Roland Haas: Former CIA assassin, Part 2 of 2

Wed, 08/22/2007 - 10:31am
By: Emily Baldwin

Roland Haas

Over the course of 30 years, Peachtree City resident Roland Haas worked under cover for the Central Intelligence Agency on an as-needed basis. Haas worked as a trigger man for 18 assassinations and aided the agency in other non-lethal missions. Now Haas has opened up about his experiences, both personally and professionally, in his new book “Enter the Past Tense: My Secret Life as a CIA Assassin.” Part one of this two-part series was published in The Citizen on August 15 and can be viewed online at along with video excerpts from the interview with Haas.

Roland Haas’ life work finally took a toll on him in an undeniable way. Haas began to drink in increasing frequency and volume and began the spiral into a lifestyle of a functioning alcoholic. In 1994 Haas and his family moved to Atlanta where he started a job as the U.S. Army Reserve Command Information Security Specialist. By 2002 Haas was a chronic alcoholic who was unable to stop himself from drinking. He was able to hide the signs of his alcoholism behind his diagnosis as a diabetic, a tactic which worked on the job and at home until February of 2004.

After two trips to the hospital, time in detox, and a fall down a flight of stairs, it was clear that Haas needed some serious help. He spent two months in the hospital and a treatment facility before heading home at the end of April 2004. “He willingly decided to go [for treatment], and I’m glad he did,” said Marilyn, Haas’ wife of 26 years. “Because now we’re on the other side of it, but it was a rough time there.”

Today Haas no longer works for the CIA, and says that “this is a business for a much younger person. A person doing this has no business getting married, which I did. Many of them don’t live very long.”

He acknowledges that there will be skeptics of his book, but doesn’t seemed too concerned about convincing anyone. Writing the book, which took him 90 days part time, Haas says was “cathartic.”

“One of the reasons I broke down and became an alcoholic is because there was nobody ever to talk to about this stuff,” he stated. “People need to talk. They need to share things that are pent up inside of them.”

Beyond his personal catharsis as well as using the book to tell his story to his friends and family, Haas hopes his book will reach beyond those boundaries.

“I do want people to learn from it, and that, by extension, means I want people to get it, no matter how they get it: buy it, borrow it, whatever. I think it could be helpful to other people, not in the exact same situation, because there aren’t many, but people in similar situations and other people who might have lost their way...for whatever reason, that they too can dig their way out of that thing, come out and be very productive people,” explained Haas. “It’s also to try and put some reality, some understanding, in the average American who sits out there and says, ‘Well other countries do this, and that’s not nice. War should be fought by rules. We do not abuse prisoners, we do not assassinate foreign leaders because that’s not nice.’ Well if all that were true, we would no longer be in existence. It’s a very naive understanding, and for some people they need that understanding to be able to go on. They don’t want to admit they go on, but they’re very real.”

Haas stresses that this book is not a fictional account of a James Bond-type assassin. Rather, it’s the reality of his life, “I wanted this to be real. I mean me, with all the warts...It’s a dirty business, and I was on the dirtiest end of a dirty business.”
Adding to the fidelity of the book is the extensive detail Haas includes. While the details aid the progression of his account, they were also very important to him in terms of maintaining balance in his life.

“The details in there of things you wouldn’t think someone would remember, like recipes, people, places, things. Those were my links to reality,” explained Haas. “Remember, what I was doing was not something that just anybody could do, and it could drive a normal person crazy. But if I had those things tying me back to the mundane...that’s why they’re in there, and I wanted to put them in there for that very reason. To show that this is not just all action. This is not, again, James Bond non-stop from one adventure to another, but there are other things happening. Life goes on.”

Haas isn’t too worried about retribution from any party including Hells Angels leader Sonny Barger and the CIA because he says it would be in their best interest to ignore him and simply hope he goes away.

He is sure to point out, “I do not discuss actual classified information. That’s another reason I stop with the early ‘90s because I didn’t want to jeopardize any current missions, people, sources, methods things like that.”

As far as the public’s response, he says that “the reaction, aside from the family, since the book has come out has been absolutely positive. I think 100 percent supportive. It answered a lot of questions for a lot of people, just like it did for my family.”

Marilyn noted that, for her part, she is proud of Haas’ service for our country.

Haas is currently working on a couple of other literary projects including a novel. The other project is a non-fiction book, “kind of like an intelligence for idiots,” Haas said. “A lot of people hear the word intelligence, they hear the word spy, and they don’t know what that really entails...What I do is I lay it out for the average person so they know exactly what the training that goes into it is necessary and what these people do.”

Haas’ book is not a braggart's tale of an exotic lifestyle. Rather it is an often gut-wrenching, always fascinating and thoughtfully crafted narrative of a soldier under unique circumstances.

“I am not a machine, no matter what the book might make me look like, I do have feelings,” said Haas. While the subtitle of the book, which Haas says was the publisher’s addition and a decision he would not have made, will likely put a certain expectation in the minds of potential readers, it is not simply the story of an assassin, but of a man who has gone to the brink and back as he marched into “The Past Tense.”

Books are available for purchase at area Barnes & Noble book stores and at

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by Kathe Gogolewski on Sun, 11/16/2008 - 12:56pm.

I read Roland Haas' book because his wife, Marilyn, was my closest friend in college. I remember her as a person of high integrity. She was also a true sweetheart; she had a very fun, loving and intuitive nature. She met Roland while I knew her. He was, as has been said, very quiet, but I trusted Marilyn's judgement. I felt that if she loved him, she had touched on some essence in the man that spoke to the same in her. Now, after all these years, Marilyn and I have reconnected, and I sense the same qualities in her that I felt in our college days. Neither Marilyn nor Roland are seeking sympathy or any related emotion, IMO. I hear a lot of honesty from her and from Roland in his book. His "voice" in it is not that of a man seeking attention. Rather, it feels like a man humbled who wishes to be healed. It is the most human account I have ever heard, fiction or otherwise, of the life a CIA agent. So I trust the message and I, for one, am very happy for this turn-around in his life and hers. Such courage.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.