Melissa Boyle Mahle

Ms. Mahle is a former US intelligence officer and expert on the Middle East and counterterrorism.

As a field operative for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), she worked against many of the key challenges to US national security, including running operations against al-Qaeda terrorists and illicit networks selling weapons of mass destruction. She received a Presidential Letter of Appreciation for her work on the Middle East Peace Process and numerous exceptional performance awards from the CIA for her recruitment of agents and collection of intelligence. Ms. Mahle is the author of the book Denial and Deception: An Insider’s View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11.

Presentation Topics

Intelligence Challenges in the 21st Century

It is a scary world out there. Rogue states are building nuclear weapons in countries in which the US has no official presence. Terrorists from around the world are joining hands and sharing diabolical ways of killing in internet chat rooms. Former foes are expanding their military forces and adopting more aggressive foreign policies, challenging US global dominance. Anti-Americanism is at an all-time high. Former CIA official Melissa Mahle will discuss the national security challenges of the 21st Century and what our intelligence community is doing (and not doing!) to get out in front of these steps to stop them before they stop us.

Women in Espionage

The popular image of women in espionage has been set by Hollywood. How close is it to reality? Are they modern day Mata Haris? Does Alias star Jennifer Garner get it right? Former CIA officer Melissa Mahle will discuss the changing role of women in intelligence at the CIA. Starting from the transition of the wartime footing of the OSS when women were returned to their "appropriate positions" to modern practices, with Mahle drawing from her personal experiences as a CIA field operative.

Intelligence and 9/11: Busting the Myths

When 9/11 took place, there were two different narratives. From inside the intelligence community, we were saying “we knew about Osama bin Ladin; we warned about the threat; we were doing our jobs.” From Americas, we heard “Who is the Osama bin Ladin guy and why didn't our intelligence folks do anything about him?” So what were the CIA, FBI and Pentagon doing prior to 9/11 and how did they perceive the threat posed by al-Qa'ida? Former CIA officer Melissa Mahle will discuss the first World Trade Center Bombing, Bin Ladin in Sudan, the US Embassy bombings in Africa, USS Cole attack, demonstrating how misperceptions on the nature of the threat rendered the intelligence community incapable to counter it.