Sunday, July 23, 2017

Thomas Powers, Haviland Smith and General Odom on "The Sting."

Thomas Powers - From "Intelligence Wars," (NYRB 2004, pp. xxxv)

"But old hands in the agent running business would not tell you that the CIA's failure to deliver when it counted - before September 11, - proves it can't be done. How they might go about it was descrbied to me indirectly a few yearrs back at the sixtieth birthday party for a retired intelligence officer named Haviland Smith."

"Among the guests at Smith's party was General William Odum, who held two big intelligence jobs before retiring - first as the Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI), followed by tot tell hree years as director of the National Security Agency (NSA)."

"I asked Odom at the birthday party how he met Smith, who had a very differnt sort of career."

"Smith spent his working life in the CIA's Directorate for Plans, and he spent most of it in the field. He told me once that the work was hard but it had its pleasures - for example, the shere gut thrill of making a successful brush pass on the streets of Moscow while hawk-eyed KGB watchers were on every streets corner trying to make it impossible. What Smith was trying to hand over, or retrieve, he did not tell me, that was classified.But he made no secret of the glow of triumph that came with success.

Smith was a born operator, and Odom met him while seeking advice."

"When I was ACSI I talked to Haviland about Army clan," Odom told me, "It's the endless problem - should the Army be trying to run agents at all?"

"I asked him, 'what makes a good case officer?"

"Haviland said, 'Did you see that movie with Robert Redford and Paul Newman - The Sting!,' I said yes. He said, 'That's it - The con!'"

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