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Robert and Dayna Baer know how to scan a crowd for assassins and how to escape if someone ambushes their vehicle. As CIA operatives, they lived in dangerous locations, learned several foreign languages and were trained in paramilitary operations. (Crown)

A Covert Affair: When CIA Agents Fall In Love

Mar 7, 2011 (Fresh Air)

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Like many couples, Robert and Dayna Baer met at work, fell in love and got married.

Unlike many couples, the Baers met while they were part of a covert team of CIA operatives sent into Bosnia to protect a high-ranking CIA official, who had been targeted for assassination by Hezbollah. Robert's job was to find out where Hezbollah's safe houses were and what they were up to on a daily basis — his later books about the CIA, See No Evil and Sleeping with the Devil, became the basis for the 2005 George Clooney film Syriana. Dayna provided technical surveillance and acted as a bodyguard.

Several months after they returned to the United States, Robert and Dayna ran into each other at CIA headquarters. They were both married but separated from their spouses — and they decided to go out for dinner.

"We went to dinner and went on a ski trip to France, and that was about it," Dayna says. "After that, we were together from then on."

Now retired, the Baers have written about their relationship and their years in the CIA in The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story. It's no secret, they say, that CIA employees often date each other.

"You have someone you can talk to about what you do," Dayna says. "You can share things with them. It's much easier to have a relationship with someone inside the CIA versus the outside."

The Baers left the CIA around the time that they started their relationship. It was difficult at first to move on with their lives, Robert says.

"When we drive, if somebody stops abruptly in front of us, I always look for where I'm going to ram the car — especially if they start to get out of the car," he says. "They trained us — if a car stops abruptly, you hit the bumper in a certain place, you wait until people put their feet on the ground so they get knocked down. Those are the kind of habits you can't give up."

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