Wednesday, August 5, 2020

43. LIP-STUCK





On Retainer to the Prince of Monaco

November 2004


The Prince and I next spoke at ten in the evening on November 7th.  

He had been sitting for Dutch sculptor Kees Verkade and told me “there’s about 750 people I need to speak with before Christmas.”     

Nonetheless, we scheduled a meeting in M-Base three days later at which he read CIA documents stemming from our briefings in Langley, followed by a report on one of our targets from Italian sources.  

They, too, were onto the Serbian arms dealer resident in Monaco we'd been tracking. 

The reason nobody had done anything about him by now, like arrest him, was because each and every service was trying to configure a way to co-opt him.

Almost a year had passed since PFIAB’s meeting in Washington, and it was time for another, due to start on November 18th.

So, of course, MING flew to Washington, even though he had no connection whatsoever to PFIAB, other than, in all likelihood, to spy on it.  

On November 12th, I emailed notice of this to a Special Agent at the FBI’s LA field office.  

Two days later, to be certain they’d received my message, I phoned FBI Special Agent Charles M in Washington.         

No, he had not heard a thing from LA. 

On the 17th, I phoned the Willard Hotel and confirmed MING’s presence and conveyed such to Charles M.




Less than a week later, I broke bread in Monaco with LIPS from CIA.

We might as well have been breaking wind.




LIPS had an annoying habit of ticking off a list of points he desired to voice, at the end of which he would invariably ask, “Does that make sense?”      

And even though I let it pass, see whatever action might result, the follow-up on his end was always next to nothing, unless it suited LIPS's own mission, toadying up to his ambassador in Paris.

I would identify areas of operation that would benefit our mutual objectives, and LIPS would nod and smile and say, “All good ideas, I’ll get back to you on that.” 

In all his visits to Monaco, LIPS never deviated from one restaurant—Quai des Artistes—and rarely deviated from one dish—Sole Meuniere.   If he stayed overnight, it was always at the same hotel, the Fairmont.  

(So much for tradecraft. Or even curiosity about Monaco.)

I began to suspect that much of what I passed to LIPS for conveyance to headquarters never made it beyond Paris, due to LIPS’s incompetence, duplicity or both.

Next morning, LIPS appeared at M-Base in advance of the Prince’s arrival and we received briefing papers by crypto-fax for the Prince’s upcoming travels to Bulgaria, UAE, and China. 

The Prince rolled in, direct from Wonderfall, a mountain resort in Italy, rather grubby and unshaven, clad in sweatshirt and blue jeans, perhaps in need of a shower and toothpaste.  

We had already established a rule that ties were unnecessary at M-Base, in keeping with my general principle of dressing down so that no one in the neighborhood would suspect me of doing anything remotely important.


The Prince agreed to LIPS's request that he ask questions of world leaders during his travels—questions posed by CIA—to help the agency better understand certain personalities and stances on various issues.  

LIPS was trying to turn my boss, the Prince, into what's known in CIA jargon as access agent.

But no matter because LIPS neglected to provide the Prince with any such questions—on this occasion or any—so his big idea never had any practical application whatsoever. 

Like everything else with LIPS, it was merely a talking point to be ticked, cabled to Langley and thereafter forgotten.

I was dealing, I now realized, with Maxwell Smart.

In other words, Lip-stuck.



Years later I penned a novel about access agents; about how CIA uses Hollywood stars to befriend foreign dictators and report on them.



Famous Hollywood actor Josh Penner works secretly as an "access agent" for the CIA, collecting intelligence on foreign dictators. 

The biggest problem facing Charles Mulberry, an officer with CIA's Foreign Research Division in Los Angeles, is stroking his celebrity agent's ego, compounded by a turf war with the FBI over Penner's evolving activities. 

A new assignment for Penner, to neuter a rogue spy intent on revealing vital secrets, complicates matters significantly as cloaked characters converge into a surprise ending.







Tuesday, August 4, 2020

42. LANGLEY FOLLIES







On Retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco

October 2004


The Prince and I arrived separately in Washington, D.C.; he, on his Falcon 2000 jet.

His aide-de-camp, Bruno Philipponnat, phoned me at noon to confirm the Prince’s touchdown from New York, where he had, the evening before, attended the annual Princess Grace Foundation gala.  

At 3:15, LIPS arrived at my hotel, the Hay-Adams, with two silver-colored Lincoln Town Cars.  

