Where are they now?

Fred Manget (AB '73), UGA Rhodes Scholar

Where are they now?

Fred Manget (AB '73)

Photo by: Andrew Davis Tucker

Fred Manget (AB ’73) thrives on intellectual challenges.

After graduating summa cum laude, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to study philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. Then he earned a law degree from Vanderbilt and began practicing in Atlanta. Eventually Manget grew restless handling business cases.

“It was obvious that I was interested in international affairs and national security—that’s what I’d studied at Oxford,” he says. In 1986 Manget (pronounced “mah zhay”) joined the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of General Counsel. After 22 years, he acknowledges that he has been fortunate since the nature of his job is adversarial. “I enjoy arguing with people,” he says.

The CIA’s controversies have been challenging, even risky, Manget says. “Many controversies don’t have clear answers, so I have to tolerate a lot of ambiguity. We’re often involved with edge-of-the-razor decisions about what’s right and wrong.”

Fred Manget, far left, then-president of the Phi Eta Sigma honorary scholastic fraternity for freshmen men, poses with the other officers for a photo that would appear in the 1971 Pandora yearbook

The CIA legal staff faces a range of concerns, including First and Fourth Amendment issues, POW abuse and reasonable searches, he says. He embraces the uneasy relationship between the law and secret activities, such as espionage.

“The basic conundrum for intelligence is that it requires secrecy to be effective, but government secrecy in a Western liberal democracy is generally undesirable,” he says. “That places the CIA and its activities in constant tension with the normal conditions of American law and government.”

At the CIA, Manget weathered a number of controversies—Iran-Contra, FISA, counter intelligence and terrorism. He helped draft parts of the National Security Act and the U.S. Patriot Act.

“On weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the intelligence was spectacularly wrong,” he admits.

Currently Manget is on a two-year sabbatical, returning to UGA to teach in the School of Public and International Affairs and the School of Law.

“The Agency has had an outreach program to the academic community for 20 years and it’s important to keep it up. I’ll be a resource for the University,” he says, “but I’m not allowed to recruit.”

About the Author

—John English is a freelance writer living in Athens.