The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA
Antonio J. Mendez
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Tony Mendez led two lives. To his friends, he was a soft-spoken, nondescript bureaucrat working for the Department of Defense. To the leaders of the CIA, he was their master of disguise--an undisputed genius who could create an entirely new identity for anybody, anywhere, anytime. Combining the cunning tricks of a magician with the analytical insight of a psychologist, Mendez shows us how he helped hundreds of people escape potentially fatal situations.
From "Wild West" adventures in East Asia to Cold War intrigue in Moscow, Mendez was there. He earned the CIA's Intelligence Star of Valor for his role in engineering the escape of six Americans from Tehran in 1980. On the fiftieth anniversary of the CIA, he was named one of the fifty all-time stars of the spy trade, honored with the Trailblazer Award, and granted exclusive permission to tell his fascinating story--all of it. Here he gives us a privileged look at what really happens in the field and behind closed doors at the highest level of international espionage: some of it shocking, frightening, and wildly inventive--all of it unforgettable.
suburbs were full of German, Dutch, and Belgian vans. Perestroika, and the desperate need for hard currency these tourists carried, had almost completely undercut the KGB’s ability to effectively seal off the streets of Soviet cities. But surveillance still existed. The day before, Jacques asked me to accompany a CIA communicator in his car and on foot during an extended shopping outing. It took us a couple of hours, but I finally identified a discreet mobile surveillance team of six or eight
photographs were developed, they revealed crucial details of the logistics system supporting Soviet nuclear weapons facilities in areas closed to foreigners. TSD prepared other necessary spy gear, such as remote listening devices, the “bugs” of popular novels, and more sophisticated forms of “audio.” TSD specialists traveled to aid clandestine officers on agent recruiting and rescue operations by crawling into attics to install audio devices, and meeting with agents to instruct them in the use
and inoculations for the entire family, as well as the tedious routine of “packing out” and arranging our air-freight shipments, which would form the nucleus of our household until the larger surface shipment arrived. She had borne the brunt of the complicated logistics of the move; closing a house and relocating to Asia with three children under six was an enormous undertaking. Somehow, we all managed to settle aboard the comfortable Northwest DC-8, en route for Tokyo and points south. I sensed
Formalities. I had grown accustomed to East Asia and Indochina, where people kept a physical distance from Europeans, if not from each other. But in this even more congested part of the world, the concept of personal space did not exist. The people here certainly thought nothing of assaulting each other with their limbs and luggage. As we made our way across the terminal, I tried to ignore the heat, the wafted stench from the W.C.s and open sewers, and the voracious flies. As in any foreign
had memorized the phone numbers of his “affiliate” offices elsewhere in the Middle East, CIA fronts already alerted to vouch for his bona fides, should Iranian officials at the airport somehow decide to call. After RAPTOR turned in following dinner, however, I had a final private word with Hal. “He’s been a quick study and seems eager to meet the challenge,” I admitted. “But I’m worried.” Three times over the past few days, RAPTOR had visibly slipped into depression. He had hunched in his