Attendees at tonight's Ada County Lincoln Day Banquet
are set to hear a message of political participation and compromise from an unlikely source: Mike Baker, a former cover operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency.
"We're moving away from a civil discourse—the ability to talk about ideas without lobbing verbal hand grenades," he told Boise Weekly
Baker was a 17-year veteran of the CIA, working with Mujaheddin fighters in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s, as well as participating in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations around the world. He will draw on those experiences at the Feb. 18 banquet—an annual gathering of Ada County Republicans—to discuss the United States' representative democracy, which he called a "very special political environment."
“Some people feel like they’re not participating. Some people feel like they can’t participate. The truth is that all the models out there, this one you can truly participate in and you can make a difference,” he said.
Still, Baker had some hard words for both parties, which he criticized as following the ancient Roman practice of "bread and circuses"—distracting the public from the real problems of the country with overblown rhetoric.
In his career with the CIA, the former spy was a member of the Directorate of Operations, which he called "a great experience."
Baker is currently managing director for the Americas at Diligence, a private intelligence firm he co-founded. He has commented to national and international media on subjects of intelligence, security, counter-terrorism, geopolitics and cybersecurity, and regularly appears on outlets including Fox News and CNN. Baker is also co-host of the weekly Travel Channel series World Access.
The banquet takes place Feb. 18 at the Boise Centre on the Grove. Reception is at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Individual tickets cost $75.