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January 09, 2012

Chuck Lisenbee, the story of an Ashevillian CIA Officer

January 09, 2012

January 09, 2012



In the fourth episode of its series on the CIA in Lebanon, the Arab Digest reveals new information on Chuck Lisenbee, one of four agency officers named by Hezbollah; and for the first time, we publish his photograph (Left).
The story begins in Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is a small cheerful city of 83 thousand people, named by Good Morning America among the “10 most beautiful places in the U.S.”. In spite of its size, it has gained nationwide recognition, called “the best place to reinvent yourself” and “the happiest place for women”. In a nutshell, Asheville is the dream American town where music, community life, and good schooling are at their best.





This is where Chuck Lisenbee grew up in a Middle Class home; his mom worked as a school teacher, and she is still a substitute teacher in spite of her advanced age. His hard-working family managed to put him at TC Robertson, ranked the fifth in North Carolina. Chuck never forgot his great days at TC Roberson, you can take a look at what kind of life he has lived at this merry school:


According to a classmate, Chuck was a chubby/fat kid who was "nervously laughing all the time", trying to fit in with his peers. "He was one of those "Southern Gentlemen" types who acted like they were good and righteous but then stabbed you in the back".  Nevertheless, and according to another classmate, "he was a smart kid" at school.
Lisenbee’s class, 1990, dispersed all over the United States, got married, had children, remained single ... etc. He chose a different path. It might be the case that his hard working family pushed him further towards achieving more; we all know how difficult it is at school to be a teacher’s son. While the parents’ watchful eye keeps the children disciplined, they usually achieve more. Chuck’s mother, who visited Beirut recently, returned to North Carolina to continue her hard work; and it is a sure thing, Chuck learned that habit from his beloved mother.
Chuck became a regional security officer at the State Department in 1997.; he must have completed a few years of training after finishing college. After joining the State Department, he notified some friends that he has a “national security” job, according to a school friend who spoke to The Arab Digest. This confirms Hezbollah’s claim that Lisenbee worked as a CIA officer in its Lebanon embassy. (After Hezbollah named four CIA officers in late 2011, there was a small opportunity to corroborate such claims. While it is a given that foreign intelligence agencies are stationed at embassies, there remains a possibility, even the slightest, that the named officers are not CIA agents. The act of naming them is that of revenge for spying on the party; revenge might be accompanied at times with desperation. Corroboration is needed).
Chuck moved as a regional security officer, assessing security situations and possible threats in Tanzania, Sudan, and then later moved to Beirut, where diplomatic cables made available by Wikileaks have no mention of him. In Tanzania, Chuck met a young Peace Corps Volunteer, who spent time at Lisenbee’s home and played with his many electronic gadgets. This PCV told the Arab Digest the following on his experience with Chuck:

“I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania from 1998-2001. During that time, Chuck was (I think) a Deputy Regional Security Officer at the Embassy. Chuck recognized that the U.S. mission provided him with a level of salary and comfort as if he were stationed in the USA, and that the Peace Corps Volunteers were living a much more rural, village-level lifestyle. Chuck generously opened his home to us when we were in Dar es Salaam, if they wanted a hot shower, or even just a few hours in an air-conditioned space on a hot day. Chuck was (and is) a very friendly, humble person, who never acted like he was better than us just because he worked for the embassy”.




(photo: Chuck with Michael Jordan, and a friend)
In the beginning, we came across this good feedback of Chuck in the U.S. and with his American friends, later on a different image emerged. An American school friend of Lisenbee (at T.C. Roberson) wrote us about his competitive nature, and his often demeaning laugh:

Chuck Lisenbee was known throughout our high school as a boy from a "good Baptist family".  He was active in his church and unafraid to talk about being religious. He was also a devoted patriot and loved proud to be an American.  Chuck and I identified with each other because we were both known throughout the school for our values.  We weren't the first to be invited to a drinking party and our language was not plagued with swear words.   Over all he was the type of person you would want to be friends with.  He was kind and ready to help.  We served together in the leadership of a community service organization.  Chuck spent many hours making sure we had service projects and that they were completed to the effectively. He wanted good for others and I have a hard time believing he would do anything racist.  While I wouldn't call our school "multi-ethnic" by any stretch of the imagination we did have one or two nationalities and we had a strong black community.  Chuck WAS lauded as a friend to all the exchange students.  I don't remember whether it was for a club he was in or what but I know that 2 exchange students that lived in our home during my high school years spent time with Chuck (one from Spain and one from Argentina).

