Events

The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB

May 12, 2003 // 3:30pm5:00pm

Authors Milt Beardon and James Risen discussed the CIA's role during the last years of the Cold War and their findings published in their recent book The Main Enemy (Random House, 2003)

Milt Beardon retired from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1994, after thirty years in the CIA's clandestine services. He rose through the ranks to become one of CIA's most senior officers and one of the most highly decorated operations officers in its Senior Service.

In 1986 Milt Bearden was selected to take charge of the CIA Covert Action supporting a flagging Afghan Resistance. Mr. Bearden's assignment to the Afghan Resistance heralded a shift in American policy from minimalist support to the Afghan rebels—just enough to tie down the Soviet Army—to a policy of trying to win. For his service in Afghanistan Mr. Bearden was awarded the agency's highest decoration, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

In 1989 Mr. Bearden left Pakistan and Afghanistan to take command of the Soviet-East European Division of the CIA's Operations Directorate. During the next three years he directed the CIA's clandestine operations against a decaying Soviet Empire. Nine months after the Soviets walked out of Afghanistan, the Berlin Wall fell, and the reunification of Germany became irreversible. During this period Mr. Bearden was awarded the CIA's unique Donovan Award, named after its founder.

Mr. Bearden is the author The Black Tulip, a novel of war in Afghanistan and a frequent contributor to the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal.

James Risen is co-author of The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB. He covers national security for The New York Times and is based in the paper's Washington Bureau. He was a co-winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for explanatory reporting for coverage of Sept. 11 and terrorism. He is the author of Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War (Basic Books, 1998)

James Risen is a 1977 graduate of Brown University, where he received a bachelor's degree in history. In 1978, he received a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He joined The New York Times in Washington in 1998. He previously worked at The Los Angeles Times, covering business, economics and national security affairs.

Wilson Center Photo Gallery

Browse or share photos from the Wilson Center’s events.

To Attend an Event

Unless otherwise noted:

Meetings listed on this page are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required unless otherwise noted. All meetings take place at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Please see map and directions. Allow time for routine security procedures. A photo ID is required for entry.

To confirm time and place, contact Maria-Stella Gatzoulis on the day of the event: tel. (202) 691-4188. Check this page for the latest updates and notices.

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Assistant
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • Roy O. Kim // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project