Fifteen minutes later, another call from Philipponnat:  the Prince was stuck in a meeting at the World Bank, 30 minutes over-schedule.  

We were waiting on H Street at 4 p.m. when the Prince and Philipponnat eventually alighted from the World Bank, then sped off to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, not even stopping at its formidable security post.

Standing to greet us at the main entrance:  European Division Chief Tyler Drumheller and my friend Jay J, who had become Senior Advisor for Operations & Analysis to the Director. 

With the Prince’s approval (in advance), Philipponnat was intercepted and sidetracked into the agency’s private museum while our party ascended, in the Director’s private elevator, to the seventh floor.  

The doors opened to Steve Kappes, Deputy Director for Operations, and Phil R, “The Briefer,” also known as “our national treasure.”  

Before we knew it, DCI Porter Goss stood among us.  

Mr. Director led us into his office, joking that his occupation of it might be short-lived.  

It was a rather prescient remark, suggesting that intelligence, indeed, was Porter’s rightful vocation, even if he should have remained in Congress rather than take this job.

So far as CIA was concerned, I was Monaco Senior Intelligence Advisor, a title they bestowed upon me.  I otherwise did not possess a title or a business card; I was meant to be invisible. 

As we exchanged chitchat in the cozy sit-down foyer of the Director’s office, tension reigned supreme.  

It had nothing to do with the Prince and me.  

There was a war going on between the so-called “Goss-lings”—the House staffers, including my friend Jay J, who Goss had brought over to help him run the agency—and the agency careerists, including Kappes, Drumheller, and LIPS.  

Pat M, Porter’s chief of staff, another “Goss-ling,” whom I'd met previously in Washington, joined our discussion.  

(LIPS got lost in the milieu.)

Ten minutes later, when Director Goss invited the Prince to join him for a photo op, I attempted to engage Pat M with hearty gratitude.      

“Don’t, don’t,” he hissed, darting his eyes at the other faction.         

He did not want them to associate me too closely with himself, as he thought it might jeopardize their handling of the agency’s relationship with the Prince.

(Looking back, it may well have, though I suspect Pat N's gross negligence and incompetence was jeopardy enough.)

We repaired with the team, minus Director Goss, to a conference room, where senior agency officials, led by the soft-spoken Phil R, provided a detailed, substantive briefing on items of mutual concern—including, he told us, CIA’s “biggest secret and most important endeavor.”

We had much to digest, and we were promised paperwork to reflect our briefings, which, indeed, was later transmitted to M-Base by cryptographic fax.

I, as the Prince’s Senior Intelligence Adviser, was invited to return to Washington once we had fully digested the material, roll up our sleeves and get cracking on the problems made known to us.

At 6:20 we adjourned; CIA laid on a police motorcycle escort to the Signature Terminal at Dulles Airport and the Prince flew off to Memphis, Tennessee, for a benefit at St. Jude’s Hospital.


I’d given the FBI a courtesy call in advance of my trip to Washington. 

Special Agent Charles G expressed a desire to meet, which we did on October 29th in my room at the Hay-Adams. 

Thus, the latest on MING:  

The Bureau wanted to ask the French DST for anything they had on Pastor International, but CIA nixed that because it did not want the FBI gumshoeing inside France.       

No problem, I said.  I could get everything myself from French sources. 

The Bureau had a problem with that, said Charles G.  Because I resided outside the United States, they needed the U.S. Attorney General’s permission to ask me to do anything.  Yet a few weeks earlier they had asked me to reengage MING—in violation, I suppose, of this rule.

And then Charles G asked, “Anything new for us?”

I must be a masochist because I did have something new, and I conveyed it to them on the Prince’s behalf because it dealt with a U.S. citizen:


Our investigation of MING and Pastor International had led to Victor Bout, the “Bill Gates of arms dealing.”  

Our enquiries had then led to Bout’s American representative, Richard Chichakli.

So I had put FLOATER, the “book author,” onto Chichakli, who was based in Richardson, Texas.



Richard Chichakli

FLOATER had quickly engaged Chichakli on the basis that maybe Bout wanted to write a book. 



Bout did not want to write a book.

But what came out of FLOATER's in-person encounter with Chichakli in Texas was enough to excite the FBI, and they were soon on his tail.  

Realizing he was in trouble, Chichakli fled the United States.

A few years later, Chichakli was convicted as Victor Bout's co-conspirator in international arms dealing.