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License to Kill

Date: 08-31-08
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Roland Haas

Former CIA agent and assassin Roland Haas discussed his life as a spy and how keeping the secret of a double life almost destroyed him. Regarding his days as a government hitman, he said, "I looked at it as the same way a pilot in the service drops a bomb on a building. He's done that under orders."

He detailed his first contracted hit for the CIA, where he was tasked with eliminating a drug lord in Afghanistan. After being briefed on the target, Haas said, he was "left to my own devices" as far as accomplishing his mission. He ran into difficulties when he met the drug lord and saw that he was accompanied by "two burly bodyguards." Luckily, for Haas, the target sent his bodyguards out to get refreshments for the two of them, which left a window of opportunity to accomplish the mission. From there, he said, the main concern was getting out of the country unscathed.

Haas explained how the myriad of US-sanctioned murders that he'd committed eventually grew to haunt him. "It's one thing to justify this in your own mind, but sometimes the images don't support what you did," he said. Over time, he turned to alcohol to help him cope with the vivid memories of his previous missions. A subsequent accident resulted in Haas being in a coma for thirty days. During this time, he relived his assignments, along with various scenarios where he'd face repercussions for his actions. He described it as "being a prisoner in my own mind, there was no place to run."

On why he chose to tell his story, Haas said "I needed to put it down, not only for historical purposes but to explain who I'd been, what I'd done." He noted that for the duration of his tenure as a CIA hitman, his family had no idea of his real occupation. Additionally, when he approached his handlers about any retirement benefits he'd receive, following three decades of service, he was informed that he would get no pension, since to do so would be to reveal his ties to the organization. Instead, Haas says, they callously said, "we hear K-Mart is hiring." As such, the income derived from his book serves as the sole means of pension for all of his years of undercover service.

Throughout the program, Ian also took calls from Gulf Coast listeners awaiting Hurricane Gustav.

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