acting president of Haverford, Assistant Secretary of State George V. Allen, and CIA colleague Frank Laubinger, who had lunched with Boteler a month earlier and had tried to stifle his own ominous premonitions. There, too, was Hugh J. Cunningham, a senior Agency officer who signed the book "representing Mr. Allen W. Dulles," director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Following the funeral, Boteler's body was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery on Pershing Hill, not far from where the general himself is interred.

Six days after his death, at 10:30 Saturday morning, June 23, a memorial service was held in Boteler's honor at the Church of St. Paul in Nicosia. The archdeacon of Cyprus, A. W. Adeney, offered a prayer that began, "Look down, O Lord, upon our island and illuminate it with thy celestial brightness, and from the sons of lights, vanish the deeds of darkness." The U.S. flag flew beside the altar. Rarer still was the vision of a Greek monk and a Turkish religious leader there together, along with the consuls of every nation with representatives on the island. Hardly anyone in attendance had had the chance to meet Bill Boteler. He had been on Cyprus barely one month.

On July 5, 1956, eighteen days after his death, a letter arrived at the U.S. consulate in Nicosia, addressed to U.S. Consul Courtney. The three-paragraph letter was titled "Tragic Mistake." It was from EOKA's leader, Dighenis, the alias for George Grivas, whom the Agency had suspected all along was behind the killing. It confirmed what Courtney and the CIA had already concluded, that Boteler and the other Americans had not been targeted in the attack but were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. "No Greek hates the American people, of which we are sure that the great majority with its pure liberal feeling stands on our side in our just fight," wrote Grivas. "We are deeply sorry for the loss of the American diplomat. We advise foreigners who live in Cyprus, for their safety, not to frequent British places of entertainment, as it is not always possible to distinguish them from our English enemy."


Five years later, on January 5, 1961, Secretary of State Christian A. Herter added William Pierce Boteler's name to the department's wall honoring those killed in the line of service, the same wall that featured Doug Mackiernan's name. Boteler's father attended the ceremony that day. He understood that the State Department's recognition was the only way in which Boteler, a covert officer of the CIA, could be publicly honored. Better, he reasoned, to be honored even if in the context of a cover position than not at all.

To this day Jack Bane, now seventy-nine and suffering from Parkinson's disease, carries a remembrance of that terrible evening at the Little Soho cafe -- a piece of shrapnel lodged in his right leg. Following the attack, Jim Dace was called on the carpet by his superior, who threatened to put a black mark on his record for violating security restrictions. "Fine," shot back Dace. "You do that and I'm going to go to the inspector general and bring down your entire staff who went there every day. I paid for my visit to the Little Soho restaurant in blood and tears." Dace's superior relented and did not put anything in the personnel file. But then, neither did he speak to him again for ten years. And Dace never again could bring himself to eat chicken livers and rice, his meal that fateful night.

As for Cyprus, it remains as hotly contested a piece of property as any on earth. Turks and Greeks have drawn a line across the island, and the threat of open warfare is ever present. Nowhere is there a monument or a tablet to remember the handsome young diplomat named William Boteler who gave his life there. There is, however, a main avenue in the capital of Nicosia that is named for the man most responsible for Boteler's death, General Grivas. Today the head of EOKA is remembered by ethnic Greeks not as a terrorist, but as a freedom fighter and a hero.

Anne Paffenbarger returned to teach at Arthur Murray for another five years, then moved to Manhattan and managed a men's shirt store. But she could never bring herself to throw away Bill Boteler's letters. And never again did she speak to anyone of marriage.
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Postby admin » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:19 am

Waiting for Godot

BY 1956, the year Boteler was killed, Hugh Redmond had spent five years in a Shanghai prison. During that time, history itself had seemed to accelerate. The Korean War had come and gone, ending in a costly stalemate -- 55,000 American fatalities. Stalin had died. The United States had detonated the first H-bomb. The French had been humiliated at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam, and Eisenhower had warned that the nations of Southeast Asia could fall to Communism like so many dominoes. Senator Joe McCarthy's demagoguery was but a bitter memory, except for those whose lives he'd ruined. (McCarthy himself would die a year later, at forty-eight, his liver shot from booze.) Mount Everest had been conquered, and theatergoers were scratching their heads over a play called Waiting for Godot.

Through all those years and changes, a defiant Redmond remained in his cell in Shanghai, cut off from the world but not forgotten. The Yonkers Citizens Committee for the Release of Hugh Francis Redmond ceaselessly campaigned to keep his name before the public. Behind the scenes, orchestrating and financing many of those efforts, was the CIA.

In June 1956, the very month Boteler died in Cyprus, Redmond's fortunes began looking up. That month Redmond and four American priests were transferred from bleak prison cells to a private house, where they were given somewhat more freedom of movement, though, to be sure, they were still prisoners. And after five years of silence, Redmond was now permitted to write monthly two-page letters to his mother, though he was not permitted to discuss the conditions of his confinement, indoctrination, or other sensitive topics.

On July 23, 1956, Redmond sat down to write his mother of his improving situation. Even the food was better. No longer would he need her to mail him tins of meat or cheese. Instead, he asked for cartons of cigarettes -- Lucky Strikes -- as well as powdered milk and sweets. He also asked that she send him sports columns from the Daily News and the baseball standings. But there was no hint that his release was on the horizon. When baseball season ends, he wrote, he wanted news of football and boxing. His only way to mark the change in seasons, besides the encroaching damp and chill of winter, was to follow from afar the rotation of sports. Each time baseball season came around again it meant another year had passed.

By December 1956 the Yonkers committee, with the blessing of the CIA, had begun a massive letter-writing campaign. Adults and schoolchildren wrote tens of thousands of letters demanding Redmond's release. All of them were addressed to Mao Zedong. To show its continuing concern, the Agency's Ben DeFelice provided Ruth Redmond with emotional support and helped her with the inevitable bureaucratic and financial issues that arose in her son's long absence. Within the Agency, DeFelice had already gained something of a reputation for compassion as he championed the interests of those widowed, orphaned, and otherwise bereaved by losses suffered in performance of Agency duties. The CIA assured Ruth Redmond that her son would not be forgotten and that the government would not rest until he was home again.

But if elements within the government were dedicated to working for Redmond's release, other parts seemed too busy to take serious notice, or too inflexible to seize opportunities. The State Department made innumerable entreaties of the Chinese in talks in Geneva, resulting in the release of forty-one U.S. citizens -- but Redmond was not among them. Nor were Richard Fecteau and John Downey, the two CIA fliers shot down in November 1952. "Utterly false," was how the State Department had dismissed charges that Downey and Fecteau were spies. They had, it was said again and again, simply been on a routine flight between Korea and Japan. And while Eisenhower had consented to see other parents whose loved ones were held in China, he refused to see Ruth Redmond, even after the State Department recommended such a visit and she had sworn to keep any such meeting a secret. This hurt her deeply and led her to believe that her son's fate was not a priority.

Finally, and most galling of all, the United States had imposed a blanket prohibition on American citizens traveling to China. On May 23, 1957, Ruth Redmond met in Washington with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, an ambassador, and members of the department's China Affairs branch. But there was no giving-in on the issue of travel to China. It would be viewed as a violation of the Trading with the Enemy Act. Six years into Mao's regime, the United States continued to refuse to recognize the Communist government and acted as if the world's most populous nation were little more than a fiction. What tormented Ruth Redmond was that a year earlier, on January 6, 1956, Chinese authorities via Beijing Radio had extended an invitation to the families of those imprisoned to visit their loved ones. Whether it was merely a propaganda trick or a bona fide humanitarian gesture -- or both -- it had raised her hopes that she might at last see her son again. And now the State Department declared such a visit out of the question.

As much as Washington doubtless wanted to win the release of Redmond, Fecteau, and Downey, it was also determined, so long as they were being held, to take full political advantage of such an emotionally charged issue. The three Americans were repeatedly portrayed as innocents caught in the grasp of an inhumane and totalitarian state. The chorus demanding their release became a rallying cry against Communism, spilling over into the general tide of anti-Red hysteria. The powerful image of three young and falsely accused Americans held behind bars year after year became part of that larger collage that presented the Chinese regime as heartless and barbaric. In working-class Yonkers and beyond, the immensity of the injustice became a hallmark of the Cold War, one of those half-truths upon which all demonization is predicated.

Had the full truth come out -- that the three Americans were covert CIA operatives caught in the act of espionage, that they were part of a broad and aggressive U.S. secret campaign against the Chinese government -- then the American public might have been forced to reexamine the issue of their incarceration. No government goes easy on those engaged in espionage or seeking to topple it by force. And there was an even stickier problem for the United States: once Washington had so passionately denied that the three were U.S. intelligence agents, any subsequent admission would tarnish American credibility and render suspect all future protestations of innocence. No one understood this better than Redmond himself. The three were not only prisoners but pawns in the Cold War.

There was the additional complication that throughout the very years that the three were being held, the CIA was stepping up covert actions against the Chinese designed to badger the regime of Mao Zedong, Some took the form of support of remnant Nationalist groups in China, providing materiel and personnel within the mainland. Others worked on the borders.

In 1957 the Agency began an elaborate program of recruiting Tibetan refugees from India and Nepal who were flown to a top secret CIA training base in the Colorado Rockies. There they were trained in paramilitary techniques and prepared to unleash a wave of sabotage against the Chinese. Colorado had been selected because it most closely approximated the high altitude of Tibet. CIA pilots recall many of the refugees meditating or working their prayer wheels on the entire flight to the United States. All along China's extensive border -- Burma, Nepal, Vietnam -- for years to come, the United States would engage in covert mischief-making, a kind of deadly tit-for-tat exchange characteristic of the Cold War.

Not even the most sanguine of Agency planners imagined such pinpricks would bring down Mao's regime, but it was hoped that it might distract Chinese war planners and stretch thin military resources just enough to prevent the Communists from expanding their choke hold to the rest of the subcontinent. And there was another reason such covert operations persisted. The thorny Chiang Kai-shek, so adept at wringing massive resources out of the U.S. government during World War II, was equally successful in exploiting American fears of an unrestrained mainland. The more cynical Agency operatives came to see these covert operations against the mainland as little more than a sop to the Generalissimo, Chiang Kai-shek.

