Morning Spy, Evening Spy

Morning Spy, Evening Spy

4.3 3
by Colin MacKinnon

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Kareem was an Afghan resistance fighter of the 1980s and was once on the CIA payroll.
But now he's responsible for the murder of an American CIA agent in Pakistan, which may compromise an intricate, long-planned CIA operation to capture Osama bin Laden.
CIA officer Paul Patterson, who ran Kareem as an agent during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, sets


Kareem was an Afghan resistance fighter of the 1980s and was once on the CIA payroll.
But now he's responsible for the murder of an American CIA agent in Pakistan, which may compromise an intricate, long-planned CIA operation to capture Osama bin Laden.
CIA officer Paul Patterson, who ran Kareem as an agent during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, sets out to track him down. Patterson navigates a shadow land of intrigue in England, Africa, the Middle East, and the U.S., where truth and lies seem to merge. Meanwhile, Muhammad Atta and the other conspirators prepare their attack on the World Trade Center. The climax is a stunning reversal of everything that Patterson's quest has led him to expect.
Peopled with Washington bureaucrats, old CIA hands who operate by their own set of rules, African rebels, diplomats, and assassins, this thriller captures the world of the CIA and the terrorists with the intensity John le Carré brought to the Cold War.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mixing fact and faction effectively, MacKinnon chronicles the poignant personal story of a senior CIA agent, Paul Patterson, in the months before 9/11. Patterson has been investigating the assassination of an agency operative in Pakistan who had been on the trail of Osama bin Laden before the terrorist became a household name. The case leads Patterson to a disturbing chain of events-porous U.S. immigration policies, White House indifference, CIA bungling-that in hindsight provides the perfect set of circumstances for 9/11. At the same time, Patterson juggles a painful divorce after the accidental death of a teenage son. With this second novel (after 1985's Finding Hoseyn), MacKinnon, a Middle East expert whose specialty is Iran, shows great insight into the inner workings of U.S. intelligence. His clipped prose style, descriptive discipline and tone-perfect dialogue elevate this thriller above the pack, though the central plot, stopping just short of 9/11, ends with more of a whimper than a bang. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The facts surrounding 9/11 are blended with fictional Mideast intrigue in MacKinnon's slow-paced but solid spy thriller. When former CIA agent Ed Powers is gunned down one morning on a Peshawar street, the authorities have two questions: Who shot him? And what had he been doing to get himself killed in the first place? Powers had a sketchy past, to say the least, and as rumors of drug-smuggling and other untoward activities start to surface, the media and a few unfriendly Congressmen begin pressing the Agency for details. At the center of it all is CIA man Paul Patterson, once-divorced, world-weary and on the hunt for Powers's killers. Topping his list of people to talk to is Kareem, a former Agency informant thought to have all manner of shady connections to the world of Islamic terrorism. Meanwhile, in what might well be a related development, Arab men have begun popping up at flight-training schools around the U.S. MacKinnon, formerly Iran Country Coordinator for Amnesty International, has a quiet, spare style and a knack for nailing down just the right details. It's an approach that lends the story an air of authenticity. With the chase leading him around the globe, Powers is less Bond-style hero than flawed guy just trying to get things done. As the tale slowly approaches end, this sense of vulnerability only adds to the tension. A nicely written thriller, and about as mercifully free of cliche as the genre will allow.
From the Publisher

“MacKinnon, a Middle East expert whose specialty is Iran, shows great insight into the inner workings of U.S. intelligence. His clipped prose style, descriptive discipline and tone-perfect dialogue elevate this thriller above the pack.” —Publishers Weekly

“A nicely written thriller.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This CIA procedural… pays off in a gut punch of an ending.” —Booklist

“[A] richly drawn, splendidly written novel of character....If you're a thriller reader, snatch this one up. It's the best of the year, by far.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“[A] gripping, fast-paced novel.” —Tucson Citizen (Arizona)

“MacKinnon's writing is sharp and fast-moving…[he] provides a good window into how the CIA operates.” —The Washingtonian

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Morning Spy, Evening Spy

By Colin MacKinnon

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2006 Colin MacKinnon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9357-9



"Pray for War"

"Will we ever ... I mean ever ... figure that asshole?"

