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John R. Sano

Adjunct Professor; Former Deputy Director, National Clandestine Service, CIA
John Sano

Adjunct Professor; Former Deputy Director, National Clandestine Service, CIA


  • Intelligence Community Issues
  • Covert Action
  • Human Intelligence (HUMINT)
  • Counterintelligence

Professional Experience

Mr. Sano spent 28 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and was appointed the National Clandestine Service’s (formerly the Directorate of Operations) Deputy Director in November 2005 by then DCI Porter Goss. Mr. Sano came to this position after having previously served as Chief of the East Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations from January through November 2005.

As Deputy Director, Mr. Sano chaired the NCS’ Senior Leadership Team and oversaw the day-to-day management of the country’s Clandestine Service. In addition, Mr. Sano was an active member of the CIA’s Executive Management Team and regularly briefed senior Administration as well as Congressional Committee members on matters of national security and worldwide covert operations. Through his extensive interaction with other senior Intelligence Community members to include the National Security Council and Congress, Mr. Sano played an integral role in the establishment and direction of the newly formed NCS.

Previous positions within the CIA included serving as a Chief of Station in two foreign and one domestic location, as well as nearly 15 years of overseas experience in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Among other senior assignments, Mr. Sano was the CIA’s chief of North Korean operations in the early 90’s and directed the CIA’s efforts during the Balkan conflict in the mid-90’s.

A recipient of the Donovan Award (the NCS’ highest award), Mr. Sano has also been presented the Director’s Award, the Balkans Service Medallion, the Exceptional Intelligence Collector Award and the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal by Directors Robert Gates, George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden. Mr. Sano was also awarded the Diplomatic Order of Merit in 2002 by the President of the Republic of Korea.

Prior to joining the CIA, Mr. Sano earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s in Asian Studies from St. John’s University in New York, as well as a Master’s of International Affairs from Columbia University.

Mr. Sano also serves on the Board of Directors of Garda Federal Services and is a professorial lecturer on national security and intelligence issues at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Mr. Sano also serves on the National Board of Directors of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) as well as serving as the AFIO Vice-President.