Despite book, article, Haas was no CIA agent

Tue, 08/12/2008 - 3:33pm
By: Letters to the ...

I read an article in your 8/14/07 Names and Faces column by Ms. Emily Baldwin on Roland Haas. As a CIA polygraph examiner for 31 years, I took very strong exception to Ms. Baldwin’s article because, as sure as I am that I worked for the CIA for 31 years, I am just as sure that Mr. Haas never worked for the CIA.

His story is preposterous and insidious. His alleged CIA contact, Phil, is a figment of his imagination that he must have conjured up under the influence, and maligns the CIA.

The idea that the CIA would recruit any 19-year-old to be an assassin aids and abets CIA’s detractors and should not be allowed to stand.

In one of the reviews of Mr. Haas’ book, the writer cites the fact that Haas’ passport showed that he was in the countries where he claimed to do his missions, and the times he claimed to have carried them out.

The fact that the CIA doesn’t assassinate people is a fact. That if they did, and would send an assassin into such a situation in true name, makes the CIA beyond stupid.

Haas’ story about HALOing into East Germany to perform extraction is idiotic. The East Germans had the best intelligence service the CIA ever went up against and would have rolled Haas up within hours.

What, if anything, did you do to try and verify Haas’s story?

Raining on peoples’ parades isn’t something I do, but Haas has gotten to me.

John Sullivan

[The letter writer says that he is the author of the following: “Of Spies and Lies: A CIA Polygraph Examiner Remembers Vietnam” and “Gatekeeper: Memoirs of a CIA Polygraph Examiner.”]

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Submitted by Roland Haas on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 1:28pm.

As the author of the book being critiqued, I read John Sullivan's letter with interest. I normally don't argue with quacks or CIA apollologists, but in this case I felt I had to respond.
Yes, Mr. Sullivan was a CIA polygrapher, but that raises two interesting points.
1) A polygrapher does not have unrestricted access to operational files.
2) As a "loyal" CIA retiree, Mr. Sullivan is acting on the agency's behalf, doing what the agency itself will not do, i.e., calling me a liar.
Now, to the meat of his letter. Mr. Sullivan states that the "fact that the CIA doesn't assassinate people is a fact." Yet in June, 2007, all of the major news outlets reported that "... the agency (CIA) has declassified hundreds of pages of long-secret records that detail some of the agency's worst illegal abuses during about 25 years of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying and kidnapping. The documents are known in the CIA as the 'Family Jewels'" So is Mr. Sullivan discounting the files released by the CIA itself? Or is it just that he doesn't keep up with the news?
Yes, "the East Germans had the best intelligence service." I said as much in my book. By not sneaking in by ground, I did not trigger any Stassi (East German Intelligence) interest. To "roll (me) up within hours," they would have to had some indication that I entered the country. Howe many terrorists have managed to infiltrate the U.S. just recently because there is no 'trigger' to prompt suspicion - this despite the great leaps and bounds in sophistication of counterespionage techniques since I operated?
The CIA would not recruit 19 year old to be assassins? Why not? We recruit 18 year old by the thousands every year to become soldiers, sailors, airmen etc. Many of them immediately go off for special operations training. Many of them end up killing the enemy and many of them die. Is Mr. Sullivan questioning the qualifications of these fine men and women in uniform? Is the CIA somehow more 'elite' in whom they recruit?
Would I go in under my own name? Why not. Some times the best way to hide is right out in the open.
I notice that Mr. Sullivan didn't counter my claim of having worked in Cuba to, according to my orders which were reproduced in my book, "coordinate intelligence activities."
I recently had my Top Secret clearance revalidated (Fact). This involves an extensive investigation into everything I have said or done. A person who would fabricate the story I wrote WOULD NOT, under any circumstances, be granted a Top Secret clearance.
I currently work as the Deputy G2 (Intelligence) for the U.S. Army Reserve Command (Fact). Do you think that I would still be serving in that capacity if there were any doubt about my story?
The kind of 'verification' Mr. Sullivan is calling for is either:
1) acknowledgment of what I did by the CIA, as if that would ever happen. The CIA NEVER comments about things like that.
2) pictures of what I did. I'm sorry, but I am not like some Senators who brought their own camera crews along in Viet Nam to document exploits.
What really bothers this desk-jockey polygrapher is that I might have shattered some idealistic fairytale persona that the agency has tried to maintain, i.e., other countries resort to dirty deeds, but the U.S. is a nation of laws that fights wars by following rules and regulations which would hamstring any efforts to truly defend our political system and way of life. This totally insults the American public in suggesting that they are that naive. Yes, they were dirty jobs, and yes they were necessary, and yes, somebody had to do them. I was as qualified as any long-term veteran - AND THAT IS A FACT.

Submitted by Sowi on Fri, 08/15/2008 - 6:16pm.

Mr. Sullivan sounds like a whimpy wanna-be. Although I value Mr. Sullivan's service as a CIA polygrapher, his attempt to discredit Haas' memoir reads as a pathetic, uninformed pencil-pusher. I,for one, am eternatlly grateful for Haas' self-sacrifice to our country. Haas paid dearly for his self-less acts. His book reads as true as any memoir - because he doens't come off as a gallant James Bond - he humbly offers a glimpse into his covert life to provide the rest of us with exactly the raw and gritty necessities it takes to preserve national safety. As a former active duty military person, I can verify that many, many clandestine operations exist. Shame on you, Mr. Sullivan, for brazenly displaying your ignorance.

Submitted by stazhirovka on Sun, 11/02/2008 - 1:16pm.

I know Mr. Sullivan and worked with him at the Central Intelligence Agency. He was the most experienced and respected polygrapher at the time of his retirement after almost four decades in service to his country, both in the US Army and at the Central Intelligence Agency. He served his country for seveal years in Viet Nam and has written two well received books on his career.
How dare you call this patriotic American a "whimpy wanna-be."
Mr. Sullivan raised numerous questions about Haas and his alleged activities about his supposed life as a CIA assassin.
As a retired military officer and as a retired CIA officer, let me add my name to the growing list of people who do not believe any of the claims made by Haas.
Mr. Sullivan has set forth a long list of questions which Mr. Haas has refused to answer hiding behind his alleged CIA cloak. If Haas is telling the truth there are many ways for some CIA colleagues to support him. To date none has. Why do you think that is? Hello....
It is simply astonishing that someone who allegedly worked as an assassin on behalf of the United States government, in direct violation of Executive Order 12333 would be given a security clearance. Do you not think that one of the liberal members of Congress would not be jumping all over this claim if it had a scintilla of truth?
Another key factor: As every CIA employee knows, anything we publish must be cleared by the Publications Review Board. When someone publishes a book that has not been properly cleared, then that person has commited a crime. This fact should be another reason to question why he Haas has been able to retain a clearance. But if he was not a CIA officer, he did not have to clear the book. CIA has no legal recourse when someone writes fiction purporting to be the truth.
Mr. Haas would have us believe that a drug addled 19 year old would be recruited by CIA to be an assasin. Do you really think that CIA would do something like this? If the Agency was involved with a major violation of the Executive order, then do you think it would put the Agency's reputation in the hands of a druggie?
If you continue to believe Mr. Haas, look out your window as the black helicopters are hovering.

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