Hank Crumpton: Life as a spy

Former CIA officer Hank Crumpton takes 60 Minutes on a tour through the shadowy world of the Clandestine Service and explains how the CIA toppled the Taliban after 9/11.

(CBS News) There are more foreign spies on U.S. soil now than at the peak of the Cold War, according to Hank Crumpton, former head of the CIA's National Resources Division, a highly sensitive operation charged with collecting foreign intelligence here in the U.S. Crumpton also led the covert response to 9/11 in Afghanistan, where the CIA helped topple the Taliban. Lara Logan interviews Crumpton about his 24 years as a legendary spy.


The following script is from "Hank" which originally aired on May 13, 2012. Lara Logan is the correspondent. Howard Rosenberg, producer.

In the netherworld of espionage, Henry Crumpton is legendary. He was deputy director of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center and chief of one of the agency's most secret divisions.

He is known to U.S. presidents, African rebels and Afghan tribal leaders by just one name: "Hank."

In interviews with Lara Logan, Hank Crumpton guided 60 Minutes on a tour through the shadowy world of clandestine operations. Among the many things she learned is that Crumpton has a unique perspective on the war in Afghanistan because it was "Hank" who was in charge of the covert U.S. response to 9/11.

Lara Logan: What do you make of where Afghanistan is right now?

Hank Crumpton: It reminds me of a Greek tragedy. You've got so many mistakes, many of them inadvertent, like the burning of the Koran on the U.S. side. And you've got a feckless, corrupt government on the Afghan side. I am really more pessimistic now than I've been in a long time.

Hank Crumpton, now 55, spent 24 years in the murky world of the CIA Clandestine Service, including a year on loan to the FBI and a decade at CIA stations across Africa. We first met Hank Crumpton three years ago. That's when he agreed to return to Afghanistan with us and tell 60 Minutes about the capstone to his career as a spy, how the CIA forged a secret alliance with afghan tribal leaders, and how fewer than 500 Americans -- 110 CIA officers backed by teams of U.S. Special Operations Forces -- toppled the Taliban after 9/11.

Lara Logan: What were the orders you gave your men?

Hank Crumpton: Orders were fairly simple. Find al Qaeda and kill them.

Cofer Black was chief of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center and for a quarter century he was Crumpton's boss and mentor. He personally chose "Hank" for the most important mission of his life.

Cofer Black: Why did I pick Hank Crumpton to lead the CIA team? 'Cause we wanna win. Hank's the kind of man you can bet your life on.

Lara Logan: When a career CIA officer or someone like yourself says, "Hank's the kinda guy you can bet your life on," you mean that literally.

Cofer Black: Literally. Let's not-- this is not, you know, working for a Wall Street law firm, you know. Dog eat dog and nobody dies. We're talking-- where the life and wellbeing of your colleagues are at risk.

The CIA was given the lead role in prosecuting a war for the first time in history and Black promised then-President George W. Bush the agency was up to the task.

Cofer Black: And I said, "Mr. President, by the time we're through with these guys, they're gonna have flies walking across their eyeballs." This isn't a joke. This is a statement of fact of what's gonna happen.

Lara Logan: And he responded?

Cofer Black: He asked me again to validate whether I could do this. And I said, "Mr. President, there's no doubt in my mind." There was no doubt in my mind. I knew our planning. I knew our people. I knew Hank Crumpton.

Lara Logan: What was your first meeting with President Bush like? What did he say to you?

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