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A Spy For All Seasons


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Clarridge, a New Hampshire-born dentist's son, joined the CIA in 1955 to fight Soviet and Chinese communism. His 33-year career-including stints as chief of the Latin American and European divisions, and head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, which he set up in 1986-ended with his forced retirement after the FBI and congressional committees investigated his role in what he dismissively calls "the Iran-contra nonsense." Indicted in 1991 on federal charges of lying to Congress and the Tower Commission, Clarridge received a presidential pardon from Bush a year later. In a brisk, businesslike memoir studded with disclosures about CIA covert actions and espionage around the world, Clarridge denies charges that he secretly anointed Oliver North as U.S. coordinator for contra funding and weapons supply. He also denies that he knew in advance a shipment of missiles to Iran was, in fact, weaponry rather than oil-drilling equipment, as North allegedly tricked him into believing. Clarridge reveals details of an almost-successful agency attempt to nab Palestinian terrorist Abul Abbas, who hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, killing a wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger. The CIA veteran staunchly defends Reagan's contra war against Nicaragua's "totalitarian" Sandinistas, an operation he created and supervised. And he reports that, after Abu Nidal terrorists killed 19 people in the Rome and Vienna airports in 1985, CIA operatives penetrated the Libya- and Lebanon-based group, sowing paranoid distrust that led Nidal to murder 330 of his own hard-core disciples. Coauthor Diehl is a frequent contributor to Playboy and has collaborated on six book. (Jan.)

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