Ted Gup
Ted Gup
The Book of Honor: Covert Lives & Classified Deaths at the CIA
ISBN: 055352741X
The Book of Honor: Covert Lives & Classified Deaths at the CIA
CIA agents who lost their lives, only to remain anonymous and hidden by the agency, are profiled in this expo by a legendary investigative reporter who once worked under Bob Woodward at The Washington Post. Gup interviewed over 400 CIA officers and pored over official records and personal diaries to tell the agents' stories.
—from the publisher's website
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TRANSCRIPT
The Book of Honor: Covert Lives & Classified Deaths at the CIA
Program Air Date: August 27, 2000

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Ted Gup, what is in your book, "The Book of Honor?"
Professor TED GUP (Author, "The Book of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA"): "The Book of Honor" is about the men and women who died in service to the CIA who were covert operatives overseas. And in a--most of the cases, their identities were concealed, were veiled in secrecy, in some instances, for 10, 20, 30, even 50 years. So the book basically reveals the identities of covert operatives killed in service to country and also, the aftermath of those deaths, the burdens borne by the families and the secrecy they were forced to carry.
LAMB: Where'd you get the idea?
Prof. GUP: About--during the Gulf War, about 10 years ago, I was at the agency doing a history of US-Iraq relations for Time magazine and I passed before what is called the Wall of Honor, a marble wall with black lithichrome stars engraved, each one representing a fallen covert operative. And in a bulletproof glass case is what is called the Book of Honor at the agency listing the years each officer fell; and in more than half the cases, just anonymous stars to conceal their identity. I saw that memorial service and--that--that memorial and it basically--it touched me very deeply and I decided then and there that I wanted to know the identities of those individuals.
LAMB: On the cover of your book, what is this right here?
Prof. GUP: That is the Book of Honor in the glass case. It's--it's a locked case with very thick bulletproof glass and stainless steel.
LAMB: On the back of your book--and I may have quoted--I mean, I may have counted wrong, you have all these names and I counted about 64 names and--and four women out of that group. How many names are there actually on the wall?
Prof. GUP: Today, including those that have been added since my book was finished, 77. There's 77 fallen covert operatives. But of those actually named, it's about half.
LAMB: Why only four women?
Prof. GUP: I think part of that reflects the history of the agency in which there were not so many women on the front lines. I think it's just a--but--but in--in--in more recent times, there are a great number of women out there at risk.
LAMB: Do you pronounce it Douglas MacKiernan?
Prof. GUP: MacKiernan, exactly right.
LAMB: And you have a whole page here, the first group of photographs of Douglas MacKiernan. Who was he?
Prof. GUP: Douglas MacKiernan was a much decorated World War II veteran who, early on--at the very founding of the agency in '47, and about that--that same period volunteered for one of the most remote assignments in the world in Urumqi in Xinjiang, China, far west China. And his--his mission was in large measure to monitor the--the Communists as they surged to power and to do what he could to prevent them or at least harass them. And the reason he's in the book--aside from the fact that he died in service--is that he underwent a 1,200-mile trek across desert and mountains, the Himalayas, trying to flee the Communists. He got within about 50 yards of safety, the Tibetan border, but a message from the US government to the Dalai Lama granting MacKiernan safe passage was not delivered in time and he was shot to death and beheaded within a few steps of safety.
LAMB: What's this photograph right here of the--with the headline, Missing Aide's Wife Hits Reds.
Prof. GUP: That is h--a picture of MacKiernan's widow, Pegge, and Mary and Mike, the two one-year-old twins he left behind at his death. The Chinese Communists accused him of being a spy, and indeed, the Chinese knew he was a spy. The only people who did not know he was a spy were the Americans. And it played into the demonization of the Chinese and the Chinese government at the time.
LAMB: Do the Americans know now that he was a spy?
Prof. GUP: With publication of this book. But there's been nothing before--a piece I wrote in The Washington Post Sunday Magazine in '97 was the first confirmation that he was a spy.
LAMB: Why are you interested in doing this?
Prof. GUP: Excellent question. Why am I interested in doing this? I'm--I'm interested because I'm s--I'm haunted by the idea that we don't believe in the past, that it's not real for us, that it seems to be fiction. And I'm haunted by the oblivion to which people who gave their lives for country are--are subjected or lost and by the fate of the families, the--the surviving family members who have been forced by the full weight of the US government not to speak of their loved ones for many decades, and indeed, required to tell lies all those decades, to stick to the cover story at the time of--of their loved one's death. I found that haunting. And part of the reason I wrote this, in so small measure, was to try to lift some of that burden. It--it--it bothered me, and the more time I spent with the family members the more it bothered me.
LAMB: How many people have you talked to?
Prof. GUP: Well, I interviewed more than 400 covert operatives, past and present, as well as several hundred family members and I--you know, I would say it's 800, 900 people all together over the course of four years.
LAMB: Is there one of those in that whole group, one of the families, one of the--the now deceased people that sticks out in your mind as the best example of--I don't know what--of what you found?
Prof. GUP: Well, I think there are two, but one that comes to mind is perhaps the least glamorous of the people in the book, a Barbara Robbins, who was a 21-year-old secretary in Saigon in 1965. She worked for the CIA. She was under State Department cover. And one day she heard some noise in the street. She went to the window at the US Embassy in Saigon to see what was happening. And at that very moment, a car bomb by a terrorist detonated and the grating around the window impaled her. She was killed instantly. I cite her because she came from a very patriotic family. Her father was a butcher outside of--of Denver, Colorado, and when I spoke to him, first in 1996 and '97 and again in '98, he told me that--that one of his final wishes in his life was to see his daughter's name inscribed in the Book of Honor, not just an anonymous star. He wanted her recognized. He died last year with that wish unfulfilled. His--his widow is still alive and--and shares that wish. I--I cite her because it's an egregious example of the CIA's obsession with secrecy. Why a 21-year-old secretary who was killed 35 years ago cannot be identified after all this time is beyond my grasp.
LAMB: What's this picture of in the Girl stou--Scout uniform?
