Howard Phillips Hart
Born (1940-10-16)October 16, 1940
St. Louis, Missouri
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Central Intelligence Agency
Battles/wars Iran, Afghanistan
Awards Distinguished Officer in the Senior Intelligence Service, Distinguished Intelligence Medal, Intelligence Medal of Merit, CIA 50th Anniversary Trailblazer Award

Howard Phillips Hart is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer. He worked as the CIA Chief of Station in Islamabad, Pakistan from May 1981[1] until 1984. He was succeeded by William Piekney in the summer of 1984.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Hart was born Howard Lester Phillips, Jr. 16 October 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri the only son of Eleanor Laidley and Howard Lester Phillips. Within months of his birth the family traveled to Manila, Philippines where Howard senior was an engineer with a U.S. firm. When the Japanese invaded Manila early in World War II, the family was interned first in University of Santo Tomas in Manila, then moved to Los Banos. On 26 February 1945, The 11th Airborne Division jumped in behind Japanese lines and extricated the 2000+ internees under fire. They took them to Manila and onward to the United States.

Following their return to the United States, Eleanor and Howard Sr. divorced and Eleanor married Joseph Chittendon Hart. Joseph Hart was a banker with Citi Bank and following an assignment in Calcutta, India they returned to Manila in 1950.

Hart graduated from Kent School in 1958. He attended Cornell University and the University of Arizona, and has both B.A. (Honors) and M.A. degrees in Oriental Studies and Political Science. His languages include Urdu, Indonesian, and German.

Career[edit | edit source]

Hart joined the CIA after finishing graduate school at the University of Arizona in 1965. He spent two years at Camp Peary in Virginia, attending "the standard two-year course for...aspiring case officers." He joined the Directorate of Operations after graduation.[2]

A career Near East Division officer, Hart's overseas postings included five years in India; two years as a Chief of Station (COS) in the Persian Gulf; a three year posting in Iran, before, during and after the Iranian Revolution (where he was Chief of Station after the Shah fell and the American Embassy was overrun by Khomeini elements); three years as COS Pakistan during the Soviet war in Afghanistan; and COS, Germany in the period leading up to the collapse of Communism.

In 1978 Hart began working the streets of Tehran. His reports that, contrary to over 15 years of CIA estimates, the Shah's rule was far from stable or secure were suppressed by more senior personnel within the CIA. He was captured a few days after the Shah's fall by an armed group of supporters of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and escaped summary execution by appealing asking to speak to a mullah, who agreed that the Koran did not sanction such punishment.[3]

Immediately following his return from Iran in the fall of 1979 he was assigned to the Pentagon's "Iran Rescue Mission Joint Task Force" as the senior intelligence advisor to the Task Force commander. Hart established and managed an extraordinay CIA-in-county support structure for the ill-fated Iran Rescue Mission in 1980, and accompanied the mission on deployment.

Hart jump-started the CIA's efforts to equip the Afghan resistance with weapons and supplies to allow them to mount an effective campaign during the Soviets, known as Operation Cyclone. Hart is a U.S. Martial Arms weapons collector with a "passion for weapons and paramilitary tactics," making him a natural choice for the Islamabad post.[2] In his words: "I was the first chief of station ever sent abroad with this wonderful order: `Go kill Soviet soldiers’. Imagine! I loved it.” “the mission was not to liberate Afghanistan,” “it was a noble goal.” Hart's background as a Paramilitary Operations Officer made him a perfect candidate to be the field general for the covert war in Afghanistan.[4] His heroic actions in leading the resistance to the Soviet occupation. For his action he received the Intelligence Star.[5]

Currently, Howard Hart and his wife, Jean, live in the mountains above Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 2011 Hart published a book called: "Intelligence Thoughts: Afghanistan and Iran" available from

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Coll 57
  2. 2.0 2.1 Coll 55
  3. Tim Weiner, 2007. Legacy of ashes pp368-369.
  4. Cold War II, Noam Chomsky.
  5. Charlie Wilsons War, by George Crile, Published by Grove Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8021-4341-5, ISBN 978-0-8021-4341-9 page 121

References[edit | edit source]

  • Coll, Steve. Ghost Wars : The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. New York: Penguin, 2004.

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