Over the course of his twenty-four-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency, Ric Prado received the Agency's Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. He joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) to discuss his book, Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior, which reveals the harrowing true stories of life in the deadly web of international assassins, spies, revolutionaries, terrorists, and killers, as well as offers a glimpse into the shadow wars that America has fought since the Vietnam Era.
Prado explained how the CIA is divided into directorates, including the Directorate of Operations where he worked as a clandestine services officer. He guessed each division within the Agency has at least one or two lawyers assigned to it in order to make sure the CIA and its operations are law-abiding. "The beauty of a good lawyer at the Agency... they tell you, 'Let's see how we can make this legal,'" Prado said. "Even when we do Black Ops they are blessed at the highest levels of the U.S. government," he continued, noting a good lawyer finds a way to get the right approvals to get a presidential directive for an operation. There is incredible oversight over the CIA, Prado added.
He identified Argo as one of a few films to depict CIA missions in a way that reflects reality. Zero Dark Thirty is another well-done movie but does have some misguided aspects, such as what enhanced interrogations are like, Prado explained. He took exception to how waterboarding is often portrayed in film and television, typically wrapping a rag over someone's face and dumping a bucket of water over them until they yield. In reality, waterboarding is an enhanced interrogation technique that is carefully conducted with the interrogee on a gurney, wearing a blood pressure cuff and other monitoring devices, and there is a strict time limit on how long it can be done, Prado revealed. It is a tool to speed up the breakdown of an individual, he noted.
Prado spoke about the use of poisons in espionage. "That's never been a tool that I have ever witnessed or even heard of being used... by the CIA," he reported, suggesting the Russians are known for using poison against anyone who betrays them. Prado also announced he is working on a proposal to turn his book into a streaming mini-series which shows the truth about how the CIA operates and the reality of its work. For Prado, it is honorable and dangerous work. Those that die in harm's way carrying out a CIA mission are given a star on a wall at the Agency's headquarters. Prado estimated a third of 137 stars there are from missions post-9/11.
Open Lines followed in the latter half of the program. Joe from El Paso, Texas, revealed he has a close friend who is an elite Top Gun level pilot who "has had experiences with extraterrestrials." Ian pointed out the Pentagon has released videos which document military pilots engaging with unidentified aerial phenomena. Joe expressed frustration that the general public of the U.S. does not, in his opinion, care about learning "what extraterrestrials are about in this country."
Todd in Bellevue, Washington, phoned in to talk about Chris DeGarmo, former lead guitarist of the hard rock band Queensryche. He mentioned what many consider to be the band's opus, the 1988 concept album Operation: Mindcrime, which tells the story of "a Manchurian Candidate assassin and evil empire-type secret society taking over the government," Todd explained. He compared DeGarmo to John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival in that he was the principal songwriter for the band. "The other guys had too much resentment towards him... so they were stealing his songs, so that's why he left the band," Todd said, noting DeGarmo departed the music industry to work as a professional jet pilot. DeGarmo has also performed on a project called The Rue with his daughter, Todd added.
John in Columbus, Ohio, reported on a bizarre experience he had at a local fast food restaurant while on break from work. According to John, he decided to use the bathroom before ordering but encountered "these two kind of crazy-looking guys who were covered in dry wall dust and... gesticulating and being very animated." He chose to wait outside while the two guys went into the bathroom. John allowed another person to go in front of him and watched as that person eventually exited the restroom while the other two guys still had not come out. John finally entered to find no trace of the two guys. "It's almost as if they didn't exist," he suggested, noting he could find no other way out of the bathroom.