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High life

My dinner with CIA spooks

They spilled the beans on the good guys, the bad guys (they’re everywhere) and who is the spooks’ favourite

27 May 2017

9:00 AM

27 May 2017

9:00 AM

New York

Although both guilt and innocence fascinate me, I’m not so sure that there is such a thing as redemption. I know, it sounds very unchristian, but there you have it. For me bad guys remain bad, and good guys ditto.

I didn’t make it to the memorial service for either Rupert Deen or Alexander Chancellor, my first editor — two friends not known for feeling too guilty, nor for their innocence, come to think of it. I’m still in the Bagel and need to stay here because at my advanced age I’m finishing the last part of a TV show, or perhaps film, as yet untitled about two pre-embalmed society figures produced by Graydon Carter, the Vanity Fair honcho and Donald Trump’s cheerleader-in-chief.

Mind you, those friends who have met the man in the white suit could do worse than have my old boss Algy Cluff pay tribute to them. I hope that the equivalent of Algy will come up to honour Roger Moore, who was a Speccie reader and a good friend of mine. He was a man who was a very big movie star but never took himself seriously and was the nicest human being ever.


Reminiscing about Rupert, Algy brought the house of God down with his icy, Jeeves-like wit. It seems that Rupert’s mother was a replica of Mrs Wilberforce in The Ladykillers, rather absentmindedly greeting Christine Keeler when she arrived at the Deen house in the south of France in the middle of the scandal. Rupert’s father was just like Rupert, without a scintilla of ambition in his body. He once spent seven days alone in his room trying to remember the combination to his safe, refusing all food and drink. Finally, eureka! The number was 1234.

Rupert Deen was lazy, but not too lazy to organise a cruise and invite all his good friends, of which he had many. The fact that the guests had to pony up for the cruise once they were afloat was neither here nor there. One time Rupert went to see Algy because the situation was very bad. Insolvency was knocking rather loudly at his door, so the oilman and ex-Spectator chairman had to throw caution to the wind. The day after, crossing Pont Street, our ex-chairman was almost killed by a speeding but gleaming brand-new Porsche purchased the day before by Rupert Deen.

I met Rupert very long ago, when he was tripping the light fantastic with Lady Charlotte Curzon, at just about the time when he was interviewed by a BBC hack about the strikes of the Heath era and uttered his most famous words: ‘Pheasants are for shootin’, dogs retrievin’ and Welsh for going down coal mines.’ Once repeated by the BBC, his remark helped Harold Wilson win a squeaker.

Otherwise things are hunky-dory. Last week I had dinner with about ten spooks, ex-CIA and other secret services, and managed to get rather high while listening to some of the tales. Basically, they were unloading their frustrations with the Deep State. But aren’t you the Deep State? I asked one of them. I used to be, now I’m retired. According to the spooks, the bad guys are senators McCain and Edwards on the Republican side, all the Democrats, and in the Trump camp Dina Powell, Reince Priebus and the Kushner son-in-law. The spooks’ favourite: Steve Bannon, who also happens to be my number one.

I imagine the business of spying makes one a bit paranoid at times. Some of the Trump circle are supposedly Saudi and Israeli agents, and yet…. Saudis and Israelis are known to have bribed and subverted Washington like no others, and when you think what those two countries are doing, and getting away with, I begin to see the spies’ point.

Next Monday will be John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday, one he obviously did not live to see thanks to what my spook buddies claim to have been an inside job. I remember that awful day well. JFK was having it off with Liz, Pam and a French youngster by the name of… better not. She’s still around. The trouble with the French gal was that she didn’t want to leave the White House once she had been serviced by the president. I knew a relative of hers and, believe it or not, he asked me to give her a lecture. (She was a regular visitor to the White House and regularly made a scene when asked to clear the decks.) That’s one assignment I dodged, and soon afterwards she was dispatched back to Paris where she had a very good time for a short while with a young Taki. Her favourite song was ‘Itsi Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’.

Well, now we have the Russian question, which the spooks say has been invented by enemies of Trump.

What surprises me is how much honesty in the media has declined. It is now standard procedure for the New York Times and Washington Post to publish the dubious ‘fact’ that Trump spilled highly classified information in a meeting with top Russian diplomats And then the ‘fact’ is confirmed by the Times’s public editor, one Liz Spayd, in highfalutin and pompous language worthy of any yellow newspaper in Athens or Istanbul. The spooks may be right. The bad guys are everywhere.

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