Such incessant heckling would have done little to soften Beijing's heart or convince the regime that it was time to relent and release the long-suffering Redmond, Fecteau, and Downey. Instead, it increased the toll of casualties. Some within the Agency were troubled by the continued covert assaults on the mainland. One of these was Peter Sichel. Hardly squeamish, he was a veteran of the OSS, had spent seven years in Berlin, and from 1956 until 1959 was the CIA's station chief in Hong Kong.

But the efforts to infiltrate the mainland and the risks taken by both Americans and Chinese Nationalists made little sense to him. His assessment: "It was a total waste of time and a total death mission for anyone who got involved." In 1959 he quit the Agency, disenchanted with what he saw as a "cowboy mentality" and mounting casualties. He was decorated with the prestigious DIM, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

Sichel, as Hong Kong station chief had been well aware of the plight of Redmond, Downey, and Fecteau, but there was little he or anyone else in the Agency could do to effect their release. By September 1957 six years of prison had taken its toll on Redmond. He had survived his bout with beriberi, but the poor diet and lack of access to a dentist had become every bit as potent a torment as any devised by his captors. For months his teeth and gums had ached. He was only thirty-seven, but already he was nearly toothless, his gums inflamed. He was finally taken to the St. Marie Hospital, where the last of his decayed teeth were extracted, and where, in the weeks ahead, he would have repeated oral surgery. Doctors worked to fill in his jawbone. With no teeth and a mouth full of stitches it was nearly impossible to eat. He began to shed even more weight. His hair was falling out, and his right eye was afflicted with a twitch.

But there was no evidence of his surrendering to self-pity in any of his letters. "It suddenly struck me," he wrote in a September 10, 1957, letter, "when I wrote the date on the heading of this letter that today is Ruthie's [his sister's] birthday. Please give her my regards. When a fellow has a kid sister who is 26 he doesn't feel so young anymore."

Nine days later Redmond was awakened and given five minutes to ready himself to be interviewed by a group of young Americans who had gone to China in defiance of the State Department's travel ban. Standing before them, Redmond appeared sullen and hostile. He went out of his way to deny, once again, any link to the CIA. One of those visiting Redmond described him as ''100 percent American and hard as nails."

"Did you ever consider yourself to be politically conscious?" one of the young Americans asked.

"What is that -- a Marxist question?" fired back Redmond. "I've been reading a lot of Marxist books and that seems familiar."

But Redmond was reading more than Marx. The bare-fisted lad who had dropped out of college after a semester and had never demonstrated any great intellectual craving, was becoming a voracious reader. Prior to prison, as a former commando and paratrooper, he had concentrated largely on developing his physical skills. Now, within the cramped confines of a cell, he showed no less energy expanding his mental horizons. It began with an interest in magazines, among them Scientific American, Popular Science, Science Digest, and Harper's. Next he set about learning other languages -- first Chinese and, later, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and French. In each language he read literary classics. Oddly it was not these often provocative works that troubled the Chinese, but Reader's Digest they confiscated.

And still Redmond maintained an insatiable interest in sports. "The world series is all over," he lamented, "and I don't know yet who won the pennant in the National League. The Yankees looked like a cinch in the American League. Please send me some clippings on the series if you haven't already done so. Who won the Patterson-Rademacher and Robinson-Basilio fights?" A copy of Sports Illustrated was perennially on his request list to his mother.

Still irked by the visit from the young Americans, which he viewed as a traitorous act, he wrote his mother asking her not to make any effort to see him. It offended him that any American would challenge the travel ban, an act that implicitly recognized what he viewed as an illegitimate regime.

But on December 6, 1957, the State Department suddenly changed its mind and announced that an exception to the travel ban would be made. Ruth Redmond and close relatives of five other American prisoners still held by the Chinese would be permitted to travel to China to see their loved ones.

"I certainly am going to China even if I have to walk," declared a jubilant Ruth Redmond that very night. She had been told the cost of the trip would be about $3,000, far more than she could afford on the salary of a cafeteria worker, but local civic groups quickly offered to raise the money. The C1A also quietly made its own hefty donation. Ruth Redmond immediately cabled Chinese Premier Chou En-lai asking for an entry visa. It had been eleven and a half years since she had last seen her son. Fecteau's and Downey's mothers sent similar cablegrams to the Chinese. Just eleven days later, on December 17, the Chinese approved the request.

While Ruth Redmond readied herself for the long trip, preparations for her visit were also being made in Shanghai. At thirty-eight Redmond had almost become accustomed to life without teeth. Then, suddenly, with the prospect of his mother's visit and the attendant public attention it would bring, the Chinese took a renewed interest in Redmond's oral problems and his appearance. On Christmas Day 1957, six days before Ruth Redmond's slated departure for China, Hugh Redmond was finally fitted with a set of false teeth.

Four days later, on December 29, 1957, Redmond's wife, Lydia, paid an unexpected visit to her mother-in-law in Yonkers. Lydia, then a thirty-year-old emigre who spoke with a thick Russian accent, was struggling to make a living. She had not seen her husband in more than seven years. There had always been a rift between Redmond's mother and his wife. Redmond had written his mother that it had been more than two years since he had heard from Lydia, whom he called Lily. Now, suddenly, Lydia Redmond appeared on the eve of Ruth Redmond's departure, asking that her mother-in-law convey her love to the husband she had known for so short a time so long ago. Ruth Redmond remained deeply suspicious and resentful of her.

On January 1, 1958, three mothers -- Ruth Redmond, Jessie Fecteau, and Mary V. Downey -- as well as Mary Downey's son, William, gathered at New York International Airport, Idlewild, Queens. Fecteau's father decided not to go. He told the CIA's Ben DeFelice he was unsure that he could control his anger. "I would spit in the eye of the first Chinese I see," he told DeFelice.

Each of the three mothers carried a precious cargo for their sons: cigarettes, candy, socks, fruitcakes, oranges, vitamins, family photographs. They arrived in Hong Kong on January 6 and were escorted by British Red Cross representatives to the Chinese border. At the stout Lowu Bridge linking the New Territories with the mainland, the mothers were received by Chinese Red Cross officials. But when the women presented their passports, the Chinese scowled at the documents. The officials were intent upon protesting the U.S, refusal to recognize their government, and they objected to the term "Communist China." There was, after all, from their perspective, but one China. From Beijing's perspective the Republic of China, as Taiwan was known, was nothing more than another province, albeit one in rebellion.

Once across the bridge, Ruth Redmond was taken to Canton. At 6:15 the morning of January 8 she boarded a rickety two-engine plane. There was one other passenger on board, a Chinese woman carrying a large bunch of green bananas. Her name was Mrs. Ling and she would mysteriously appear in the background at nearly every stop during Ruth Redmond's three weeks in China.

From Canton it was a grueling eight-hour flight to Shanghai. Ruth Redmond shivered from the cold. There were no seat belts and she was not even offered a glass of water. Finally the plane landed in Shanghai and she was taken to the Ward Road prison.

In the hours before Ruth Redmond's arrival at the prison, the warden had carefully explained to Hugh Redmond that his mother would be arriving, that she would be asking if he was guilty of espionage, and that he should prepare a brief statement of confession so that the sound cameras could record it. Ever defiant, Redmond coolly explained that such a statement would be forbidden under prison rules, which prohibited inmates from discussing their cases before visitors.

Trying to maintain his composure, the warden offered to waive the provision in Redmond's case. Nothing doing, replied Redmond, who then noted that when Chinese prisoners received visitors there were no cameras present. If he could not see his mother in private, he threatened not to see her at all. The enraged warden was forced to accept a compromise. The cameras and reporters would be present, but they would be kept at the opposite end of the meeting room. And there was no more talk of a confession. Once again Redmond had won.


As Ruth Redmond reached the main gate of the prison, she carried under her arm a homemade sweater, woolen socks, and a carton of Lucky Strikes. She walked past the guards and was led into a large room empty of furnishings but for a single table and chairs. Ringing the room were Chinese reporters and cameramen waiting anxiously to record the event. And there stood Hugh Redmond, the son she had not seen since he had left for China in 1946. They hugged for several minutes under the watchful eyes of guards and interpreters, who monitored every word that was said. Their embrace was featured on the front page of the New York Times.

Redmond was dressed in a business suit, a blue shirt, a tie, and a short woolen coat. It would be the first of seven meetings with his mother. At each meeting, mother and son would hold hands and speak softly. After two hours the guards would begin to fidget and the Redmonds knew their time together was over. Then Hugh would be escorted out of the room, and some five minutes later Ruth Redmond would be led from the prison. Only once were Hugh Redmond and his mother permitted to leave the room together. That was for a momentary walk to the prison's front gate, where a Chinese official snapped a photo of the two together.

The conversation was limited to talk of family, how Redmond's ailing father was doing, and news of his own friends back in Yonkers. He could also ask of conditions and fashions in the United States. There was superficial talk of his prison routine. He was living in what had been a caretaker's house at the far end of the prison. He had a single room, furnished with a bed, a chair, a dresser, and a desk. He was permitted one bath a week. In his room he had a radio and was permitted to listen to one hour a day of classical music. Breakfast consisted of Chinese mush, tea, and bread. He said he had little to read, though he had recently read of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Few of the books Ruth Redmond had sent had been delivered. Redmond said he had written her a letter every month. Ruth Redmond expressed surprise. She had not heard from her son in eight months.

At their last meeting the Red Cross representatives arranged for Ruth Redmond and her son to have dinner together. A special meal was prepared at a local hotel and served in the same sparse prison room where they had been meeting.

The last time Ruth Redmond visited her son he volunteered a cryptic message that she wrote down in the log recording her visit. "He said that he hoped it would not be twelve years before we got together again and that without hope one could not live. He added that I should 'trust in the airlines' and he would be seeing me soon."

Upon her return, Ruth Redmond learned that the Yonkers Board of Education had promoted her in her absence to manager of the cafeteria at Franklin Junior High. It was not much more money, but it was good to know the community was behind her. Meanwhile, in Washington, the CIA quietly continued to accumulate paychecks in her son's account and to promote him as if he were just another promising covert employee on assignment.

