BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- Baltimore banker and prominent businessman--that's how we know Ed Hale. But in a WJZ exclusive, he reveals his double life.
Mary Bubala has the revealing details.
The secret and closed world of the CIA includes espionage, covert operatives, international surveillance—and Baltimore businessman Ed Hale.
"I was an agent for the CIA," Hale said.
In a WJZ exclusive, Hale reveals his covert role inside the CIA.
"I was the perfect cover because I was all over the world with my vessels and trucking here in America, so I was the perfect person to take somebody and send them out to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan," Hale said.
Hale probably looks familiar. He was the face of First Mariner Bank as chairman and CEO. He appeared in their commercials for years and is credited with developing the Canton Waterfront downtown. He owns the Baltimore Blast.
Hale's first briefing on his secret role came from his CIA handler.
"You're goina be an international financier, sending people out to different countries under the guise of your trucking companies, the other companies that I had, shipping. For example, I had tugboats and barges that would go to Cypress and to Alexandria, Egypt," Hale said.
In a life that reads like a spy thriller, Hale says he was recruited into the CIA by former Alex Brown chairman Buzzy Krongard, who was with the agency.
"He came to my officer one day and said 'Let's go for a walk,'" Hale said.
Blue collar beginnings in Eastern Baltimore County to the world of espionage, Hale details this secret life in the CIA in a new biography called "Hale Storm."
"I was called a NOC," Hale said, "N.O.C."
That stands for "non-official cover."
America's most famous "NOC" is Valerie Plame, the CIA operative exposed by a newspaper columnist.
"You had to be very cautious about everything you said and did," Hale said.
As an operative, Hale found himself in the early hunt for the world's most notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.
"Getting people into places where they could figure out the traces and the pathways of Osama Bin Laden back in the 90s," Hale said. "I heard his name early on, Osama Bin Laden. I didn't know who he was. It wasn't the household name that it became."
From the Cold War to the War on Terror, Hale was part of it all.
"I've always considered myself a patriot," he said.
Until he got out of the agency just after 9/11.
"I have been told that there are still people operating out there that I used to work with. And who they are, I do not know and I did not ask," Hale said.
Hale didn't want his mother to worry, so he didn't tell her until he had been out for five years.
"I said 'Mom, I have something I want to tell you. I'm very proud that I did serve my country, not only in the Air Force but I was an agent for the CIA.' And she looks up and says 'Can you pass the broccoli, please?'" Hale said.
During his time with the CIA, from 1991 to 2001, Hale never told anyone.
Years later, he did reveal his secret to select few, including former Gov. William Donald Schaeffer.
Now we all know.
WJZ reached out to the CIA to confirm Hale's employment, but were not able to because of privacy concerns.
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