Trump's Vainglorious Affront to the CIA
By Robin Wright
By Robin Wright
The death of Robert Ames, who was America’s top intelligence officer for the Middle East, is commemorated among the hundred and seventeen stars on the white marble Memorial Wall at C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia. He served long years in the region’s hellholes—Beirut; Tehran; Sanaa, Yemen; Kuwait City; and Cairo—often in the midst of war or turmoil. Shortly after 1 p.m. on April 18th, 1983, Ames was huddling with seven other C.I.A. staff at the high-rise U.S. Embassy overlooking the Mediterranean, when a delivery van laden with explosives made a sharp swing into the cobblestone entryway, and accelerated into the embassy’s front wall. It set off a roar that echoed across Beirut. My office was just up the hill. A huge black cloud enveloped blocks.
It was the very first suicide bombing against the United States in the Middle East, and the onset of a new type of warfare. Carried out by an embryonic cell of extremists that later evolved into Hezbollah, it blew off the front of the embassy, leaving it like a seven-story, open-faced dollhouse. Sixty-four were killed, including all eight members of the C.I.A. team. Ames left behind a widow and six children. He was so clandestine that his kids did not know that he was a spy until after he was killed.
On his first full day in office, President Trump spoke at the C.I.A. headquarters in front of the hallowed Memorial Wall, with Ames’s star on it. Since his election, Trump has raged at the U.S. intelligence community over its warnings about Russian meddling in the Presidential election. At the CIA, he never mentioned Ames or the many others who have died serving the U.S. intelligence service. He instead talked about himself.