Dear CIA: Maybe It’s Time to Spring for New PO Boxes?

I’ve suggested since the “names” of the two “trainers” ambushed in Mexico last Friday were released they were likely covers.

Not only are they apparently covers, but one of them was tied to a PO Box whose prior user had already been publicly tied to the CIA’s rendition program.

But an examination of public records suggests that the name used by one of the men may be fictitious, with similarities to others created by the CIA to provide cover for its officers overseas.

Shortly after the shooting, major Mexican news organizations identified one of the U.S. officials as Stan D. Boss, a name associated with a post office box at a Dunn Loring mail facility tied to at least one previous CIA cover identity that was publicly exposed. Records indicate that Boss was issued a Social Security number in Texas in 2004. Beyond that, the records are largely blank, with not even a date of birth associated with the name.

That same Dunn Loring post office is linked to dozens of other names that have similarly scant records and to Social Security numbers issued around the same time. Among the previous holders of post office boxes at that location was an individual named Philip P. Quincannon, who apparently does not exist but who was listed as an officer with at least two aviation companies suspected of involvement in CIA rendition flights after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Call me crazy, but these narcos are pretty shrewd guys. If they discover Stan Dove Boss has been picking up noted rendition guy Philip P. Quincannon’s mail, they might make certain conclusions about what line of work Stan Dove Boss is in (as if the name weren’t already a dead giveaway). And they might show up with 4 cars full of Federales to try to keep Stan Dove Boss off their turf.

Jeebus. It’s bad enough we’re invading Mexico with our spooks. But we’re sending them in with transparent covers.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

17 replies
  1. jerryy says:

    For some odd reason, your phrasing made me think of Elton John’s song “Grow Some Funk of Your Own”.

  2. MadDog says:

    I had the usual thought when this originally went down: if the US government refuses to confirm what agency folks work for, then one can’t go far wrong assuming they’re from Spook City.

  3. MadDog says:

    The NYT’s piece tonight confirms the 2 Americans were CIA:

    Americans Shot in Mexico Were C.I.A. Operatives Aiding in Drug War

    “The two Americans who were wounded when gunmen fired on an American Embassy vehicle last week were Central Intelligence Agency employees sent as part of a multiagency effort to bolster Mexican efforts to fight drug traffickers, officials said on Tuesday.

    The two operatives, who were hurt on Friday, were participating in a training program that involved the Mexican Navy…”

  4. pdaly says:

    Maybe the bad covers are given to agents the Agency would prefer go away? Small price to pay to put a metal star on the wall…

  5. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: Did you ever notice that even when the US government admits that CIA folks are busy doing stuff in other countries, the admission always portrays the CIA folks doing bland, innocuous stuff?

    Like in this instance in the following sentence in that NYT article:

    “…They were traveling with a Mexican Navy captain in an embassy sport utility vehicle that had diplomatic license plates, heading toward a military shooting range 35 miles south of the capital…”

    Yeah, right. Just heading out for some target practice at the range with the Mexican Navy. It sounds just like a sales rep taking his customer out to play a round of golf.

    I’ll have to give the CIA credit. They always come up with a bland, innocuous cover story. Telling the truth just never occurs to them.

  6. OrionATL says:

    none of this makes any sense at all to me – yet.

    two cia thugs don’t go a’kidnapping with a mexican navy captain.

    maybe el chapo has been reading the newspaper in el norte. you know, the ones that said the u.s. had, and still has, (military) plans for shorty.

  7. emptywheel says:

    @OrionATL: No one’s saying they did. Just that they were headed to a military base and go ambushed.

    That said, I am wondering whether they were in fact “kidnapping”–whether the military has someone in custody that this was retaliation for.

  8. OrionATL says:


    “…whether the military has someone in custody that this was retaliation for. ”

    i thought at least some of the ambushers were mexican troops. were they, instead, drug-lord “civilians”?

  9. emptywheel says:

    @OrionATL: The government has four carloads of people involved in custody. They’re all Federales. There are one or two more carloads that got away. So we don’t know.

    But what’s a title like Federal anyway when there’s so much corruption?

  10. lefty665 says:

    Minutiae for those not in the D.C. area. Dunn Loring is less than 5 miles from CIA HQ and on the east side of Vienna. Both Vienna and Dunn Loring are long time stomping grounds for CIA folks. Vienna was home to Robert Hanssen. Using place names like Dunn Loring and Langley seems to be their idea of being real spooks.

    For a laugh goto a street view of the USPO in Dunn Loring. 2302 Gallows Road Dunn Loring, VA 22027

  11. matt carmody says:

    @emptywheel: Historically, that incompetence is a trademark of American operations. See Richard Gabriel’s Military Incompetence: Why the American Military Doesn’t Win.

  12. kristin says:

    They were running drugs themselves. The US military is often and always used to transport drugs. We are fighting a drug war in Mexico, except the media reports quite the opposite of one key truth: WE are the traffickers, not Mexico. Mexico is actually, actively FIGHTING *against* the drugs traffic, while our superior military is involved in securing the flow of drugs IN to the USA. Have we all forgotten that the CIA is THE major drug dealer in the world?? Why is reality ridiculed, while fantasy is regarded as fact..

    as Judge Judy Scheindlin always said..” if it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true”

    words to live by

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