Prof. GUP: That's Barbara Robbins when she was a young girl. And the picture above is--is also a picture of--of Barbara Robbins as--about the time that--that she went over to Saigon.
LAMB: What happens when you ask the CIA why they can't put her name on that star?
Prof. GUP: Anyone is welcome to ask, but they neither confirm nor deny that Barbara Robbins was a part of the agency. It's the standard line that they've been issuing to these families decade after decade. And they--they told me no more than they told anyone else in the public.
LAMB: But off the record did they tell you why they won't?
Prof. GUP: No. Well, I mean, th--th--there's a generic argument. A generic argument is that they need to protect sources and methods. Sources primarily means the individuals who've supplied them information. Methods are the ways in which they get that information, that intelligence. They're afraid, they say, that identifying these individuals will put foreign nationals and our own people at risk or will compromise the way that we gather intelligence.
LAMB: Back to Barbara Robbins. She was a secretary in Vietnam, in Saigon.
Prof. GUP: Right.
LAMB: How could that possibly have any--after all these years?
Prof. GUP: The--the--the truth of the matter is--and I--I--I'm not--I--I'm not someone that's made a living demonizing the agency, but the truth of the matter is that this is not an issue of national security. It's an issue of bureaucracy. There is simply no constituency pushing for the change, the lifting for the veil of secrecy. A butcher outside of Denver does not have enough power to lift the veil of secrecy, even on his own daughter's name. And that's why it's remained this way year after year after year. It is the inertia of the bureaucracy. And unless and until someone plants a significant political powder keg under them, they're not going to change. This--this is the way it is. It's always easier to ignore than to change.
LAMB: By the way, where do you live now?
Prof. GUP: We moved a year ago to Cleveland, Ohio. For 21 years, I lived in Washington.
LAMB: Why do you live in Cleveland?
Prof. GUP: I took a position--I have an endowed chair in journalism at Case Western Reserve University.
LAMB: And why did you live here for 21 years?
Prof. GUP: I worked as an investigative reporter with The Washington Post under Bob Woodward for, I guess, about eight years. And then I worked at Time magazine covering Congress as an investigative reporter. Then I freelanced from here for a wide range of magazines. For 18 years, I also taught as an adjunct at Georgetown University.
LAMB: And where is your home originally?
Prof. GUP: Canton, Ohio, so it's a sort of going home.
LAMB: You mentioned there were a couple, Barbara Robbins is one. What's another one that you most remember?
Prof. GUP: Well, I c--I can't help but--but reflect on Douglas MacKiernan. When I called his widow, Pegge, I was the first one to put together the fact that her husband, her late husband was CIA in 47 years. And you can imagine the shock. When he died, he left behind twins who were one year old. And--and to get a call out of the blue saying, `I'm putting together the--the--the pieces of a puzzle 47 years old,' she was thunderstruck. Because for 47 years, the agency had told her, `You are not to talk about your late husband and if you do, you must say that he was an employee of the State Department, a vice counsel in the State Department.' So she was--she was just shocked when I called her and I think it's an example--again, the Chinese Communists knew he was a spy and as evidence of that they executed everyone that he had contact with within a year of MacKiernan's flight. It was no secret to the Chinese Communists. It was a secret to the US.

And what happens is the US paints itself in a corner. They say he was not a spy. And then they lose credibility when they admit that--that he was. It also plays into the--the propaganda of the Cold War, that an innocent man was, you know, on the run and slain.
LAMB: How many individuals do you write about in your book?
Prof. GUP: Well, I--I focus on about 20. But I name about--I think about 35 who are nameless.
LAMB: How many a--how much of this information is--is brand new?
Prof. GUP: I would say at least 75 percent, 80 percent of it. I mean, this d--was not gathered under the Freedom of Information Act. That was of no help. This was all kind of the old roll-up-your-sleeve, hard-core sleuthing. It was the only way to get it.
LAMB: Are people in this book afraid that--that the CIA will find out where you got this information?
Prof. GUP: No. It's a--it's--it's a curious thing, but there's nothing off the record in this book. As sensitive and classified as it is, all but two families cooperated fully in--in writing this book. Some 400 covert operatives, past and present, helped me with this book. When someone is quoted by name there, and it says such-and-such said it, it's because they said it to me. I mean, there's--there's no--there's no footnotes, but it--the sources are obvious in this book. It's--it's--it is exactly what it appears to be. And--and I think that the reason that I got so much cooperation is that even those who have dedicated their lives to national security recognize that--that a lot of this is preposterous, that it still be veiled in secrecy.
LAMB: When did the CIA start?
Prof. GUP: 1947.
LAMB: Why?
Prof. GUP: It was a sort of re-collection of the elements of the old Office of Strategic Services, the World War II entity. Following World War II, it was quickly disbanded and the elements went to various places, the State Department, the Defense Department and there was quickly, with the rise of the Cold War, perceived to be a need for some centralized intelligence gatherer, hence the CIA. And that was put together in 1947, largely bringing back together the--the disbanded elements of the OSS and modeled in no small part on that structure.
LAMB: The last one in your book is The Last Maccabeee. Why that title?
Prof. GUP: That's a reference to--the--the chapter is about Larry Freedman. Larry Freedman was Jewish and very proud of the tradition, the biblical tradition of Jewish warriors going back to the Maccabees. He was a Green Beret in Vietnam, he was in the elite Delta Force, counterterrorist unit that--that made the aborted effort to rescue the hostages in Tehran. And--and he was killed in Somalia. He was the first casualty in Somalia and I--I c--I chose the--the title The Last Maccabee because I guess that's--I think what--what Larry Freedman would have wanted that chapter to be.
LAMB: You have a picture in here of some of his friends. Where did you find that picture? And who are they?
Prof. GUP: That picture was taken during an--an interview that I conducted of--of the--the four friends. Paul Weinberg on the--the--the l--your viewers' left, I believe, with the white beard has since passed away and indeed, the book was slipped under his hand as he was in a coma as...
LAMB: You actually mean the one on the right, don't you, with the beard? Yeah.
Prof. GUP: I'm--sorry. Yes. I'm sorry. The one on the right.
LAMB: And he's passed away?
