On Retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco
In early September I went to see U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss at his office in the Russell Senate Building.
“How are things?” he asked.
“Not so well, Senator,” I replied. “The Prince is not honoring his commitments.
"Prosecutors in Monaco, supported by the Prince, want to imprison a Monegasque because he created a website critical of Monaco’s leadership.
"Aside from everything else, I don’t think I can work for someone who does not believe in freedom of speech—it’s not what I signed on for. So I’m planning to dissolve our intelligence service.”
(My reference was to Marc Giacone, the Cathedral organist, who’d been imprisoned, interrogated and fired from his job for labeling the Prince, on his website, “Seducer clown-in-chief.”)
“Can’t you leave it in the hands of someone else?” asked Senator Chambliss.
“I tried, Senator. I wanted his blood relative to succeed me. But the Prince was talked out of it. The bad guys do not want the Prince to have an intelligence service, for obvious reasons.”
I pointed out that neither CIA nor the FBI had been of any help as liaison partners; that the agency was inept and the Bureau unsupportive.
Senator nodded sadly.
This was a story he'd no doubt heard over and over again as a ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Both institutions were stymied in the turmoil of their own internal affairs.
Or they just didn't care; a bureaucratic, risk-averse mentality.
(That's the real DC swamp for you.)
“What do you want me to do?” asked Senator Chambliss .
“Senator, I haven’t come here to ask you to do anything. I’m here as a courtesy to update you on the situation because you were kind enough to support us early on. Do whatever you want.”
Said Chambliss: “Maybe CIA has information that…”
“There isn’t a missing piece to this puzzle,” I interjected. “Everyone wants to believe CIA knows something that would explain everything. Truth is, they don’t even know what they don’t know.”
Next day, September 6th, I lunched with the CIA's Tom T, one of the new faces (if an old hand brought back in from retirement as others were fleeing) at Paolo’s in Georgetown.
Tom was shocked to hear of the Russian surge into Monaco; was astonished that LIPS reported no such thing at his final debrief weeks earlier.
“It’s all news to me,” said Tom, shaking his head in awe. “I thought we were zipping right along.”
I told Tom I would dissolve the service in the autumn and CIA’s relationship with the Prince would, effectively, cease to exist.
Tom wanted to put it back on track, operate against the Russians, recruit the Prince’s key Russian contacts for the Prince’s own good.
I admired his gumption.
But I’d been watching this gung-ho song-and-dance going on four years and I was weary—and dubious.
Tom phoned me a month later, on October 8th.
He had confirmed as true everything I told him.
Albert had aligned himself with Russia's Vladimir Putin.
“We [CIA] cannot just walk away from this,” said Tom. “We have a mandate to protect the Prince and this relationship.”
The new Paris station chief was visiting DC, he said, and wanted me to fly over for lunch nine days later.
I said I’d sleep on it.
Next day I phoned Tom.
“I’ve already been signaled by a friendly European service that your new Paris station chief intends to revert to dealing with Monaco the old way, through the French," I told him. "I don’t need to spend my time and money getting my brain picked.”
Said Tom, “We wouldn’t call you all the way here to be fired.”
This made me laugh. “You can’t fire me, I don’t work for you!”
(Maybe he thought I did? Another indication of how messed up CIA had become.)
I didn't budge, didn't travel to DC; let the new station chief figure it out on her own.
I planned an October sweep through Paris, Monaco and Luxembourg for a Columbus Group meeting, where I wanted to consult with our Micro-Europe liaison partners and gently close the doors they had so kindly opened to us.
However, my friends in Luxembourg became nervous and cancelled Columbus after President Sarkozy’s new DST chief, Bernard Squarcini, told Marco Mille that "Eringer is CIA station chief in Monaco.”
So this was how the French finally chose to discredit me.
Not very original, but calculated to ensure our liaison partners would become wary of working with me.
Truth is, I would have been honored to have held such a position with CIA.
Because, although my loyalty was to my client, Prince Albert, my ultimate allegiance was and always will be to the United States of America.
|Pin provided by CIA|
I truly believed US/Monaco interests overlapped and that Prince Albert would benefit from regular briefings from CIA on every subject of his choosing.
It was tragic, to my thinking, that the French disinformation campaign against me should have a fatal effect on so fabulous a creation as Columbus—but perhaps that is precisely what the French service had striven to achieve.
So, I took pause, gave Europe a miss and instead conducted a comprehensive review of all that transpired since the first day I began my mission in the Prince’s service.
I was left with this conclusion:
Although I believe the Prince squandered a great resource and also squandered the opportunity to rule Monaco with a strong chef de cabinet, I harbored no regrets.
Despite that the Prince obviously did not appreciate what I had accomplished for him, that he lied to me and abused our relationship to the point of desertion and that my loyalty to him was not reciprocated, it was overall an excellent life experience during which I made many wonderful friends and acquired a great many insights.
And I remained true to my ideals.
I created an extremely effective intelligence service from scratch.
So effective, in fact, that the bad guys conspired to have it shut down.
I earned little money in service to the Prince —a fraction of what an executive would earn in the corporate world.
My deputy and I invested most of our budget into building a quite stellar service, to provide the Prince with the intelligence he needed for introducing a new ethic to his principality.
We actually believed he meant what he said about putting “morality, honesty and ethics at the forefront of my government and cabinet.”
Sadly, it was all a sham.
The Prince let us down.
He let our liaison partners down.
He let his subjects down.
And he let himself down.
Monaco’s flag fluttering above an oft-empty palace has today become symbolic of the Prince's deception.
The Prince was very well informed about the shady characters whose presence he continues to tolerate, even while announcing to the world he is sorry Somerset Maugham ever penned his haunting words about Monaco being “a sunny place for shady people.”
The bad guys won.
Monaco remains shady.
And the Prince, it grieves me to write, became a bad guy himself.
I had hoped one day to write the story of how Albert II, Prince of Monaco, crusaded to rid his principality of its shady image—and triumphed.
Instead, to my sorrow, we have quite the opposite.
I forgive the Prince.
History, however, is much less forgiving.
The corruption would all start to unravel in 2017.
Forced to resign over corruption:
Philippe Narmino, Chief of Judicial Services.
Indicted for corruption:
Philippe Narmino and former Interior Minister Paul Masseron.
Years earlier, on 10 October 2012, Andre Muhlberger was fired as Monaco's police chief after it was revealed he was having an affair with a young woman from Belarus in addition to getting too cozy with Russians.
Muhlberger was killed on 23 June 2013, age 50, in a mysterious boating "accident" (death by propeller) involving Russians off the coast of Cap d'Ail near Monaco.
Spymaster Rule # 33
Groghe dani kez
An ancient Armenian joke/curse:
May the scribe take you away.
|Painting: Van Stein|