tv Tracy Walder The Unexpected Spy CSPAN June 26, 2020 9:03pm-10:14pm EDT
tracy walder is co-author of the unexpected spine, from the cia to the fbi. my secret life taking down some of the world's most notorious terrorists. she sits down on her time as a cia special operations officer in the aftermath of of the september 11 terrorist attacks. she also discusses her decision to leave the cia to become an fbi special agent, focusing on chinese counterintelligence. the international spy museum recorded this event in february. >> good evening everyone and thank you for coming out on this gloomy washington, d.c. evening, to the international
spy museum. i am the executive director of the international spy museum. i am excited to introduce this program with former c.i.a. officer's officer, fbi special agent, now author, tracy walder. tracy joined the cia straight out of college and served as a staff operations officer the counterterrorism center, where she was responsible for tracking down terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. she went on to become an fbi special agent at the l.a. field office, where she specialized in chinese counterintelligence operations. tracy lives with her husband and four and a half-year-old daughter in dallas, texas. this evening, tracy will discuss her memoir, the unexpected spy. tracy will be interviewed by our very own historian and curator. after the discussion, they will open the floor to audience questions. everyone will have an opportunity to ask their questions this evening. we are also going to ask that if you are trapped in the middle of a row, please put your hands up and we will
ensure you have a mic to to ask your questions but there will be two mic's on each side of the auditorium you can use. if you can't get out, stay where you are at and raise your hand. one other administrative notice. if you have a cell phone, please silence it. i will lead by example and make sure mine is silenced. i will kick it over to vince and tracy. i think you will enjoy this evening's discussion. >> thank you. the first time we were introduced to tracy was when our educational team discovered the amazing work she was doing. it is extraordinary what she decided to do, to challenge young people. i have taught at every level, from elementary school all the way through college. the gumption and challenge is extraordinary. i would not have had college students doing it so it is interesting. she is also on the board of
directors for a nonprofit organization called girl security, which we will talk about as well, another way she has decided to give back to not only her community but her country. we will hear more about those later but i want to jump right in. we had a long conversation, if anyone listens to spy cast. we record a podcast. we had a chance to try out some of these questions before we put it in front of a live studio audience, some of them worked better than others but one that was interesting to me, certainly as an author myself and as someone who has dealt with redaction and classification, was the process you had to go through to get this book cleared through the cia's publication review board, in particular because they can be somewhat problematic and difficult. anyone who has looked at the book already, there are lines that were redacted that were left inside. there was a whole lot more they
didn't want you to put out. how much difficulty was it, getting this through the prb? >> first, everyone, thank you for coming. i want to recognize some of my former students in the audience. thank you for being here. in terms of the publications review board, there were two women that came before me. both of them took about two years to get their books through the prb and i credit them with the easier time that i had. getting my book through the prb was externally important to me. i sent it off to them, just hoping it would not be what we called denied in full, which means you cannot publish this period. it was not. it came back about four months
after my initial submission with four complete chapters just flatlined. the cia was actually really great. you can email them back and forth. they will not tell you exactly why. you have to play a game of guesswork. i resubmitted it and it came back with two chapters redacted completely and then a chapter and a half and finally, after i took up one word, which was the name of a statue, they let that whole chapter through and then publishers and i decided the way it was was intelligible enough for people to be able to read. >> it is tricky because, yes, they do not want you to give away what cities that the cia is operating in if it is not widely known, but you kind of allow the leeway to describe the cities pretty well. like there is a modern headquarters for their intelligence right on a river and this is near where a famous serial killer killed five people in the victorian era. oh, victorian, i should not have said that out loud.
