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Robert and Dayna Baer first met while on a mission to Sarajevo for the CIA. (Crown)

A True-Life Love Story Between Spies

by NPR Staff
Mar 5, 2011 (All Things Considered)

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Robert and Dayna Baer were both married — to other people — the day they met. Both were working undercover for the CIA in war-torn Sarajevo, hunting down the Hezbollah cell that had tried to assassinate the local CIA station chief.

It almost goes without saying that working for the CIA is hard on a marriage. "You can't say where you've been, or what you're doing, and it really takes the closeness out of a relationship," Dayna tells Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

Eventually, both marriages broke up, and Robert and Dayna found themselves falling in love. They tell the story of their lives together in a new book, The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story.

Dayna was an up-and-coming young agent when she went to Sarajevo. For Robert, it was more of a last hurrah. "I had a cloud over my head," he says. "I was sort of in hiding, even within the CIA, because I had attempted to assassinate Saddam Hussein."

Though their operation in Sarajevo was legal, it was aborted at the last minute and Robert ended up under investigation — something he knew meant the end of his career. That didn't stop him from finishing off the mission in a flamboyant manner. He picked Dayna up at the airport in a lime-green rented station wagon with "Orangina" emblazoned in orange on the side.

Dayna was more than a little nervous. "I was new, I was young; he seemed to do everything just contrary to how I was trained." But for Robert, being contrary meant good spycraft. "You drive a lime-green car, carry a gun around, you act like a fool if you want, and people look at you and say, 'That couldn't possibly be a CIA spy.' "

Robert and Dayna eventually decided to marry and make the transition to civilian life, but their spy skills still come in handy. Most recently, Robert used his contacts in Pakistan to help the couple adopt a young daughter.

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