In collaboration with the Smithsonian Resident Associate Program.
Intelligence operations that hold human life in the balance are some of the most difficult missions any intelligence service will ever undertake. Exfiltrations are supremely delicate. This is the process of extracting a person or people from a targeted site with absolute urgency due to a sudden change which makes the site hostile. This could happen when a spy’s cover is blown or a change in leadership puts people in danger. Captures are just that: snaring an enemy. And lastly kills. Wet jobs. Assassinations. When the enemy is bad enough that termination is the only answer. In this series, a distinguished group of experts and former intelligence personnel will introduce you to some of the greatest of these intense operations.
When Osama bin Laden declared war against the United States for the first time to a Western audience, Peter Bergen was there. He produced Osama bin Laden's first television interview and has written extensively on the terrorist and on Al Qaeda. His book, Manhunt: the Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden—from 9/11 to Abbottabad focuses on the difficulty of finding the world’s most dangerous man—the missed opportunities, the lucky breaks, and dedication of the people who finally tracked him down. Bergen will share his professional connection to bin Laden, what it was like to actually “know” him, and his thoughts on the execution and results of Operation Neptune Spear.
For 15 years the hunt for Eichmann, architect of the mass murder of Europe’s Jews, stretched from war-ravaged Europe to the shores of Argentina. In researching his book, Hunting Eichmann, best-selling author Neal Bascomb gathered groundbreaking new information and interviews, and newly declassified documents to fully tell the story of how the notorious Nazi was brought to justice. He will reveal how the young Israeli spy agency, the Mossad, organized this colossal operation—dispatching operatives like Isser Harel and Zvi Aharoni on their harrowing mission to Argentina to capture and deliver Eichmann.
In 1972, Polish Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski volunteered to spy for the United States. His self-appointed mission: to undermine his country’s Soviet-dominated leadership to save Poland from nuclear destruction. Over the next nine years of high-risk, clandestine exchanges, he copied tens of thousands of secret documents and covertly passed them to the CIA—including plans to crush the Solidarity movement. Learn the inside story of this extraordinary case and of Kuklinski’s last-minute, daring escape from International Spy Museum Executive Director, Peter Earnest, a former CIA officer who did unprecedented research into Agency records for Benjamin Wesier’s A Secret Life: The Polish Officer, His Covert Mission, and the Price He Paid to Save His Country. Former CIA officer, Sue Burggraf, who worked with Kuklinski in Warsaw will also comment on the heroic Pole.
International Spy Museum board member and former CIA chief of disguise Tony Mendez led the famous rescue of six Americans who were trapped in Iran after they had escaped from the US Embassy during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979. Mendez came up with an ingenuous plan to get the Americans out by creating a fake movie called ARGO, setting up a cover film studio, and disguising them as a location scouting team from Canada. Mendez will take you behind the scenes of the operation, recently immortalized in the real film ARGO, from Canada’s incredible support of the rescue to what kind of props he brought to make the Americans look more like film industry types.
Visit www.SmithsonianAssociates.org or call 202.633.3030. Internet Quick Tix code for the program: 1M2-647. Members of the Inner Circle should identify themselves and give the PROMO code: 190460.