Redmond for his part continued to write letters, vainly attempting to keep in touch with the realities and icons of a changing America. "Tell Billy and Tommy [nephews] to make sure they do their homework," he wrote, "and don't sit up too late watching T.V. or they'll grow up to be like Elvis. Love to all -- Hughie." This from a man imprisoned so long he almost certainly had never heard a song by Elvis Presley.

At home in Yonkers, Ruth Redmond vowed to return to China one day and to see her son again. In the meantime she and her son would have to content themselves with letters. It was a cruelly superficial correspondence, censored at both ends. Ruth would write nothing that might upset her son, and he knew that his every word would pass before the prison censor. Still, it was the fact of their correspondence more than its content that sustained them for so many years.

Redmond rarely even hinted at self-pity. Instead, he ended almost every letter with the same thought -- a request that his young nephews be taken out for ice cream. Over the years, the arrival of a letter from "Uncle Hughie" came to be a joyous occasion associated with a visit to the ice cream parlor. Outside the Redmond home, memories of Hugh Redmond faded. It seemed that Redmond and his Agency compatriots, Fecteau and Downey, were destined to be relegated to history, a somber footnote in the annals of the Cold War. But the ordeals of these three men were far from over.
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Postby admin » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:20 am

Faith and Betrayal

How could I have been so stupid as to let them proceed7

AT THE AGENCY it was often the elite who made the decisions and the good old boys who paid the price. So it was with Richard Mervin Bissell, Jr., and Thomas Willard Ray. Bissell was an intellectual, the son of Yankee privilege. Born in the Mark Twain House in West Hartford, Connecticut, he grew up in tailor-made shirts and attended Croton, Yale, and the London School of Economics. Ray was from Birmingham, Alabama, the son of a construction worker and a seventeen-year-old bride. A southerner through and through, he was soft-spoken and unassuming -- just "Pete," to his friends.

Bissell was cross-eyed and gangly, a poor athlete, and a man of eclectic interests. He was said to have memorized the nation's train schedules, its routes, and even the gauge of the tracks. Ray was short and stocky, a guard on the high school football team. His interests included a pet chicken -- until it was stolen.

Bissell was a wunderkind who would go on to teach economics at Yale and MIT and helped forge the Marshall Plan for Europe's recovery. He joined the CIA in February 1954 with the vague title of Chief of Development Projects Staff Soon after, he sired the U-2 spy plane, revolutionizing intelligence efforts. By July 1956 his eye-in-the-sky was flying over the Soviet Union, providing a long-denied view of that country's bomber, missile, and submarine production. Next he oversaw development of the sleek SR-71 Blackbird, a titanium spy plane that flew at two thousand miles an hour at a staggering 85,000 feet above the earth. In an hour its cameras could sweep 100,000 square miles of the planet's surface. And finally Bissell had a major hand in the Corona satellite project, which ushered in a whole new era in reconnaissance.

But in Bissell's mind his greatest achievement was the broad interpretation he gave to the doctrine of covert action. He had a major hand in the toppling of the government of Guatemala. In 1958 he was made the CIA's deputy director for plans, the vaunted chief of clandestine services worldwide and heir apparent to the fabled Allen Dulles, Director Central Intelligence.

Pete Ray had no such illustrious resume. He had joined the Air National Guard not long after turning sixteen. He had forged his mother's signature on the enlistment papers. By 1960 he was inspecting aircraft and spending weekends as youth director of a Methodist church. Flying was all he ever wanted to do, be it behind the stick of a lumbering bomber or a gnatlike Cessna.

Bissell was formal. Even his oldest son and namesake found him emotionally inaccessible. "I'm your man-eating shark," he once said of himself. Ray was down-to-earth. "Tenderhearted," his mother, Mary, would say of him.

The two were a universe apart. Hard to imagine such divergent paths would cross, but cross they did in a crisis that forever scarred the CIA.

These two lives began to converge in 1960. It was a time of portents that would shake public faith and chip away at the nation's naivete. A year earlier, in Birmingham, as elsewhere, Americans were shocked by congressional hearings into the TV quiz show Twenty-One. The audience had been had. The winning contestant had been fed the answers in advance. That same year, even the music became suspect as radio was rocked by a payola scandal. In Pete Ray's Birmingham, a listless and segregated town of coke and steel, the code of racial separation threatened to unravel.

And at the CIA it was the golden age of covert action. Emboldened by past successes in Iran and Guatemala, it increasingly saw itself as a source of action, not merely advice and analysis. It had deftly managed to embrace its triumphs and quietly slip its failures.

Notable among the failures was the case of Indonesia. In 1957 President Eisenhower had approved CIA covert actions to support rebel Indonesian army colonels in an effort to oust President Sukarno, who was seen as too cozy with the Communists. One plan involved embarrassing the Indonesian president by distributing photos of a Sukarno look-alike caught in a compromising position with someone posing as a "beautiful blond Soviet agent." The Agency even had a porno movie made featuring a man wearing a Sukarno mask. Such use of scandal as a psychological weapon dated back to the days of the OSS and remained an integral part of the CIA's kit to discredit those seen as ideological enemies. (One such ploy involved the distribution of defective condoms passed out in the name of a Philippine senator with leftist leanings.)

And as had happened before, Eisenhower would rely on the doctrine of deniability. He could remain aloof and statesmanlike while others at the Agency did his bidding in the shadows. On April 30 Eisenhower declared with reference to Indonesia: "Our policy is one of careful neutrality and proper deportment all the way through so as not to be taking sides where it is none of our business."

But the Agency's plan for Indonesia went well beyond psychological tactics. Arms were supplied to the rebels. B-26 bombers, scrubbed clean of U.S. insignia, were manned by American pilots and flew sorties in support of the rebels. In one instance a CIA aircraft mistakenly bombed a church, killing most of its congregation. On May 18, 1958, Agency pilot Allen Pope was shot down and captured. A week later he was presented at a news conference, along with documents implicating the CIA. Pope would spend four years in prison before Robert Kennedy could win his release. And Sukarno would long remain in power.

The CIA operation in Indonesia came to a close just as Bissell took charge of the division overseeing the clandestine service. Yet the failure in Indonesia was neatly contained and the Agency entered the 1960s full of self-confidence. The hard lessons of Indonesia -- presidential denials, a failed ouster, disguised aircraft, downed airmen -- were somehow lost on the Agency, though they would soon enough resurface with a vengeance.

In 1960 the CIA prepared to shed the decrepit temporary buildings clustered around the Reflecting Pool on the Mall left over from World War II. Soon it would withdraw across the wide Potomac to Langley, Virginia, and to a grand and gleaming edifice more befitting its new stature and ambitions. The cornerstone had already been laid. An aging President Eisenhower presided over the ceremony. The move represented the end of an epoch in Agency history. The mind-set of World War II and the OSS -- that radical threats sometimes required radical solutions -- continued on, but now the CIA was wholly a creature of the Cold War. Its new headquarters was a testament to its expanded authority and, as some would suggest, its hubris. No longer at the margins of foreign policy, Bissell's clandestine service was the primary arrow in the president's quiver against Communism.

Bissell's brilliance was beyond question. His projects catapulted the Agency into an entirely new era of intelligence collection. But they also carried with them their own unseen perils. The U-2, Bissell's crowning achievement, had been emblematic of American superiority and invulnerability, a spy plane assumed to be beyond the reach of the Soviets. Then, suddenly, on May 1, 1960, a Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missile felled a U-2 at sixty thousand feet. Its pilot, thirty-year-old Francis Gary Powers, did not take the shellfish toxin given him by the CIA and contained in a hollowed-out silver dollar. Instead, he parachuted into the welcoming arms of the Kremlin. Eisenhower vehemently denied the existence of U-2 intelligence overflights, while a NASA spokesman announced it was merely a "weather research plane" gone astray. Then a gloating Premier Nikita Khrushchev paraded about his trophy, the American pilot. It was all too reminiscent of Indonesia, only two years earlier.

Another thirty-year-old pilot, Pete Ray, could not help but take note of the spectacle and watch aghast.

American credibility had taken another direct hit. The president had been caught in an outright lie, doubling the humiliation of the event. The CIA faced a barrage of unfamiliar and unwanted questions. Trust in government was shaken, and even the unflappable Bissell was momentarily at a loss. Undaunted, the CIA continued that year to expand its covert operations and to insert itself into myriad faraway places, including the Congo, Laos, and Vietnam. But it was closer to home that the Agency focused most of its attention.


Ninety miles off the Florida coast, Fidel Castro had set up a revolutionary government. Eisenhower had concluded that Castro had begun to "look like a madman," that he was a Marxist-Leninist intent upon using the island nation to export revolution throughout the hemisphere. On January 13, 1960, a year after Castro had assumed power, Eisenhower resolved that the Cuban leader must be overthrown.

It was nearly a year before that decision in Washington trickled down to Birmingham, Alabama, and to Pete Ray, then on leave from the Alabama Air National Guard to train at nearby Fort Rucker. Ray would be one of nearly one hundred Alabama guardsmen who volunteered for the top secret Cuban assignment. In the dark about the specifics of the mission, he confided what little he knew to his wife, Margaret, and an uncle, Mac Bailey. Several times he traveled to Washington for polygraph and psychological tests. Ray's mother, Mary, grew increasingly curious. "What are you going to Washington for?" she asked. He did not answer her. His next trip to the capital, she repeated the question. "I am going on a secret mission," he said. "What, for the CIA?" she joked. Ray answered with nothing but a smile.

That Ray should have responded to such a shadowy appeal from the government would have come as no surprise to those who knew him. Like many in his National Guard unit, he was no ideologue, but he had absolute faith in Cod and country. If the government said the Communists were atheists bent on world domination, who was he to say otherwise? "If we don't fight them on their land," he once said, "we'll be fighting them in our backyard." And the charismatic John F. Kennedy's January 20, 1961, inaugural address seemed to extend to Ray a personal invitation to service. "Ask not what your country can do for you," he had said, "ask what you can do for your country." That sort of appeal was irresistible to a man like Pete Ray.

A few days before his departure from Birmingham, allegedly to undergo training, he asked his uncle to help him "sanitize" what few belongings he intended to take with him. Together, they took out the labels from his clothes and buffed the brands from his belts. Ray even ground down the heels of his shoes to remove the manufacturer's name. He was to take nothing that might link him to the United States. Soon enough he would be assigned a pseudonym. He was said to be going to a special training school.

