In 'The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story', former CIA operatives Bob and Dayna Baer describe how they met on the job in one of the most dangerous places in the world -- and fell in love.
Split, Croatia: DAYNA
I think Bob's joking when he points at the station wagon parked out front of Split airport, the one we're about to drive into Sarajevo. It's lime green with a tangerine Orangina painted down the side. What's worse, it's right-hand drive, a British Vaux-hall. Bosnia, Croatia -- everywhere in the Balkans -- is left-hand drive. It just makes no sense to me, driving a billboard on wheels in to a city the Serbs have been pounding with artillery and sniping at since the civil war started in 1992. Does he want to give them something to shoot at?
Bob catches my look and asks if it's a little too early for me. I can't tell if he means it sarcastically. But it's only six thirty, and I decide to keep quiet and let him think I'm sleepy. Anyway there's nothing I can do now. Although I don't work for him, he outranks me. And that's not to mention that I don't have another way to get to Sarajevo.
I tell myself it'll be fine. We'll part ways as soon as we get to Sarajevo. But the car does break every rule in the book. From day one, they drilled into our heads never to drive a car people will remember. You drive something plain vanilla, like a dirty, dinged-up brown sedan. People forget plain and ugly things. This station wagon is definitely ugly, but it's a car no one will ever forget. An ice-cream truck, bells jingling, would attract less attraction.
Truth is, I think Bob's a little nutty. I met him in Sarajevo the first time when Washington cabled us to meet an operative going by the name of Harold. "Harold's an alias, right?" I asked Charlie, an ex-Marine pilot I work with. We both wondered who'd agree to an alias like Harold. The only other thing the cable said was that he'd wait for us at eleven at a fish restaurant on the Zeljeznica River, ten miles outside of town.
CLICK HERE to watch an interview with Bob and Dayna.
It was a soft spring day. Small, fluffy clouds drifted across the sky, and the leaves were just coming out. The restaurant was packed with locals drinking and chain smoking. "Riley, Charlie!" a voice called out. It was obviously Harold. He stood up, motioning us to come over, like he was berthing an airliner. He was at a table with a half-dozen men, talking and waving a half-defoliated cigar. Charlie and I didn't move, so Harold got up, said something to the men that made them laugh, and threaded his way through the tables to join us.
He stuck out his hand. "Hi, I'm Bob," he said. So much for the Harold alias. We found a free table in the corner. Washington hadn't told us what we were supposed to do for Bob, only to hear him out. Bob said we should have lunch, and recommended the grilled trout. When we told him we couldn't stay, he got right to it: headquarters had sent him to Sarajevo to go after Hizballah, the Lebanese militant group backed by Iran. It had set up in Bosnia at the beginning of the civil war to fight with the Bosnian Muslims -- at the behest of Iran. "Done right, we'll pin 'em down like butterflies," Bob proclaimed.