Open and critical about the work of the CIA

Life Undercover – Coming of Age in the CIA
Forfatter: Amaryllis Fox
Forlag: Ebury Press (Storbritannia)
UNDERCOVER / CIA agent Amaryllis Fox developed algorithms that predict terrorism, and tells about the CIA's working methods in its startling and exciting biography.


"If there was one thing I learned in my time as a CIA agent," he said Amaryllis Fox in a video on the IrishCentral website, "everyone thinks they are 'The good guy'."

During his tenure as a CIA agent, Fox operated without diplomatic immunity in 16 different countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Not having diplomatic immunity is very risky, as it means that you do not have any form of protection from your own country. Fox left CIA 2010 and became known when six years later she began to publicly share her experiences. I see her criticism of the US authorities as brave, interesting and important.

One of the most valuable things about this book is that it talks so openly about how the CIA actually works: "I have some sense of how the questions become answers," she writes: "Field operatives reach out to clandestine sources foreign governments, and ask them for clarifications during late-night car meetings or walks down back lanes. ”

Collaborates with the junta in Burma

At school, Amaryllis Fox was much alone. But one day, a teacher gives her Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and the book changes her life. She also reads the book Civil disobedience by the same author and develops a strong commitment to social justice.

As a 17-year-old, she takes a one-year break from school and enrolls in another trip Thailand to assist people fleeing Burma's military junta. In the refugee camp, she meets the Burmese dissident and writer Min Zin, who says that people are needed to reveal the Burmese military regime's procedures.

By partnering with the Burmese junta, which desperately needs revenues, Fox is getting a visa. She then meets Daryl, who works for a Japanese firm that invests in Burma. He suggests that they pretend to be a married couple on a business trip to get a visa to the country, where they film the regime undercover.

Through Thailand she gets to Myanmar and meet the dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, and films and interviews her. Both Fox and Daryl are stripped of the passport and interrogated by the Burmese junta, but unbelievably avoids being revealed.

Amaryllis Fox
Amaryllis Fox

Terrorism is revealed with algorithms

Following her stay in Burma, Fox is contacting the BBC with a view to publishing the interview with Aung San Suu Kyi, while following an international study program on terrorism at the University of Oxford. A professor asks if she has heard of Al Qaeda.

Fox develops an algorithm that can be used to detect terrorists by predicting terrorist activity and offers it to intelligence agencies.

While waiting for answers from the agencies, she travels with Daryl to the Mekong Delta in southwestern Vietnam, becomes friends with orphans in Cambodia and travels by boat to Penang in Thailand. From there, the trip goes to East Timor, the same day the country is liberated from Indonesia. After a while, she returns to the United States, to Washington (DC) and to Georgetown University.

One can wonder what kind of substance this man is made of: Who can bear to look at
hundreds of decapitation videos?

Georgetown has a CIA agent in action, a Santa Claus-like man named Dallas Jones. Fox gets a positive response from the CIA about the algorithm and is asked to share it with Jones. She is given an address for a hotel in Arlington. There, she is interviewed and subjected to polygraph tests and mental tests with a view to a possible clearance for the CIA.

Atomic bomb in New York

Shortly thereafter, she is told that she needs to get ready for top clearance for the CIA, now at their Virginia headquarters. She prepares for clearance by watching hundreds of decapitation videos. At the same time, she is completing the master's thesis on terrorism at the University of Georgetown.

Following the clearance, Fox is sent to Karachi to reveal the work of militant Al Qaeda members, whose goal is to prevent the development of a nuclear bomb that may be used on US soil in the near future.

The information she gets is frightening to say the least: Al Qaeda probably has a nuclear bomb located somewhere in New York. She delivers report after report that tells of "a possible US Hiroshima" and that terrorists have as their main goal to kill at least four million Americans as revenge for the killing of Muslim civilians.

Although she occasionally appears politically naive in the book – for example, lacks an updated and revised version of Aung San Suu Kyi's political – the book is both intriguing and content. Obviously everything is possible only you are intelligent, skilled and curious enough. One can also slowly wonder what kind of stuff this man is made of: Who dares to watch hundreds of decapitation videos?

The art of lying

Amaryllis Fox is not so easy to get wise to, and all the celebrity noise around her makes it a little difficult to get to know her. Undercover work assumes that you are capable of lying, for everything from the family to hostile regimes.

A good deal of the information she provides seems to be based on her claiming to have information in exchange that she does not actually have.

On the other hand, Fox writes well about how little it takes to be arrested and suspected of planning terrorism for someone who has a foreign-sounding name similar to a little too many others: You risk being held captive and tortured for months, and so, if you are lucky, you are released without any excuse or explanation.

The book's political message is really simple: “We must learn to understand the enemy. There not vi that gets invaded, that is vi which invades. It's the others who are Luke Skywalker, and it is vi which is 'The Aliens', not the other way around. "

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