Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Douglas Waller's "Disciples"

Douglas Waller is a former Newsweek and Time correspondent.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Disciples: The World War II Missions of the CIA Directors Who Fought for Wild Bill Donovan, and reported the following:
Disciples reveals the secret operations of four men who fought for the Office of Strategic Services spy agency in World War II and who later were among the most controversial directors the CIA has ever had: Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, William Colby and William Casey. Dulles launched the calamitous operation to land CIA-trained, anti-Castro guerrillas at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. Helms was convicted of lying to Congress about the CIA’s effort to oust President Salvador Allende in Chile. Colby would become a pariah among Langley’s old hands for releasing to Congress what became known as the “Family Jewels” report on the agency’s misdeeds during the 1950s, 60s and early 70s. Casey would nearly bring down the agency—and Ronald Reagan’s presidency—from a scheme that secretly supplied Nicaragua’s contras with money raked off from the sale of arms to Iran for American hostages in Beirut.

During World War II, Dulles ran the OSS’s most successful spy operations against the Axis. Casey organized top-secret missions to penetrate Nazi Germany. Colby led daring OSS commando raids behind the lines in occupied France and Norway. Richard Helms mounted risky intelligence programs against the Russians in the ruin of Berlin. Page 99 describes the early training Bill Colby underwent at the Congressional Country Club just north of Washington, which the OSS had taken over and renamed Area F to teach recruits spying and sabotage:
An obstacle course was constructed near the first tee. The fuselage of a cargo plane was placed near its putting green along with a half dozen suspended harnesses so parachutists could practice jumping out into a sand trap. Firing ranges, demolition pits, and simulated minefields dotted other fairways. Robert Kehoe, a young radio operator who had dropped out of college after two years, called Area F “a luxurious shock.”

Colby and other recruits spent the next two weeks, early morning often to midnight, engaged in what the instructors told them was the beginning of their commando training. That was a cover story for testers who wanted to weed out the men who did not possess the qualities needed to be commandos. They endured miles of cross-country running and hours on the obstacle course for physical conditioning. They were sent out on guerrilla exercises often with no sleep the night before to test how they reacted under stress. Instructors divided the students into groups of a half dozen, with one designated as the leader, and gave them mock missions, such as sneaking up on a guard, blowing up a bridge over a fairway’s water hazard or simply moving a heavy object from one spot to another to test their ingenuity. All the while psychologists lurked nearby, asking the recruits seemingly innocent questions and marking notes on clipboards.
Visit Douglas Waller's website.

The Page 99 Test: Disciples.

--Marshal Zeringue