Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article about "The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue."
The short version? Douglas Groat, a former Green Beret and police officer, became an elite CIA agent. After a mission got screwed up, Groat started complaining and trying to hold people accountable. He was warned to cut it out, but kept the pressure up. Eventually he was demoted, then fired.
At that point, he starts putting pressure on his former employer by leaking about a bug he'd planted to a foreign government. And he similarly kept pressure up, asking for $500,000 in severance sicne he'd lost his pension, retirement, and income after what had happened.
Now, here's the really interesting part.
The CIA actually offered Groat a contractor's position that would take him until his retirement, when he'd be eligible for his normal pension. They were offering him $300,000.
He turned it down, saying it should be $500,000 and continuing to escalate the situation. Eventually he was indicted, arrested, tried, and sentenced to five years in prison. Presumably, he didn't get any money either.
It wasn't the first time Groat did it. When he was a police officer, he took a stand against firemen using their lights inappropriately, and would write a ticket to anyone who found breaking code. When he wrote a ticket for the Fire Chief, he got fired from that job...
...only to sue to get his job back.
What's going on here? Is there a pattern?
Yes, and it's one you can learn from. Groat is probably a man of exceedingly high principle, in theory -- he believes justice is bigger than man, and that he should embody justice when necessary.
If you're endeavored to do a lot of things in the world, you'll realize how rare this attitude is. Most people live just for a simple calculation of the most basic self-interest.
But Groat, he wasn't just a champion of justice. He was also, at heart, a victim.
The view I've come to over the years is that some people believe the world is unjust, and want to lose in the end to prove it. They fashion themselves a hero, but want more than that -- they want martyrdom.
One of the greatest insights into character flaws I ever read also came from the CIA. The de-classified 1963 "Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation" protocols has one of the most radically honest descriptions of different groups of character flaws people might have.
Page 26 describes "the character wrecked by success" --
"This sort of person cannot tolerate success and goes through life failing at critical points. He is often accident-prone. Typically he has a long history of being promising and of almost completing a significant assignment or achievement but not bringing it off. ... The person who avoids success has a conscience which forbids the pleasure of accomplishment and recognition. He frequently projects his guilt feelings and feelings that all of his failures were someone else's fault. He may have a strong need to suffer and may seek danger or injury."
If you've ever sought to change the world yourself, and rallied against the injustice of it, be damn careful you're not trying to lose to prove the inherent injustice of it. Mr. Groat could have done a hell of a lot more with $300,000 and good standing with the government than he could have done with time behind bars as a convicted felon.
"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. For when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you." -- Nietzsche
"Don't Come Here For Justice" -- Sign on top of the desk of private security expert in America, Gavin de Becker