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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

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Jun 19, 2019

When diplomacy fails and war is unwise, the president calls on the CIA’s Special Activities Division—a highly-classified branch of the CIA and the most effective black operations force in the world. Almost every American president since World War II has asked the CIA to conduct sabotage, subversion, and even assassination. To unveil the secret world of the president’s guerrilla warfare corps, Pulitzer Prize finalist Annie Jacobsen took the stage with excerpts from Surprise, Kill, Vanish, her thriller-like exposition of the world of paramilitary and intelligence work.

Jacobsen shared exclusive interviews with members of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service (equivalent to the Pentagon’s generals), its counterterrorism chiefs, targeting officers, and Special Activities Division’s Ground Branch operators who conduct today’s close-quarters killing operations around the world. And every operation they report—however unsettling—is legal. Join Jacobsen for a gripping dive into the complex world of individuals working in treacherous environments populated with killers, connivers, and saboteurs.

Annie Jacobsen is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Area 51 and Operation Paperclip and the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Pentagon’s Brain. She was a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine.

Recorded live at The Forum at Town Hall Seattle on May 28, 2019.