From USA Today:
Current or former spies are submitting an increasingly large amount of material for approval by the CIA's Publications Review Board. Manuscripts submitted have ranged from three-paragraph letters to the editor to 500-page books. A look at the trend:
• 1980: Fewer than 100 manuscripts totaling about 10,000 pages.
• 2000: About 300 manuscripts totaling about 15,000 pages.
• 2004: More than 450 manuscripts totaling about 30,000 pages.
• 2007: About 100 manuscripts a month to date totaling thousands of pages each month.
By Richard Willing, USA TODAY
LANGLEY, Va. — The spies are coming in from the cold — and heading straight to Amazon.com.
A record number of former CIA officers and officials are stepping from the shadows to publish memoirs, novels, essays, training manuals, legal treatises and op-ed pieces, according the agency's Publications Review Board.
Former CIA director George Tenet, whose 576-page memoir At the Center of the Storm hits bookstores Monday, is only the most recent.
The Central Intelligence Agency says it hears from about 100 would-be authors each month seeking the permission — a requirement for all former spy agency workers. For the entire year 2000, the agency's Publications Review Board received only about 300 submissions from prospective authors, says spokesman Mark Mansfield.
The spike has strained the resources of the review board, an in-house body of CIA employees from the agency's operations, analysis, science and technology, security and global deployment sections. Board members, Mansfield says, now are obliged to sift through thousands of manuscript pages each month to edit out material that reveals, or is based on, classified information.
Even Tenet, who served as the agency's director from 1997 to 2004, was required to submit his book for review.
The board red-flagged some sensitive material and engaged in what agency spokesman Mansfield calls "back and forth" with Tenet over whether it should be considered classified. Tenet, who submitted portions of his manuscript last October, November and December, didn't get final approval for At the Center of the Storm until mid-March, after agreeing to cuts requested by the agency.
Increasingly, CIA alumni unhappy with the agency's editing are taking their complaints to court, saying some material has been censored because it embarrasses the CIA.
"Classified material is kind of a gray area," says Mark Zaid, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who has represented about a dozen former CIA employees who have sued to undo changes made in their books.
"The CIA says they know it when they see it. But as a matter of fact and policy, they tend to see it in cases where (a book) is critical or embarrassing to them," Zaid says.
Mansfield says the agency's only goal is to "ensure that classified information (is) protected."
Employees at other intelligence agencies — the Defense and Energy departments, and the National Security Agency — have written accounts of their service. But it's CIA books that dominate the market. Based on pre-publication orders, Tenet's book ranked number 4 overall in sales Sunday on Amazon.com.
Memoirs, general histories and spy novels based on the exploits of fictional CIA officers form the most popular titles written by former agency workers. But increasingly, notes publishing executive Peter Osnos, ex-spies with highly specialized areas of expertise are finding market niches.
In the past four years, readers have been treated to two examinations of the CIA's lie detector program and a study of the agency's post-9/11 recruiting and training methods.
Osnos attributes the increase in CIA books to the war on terrorism, a perennial interest in spy stories and the willingness of modern espionage agents to spy-and-tell. "For the post-World War II generation (of spies), they thought they were entering a secret society," says Osnos. "That's not the culture of today's CIA people. It's a career and a job but it's not a priestly calling."
T.J. Waters, author of Class 11, a book on the agency's first post 9/11 recruit class, says intelligence work, which can involve extensive reading and writing, tends to attract budding authors. When he joined the CIA as a covert officer shortly after the 2001 attacks Waters found the agency even had its own in-house writer's support group.
It's called "Invisible Ink."
"There's an immense amount of pride that (CIA) people take in their work, which is often overlooked or misunderstood," says Waters, who has left the agency and now works as a consultant. "There's a feeling that to the extent possible, their stories ought to be told."
Sometimes, that's easier said than done.
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