Author: Kent Moors, Ph.D.
A decade ago, I shared a very personal account of something from my life in intelligence. It was certainly not the longest piece of mine to appear or the most complicated. But it generated more response than anything I have ever written. It has appeared every year since, always at the same time of year.
As we approach another Memorial Day, it seems appropriate to send it out again, as this week’s entry in the Classified Intelligence Brief Spy Tales series. Nothing surrounding the events recounted here will ever change for me. Cannot conceive how it ever could. However, this time “mother” finally has allowed me to provide some closure. Because in next week’s Spy Tale I will explain how we got even.
What follows is rather brief, given that when this first appeared there was no agreement on how such a tale was to be written and I was in the process of figuring out how to protect what needed to be protected while still being accurate with what was being told. So, I kept the story limited.
I was also not putting out a regular intel series at the time. This reminiscence emerged in a regular weekly analysis usually devoted to energy investment matters. To say the least, it was a departure from what the readership probably expected.
Next week, when closing the circle, I will provide some more specific details about the events. But this time around, what has become an annual recounting will remain the same.
It goes like this:
Next week we honor those who have given the supreme sacrifice to allow the rest of us to live the kind of life we do. For me individually, this is a very tough time of the year. And it is all coming back to me this morning.
Particularly today, as two matters converge. Both are personal and prompt that I write something rather different.
First, I am completing the “Acknowledgement” section of my latest book – The Great Game: The Coming Face Off for Global Supremacy. There is a documentary coming out shortly on why I wrote it and how to use what it contains.
Anyway, in acknowledging who I should thank a flood of memories rushed in. Many involved experiences on the front lines of the Cold War and its aftermath, while walking in what these days feel like another guy’s shoes.
I was then playing “The Great Game” as a profession, a game with some very high stakes. This morning, acknowledging in the book has quickly given way to acknowledging who I am.
That in turn brought back the faces of people who helped shape me. I owe them my life. For a few, that debt is a very literal one.
And that gives way to a ready emotion, a result of the second matter hitting today. It is what makes this time of year so difficult for me because May 31 is a bittersweet anniversary.
It is one of two dates on which I should have died.
On both occasions, somebody else did instead. But what makes this one more poignant is the victim. He was a fellow traveler in “The Great Game,” a close friend, and I put him there.
It was during a still classified operation that had gone very sour, compounded by the part of the world we were in. There was little in the way of a support structure to fall back on and our “goodbye code” (the escape plan) would soon be burned. I had made a mistake that did not help matters any and the op started unraveling.
What happened next is something that stays with me forever. He simply pushed me aside, ended up in the line of fire, and took a spray of 9×18 mm bullets. I caught only one in the salvo, carrying the scar to this day, a constant reminder of another’s sacrifice.
How do you “acknowledge” somebody for having done that? I could not later when I met with his widow and their two daughters back home. I cannot do it now.
That I received two of my medals for the affair simply added to the irony and the pain. For his part, the fellow whose sacrifice let me keep on breathing received a star on a wall in northern Virginia. It does not even bear his name given that the assignment is still classified.
The Memorial Wall is on the right in the picture below (the north wall of the old headquarters lobby at Langley) between US and agency flags. In the Alabama marble are carved 129 stars, one for each CIA officer killed in defense of his or her country.
Framed beneath the stars and sitting under an inch of plate glass is the black Book of Honor. This contains by year each of the stars on the wall. Names appear next to 91 of them. The remaining 38 have a blank space next to the star, indicating the officer died in what is still a classified operation.
I personally knew three of them. If not for the occurrence I am recalling today, one of them could be writing something like this and I would be an unnamed star on the wall.
He gave his life to save mine and even now his name cannot be mentioned.
I have never been able to shake the feeling of living on borrowed time. It is something that will be with me always. As one of my mentors used to say: “If you live long enough in this business you end up walking with ghosts.”
Nobody told me at the time that some of those ghosts are more personal than others.
But if this life given to me by others has taught anything, it is this. You need to stand for something; you need to make other people’s sacrifices – spouses, parents, family, friends, fellow countrymen – worth the effort.
It is the only way each of us can shoulder the legacy, the gift, the responsibility.
Especially these days. Conflict is a major part of what is experienced all around us. In fact, it has been the norm for some time. Peace seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
My writings rarely deal with such larger issues. Yet I can at least offset how some implications of conflict affect you in other ways.
The next six to twelve months will be a shaky period. We are again reaching one of those times where decisions will have massive consequences, there will be winner and losers, and life will have changed a bit once it is all over.
I intend to help you stay on the plus side in all of this, a part of the way to honor those who got me through earlier tough times.
Consider it my own version of paying it forward.
Dr. Kent Moors
This is an installment of Classified Intelligence Brief, your guide to what’s really happening behind the headlines… and how to profit from it. Dr. Kent Moors served the United States for 30 years as one of the most highly decorated intelligence operatives alive today (including THREE Presidential commendations).
After moving through the inner circles of royalty, oligarchs, billionaires, and the uber-rich, he discovered some of the most important secrets regarding finance, geo-politics, and business. As a result, he built one of the most impressive rolodexes in the world. His insights and network of contacts took him from a Vietnam veteran to becoming one of the globe’s most sought after consultants, with clients including six of the largest energy companies and the United States government.
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