Bill Cleppinger, sour this chilly morning, shoots me a look when he asks this, then goes back to staring out the window of our government-service Chevrolet at the rain — a sullen, sloppy February drizzle — descending on the George Washington Parkway.

I shrug: beats me.

We're talking about Ed Powers. And with Ed — well, the more you know, it always seems, the less you know. Even now.

Clep and I are being driven from CIA headquarters in Virginia into the District of Columbia. We are both officers with the Agency — Clep heads the Antiterrorism Action Committee, ATAC in the jargon, and I am special assistant for counterterrorism to the director of the Agency.

We have a midmorning appointment on Capitol Hill with a Senate aide named Jim McClennan. McClennan is chief of staff, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, whose members are supposed to watch over our doings. McClennan has told us he wants to "talk over" what he calls the "Powers thing."

Bill and I have gamed this morning's session, and we know pretty much what we want to tell McClennan about Big Ed. He will hear that and no more.

We are both, nevertheless, deeply uneasy. Powers, a private businessman, had been working for us on contract when he was murdered. He had been in the thick of an operation code- named NOREFUGE, a program we are running out of Peshawar. We think his connection to NOREFUGE may have gotten him killed.

NOREFUGE is beyond sensitive. Its object is to capture an Arab named Osama bin Laden. We have four presidential directives, formal executive orders, tasking us to do the job, and we want to, badly.

NOREFUGE, as befits its purpose, is an elaborate and tricky project, relying on telephone and other electronic intercepts and a small network of human informants we've been able to develop with much delicate work. Through NOREFUGE we have gotten to know who some of bin Laden's top people are and their addresses. We have even learned some of bin Laden's operational style, the way he travels, what his personal security procedures are.

Powers, who knew many strange people in this world, got some Afghan tribals to attack a convoy carrying bin Laden outside Kandahar, his city of choice in southern Afghanistan. Rather than go for a capture, the tribals simply slammed a rocket-propelled grenade into one of bin Laden's Toyota Land Cruisers, incinerating the thing. Wrong Land Cruiser, though — the great man escaped.

But then, a few months later, Powers died. Clep and I, some other people at ATAC, don't like the timing. We think bin Laden's group, al-Qaeda, may have killed Powers in retaliation for the attack on their leader. If so, it means al-Qaeda and bin Laden are onto NOREFUGE and know at least some of what we've been up to. Powers's death may therefore signal the unraveling of the operation.

Terrible, if true. We are getting increasing chatter — ambiguous phone intercepts, vague reports from dubious sources — suggesting that al-Qaeda is planning something very large, perhaps in the United States. We can't tell what. We are beside ourselves.

It is a delicate time, and we do not need a Senate committee barging in on this.

I look over at Cleppinger. "We never found out. About McClennan."


"McClennan. Why he never got told Powers was Agency."

Under current protocol, enshrined in two official memorandums of understanding between us and each oversight committee, House and Senate, we should have informed them when Powers was murdered that he had been an Agency contractor. We did not.

Cleppinger snorts. "McClennan didn't get told fast as he wanted. So what? McClennan's a big boy, he'll get over it. And we're telling him now." Clep makes a dismissive pffft sound. "This is all such bullshit."

About a month ago McClennan got wind somehow that Powers — crooked, slippery Ed Powers — had been on the Agency payroll. When he called over to find out if the stories were true, he got what he thought was a runaround from some of our people at Operations. I do not know — still — exactly what Operations told him, but whatever it was, it did not make Jim McClennan happy.

