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The globe-trotting life of a real double agent

Mike Baker

Spy consultant

Former occupation: Covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations.

Current occupation: “My day job is that I am CEO of an organization called Veritas Global. That’s an information and risk-management company. We provide intelligence and security assistance to multinational financial institutions, large law firms. If a large oil company is having issues in the former Soviet Union -- if they have security concerns -- we will go in and provide assistance in terms of looking at the threats. It all comes down to information. Whoever has the best information will win.”

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Moonlights as: Consultant on the BBC/A&E; spy series “MI-5,” whose third season just wrapped and whose first two seasons are on DVD. Baker also is a spy expert who appears on news programs.

Show business: “I know the guy who created [‘MI-5'] and so years ago I started with him about a concept for a [spy] show. What happened early on was dialogue with the writers and producers about what the world was like in terms of the intelligence agencies and what the intelligence communities are like and what MI-5 actually does -- how they interact with the CIA, how they interact in the U.K. with Scotland Yard and other government agencies. There are conversations with the writers and discussions about what is going to be important -- like North Korea, eco-terrorism -- and what will be the points on which they can build plot lines. Then there are script reviews -- reading script drafts and answering specific questions.

“The ‘MI-5' guys are very good about constantly coming back and saying, ‘We have got an idea, but is it realistic?’ ”

On-camera gig: “The BBC wanted to do a program called ‘Spy School,’ and they asked if I would be one of the hosts. It was a reality show, and terrific fun.

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“They took eight people off the streets of the United Kingdom and built a spy school. These two British officers and I were the presenters and trainers for the school. Each week someone was eliminated. Now they have been talking in the U.S. about transferring it over here. I don’t know where that stands.”

TV news: “I mostly talk about intelligence issues, counterterrorism, the situation in Iraq, paramilitary operations. That [job] has developed over the course of three years or so. I have a very good relationship with my former employer [the CIA].... I am not going to get on [TV] and say something out of turn. We have an obligation when you leave to keep your yap shut about the important, sensitive issues of intelligence.”

I spy: “I didn’t plan on [a career in espionage]. It never occurred to me. Some people who were in the business essentially approached me. I was out of university at the time and I was beginning what I thought was going to be a career in journalism. I had some acquaintances who essentially called up and said, ‘Are you happy with what you are doing?’ I was intrigued, and one thing led to another and I was inside working [at the CIA].

“I did go all around the world. That is part of the excitement to do that sort of thing. I spent most of my time, 15-plus years, overseas. It was a good time to be with the agency, the early ‘80s to the late ‘90s. There were a lot of things going on.”

Master of disguise: “I spent all my time in operations, operating an alias and operating as someone else. That is an important part. It is not everything, but it’s an aspect. I love the role-playing because it gives you a lot of latitude to use creativity. Plus, it’s a rush.”

The private sector: “A friend of mine is a British fellow I have known for some time and he was with the British version of the SEALs and then moved into MI-5. We both had the same interests. We wanted to get out at a certain point and see if could go be successful in private business. Part of it was the profit motive. We wanted to make more money. We left the services at the same time. We joined a large European start-up that was involved in information services.

“Then I left to start my own company with this British colleague. We built that up over several years, and then I took over Veritas Global.”

Resides: Washington, D.C.

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Age: 44. “I don’t look a day over 43. I have that going for me.”

Scripts completed: “I have one. I guess everybody does have one in their desk drawer. I have held on to it. I don’t know why. I would rather keep it in my desk and think it is good, than marked up with red ink!”


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