A Cappuccino with the CIA

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The invitation came in an email, written in the ingratiating tone of the Nigerian prince looking to wire his millions into my checking account, and delivered the same jolt of giddy disbelief: Officers of the Near East Affinity Group at the Central Intelligence Agency wanted me to address them on a variety of topics, including Persian poetry and literature. My day with them would be as long or as short as I wished it to be, and could include a tour of the C.I.A. museum, a luncheon and a visit to the gift shop.

This detail made it clear the email was not spam: “Due to the budget constraints we are unable to pay a speaker’s fee, however we can reimburse the cost of travel, lodging and meals.”

For some 17 years, I’d been an editor for a Persian magazine whose chief was accused by Tehran of running it with $20 million from the C.I.A. Now the agency had truly come knocking, but destitute; and the Persian magazine had gone under 10 years earlier.

The New York Times International Weekly, March 25, 2014 https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/opinion/a-cappuccino-with-the-cia.html