Prof. GUP: He has since passed away. We got a copy to him a few days before publication because he had wanted that. But the picture was taken by Larry Freedman's sister, Sylvia Donor, and these four friends were incredibly loyal to Larry Freedman and--and they gathered basically to share stories about him with me.
LAMB: Tell us more about him.
Prof. GUP: Well, he was a hellion. I mean, he was--he was a kid who before he reached 13 held up a gas station with a bow and arrow, I mean a real hunter's bow and arrow. He sawed off the top of a car to make it a convertible. He drove Harleys at high speeds. He got in more than a little trouble. And were it not for his finding the Green Berets and the military, I'm not sure exactly what would have become of him. But it was a perfect match and it harnessed all of his excessive energy and his incredible courage and his patriotism and it was a perfect match. And--and he became one of those who trained Delta Force at Ft. Bragg, and was brought into the CIA upon retirement from Delta Force. And he became one of their--he w--he was renowned as a sniper. He could--he could run five, six, seven miles with a full pack, set up his rifle and--and wait for two or three days for 10 seconds of a window, when someone passed by to--to--to do what he did as a sniper. I mean, he was a--he was deadly accurate, deadly patient and a perfect physical specimen and very patriotic.
LAMB: What happened to him in Somalia?
Prof. GUP: All of those resources and skills that he had were of no avail. The v--the vehicle he was in hit a landmine, a Russian landmine and he was immediately killed. He--he was near Badera and he was there to ensure that airports were open so that food and relief supplies could reach the--the starving people of the country. He was not there in a capacity as a sniper. He was there as a kind of intelligence officer and liaison between the incoming US military and the embassy and--and other elements of our US government.
LAMB: And what year did he get killed?
Prof. GUP: '92, December '92.
LAMB: Is his name up on the wall out there at the CIA headquarters?
Prof. GUP: No, he's an anonymous star.
LAMB: How many names again are on the wall?
Prof. GUP: This is a rough guess, about half of the 77 are named, may--maybe as many as 40. The rest are nameless.
LAMB: Can I go out to the CIA and see this wall?
Prof. GUP: You as a journalist can, but the ordinary citizen cannot. You need a reason, an invitation to--to get into the--the--the headquarters at Langley.
LAMB: How did they deal with you when they knew you were doing this book?
Prof. GUP: The first person that I interviewed was the chief of public affairs at the CIA. This was not done in any kind of sub-rosa fashion because I knew I'd be setting off trip wires and alarms left and right--I mean, I knew I was going to have to interview hundreds of covert officers and that probably the first time I made a call it would get back to CIA headquarters. So I called their--their public affairs staff and said, `This is what I'm doing. I'm doing a project to try to unmask the identities of your fallen covert operatives. Can I get any help?' I--I don't want to sound as naive as I may sound in that. It was really a way of setting down a bookmark and saying, `This is what I'm doing. I'm not trying to end run you. I want you to know this is, you know, what I'm up to.' And they--they had me over. We talked. They tried to dissuade me from doing it. And in the course of the total four years, they provided many courteous return phone calls and zero cooperation.
LAMB: Did you ever ask them off the record why they wouldn't cooperate with you?
Prof. GUP: Well, they just invoked the sources and methods argument that I mentioned before. That was it.
LAMB: You write up a 1998 ceremony that George Tenet, the current CIA--I guess they call him DCI...
Prof. GUP: Right.
LAMB: ...the director of Central Intelligence had inside the agency. What--were you there?
Prof. GUP: I was not.
LAMB: Who was and what was it?
Prof. GUP: I--I was not allowed to be there. No one from the press has ever witnessed this ceremony. It's an annual ceremony in which family members of the deceased are brought in from all over the United States. They don't know each other.
LAMB: They only go once in their lives?
Prof. GUP: No, they're--some of them go back repeatedly. Usually this ceremony has a focal point. It may be losses in Laos or it might be the--the Mideast. The one that you're referring to, which was the most recent one that I could get into the book, was--was a standard memorial service held before the memorial wall and the Book of Honor at the agency headquarters. And I had--th--the agency forewarns the families that they are not to discuss what happens there with anyone. But they don't even trust the families. They will not say the names of the deceased except for the named stars, even at the ceremony. So you have family members sitting there knowing, obviously, that they lost a son or a husband, but even in that context the director of Central Intelligence will not utter the person's name. And in the particular chapter, the epilogue that you mentioned, I had prearranged with many of the families to meet with them moments after the ceremony so that I could debrief them and superimpose each account on the other, weeding out what was repetitious so that I could reconstruct in great detail what transpired at the ceremony. That's how that was constructed.
LAMB: You talk about one time when one of these families--groups were being honored and they got a call from the president, LBJ, to come to the White House. Remember that one?
Prof. GUP: Yes. That was John Merriman. John Merriman's story is--is particularly sad. He--he was killed in the Congo in 1964. His widow, Val, and--and son, Jon are people that I've gotten to know quite well in the course of my reporting. And they were at the--at the director of Central Intelligence's office to receive a medal and immediately--not long after they arrived, a w--a call was placed from the White House inviting them to--to come over and meet the president and--and Lady Bird and--so they did go over there and, you know, there's no mention of it in the logs at the White House. I--I went through the--the Johnson Library. There's no reference. As you know, it was all hush-hush.
LAMB: How did you get this picture of his wife getting some kind of a--award here?
Prof. GUP: That's probably the--the Intelligence Star. She--she provided the photo to me.
LAMB: But they allowed this to be taken then?
Prof. GUP: Yes, but with the understanding that--that it would be in-house, that it would not go out. And in her case, it's--it's very strange because John Merriman is a named star, not a nameless star. But what's--what's most peculiar about this memorial is that even the named stars are completely unknown to the people who work at the CIA because everything is compartmented. The only thing you know is what you have a need to know. So that, in a sense, it's not that different being named or unnamed. It's un--it's different for the family because being unnamed means you can't talk about your loved one.
LAMB: Where is this picture up top there with the two little kids and his wife?
Prof. GUP: I believe that's taken in Alaska and that--one--that's John and his wife, Val. He was a very courageous flyer and--and as a sad irony to his story...
