Following a chance meeting with a group of Somali Americans, Ballarin became intrigued by their country and soon was traveling regularly to Somalia, outfitted in Gucci and toting Louis Vuitton bags, and so dazzling that the Somalis dubbed her Arabic for princess. Soon the Virginia socialite was embroiled in hostage negotiations with Somali pirates who had seized a ship carrying clandestine cargo of Russian tanks worth many millions. And Ballarin was put on the Pentagon payroll to provide intelligence about Somalia many armed groups, although it is unclear from Mazzetti account whether she discovered anything very useful. Duane Clarridge, a CIA legend who had played a starring role during the Irancontra scandal, also seized an opportunity in the new world of governmentsponsored private intelligence collection. In 2009, the 77yearold Clarridge, long retired and dismissive of the CIA as riskaverse, was running his own private spying operation along the AfghanPakistani border. He hatched a plan to dig up evidence that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was a heroin addict, a rumor that was floating around Kabul.