i am not talking about london at all. >> i will never understand why they redacted some of the things that they did. i was just talking to someone about this. why they redacted some things and did not redact others, i do not understand the process. some of them, in my opinion, it is extremely easy to figure out where i am. >> maybe they want people to take that extra step of googling for about 10 minutes. >> i do not know. >> let's talk about your origin story because it is a somewhat different than others. it has nothing to do with you being in a sorority in southern california. it is the fact that a lot of people who join cia or national security institutions wanted to do it from a very early age. you did not really set out to think about being a cia officer in middle school or high school, although subconsciously i guess maybe you did a little bit because of what you studied. when other people were playing, you are reading about the middle east. you are looking at maps when other people were doing normal middle school things. what eventually led you to want to join the agency? >> i think
to back up just a little bit, this would have been, you know, when i was recruited in kind of the mid-1990's. popular culture looks really different today than it did then. i did not grow up with "quantico" or "criminal minds" or sort of any of those things, so i had no preconceived notions about this is what the cia is and this is where i want to work, and i'm not sure a whole lot of people did either necessarily. but i do know that i had a really large interest in the middle east and in counterterrorism. so i would say that was really cultivated sort of when i watched the peter bergen interview when he interviewed osama bin laden in 1997. that was a huge turning point for me and sort of when i decided i wanted to i guess do something about him. so when i applied at that career fair in college, that was really the impetus. >> most of us in here, unless you are really young, maybe some of your former students, remember exactly where we were
on 9/11. it is kind of a turning point in a lot of our lives. for many people, it is the turning point in their careers, the decision to go in a direction. you are already working at the cia. you are at langley the morning of 9/11. this is a question that popped in my head. i sat on my couch on 9/11. i had been out of the army for about a month, just pissed off that there is nothing i could do about it. i could go back in the army, but my knee stunk. a lot of us had this feeling of we have been attacked appeared what do i do now? there is nothing i can do. to a degree, you had an advantage because you could not wallow in self-pity about our country being attacked because you had a second to do that and then it was time to get to work. >> you made me think about that question differently. everyone always asks how i was feeling and thinking. i was happy people had pride in the world trade center, but you have to cart seperate those
thoughts so you can get on with the mission and work you need to do and stop the next attack work gather the evidence you need to stop the next attack. having a sense of purpose to do something about it, even though maybe you are not stopping the next attacker you can try in a weight helps keep us going. -- in a way keeps us going. >> you move into the vault, which is ground zero for the war against al qaeda, the war that was created because of 9/11. when i say ground zero, you are working in a small group. you turn around and george bush is asking you what is going on. this is the epicenter. this is the nerve center of the cia response. how daunting was that?
you were 23 at the time. >> 21. >> 21 at the time. who are we killing today? you are not allowed to say that. who are we looking at today? it had to have been a surreal experience. >> that was a chapter i was surprised the cia approved. i submitted it and i thought the whole thing would come back redacted. i was read into that program on september 10, 2001. i was naive and said, we will never need to use this. obviously, we did. it was intense. you working long hours. you are not really thinking about the people in the room. if you think about people in the room, you're not focusing on what you are doing. i think you really cannot process who is in there and
what they are doing other than who is in there every day. he brought us thanksgiving dinner and doughnuts and bagels all the time. he was really great to work with in that environment. other than tenant, he was the only one we were super aware of at the time. >> the concept behind this world and space, and i'm not going to make you say anything you can't say, but this is where you have -- you are a southern california girl. you mentioned in the book about what direction you lean politically. i am not a fan necessarily of certain administrations, but in that room i did not matter. we are so used to today. this is not just because of this current administration. so used to politicizing foreign policy and national security.
these were moments where it did not matter where you came from. everyone was working together. >> that was what was great about the cia when i was there. i grew up in southern california in a liberal household, but i am registered independent. the cia sort of helped move me to the middle in a weird way. they did not purposely do that. it just told me think more about issues not in a black-and-white way. it was sort of a gray. what i liked about my time there -- i served under clinton and bush. what was so great about that experience is i felt at least people around me, it was very apolitical. politics were taken out of the situation. some people are frustrated that i had nice things to say about bush and they did not
understand that, but it was not about someone's political agenda. it is about what my observations were at that time in that moment. that helped me gain this apolitical insight when it came to foreign policy. >> while you were there, there was an event people do not talk about much today and certainly has become less and less a key moment in the timeline of the early global war on terror. that is shortly after 9/11, when the united states -- this is an outpost in the middle of nowhere. you had a first-person view of what was going on there. talk a little about how that panned out and the frustrations perhaps he and you must've felt
having a chance to get the guy who kind of caused 9/11 but having him slip through your fingers. >> what was interesting about that was i was reading another book at the time i was writing that chapter about someone in the ground forces there. it was easy to use what i was doing and marry it with what he was doing and i think that is one way i got the chapter approved. i do not know. it was frustrating. we were working seven minutes on, seven minutes off because it was so intense, what we were doing. people would have thought that, once we lost him, that it would have been screaming, yelling. that did not happen. it was like the air had gone out of the room. what people did what they went into their offices i will never know. in the room, it was like the
sails went out of it and we carried on doing what we were supposed to be doing. >> this will be a theme we will investigate again and again. when i think about your work, your operating in eastern time in the united states in langley, virginia, whereas the action is taking place sometimes 5, 5, six hours ahead of where you are, sometimes more than that. this is not a normal 9-to-5 job where you drive to work and then get off in time for dinner. you're working shifts that start in the middle of the night, that do not allow you to be in normal human being. how draining was that? this was nonstop. we talked to the briefer of president bush. i asked him when did your day start prior to 9/11? he usually woke up around 4:30.