LAMB: What--by the way, what year is this picture?
Prof. GUP: Oh, let me see. I think '52.
LAMB: And have you talked to any of these people in the picture?
Prof. GUP: Yes. Well, I--h--his widow is the--is the--the woman there, his wife, Val, and...
LAMB: There she is on the other side.
Prof. GUP: Yes. And--right. And the young boy he's holding up, that's--that's Jon Merriman Jr.--actually not a junior, because there's no H in his--in his name. There was in the father's, but not the son's. I've spent many, many hours with them. They're absolutely delightful people.
LAMB: Where do they live, by the way?
Prof. GUP: I--Jon lives right outside of Washington, and Val lives in Arizona.
LAMB: And that picture was with her new husband, the one that we have over here?
Prof. GUP: No, that's with her son, Jon.
LAMB: Oh, that's her son? OK.
Prof. GUP: Yeah, that's her son, Jon.
LAMB: And how much time did you spend with them and what did they tell you about their father?
Prof. GUP: Well, I think I probably interviewed each of them--I'm not sure--maybe a--15 times. I mean, it's hard to say. I mean, probably four or five really formal interviews, but many, many, many subsequent follow-up phone interviews.
LAMB: What year was he killed?
Prof. GUP: '64.
LAMB: What was the circums--what were the circumstances?
Prof. GUP: He was flying a plane in the Congo, helping to suppress a Communist insurgency there and he took ground fire and crashed. And he was presumed dead and the rest of the--the squadron returned to a remote base there and the next day, some indigenous people there drove up with a truck and a crumpled-up body in the back and it was the body of John Merriman, who was very much alive, although in agony. And he was taken to the base hospital, which didn't even have aspirin much less doctors or nurses. He ha--he had nothing to treat his pain. He had numerous broken bones, lacerations, internal bleeding. The straps from his seat belt had slashed into his skin. And he was allowed to stay there without medical attention for well over--I think it was over a week. He was in agony, passed in and out of consciousness. And--and when he was conscious, all he said was, `Take me home. Take me home.' And then he was allowed, essentially, to--to--to waste away in a--in a--a Congolese hospital for another couple of weeks before he was--any attempt was made to bring him home and he died en route over the--the ocean.

And the saddest part is that his widow was told that he died in a hospital in Puerto Rico, that he had asked for ice cream. They had brought him ice cream and he died quietly in his sleep without pain. He was never in Puerto Rico. He never asked for ice cream. He died on a transport plane after great agony.
LAMB: What was he supposed to have been doing in Puerto Rico?
Prof. GUP: That part of the c--I think he was--I'm not sure what part of the cover story--how far--sophisticated they got, but the local newspaper in Tennessee, where his home was, reported as his death certificate did that he was killed in a car crash in Puerto Rico, hitting an abutment.
LAMB: So how did you--how do you know that what you know about him in the Congo is accurate?
Prof. GUP: I...
LAMB: Where did that information come from?
Prof. GUP: I interviewed the Cuban pilots that flew with him, that he trained and that flew with him. I interviewed the chief of station at the time and--and the agency. I interviewed probably 40 or 50 people that--that were familiar with what he was doing in the Congo at the time.
LAMB: Is his name on a star?
Prof. GUP: His name--he is named, but I asked probably 50 or 60 current covert operatives if they knew who John Merriman was and none of them knew who he was. None of them knew anything about him. They never heard of him.
LAMB: Why had he trained Cuban pilots?
Prof. GUP: The Cubans, after the--the Bay of Pigs, remained a resource for the CIA to conduct counterinsurgency activities. They hated Castro. There was nothing more they could do to dislodge Castro after the fiasco of Bay of Pigs. They had enough distance from the US government being Cuban that they gave the US government some deniability. Many of them were trained pilots from the Bay of Pigs, so they simply became a kind of surrogate air force for the CIA.
LAMB: What was John Merriman doing in the Congo?
Prof. GUP: He was there to supervise the Cuban pilots. He was actually, technically, not supposed to fly, but he couldn't resist it. He--he--he was truly a flyboy. He loved to be in--in aircraft.
LAMB: Where is this picture of him with the--looks like a bear.
Prof. GUP: It is a bear. That was in Alaska. He shot the bear and it--it bothered him so because it was such a majestic creature that he swore off hunting ever after.
LAMB: Who was Hugh Redmond, who ends up in three different chapters?
Prof. GUP: Yes. Un--unfortunately, in three different chapters because it reflects the--the sad attenuation of his life. He was in--he was supposed to be a businessman in Shanghai prior to the--the Communists taking control of the government there. In fact, he was a NOC--an NOC, a--a non unc--under non-official cover. He was a CIA person. Actually, he went over even before there was a CIA and then be--became a part of the CIA when it--when it came into being in '47. He was arrested trying to come home. He was--he was helping nationalists within China conduct sabotage, supplying them with information and probably weapons as well. He was arrested, incarcerated for 19 years, much of it held incommunicado. He was beaten. At points, he was starved. He suffered from malnutrition. His--he lost his teeth prematurely. Just terrible record of agony. And he never admitted he was a spy. The US government never admitted he was a spy; and if they had, he probably would have been released at that moment.
LAMB: You have a picture right next to the one I showed of him. Is that his mother, by the way, that's in this picture right there?
Prof. GUP: It is. Yes.
LAMB: And then right next to it are three women and a man with pictures. What's that from?
Prof. GUP: Those are the mothers of Downey and Fecteau and the brother of one of them. They--they were on their way to China. The Chinese government granted permission for the mothers of Downey, Fecteau and Redmond, all three CIA spies held in Chinese prisons, to visit their sons who had been imprisoned for many years. And--and all the while, the US government denied that they were CIA spies.
LAMB: Is Hugh Redmond's name on a star?
Prof. GUP: No, it's nameless. And--and it dates back to 1970, when it was said that he slashed his wrists with an American razor in the Chinese prison. We have no idea how he really died because the Chinese waited three months and then handed us an urn of ashes.
LAMB: A--again, any reason why after 40, 50 years of this that they can't--you know, from the--what--what--what actual year did he--they throw him in prison?