McClennan, who is ex-CIA himself, is normally a friendly guy, not given to outrage at his former employer, but when he got what he thought was the okeydoke from us, he, or somebody, persuaded committee chairman, Senator Dennis Coale, to send the director of central intelligence a stiff letter (hand-carried, secret courier — the works) demanding an accounting. Hence our trip into town this dank morning.

Clep hates dealing with the Hill and should not be sent on these missions, but McClennan asked for him specifically. Len Davidson, who runs Operations and is Clep's boss, ordered him to show up. Davidson asked me to tag along. I am being sent to keep the proceedings with McClennan civil, which may not be easy.

Clep, who was born pugnacious, is red-eyed and snarly this morning and looks ready for a set-to. Clep is sixty maybe, paunchy, squat, and heavy. He has buzz-cut, graying hair and a gray, suety, all business face, which he keeps in neutral much of the time, though he is a bundle of middle-aged hypertension.

A mordant smile suddenly flits over that chubby face. "Well," he says, "not to worry. We have a secret weapon: this, our Briefing Book" — he taps a thin, blue loose-leaf binder he is holding in his lap. "We will hand them this. This book and what it contains" — tap tap tap — "will make all these troublesome people happy, and they will all go away and leave us alone."

Clep knows the Briefing Book is a crock. It is mostly background material on Big Ed, highly edited, along with some routine cables on Pakistani politics. Len Davidson had the thing put together, hoping it would be some kind of proof of our bona fides. There is nothing of any note in it. If committee is really interested in Powers's death, this stuff will not satisfy them.

Cleppinger's smile has disappeared.

My name is Paul Patterson. I am Ohio born and bred.

I'm heading for fifty — the big five-O — and look it. I'm getting heavy at the edges and thick at the jawline. My hair, blond once, has browned and is beginning to whiten. These days, too, I catch a hint of my mother's squarer, German face (she was an Aultz) moving into, replacing the more angular Patterson shape. It's not a shock anymore.

I like to say I'm the son of a truck driver, though my father, when he died of lung cancer in 1970, had worked for years as the very sedentary manager of a local freight-hauling firm in Columbus. In the late 1940s, though, when he was a young man, not yet married and probably a little wild, my father had driven trucks for a living, and he claimed he knew all the roads and towns between Pittsburgh and Chicago.

When he married my mother, he took an inside job — she insisted on that — and settled down to domestic life. Now and then, though, he would reminisce fondly about his driving days. I recall winter evenings in our small, old-fashioned kitchen, warm from the gas stove, and I hear my father in his gravelly voice telling me of the towns he used to pass through — Wheeling, Zanesville, Dayton, Toledo, Terre Haute — and of the behemoths he would pilot, telling me about what he hauled, about the companies he worked for.

I think my father had a wanderlust, a need to roam that for a time sent him driving from town to town in the Midwest, which I inherited. And for me, a little boy with no sense of the world's immensity, the names of those modest places had the ring of the far, far away, of romance.

About a mile from where we lived, just south of the Columbus city limits, was a small U.S. army base, long since closed, with a contingent of troops. On summer nights with the windows open in the Midwest heat, I would hear the sound of taps coming over the slow water of the Scioto River. The soft, far-off sound of that lone bugle expressed everything I thought was brave, manly, and patriotic, and I would fall asleep, lulled by its somber tones.

I went to college at OSU, and it was there that I managed to live the dream of every Ohio boy in those days. I played football for Woody Hayes, the greatest coach that ever was, that ever would be. Senior year, I was first-string tackle, offense and defense, on a crushing, almost always victorious team. By this time my father had died, but my mother in her earnest, dutiful way, collected all the clippings of Buckeye games from The Columbus Dispatch and kept them in a large, fat scrapbook, which I still have.

At OSU I did Marine Platoon Leaders' Class and between junior and senior years put in part of a summer at Quantico. As soon as I graduated, I joined the Corps over the objections of my mother. I served at Camp Pendleton in California, then Okinawa. I did overseas training in Iceland and France. In all, I gave the Corps three years of happy fealty. And the Corps — its unconditional love of country, its fatalism, its willingness to kill — entered my being and has never left.

