Tuesday, July 29, 2014



National Press Books had its offices at Artery Plaza, a contemporary commercial building at 7200 Wisconsin Avenue, the corner of Bethesda Avenue, above Montgomery's Grille. 

I strolled into their suite of tube-lit shoe-boxy rooms.   

Joel Joseph thrust Edward Howard's book proposal at me.  "Our photocopier is on the blink," he said.  "Read it here." 

I took a desk chair and perused the proposal, entitled Safe House

A page about publicity suggested that all the big media outlets (60 Minutes, Nightline) had all, at some point, wanted to interview Howard. 

But he was holding out until he had something to sell.

This is partly what he was selling:  While serving on CIA's Neutral Countries Desk in Washington (1983), he'd learned various things, which he itemized, that, if/when revealed, would likely harm U.S. relations with several European countries.  

But Howard's piece d’resistance, what he called My Big Secret, was couched in this question:  

"Why is the CIA so hot to get me after all these years?"  

Howard's answer:  "Because of the one project that has never been revealed to the public, but will come out in this book:  The Black Box."  

He revealed this operation's codename, which remains classified, and details of the operation, which also remain classified.  

Howard had been trained by the CIA specifically to undertake this secret mission in Moscow.  

But he never made it to his target country.  Howard was fired after failing a series of polygraph examinations only weeks before his scheduled departure to the Soviet Union.  

Few disagree that his dismissal had been badly handled.  

Thereafter, Howard drank, stewed, and ultimately took this position:  They trained me to be a spy, so a spy I’m gonna be. 

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