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ON COMPANY BUSINESS: The CIA i me to squel …,.._ ice, o ..,_…..,, …t.t…,., ._,.,*,.,,.,…,.. v .z,,z. …_.,..__…..,,…1.,…,,…k.. ,…… ._:,,. 4.4..t ,…. exam-o punish aring to crit By John Stockwell Austin In August 1978, two months after the publication of my book, In Search of Enemies, film makers Allen Francovich and Howard Dratch called me to ask for an interview. They were making a film study of the CIA. They didn’t tell me their personal political views and I didn’t think it appropriate for me to ask. They only said they were interviewing crediblepeople on both sides of the CIA controversy the John Stockwells and the William Colbys. I consented; I was trying to make myself available to all responsible journalists. When the long-haired, bespectacled Francovich arrived with his crew in Austin, I took them to the lovely green nook where Barton Creek joins the Colorado River. I sat on the end of a piling and a camera was focused in my face. Francovich asked me quekions; Dratch ran the tape-recorder, a young woman operated the camera. I was nervous and they assured me it didn’t show. The light hurt my eyes, making me squint. They were sympathetic; and yet I couldn’t escape the feeling that they were also delighted with my discomfort it’s the sort of thing that penetrates masks and humanizes interviewees. I had had that same feeling many times in the summer of 1978 as I did the publicity tour for my book. I had it, for exam p16, when Mike Wallace interviewed me for 60 Minutes in a posh hotel overlooking Central Park in Manhattan. Perhaps my feeling was merely an association: the setting of film interviews too clearly resembles CIA or KGB interrogation rooms. The victim is isolated on a bare pedestal of some kind; bright lights glare in his eyes, recording gadgets are thrust in his face, people hover just beyond the lights, and the interrogator, suave, polished, professional, bombards him with questions. I couldn’t help but wonder about Francovich. Who was he? Was I being set up? Was he making a film designed to discredit me? Amazing things can be done with a bit of raw film and some judicial cutting and splicing. Sober adults can be made to look like autistic children; Marine drill sergeants can appear angelic. I knew only too well; the CIA had had offices that specialized in such techniques. What was Francovich going to do to John Stockwell? What was Mike Wallace going to do? And others who were interviewing me that summer? The world of television cameras and journalists’ spiral notebooks was a strange, alien place for someone who by choice had spent his life behind the scenes, undercover, in isolated provincial capitals of the world: Ouagadougou, Bujumbura, Tay Ninh. As it turned out, Francovich did nothing with his first bit of film it turned out blank. Even professional cinematographers make foolish mistakes. We reshot the interview six months later on the patio of a friend’s house a buddy of mine from Burundi and Saigon in Mill Valley, California, when I lectured at Berkeley. I didn’t hear from Francovich for the next year as my own publicity and lecture tours ran their courses and I travel. led abroad, pursuing film projects of my own. My book came out in paperback. I began writing a novel, an apolitical adventure story about the real world in which I had lived. And the government sued me to punish me for publishing In Search of Enemies. Then, last month I was again in California, this time to confer with attorneys First Amendment specialists. I called Francovich, curious to see how his film project was coming. Perhaps I could screen it in his studio, or at least talk to him about it. My timing, it turned out, was fabulous. The film, titled On Company Business, was completed; it e ,.n. aft, THE TEXAS OBSERVER