Prof. GUP: He was imprisoned in '51, and he died in '70.
LAMB: Did--what'd they do with the body?
Prof. GUP: They cremated it and turned the ashes over to the Red Cross, who carried it over the bridge, the Lo Woo Bridge, into Hong Kong and presented it to American Embassy officials there.
LAMB: What happened dur--during those 19 years with his mother?
Prof. GUP: His mother pleaded with the government to do everything they could to get him out. I think it was four times she visited her son. It was a horrible kind of stroboscopic experience watching your son age prematurely. He developed all kinds of tics and ailments. He was never treated properly. And--and he became--he--he was very tough, but he was not immune to the kind of despair that one would encounter seeing your whole youth pass before your eyes. And his mother, it just--it just disabled her with--with pain and regret to--to see this happen to her son.
LAMB: But there was--is she the one from Yonkers?
Prof. GUP: She was from Yonkers, that's right.
LAMB: But they had the whole--the--the townspeople involved in this?
Prof. GUP: Oh, it wa--it was very sad. The Yonkers community was completely behind Hugh Redmond's mother and every effort to free him. They had fund-raisers, they had all kinds of appeals to government. It was an incredibly celebrated case, not only in Yonkers, but in the Northeast an--and to some degree, around the country at the time. And--and the sad thing was that it was allowed to feed into the anti-Communist, anti-Chinese propaganda because the way the US government allowed it to--to be played is that here was an innocent US businessman held for 19 years, when, in fact, he was a--a trained CIA operative probably engaged in direct sabotage or certainly assisting sabotage. I'm not sure what government wouldn't hold a saboteur in prison, but that conflicted with the Cold War objective, so they did not acknowledge that he was a spy.
LAMB: What's the average age of these people that you're writing about?
Prof. GUP: I would guess--certainly, they--they died prematurely. I--there were a few that--that might have reached a mature age, but I'd say the average age is probably early 30s.
LAMB: And what happened to them in most cases when they were killed? How would you--how would the CIA bring the bodies back here? And what did the press say?
Prof. GUP: Well, the press was always fed a lie. The press was always told that these were State Department employees or workers for AID, the Agency for International Development, or civilian employees of the Defense Department or employees of foreign corporations. So that the--the press was never told who they really were, what they were really doing. The widows or widowers were informed of the loss. There was a ritual in which the director of Central Intelligence would pen a letter to the--to the--the widow or widower expressing his deep regret and sorrow and that would be presented to the widow or widower along with a medal. And then both the medal and the letter would be promptly withdrawn within a matter of an hour or two. Usually immediately after the funeral, the agency would recollect them and put them in a--in a locked vault, so there was no evidence that they indeed worked for the agency.
LAMB: What kind of money is available to widows, families normally?
Prof. GUP: They would get the same kind of compensation that any other government employee would--would get. That is, it's not--they--they--there's certainly no windfall involved in losing your life for the agency. It's a--it's a kind of employee compensation and that's it. It's--it's--it's, you know, federal laws that govern the Department of Labor and all the other agencies and departments. It's not a--a special provision for--for agency people.
LAMB: Who was the wife that refused the insurance?
Prof. GUP: That was John Merriman's widow Val because it was--it was a double indemnity policy that they had taken out years earlier as newlyweds. And she was given the double indemnity. I--I forget how much it was. I think it was an extra $5,000. And she believed that because he was in--essentially in combat, that it was not warranted, that it was fraud, and that her husband would not want her to accept the money. And so she returned it. And the agency actually met with the president of the insurance company to explain the situation and still, Val Merriman did not want the money. She--she thought it was tainted.
LAMB: Now you had something to do with that story that broke at White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia.
Prof. GUP: I did. I had something to do with it. The Greenbrier, which is a four-star resort in West Virginia under which a top-secret government relocation center had been operating since about 1959 or 1960, until I exposed it in 1992 in The Washington Post. That was--What is that?--40--almost 30, 32, 33 years. That was one of the most sensitive secrets in the US government. It was the place to which Congress was to go in the event of nuclear war. And from there, they were to govern as a government in exile.
LAMB: Why did you break it?
Prof. GUP: I broke the story for a number of reasons. And--and mind you, there are a lot of secrets I know that I've not written and--and won't write. Just to mention one, there's the identity of someone who's not named in the book that I know and I refer to because it could compromise national security. So I don't write everything I know. But the Greenbrier story I wrote because it was an anachronism. It would not have worked. And the only reason it survived all those decades is because of secrecy. What happened was the people who ran it got a kind of literal bunker mentality, where the enemy was not foreign powers but the American people; that is, disclosure is what they feared most. And so administration after administration, speaker of the House after speaker of the House, you know, was basically--they--they knew about it, but they had no opportunity to reassess it.

The reason I broke it? A couple of things. One, a recent speaker of the House at the time, Tip O'Neill, told me that he never would have gone and nor would his colleagues because there was no provision for their loved ones, their family. They would have been left to be incinerated at ground zero. So that was one reason I wrote it was because it was impractical. Another is because the nature of nuclear warfare changed so dramatically in the intervening years that the whole idea of it was preposterous. That--the--the amount of time you had for warning had been reduced to minutes, not hours.
LAMB: You said it was an anachronism. Was that your decision, that it was an anachronism, or was that somebody else's?
Prof. GUP: Well, it's a good question. The preliminary, the first-level decision, was my decision. That is, the decision to pursue the story. But the decision to publish it in The Washington Post was not my decision. I had input, I was consulted. But ultimately, that was the decision of the publisher and the editors of the paper because it was of a magnitude that warranted that level of decisionmaking. You know, they asked me what do I think and--and what do we lose, what we do we risk here? But ultimately, the decision was theirs and rightfully so. And if they had told me, `This is not appropriate to break because we'll harm national security,' I would have honored that. I would not have taken it elsewhere.
LAMB: You--you say that there is a name that you didn't use in the book because you'd compromise national security. In what way?
Prof. GUP: To reveal the identity of this individual could put some other individuals at risk and could compromise ongoing operations, I guess is the generic way to describe it.