Before leaving, Ray told his wife, Margaret, that when she wrote him, she should address the envelope to Joseph Greenland. The address was Chicago. Unbeknownst to her, the other men of the Alabama Air National Guard were giving their wives the same instructions. Just before he left, Ray acknowledged there was an element of risk. "If I should stump my toe, take care of the children," he told her. Should anything happen to him, he said, he would want her to remarry. With that, he kissed his wife, seven-year-old son Tommy, and six-year-old daughter Janet goodbye.

A week later Margaret received the first of many letters from him. None of them disclosed anything of his location or his mission. "This is a very good school but it sure does take all of my time," he wrote on February 13, 1961. "I have bought two more suits and a hat. It has been very cold. The top coat sure has helped." These last two sentences were deliberate misinformation. When he returned home for a brief visit, his wife, assuming he had been in a northern clime, was startled to see that he had a deep tan. What he had not told her was that he was at a secret CIA base deep in Guatemala where he was training Cuban pilots.

In that same letter he reminded his wife to file the income taxes, to repair the brakes on the family car, and to "tell Tommy and Janet Daddy loves them and for them to look after you."

Subsequent letters were postmarked Washington or Birmingham. He again sent his love to his wife, his son and daughter, and even their terrier, Chase. He fretted about his son's adjustment to school after the move from Fort Rucker back to Birmingham. "I know it is hard on Tommy to keep up in school due to the change, so don't be too hard on my little man," he wrote. Ray remembered that he had himself repeated a year of school as a boy, following a similar move.

Margaret sent him photos of herself and of Tommy and Janet. He marveled at Janet's long pigtails. But, much as he wanted to keep the photos, he returned them to his wife, in keeping with the security orders given him by the CIA. They were just one more item that could tie him to the United States. Often his letters were about the most mundane of concerns. He even reminded his wife to "have the septic tank and grease trap cleaned before warm weather sets in." Other times his letters reflected deeper concerns. He opened one letter with the question "Do you have all of the insurance policies paid up?"

For the first time, he was able to save a portion of his salary. "Tell Janet it is OK if you and her bought some new things," he wrote. Again he asked about the income tax. "Please get it filed because I will not be home before the deadline." What he did not mention was that the fast- approaching tax deadline, April 15, was also just two days before the invasion of Cuba.


In the year before Ray and the other men of the Alabama Air National Guard joined the mission, much had happened to affect its outcome. Bissell and his advisers had worked hard to devise a plan that they believed could work. The idea was to insert on the shores of Cuba a small but well- trained corps of Cuban exiles who would gradually be augmented by an anti-Castro insurgency within that country. They were to land near the town of Trinidad, selected because it was hoped that some of the twenty thousand residents might join the assault force, and also because, if things went poorly in the landing, the nearby Escambray Mountains would provide a safe haven where the men could disperse and later regroup for future guerrilla operations.

Encumbering the scheme from the beginning was a component of deception so grand and unwieldy that it would prove its undoing. At President Kennedy's insistence, the operation was to appear to the world to be solely the work of Cuban exiles. The hand of America was to be entirely invisible. This demand for so-called deniability evolved into a tortured fiction.

From the outset Bissell and his advisers agreed that success depended on domination of the skies over Cuba. Castro's meager airforce had to be destroyed or the exiles' landing would be doomed. Bissell found himself walking a constant tightrope between satisfying demands of deniability and the imperatives of a successful operation. To accommodate the former, he and his planners decided they would make it appear that any air support consisted of defectors from Castro's own air force.

That meant the planes used would have to be identical to those found in Castro's airforce. Bissell approved the idea of using aging B-26s, World War II planes mothballed in dizzying numbers outside Tucson, Arizona. The aircraft were painted with Cuba Air Force insignias and numbers. Most of the Cuban fliers in the CIA operation had no combat experience and were commercial or cargo pilots. They would have to be trained by men still highly proficient in flying the aging bombers. Enter the Alabama Air National Guard, the country's last unit to use B-26s. It was that thin thread of events that brought together Richard Bissell and Thomas "Pete" Ray.

But the project was dogged with grave problems early on. All CIA covert operations are compartmented, meaning only those who are deemed necessary to the planning or execution of the operation are brought into the loop. But this operation was deemed so close-held that not even the Agency's director of intelligence was consulted. Such extreme secrecy led to the anomalous situation that the very individuals planning the operation also assessed its chances for success, violating a basic tenet of intelligence. But even as the CIA took pains to ensure that the operation remained a secret, the magnitude of the undertaking guaranteed that rumors were already seeping out in Washington and Miami, where much of the recruiting and planning was taking place. Cynics would later suggest that everyone knew the invasion was coming -- except perhaps those who might have contributed to its success.

In late 1960 Bissell and CIA, desperate to bring down Castro, considered a number of harebrained schemes. One idea under serious consideration involved impregnating cigars with a depilatory that would make Castro's body hair and beard fall out. There was also a more deadly version of the scheme. In February 1961 the Agency delivered to Cuba a box of Castro's favorite cigars impregnated with the botulism toxin, though the box was apparently never delivered to the Cuban leader.

Another assassination plot involved the idea of contracting with the Mafia. Even as Bissell planned the upcoming operation, his CIA colleagues were exploring whether the mob's Joe Bonano could assassinate Castro. Bissell was too smart to take much of a direct hand in the scheme, though he secretly wished it well. "My philosophy ... in the agency," he later wrote, "was very definitely that the end justified the means, and I was not going to be held back."

Unorthodox as the Mafia solution might have been, it would have spared Bissell the need to plan a landing operation whose scope was without precedent in Agency history. The Joint Chiefs of Staff; while not opposing the plan, kept a wary distance. The State Department had grave misgivings and seldom missed an opportunity to undermine the effort, worried that it would create a foreign policy disaster. Kennedy, in office less than three months, was easily persuaded by his secretary of state, Dean Rusk, and others, who sought ever greater limitations on the operation in the name of deniability.

The plan conceived in the Eisenhower administration was repeatedly revised with an eye to ensuring that the United States would not be implicated. With officials still smarting from the U-2 shoot-down of eight months earlier, Kennedy was adamant that no American personnel take a direct role in the operation. To seasoned Agency officers under Bissell it seemed that the success of the operation was becoming less important than the ability to immunize the United States and the administration from embarrassment.

With each passing week the outlook was more bleak. Intelligence reports indicated there was no well-organized anti-Castro underground to come to the aid of the exiles. The CIA's original vision of a tiny guerrilla operation had become an unwieldy full-scale invasion. Six weeks before D-Day, the odds against preserving the element of surprise, essential to the operation's success, had risen to 85 to 15, according to advisers.

The original assault plan -- of dubious merit itself -- was now being hastily dismantled. In response to Kennedy's misgivings, Bissell halved the initial air assault on Castro's air force, from sixteen planes to eight. On March 15, a month prior to the invasion, even the landing site was changed. Kennedy deemed the proposed landing at Trinidad "too noisy." He wanted something "less spectacular." The site selected, because of a nearby airstrip, was Bahia de Cochinos -- the Bay of Pigs.

Then came the coup de grace. Kennedy canceled the second air strike, scheduled for April 16, the eve of the operation, intended to wipe out whatever of Castro's air force had survived the first attack. No one understood the implications of that decision better than Bissell. Yet whether out of personal ambition, presidential pressure, or the sheer force of momentum that had gathered behind him in the preceding months, Bissell never gave serious thought to aborting the mission.

From the beginning, the U.S. government had tripped over its own lies. On Apri112, 1961, Kennedy pledged in a speech to the American Association of Newspaper Editors that the United States would not intervene militarily in Cuba. Then, three days later, following the first bombing raid against Cuba, pilots landed in Florida posing as fresh defectors from Castro's air force. In the United Nations an outraged representative of Cuba lashed out at the United States. The esteemed U.S. representative, Adlai Stevenson, vigorously answered the attack, assuring the international body that the United States had nothing whatsoever to do with the bombing. Inadequately briefed on the Cuban operation, Stevenson discovered to his chagrin later that same day that he had been had. American credibility at home and abroad was about to sustain a mortal wound.

But it fell to the likes of Pete Ray and the fourteen hundred Cuban exiles to move forward with the plan. Ray had not been expected to leave the Nicaraguan base from which the Cuban exile pilots were flying their sorties against Castro. But with a part of Castro's air force left intact, the men on the beach and the supply ships they counted on were now easy targets for Castro's pilots. Two vital support ships, one that carried ammunition, the other communications, were sunk. Other vessels withdrew out of range. Out of ammo and cut off from their communications, those left on the beach were subjected to a withering ground and air assault.

The Cuban pilots Ray and the other guardsmen had trained gave an able accounting of themselves. But they were forced to fly a grueling three and a half hours from the Nicaraguan base to Cuba, conduct their attack, and then return, switch planes or refuel and rearm, and take to the air yet again. Those planes that returned -- and there were many that did not -- were riddled with ground fire. After a full day of sorties, the pilots were bleary-eyed with exhaustion, their nerves frayed, their aircraft suspect. On the beach at Bay of Pigs, the situation was deteriorating by the second.

On April 18, at 10:00 P.M., after unsuccessfully pleading for air cover, the brigade commander sent a message. "I will not be evacuated," he said. "We will fight to the end here if we have to."

It was then that Ray and some of the other pilots of the Alabama Air National Guard were called into a tent near the runway at the Nicaragua base for a briefing. Informed of the dire position of the invasion force and of the collapse of the air wing they had trained, Ray and the others were told they could fly the B-26s in aid of the assault landing.

Ray was paired with thirty-five-year-old Leo Baker, a former flight engineer who owned two Birmingham pizza parlors. He had recently sent his wife flowers for Easter Sunday. She was expecting their second child. Ray and Baker readied one B-26, while two other Alabama guardsmen, Riley Shamburger and Wade Cray, prepared another. Before taking off, Ray gave his wallet to a fellow airman but tucked the cash into his pocket, telling him with a wink that he might be spending the night in Havana.

Shortly after midnight, Ray and Baker took off.

