January 29, 2012
The call from the Central Intelligence Agency came on a December afternoon in 2009 while Gary Anderson was skiing with his three children. It’s about your wife, the agency man said.
Standing inside Eagle Rock ski lodge in Pennsylvania, Anderson pleaded for details. The CIA official said simply: Where are you? We’ll meet you.
Anderson suspected dreadful news about Jennifer Matthews, his college sweetheart, his wife of 22 years and a CIA operative on assignment almost 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan. With several hours until the CIA meeting, Anderson and his three children — then 12, 9 and 6 — hit the slopes for one more hour. The father wanted to cling a little longer to normalcy, to a life between before and after.
Finally, the Fredericksburg family got into their silver minivan and headed to a nearby motel. There, in a sterile conference room, CIA officials told Anderson the news: His wife, one of the CIA’s top al-Qaeda experts, had just been killed in an explosion at a base in Khost province, in eastern Afghanistan. There was no mention of a double agent, no indication that six other CIA operatives had died in the deadliest attack on agency personnel in decades.