what happened on september 12? i woke up around midnight. >> it is one of the reasons i alternately i'm a morning person, so that schedule was difficult for me to keep up. i would have my best friend come over and wake me because it was hard sometimes. you have to change your whole body clock. i agree with mike. i guess your proverbial 9-to-5 kind of job and then that went out the window. >> you went from a relatively stress-free job hunting terrorists to the most stressful job i can imagine, hunting down bioterrorist who are trying to create weapons of mass destruction to kill not only a couple thousand people but hundreds of thousands of people around the world. when you moved to the wmd group, those of us that have studied weapons of mass destruction
spent years in school. i studied physics for a long time. you spent two weeks in poison school and then they sent you out and said, go find bad guys. >> it is a little different than that the guys who works the new program, they had their phd in nuclear physics and things like that. we did more toxins and poisons. i think they thought it would be enough training for us to understand what al qaeda was trying to procure. >> this is what keeps people up at night. not nuclear weapons. nuclear weapons are difficult to create, to deliver. bioweapon's, if you drive by the pentagon at 3:00 in the morning and there are lights on, people are worrying about a bio
weapons attack. >> my students had to do a threat assessment in my class on bioterrorism. they had to do that. it does keep people up at night. i know you want me to say it is because the cia has spoiled them all but it is difficult to track biological weapons. nukes require a lot of stuff about launch systems, those kind of things. biological weapons come easy and you can get them in parts. you can order them off amazon, home depot. it is unfortunately not that difficult. will becomes problematic is maybe people are not putting the entire piece of the puzzle together. that is where we are probably going to slip up one day. all you really need is an air conditioning vent. >> the problem with nuclear weapons if you need a delivery
system. >> i would guess they are not trying to use nuclear weapons because what you need. >> when you combine someone easy -- willing to kill themselves with the ease and access of nuclear weapons, it becomes very scary. sleep well tonight, guys. you kind of have to be on the ground in these areas of the world to truly do this, to understand the culture, the people. this is the first time in your career you started being deployed places, spending time overseas, in these countries that you cannot talk about by name in the book. >> i did. everyone has their own experience in the cia and fbi.
i felt very prepared at least from a cultural standpoint in those countries. that was one thing i thought they did extremely well. >> preparing you is one thing. the frustrations you might have experienced with having to cooperate with local intelligence agencies -- you talk about in the book it being both the woman's side of things in developing countries that tend to have fundamentalist islam as a tenant in their governing system but also that they were not quite taking things seriously as they should have at the time. what ended up being more frustrating for you? >> you wanted me to get mad about the sexism. one called me malibu barbie. it did not bother me much because my colleagues were so great about being she is the one you need to talk to. if you want to continue calling
her malibu barbie, go ahead, but you are going to continue to deal with her. what frustrated me was getting cable. and some people saying we do not work on sundays. that was frustrating. as a result, we cannot locate that person because they do not want to work on a sunday. >> you have a known bad guy going through a european country or in a european country. you know where he is at. they either do not work on sundays or there is not enough evidence to arrest the person. they are not probably going to attack albuquerque or chicago. they are going to attack brussels or china or in the people you're trying to warn. and they are like, sunday is our day off. i can understand that today may be, but in 2002 that seems crazy.
>> i printed that cable and highlighted it and put it on my cubicle. it was frustrating. >> let's talk about what should have been the most frustrating moment of your career. and if it was not, i do not understand. that is the iraq war. this is probably something you do not like talking about. you had a unique role in the lead up to the iraq war. not on purpose. your job was to look at some of these bioweapon's networks being developed and figure out how they work around. at no time did you say there was linkage whatsoever to iraq, but what happened -- i will set the scene, you turn the tv on, you see colin powell and the united nations and what has happened? >> a lot of times
what we would do is make checks. who is at the top of this network and how are they connected? i have no idea if they still do it, but that was a thing we used to do. the tocsin in poison network was getting complicated, so we had a cool printer. we can make big charts. we put it on the outside of our cubicles. >> cia gets the best printers. >> we put it on the outside of our cubicles just so we could always look at it and keep everything straight. someone had come through our office and wanted a copy of this and it was given to them. that chart ended up being used by colin powell to justify the invasion.