"Pray for war," we used to yell as we jogged down the trails at Quantico. We meant it.

I have worked for CIA for almost twenty-five years, mostly overseas in various dusty Eastern capitals. Once in the early nineties, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was covering one of the spectacular trials we used to generate asked me why I'd joined. I told him because work at CIA promised me endless war on Communism. At CIA, I said, we were privileged to fight that war day in, day out. And we fought it everywhere — not just in Moscow or Beijing. We fought it in Cairo, Jakarta, Bogotá, Tehran. We used everything, every weapon, every rock and brick we could pick up off the ground to fight the bastards with.

My speech impressed the guy no end. He seemed to believe me — he got the quotes right and ran them pretty much as he'd heard them. And what I told him was true enough as far as it went.

But I didn't tell him about my wandering father or those Midwest towns, far-off and exotic in a boy's imagination, or the sound of taps in the summer night.

"Word in from an embassy. There's been a killing, you'd better get back in. We can't talk over the phone."

Stu Kremer, Cleppinger's deputy at ATAC, called me at home the day Powers died. Christmas Eve — leave it to Big Ed.

Most of the ATAC office staff, like almost everyone else in the federal government, had gone home that day in the early afternoon, buzzed, some more than others, after an office Holiday Happiness party.

When I got back to ATAC's Fusion Center that dreary evening, four or five other officers had returned to headquarters and were at work in the warren of gray cubicles that surround Cleppinger's suite. They were on their phones or popping away at their keyboards, trying to pull in what we knew about Ed and what he had been up to for us over the years.

Stu, out among them, also at a keyboard, just waved me a distracted hello.

"Peshawar," he said. "Ed Powers. They killed him."

Stu shoved an embassy cable at me describing the murder. I do not surprise easily, and I doubt that I showed much reaction, though even then I sensed the depths of trouble this might cause us.

Cleppinger, tie loose, shirt popped out over his gut, was sitting alone in his office, the only light in the room coming in through his half-open office door. On his desk stood a big, half-empty plastic bottle of Gilbeys he had rescued earlier from the party. He had stayed behind that afternoon to read cables — his way of spending a holiday.

I didn't bother to say hello. "This was not random terrorism," I said. "This was something else."

Not responding to that, Clep said, "He'd been to Peshawar a lot, five, six times in the last year, and it wasn't NOREFUGE work — we got that figured out at least. Jesus Christ, what the hell was he doing there?"

"Making enemies."

"Well, I guess."

"And got himself murdered in Pakistan — no surprise, the place is such a shooting gallery."

Cleppinger nodded. Other Americans had been killed in that country: four oil company employees in the early nineties, two consular officers in Karachi in 1995, and then in 1997 a CIA officer, a young woman named Terri Talbot, who had been working under embassy cover, also in Karachi. She was shot while being driven to work one morning. Some minor accomplices in her murder have been captured.

"Bill, it was al-Qaeda and it was some kind of payback. Maybe NOREFUGE. Maybe somebody got him for that — what do you think?"

Cleppinger made a muffled noise that sounded like agreement and looked away from me out his window, which runs the length of his office. Black sky by 5:30 p.m., worst goddamn time of the year. Outside in the cold evening, mercury arc lamps had come on to illuminate our grounds. The lamps' chilly blue light melded oddly with the reflection of Cleppinger's round face swimming in the shiny dark of his window, and it looked to me as if a bodiless Cleppinger, nonplussed by an agent's death, was hovering out there above our snowy campus.

Beyond the lamps and the zone of visibility they created, hidden in pine trees and darkness perhaps a quarter of a mile away, ran the ten-foot chain-link fence that defines our perimeter, and beyond the fence, more pine trees and the first hints of the Langley suburbs, out there where it was Christmas Eve.

