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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "A Tale of Two Women": So You Want to Be a Spy

Maureen Dowd has movies on the mind.

After making a liberal sprinkling of references to Mel Gibson's 2006 film "Apocalypto" in her prior New York Times op-ed entitled "A Lost Civilization" (see:, Dowd is now back with an opinion piece describing "the new Kathryn Bigelow/Mark Boal movie, 'Zero Dark Thirty.'" Dowd refers us to a Washington Post article by Greg Miller (, describing the real-life heroine portrayed by the film:

"'The operative, who remains undercover, was passed over for a promotion that many in the C.I.A. thought would be impossible to withhold from someone who played such a key role in one of the most successful operations in agency history,' Miller writes. Who do you have to kill to get a raise around here?

Miller continued: 'She has sparred with C.I.A. colleagues over credit for the bin Laden mission. After being given a prestigious award for her work, she sent an e-mail to dozens of other recipients saying they didn’t deserve to share her accolades, current and former officials said,' since they had tried to obstruct her."

Office politics and pettiness at the C.I.A.? Who would have ever imagined?

More interesting for me is the public's fascination with espionage movies, be they along the lines of "James Bond" or closer to reality. In their Walter Mitty mental meanderings, do people fantasize what it would be like to be above the law? Or, much akin to a short-lived roller coaster ride, do people enjoy visualising for some 100 minutes the lives of field agents without having to experience both the debilitating fear and abject boredom which alternately characterize the lives of these operatives?

Movies? I've got the plot, and one of these days, I'll have to figure out how to make it. But if you think that McLean can occasionally get vicious and petty, you have yet to visit Hollywood.

Bin Laden? Yes, he's dead, but the reemergence of al-Qaeda in Libya, Syria and Yemen will provide plenty of material for sequels.

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