CIA Mom: John Negroponte meet Melissa Buyle Mahle
of the things you learn when you become a CIA spy,” Melissa
Boyle Mahle tells me, “is to be a master of disguise.”
should know. The Brady Bunch blond-haired, blue-eyed and fair-skinned
Mahle was a CIA operations officer for nearly 15 years in the dark
and mysterious Middle East. Fluency in Arabic, a tent dress and scarf
served as her camouflage.
Mahle is dressed for another role: Current Affairs Author. She’s
spending a rainy mudslide Tuesday in Southern California promoting
her new book Denial
and Deception: An Insider’s View of the CIA from Iran-Contra
Signals, the KUCI talk-radio show I co-host with Mike
Kaspar is the first interview of a day she will cap-off with an
appearance on Tavis
Smiley’s Late Night on PBS.
to Mahle’s book, the CIA is a noble organization hamstrung
by risk-aversion, bureaucratic incompetence and political manipulation.
Since Denial and Deception’s imprint is The
Nation Books — publishers of Jonathan Schell, John
Sayles, John Nichols, Ian Williams and Gore Vidal — I assume
that our interview will contribute to “the long tradition of
progressive, independent critical thought in America“ or at
least sustain a Clinton Democrat ambiance.
wonder: How harsh will the former CIA agent be in her criticism of John
Negroponte – a concensus villain of Liberals and the Bush
appointee to the newly created post of National Intelligence Director?
have a structural problem in the national intelligence community,” Mahle
tells me. “We don’t have a boss. By creating the position
of National Intelligence Director, Congress has fixed that problem.
Now we have Negroponte and his Deputy Hayden. And you know, this
is the dream team here.”
who will soon to face his Senate Confirmation Hearings, was a NIGHTMARE
during Iran-Contra, turning a blind eye to human rights abuses when
he served as U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. An official
serving under Negroponte during that time, claimed he was instructed
to delete all mention of torture and executions from a 1982 report
on the Honduran human rights situation that he had been preparing.
and again during his tour of duty in Honduras from 1981 to 1985,
Negroponte was confronted with evidence that a Honduran army intelligence
unit, trained by the CIA, was stalking, kidnapping, torturing and
killing suspected subversives, ” a Baltimore
Sun story revealed.
Negroponte later testified, "To this day, I do not believe that
death squads were operating in Honduras."
DREAM TEAM? Who’s high here?
politely remind Mahle about Negroponte’s blind
eye and ask her why the intelligence community would want to
cast “Snidely Whiplash in its leading role?”
Honduras at that time, the policy of the US government was focused
on a counter-communist agenda," Mahle says. “Only lip
service was paid to human rights abuse. Human rights was so far down
the agenda that no one took it seriously, including the ambassador.”
Archbishop Romero! She has got ot be kidding. Since when is kidnap,
rape, torture and execution of dissidents in Central America a low
priority? Were dead
nuns the in-house running joke?
why was Mahle shilling for Negroponte? Is there something sinister
afoot? Is she starting a buzz that Negroponte will be confirmed without
any serious questioning?
think that Congress sees that it’s in its interest to have
the position filled expeditiously,” Mahle concludes. “At
the end of the day Negroponte will be confirmed by a wide majority.”
interview over, I jump online and discover Mahle getting play on
progressive websites like Buzzflash and Working
for Change. The liberal-friendly spin on Denial and
Deception is “Mahle: the female spy in the old-boys' club
of covert intelligence.” She briefs the Secret Service for
President Clinton’s Middle East visit while she’s in
labor. She shows up cradling her baby at a meeting with Yasser Arafat
because her nanny took the day off.
CIA MOM. Changing her toddler’s diapers
in one scene and chasing Abu Abbas in the next. Quick. Get me Fox
Berman on the line.
better yet, pour me a tall one. In this Karl Rove-tainted world,
everything is a blur, everyone is on the take and no-one is above
suspicion. Is this fem-CIA author simply wearing another disguise
to conceal her identity as the Assistant to the U.S. Intelligence
Director’s Publicist at the Liberal Media Desk? Is she cashing
a political paycheck ala Armstrong Williams? Or have I just
been reading too many Jeff-Gannon-outing blogs?
getting late. I tune in Tavis
Smiley. There she is again. In the world of talking heads, Mahle
sounds and looks like a pro — smart, articulate, attractive
smiles. “Let me start by asking you, the big news of the last
few days,” he says. “John Negroponte, President Bush's
choice to be the National Intelligence Czar, an improvement?
you know, really with Negroponte and his new deputy Hayden, it's
the dream team for the intelligence community, two people with very
different backgrounds, different capabilities. And I think they're
going to be able to be a force to be reckoned with, and that's what
the confirmation hearings of John Negroponte close at hand, whatever
Mahle — the master of disguise — is up to, her timing
couldn’t be better.
— Nathan Callahan,
March 3, 2005