Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau: Author News
Agent Provocateur


Mar 08, 2017

By Hara Estroff Marano
March 7, 2017

Joe Navarro was a young FBI agent with a special expertise. He managed to trap one of the cleverest spies of the Cold War. The case gives a new meaning to counter-intelligence.

It was Rod Ramsay's cockiness that first struck Joe Navarro. At 27, three years out of the army, Ramsay was living in a Tampa trailer park with his mother and flipping pancakes for not quite a living. Yet on that August day in 1988, he didn't hesitate to shower disdain on one of the two federal agents who had dropped by, just for asking some questions about his military service that he deemed too mindless for intelligent conversation.

In Germany, earlier that morning, a former U.S. Army officer, Clyde Conrad, had been arrested on suspicion of passing top-secret military plans to Russia through Hungary. For years, Conrad had been the chief document custodian at the Eighth Infantry Division based in Bad Kreuznach, West Germany, before retiring to live in the countryside with his German wife.

Navarro, an FBI agent in Tampa, and Al Eways, an Army intelligence officer down from Washington, were among the many intelligence agents fanning out across the United States that late-summer morning, interviewing anyone who might have had any knowledge about or contact with Conrad at Bad Kreuznach. Ramsay had been stationed there from 1983 to 1985. Forty-five miles from Frankfort, the base was a critical link in the defense of the West. Its vaults held detailed documents about troop size and movements of Army and NATO forces, contingency plans for unusual events, manuals on military signaling systems, tactical nuclear weapons plans, even nuclear codes in the event that the Cold War suddenly, catastrophically heated up.

For Navarro, it was a routine visit, one of hundreds of interviews he conducted every year. No one answered the door at the trailer, but a neighbor directed the agents to a nearby tract house where Ramsay was thought to be house-sitting for a friend. After scrambling to throw on some clothes, Ramsay appeared at the door. Tall, scrawny, and jittery, he was noticeably relieved when Navarro explained that they just needed to pick his brain about the Eighth Infantry Division.

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