Three Minutes to Doomsday

Three Minutes to Doomsday

An Agent, A Traitor, and the Worst Espionage Breach in US History

Book - 2017
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An intense cat-and-mouse game played between two brilliant men in the last days of the Cold War, this shocking insider's story shows how a massive giveaway of secret war plans and nuclear secrets threatened America with annihilation.

In 1988 Joe Navarro, one of the youngest agents ever hired by the FBI, was dividing his time between SWAT assignments, flying air reconnaissance, and working counter-intelligence. But his real expertise was "reading" body language. He possessed an uncanny ability to glean the thoughts of those he interrogated.

So it was that, on a routine assignment to interview a "person of interest"--a former American soldier named Rod Ramsay--Navarro noticed his interviewee's hand trembling slightly when he was asked about another soldier who had recently been arrested in Germany on suspicion of espionage. That thin lead was enough for the FBI agent to insist to his bosses that an investigation be opened.

What followed is unique in the annals of espionage detection--a two-year-long battle of wits. The dueling antagonists: an FBI agent who couldn't overtly tip to his target that he suspected him of wrongdoing lest he clam up, and a traitor whose weakness was the enjoyment he derived from sparring with his inquisitor. Navarro's job was made even more difficult by his adversary's brilliance: not only did Ramsay possess an authentic photographic memory as well as the second highest IQ ever recorded by the US Army, he was bored by people who couldn't match his erudition. To ensure that the information flow would continue, Navarro had to pre-choreograph every interview, becoming a chess master plotting twenty moves in advance.

And the backdrop to this mental tug of war was the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the very real possibility that its leaders, in a last bid to alter the course of history, might launch a devastating attack. If they did, they would have Ramsay to thank, because as Navarro would learn over the course of forty-two mind-bending interviews, Ramsay had, by his stunning intelligence giveaways, handed the Soviets the ability to utterly destroy the US.

The story of a determined hero who pushed himself to jaw-dropping levels of exhaustion and who rallied his team to expose undreamed of vulnerabilities in America's defense, Three Minutes to Doomsday will leave the reader with disturbing thoughts of the risks the country takes even today with its most protected national secrets.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2017.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781501128271
Branch Call Number: 327.12730092 NAVAR
Characteristics: xiv, 349 pages : illustrations


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May 23, 2017

should make a good TV movie, maybe starring Dwayne Johnson

Apr 24, 2017

This is a most fascinating book, but the reader must be warned that it can be somewhat tedious and banal as it covers a real-life FBI investigation which, when undertaken professionally, as Mr. Navarro was that most uncommon sort within the FBI, they tend to be that way.
To the typical reader, this book may serve to illustrate how inept and incompetent the FBI senior management was in the 1980s, but so does the after-action congressional investigation demonstrate the same exact thing after 9/11/01. This book, and investigation, clearly illustrates something many of us have long known - - one individual is usually responsible for the mission, or job, or miracle, getting done! Clearly, Mr. Navarro was that man.
To someone like myself, who was familiar with the military opsec procedures and protocols in the most massive security breach ever to date, it demonstrates once again to this humble reader what a shambles the volunteer military is [or was????] in comparison to the military during the draft, when citizen-soldiers really existed!?
Thankfully, this colossal breach took place at the same time as the Soviet Union was dissolving, otherwise . . .
Recalling a retired general promoting his book on the Democracy Now! show several years back, and recounting [bragging] about training both the Afghanistani army and the Iraqi army, I suspect it is still a shambles. Just cannot get over what Mr. Navarro recounted in his excellent book. [Should you hear some of us old farts sound off about things being better, or tighter, or more progressive, or more advanced, in the old days - - trust me, we really aren't progressing today!]

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