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One would like to think that we have a CIA that is adept enough that even if portions of this book implicate Iran in terrorism it probably played no part in, it's a matter of deliberate disinformation. At any rate, folks like the Washington Post's David Ignatius have checked the background of the pseudonymous author and confirmed that he did at least have some relationship with US intelligence before defecting to the West from Iran. And the story he has to tell, of passing information about the inner working of the regime to the CIA, makes for exciting reading even if dubious in places.

The framework of the story makes up in drama for some of the author's understandable inartfulness as a storyteller. "Khalili" was a student in America at the time of the Iranian Revolution but shared in the excitement of his people at toppling the corrupt and oppressive Shah. In particular, he shared these emotions with two friends, one of whom became part of the leftwing Mujaheddin that opposed the ayatollahs, the other of whom became part of the Revolutionary Guard and advanced therein. Khalili's own growing disillusionment with the Revolution reached a breaking point when the former and his sister were tortured and killed by the new government. He began to feed information to the CIA, including material he observed or learned about while working on computer systems for the Guard and much that he learned from his more senior Guardsman friend. Khalili was frustrated by what he felt was a failure by American presidents to act on intelligence like that he was providing, but he also shows that his revelations were typically met with shock and/or disbelief. If we really were as ignorant of the internal workings of Iran as his book suggests, then he was an invaluable resource.

Even as he engaged in this espionage, Khalili was consumed by guilt, not just for "betraying" his friend and his nation, but because he kept his role hidden from his wife, who held him in some contempt for his outward loyalty to a regime she too hated. Eventually, he told her the true story and she, of course, forgave him. The reader will be thanful to him for his moral courage and grateful that he's chosen to share his tale as we head towards an apparent confrontation with Iran.


Grade: (B)


Reza Khalili Links:

    -AUTHOR PAGE: Reza Khalili (Simon & Shuster)
    -BOOK SITE: A Time to Betray EXCERPT: Chapter 1: TRUTH OR LIES (from A Time to Betray The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran By Reza Kahlili)
    -ESSAY: An ex-CIA spy explains Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons: Iran’s leaders say nuclear weapons are forbidden by Islamic law. What I’ve seen suggests otherwise. (Reza Kahlili, March 24, 2010, CS Monitor)
    -ESSAY: Are the Actions of Iran’s Leaders Truly Unacceptable to America? (Reza Kahlili, 4/16/10, Townhall)
    -ESSAY: Time for America to Act on Iran (Reza Kahlili, 2/22/10, American Thinker)
    -INTERVIEW: Our Man Inside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (Michael J. Totten, 4/06/10)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Matt Welch, Reza Kahlili & A Time to Betray (The Ed Morrissey Show. 4/07/10)
    -INTERVIEW: An Iranian Secret Agent's Message to America: As the world watches, Iran is in the final stages of transforming into a nuclear-armed state. Reza Aslan talks to a former Revolutionary Guard turned CIA agent about what's at stake. (Reza Aslan, 4/04/10, Daily Beast)
    -INTERVIEW: Former CIA Agent in Iran Comes In from the Heat: Going public for the first time in an article and interview on Pajamas Media, an Iranian who infiltrated Iran's Revolutionary Guard for the CIA accuses the mullahs of orchestrating — among other things — the 1988 explosion of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. (Roger Simon, 7/08/08, PJM)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: with Reza Khalili (The Dennis Miller Show, April 6, 2010)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview: Former CIA Agent In Iran's Revolutionary Guard Says 'Regime Is After Nuclear Arms' (Radio Free Europe)
    -INTERVIEW: Compass Q&A: Reza Kahlili (Kevin Sullivan, RealClearWorld)
    -ARTICLE: Iranian double agent claims Iran behind Lockerbie bombing (Oliver Farrimond, 4/25/10, Deadline Scotland)
    -ESSAY: FBI agent dismisses CIA spy’s claim of Iran ties to Pan Am 103 bomb (Jeff Stein, 4/12/10, Washington Post: Spy Talk)
    -REVIEW: of A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran By Reza Kahlili (David Ignatius, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of A Time to Betray (Marcia L. Sprules, Library Journal)
    -REVIEW: of A Time to Betray (Elise Cooper, Black Five)

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