I must be honest.  I also got very hurt from Chuck. He was extremely competitive and not afraid to tell you if he thought he was better then you at something.  Most of his comments (because we often competed against each other for leadership positions and in class projects) I believe were not intended to be cruel but to my insecure high school persona they cut to the heart.  Chuck had a hardy laugh, he was so prone to laugh that many made fun of him.  His laughter, when he thought he was better then you, could easily be taken wrong.



In Lebanon, he played the imperialist role (which probably fits his American friend's account). According to an American who runs a hotel in Beirut, he ran across the real thuggish image of Chuck Lisenbee:


We actually had quite an interesting experience with Chuck Lisenbee in Beirut... my wife and I own Saifi Urban Gardens, and during our annual haloween party in 2010 he and a few other guys including two members of the Lebanese "Mukhabarat" tried to drunkenly break into the back door (because there were about 200 people in line at the front). 

After passing us his business card (Regional Security Officer), his buddies tried to threaten us ("you are making a big mistake", "you will never be allowed to travel to the United States" haha, little did they know that I'm a US citizen). Eventually, they left only to come back 15 minutes later with the head of the Mukhfar Gemayze (police station) demanding that I leave with the police... eventually the policy figured out that it wasn't a great idea to arrest the owner of a hotel for refusing entry to drunken US embassy officers, and everyone left.

We had to write two letters to the US Embassy before we received a response, at which point they said that Chuck did nothing wrong... I guess they were wrong on that too because the State Department called me two months ago while investigating Chuck for misconduct...

Anyways the whole episode says a lot about how the US Embassy works in Lebanon, and makes me and fellow Americans living in Beirut pretty upset.



According to Hezbollah, this young Ashevillian CIA officer helped build the agency’s spy networks to provide military information, and then pass them on to the Israeli side. Such efforts help the Israeli military build their database of targets in any future war, and would help them in carrying out assassinations. For instance, the South of Lebanon has witnessed explosions in the past few months, believed to be ammunition storage facilities targeted by Israel.
(This Story will be continuously updated, as we receive more information).

For further reading, check our three previous episodes:

3 comments:

This comment has been removed by the author.

We actually had quite an interesting experience with Chuck Lisenbee in Beirut... my wife and I own Saifi Urban Gardens, and during our annual haloween party in 2010 he and a few other guys including two members of the Lebanese "Mukhabarat" tried to drunkenly break into the back door (because there were about 200 people in line at the front).

After passing us his business card (Regional Security Officer), his buddies tried to threaten us ("you are making a big mistake", "you will never be allowed to travel to the United States" haha, little did they know that I'm a US citizen). Eventual they left only to come back 15 minutes later with the head of the Mukhfar Gemayze (police station) demanding that I leave with the police... eventually the policy figured out that it wasn't a great idea to arrest the owner of a hotel for refusing entry to drunken US embassy officers, and everyone left.

We had to write two letters to the US Embassy before we received a response, at which point they said that Chuck did nothing wrong... I guess they were wrong on that too because the State Department called me two months ago while investigating Chuck for misconduct...

Anyways the whole episode says alot about how the US Embassy works in Lebanon, and makes me and fellow Americans living in Beirut pretty upset.

Hello Mac,

Thank you for sharing your experience. It would be interesting to read an article on your experiences as an American businessman in Lebanon, please write something and email us at thearabdigest at gmail.com. Thanks again.

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