Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue

The CIA station in Katmandu arranged for an official ceremony to be held more than an hour away from the capital and for all foreign diplomats to be invited. The agency knew the East Germans could not refuse to attend. That would leave Groat’s team about three hours to work. Posing as tourists, they arrived in Katmandu two days before the mission and slipped into a safe house. On the appointed day, they left the safe house wearing disguises crafted by a CIA specialist—whole-face latex masks that transformed them into Nepalese, with darker skin and jet-black hair. At the embassy, Groat popped the front door open with a small pry bar. Inside, the intruders peeled off their stifling masks and with a bolt-cutter removed a padlock barring the way to the embassy's security area. Once in the code room, Groat and two teammates strained to lift the safe from the floorboards and wrestled it down the stairs and out to a waiting van.

They drove the safe to the American Embassy, where it was opened—and found to contain no code machine. Based on faulty intelligence, the CIA had sent its break-in team on a Himalayan goose chase.

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