Beirut Rules: The Murder of a CIA Station Chief and Hezbollah’s War Against America
By Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz
Berkley, 2018, 400 pp.
In March 1984, Hezbollah fighters abducted William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut. They held him prisoner until June 1985, when he died of torture and neglect. Buckley, who had served in the Korean War before embarking on a long and distinguished career with the CIA, rose to the position of Beirut station chief after the bombings of the U.S. embassy and the Marine barracks there. His nemesis was Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s master hit man, who was himself blown up by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008. The authors of this account of Buckley’s murder seek to honor his memory and openly thirst to avenge his death. They clearly intend the story to grip the reader, but too often they fall into annoying invocations of supposed local color. They also lament the “castration” of the CIA by the 1975 Church Committee investigation into the intelligence community, and they rejoice that the 9/11 attacks prompted the rebirth of the agency as a paramilitary force tasked with hunting the United States’ enemies.