USA Today, June 23, 1998

INSIDE CIA: The Central Intelligence Agency has had its share of black eyes lately, from discovering rogue agents in its midst to failing to predict atomic tests in India.

But The Agency, a TV movie that just wrapped, will portray this secret bastion as, if not warm and cuddly, at least as a valuable group of heroes and patriots. And the CIA likes the script so much that it allowed scenes to be shot Saturday in its headquarters in Langley, Va.

Heading the screen agency is Ron Silver (Alan Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune), a New Yorker and arts activist who doesn't leap to mind as a supporter of a secretive arm of the government.

Surprise: Silver, 51, who as a student learned Chinese and traveled in Vietnam, is fascinated by foreign affairs and once hoped to work for the CIA. "The CIA has cooperated more with this project than any other," he told me, and Showtime has an official CIA statement of support.

That's because the movie "concentrates on what the agency does, the political implications of what they do, and is a very accurate and fair portrayal . . . of the people entrusted to provide access to information that keeps us all safe."

The Agency, out next year, is about those few special agents whose lives can be at risk. "If they do get into trouble, more likely than not, help will not be forthcoming and there will be plausible deniability" that they exist, says Silver.

Tom Berenger co-stars as an ex-CIA operative drafted back to action when the North Koreans arrest an undercover officer.

Many Americans have been suspicious of the CIA and its motives. "There' s good reason for that," says Silver. "When the agency is successful, when it does what it's supposed to do, for the safety and security of American interests, you won't hear about it. If you do, it's a failure of intelligence."

He theorizes, "Probably 10 or 15 planes would have fallen out of the air, terrorist targets," if the CIA hadn't done its job. To him, it is simply charged with gathering intelligence, regardless of the politics of a situation.

"The CIA needs to be a little more user-friendly," he adds. `"They have to go to Congress to get funds, a $27 billion budget. It doesn' t seem to be excessive for what they have to do."

What about comparisons with arts funding for which Silver has spoken out? ``I want to make sure the security of the national interest is intact before I go to enjoy the ballet.''

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