Mr. Berntsen, a Long Island-bred C.I.A. operative who retired in 2005, decided earlier this year to try to serve his country in a new, and not exactly clandestine, way: by running for office.
He has private clients and collects speaking fees, but Mr. Berntsen said his work as a government contractor or subcontractor had paid him about $175,000 a year since he left the C.I.A five years ago.
a Republican since 1976 and a huge admirer of President George H. W. Bush, says he had long wanted to try politics — “I didn’t want to be defined in my life just as a C.I.A. officer” — so in 2008, he organized New York veterans for the McCain presidential campaign. This year, he entered a crowded Republican primary field in New York’s First Congressional District, in Suffolk County. But the leader of a local Tea Party group, Stephen Flanagan, was so impressed that he urged Mr. Berntsen to aim higher.more » « less