US Remains At Risk, Speakers Tell Raleigh Spy Conference; Washington Post Columnist Suggests Closing Down CIA

By Rick Smith

March 30, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) — David Ignatius, a ground-breaking reporter in espionage coverage — and author of five spy novels highly praised by members of the intelligence community — is worried about the CIA.

Speaking at the Fifth Raleigh Spy Conference, Ignatius warned that so-called intelligence reforms put in place following the 9/11 terrorist attacks have left the Agency and the United States vulnerable to terror attacks and espionage by other enemies.

“To be honest, I’d blow up the CIA — get rid of it,” The Washington Post columnist told the crowd in his closing keynote address. Rather than keep the CIA as it exists under the National Director of Intelligence, the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, VA, should be “turned into a theme park,” he said.

In an address that covered his career dating from the 1970s that included his interview as a young reporter with legendary CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton, Ignatius said the CIA had degenerated from a “robust, well-wired organization” capable of penetrating Yasser Arafat’s inner circle to an organization today that is encumbered by bureaucracy, “an administration that doesn’t like it” and is “risk adverse.”

His calls for change would not be unwelcome in Langley, said Brian Kelley, a 40-year CIA counterintelligence veteran who was also a guest speaker.

“Some in the CIA would agree with him,” said Kelley, who was exonerated by the FBI after a tortuous three-year investigation that targeted him as a Soviet “mole.” The actual spy turned out to be the FBI’s own Robert Hanssen. “To separate the clandestine service is necessary to get us out from the bureaucracy. I’m not sure how it would work, but he is not alone in saying this.”

A strong CIA is needed as much now as ever, added Tennent “Pete” Bagley, an Agency veteran of the 1960s and ’70s who was the case officer charged with handling alleged Soviet KGB defector Yuri Nosenko. Nosenko came to the US with the story that the Soviets had no ties to John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Bagley never believed him.

In his new book Spy Wars, Bagley relates how he ultimately failed to convince the CIA leadership that Nosenko was an instrument in a KGB deception operation. He told the conference he believes that the Agency’s failure to pressure Nosenko for his true knowledge of all Soviet efforts — such as “turning” cryptologists and running unidentified moles — is being felt today.

“I don’t want to see those traitors escape justice,” he said. “There is always a continuum in espionage, so the spies of the past have roots in the future.”

Although retired for 30 years, Bagley, 82, also insisted in an interview that the Cold War continues with Russia. Under Vladimir Putin, the Russian spy services are as active as ever, he said. On a recent visit to Moscow he met a former KGB rival who said the hate didn’t die with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

“He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘We are STILL working against you,’” Bagley said. “Was I surprised? Not at all.”

The Raleigh Spy Conference drew a host of former and current intelligence operatives and members of the public to hear additional speakers, including former Time magazine Bureau Chief Jerrold Schecter and CIA chief historian David Robarge.

“The world is a more dangerous place than ever,” Robarge said in an interview. “There is no balance in terror that prevents the worst from happening, as there was between the Soviet Union and the United States.

“The worst,” he warned, “could happen tomorrow.”

Go to for more information and biographies of conference speakers.


David Ignatius To Give Keynote Address at Raleigh Spy Conference

February 19, 2008 (RALEIGH, NC) – DAVID IGNATIUS, Washington Post columnist and former Moscow bureau chief will deliver the keynote address at the fifth annual Raleigh Spy Conference ( to be held in downtown Raleigh March 26-28.

Ignatius is also the author of espionage fiction applauded by the intelligence community. His newest book, Body of Lies, is being made into a major motion picture starring Russell Crow and Leonardo diCaprio. Ignatius will offer conference attendees an overview of the era that created the “wilderness of mirrors” involving double agents, moles and deception operations — and the political and historical impact of Cold War espionage.

Ignatius has had a distinguished career in the news business. He has written widely for magazines and published six novels, including “Agents of Innocence,” which Harper’s Magazine called ‘one of the greatest spy tales ever written.” His twice-weekly column on global politics, economics and international affairs debuted on The Washington Post op-ed page in January 1999 syndicated worldwide by the Los Angeles Times/Washington Post News Service.

Ignatius continued to write weekly after becoming executive editor of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune in September 2000. When the Post sold its interest in the IHT in January 2003, he resumed writing twice a week for the op-ed page and was syndicated worldwide by The Washington Post Writers Group. His column won the 2000 Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary and a 2004 Edward Weintal Prize.

As executive editor of the IHT, Ignatius met with leaders of countries across Europe and Asia. During his journalism career, he has covered almost every Washington beat, from the Pentagon to the CIA to Capitol Hill.

Ignatius served as the Post´s foreign editor from 1990 to 1992, supervising the paper´s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From 1986 to 1990, he was editor of the Post´s Outlook section, a Sunday opinion section that covers politics, economics, foreign policy and intellectual trends.

Before joining the Washington Post in 1986, Ignatius spent 10 years as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering the steel industry, the Justice Department, the CIA and the U.S. Senate. He transferred overseas to become the paper´s Middle East correspondent from 1980 to 1983, covering wars in Lebanon and Iraq. He returned to Washington in 1984 as the Journal´s chief diplomatic correspondent.

Raised in Washington, D.C., Ignatius attended St. Albans School and Harvard College, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1973. He received a Frank Knox Fellowship from Harvard and studied at King´s College, Cambridge University, where he received a diploma in economics. He has published articles in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Talk Magazine and The Washington Monthly.

Ignatius has written six novels: Agents of Innocence, published in 1987 by W.W. Norton; SIRO, published in 1991 by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux; The Bank of Fear, published in 1994 by William Morrow; A Firing Offense, published in 1997 by Random House; The Sun King, published in 1999 by Random House; and Body of Lies, published in April 2007 by W.W. Norton. His books have been translated into a dozen languages. Tom Cruise and Paramount Productions bought film rights to his fourth novel, A Firing Offense. Director Ridley Scott and Warner Bros. are currently in production on Body of Lies.

For details on the Raleigh Spy Conference, including schedule and reservations, go to