I have been a avid reader as long as I can remember. I’ve been an avid writer as long as I can remember. I could spend my life reading and writing.
But that’s not my life these days, although I have finished my college friend’s book Gatekeeper (see sidebar). Actually, my responses to the book were very much like those in the review published in the Miami Herlad — except for my taking bureaucratic acronyms for granted. I worked for twenty years in a state bureaucracy, and I was as guilty as anyone of making frequent use those short-cuts names.
From that review:
Sullivan’s interesting account of the agency’s early years also reflects the country’s post-World War II atmosphere in the wake of the anti-Communist, anti-gay witch hunt by the late Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin. At that time, he writes, “the CIA’s polygraph program focused on detecting Communists and homosexuals. Early tests had more questions dealing with Communism than any other issue, but the homosexuality issue was pursued equally vigorously.”
Among the turf wars within the CIA in which Sullivan became entangled was one battle with the Cuban Operations Group, due ”in large part because none of its [Cuban] agents could pass their polygraph tests.” The group’s chief complained to the examiners that not all ”our agents can be bad” and ”you are doing bad tests.” Unfortunately, writes Sullivan, the “Cuban [exile] assets, with rare exceptions, were all bad.”
But in another widely shared opinion among U.S. officials, Sullivan writes that “of all the intelligence services against whom I worked, I found the DGI [Cuban intelligence] one of the best, second only to the East German Stasi. The only reason I put the DGI second is because the Stasi had much more manpower and was better funded. With limited resources, the DGI was very effective in neutralizing our efforts to penetrate them and identifying our agents.”
Sullivan concedes there are ”many questions about the validity and reliability of polygraph” and concludes that “polygraph is much more effective in determining that a person is being deceptive than it is in verifying that a person has been or is being honest.”
John Sullivan considers a successful polygraph examiner’s skill to result from being able to approach the process as both art and science. His moral and ethical foundations come through clearly as he chronicles his struggles to pursue the truth in an agency characterized by escalating politicization, internal and external turf wars and a steadily growing bureaucracy, all of which diminished the Agency’s capacity to carry out its mission
Of course, the book held an added interest for me, since I knew John Sullivan in college, although he was one of those who was a serious student and became one of our class leaders. But I would have never thought he would wind up in the CIA. Then, again, I never would have thought I’d end up taking care of my mother.
I have been trying to get out of here for a few days to visit my daughter, but thanks to my sibling, I have had to postpone it twice. I intend to get away on Friday if I have to sneak out while the other two are asleep.
My spending just about every waking minute with my mother is just not a fair burden on me. We need help, and my mom’s gerontologist has suggested that we contact Hospice and go that route. She also suggested that I might want to move out and let my sibling take over, since he end-runs every effort I make to lighten my load. Compromise is something my family or origin never figured out how to do.
Meanwhile, I’m still writing here, and I want to let all of you know who emailed me or left encouraging comments that I much appreciate your reminders that writers, write; that inspiration ebbs and flows; that so many other bloggers continue to go through the same cycles. And my stats show that people are finding this blog — most because I came up on a search engine for some topic they were looking for, but enough return visitors to reassure me that my writing is being read.
Here it is, after midnight, again, and I’m still at the keyboard. Yes. Writers write.