At the intersection of politics, law and national security—from “protect us at all costs” to “what the hell have you guys been up to, anyway?”—a lawyer’s life in the CIA.
Under seven presidents and 11 different CIA directors, Rizzo rose to become the CIA’s most powerful career attorney. Given the agency’s dangerous and secret mission, spotting and deterring possible abuses of law, offering guidance and protecting personnel from legal jeopardy was, and remains, no easy task. The author accumulated more than 30 years of war stories, and he tells most of them: his acquaintance with CIA legends Lyman Kirkpatrick and Cord Meyer; his dealings with KGB defector Yuri Nosenko; his espionage prosecution of CIA employee William Kampiles and the uncovering of agency turncoat Rick Ames; his role testifying before Congress during Iran-Contra; and his view of the Valerie Plame affair. How should the CIA deal with “dirty assets?” What policies should govern the scope and intent of its relations with the media, clergy, academia and the corporate world? By far, the greater part of this book deals with the war on terror and the legal and political issues that tormented the agency. With the enhanced interrogation program, with words like “rendition,” “black sites” and “waterboarding” making headlines, the CIA plunged into new controversy with Rizzo often at its center. He addresses his own controversial role—the uproar accounted for his withdrawn nomination to officially head the Office of General Counsel—frankly and with few regrets. Throughout, he assesses all the directors, including the deeply strange William Casey, the beleaguered Bob Gates, the “regular guy” George Tenet, and Leon Panetta, the only man with all the requirements for success: 1) access to and clout with the president; 2) credibility and influence with Congress; and 3) the trust of the agency workforce.
A book from a man who clearly loved his job and, readers conclude, served the agency and his country well.