The Reluctant Spy
My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror
Publication Date: March 16, 2010
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Long before the waterboarding controversy exploded in the media, one CIA agent had already gone public. In a groundbreaking 2007 interview with ABC News, John Kiriakou called waterboarding torture—but admitted that it probably worked. This book, at once a confessional, an adventure story, and a chronicle of Kiriakou’s life in the CIA, stands as an important, eloquent piece of testimony from a committed American patriot.
In February 2002 Kiriakou was the head of counterterrorism in Pakistan. Under his command, in a spectacular raid coordinated with Pakistani agents and the CIA’s best intelligence analyst, Kiriakou’s field officers took down the infamous terrorist Abu Zubaydah. For days, Kiriakou became the wounded terrorist’s personal “bodyguard.” In circumstances stranger than fiction, as al-Qaeda agents scoured the streets for their captured leader, the best trauma surgeon in America was flown to Pakistan to make sure that Zubaydah did not die.
In The Reluctant Spy, Kiriakou takes us into the fight against an enemy fueled by fanaticism. He chillingly describes what it was like inside the CIA headquarters on the morning of 9/11, the agency leaders who stepped up and those who protected their careers. And in what may be the book’s most shocking revelation, he describes how the White House made plans to invade Iraq a full year before the CIA knew about it—or could attempt to stop it.
Chronicling both mind-boggling mistakes and heroic acts of individual courage, The Reluctant Spy is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the inner workings of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, the truth behind the torture debate, and the incredible dedication of ordinary men and women doing one of the most extraordinary jobs on earth.
John Kiriakou is a senior staff member in the United States Senate. He served in the Central Intelligence Agency from 1990 to 2004, first as an analyst and later as a counterterrorism operations officer. He was later named the executive assistant to the CIA’s Associate Deputy Director for Operations, in which capacity he was intimately involved in planning the Iraq War. His op-eds on the Middle East and Afghanistan have appeared in more than eighty newspapers in dozens of countries.
"The true life story of a US spy on the frontlines of the war on terror, and what that meant for both his personal and professional life. The Reluctant Spy is a gripping page turner that reads better than fiction. A great read about the murky world of American espionage."—Peter Bergen author of Holy War, Inc. and Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden
"Kiriakou cracks open the CIA’s vault, revealing an unusually human inside account of what goes on inside. A vivid picture of the tradeoffs facing America in the post 9/11 world."—Jane Mayer, staff writer, The New Yorker Magazine and author of The Dark Side: How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals