He may be the best-known "Anonymous" man in Washington these days. Over the past two weeks, he has appeared for interviews -- always in the shadows, his face unseen -- on almost every national television network. He is a 23-year veteran of the CIA and the author of a new book, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror." As a CIA employee, he had to submit his manuscript for agency review. The CIA allowed him and his Virginia publisher, Brassey's, to go ahead with the book on the condition that he maintain his anonymity.
By requiring him to withhold his identity but allowing him to publish as Anonymous, the CIA has actually drawn attention to the book (it briefly alighted on Amazon.com's best-selling top 10 last week). That prompted the Washington speculation machine to wonder whether the book somehow serves the CIA's interests.
At this point, his name is about the only basic biographical detail that hasn't become known. He writes in his book that he has spent most of his career at "headquarters," where he has worked as an analyst for the past 17 years, "focusing exclusively on terrorism, Islamic insurgencies, militant Islam and the affairs of South Asia." Other biographical details come from reporters and published reports: From 1996 until he was transferred in 1999, he was in charge of a special office set up to oversee the intelligence effort on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. His transfer wasn't voluntary; his blunt manner and strident views apparently did not sit well with some in the intelligence community, and he was taken off the al Qaeda portfolio. He returned to the counterterrorism field on Sept. 12, 2001, but not specifically to the al Qaeda desk. He has told interviewers that he wrote "Imperial Hubris" to send a message, and he minces no words in his criticism of White House and CIA leadership. An example: He scorns "senior leaders" as "moral cowards" for ignoring warnings he says they received about al Qaeda.
An ardent critic of intelligence officials and political leaders who leak classified information to the media, he says that he used only unclassified material in writing the book.