Tags: Devine | Chile | Iran-Contra | Afghanistan

Spymaster Devine Reviews His Career

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 07:49 AM

Jack Devine recently spoke in suburban Washington about his 32-year career as a spymaster for the CIA as he presented his book Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story before the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

The book covers Devine's leadership of the arming of the mujahideen in Afghanistan and his involvement in Iran-Contra and helping to track down FBI mole Robert Hanssen.

The author was introduced by James Hughes, treasurer and board member of the Association, as "one of the legendary spymaster's of our time," who was in Chile when Salvador Allende fell from power, who "ran" Charlie Wilson's war in Afghanistan, who tried to stop Iran-Contra at one point, caught Pablo Escobar and who told CIA Director Bill Casey of a successful mission using Stinger missiles. Hughes intimated that Devine was his role model as a clandestine services officer.

Devine joked that it took him two years to come up with the title of the book, but he said that having to perform as an actor was an important part of the business of dealing with CIA assets and foreign governments and that at times the role of the hunter fit as well. He said he signed "more than a few" cables with the salutation, "Good hunting."

According to Devine, Chile was the second highest priority for the Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy, because Nixon saw Chile as part of a "red sandwich" whose fall could lead to a wave of leftist regimes coming to power in Latin America. As he told it, a botched initial operation helped to turn Chile toward Allende, but the Chilean military later turned against Allende because the military leaders were concerned about the effect of the regime on the military.

Devine argued that while the U.S. actions contributed to the adverse environment for Allende, the regime fell of its own weight, due to the deteriorating economy, and he thought Allende might have lost the next election. Devine and his colleagues did not expect that the Pinochet and the other coup plotters would hold on to power, as he did for 19 years, and the Americans were also surprised at the human rights violations that ensued. As an advocate of covert action in general, Devine said he favored using it "to get rid of Pinochet."

On Iran-Contra, he told of feeling uncomfortable about it from the beginning and thinking he had derailed it, but the White House approved what Devine called "a bad policy (though not illegal) that was not coordinated," and he faulted it for being "run out of the White House." However, the diversion of funds to the Contras was illegal and nearly brought down the Reagan administration.

As for Afghanistan, Devine recalled sitting only 40 feet from the office that dealt with Afghanistan without realizing that the United States was running a war. He called Charlie Wilson "a character" and refuted the notion that the war in Afghanistan was a rogue operation.

Devine stressed that while he believed in covert action, it must not be a rogue operation as depicted in the book and movie, but rather it must be "organized, planned, funded and supported."

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
Jack Devine recently spoke in suburban Washington about his 32-year career as a spymaster for the CIA as he presented his book Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story before the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
Devine, Chile, Iran-Contra, Afghanistan
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2014-49-24
Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 07:49 AM
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