LAMB: How do you know that?
Prof. GUP: I don't know it. I take it as something of a matter of faith, but good faith, in that the agency at the highest level made the argument to that effect with some--some degree of specifics. Yet...
LAMB: You mean the director of Central Intelligence talked to you about this?
Prof. GUP: Did not talk to me, but talked to the editor of The Washington Post at a time when I was contemplating revealing her identity in the Post. It was a woman. And--and it was decided that this would not be appropriate. And I might point out that it is the only name--at the time, I was disclosing the identities of seven nameless stars in 1997 in The Washington Post Sunday magazine and I gave those names to the CIA just prior to publication. They came back and they pleaded with me to delete the one name. They made no argument on behalf of the other six, all of whom were nameless stars. And to me--I cannot help but wonder if something is national security, how do you slice and dice and say, `Well, this is more sensitive than this'? I showed that I was approachable and--and by deleting that name. And yet, they made no such argument for--on behalf of the other six. And in doing the book, they had gained enough respect for my reporting skills to know that I'd penetrated the system, and they never came to me asking for other names to be deleted.
LAMB: Did you submit the manuscript of your book to the CIA?
Prof. GUP: I--I would not do that. What I did do is I gave them a copy of the book five days or six days before publication. That's all. But I would never submit a manuscript to the CIA.
LAMB: Did they complain about anything?
Prof. GUP: They--they complained about the project at the beginning, and then they resigned themselves to the fact it was going to be done. I think in the end, they had two emotions. One, they were aghast at the degree to which their own people had cooperated with me. And two, they were much relieved that I had treated these lives with the dignity and respect to which they were deserving.
LAMB: Here's a picture of a man named Maloney. Who is he?
Prof. GUP: Arthur Maloney was a veteran of--of Normandy, a West Point grad and a true combat officer. And he was wounded shortly after Normandy, and because of his wounds, he could not pursue his military career and by default, he entered the CIA. And he is in the book, both of his own right and also because his son became a CIA officer. And his son was on a helicopter that in 1965 crashed in Laos. And on that aircraft--his son's name was Mike Maloney--and on that aircraft was another Mike named Mike Dewel.
LAMB: By the way, who's in this picture with Mike Maloney?
Prof. GUP: That is his widow, Adrienne. On the aircraft were two CIA case officers, Mike Maloney and Mike Dewel. And they had something in common. They were both--that's Wally Dewel, Mike's father--Mike Dewel's father.
LAMB: And then over here?
Prof. GUP: Pointing in the river is Mike Dewel, his son. And what--what the two Mikes on the helicopter had in common was that they were both the sons of senior CIA people. They'd both had very young brides. They were newly married. And--let me get this straight--yes, and both of their wives were pregnant at the time that they were killed. They were killed in '65, and their identities hushed up.
LAMB: This is a picture here of Mike Maloney with a small child. Is that--who's that? Do you remember?
Prof. GUP: I believe that that is Mike--that's Michael Maloney, his son. And the other son is in utero, Craig. An--and so that's--that's his own son.
LAMB: So where were--where were the two Mikes?
Prof. GUP: The two Mikes were in Laos, part of what was then called the Secret War, which was increasingly becoming less than a secret. And they were flying a helicopter and they crashed near Pakse into a very dense jungle and were killed instantly. And the US press reported the death of two AID officers, the Agency for International Development. And for 35 years, that stood. No one linked them to the CIA. In 1997 in a Post article, I disclosed that--that Mike Maloney was CIA, not AID. And what is sad about that story is that his widow, Adrienne, for years had asked the CIA to recognize her late husband by name, to put his name in the Book of Honor at agency headquarters for the benefit of her sons, her two sons.
LAMB: Did you talk to Adrienne?
Prof. GUP: Oh, many times. A wonderful lady.
LAMB: Where does she live?
Prof. GUP: She lives in Wiscon--in--in Connecticut. And she was told by then-DCI, the director of Central Intelligence, John Deutch, `Write me a note. You know, don't--it doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just write me a note. We'll see what we can do about getting his name recognized in the Book of Honor.' She wrote him a note, didn't hear anything. Sent a letter registered mail, didn't hear anything. Called, was told her letters were lost. And they basically ignored her and wanted her to go away. The day that my article came out, they called her and said they changed their mind and they put his name in the Book of Honor.
LAMB: How often when you--like, for instance, how many names in your book are not on the wall?
Prof. GUP: How many names...
LAMB: In other words, you name people in here that are--that their star's on the wall at the CIA, but their names aren't there.
Prof. GUP: Right. Right.
LAMB: Roughly how many new names are in this book then?
Prof. GUP: Oh, that are not--you mean...
LAMB: Not on the wall, yeah.
Prof. GUP: Oh, I--well, the stars are on the wall, but their names are not in the Book of Honor of the agency, of course.
LAMB: I mean--I'm sorry. Yeah. There are no names on the wall at all.
Prof. GUP: I would say that there are about--about 35 new names in this book.
LAMB: Will they put the names in there now?
Prof. GUP: They are re-examining it. I would like to be optimistic and say yes. But they have this incredible talent for taking fiction over fact. They--they seem to believe that if they ignore it, it will go away. I mean, just--just as an example, they won't allow this book to be sold in the CIA bookstore. It's--it's--it's selling out fast in McLean at bookstores, private bookstores as CIA personnel buy it, but somehow, by not allowing it to be sold at CIA headquarters, it's as if the book doesn't exist. It's--it's--it's the idea of fiction over fact.
LAMB: In the back of the book, though, having said all that, you talk about Aldrich Ames, Douglas Groat, James Nicholson and John Deutch. And who--why did you mention all of them in the back?
Prof. GUP: Well, I wouldn't lump them all together under the use of the ….rule. I would get Deutch out of there because the other three were essentially traitors to the United States. I mention them because I think they're reflective of a very deep problem at the CIA, which is the obsession with secrecy. It's my belief that the obsession with secrecy is more of a threat to national security than lax secrecy, that because everything has been classified secret and top secret, people within the agency no longer take it seriously. Its credibility is eroded. And what happens is that individual case officers make their own decisions. They say, `Well, it's classified, but it shouldn't be classified at this level.' Or, `It's classified, but it won't hurt if I share this with someone.' So what happens is someone like me comes along and I'm the beneficiary of that obsession with secrecy because al--many of those people who helped me should not have helped me under the rules of the CIA. But they took it upon themselves to make the judgment about what should and should not be classified. This is a direct result of the obsession with secrecy.