colin powell has said since it was a misuse. >> it was not that chart exactly, right? >> the title of the chart was changed. you can look it up. this was something else i was surprised the cia let me put in. maybe it is because it absolves them. i do not know. they are not perfect, but the title of the chart was something different. it said iraq bio -- if you look it up, that is what it said. >> can you say if the word iraq was on the chart before? >> it was not. >> how did you not call the new york times tracy: the next day? -- the new york times the next day? >> someone call me a coward for not doing that. i had so much respect for my colleagues and agency that that
is really not the right thing to do and that was not the right time to do it. i do not feel regret about the decision i made not to out it, but i know people will disagree with me. what we were most concerned about about the chart was now all of those people that we were looking for, the whole world knew we were looking for them, to include them. i think that is where we were upset. now they are all going to go underground. we are going to lose our intelligence work to get information on them and we will not be able to perhaps stop future attacks. in the immediate, that is what we were more upset about. >> i chose to drink water the minute you stop talking. it is almost impossible in 2020 to come it with any kind of honor, or to go back to 2003 and say you should have done something different. it seems ridiculous at this point. others call you a coward certainly cannot put themselves in your shoes. let me change directions almost completely.
part of what i think is really interesting about especially being posted overseas and being in this job where you're constantly inside a small room helping people across the world, all you are thinking about day and night are bad guys and terrorism. how do you maintain a sense of self? how do you keep being tracy versus the cia operative trying to catch bad guys? you talk a little in the book. did you costly have to stop and say, take a step back, take a breath, remember where i came from? just remind yourself of who you are? >> yes. i don't think i was that cerebral about it. it was more things like planning for the future like
being in a war zone and calling my mom to see if she can make me an appointment to get my roots done when i got home. just things like that. it is ok to be a girly girl. lots of women are at the agency and that is fine. another thing that i did -- i am very into the usc trojans. one of the things i did was have collers for bomb dogs. somewhere, there are a bunch of bomb dogs that have usc trojan collers. >> when you leave cia, you leave on a bit of a high note. you're doing exceptional work. you're catching bad guys. you were at the pinnacle of a
20-year-old career and you decide to leave it and move to a different agency with a different mindset and focus. why? >> i loved the agency. i still do. my book is positive about it. i left on good terms, but maybe that was for the better. i think at the ripe old age of 25 or 26 i wanted more stability in my life. i do not know why i realized that then. i thought maybe i can do that. maybe transitioning into the fbi, as a special agent there, working in a large office and able to stay there really until i wanted to retire. that is why i made that choice. >> you mentioned you are positive about the cia. it is almost counterintuitive because there are so many books that are kind of pooh-poohing the cia. your experiences with the fbi were not that great. we are not far from quantico,
virginia. that is the training center for the fbi. you went there not in the 1930's or 1940's or 1950's, but a decade ago. it was almost like you were there when j edgar hoover was in charge. it is extraordinary, the kind of rankcor you got. >> i had come for the cia, where i had no issues whatsoever between the genders at all and i think i was always naive that the fbi would be the same way. they are all part of kind of the same community and it could not have been more not like that. >> i had a hard time grasping it until you used a phrase that made total sense to me. you said it was junior high all over again.
