Rizzo claims there are CIA officers who are tasked with working with Hollywood stars
A new book claims intelligence agents worked undercover on films, and one top actor asked to be paid in cocaine [no one better to provide cocaine than the CIA!]

The CIA's former top lawyer has revealed the intelligence agency's extensive ties to Hollywood, with key figures spying on foreign countries and operatives working undercover in film crews.

John Rizzo, who spent 33 years as a CIA lawyer, ending his career as acting general counsel, said: "I can't get into exactly where this is, but there's a small cadre of people right in CIA headquarters whose focal point is all the dealings with Hollywood."

Sometimes CIA officers posed as members of film crews on location in countries hostile to America, he said.

"A lot of times it's just surrogate eyes and ears," Rizzo said. "What did this foreign leader look like when he was talking to you? Did you notice he had bloodshot eyes or quavering hands?

"These foreign leaders like to schmooze with major Hollywood figures, producers, actors and moguls."

Rizzo, who retired in 2009, revealed that during the 1980s a leading American actor - the CIA has forbidden him to say more than that "he was a big name at the time" - offered his services to agency. There was one catch: the actor was asking for payment in the form of $50,000-worth of top-grade cocaine.

The head of the CIA's Hollywood "account" asked Rizzo whether this could be done, adding helpfully that "we know a way to get some easily". Rizzo said this was out of the question but the actor did go on to help the CIA, apparently free of charge.

"I was surprised over the years to see how many named people you would normally associate with liberal causes nonetheless quietly co-operated with the CIA," he said.

"It's partly sincerely patriotic motives and partly because they live in a life of make-believe and they want a little taste of real intrigue."

The Hollywood producer Peter Berg is developing a television series about lawyers in the CIA based on Rizzo's memoir, Company Man.

Rizzo said that when he joined the CIA in 1976 there were fewer than 20 lawyers. By the time he left he was in charge of 125. "I'm told there are now about 150 or 160," he said.

"It's not because they love lawyers. In part it's because they want to cover their ass," he added. "Every two or three years we get ourselves into some sort of pickle or scandal or congressional investigation. They want to have a lawyer's blessing to everything even if there's really no legal issue involved."

Rizzo said that in 2002 he was given a list of a dozen new interrogation techniques by the CIA's counterterrorism centre. The most controversial of them was "waterboarding", a form of simulated drowning that many, including President Barack Obama, later said was torture.

Rizzo believes the 10 techniques that were authorised were legal and effective but says he found an 11th to be "the most chilling of all of them".

It remains classified and Rizzo declined to give details, but a close reading of documents released by the Obama administration revealed that it was "mock burial": placing a detainee in a makeshift coffin and making him believe he was being buried alive.

Much to Rizzo's relief, neither mock burial nor a 12th technique proposed by the CIA - "prolonged diapering", the humiliation of detainees by forcing them to soil themselves in adult nappies - was authorised.