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The clandestine art of modern spies

by AirTalk

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The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service

In the days after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, the CIA launched a global covert operations effort to combat terrorism. The organization focused primarily on Afghanistan, and the man they chose to organize and lead that campaign was one Henry Crumpton.

A former operations officer in the CIA’s Clandestine Services, Crumpton’s expertise made itself apparent with the results he oversaw in Afghanistan. In 2001, at the height of combat, there were less than 500 Americans on the ground, comprised by a blend of CIA and Special Forces. This strategy allowed for the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan to rout Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in less than 90 days after the attacks.

This successful approach fundamentally changed the way America wages war, and is still the predominant tactic being used in the field today. In his book, Crumpton outlines what modern spies do and what role they play in the bigger picture.

How did Crumpton attain the rank of ambassador at large for America’s counterterrorism program? What lessons from his own experiences as a young man in the CIA influenced the way he worked in a leadership role? What’s the next step in evolution for America’s particular brand of war?


Henry A. Crumpton, author of “The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service,” former operations officer in the CIA’s Clandestine Service for twenty-four years, served as U.S. coordinator for counterterrorism with the rank of ambassador at large

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