By Suzanne Kelly
Nada Bakos used to go work with a Glock strapped to her thigh. The former targeting officer for the CIA started her intelligence career as an analyst in 2000. But then September 11 happened.
"Everybody's life changed," said Nada Bakos, who, like many other women who were serving as analysts prior to 9/11, moved to the counterterrorism and eventually made the switch to the operations side, which meant she wasn't just analyzing the data on the bad guys, she was going after them.
She didn't yet have a family when she accepted her assignment as a targeting officer in Iraq, working alongside special forces in the hunt for the now-deceased terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. She won't share the details of exactly what she did to help find him, but she saw definite advantages to being a woman in the arena, noting that she sometimes had a very different experience than her male counterparts when it came to working within the norms of the culture.
"I got a completely different response than the men did," said Bakos, describing one particular effort to gather information. "How is a 26-year-old white male gonna walk up to a woman in the Middle East and say 'Hey, why don't you talk to me?' "
After a couple of years, Bakos realized that she knew more about Zarqawi than she did about many of the other men in her life. That, in part, was a wake up call to do something more: She wanted to start a family. But she was deep into her career on the operations side. That was a problem. FULL POST