Next morning, I got an early call at home from Robert Fowler, terrorism honcho on the National Security Council. When Fowler calls, it means the White House is calling.

"What have we got here?" he asked. "Another shooting in Pakistan? What the hell's going on over there?"

"I don't know, Bob. We'll get the station reporting shortly. I've talked with them over the phone, but the Paks have the info. We don't know a lot yet."

Fowler said nothing for a time, just made an impatient humming sound, not much liking my answer. Let him hum, I thought. We know what we know, Bob.

Before coming to NSC, Fowler was at State doing something with arms transfers, for or against I do not know. The rumor is, State wanted to get rid of him and suggested to him, strongly, that he take up the antiterrorism slot at NSC.

Fowler has pale blue eyes, pale white skin, close-cut, wavy red hair that's gone almost white, and a prim little rosebud mouth. He looks like death. He is also a tense, nervous piece of work.

"Who was this Powers?" Fowler asked finally.

"An American businessman."

"Who did it? What do we know? We know anything at all?"

"Right now not much."

"Don't we have assets? What are they telling us?"

"We'll get it together as soon as possible, Bob, and get it to you, promise you that."

Fowler made another impatient little hum, then said, "Right, okay. Talk to you, Paul," and hung up abruptly.

We have a lead on Powers's murder. One. It isn't much, and we are not sure what it means.

On December 19, five days before Powers was gunned down, a wanted international killer entered Pakistan. He goes by the name Liamine Dreissi. Dreissi is not his real name, but it's the one we've got, and until we know better, it's the one we'll have to use.

Dreissi, we believe, is a high-ranking operative of al-Qaeda. We have caught rumors that he engineered the deaths of those four American oil company employees gunned down some years back in Karachi. He is a man we badly want.

A day after Dreissi entered Pakistan, we got a Priority One alert from Islamabad Station reporting that he'd been sighted at the airport.

Hyperlinked with the alert was a black-and-white police photo of Dreissi we have in our archives. The photo shows Dreissi flat on, but he is holding his face tilted back from the camera, his mouth half-open. His black hair is unkempt. His eyes, empty, say nothing, seem to focus on nothing. He has a long, untrimmed beard; his cheekbones are very high. He is wearing a white shirt with a narrow, stiff little collar that he has left unbuttoned. He looks tired.

The photo is captioned, "Supplied by Algerian Sûreté," the main Algerian security service — they have a dozen or so. We got the photo through regular liaison in Algiers.

The photo shows no background, just a flat, dark gray matte. It is time-stamped bottom right — PM 6:44:59 and is dated March 1994. Two years after the photo was taken, Dreissi somehow escaped from his Algerian jail. Bribery or a breakout, we don't know which, but he's been on the loose, dodging the world's police and intelligence services, for five years or so.

Islamabad Station cabled us a confirm on the shot: two months back a Pakistani source in Peshawar had picked it out of a pile of various photos, various faces:


Excerpted from Morning Spy, Evening Spy by Colin MacKinnon. Copyright © 2006 Colin MacKinnon. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

COLIN MACKINNON was chief editor of Middle East Executive Reports. From 1995-1997, he was Iran Country Coordinator for Amnesty International USA. While living in Iran, he taught at Tehran University and the University of Jondi Shapur in Ahwaz. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his wife, Diane.

Colin MacKinnon was chief editor of Middle East Executive Reports. While living in Iran, he taught at Tehran University and the University of Jondi Shapur in Ahwaz. In the mid-1970's, he was director of the American Institute of Iranian Studies in Tehran. He has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages from UCLA and a master of science in Journalism from Columbia University. He has taught Persian at Columbia University and at Georgetown. From 1995-1997, he was Iran Country Coordinator for Amnesty International USA. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his wife Diane.

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Morning Spy, Evening Spy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dgwFL More than 1 year ago
The caharcters are interesting, but Kareem, a major character seems undeveloped. For a "thriller", action seems imminent but rarely happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago