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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 11/23/2010

Legendary CIA agent Bob Ames to get full biography, 30 years after bombing death

By Jeff Stein

Bob Ames is finally getting a book of his own.

Washington author Kai Bird, co-author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of atomic scientist Robert Oppenheimer, is turning his sights on Ames, the legendary CIA operative who died in the 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut.

Crown-Broadway paid six figures for the book, scheduled for publication on the 30th anniversary of Ames' death, according to publishing sources.

Ames was the closest thing the CIA had to James Bond, it's sometimes said. A year shy of 50 at the time of his murder, Ames makes at least a cameo appearance in most treatments of U.S. policy in the Middle East, as well as, in fictional form, the spy novels of Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and others. A full treatment of him is long overdue, many say.

“Ames was the master player of the so-called ‘war of the secret services’ in Beirut, where spies and intelligence services crawled all over each other, and where nearly every shot, bomb or diplomatic move had a secondary intelligence implication,” The Post’s Bob Woodward once wrote. “In this world, survival at times meant balancing and hedging your double crosses.”

Bird says, “Ames's life and career are legendary inside the CIA. He is known for his professional spy craft, his ability to recruit agents and his commonsensical analytical skills as a briefer of Ronald Reagan. He is also known as the agency officer who established a highly valued but controversial intelligence liaison conduit to the PLO as early as 1969.”

Bird and Ames have a personal connection as well.

“I knew him as a boy in Dhahran,” said the author, 58, whose father was an American diplomat in Saudi Arabia, and, later, Beirut, where they lived in the same embassy that would be destroyed by Hezbollah terrorists.

“The last part of the book will be all about the embassy bombing,” Bird said. “I have the trial transcripts from a 2003 civil suit filed [by relatives of those killed] against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The witness testimony is very graphic, even, shall I say, cinematic.”

By Jeff Stein  | November 23, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Entertainment, Intelligence  
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Comments

Thinking people might find it hard to get past the first three paragraphs of this story, which repeatedly present the idea that 1983 was a little less than 20 years ago. A quick check of the head of this makes it clear that it's a current post, not one from about 2002. Stein, washpost, copy desk ... how could you?
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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 11/23/2010
Legendary CIA agent Bob Ames to get full biography, 20 years after bombing death
By Jeff Stein
Bob Ames is finally getting a book of his own.

Washington author Kai Bird, co-author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of atomic scientist Robert Oppenheimer, is turning his sights on Ames, the legendary CIA operative who died in the 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut.

Crown-Broadway paid in the mid-six figures for the book, scheduled for publication on the 20th anniversary of Ames' death, according to publishing sources.

_____________

Ah, me ... 1983. Vintage year in the terrorism bizniz. Folks in Beirut could lift entire multistory buildings off the ground and have them drop back a few feet away from their fondations. Lost art, it seems. Thank God.

Posted by: kunino | November 23, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

This is fine, and I'm sure I'll read it, but what I really want is a biography of William Francis Buckley. His death still haunts me.

Posted by: georges2 | November 23, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

The (stupid) error was mine, and has been corrected. Thanks for writing.

Posted by: Jeff Stein | November 23, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Ames and Buckley are true heroes of the Republic. We need to celebrate and honor these men as much as possible.
Young people need to know about them.

Posted by: P4Potomac | November 29, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

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