it was cliques, people back each other. it was not you dealing with a jealous potential coworker. the instructors themselves were pushing this narrative that you should not be there. >> the narrative started on my first day at the academy. you are kind of in a theater-ish type of room. everyone stands up and says will be used to do and introduce themselves. i stood up and everyone started rolling their eyes and calling me a liar, that i never had worked in the cia. that was what was so shocking to me. you had not come there to do my background check. it is not that hard to sort of validate that. it is not difficult. that narrative -- before i even
-- could get out of the gate, that is what had happened. as ridiculous as that sounds, that is what everyone perpetuated the entire time i was there. >> it was more than that. some of the stories are out of the 1950's. you did a perfect interrogation exercise and then got chided because your pig of an instructor thought you were too good looking. >> again, i do not know if quantico still does this. one of the first things we did was interviewing witnesses. that was your first thing that you do at quantico you wear a uniform when you are there, but they ask that you wear a suit for this particular exercise. i wore a suit that i wore many times at the cia. i had no issues with what i had done procedurally in the interview, but what was the
problem was that my suit made the instructor of that program uncomfortable. i had to write an apology letter to him. >> it is worth buying the book just to see your first three drafts of the apology letter. it is where the book becomes almost pg-13. i was hoping you sent one to him. in the end, you have a class full of former lawyers. to get in the fbi, you have to be high-speed. you have to be top of your class. you are a former cia counterterrorism officer. you had it harder than everyone else. you talked about this earlier. it was not just i hide -- i had it harder, but so much attention was paid to you that other people -- who knows if they are trained to be fbi agent because the instructors were not even looking at them. >> as you progress through training, you do situational awareness for anyone familiar
with that. they would always make me the team leader for probably the most difficult exercises on purpose and i knew it was to see if i would mess up. you got me thinking about that. did they even test anyone else? you have to wonder if other people were qualified. there was so much focus on wanting me to mess up. i did not, but it was so stressful. i was losing my hair. they do not let me go to my grandpa's funeral but they let my colleague go to his grandpa's funeral. >> you missed one day when another guy missed multiple days. >> he missed 10 days. >> they said you cannot miss a single day. maybe this is an officer and a
gentleman moment where they are all standing there going i knew you could do it, we pushed you harder appear in know. it is the opposite. they wanted you to fail. they did have access your file. they should have seen how qualified you are for this. >> it did not matter. just from day one, that was what they decided they were going to do. it was very easy to check all that information. i was not lying about where i worked. why they focused on me, i am not 100% sure i'm ever going to know the answer to that question. what was disturbing was when i was there some of the people that were just as bad were the other women in my classroom, pretty mean to me. >> this sounds like an indictment on quantico. it did not stop there. your first duty station -- that is what i use in the military. your first fbi posting was the los angeles field office, where, right away, you are pigeonholed into doing the woman jobs.
>> that is not what i had as much of a problem with. when i first got my assignment, you go down, you open your envelope about where you are going sort of in front of everyone. i said los angeles field office and then it said the smaller resident agency i was assigned to and that created problems in my class because you should not be assigned to a resident agency. i did not ask to be. i assumed i would be working counterterrorism because that was what i did, but, instead, so much that the head guy did not believe that i should be there. they said, we need her clearance to work counterintelligence. i did not complain about it. it was surprising that they
would not take the background i had and put that to use in counterterrorism, not that i'm the best at it, but -- >> you're sitting in a room with george bush behind you fighting terrorists. it seems strange that -- yes. we are the spy museum, so we are happy you worked counterintelligence because we can talk about an interesting case. it is one some people may have heard of because it is that size of case. >> that was really -- worked out well for me with my book. he has been tried and convicted and all of that. that means we can talk about it. the whole family had been in the u.s. for over 20 years. some of them have become citizens. they worked in a company that was using radar cloaking technology for a nuclear class submarine and they took that
and gave it to china. we found out. what was really neat was it was every part of a cia operation. we got to do surreptitious entry. we got to do all those things in a short period of time. working that case, it was neat. >> we are going to make you read the book to find out how it turned out. it worked out well for the fbi. not so well for tracy. why did you end up quitting >> i do not want to say in full. you'll have to read my book to
find out what my ssa said to me that ultimately -- sort of threw me over the edge. i was not going to leave at that point. i was living at home at the time because it was close to where i was and saving money. i came home and told my dad. my parents are great parents. we are not going to fight your fight for you. you handle it. i told my dad. to say that he lost it would be an understatement. i think that moment was when i knew i cannot stay here. the biggest regret i have personally -- and it was funny. i was writing the book. i was writing a chapter about how i had so much regret but -- that i did not file complaints and do more. but my mom said, you did.
i think i had completely blocked it out everything that had happened -- completely blocked out everything that had happened. i wish i would have pursued it harder. >> for all the great work you did at cia and all the excellent work you did in fbi, after leaving you went to what you design -- were designed to do all along, which is be a teacher, which is where we ran into you in the first place. i could not believe it when i heard what you were having them do. you talk about the curriculum you developed. at a high school. think about that. these are 16 and 17-year-olds doing bioterrorism and other things. >> i am looking at some of them in the audience. >> i have a crazy amount of respect for not only you for challenging them but also for them to rise to that challenge. >> they are pretty amazing students, so that made my job easy. my first year at hockaday, they found out what i did and they would all hang out in my classroom. from there, i realized we need to have a class on this.
