The Colonel’s Mistake by Dan Mayland


Agent–Typically a citizen of a foreign country who has been recruited—by a CIA operations officer—to spy for the United States. A CIA agent is not an employee of the CIA, although he may receive money or other forms of payment in return for his services.

Ambassador–The US ambassador to a foreign country is an employee of the State Department and serves as a representative of the president of the United States. A CIA station chief is supposed to inform the ambassador of all CIA operations taking place in that foreign country. 

BTC Pipeline—The acronym for the 1,100-mile-long Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline which transports oil from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea via Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. 

Camp Ashraf—A large camp in eastern Iraq, fifty miles from the border with Iran, that for years served as the headquarters of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian resistance group. Saddam Hussein gave the camp to the MEK in 1986, but the new government in Iraq has taken steps to shut it down.

Case Officer—The same thing as a CIA operations officer; case officer is an older term, but is still often used.

Central Eurasia Division—The division within the CIA’s National Clandestine Service that is believed to cover Russia and nations that were formerly a part of the Soviet Union.

DoD— Acronym for the US Department of Defense.

IAEA— Acronym for the International Atomic Energy Agency, a nuclear watchdog group affiliated with the United Nations.

KGB— Acronym for the komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti, which in Russian means Committee for State Security. The KGB was the intelligence agency of the Soviet Union and was disbanded when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. 

Lada—A cheap, popular car produced in Russia. 

MEK— Acronym for the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), which means people’s mojahedin. An armed Iranian resistance group.

National Clandestine Service—The part of the CIA that does the actual spying.

National Security Council—Comprised of the US president, vice president, national security advisor, secretary of state, secretary of defense, the director of the CIA, the director of national intelligence, and several other key members of the executive branch. The council is the principal forum used by the president and his team to consider foreign policy issues.

Near East Division—Officially known as the Near East and South Asia division. The division within the CIA’s National Clandestine Service that is believed to cover the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Niva—A four-wheel-drive version of a Lada, which is a cheap, popular car produced in Russia.

NOC—Acronym for nonofficial cover. A CIA NOC is a CIA operations officer serving in a foreign country without the security of a diplomatic cover identity.

Operations Officer—An employee of the CIA who works for the division of the CIA known as the National Clandestine Service. 

Qods Force—The special operations division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Translates as Jerusalem force.

Revolutionary Guard—An elite Iranian military organization with its own army, navy and air force. It is separate from the regular Iranian military. 

Seventh Floor—Shorthand for the leadership of the CIA, most of whom have offices on the seventh floor of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Special Activities Division—A division within the CIA’s National Clandestine Service that will often carry out paramilitary operations.

Station Chief—An employee of the CIA who oversees all CIA operations that take place within a particular country, or region within a country; a station chief would manage operations officers and consult closely with the ambassador.