Gary Berntsen is a former CIA officer and best selling author. He served in the Air Force, and spent 23 years with the CIA's Clandestine Service, and as a CIA Station Chief three times. He is also the author of three books including the New York Times bestseller Jawbreaker: the Attack on Bin Laden and al Qaeda.
He is best known for having led the CIA 's paramilitary forces in eastern Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in response to the September 11, 2001 attack. In Afghanistan he led the capture of Kabul and was the architect of the battle of Tora Bora. Gary led CIA teams in East Africa after the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar 'es Salaam, Tanzania. In the late 1990 's he was the Chief of Hezbollah Operations in CIA 's Counter-terrorism Center. From 2002 to 2005 he managed major Counter-narcotics Programs in Latin America. Gary is one of CIA 's most highly decorated officers having received CIA 's Distinguished Intelligence Medal and CIA 's Intelligence Star. He retired from CIA in 2005.
Gary is the author of the New York Times bestseller Jawbreaker: the Attack on Bin Laden and al Qaeda; a novel, The Walk-In, and a policy book entitled Human Intelligence Counterterrorism and National Leadership. He is a renowned expert on national security and counterterrorism, having done over 200 television and radio interviews. He frequently appears as a national security expert on Fox News and CNN. In 2007-2008, Gary returned to Afghanistan for a year as civilian adviser to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) and worked against militant Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Networks. Since 2008, Gary has worked as both a lecturer and a defense consultant.(http://www.garyfornewyork.com/bio.php)As you can see Gary is a hard working man who has served his country with honor and distinction. If his appearance at Spiedie Fest is any indication of the energy and passion he will bring to the Senate, than he is far and away the best man for the job.
After spending the day in Albany, Gary and his crew rushed to get to Binghamton.
He arrived in time to speak to local Fox News affiliate Fox 40 WICZ. He spent some time talking to Congressional candidate George Phillips and met with interested citizens and talked with them all about what his plans were when he is elected. Gary headed off to tour the festival and meet with some of the other like minded groups there.
His first stop was the Veterans Administration trailer. He spoke with the folks there and took some time for a photo opp with a couple of their representatives. He was gracious and attentive to what they had to say, and overall enthusiastic about talking with the Veterans on hand. His energy level was amazing and he never slowed down.
His next stop was the Hope Tent. A Christian organization that hosted live music, free cookies and coffee, gave out literature and information about local groups. On hand were the Christian Motorcyclists Association, The Angel Food Ministries, which offers low cost food packages, Family Life Network, Arrowhead Parable Christian Store and others. Gary Met with some of the people and they had a very emotional and intimate prayer session, where they prayed for his
son who is in the Air Force serving in Afghanistan.
After leaving the Hope Tent Gary sprinted across the fair grounds and stopped for a meet and greet with the Democrats at their tent. The look of amazement on their faces showed they were not at all expecting such a visit. Berntsen along with his two aides, George Phillips and his assistant Rebecca O'Brien had a traditional upstate specialty, a spiedie. Gary Stopped for another photo opp in front of the Salamida's inflatable spiedie sauce bottle display.
After enjoying some food Berntsen headed back to the George Phillips tent and talked some more with the other candidates on hand, and chatted with local residents as well. I got a short interview which I filmed.(I will include it in an edit to this article later once I have had the time to clean up the audio and edit it properly.) I left the Spiedie Fest around 7-7:30 and Gary was still there taking time to talk with anyone who would listen.
Overall I was very impressed with Gary Berntsen and his message. I think he will make a great Senator, and I look forward to election day.