this is not a slam on anyone's intelligence, but there were a lot of basic geography questions. i do not mean that in a bad way. when russia invaded crimea, it was easy for me to pull up a map, show my students. that was so much easier for them to visually see that. i realized we need to sort of have a foreign affairs international relations, terrorism, espionage course. so on top of the ap classes i taught, i created that class. >> and they are doing podcasts. >> i wanted them to have a product at the end of it, a why are we doing this thing. the cia conducts threat assessments.
some of them are available unclasiffied on online. we followed their format and they have to assess the likelihood of a terrorist group. they have to pick it out of a hat. i cannot remember which one i did. and the likelihood that they would commit a bio attack and what they would do it with. then we send those to our elected officials. now they do a podcast. >> so if someone would like to listen to the podcast. >> where is it available? >> everywhere. >> these are high school students and it is extraordinary. >> i do not pick the topics. >> these are things you probably would think of in grad school or a high level of college. they are pretty amazing. this is something you have put
your talents and experience to work trying to pull up those below you. when you mentioned the fact that the other women in your quantico class were just as bad as the men. this is somewhat trying to remedy some of that. >> that is what is so great about girl security. she sits on the board as well. we design curriculum modules that go out across the u.s.. they also do board games once a year. war games. last year, it was nuclear proliferation in north korea. this year it may be election security. it is a way of having a much -- it is spring boarding off what i did at hockaday and getting a nationwide reach.
getting girls hooked up with mentors not just in intelligence but a nuclear research, with an essay, with woman mentors. it is nice to see another woman in that position. he makes the job more real to you. that is -- it makes the job more real to you or that is what we do. >> we are going to put this on youtube. for the people who hear this and go, how do i get involved in that? how does someone who wants to help this cause find out more? >> go to the girl security website. it is nonpartisan, nonprofit. you can donate. that will be fabulous. you can also sign up to be a mentor if you are in those types of jobs that we are looking for mentors. it is across the board. >> not just intelligence, not just military.
>> to include military too. >> we are going to open it to questions now. i have taken up too much of her time. you might have questions for her as well. if you do come and head to the microphones and line up. i love to hear myself talk. but this is your opportunity if you have any questions for tracy. >> if you are trapped, i can bring you a microphone here and you look trapped. you look trapped. >> i am working on a novel with bioterror and it is creepy to watch what is going on. what i proposed was that a persian in military intelligence but moved out
before don't ask, don't tell and they are now in civilian life is brought back in the cia or into intelligence because of a bizarre bio threat, which may involve aliens and other things. how plausible is that? >> the aliens part? >> how plausible is it that this would happen? he would be teaching high school, ap history in dallas. it is set in dallas. i have lived there. >> i do not think that is very possible. >> he is sent on excursions to investigate this threat. >> i do not foresee that a as
something that would happen, but it is a novel. >> moving onto the idea of expertise, there is a real problem within the agency where you went on to be a high school teacher or fbi agent. when you get people at the level of somebody you worked with and worked under, they are very tempting to companies that want to throw a lot of money at them. that is certainly true when it comes to normal cia officers. did you ever have the temptation to go that route? >> no. i think -- some of my friends did. my best friend from the agency did. i do not hold that against her. for me, i grew up -- my dad is a professor. my dad was in the military. both my grandparents were in the military. i just did not have any interest in going in the private sector, but that is me. i do not shame people who want to. everyone is in a different state. >> thank you for your talk and
book. when you're going through an experience like you did at the fbi academy, how do you deal with that emotionally? do you use your anger to spite them with your success? how do you deal with that? >> that is a great question. i do not think people realize, not to get too cerebral, how much that damage does to someone. i was bullied in elementary school, middle school, high school, but this is different. this is isolation on a huge scale. it was such falsities that hit at the core of who i was that it was very psychologically damaging. i went on antidepressants. i am very open about that. i think a lot of it was because
of that. you are so isolated. i obviously had lived in virginia at the time. in my room in quantico, i had a car. i could go to starbucks. i could get out. you feel like you're in this isolated box that you cannot get out of here and i do not know that i have this in the book. i hope i do not offend anyone in the audience. probably one of the worst rumors was i had just had a stage one breast cancer tumor removed. i was in a group shower and that started a rumor that i had breast augmentation, scars that i had and i have not, but i am sure you can imagine.