John Deutch took enormously sensitive materials and put him on--put them on an unsecured home computer. And that is reflective of a lack of respect for the security system. Some of the spies that you mentioned, you know, they--part of their defense at times was, `Yes, I gave the enemy classified materials, but--it was classified, but shouldn't have been classified. It did no serious harm.' Well, that opens the door to this kind of individual decisionmaking, which is truly a threat to national security.
LAMB: Other names: Matt Gannon and his brother Dick.
Prof. GUP: Oh, Matt Gannon was a CIA case officer who was one of the agency's finest Arabists. He was a wonderfully likable Southern California boy who--who was--was from a very large Catholic family and had the ability to pass in the Arab world because of his language skills, his knowledge of the culture. He was very brave, and in December of '88, he was in Beirut.
LAMB: By the way, is he in this picture with all of the folks in it?
Prof. GUP: He...
LAMB: I know he's at the bottom right there. We've shown him.
Prof. GUP: Yes, he's in the bottom right. And he is in the--in the other picture as well. I'm trying to pick him out. I think he's in the front. I think he's the lad in the front with arms crossed and the tie.
LAMB: That's the family?
Prof. GUP: That's the family. It's a very large family. And--and...
LAMB: Matt Gannon.
Prof. GUP: And he--he was in Beirut, gathering intelligence on hostage situations--there--Americans were being held. This was in '88--and--and on some of the fundamentalist terrorist groups in the region. And he did such a fine job that he got permission to come back a day early to be with his wife and two daughters. This was a couple days before Christmas in 1988. He had the misfortune of boarding a flight called Pan Am 103, which was blown up by terrorists over Lockerbie, Scotland. His brother, Dick Gannon, is a security officer with the State Department who had survived the blast in '83 in Beirut when that embassy was blown up. So the family has been touched by its share of terrorists.
LAMB: Who's James Spessard?
Prof. GUP: James Spessard, known to his friends as--as Jimmy, was one of six CIA employees or contract people killed in '89 in a resupply effort in Africa. They were bringing materiels and weapons, explosives, to Jonas Savimby in Angola. And the plane that Spessard was on hit a treetop. It was a night landing. They fly by night there to avoid detection. It cartwheeled into the ground, exploded and six CIA employees and staffers were killed. And in at least two of the instances, maybe three, there was nothing to bury. There were empty coffins.
LAMB: This is him in the white suit?
Prof. GUP: That's right.
LAMB: And what's the occasion of that picture?
Prof. GUP: Let me see. That's with his father and I believe that that was at--yeah, that was his wedding in '81.
LAMB: And where did you get the information on him?
Prof. GUP: From his widow, from his father, from co-workers, from people that served with him in Angola and--and in the United States.
LAMB: Where is his widow today?
Prof. GUP: She's in Maryland.
LAMB: And this picture is of their wedding back in 1981?
Prof. GUP: It is. It is.
LAMB: Did you have trouble finding information on some of these people and just have to give up?
Prof. GUP: Yes and no. Yes, I had trouble finding information on some of these people, and, no, I did not give up.
LAMB: I mean, are there stories that are still out there that didn't make it into the book?
Prof. GUP: I'm sure that there are. I would be incredibly presumptuous and egotistical to--to suggest otherwise. But I didn't give up on anything. Everything that I was in pursuit of, I did ultimately manage to get, but not very efficiently or effectively. For example, I tracked one false lead three and a half months. I was told there was a plane crash in El Salvador that took the lives of six people. I spent three and a half months and interviewed probably 200 people in pursuit of that. And it turns out that was the Angola crash; it was not in El Salvador. So that sort of thing happened in the course of reporting this book.
LAMB: How much money does the CIA have in its budget every year?
Prof. GUP: Yeah, I don't know. You know, there's--it's--it's never been made public. We know that in terms of intelligence, from a figure released--I believe it was last year, there's more than $25 billion, in terms of intelligence gathering all around. But the NSA gets a large portion of that, the National Security Agency, which--which does intercepts--communications intercepts and such. The CIA--you know, their budget--this is just a guess--but, you know, under $10 billion.
LAMB: Do you know how many people work at the CIA?
Prof. GUP: I can take a stab at it. Somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000.
LAMB: Is the--the number of dollars and the number of people going up or down in this time period in--in our history?
Prof. GUP: Well, it's--it's fluctuated. Under Reagan, I think, it did quite well. Under Bush, it did quite well. Actually, I think it's relatively stable now. They're rebuilding. They lost an enormous number of people in recent years. With the demise of the Cold War, the end of the Cold War, it might have been a victory, but it almost undid the agency because their reason for being was removed in the eyes of many. And so a lot of the most experienced people left. They said, `The job is done,' and they walked away or they took retirement. It was a generational cycle.
LAMB: You say that you're from Canton, Ohio, originally. Where did you go to college?
Prof. GUP: I went to Brandeis in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Trinity in Dublin, Ireland.
LAMB: What did you get at Trinity?
Prof. GUP: I studied classics, I studied Latin and Irish poetry.
LAMB: Are you married?
Prof. GUP: I am.
LAMB: How long you been married?
Prof. GUP: Eighteen years.
LAMB: How many children?
Prof. GUP: Two, David and Matthew, nine and 10.
LAMB: And how long did you work for Time magazine?
Prof. GUP: Six years.
LAMB: And The Washington Post?
Prof. GUP: Eight years.
LAMB: Anybody else that you worked for over the years besides your freelance?
Prof. GUP: I worked for The Akron Beacon Journal for a year. I worked for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk and I worked for the York County Coast Star in Kennebunk, Maine, as a part-time sports writer at the very beginning.
LAMB: You say in the book this is your first.
Prof. GUP: It is.
LAMB: What was it like?
