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.
outside, overt graphics technology had progressed remarkably in that period and passed the Agency by. These advances presented us with both amazing opportunities and daunting challenges. The use of computers to digitally reproduce both text and image meant that my Division could more effectively support alias document and covert action propaganda operations throughout the Soviet bloc. These operations ranged from agent rescues to supporting the banned Solidarity trade union’s underground
reproducing documents, then?” His cool eyes locked on mine. “That doesn’t leave much creative latitude. Your lettering and line weight will be critiqued with a microscope.” In other words, a major part of my job would be duplicating official documents of foreign governments, ranging from ration books to letterheads to military identity cards. If I did that type of work on American soil with U.S. documents, I’d be in line for a ten-or twenty-year vacation in Leavenworth. I sensed that Phil was
Russia, so long hidden to Western eyes. For some reason, I was unexpectedly moved. Epilogue IN DECEMBER 1990, A FEW WEEKS AFTER MY RETIREMENT, I HAD flown to Germany to join Jonna in Berlin. She was on temporary duty in Moscow, so this quintessential espionage Ground Zero of the Cold War seemed an ideal place for us to meet. But I experienced a moment of panic when I received word that her flight was diverted from the airport in the former West Berlin to Schönefeld in the former East
I finished copying the remaining passages in the same casual style we had practiced several times that morning. Her somber gaze was the only obvious sign of her role in this operation. She wore a plain housedress, and her long, straight black hair was tied back with string. My forgery materials were spread out between us on the teak tabletop. Two well-behaved toddlers were playing with matchbox cars around her bare feet on the faded ceramic tile floor. They chattered in a strange mixture of two
operating in Prague, Budapest, or Warsaw, for example, might use clever tradecraft to slip his surveillance periodically for secure meetings with important assets. But conditions were so tight in Moscow, Bill and Jacques explained, that such meetings were rare; an officer might never hold one during his entire two-year tour. However, Agency case officers in Moscow were still expected to perform the most important duty of clandestine espionage operations: secure and timely communication with