that was a process, having to go through and be re-victimized by that. it was on another level. that was how i dealt with it. another way was running. that was the way i dealt with the stress. i do not like to run with people. i never have. it was my way of being by myself. >> i'm thinking about it now. the fbi supposed to be the good guys. >> that was just my experience. >> going in, you are like, i'm joining the fbi, the good guys but the bottom falls out of that. >> they have not changed. i was writing an article on women in intelligence and law enforcement. the cia is not perfect. i'm sure plenty of people have had problems there, but the cia has at least been engaging in a dialogue about gender equality.
it was not completely successful, but it was at least a dialogue. hoover did not allow women to be special agents until 1972. they are already a lot of years behind and i'm not sure we realize how far they are behind and having it be normal that females are working alongside you. >> i want to say thank you for writing your book. i read it in, like, a day. >> i am glad you liked it. >> i have the utmost respect for you. i'm going to ask a tough question. through your career, if it is something you can talk about, what was your biggest mistake? more importantly, i am curious about what you learned from that. >> that is an easy question and
does not offend me at all. i think i said my biggest failure was, in my opinion, was not speaking out about my treatment at the fbi. i regret that. now i know there are other lawsuits making their way through the courts. that is devastating to me. in a way, i feel like -- i do not want to get upset. i feel like i could have done something about that. i feel guilty. what that has taught me now is that when there is something like that going on i speak up right away. i do not stop for two minutes. i think it helps me but that is my biggest regret. >> when you regret stuff like that, it is in hindsight. you may not have impacted so many lives at hockaday or
through girl security if you did not have that experience at fbi you might still be in fbi agent now and not mentor all the people you have without having that experience yourself. we do not know. we can go back. you cannot change your life. you look at what you have done since, and maybe that never would have happened if you had gone a different direction. >> thanks for making me feel better. >> we have a young lady over here. >> how did you get such an
important job at a young age >> i applied on a whim. why not? i had my resume on me because i was want to drop it off somewhere else that day. i saw there was a cia recruiter on campus and i thought that was interesting. i applied and they called. my biggest piece of advice is something you want to do is do not ever doubt your ability and whether you should or should not apply. i always tell this to my students. they always say i am not going to get into this college. they know what i'm talking about. i always say let the school tell you no. do not tell yourself no. it is kind of the same thing. a lot of people said they will not call you back, you will not get in. i think because i did not care i did not think about what would happen if they said no. i think that is what encouraged me to actually apply. >> first, i have a comment and a question.
the comment is that, yes, you may regret not fighting back at the fbi, but you're a writer. that is one of the most -- that is the biggest superpower in the world because it takes "i am telling" to a national level. you're 10 feet tall and bulletproof in that respect. the question i have is that i read an article on you that said you were born with floppy baby syndrome. >> i talk about that in my book. >> in that case, i cannot wait to get to that part of the book. i have it, too. and was later diagnosed with cp.
my question for you is what were your physical limitations as a kid and how did you overcome them? it seems like cia and fbi would be really physical jobs. >> cia, surprisingly not as much so than the fbi. that is a great question. i do not know that i have met anyone outside my family who had it. hypotonia is when you are born with underdeveloped muscle tone. i do not talk about it a lot because i think when people see me they do not think there is any issue. i do not walk until i was about three and a half maybe, which is very late. i do not hold my head up until i was about a year and a half. i was born in the 1970's. we did not have a lot of information about these things. doctors still do not know a lot about it, which is so weird.
you would figure we would have moved past this. for me, my biggest issues were with fast twitch muscle. for example, i can run really fast for really long distances. that has never been a problem for me. at the fbi -- we mean just barely by a 10th of a millimeter. the sprint was beyond difficult for me. for me, my only sort of lamentation. also, i trip and fall all the time. i wear heels all the time. for the amount of working out in physical therapy i do regularly, i do not show my
legs. if people saw my legs, they would be surprised at what they look like. i do a good job of hiding it. even my students probably do not know that i had it. i do not talk about it a lot. >> i have a few questions. first day of any new job is probably frightening to many, so i would be curious to know -- obviously you cannot reveal what your thoughts were on the first day and also what your -- where your headspace was on your first international assignment. i would think that probably was stressful. the third part of my question is how you feel about how tv portrays female cia agents.