Earlier at the White House, Admiral Arleigh Burke had pleaded with the president to provide additional air cover and to allow navy fighters from the Essex to wipe out Castro's remaining air force. Kennedy refused, saying he could not permit the United States to become involved in the assault.

"Goddamn it, Mr. President," fired back an irate Burke. "We are involved, and there is no way we can hide it."

Kennedy begrudgingly authorized a single hour of air support and cover from navy jets. Ray and the others counted on that support to fend off Castro's smaller but more nimble air force. But as Ray and Baker arrived off the coast of Cuba, there were no jets to protect them. The Agency had calculated the strike on Cuban time; the navy had relied on Greenwich mean time. Now Ray and Baker would be easy prey for Castro's agile T-33s and for ground fire. Exactly what happened next is not clear, but this much is known: Ray's B-26 was hit and crashed inland, not far from a sugar mill and Castro's headquarters. Baker was killed in the crash, Ray survived. Some would report later that Ray exited the plane and put up a valiant fight against Castro's militiamen. One account, unsubstantiated, had it that he died with a gun in one hand and a knife in the other.

Ray was one of 114 men killed in the operation. The rest, 1,197, were thrown into prison, where they would remain for two years. Their release would come at a humiliating price -- a ransom of more than $50 million worth of food and medicines. In Birmingham, Alabama, as elsewhere throughout the world, news of the failed invasion was headlines. But it would be a week before the Agency would dispatch two of its own to break the news of Pete's death to the Ray family. They found Margaret and her brother Charles at the Sloan Avenue home of their mother. Charles, too, had taken part in the secret operation and had only recently returned from Guatemala. What they told Margaret Ray was that her husband had been killed in the crash of a C-46 cargo plane during a training mission and that his body was not recoverable. It was the same story told the other four Birmingham widows.

But Margaret Ray knew better. She had read the newspapers and could put two and two together. She suspected all along her husband had been a part of the Cuban operation. She told the men from the Agency that she was not about to let such a lie stand. The moment they left, her ashen-faced brother told her she should not have voiced such accusations. Nor, he said, should she disclose whatever she might know. It was dangerous. It could even get her killed.

Eventually, all that would be returned to Margaret Ray of her husband's possessions was a plastic bag containing dozens of packs of chewing gum, a small transistor radio, and some items of clothing.

She was shattered. She had to contend not only with the loss of her husband but also with the lies that surrounded his death and with the implicit threats that she was not to attempt to contradict the White House in its denials of U.S. involvement at the Bay of Pigs. Later the government would try to persuade the public that the Alabama guardsmen lost over Cuba were merely mercenaries, "soldiers of fortune" there for the money alone. Margaret Ray took that as a personal slap in the face. But she was frightened of the government and what it might do to her. She had nearly stopped eating, was put on heavy sedatives, and fell into a deep depression. It was a week before she could bring herself to tell her son and daughter, Tommy and Janet, that they had lost their father.

She waited that day until the children came home from school, then sat them down next to her in a rear bedroom on the lower bunk bed, Tommy to her right, Janet to her left. They had known something was wrong. So many strangers had come and gone and there had been so much whispering. When Margaret Ray finally told her children, Tommy sat speechless. Janet became hysterical, jumping up and down and yelling at her brother. "Our daddy's dead!" she screamed. "Why aren't you crying?"

But Tommy would not let himself cry in front of his sister and mother. Instead, he got up and walked out of the house and found the stoop of a neighbor's porch, where he sat down and let the tears stream down his cheeks. Tommy had a gift for momentarily distancing himself from events. His sister did not.

Over the course of the ensuing weeks and months, the government's version of events would change. Mysterious checks for $225 would arrive twice each month drawn on an account with the Bankers Trust Company of New York. There was no explanation of their origin, and none was needed.


The Bay of Pigs was not simply a stinging defeat for the CIA but the end of an epoch. For a time, a disgusted President Kennedy stopped reading the Current Intelligence Bulletin provided him by the Agency. The CIA's credibility was clouded at best, and Agency confidence in the president fared no better. Allen Dulles tendered his resignation that November. Three months later, on February 28, 1962, Bissell resigned. Days later Kennedy bestowed upon him the National Security Medal. Bissell posed for an official photograph in the Oval Office, flanked by a grim Allen Dulles, no longer with the CIA, and by Kennedy, his hands tucked into the pockets of a dark suit. In the photo an owlish-looking Bissell wears the medal pinned to his chest and clutches the citation in his hands. But as Bissell looked into the lens of the camera, standing ramrod straight, he looked like a man facing a jury, as if awaiting the judgment of history. He had changed and so, too, had the CIA. No longer could the Agency believe that moral superiority and victory inevitably went hand in hand, that it would prevail as a matter of destiny. That belief, a quaint legacy of World War II and the OSS, was now part of the detritus of history. The time for blind faith was over.

The Bay of Pigs was what historian Theodore Draper called "a perfect failure." It shattered the myth of infallibility and helped usher in a more skeptical era, not only at the Agency but in the country at large. Whatever lessons were to be gleaned from that debacle would have to be learned again and again. Cuba would not be the last time the Agency would miscalculate the willingness of indigenous insurgencies to follow its lead. Nor would it be the last time that covert operations would have to factor in deniability on a par with strategic and tactical objectives, even if it meant undertaking the impossible. Each succeeding president would be insistent that he be able to distance himself from covert actions, particularly those pursued in contravention of law or principle. Not only America's enemies were to be deceived, but Americans as well, because they might not support or tolerate such undertakings.

Ultimately the Bay of Pigs fooled no one. The price of preserving the fiction of deniability had led not only to defeat but to a wider loss of standing in the world. Such duplicity cost the United States more of its political credibility and moral authority than any outright assault on Cuba. The decision had been made by Kennedy, but it was the CIA that would bear the brunt of public rancor and suspicion. Such chicanery and deceit would prove fertile ground for those who saw CIA conspiracies behind every word and deed. As covert warriors, CIA officers were expected to fall upon their own swords in defeat, even as the architects of those disasters wagged their fingers knowingly. In the postmortems that followed the Bay of Pigs, the most unsettling finding was that men like Pete Ray had died to preserve an implausible fiction -- what CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick called "a pathetic illusion."

On September 23, 1961, a shaken CIA moved into its new headquarters building at Langley. On the wall in the marble lobby were engraved the scriptural words from John: "and the truth shall make you free." The Agency, practiced in the art of deception, had itself become the victim of deception. In places like the Congo, Laos, Vietnam, and Nicaragua, covert objectives would again run headlong into the doctrine of deniability and limits imposed by fictive political aims. If political sensitivities sometimes reduced missions to quixotic pursuits, it did not diminish the courage of those dispatched to carry them out. It did, however, make it harder for some families of the bereaved to find meaning in such sacrifice.


For the children and widows of the Birmingham pilots killed in the Bay of Pigs operation, there was neither closure nor consolation. There were no bodies and no answers forthcoming from the government -- only lies. Some would go about their business, vainly attempting to put it behind them. But that was something Pete Ray's daughter, Janet, could not do. Instead, she consecrated herself to learning all she could about her father, his mission, and his fate.

In some ways she appeared to want to duplicate her father's life. She married a fighter pilot -- Michael Weininger -- and named their son Pete, after her father. She even named her dog Chase, after the dog she had as a child. She allied herself to the cause of freeing Cuba and spent countless hours interviewing veterans of the Bay of Pigs, searching for clues to her father's mission and death. Never was she without her small pink vinyl suitcase, the sort a child takes on a sleep-over. It held her father's dental impressions, notes, tape recordings, newspaper clips, photos, and every document she could lay her hands on related to the Bay of Pigs.

For Janet Weininger and the other family members from Birmingham, the tragedy of death was only the beginning of their suffering. Over the ensuing years, the Agency steadfastly refused to acknowledge that Pete Ray and the others had worked for the CIA, albeit on contract, or that they were anything more than mercenaries.

Worse yet, the Agency had retained a local representative, ostensibly to provide assistance and moral support to Margaret Ray. But instead of providing comfort, remembers her son, the man threatened Margaret Ray, telling her that if she tried to publicly link her husband's death with the CIA she would lose her benefits and face financial ruin and even possible criminal prosecution and psychiatric institutionalization. He informed her that he knew where she shopped, who her friends were, and what her daily routine was. He also, Margaret later told her son, made crude and unwanted sexual advances toward her.

Margaret Ray, already shattered by the loss, now believed she was under constant surveillance. She was frightened, sometimes hysterical. She never did fully recover from the trauma of loss and the pressures, both real and imagined, to keep her silent. Amid such deception, Margaret Ray could not even be certain that her husband was dead. There was, after all, neither a body nor a grave. And there was irrefutable evidence that the CIA had already lied to her about other matters. Five years after Pete Ray's death she remarried, but she was haunted by a recurring nightmare in which Pete Ray returned from his ill-fated mission, demanding to know how she could have abandoned him and remarried. For a brief time in 1969 Margaret Ray was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward. Thereafter she was placed on antidepressants.

Pete Ray's mother, Mary, was embittered and distrustful of the U.S. government. She had but one object that had belonged to her firstborn son. It was a schoolbook, a small red dog-eared volume entitled Presidents of the United States, which ended with Franklin Roosevelt. But for her, it was just one more bitter reminder of the government's perfidy and lies. A year and a half after Bay of Pigs, when Kennedy was assassinated, Mary was almost ashamed of her reaction. "I was sorry he was killed but I didn't cry about it," she would say. "I grieved for his children but I didn't cry for him because he was the cause of Pete's being killed."


More than twelve years after Ray's death, on November 14, 1973, William Colby, Director Central Intelligence, quietly conferred a posthumous Distinguished Intelligence Cross upon Pete Ray. The accompanying citation read: "In recognition of his exceptional heroism in April 1961 when he undertook an extremely hazardous mission of the highest national priority. Although fully aware of the dangers he faced, Mr. Ray un-hesitatingly volunteered to fly the mission on which he lost his life. In doing so he demonstrated his greatest personal courage and outstanding loyalty to his country. Mr. Ray's selfless devotion to duty and dedication to the national interests of the United States uphold the finest traditions of our country and reflect the highest credit on him and the Central Intelligence Agency." It was a marked turnaround.

But for the family of Pete Ray it was too little too late. The Agency continued to refuse to release to them any information about Ray's mission or his death, and maintained for another six years that he had been killed in the crash of his plane, when they knew otherwise.

For Ray's daughter, Janet, grief had long before transformed itself into a crusade to unearth all she could about her father. In 1978 her quest took a bizarre turn when she learned that her father's body might still be recoverable. She had been told that a body, believed to be her father's, had been preserved, perhaps even frozen, by Castro, as a kind of trophy of war.

Over the course of the next two years, she worked ceaselessly to confirm that report and, if true, to win the return of her father's remains. She sent Castro telegrams and letters asking for information. Through Cuban representatives in Washington, the State Department, and sympathetic members of Congress, she learned that if she could substantiate that this body was indeed her father's, Castro would be willing to release it to her. The Cubans took fingerprints of the cadaver, which were then sent to the FBI. In September 1979 the FBI compared those prints with microfilmed prints taken at Ray's enlistment in the Alabama National Guard in 1947. The conclusion: the Havana morgue did indeed have the remains of Thomas "Pete" Ray.

Janet, pregnant with her son Pete, stood in the drizzling rain as the plane carrying the body of her father touched down at the Birmingham airport in December 1979. It was the same runway from which Ray had taken off for the mission eighteen years earlier. But before Ray's remains would be buried, she and her brother, Tom, insisted that it be autopsied. They hoped that it might yet yield some final secret of how Pete Ray died.

On the afternoon of December 6 a medical examiner at the Jefferson County Coroner's Office set about removing the five screws, sealed in red wax, that fastened the lid to the gray pine coffin. Inside, the body was in a zinc metal container with a small window over the face. It was lined with white cloth. Ray's head rested on a white pillow. As the coroner examined the body, one thing was obvious. Ray had not died in a plane crash, as the CIA had originally told the family. His body was riddled with bullets and marked by at least ten wounds -- to his head, abdomen, arm, shoulder, ear, and wrist. As the procedure continued, the coroner carefully removed several fully jacketed slugs. Ray's son, Tom, then twenty-five, stood by and watched in silence.

Two days later, on Saturday, December 8, 1979, some two hundred people gathered on a Birmingham hillside to bury Ray with full military honors. Ray would have liked the view from that hill that overlooked the airport and the planes of the Alabama Air National Guard. Among those who came to remember him were family members, old friends, officers of the Cuban men he fought beside from Brigade 2506, former governor George Wallace, and even a camera-shy case worker from the CIA. As the coffin was carried to the open grave, some of those who had served with Ray in the Alabama Air National Guard saluted him. Ray's widow, Margaret, confined to a wheelchair by a recent heart attack, stared at the flag-draped casket and a black-and-white photo of her late husband. There were few words spoken.

Janet had already written a five-page letter to her father and slipped it into the uniform in which he was buried. At the funeral her remarks were brief. Said Janet, "I'm so glad my father's home."


Richard Bissell, too, had been changed by the Bay of Pigs. His name, once synonymous with brilliance and promise, was now forever welded to the Cuban debacle, like Napoleon and Waterloo. Following his CIA service, he spent two unhappy years at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a think tank, then returned to Farmington, Connecticut. There followed ten utterly unfulfilling years as marketing director of the United Aircraft Corporation. Then he retired. At his modest office his assistant, Fran Pudlo, decorated the walls with photos and keepsakes of his career.

He had mellowed and grown reflective. Pudlo and he would read to each other from passages of Greek or Roman history. One of his favorites was The Greek Generals Talk: Memoirs of the Trojan War: He liked to listen to the broader sweep of history, as if it might give him some perspective on his own life, if not outright absolve him. As he listened to Pudlo reading, he sipped coffee from a white china mug decorated with five gold stars and the letters "RBAF." It stood for "Richard Bissell's Air Force" -- a gift from those who had worked with him on the U-2.

But at his home Bissell had almost no reminders of his CIA days. Somewhere in a drawer was a pair of titanium cuff links, a forgotten memento of the SR-71 project. He occasionally spoke of his Agency days but rarely of the Bay of Pigs. It was a reservoir of regret he would not allow himself to revisit. By the early 1990s, as he entered his eighties, he was no longer the imposing and sometimes volatile figure that loped down the long halls of Agency headquarters, already a legend. He was now frail and easily winded. He was wearing himself out trying to collect his thoughts into a memoir, a kind of footrace with his own mortality. When completed, it was unsparingly candid about his own culpability in the Bay of Pigs, but also placed much blame on Kennedy.

More and more he spent his days in the bedroom, surrounded by books and journals. In the winter of 1993 he was a sickly eighty-four-year-old man, his mind still keen, but no longer able or willing to fend off the limits of age.

It was on January 17, 1994, that Janet Weininger, daughter of Pete Ray, came to visit him in Farmington at the Bissell home, a three-hundred-year-old converted farmhouse. Bissell rarely turned down a request for an interview or a visit from a stranger. But the man Janet Weininger met that evening was a ghost of the robust Cold Warrior who had sent her father and so many others into the fray against Communism. Short of breath from pneumonia and suffering from circulation problems, he shivered in a recliner, a green plaid blanket draped over him and his feet warmed by slippers. For hours he listened as Janet spoke of her father and of the Cuban brigade. It was the least he could do, part of an endless penance.

Even Janet did not fully grasp the nature of her feelings toward this man whom she might well have hated as the architect of the fiasco that had claimed her father's life. But instead, she came to him seeking answers about her father and the mission and to pay homage to the man who had overseen the U.S. attempt to unseat Castro. With her, she brought a plaque from Brigade 2506, which she presented to him. The plaque had been made up by the Cuban veterans three years earlier as part of a thirtieth-anniversary observance. They had hoped to present it to him in person in Miami.

Bissell declined the brigade's invitation in an eloquent letter dated thirty years to the day after the invasion. "Looking back," he wrote, "one can see there were many reasons for the failure and many persons who must share responsibility for it. There were errors of planning, particularly the failure to foresee and plan for contingencies for which I accept with profound regret a share of the blame. There were equipment defects. There was a faster and more effective response by Castro than we expected. But above all there were restrictions imposed on the way the operation was designed and conducted in an attempt to maintain an unattainable secrecy about the role of the U.S. government."

But even in his later years Bissell never conceded the ultimate defeat. He closed his letter with these words. "I wish I could be with you on this occasion to drink a toast to the brave men who risked and those who lost their lives trying against all odds to overthrow a tyrant. I am confident that theirs is the wave of the future, and an increasingly isolated Communist dictatorship will collapse and that Cuba will again be free. May that day come soon." It was a remarkable exhortation considering that by then Castro had outlasted seven U.S. presidents and become the longest-serving leader in the Western Hemisphere -- thanks, in no small part, to the CIA's failed attempts to oust him.

The plaque Janet carried with her that day was inscribed with the words "In Recognition and Appreciation for Gallant Services Rendered During The Bay of Pigs Military Operations. You Are One of Us." Bissell was visibly moved, though perhaps not nearly as much as Janet wished to believe. They spoke for several hours. After being subjected to years of government lies and evasion, Janet felt that at last she was getting the truth about the campaign that claimed her father's life. She would remember their meeting as a moment when a tremendous burden was lifted from her shoulders. Bissell, too, seemed to feel a sense of liberation. In coming together on a blustery winter day in Connecticut, the two had managed, at least momentarily, to exorcise some of the demons that had tormented them both for so many years.

Bissell's health continued to deteriorate, but it was his spirit more than his body that capitulated. On February 6, 1994, he was told that it might be necessary to place him in a hospital or nursing home. He did not voice any protest, but there was no concealing his disdain for his own disabilities and growing dependence on others.

That night he did not awaken from his sleep. He was found in his twin bed in a large bedroom painted red and flushed with sunlight. The newspapers said it was a heart condition, but his family knew better. At age eighty-four Richard Bissell had simply decided to let go of life.

His body was cremated, but it was not until June 26 that there was a memorial service for him. That had always been his favorite time of year. For such a public figure, once the standard-bearer of the Cold War, it was a decidedly private affair. That was how Bissell would have wanted it. It was a brilliant sunlit day. Only about thirty people were to gather to pay their remembrances, none of them from his Agency days. But among those who were in attendance was Janet Ray Weininger. A short time before the memorial service, members of Bissell's immediate family and Janet gathered in the living room, a long two-story room filled with books on politics, military history, economics, and mysteries, and even some Mark Twain. Once again, Janet had come with a gift. This time it was the blue and gold flag of Brigade 2506, which she presented to Bissell's widow. There were few words spoken.

After that, the thirty or so family members and close friends assembled on a sunlit hillside overlooking the Farmington River. Across the river was a quiltwork of cultivated fields. Bissell's ashes were placed beneath a simple granite stone that lay flush with the grass. The marker bore nothing but his name and dates of birth and death.

Neither the return of her father's body nor the hours spent with Bissell brought any lasting peace to Janet Weininger, so consumed was she by the loss of her father. But for opposition from other family members, she would have had her father's body exhumed and moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to Miami -- closer to her home. And in the spring of 1997, three years after her time with Bissell, she could be found trekking through the jungles of Nicaragua in an effort to find and recover the bodies of two Cuban pilots who had crashed after taking part in the Bay of Pigs operation.


That operation had been a tragic comedy of errors, a futile quest concocted by men of great power and intellect and carried out by men of unquestioning courage. At least in part, it was the contemporaneous demand for deniability that had doomed the mission, and subsequent decades of denials and secrecy that kept public fascination with the fiasco alive. All but one of the original twenty copies of the CIA inspector general's scathing reports examining the Bay of Pigs were destroyed. The lone surviving copy was for thirty-six years securely locked in the CIA director's safe, as if it were the last of some virulent strain of pox that could once again wreak havoc on the world. Not until February 1998 did the Agency release the remaining copy, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Visitors to the CIA, perusing the pages of the revered Book of Honor, would find four nameless stars beside the year 1961, one for each of the Alabama Air National Guardsmen who died in the Bay of Pigs. Long after their names had appeared in the national press and histories of the invasion, the Agency still steadfastly refused to publicly acknowledge the men or to inscribe their names in the Book of Honor. It was as if by refusing to utter their names, the Agency did not have to look them or itself in the eye, as if accountability could be so easily sidestepped. This, too, is a fiction.

