My interview with Women Under Siege – How one (female) CIA operative would fix our wars

Following combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has experienced firsthand the challenge of rebuilding a nation’s economic and societal pillars of security.  Without an international effort to stem sexualized violence as a weapon used by some during a conflict, the reconstruction phase is likely to be both more costly and time-consuming; effectively impeding the healing of the societal wounds and rifts that are essential to longer-term stability.

During a talk that I recently had with Gina Bennett, a CIA analyst and author of National Security Mom: Why ‘Going Soft’ Will Make America Strong, noted that “Sexualized violence against women instills constant fear, and manipulates decisions women will make for the family in the context of society. Their sense of security is defined by never wanting to experience such violence again.”  Through fear, women remove themselves from becoming an integral part of their nation’s security.

Here is my interview with Women Under Siege…

Nada Bakos isn’t allowed to share most of what she learned in the CIA. But after nearly 10 years of working with classified intelligence, she can point squarely to one unfortunate lesson: Rape is used globally as a tool of war, and the United States tends to ignore it.

During her tenure at the agency, Bakos worked first as an analyst, then as an operative, focusing on “illicit networks” and counterterrorism. Though her role centered on Iraq, she was also privy to intel from Afghanistan. She says that the data she assessed gave her direct insight into what was happening abroad, and her reports to higher-ups helped shape foreign policy. Moreover, the information she was exposed to made her realize that the U.S. wasn’t taking preventative measures against gender-based violence in its own conflicts.  Read More..