Sunday, January 28, 2018

"The Last Man in Tehran"

Mark Henshaw is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a decorated CIA analyst with more than sixteen years of service. In 2007, he was awarded the Director of Intelligence Galileo Award for innovation in intelligence analysis. A former member of the Red Cell think tank, Henshaw is the author of Red Cell, Cold Shot, and The Fall of Moscow Station.

Henshaw applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Last Man in Tehran, and reported the following:
From page 69:
The CIA director leaned forward, arms on the desk, his hands clenched together. “We’ve had one mole or defector after another show up over the last twenty years, and the damage they do gets worse each time. Everything Aldrich Ames gave the Russians, he photocopied. Thousands of pages of material. Then Robert Hanssen started giving them thumb drives. Tens of thousands of pages. Ten years later, Bradley Manning burned CDs and passed three-quarters of a million documents to Wikileaks in a matter of months. Then Edward Snowden left the country with an entire hard drive. We still don’t know how many files he took, but the last estimate is that he took almost two million reports in a single shot.” Barron put his forefinger on the table to make his point. “It took us eight years to catch Ames and it took the Bureau twenty to catch Hanssen. We can’t afford to take that long anymore. These moles are stealing larger amounts of classified material in shorter amounts of time, doing more and more damage faster and faster. We need to start finding them and shutting them down within weeks, not years.”

“I’m not a counterintelligence officer,” Kyra noted.

“I know. Just work with our people to see if you can come up with some creative tactics to flush this guy out in a hurry,” Barron ordered. “I’ll call down and plow the field for you. Then I’m going to have to call the FBI director and warn him that we might have a breach. He’ll want to send someone over to join the investigation, and heaven knows where this will go after. So I’d like to have our hooks into this for leverage before the Bureau comes in.”

Kyra looked over to Jon. “Glad you’re staying for the fun, for a few days at least.”

“It’s all fun until someone loses a kneecap,” Jon said.
This is the end of one of the pivotal scenes of the book. Here, acting CIA director Clark Barron is giving Kyra (our hero) her marching orders, with her old mentor, Jonathan Burke unwillingly in tow. The Israelis are on the warpath and Barron is sure there’s a mole inside Langley helping them; he has to report that, but he knows the FBI will tear Langley apart to find the traitor.

Kyra hesitates to take the assignment — hunting moles is a specialized business and she has no experience doing it. Barron thinks that what makes her the right choice. Hunting moles is also a slow business—a tedious process that the US can no longer afford given that technology allows traitors to pass over increasing amounts of classified information in shorter and shorter periods of time. Kyra will bring a beginner’s mind to the hunt, a willingness to explore new approaches that the grizzled old hands might reject because “that’s not the way we’ve always done it.”

As for Jonathan, he’s retired, recently married for former CIA director Kathy Cooke, and would rather be home nursing the artificial knee he had to get when the Russian busted the original. Jon is irascible, but he does know how to pick his battles—his new wife has sided with Barron on the need for Jon to get out of the house, so he knows he’s beaten. But he and Kathy end up working together as a team and they get to close the case of a CIA officer gone missing years before that has haunted Kathy for years.
Visit Mark Henshaw's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Fall of Moscow Station.

--Marshal Zeringue