There is an interesting rumor circulating around the Internet regarding former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar. Was he a spy? Super-secret CIA Agent 006 and 7/8, with a license to kill, or at least to look around the Balkans? Was he going to stop, with his dagger (and cloak), that hoard Yugoslavian tanks rolling down I-80 on their way to that strategic stronghold of Port Matilda? Cue the theme music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF_6cSads0E
This all started, publicly, when a site called Deadspin looked Mr. Gricar’s FBI file. and posted the redacted version of it.1 Mr. Gricar, soon after being elected District Attorney, was cross appointed as an Special Assistant United States Attorney, so that he could be involved with federal cases. That appears to be routine. If you are involved in federal law enforcement, you get a background check. I was interviewed regarding a neighbor, who was working with the Bureau of Prisons in marking products. She didn’t actually work in a prison; she was marketing prison made products. This kind of check is routine.
The FBI background check is also extensive. The look at education, credit, local criminal records, co-workers, former supervisors and ask other federal agencies about the subject of the investigation.
There were some things in the file that surprised the author at Deadspin. Mr. Gricar had visited what was then Yugoslavia, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, one trip in each decade.2 That shouldn’t be too surprising. The FBI flyer notes that he has an interest in his Slovenian3 heritage. He was known to have visited distant cousins there; I’m told that some of the photos in his office were of these cousins.
The second thing was the line from the FBI background check: “The Central Intelligence Agency, responding to an FBI name check request, advised that they have [REDACTED] relating to the captioned individual.” And, in the words of the article “Let a hundred more conspiracy theories bloom.” They are, all over the Internet.
There are some problems with the theories is we don’t know what was redacted. There has been a longstanding CIA program, around since 1949, of interviewing Americans traveling to foreign nations about what they saw.4 In the case of Yugoslavia, the questions might have been more along the line of, “How prosperous did the people appear to be,” or “Did you notice any anti-Serbian attitudes?” It probably wasn’t, “Did you break into the safe at the Ministry and steal the secret code?”
It is possible that this is what was redacted. It is also possible that the CIA didn’t want anyone to know who they were interviewing, so, they require redaction of anyone traveling to a Communist county at that time. The redaction could be the phrase “no information” or “no documents.”
There are, obviously, some ties between Centre County and the CIA, Penn State. Some alumni, notably the (wrongly) outed Valarie Plame, have worked as deep cover agents. Much of Ms. Plame’s record is undisclosed, but some of it is public. Wikipedia notes a lot of travel out of the county in her case, with yearly trips, in some cases, and longer term stays.5 Mr. Gricar had two foreign trips in the prior 15 years, and that obviously doesn’t fit the profile of a super-spook.
Mr. Gricar did have ties to Slovenia, and as his close friend Steve Sloan noted recently, “He wanted to go to Europe again, badly.”6 If Mr. Gricar did leave voluntarily, the odds on him being in Slovenia are far higher than him being in, well, Butte, Montana. Just having ties to Slovenia, doesn’t prove that Mr. Gricar did go there.
I really don't think Deadspin is taking this any more seriously than I am.
I will be taking a brief break, but after that, I want to look at Mr. Gricar’s FBI background check.
2 The may have a later trip, or trips, after this background check was done.
3 Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia, a “republic” within it, until the breakup of Yugoslavia. Slovenia, along with Croatia, were the first constituent republics to break away, in 1991.
Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section: http://www.centredaily.com/138/
Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/21/2597340/main-index-32011.html
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