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30 January 2012


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Look at the (no) accountability for 9/11.
Accountability is non-existent in the government.
Short of felonies, how many government employees are ever fired?


Dan, Oxford and Cambridge common rooms, in fact most British style university faculties, breed hard hearted empaths rather well and in reasonable commercial quantities.

Unless you are a genius, empathy, intrigue and betrayal are the keys to career success in the University system. I have the scars to prove it.

Phil Giraldi

First of all I wouldn't believe the comments about her and her sterling character coming out of sources approved by the agency. The agency clearly put an unqualified woman in a dangerous position because of political correctness and because she wanted it so she could be promoted, but no one in the chain of command will be punished. Shit runs downhill. Also re the article description of hubby that "He’s angry with the teachings in the Koran that he believes incited the suicide bomber to kill Americans" suggests that both he and his wife were/are more than a little naive about what she was doing and what it entailed.

Phil Giraldi

If you look at the track record of SISers over the past twenty years, most made their careers at headquarters rather than in the field. Close to the flagpole is, I believe, the expression. Most field officers who were good at it loathed a headquarters tour.

The Twisted Genius

Tru dat!! If you're not in the headquarters, you can't cozy up to the in crowd, take advantage of all the career enhancing opportunities in the DC area or flit from each newly created bureaucratic billet that's created in the never ending race to the top.

The Twisted Genius


"Unless you are a genius, empathy, intrigue and betrayal are the keys to career success in the University system." So true. The same applies to the corporate world. Probably true of damned near all social groupings. The selfless "band of brothers" type of organization is a rare thing. If you become part of such an organization, cherish it for as long as you can.


Colonel Lang,

My earlier posting was corrupted somehow.

"Some of the best and most tough minded field operatives I have known were women."

My experience with female case officers was not exactly the same as yours but then not dramatically different. I found them to do very well as an addition or a complement to a male case officer where our side needed an occasional "soft" side shown. Very frequently the targets of operations were from countries where women were not as "liberated" as in ours. A woman alone would have been viewed at best as an inferior and at worst a sex object.

I tried to be more modern but I confess I always thought Timothy 2 12-15 had it right.

"But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

13For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

USMC 65-72
FBI 72-96


You said it when it first happened and you summed it up with your brilliant phrase at the conclusion. A sad, respectful salute to you, Col. and to the victims of organizational folly.


Col. Lang-

"hard-hearted empath"

Sir, it would be difficult to put it any clearer than you have. As an example, I can offer my own. Back in the bad ole days I served as a German language interrogator in Berlin. I loved German culture, the language and the place in general. It was easy to gain rapport with East German refugees and defectors who came my way. I gathered among other things targeting information which would have destroyed a good bit of the East German Army, not to mention Western Group of Forces targets, had they ever dared to cross the line, that is given the right circumstances . . .

Respect is important, as is interest in the people as individuals, but the politics of the situation is something else entirely . . .

Morocco Bama

If you did, it was a false positive...or negative. Granted, I did consume a poppy seed muffin prior to being tested, so that may be it.

Last time I checked I was an agnostic, formerly Catholic, Jesuit educated including high school and undergrad.

Maybe what you detected was my attempt to be objective and equitably critical. Yes, it comes off harsh and could possibly be construed as unsympathetic, but that's because I'm betraying my empathy in order to clarify my perspective....and live another day.


Just like corporate America, look what wonderful things they did for our economy while getting rich, too.

Dan Gackle


My experience of academics (admittedly far from Oxbridge) is that empaths are rare among them. They prize a verbal kind of knowing, which is not at all how empathy works. Empathy knows by feeling. I never knew that to count for anything among academics.

Pondering this idea of the "hard-hearted empath", it occurred to me that Steve Jobs might be an example. He could be notorious cruel but was also highly emotional. A long-time associate said that Jobs was so good at hurting people because he was so sensitive - he knew what they were feeling and could get at it. That clearly isn't exactly what Pat (or Mr. Riebling) is getting at with the phrase, but still, it concerns the use of empathy - genuine empathy - for unsympathetic ends.

Dan Gackle


"The selfless 'band of brothers' type of organization is a rare thing. If you become part of such an organization, cherish it for as long as you can."

And yet so many of us yearn for just that. There is an irony there.

In your experience, how is such a thing to be created? or does it just have to "happen"?


Dan Gackle

IM experience the kind of unit that you yearn for emerges under the command of wise, HHE leaders. It is a precious thing when it occurs and a fragile one. pl

judith weingarten

Not really. I'm just wondering if two months is enough time both to learn the job and shake things up as needed. Is it bad judgement or bad luck that her job (literally) blew up in that time?



In a job like that you hit the ground running and pray for luck. Life is unfair and she wanted the job. She should never have been given the job. It should have been given to some beat up "old sweat" like TTG. If that person was a tough old broad of the type I know well, that would be fine. pl

Morocco Bama

The latter half of your post more appropriately describes a psychopath, if you ask me. Jobs was an overrated twit.

I share Max Keiser's sentiments in regards to Steve Jobs.


Dan Gackle

"The latter half of your post more appropriately describes a psychopath"

That's certainly not true. Psychopaths lack empathy and strong emotions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy#Lack_of_empathy). Jobs had extraordinarily high levels of both. I haven't seen any convincing psychological analysis of Jobs. His admirers downplay the cruelty and his detractors assign him whatever negative label is handy (like "psychopath") whether it fits or not.

On reflection, though, I don't think SJ counts as a "hard-hearted empath". That phrase connotes a kind of emotional discipline that Jobs, with his tendency for tantrums, didn't exhibit.

Dan Gackle

That gives me hope, because wise leaders, though rare, do exist, and one can grow in wisdom. What does HHE stand for?

Charles Dekle

I am a fan of the John le Carré George Smiley novels. Have you seen the remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? If so, I was wondering what you thought of the movie since your career spanned part of the cold War. From what I recall of the character, I think that one might consider Smiley a HHE.


Charkes Dekle

Heven't seen the movie. The book was marvelous. That and Smiley's People are LeCarre's best IMO. Smiley is the ultimate HHE. Talked to Cornwell when he was writing "The Little Drummer Girl." Interesting fellow.pl


And if I were a potential informant and I saw those trying to recruit me taking such risks with their own lives, there is no way in hell I would believe they would be careful of my life.

She wasn't schooled in doing field intelligence work but shouldn't there be some form of Field Work 101 that all are required to take just to understand the process?

Dan Gackle

Oh duh. HHE obviously stands for the subject of this conversation.



There is such, sort of HUMINT for dummies or executives imported from other lines of work. This is not enough. To quote the Foreign Legion major (commandant) in "March or Die," "You don't get to be like me in two or three weeks in Morocco." pl

Phil Giraldi

Back in my time analysts and support types did indeed do a one week course at the Farm which might well be called spying for dummies. Don't know what the training is like now but many recent retirees have lamented the sharp decline in tradecraft skills. Good security is mostly common sense honed through experience but the drive to "get a scalp" through a recruitment of a new source often means that security goes out the window even for experienced officers who should know better.

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