One of those four stars belongs to Thomas "Pete" Ray. His daughter, Janet, is still in pursuit of answers as if they might fill the void of her grief. In this way, she, too, has come to be counted among the casualties of the Bay of Pigs.
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Part 1 of 2


I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the cwuds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not wve.

-- WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death"

THE AFTERNOON of August 25, 1964, was hot and steamy as a tiny knot of mourners-a mother and father, a sister and a widow-gathered on a grassy Chattanooga hillside to say a last good-bye to thirty-four-year-old John Gaither Merriman. There, in grave 172, section BB, Merriman took his place in the national cemetery among many honored dead. Interred around him were more than six thousand unknown Civil War casualties who fell at Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Lookout Mountain, as well as six recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. John Merriman would have been proud to be in the company of such men, and they in his.

All that August day, Merriman's widow, Val, had done what she could to steel herself The night before, she had spoken with the minister, Brother Paul, and told him only that her husband had been involved in "a terrible accident." Those were the very words he used from the pulpit of the Church of Christ addressing some thirty-five mourners, among them many brawny young men with weathered faces and aviator glasses tucked into their coat pockets.

In a pew close to Val sat Dorothy "Dot" Kreinheder, a casual friend who had worked with John and now took a more than casual interest in Val's well-being. If she was there to offer Val Merriman emotional support, she was also there to ensure that the widow said nothing that might raise questions about Merriman's death or implicate the CIA Kreinheder had made herself indispensable, even purchasing Val's mourning dress (a black affair with a low circular collar and white inset), a snug black pill- box hat, and the black fabric purse Val would clutch to her side, knowing it held a picture of her husband.

By all accounts, Merriman's was an utterly unremarkable and prosaic passing. The local newspaper reported what the family had told them: that Merriman had been in an auto accident the evening of August 20 while at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico. The precise cause of death, it was said, was a pulmonary embolism. It was all in black and white on his death certificate, his autopsy report, and his cemetery record. Merriman had had the misfortune to somehow strike "a road abutment"-the words appear- ing on his official death certificate. As a common traffic fatality he hardly seemed worthy of such hallowed ground.

But Val Merriman knew otherwise. She knew the death certificate had been dummied up, the newspapers duped, and the pathologist misled. She knew it was all part of one grand lie-everything, that is, except the one undeniable fact: John Merriman was dead. Still, she was determined to be a good CIA wife to the very end, to cling to the cover story and not ask questions. It was nobody's business but "the Company's." In the midst of her sorrow, she would deliver the performance of a lifetime. She was not even to tell her three young sons the truth of their father's death, at least not until years later when the boys could be trusted not to tell a soul. Jon, Bruce, and Eric were not even to be there at their father's funeral.

At least thirty-three-year-old Val Merriman might draw some small comfort from knowing that her husband had received the best of medical attention in his final hours and that he died among people \vho cared about him in the Puerto Rican hospital. Syd Stembridge, a senior CIA officer and friend, had shared with Val a detailed account of Merriman's final evening. John, he told her, had known little pain He had been resting quietly that evening and was well provided for. He even asked for a bowl of ice cream, which the nurse promptly brought him. He polished it off with boyish delight, then lapsed into a peaceful sleep from which he did not awaken. What Val Merriman could not know was that her husband was never in a Puerto Rican hospital and that the story of the ice cream was pure invention, a fiction within a fiction. No one at the Agency could bring themselves to tell her the truth. It was that gruesome.

What she did know was that her husband possessed the stuff of which heroes are made. Others knew it too. A quiet man of modest height and build, he had a glint of mischief in his eyes and a pencil-thin mustache that gave him the look of a dashing Hollywood roue. He was ruggedly individualistic, with an insatiable yen for action and a confidence in his skills that was easily mistaken as a disdain for risk.

But he also had a gentler side. In his spare time he painted with oils, especially seascapes and aircraft. He wrote short stories and poems, designed sailboats, and could turn the Sunday newspaper into a soaring box kite to the delight of his sons. A crack marksman and able gun- smith, he once brought down a monster of a Kodiak bear but was so distressed at the loss of such a majestic creature that ever after he swore off hunting.

His passion for flying dated back to earliest boyhood. At five, he cajoled his parents into buying him a ticket to ride with a barnstormer who took him up for a series of stomach-churning stunts above the Chattanooga skies. After that, Merriman was intent on getting his own wings. At fourteen he soloed for the first time. At sixteen he had his pilot's license. At seven- teen he dropped out of high school to join the 82nd Airborne. As a young man he once tried to put his feelings for flying into words.

The wind on the wings strong and tight
The clouds around me fleecy and white
The cars going in and out of town
Like ants to and from a mound.

Like a high spirited steed
With head held high
This vision with speed
wings across the sky ...

If I'm ever sent to heaven, and paradise I see,
It can never be more beautiful than flying seems to me.

Long before he had thrown his lot in with the CIA, before the cloak of secrecy obscured his life, Merriman had demonstrated ample valor. For one fleeting instant he was even thrust into the public spotlight. It was July 9, 1953. Merriman was then a twenty-four-year-old pilot assigned to the Civil Air Patrol's Yakutat Squadron in Alaska. On that day another pi- lot flying mail and supplies to a remote climbing expedition discovered a distress signal written in the snow. The message indicated that a member of the party had come down with appendicitis and needed to be airlifted out immediately.

The pilot sent a message to Elmendoff Field, which dispatched a Grumman SA-16 Albatross in the hope that it could land safely on the glacier and retrieve the stricken climber. But the pilot found it too treacherous to land at the 7,600-foot base camp and was forced to turn back.

Merriman, then a meteorological aid, a lowly GS-5 with the U.S. Weather Bureau, heard of the situation and volunteered to make a rescue attempt. Already an experienced bush pilot, he flew a Piper Super Cruiser to the nearby Malaspina Glacier, carrying on board a set of skis to be attached to the plane for a glacial landing. The mission was perilous from the outset. Merriman's Piper aircraft was not designed for landings and takeoffs above six thousand feet. The gnatlike plane, a mere twenty-two feet in length and fueled by a one-hundred-horsepower engine, had a top speed of Jl4 miles per hour. As Merriman's superior would observe, "No one should have to use it" at such altitudes. When the plane landed at a midway site, the aircraft was damaged by rocks protruding through the ice. Merriman pressed on, further damaging the plane as he took off; his craft now outfitted with skis.

As Merriman flew on toward the site of the climbers' camp, the winds picked up. A driving rain pelted the windshield. By the time he reached Seward Gap, visibility was down to three miles. Only his familiarity with the wilds of the Yukon Territory allowed him to navigate. Even so, the skis of his plane twice skidded across the icy terrain at full cruising speed, violently rattling his aircraft. Merriman's commanding officer later likened it to "flying inside of a milk bottle." Finally he spied the campers' site, which had been marked off with a piece of canvas and a cargo parachute. After a week of bad weather and thawing, the snow had rotted through and barely supported the weight of the aircraft. Merriman's plane came to a slamming halt after touchdown on a glacier at the foot of Mount McArthur.

By then it was dusk. The weather was too hostile to risk taking off Merriman grabbed a few hours' sleep while members of the trekking party swept clear a 4,300-foot runway with their snowshoes. At daybreak Merriman and his patient, Dick Long, took off; requiring every foot of the runway. Unable to put the tires back on his plane, Merriman landed on his skis in the tall grass beside the airport in Yakutat. A doctor was waiting to take Long to the lower forty-eight.

For Merriman the flight was nothing extraordinary. Four days later he was off on another mercy mission, this one to the Situck River to pick up a fisherman sick with pneumonia. But Merriman's daring rescue of Dick Long had caught the attention of his superior in Anchorage who relayed a description of Merriman's exploits on to Washington.

Six months later, on February 16, 1954, Merriman found himself standing on the stage of a cavernous auditorium in Washington, D.C., as Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks presented him with a gold medallion, the esteemed Exceptional Service Award. The citation read: "For heroic action involving jeopardy of life in piloting the plane which under adverse weather and extremely hazardous operating conditions effected the rescue of a stricken mountain climber from the Malaspina Glacier."

Merriman was then just six blocks from CIA headquarters, but the thought of covert operations had yet to cross his mind. In an otherwise totally private life, this moment onstage was the one time John Merriman would come to public attention. Already, though, within the community of bush pilots and smoke jumpers, he was becoming something of a legend, as much for his guts as for his gift as an aviator. It was said of him that he could fly the box the airplane came in.

A decade later some of those same pilots who admired him most and who shared his secrets would gather inside the Church of Christ to pay their last respects to Merriman. To some it seemed a cruel irony that one who had been so willing to risk his life to rescue others, should have met such an unconscionable end.


For many years John Merriman worked as a commercial pilot, but the tedium of fixed schedules and the routine of routes did not agree with him. Then in 1962 he took a job as pilot to the royal family in Saudi Arabia. But that job was cut short after less than two years when King Saud was deposed. After that, Merriman put out feelers for a job within the community of clandestine operatives.

In 1963 he was contacted by Intermountain Aviation, ostensibly a private firm, but one that, in reality, was part of the CIA's growing stable of wholly owned airlines called proprietaries. Collectively this network of seemingly private companies created a virtually invisible air force at the disposal of the CIA, permitting it to expand its clandestine paramilitary activities around the globe. Undetected, such CIA front companies as Civil Air Transport, Air America, Evergreen, and Inter- mountain could move vast amounts of materiel-weapons, communications gear, and provisions-and men in support of America's proxy wars against the Communists, be they in Europe, Africa, Asia, or Latin America. Such firms were always on the lookout for savvy pilots. There was none better than John Merriman.

During the year that Merriman underwent an extensive CIA back- ground and security check, he signed on with Johnson's Flying Service in Missoula, Montana. There he ferried smoke jumpers to forest fires. In its wisdom the Agency had steered him to a job that would polish precisely those treetop turns and acrobatic flying skills needed in counterinsurgency operations. It would also allow him to gain the trust and confidence of many of the very men who were to become the backbone of the CIA's daring covert paramilitary efforts in places like the Congo, Laos, and Vietnam. Even the smoke jumpers were impressed with Merriman's sangfroid. Before taking off; he calmly slipped a leather glove over his left hand. On it was written the word "Bandersnatch." Many of the jumpers took to calling him that as a nickname of affection and respect.

