Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 23, 1976 · Page 138
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 138

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 23, 1976
Page 138
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Page 138 article text (OCR)

litllNPtKC by Connecticut Walker Vint tawrence at work: Now a successful political illustrator in Washington, he helped to run the CIA'S secret war ;n Laos, 1962-66. How Lawrence sees Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger (bell clapper): "I deal with the public function or image of a person," says the artist. WASHINGTON, O.C. ···hat happens to a former CIA ·II agent who leaves the spy busi- ·· ness after a brief but brilliant TM * career and becomes a hot political artist? According to Vint Lawrence, a tall, strapping, gentle 36-year-old former secret agent in Laos, the transition was rough. "At first," he says, "my former agency colleagues couldn't believe that I'd really left the CIA to become an artist. They'd come up to me at parties and ask, 'What are you really doing?' ' I'd tell them, and after listening for a few minutes they'd smile. 'That*s a great cover,' they'd say. 'You really have your story down pat'" Ifs not his 'story' that Lawrence has down but his new career. In the six years since-he left the government, he ' has become one of a handful of nationally successful cartoonists. His drawings . of former Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas, Ionian's King Hussein, Secretary of State Kissinger, President Ford and many other political and pop-' ular personalities ranging from Barbra Streisand to Franklin Delano Roosevelt illustrate posters and invitations to fund-raisers as well as newspaper and magazine articles. His work has appeared in various magazines--Harper's, Audubon, Washington-Monthly, Potomac, and Washingtonian, among others. "Vint is as well-known and successful a commercial illustrator as there is in Washington," says Andrew Bomstein, former art director for Washingtonian magazine, "and it's difficult to be a success, because the demand here as in the rest of the country is very limited. Vint publishes an enormous number of drawings in a year. Nader the Viking "He has a marvelous way of capturing a certain characteristic in a person. His drawings are strong but not nasty. He has made people into various types of animals or inanimate objects. For example, he showed a series of humorous writers as an endangered species and a group of people as male chauvinist pigs. He drew Ralph Nader as a sail on a Viking ship. And he did "a fantastic drawing of Mao Tse-tuhg, turning his mouth into a map of China and his wart into Taiwan. He's a damned good artist, and at what he does--drawing people --he's one of the best." In the 1960's Lawrence was one of the most promising young agents to work for William Colby, former director His view of Franklin D. Roosevelt. of the CIA. "He was one of our real stars," recalls Colby. "He was bright, intelligent, and courageous. He could relate well with foreign types, get their confidence; they respected him." From 1962 to 1966, Lawrence helped run what became known as the CIA's "secret war in Laos." Under President .Kennedy's orders the CIA recruited 30,000 Meo and other Lao mountain tribesmen into a clandestine army to combat the North Vietnamese. Lawrence was the American "case officer." He slept, ate, and lived with the tribesmen, learning their dialect, sharing their paramilitary jungle operations. After four years in Laos, Lawrence was asked by Colby, then head of the Far East division of CIA's clandestine services, to return to agency headquarters and become his executive assistant It was customary for Colby to bring young officers, or what he calls "good field continued 11

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