Prof. GUP: Well, it's funny. I--I have a great reverence for books, probably too much so. And I knew that my life was not going to be complete unless I did a book. And I was really 44 or 45 before I--I started this. And about that time, I was trying to resign myself to the fact that this was one thing I wouldn't accomplish in life. And--and so this book was--was a true gift in many, many ways. Because I--I didn't want to do a book that I--I--I didn't care about absolutely. I didn't want to just do a book to get it on the shelf. I wanted it to be something that mattered to me and mattered to others. And when this presented itself, I knew. It just felt like that wall reached out to me. I know that sounds kind of overly romantic, but that's how it felt.
LAMB: Have you personally stood before the wall?
Prof. GUP: Oh, many, many, many times, yes.
LAMB: You dedicate the book to the sons and daughters of the CIA stars, named and unnamed alike, and `In memory of my father, who told me the only thing a man may hope to leave behind is his good name.' When did he tell you that?
Prof. GUP: Throughout his life. He died 26 years ago at my age. He--he was 50, and I'm 49. But he told me throughout his life that there's nothing you can take with you and the only thing you can leave behind is your good name. And there was a--a kind of play on words there because of these nameless stars. And I--I had a feeling that this was something that my father would have approved of and taken pride in. So that's why I dedicated it to him.
LAMB: How did you get a grant from the MacArthur Foundation?
Prof. GUP: The--the research for this--I had no one who would support me or help me with this initially. I borrowed against my life insurance policy for several months to keep going, and got in something of a financial hole. And then I--I sold a part of the story to The Washington Post Sunday magazine. They were very generous in supporting a part of the research that preceded the publication. But I went through those funds as I continued researching. Went to the MacArthur Foundation, and they alone, among all the foundations in the country, would have anything to do with me because it was a kind of scary project. It involved the CIA. It was unclear how much progress I would make or what would come of it. And to their credit, they crawled out on a limb with me and--and supported me.
LAMB: Can you tell us how much?
Prof. GUP: Initially, it was to be $50,000, and I turned back $15,000 because I later on got a--a very large advance from Doubleday and I did not want to take what I didn't need.
LAMB: You tell a story in here about one of the men in this picture. You say he ended up in Connecticut at age 84.
Prof. GUP: Richard Bissell.
LAMB: Richard Bissell. He goes all the way back to the Bay of Pigs. Which one is he in that photograph with Jack Kennedy?
Prof. GUP: Let's see. He's the gentleman to Kennedy's right.
LAMB: Right?
Prof. GUP: Yes.
LAMB: With the glasses and the paper in his hand.
Prof. GUP: Yes, yes.
LAMB: And then he's right down here below...
Prof. GUP: Right.
LAMB: ...in that picture.
Prof. GUP: That's in retirement, I think.
LAMB: Who--who--is he still alive?
Prof. GUP: No. He passed away. And...
LAMB: Did--when did he pass?
Prof. GUP: A couple of years ago.
LAMB: Did you meet him?
Prof. GUP: No, I--I spoke with his widow. I spoke with several of his children, neighbors, friends, people that worked with him, his personal assistant. Lots of people. And I read his--his--his book and--and many of his writings.
LAMB: What's the story on Richard Bissell?
Prof. GUP: Well, Richard Bissell was a--was p--was--I--I hate to use this word because it's so overused, but I think he was genuinely a genius. He was the father of the U-2 spy plane. And he was really responsible, in no small measure, for the SR-71 Blackbird surveillance plane. And he was instrumental in the first satellite imagery. So--so he was someone that materially advanced our ability to keep an eye on--on--on those we wished to keep an eye on. He was also and probably even prouder of his role in sponsoring covert activities overseas. He was a part of that era in the--in the late '50s when the agency had a kind of carte blanche and were active all around the world. So he was one of the architects of the disastrous Bay of Pigs, which is why he's in the book. Because despite all his triumphs, he'll forever be linked to and remembered, at least in part, for his role in that debacle.
LAMB: Somewhere in here--and I forgot where I wrote it down, you--you quote Theodore Draper as having a comment about the Bay of Pigs. You remember that it was?
Prof. GUP: Oh, is this the one about "How could I have been so dumb?" The--the Kennedy quote.
LAMB: No, it was the one about a perfect disaster or something...
Prof. GUP: Oh, yes.
LAMB: A pe--a perfect failure, I think it was.
Prof. GUP: Oh, yes. Yeah. Re--right. Right. There--there's another quote in there about Kennedy saying, `How could I have been so stupid?' But, yeah, it really was an unmitigated disaster and it was foreseen as such by many, and that was the saddest part, is that--what happened was that they had a--a--a s--a plan which may or may not have been workable, but at least it had the indicia of--of possible success. But it was continually cut back and curtailed to preserve presidential deniability and prevent the US from being linked to it, which was absurd. Even as the operation was ongoing, the US hand was all over it. So what we had done, the US that is, is basically we had condemned ourselves to failure and--and--and four American pilots died in the Bay of Pigs. Their identities were known within weeks or months and their identities appeared--circulated in newspapers and books around the country for the ensuing three decades. But the agency refused to recognize their names and they were nameless stars in The Book of Honor.
LAMB: Quick recap. The Book of Honor stands for what?
Prof. GUP: The Book of Honor is the volume at CIA headquarters in a bulletproof glass case in which the names of those killed for the CI--in CIA are remembered and nameless stars are--are etched in the book's pages.
LAMB: How many stars are on the wall today?
Prof. GUP: Seventy-seven.
LAMB: And the time period you're talking about in your book is from when to when?
Prof. GUP: It spans the entire history of the CIA from 1947, basically, to the present.
LAMB: If you had this book to do over again, what would you change?
Prof. GUP: What would I change? Oh, I would just work more efficiently. I think that's all.
LAMB: And you're based now in Cleveland, at Case Western Reserve University.
Prof. GUP: That's right.
LAMB: Teaching what?
Prof. GUP: Journalism and non-fiction writing.
LAMB: Our guest, Ted Gup. This is the book: "The Book of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA." Thank you very much.
Prof. GUP: Thank you.


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