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In praise of spies as friends...

I have a history in the intelligence community. My father was a field agent for Army Intelligence in Germany during the Cold War and my Army service was in intelligence, so I am familiar with the layout, so to speak.


When I was a boy living in Germany where my father was stationed I had occasion to be around spies, men who were my father's friends. They tended to party together, if only to be safe in the knowledge that if they said something sensitive it would be to people like themselves. This was during the 50s when Germany was crawling with spies. I would watch the adults put down a few drinks and the words "Hungary" or "East Germany" would pop up in their conversations.


My father and a second man would take me on "fishing" trips. We would leave early in the morning, well before dawn, and arrive at a stream as the sun rose. Both my father and the second man were armed. When I asked why my dad would say "snakes" and leave it at that. Germany is not known for a snake problem. During this so-called fishing trip one of the men would leave and be gone for awhile, taking binoculars and a handgun. We would be home by noon, rarely with a fish. Later in life I asked my dad about these trips and he explained that they were near the border with East Germany and they needed a kid as a decoy. That was me.

He often spent his evenings wearing a blindfold, picking different kinds of locks. He had a cane that was a shotgun, .20 gauge.


I mention all of this because I have a terrific friend named Tom Glenn, who spent his working life as a spy for NSA. Tom is retired now and is a writer. His new book is called Secretocracy. It's terrific and is based on something that happened to him, although he insists it's fiction. It's about a budget reviewer who refuses to fund an illegal operation ordered by the President. The man is punished by having his clearances pulled and he's sent to a warehouse to sit and await his firing from the secret agency he works for. As I said, Tom insists it's fiction. He also admits that during a past administration he refused to fund an illegal operation, had his clearances pulled, and was sent to a warehouse to sit it out. Gee, heck of a coincidence.


I asked Tom if he watched the great TV show Homeland, about spies who always seem to be on the outs with the White House or the bosses. Does that happen in real life? "Oh, yes." He said. "It happened to me." It happened more than once.


Check out Secretocracy. It's available at Amazon.

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