Surreptitous entry: Our big adventure
One of our NATO intelligence counterparts (neither a Brit nor the Belgian M. Van Den Plas), told us he was about to be reassigned. He feared his replacement might be careless with the identities of his covert agents. In his office, over coffee laced with brandy, he showed us where he kept the files on the handful of covert agents he was running against the East German Intelligence Service (Stasi) and the KGB.
With a broad wink, he invited us to his farewell party to be held at the Belgian-run Casino: the Officers Club, bar, restaurant, and BOQ where Mr. Price and I were living. He said his entire staff would be at the farewell party. Wink, wink. As we left his office, Mr. Price took careful mental note of the make and model of the locked file cabinet and of the lock on the door to his office.
On the night of the big farewell party, Mr. Price, wearing latex gloves, went through the door lock and the lock on the key cabinet like a hot scoop through ice cream. We closed the drapes, got out our Leica light kit, spread the precious covert agent files on a table and happily clicked away with our Minox BII cameras until all the files were photographed.
Scooping up the precious paper files and making sure we left no traces behind; we made a surreptitious exfiltration (spy lingo) and headed for a local park, looking for an outdoor grill. We arranged the files so they would burn and watched as they converted from paper to smoke.
That done, we headed for the Casino to join the farewell party for our NATO counterpart. He greeted us warmly at the entrance to the bar. We gave him a reassuring wink as we slipped him the two film cartridges.
He breathed a sigh of relief and handed us each a glass of champagne. We only stayed long enough to make our manners to the other NATO intelligence agents and went to bed because we had orders to go to the Netherlands the next day to conduct a practice security alert at one of the U.S. nuclear storage sites.
On the drive to Holland, we contemplated all the rules, regulations, and laws we had broken in order to keep the identities of some covert agents from falling into possibly careless hands. We comforted ourselves with Mark Twains credo: "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." While Mr. Price drove, I took a nap.
When we reached the Dutch border, we showed our U.S. government passports and were allowed to enter the land of tulips, wooden shoes, and delicious rijsttafel with nasi goreng. Little did we know that was the last time we would be allowed to enter the Netherlands.
But we went merrily on our way, knowing our Dutch NATO counterparts would greet us warmly and take us to our favorite Dutch-Indonesian restaurant, a secluded place to work out how we would conduct a routine security exercise. What could possibly go wrong?
Nota bene: These semi-spook stories will continue until morale improves.
©2022. William Hamilton.