National Public Radio's (NPR) Michele Norris interviewed Emerson Journalism Chair Ted Gup on Tuesday, January 5, about the seven Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers recently killed in Afghanistan.
Gup is the author of The Book of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA. In the interview, Norris asked him about the way the CIA handles deaths. Gup explained that the agency attempts to handle deaths with compassion, but that compassion is always balanced against the need for security.
“It's a very complicated matter, as you can well imagine. There's a certain inherent contradiction in the notion of a memorial wall [The CIA commemorates its dead at a memorial wall at the agency's headquarters in Virginia] to remember the deeds of the heroism of those whose names you don't know and whose deeds you don't know, which is not to challenge the legitimacy of the memorial—it's quite moving.”
Gup interviewed hundreds of current and former CIA case officers to tell the stories behind the stars on the CIA memorial wall. “In the aggregate, the stories of the stars form a kind of constellation that, once connected, reveal not only the CIA's history but something of its soul as well,” he writes in the book.
A former investigative reporter for The Washington Post and Time magazine, Gup is also the author of Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life (Doubleday, 2007), which won the 2008 Goldsmith Book Prize from Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.
Listen to the full interview on NPR.