The last of the old times spies, intelligence and operational legend Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, died yesterday, associates confirm. He was 83 years old.
A former long time CIA operations officer, Clarridge founded the agency's counter-terrorism center and was its first director. Among other positions, he was chief of the CIA's Latin American division from 1981-1987.
Clarridge's name first came to public attention during the Iran-Contra affair, when he was indicted on charges of lying to Congress. He later was pardoned, and went on to run his own company, described by some as being a "private CIA," similar to World War II's Office of Strategic Services.
Most recently, Clarridge made news in connection with Dr. Ben Carson, effectively destroying Carson's presidential campaign after serving as an adviser. In a 2015 New York Times article, Clarridge was quoted as saying Carson may not be absorbing “one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East.”
Clarridge was intimately involved in sensitive operations and missions with only one aim: to defend and preserve the United States of America, a longtime associate told AMI.
"He changed history," the associate said. "He was the most respected CIA officer of the 1970's and early 1980's. He was the best.
You don't find many who are a cross between M (the head of British MI-6) and James Bond."
The associate ascribed to Clarridge multiple daring and brilliant operations.
"His most astonishing operation was to destroy Abu Nidal, the most vicious terrorist organization of its time," the associate said.
At the time, Yasser Arafat's PLO was so intimidating that the world's diplomats were afraid they would be killed if they refused to do Arafat's bidding, the associate said.
"Dewey inflitrated Abu Nidal and wiped it out through internal purges."
Clarridge was ill in recent months, and succumbed yesterday, associates confirm.
The CIA did not respond to a weekend request for comment, and has not issued a statement regarding the death of its former officer.