When he had finally cleared Agency scrutiny, Merriman and his family were moved to Intermountain's headquarters at a vast top secret facility a half hour northwest of Tucson, Arizona. Its name was Marana Air Base. A former World War II facility, it offered three runways intersecting in a triangle and set upon a perfectly flat stretch of barren earth. In the distance to the west, the Sawtooth Mountains broke the monotony of land and sky. For years it would be the premier CIA training ground for paramilitary air operations, offering a kind of postgraduate curriculum in air ops. Merriman was jubilant. In a letter to a friend he wrote, "I'm sure I've found my life's work if I don't get fired."

From around the country the CIA had recruited top experts in all the arcane arts needed to carry out covert operations-smoke jumpers and "riggers" adept not only in making complex jumps but in the packing of specialized parachutes, kickers" capable of designing and delivering pallets and chutes for extraordinary supply drops, pilots willing and able to fly through torturous weather conditions, and mechanics, armaments experts, and engineers eager to convert conventional aircraft and apparatus to meet the needs of the most exotic missions. Together they formed a tightly knit community-all of them sworn to absolute secrecy. The unseen instrument of U.S. foreign policy, they were warriors in a world of undeclared wars.

More than a mere training base, Marana was a realm unto itself with-drawn from all the world. Ordinarily there was little visible security that might call unwanted attention to the base. It was said that not even Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was privy to its mission and that when he finally learned of it he went to the CIA's Dick Helms demanding to be briefed. When sensitive equipment was being tested, signs would go up that read, "Warning: Do Not Proceed Further; Use of Deadly Force Authorized."

Over time there evolved a distinct culture of secrecy, a society within a society in which the mores were defined by security classifications, compartmentation, and an unspoken taboo on asking too many questions.

For the families living on or around Marana it was anything but a hardship post. When the household chores were done, Val Merriman and the other wives passed the afternoons playing cards beside the Olympic- sized swimming pool or looked forward to bowling leagues, bingo nights, and turkey shoots. Even the teenagers became a part of the enterprise. Some worked as lifeguards or in the carpentry shop or on the watering crew. Others painted numbers and lines on the runways. The men would gather after hours at the base's watering hole for drinks and the chatter of good old boys reveling in doing what they loved best. In the evenings the base featured not a crude canteen, but a polished dining hall offering fine cuisine with ice sculptures and a chef who had worked on a cruise ship.

Periodically the men, especially the riggers, would disappear for weeks and months at a time. No one asked where they had gone. Most al- ready knew. Those who didn't had no business knowing.

When the Merrimans arrived at Marana in early 1963, the Agency was still licking its wounds from the Bay of Pigs fiasco of two years earlier. By then, several of the Agency's most vaunted figures had been publicly discredited and quietly departed, men like Director Allen Dulles and Deputy Director for Plans Richard Bissell. But the Bay of Pigs had not put a damper on covert operations. Far from it. Between 1960 and 1965 the CIA expanded its operations in the Western Hemisphere Division by 40 percent, reflecting a perceived increase in Soviet activity in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and elsewhere.

Decolonization in Africa led to expansions in CIA activity on that continent as well. Again the aim was to stymie Soviet and Chinese ef- forts to extend their spheres of influence. Until such perceived threats, Africa had commanded little interest at the Agency. Indeed, African operations, before 1960, had been folded into the divisions overseeing Europe and the Mideast. Between 1959 and 1960 CIA stations in Africa increased by 55 percent. Asia, too, was demanding greater covert re- sources, particularly in Laos and Vietnam. Those theaters of operations would provide an entire new generation of CIA leaders and station chiefs who would take the place of the graying OSS veterans still at the helm in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Overseeing much of this expansion, after Bissell's departure, was his replacement in 1962 as deputy director of plans, Richard Helms, as experienced and hard-core an operative as any the Agency had. The clandestine service would continue to extend its reach and resources until the late 1960s when public suspicion, budgetary constraints, and concerns about exposure reduced the frenzied pace of covert operations.

The core of senior CIA officers who had overseen the Bay of Pigs operation had escaped their superior's fate and had been reconstituted as if nothing untoward had happened. Indeed, they would help usher in the new era of covert paramilitary operations.

Perhaps it was because they were below the screen of public criticism, perhaps because they possessed skills or experience too valuable to lose. Whatever the reason, the men most closely involved with the Bay of Pigs simply packed up from their ill-named "Happy Valley" operations base in Nicaragua and ended up at Marana, where they played pivotal roles in an ensuing decade of CIA adventures and misadventures. For them the Bay of Pigs was not a career-ending disaster, but merely a stepping-stone to the next assignment.

Chief among these was Gar Thorsrude, Marana's commander and undisputed top dog. It was Gar who had overseen base operations at the Bay of Pigs and briefed men like Alabama pilots Pete Ray and Leo Baker. A company man through and through, he accepted long odds and operational failures as part of the landscape. He was nothing if not a survivor. A commanding figure, he stood well over six feet, had a stony, often sullen face, a mouth full of gold teeth, a crew cut, and a volcanic temper. A former smoke jumper himself he knew his stuff and knew it well. For this he was widely respected, but not universally beloved.

The less kindly disposed used words like "prickly" to describe him. He had played an integral role in the covert war against China by training Tibetans and providing them with weapons and provisions. He had overseen operations from which more than a few men had not returned. It was said of him by one Agency wife that when he died it would be hard to round up enough people to serve as pallbearers, to which another Agency wife added that she would volunteer -- if for no other reason than to make sure he was indeed dead. No one, not even the brassiest of the flyboys, had the cojones to ask Thorsrude about the Bay of Pigs. As head of Marana, he was Merriman's ultimate boss.

Others at Marana were veterans of the Bay of Pigs too, among them the base's chief pilot, Connie Seigrest, the smoke-jumping brothers Miles and Shep Johnson, and the head "kicker," Jack Wall. Many had known each other for more than a decade, dating back to the early 1950s when they had been with the CIA front company called Western Enterprises based in Taiwan. There the mission had been to relentlessly heckle the Chinese. Even Gar had once been a kicker for Western Enterprises.

From Asia to the Bay of Pigs to Arizona, and from there to points around the world. Technically, few if any of them were CIA employees but merely contract workers. But they would have taken strong offense at any suggestion that they were mercenaries. They saw themselves as soldiers out of uniform, not soldiers of fortune, part of an elite cadre forged by more than a decade of covert combat. The men of Marana were the leading edge of any CIA air operation, the go-to guys of Langley. While the State Department boys politely parsed policy in the salons of Georgetown, their stubble-cheeked alter-egos at Marana were flying above treetops through blackest night rehearsing supply drops.

And as John Merriman was soon to find out, even the Cuban exile pilots themselves, those who had survived Castro's murderous fire, would find steady work for the CIA. They would provide a perfect ready-made force -- already trained in flying, experienced in aerial combat, only too eager to take on the Communists, and just distant enough from the professional ranks of Langley for Washington to once again deny any knowledge of them. It was some of these very pilots that John Merriman was expected to polish and prepare for covert combat missions overseas.

One of these pilots was Gus Ponzoa, the senior Cuban pilot in the Bay of Pigs operation. It was up to Merriman to test Ponzoa and to certify that he was ready to take a T-28 into combat. The first time up together, Merriman had Ponzoa do a series of acrobatic rolls. Ponzoa had trouble controlling the aircraft, the g-force got out of hand, and Ponzoa vomited in the cockpit. Within a day Merriman had him in full control.

Even among the crack fliers of Marana, Merriman was a standout. "He was one of the best pilots I ever flew with," remembers Don Gearke. "He was a Hollywood-type pilot. I've never seen anybody so calm in my life. He'd always go to the end of the runway. When he was cleared for takeoff, he'd sit back in his seat, pull his gloves on one at a time, and like Smilin' Jack, light a cigarette and say 'Let's go.' That was pretty cool."

Sometimes Merriman's playfulness got out of hand. On one occasion he was teaching less experienced pilots how to pursue and attack a plane in flight. He noticed a small private aircraft overhead and decided to in- corporate it into his gunnery lesson by dive-bombing it and hectoring it midair with his more nimble T-28. Again and again he dove on the plane. Unbeknownst to Merriman, the pilot was an air force general on his way to David Mothan Air Force Base. When the officer landed, he immediately filed a formal complaint against Merriman with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Such friskiness was a part of Marana's culture. The timid, they said, need not apply. Even the stern Gar Thorsrude was not above the occasional hotdogging. From time to time he would fly the gauntlet below the Grand Canyon's rim. One time, after a prolonged overseas assignment, he took the canyon route. He was flying below the rim and above the Colorado River, a twisting course, when suddenly, as he rounded a bend, there loomed in front of him, filling his windshield, a solid wall -- the Glen Canyon Dam. "Oh shit," yelled Don Gearke, a passenger in the backseat. In the time that Thorsrude had been overseas the dam had risen to its full 710-foot height. Thorsrude pulled back on the stick and barely cleared it.


On May 29,1964, Merriman offered to fly Cuban pilot Gus Ponzoa from Marana to Las Vegas, where Ponzoa was to catch a plane back to Miami. It was a cloudless day, not even a hint of a breeze. As a stand-off gift for his newfound friend, Merriman took the canyon route, flying below the rim, artfully zigzagging between the canyon walls at 170 knots. It was Ponzoa's most memorable flight and a celebration of his having checked out in the T-28.

In a month, Ponzoa would leave for a top secret mission to the Congo. There he was to head up a cadre of fifteen Cuban pilots, all of them Bay of Pigs veterans. Recruited by the CIA, they were to pose as mercenaries working for the Congo Air Force under orders from General Joseph Mobuto. Merriman's parting words to Ponzoa: "I would give anything to be going with you."

One month later Merriman got his wish. He was to ready himself for the Congo, where he would oversee air operations. His was to be a supervisory role. The last thing the United States needed was to expose its hand in that faraway conflict. But nothing could have prepared Merriman for the quagmire that was the Congo.

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