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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Ex-spy master praises CIA?s effectiveness

Ex-spy master praises CIA’s effectiveness
MU graduate advises caution in revamping.

By JOSH FLORY of the Tribune’s staff
Published Saturday, October 9, 2004
The nation’s capital has been well-stocked with high-profile Missourians lately, but one Show-Me State native recently stepped away from one of Washington’s most secretive jobs.

James Pavitt, a St. Louis native and a 1968 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, retired in August as the deputy director of operations, or DDO, at the Central Intelligence Agency.

One of three main branches at the CIA, the directorate of operations is responsible for the "clandestine collection of foreign intelligence." Pavitt, in other words, was in charge of U.S. spies who operate in countries around the world.

Named DDO in 1999, Pavitt’s tenure coincided with one of the most turbulent periods in the agency’s history.

Besides supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the CIA has faced harsh scrutiny for faulty intelligence about Iraq’s weapons programs and for America’s failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In a telephone interview this week with the Tribune, Pavitt defended the work by his agency.

"The fact of the matter is that many, many attacks have been thwarted, have been stopped because of good intelligence and good intelligence work," he said. "The fact of the matter is that intelligence is not, though, perfect. It can’t be."

Pavitt earned a history degree at MU before attending Clark University in Massachusetts as a National Defense Education Act fellow. Before he could finish his studies, Pavitt was drafted and became an Army intelligence officer, working in Berlin. After leaving the Army, Pavitt worked on Capitol Hill before applying to the CIA.

Ex-spy master praises CIA?s effectiveness

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