>> it frustrates me because i think the women they portray are deeply flawed. i do think you want to have dimension to characters. that part i totally understand, but they are seriously flawed. i think -- almost to the point of only a crazy woman would do this. that does not sit well with me because i do not see men necessarily being portrayed in that manner. that is how i feel about that. my first day when i entered duty at cia, i was really nervous. i do not remember sleeping the night before. the group that came out of that were my two best friends, who were bridesmaids in my wedding. at the agency, you rely on your friends a lot. they sorta become your family. one has power of attorney over me. i am still really close to them. my first overseas assignment, i was not really .... i was
nervous. i did not know what to expect, but i did travel with a colleague, which was a blessing because they had gone before and were able to show me the ropes. i am glad i was not -- obviously a traveled leader by myself, but i'm glad on my first one i was with my colleague. >> i'm assuming most of your friends did not work for the cia. >> you tracy: did not always travel. i cannot talk about that -- >> you did not always travel. >> i cannot talk about that. >> two comment at a question first comment is i want to thank you for service to our great nation.
second comment is i am proud of what my daughter could become. you broke the glass ceiling. god bless you. >> you are going to make me cry. >> would you consider coming back to federal service? there are a number of means to come in even as a temporary person or political. >> i would absolutely come back to federal service. i think part of me -- yes, i would come back to federal service. >> you said that was not plausible when he asked in the pitch. >> what i think he meant was that the cia would come calling back for me. i do not think that piece is possible. >> you should.
>> there are very talented people there doing great jobs. >> what do you need to accomplish before you would entertain that? do you need girl security to reach a certain level? since you are 25 years old still, you have plenty of time. >> i am in my 40's. >> any other questions anyone might have? >> thanks for being here and thanks for your service. what do you see as the biggest threat facing the united states today? >> a couple things. inside the u.s., i think domestic terrorism is a big problem and the fact that it is not prosecutable right now is another huge problem. i can only talk to the fbi from when i was there. i cannot speak to right now.
when we were there, i did not feel it was taken seriously. why i feel that way is because -- again, i do not want to upset men. sometimes it is a gender narrative. some men got into the fbi to be on the swat team, be on hostage rescue, takedown games. that is great. we need people to do that, but they look at being on it a message terrorism squad or the cyber squad or intelligence squad as being lesser than and i think that needs to change. that mentality needs to change. if your whole heart is not in it, you're not going to do a good job. i think more money needs to be allocated to it as well and it needs to be a prosecutable crime. some people disagree with me on that, but that is my opinion. from the outside, international,
i feel like a big problem -- the reason i think that is a big problem is because failed states breed terrorists. even if you look at iraq. dictators tend to be conducive to terrorist groups forming, they love instability. right now, libya has instability. it is having instability right now in somalia and yemen. we know these countries are unstable. if you look at those countries, i would guess -- i do not have access to classified information, but i would guess we are seeing an uptick of terrorist activity. so that is two.
>> where'd you come down on some of the controversial issues that surround cia? you mentioned one in the book we talk about eit. i am sure your students are asking questions about snowden, about privacy, about the intelligence agency in our lives. how do you answer those questions that are not black-and-white? >> snowden i feel is black-and-white. [laughter] >> i know your answer. when you get into stuff, you are very grey. enhanced interrogation, the so-called torture program of the cia.
you are very grey. >> people got mad about that. someone gave me a one star review because she was real upset that i did not condemn bush and the program. i can only be honest with how i feel. what i try to do particularly in the classroom -- i think my students will tell you i'm pretty apolitical in the classroom. i try to be. i get them the facts and they can figure it out. they know how i feel about snowden simply because i feel like i have some facts to back up my statement. i usually don't make that kind of statement. i think with eit, the reason i am grey is that you have to look at why it was done in the first place. eit was not necessarily gaining
information. >> it's interesting to see you say i don't agree should torture, torture doesn't work. >> but torture and eit are not the same thing. >> i want to ink you for coming. >> thank you for having me. >> for anyone who is not considering checking out this book, it is one of the most interesting ones. reading the narrative is fantastic to get, i was so mad so many times in this book. the one thing she does is changes all the names. but i wish you had publicly shamed some of the people at quantico. >> my publisher's attorney said that was not possible. >> thank you so much for being here. she is going to stay & sign some books, if you want to purchase the book and have it signed afterward. i implore you, please, don't rush up here to talk to her. we are going to get her out
up next, we visit the international spy museum in washington d.c. to tour their exhibit on cold war berlin. our guide is league curator alexis albion, explains how the city came to be divided after world war ii and she shows us artifacts used by the east german's to spy on visitors and control their own citizens. >> hello, i'm