Meet Ex-CIA Officer Nada Bakos
This series on Hunting Hitler saw Bob Baer strengthen his team with the addition of former terrorist targeting officer Nada Bakos. Having worked on the capture of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi she brings a wealth of knowledge that can help the investigation make new ground.
We caught up with her to find out more about how she works, what she brought to the team and how she enjoyed the series.
How was it working with Bob and the team?
So, Bob recommended me [Nada, like Bob, previously worked at the CIA] for the show. It was great working with him, he's such an interesting guy.
What skills did you bring to the team that helped them in series three?
Good question. One of the reasons is that I was an analyst at the CIA which is a very different skill set to a case officer, like Bob. We look at information and analyse it a little differently. I was also a targeting officer and was in charge of trying to find people. So I think having that experience and skill set was unique to the team and different to what they had.
You spent much of episode one in a control room, is that the usual location for an analyst to be?
That's right. From there we can evaluate the information case officers collect and we put it into the larger picture of what we know. Analysts are the ones who communicate to policymakers and make a lot of determinations.
How difficult was it looking at this case from 1945 and what was it like using modern techniques that you've learnt?
Actually, at first, I was sceptical of how well we would be able to look into this case, but it turns out that regardless of the time period the same techniques are applicable. It felt a lot like cases I worked on at the CIA. There was also so much new information, stuff that I was not aware of. The work definitely felt like the present day.
What was one of the most exciting pieces of information that came up in the show that you weren't previously aware of?
I wasn't aware of all the camps around South America, and I wasn't aware of the systemic system that the Nazis had set up in South America to control and torture people after WW2. It's so awful, talk to the relatives of the survivors of those camps it was just like what they were doing in Germany.
Can you tease any of the new ground that is made this series and do you think Hitler survived WW2?
It's such an interesting question. I loved the approach of series three of Hunting Hitler because we looked at everything around him. While we always considered the question of whether he survived, we also evaluated everything around him and this was more fascinating. The question of whether he survived? You'll have to wait and watch the last episode to see how I feel about it. I'm the most sceptical person throughout the series, but, at the same time, the question it's extremely compelling and interesting.
As well as trying to answer that question, the series is also a look at the personality of Hitler, what motivated him, what decisions he might have made. This way you begin to find out more about that individual, right?
Yeah, that's true, you get much more of a sense of the individual when you're walking through their day-to-day life. As analysts we ask, what are the interests of the subject, how do they think, what are their preferences, what can they not live without. This does give you a much better sense of how would this person survive if they were to escape. And it does help determine if he was able to get out of the bunker, how would he have done it.
Was it a standard CIA methodology you used?
Yeah, to a certain extent. Analysts are taught a certain type of methodology to evaluate information, as are Case Officers, and we were definitely using those tools to look at the information. It's kinda second hand for us.
The methodology used by the CIA in the 00s [when Nada worked there] was very successful and celebrated [i.e that capture of Osama Bin Laden]. Do you think that today, with the Trump administration, the security services in the US are going through a transitional period?
Yeah, I do, but I'm not sure if it's a transitional period. Maybe more of a cultural effect that may have an impact on the work that the agency does.
With this TV show, you get front row seat into the methodology and the workings of the CIA and you see how thorough it is, how professional it is. To be seeing this during a time where there seem to be some major changes for the security agencies in the US is very interesting.
Good, hopefully, they will continue that professionalism.