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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

So Who and What Is "Mukhabarat, Baby!" Anyway?

As my book "Mukhabarat, Baby" gets closer to publication, I will use the blog to provide excerpts for the audience to enjoy (or not).  My profile provides a bit of information about me, but I think this is a good time to expand a bit.  I was raised overseas, mostly in France, but I spent most of my formative years in Texas.  I consider my home to be San Antonio and I am one of those very proud Texans, which means I root for the Dallas Cowboys and I say "y'all".  My first language was French, and since then I have added English, Spanish, Afrikaans and a smattering of Zulu to the list.  I started my career in the early 1990's in what was then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and is now under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  During my stint in Federal Law Enforcement I worked on the International Bridges in Laredo and in the State Prison System in Huntsville, arranging deportations of foreign national felons.  I joined the CIA in the late 1990s as a Case Officer.  My tours took me to eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Near East, Africa, and some places I forget.  During my career I was poisoned, which eventually obliged me to retire sooner than I would have liked for health reasons.  In 2010 I started writing stories, detailed from my career, as a form of therapy. It blossomed into both this blog, and the book which I hope to see published soon.

When I made the decision to turn my stories into a book, it was because I saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the genre.  Books about the CIA, intelligence operations and individuals abound, but not much exists that really puts a face on the human piece of the puzzle.  Like all government Agencies, the CIA is built from carbon matter.  People have always made the Agency what it is, and still do to this day.  My book will introduce the reader to Frenchy, who as an infant was raised in a Japanese-run Prison Camp in Indonesia, spent his career in Agency special operations all over the globe, and continued as a beloved trainer (and fixture) at one of the intel agencies.  You will meet a host of characters from my training class, and discover that laughter and friendship can make almost anything bearable.  And then we have the beautiful Turkish embassy employee Tansu, who broke the heart of every man in Kosovo, until she met her match in Johnny from New York City.  With great pleasure I will introduce you to Poofy, a wonderful, brave man who not only risked his life for our interests (and for no compensation), but managed to wear more make-up and expensive clothes then Dolly Parton on tour.  It would be impossible to not include a few words about Madame Rus, the ancient linguist who taught a number of different languages to officers headed out to the field, and always smelled like Chanel perfume and flirted with every young man she met.  These are just a few of the characters that come to life in my book.

"Mukhabarat, Baby!" is about people, but it takes place during the various U.S. conflicts of the past two decades, including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Not all of the characters are funny, pleasant or brave.  And that is the nature of the business.  As necessary a Case Officer must work on the edges of society, where the black market and the sociopaths come together.  You will meet an Iraqi who smuggled everything imaginable, from cigarettes and liquor, to AK-47s and eastern European prostitutes.  The episode in which I was poisoned is also covered in detail.  Every Case Officer is well prepared by the best training modules ever developed and by the most dedicated instructors available, to rub elbows with the dregs of society in order to get the intelligence that our government needs.  In Iraq, it was about saving the lives of American soldiers, and every Agency officer in the field regularly threw caution to the wind in order to get the job done.  No tally exists to demonstrate how many lives were saved by the dedication of the CIA officers in the field, and the brave men and women who provided the valuable intelligence.  Somehow, someway, the process of selecting Agency personnel works, because I cannot imagine a collection of more dedicated, brilliant and honest people.  Almost from the very beginning (and to this very day) I became part of a very special family, one that is trusted with the security of the 400 million Americans who go about their business every day.  It can be a tremendous burden, and even CIA folks like to complain.  But for the most part, as is necessary in this business, its all kept in-house.

I was a young, excitable Case Officer on the morning of September 11, 2001.  By the end of the day, I had, like all Americans, aged in some nondescript, hard-to define way.  I welcome the opportunity to share my September 11 story in "Mukhabarat, Baby!".  Because my stories are a true reflection of actual events, I was able to avoid getting overly political.  If I wanted to write a political book I could have.  Some of my blog posts exemplify my willingness to call elected leaders to task.  But "Mukhabarat, Baby!" is not about politics.  You won't find a chapter debating the decision to invade Iraq, nor will you discover a section detailing the foreign policy errors of various administrations.  Please enjoy my book for what it is....a peek behind the curtain into the human functions of the CIA. At the end of the book you should come to the same conclusion I did very early on in my career: that people are basically the same regardless of where they work.  Everyone likes a funny joke, no one wants to fight rush-hour traffic, and pompous-ass Chiefs should be avoided at all costs!  My book takes you through the everyday functions of a CIA Case Officer serving in the Balkans, in Iraq, in Africa, and stateside, to give you an up-close glimpse of some of the more recent current events.  At the same time, meet the people that make the machine work, and discover that they really aren't any different than you.

(Anyone interested in updates on the release of "Mukhabarat, Baby" and appropriate excerpts of the book as they become available, please feel free to send your email address to:

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