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Opinion Column
For the week of March 28 through April 3, 2001

Secret agent man dallied once too often

Commentary by Pat Murphy


With 40 years to cool off since the botched 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, Cubans and Americans are now sharing secrets of their dirty tricks, including the CIA assassination plot against Fidel Castro and sabotage of Cuban facilities.

As a reporter and editor with The Miami Herald, I remember those as golden days for journalists to sniff out intrigue between the two countries and the going-and-coming of spies across the Florida Straits.

So, itís probably okay to tell of an episode involving a friend working in the spook trade in those days.

Roger Ė Iíll keep his last name confidential Ė worked for a company named Zenith (not the big radio and TV manufacturer) that operated out of the old, deserted Richmond blimp base south of Miami near Homestead.

Businesses in the area that cashed payday checks were told Zenith employees were "personnel specialists."

But most everyone suspected Zenith was a Central Intelligence Agency front: employees worked mostly at night, facilities were off limits, workers never discussed their jobs and the Miami area was rife with tales of CIA operations at the blimp base.

Indeed, Rogerís job, as we learned later, was to surreptitiously slip CIA operatives into Cuba by boat and airdrops to sabotage and spy.

But Roger was careless in his personal life. Although married, he began an affair with the estranged wife of a friend. The woman also was a friend of Rogerís wife.

What Roger didnít know was that the husband hired private detectives to gather evidence of adultery so he could divorce his wife and lessen his financial obligations in those days before no-fault divorces.

So, one night before dawn when Roger finished his CIA work and slipped into the womanís home, their customary nocturnal dalliance was interrupted by private detectives who entered the house with the husbandís keys.

Detectives snatched Rogerís wallet from his trousers hanging on a chair and fled ĺ later to find identification revealing Rogerís real occupation.

Roger, his wife and family vanished within a matter of days, presumably whisked from their considerable Florida social circle and rushed out of town by the CIA.

We never learned if Roger retrieved his wallet or, more important, whether he explained to his wife who picked his pockets and where.

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One wonders what defense a Bellevue man will use in court to explain why he allegedly fired 10 rounds from a Chinese-made SKS 7.62 mm battlefield assault rifle in the direction of bathers near Carey Hot Springs.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling quotes the man as saying that after his dog and another got into a fight, he lost it and began shooting ĺ but not directly AT the bathers, only over their heads.

Well, anyone who knows what an SKS is (an offshoot of the famed Russian AK-47 weapon), knowing that someone is firing over your head, but not directly at you, is hardly comforting.

The SKS firepower is deadly. Its shots are ear-shattering. A burst of shells can tear a human body in half. Itís designed to slaughter combat soldiers.

Should we be relieved and feel safe knowing that an SKS owner living in the Wood River Valley will only fire over peopleís heads when he canít control his temper?

 

 

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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.