|Michael J. Quigley with the Diogenes Club Banner|
I was surprised and deeply honored to be asked to give the keynote address to the inaugural meeting of the Diogenes Club of Washington, DC, on Sept. 20. I wanted to know more about this fledgeling group and its founder, Michael J. Quigley. As you will see from my interview with him, his background is fascinating:
What inspired you to create the Diogenes Club of Washington, DC?
I have always been struck by the rather prominent place public and national service plays in the Canon. Whether it be the intrepidity of Inspector Lestrade and the boys down at Scotland Yard, or Mycroft being, at times, “the British government,” service to something larger than oneself is a constant that seems to run through the stories. From “The Bruce-Partington Plans” to “The Naval Treaty” to “His Last Bow,” Conan Doyle sets national service at a high premium and clearly sees it as a virtuous undertaking.
By extension, it would appear Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson agree. Watson, himself a war veteran, risked his life for the Empire. He returned to Britain, wounded, but undaunted. Holmes even considered service beyond the borders of the British Empire to be noble and worthwhile. He took on key cases on behalf of the Pope; he has a history of having worked with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the New York Police Department; and he was awarded one of France’s highest honours for services rendered.
Furthermore, many of the earliest Sherlockians themselves were committed public servants. For example, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (a Baker Street Irregular himself) appointed fellow Irregular, Elmer Davis, as director of the newly created United States Office of War Information, a sprawling organization with over 3,000 employees. Even though Davis was being paid $53,000 per year by CBS, he left the network to work in government during the crisis of World War II. As Director of the Office of War Information, Davis recommended to President Roosevelt that Japanese-Americans be permitted to enlist for service in the Army and Navy and urged him to oppose bills in Congress that would deprive Nisei of citizenship and intern them during the war. He argued that Japanese propaganda proclaiming it a racial war could be combated by deeds that counteracted this. Davis has been termed one of the “unsung forefathers” of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Nisei combat unit in the war.
In keeping with the long history and tradition of Sherlockians in public service, I felt that a special scion of the Baker Street Irregulars to be based in Washington, DC, our nation’s capital, should be established to celebrate Sherlockians in public service, whether in the military or as public school teachers. The Diogenes Club of Washington, DC would also honour the public service found in the stories. with special emphasis on any American associations that are evident in the Canon.
Is it a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars?
Yes. I have applied for official scion status to Wiggins and according to a little Blau… er, I mean blue bird, we may expect to have official scion status bestowed upon the Diogenes Club of Washington, DC at the first meeting in September.
What are the requirements for membership?
Participation in any meeting or event sponsored by the Diogenes Club of Washington, DC will be open to any and all Sherlockians without qualification. That said, membership is reserved for any Sherlockian who has spent at least one day in the direct employ of some office, department, or agency of government. Qualifying service can be found in federal, state, or municipal government; military service; civil service; elected office; or diplomatic service. Sherlockians from any nation not currently at war with the United States who have served in their county’s military or government may also qualify for membership. Sadly, contractor service to the government does not qualify for membership. But as I stated above, all are welcome!
What has been your own service?
In 1989, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. Over the next 14 or so years, I served in several military occupational specialties, including as an infantryman, military policeman, and in three separate specialties of military intelligence—Intelligence analyst, interrogator, and counterintelligence agent. During my enlistment, I studied the Arabic language at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California.
Some of my enlisted career highlights include service an Operations Assistant in the Defense Attaché Office in Dublin, Ireland, where I served as an advisor to Senator George Mitchell during the multi-party peace negotiations in Northern Ireland resulting in the “Good Friday” peace accord of 1998. A few years later, I was assigned to be a counter-terrorism analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA) Joint Intelligence Task Force-Combating Terrorism (JITF-CT). While there, I served as the primary briefer to the Joint Staff, J2 and the counter-terrorism briefer for the Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Just days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, I deployed to Bosnia as the Stabilization Forces’ (SFOR) first-ever, Lead Counter-terrorism Analyst.
My enlisted career culminated with a deployment, in 2003, to Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, where I served as the Special Agent/Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge of the Counterintelligence Section of the 800th MP Brigade and later Combined Joint Task Force-7. While still in Iraq, in 2003, I was commissioned in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer. Since my date of commission preceded my discharge from the Army by nearly two months, I was briefly, the only ensign in the Army!
My commissioned service has truly been one adventure after another. I served as an al-Qaeda senior leadership analyst and as a lead analyst for al Qaeda in Iraq at the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC). In 2005, I reported to Lexington, VA, as Assistant Commandant of the Virginia Military Institute. The following May, I returned to active status with the Office of Naval Intelligence and was mobilized to support Operation ENDURING FREEDOM first with SEAL Team Five and later to the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where I served as the Senior High Value Detainee Interrogator in the task force and the Section Chief of the Saudi Arabia and North Africa/Europe Human Intelligence Collection Teams (HCTs) between 2006 and 2007.
Taking a brief hiatus from my naval career, I entered St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Seminary in Baltimore, MD, after returning from Cuba to discern a possible call to priesthood. After a year of theology and philosophy studies, I discovered that I was called to national rather than religious service and entered back onto active duty with the Joint Special Operations Command at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. One month later, I deployed back to Iraq as Deputy Chief of Human Intelligence Operations for a joint task force of the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
Following this deployment with special operations, I returned to DIA as part of the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC) having served as the USSOCOM program manager and US Navy service representative before being posted as the Assistant American Legation and US Naval Attaché (A/ALUSNA) first to the Kingdom of Belgium and later, to the Republic of Malta. Upon return to the States, I was appointed a Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where I participated in an investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.
After serving on the Hill for a year, I was assigned as the acting Assistant Officer-in-Charge of Navy Intelligence Reserve Region-Washington, DC, before being requested by the Director of Intelligence for U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, to serve on his personal staff. In March of 2011, I was reassigned to U.S. Africa Command and embarked aboard USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC-20), command ship for Operation: ODYSSEY DAWN, and Operation: UNIFIED PROTECTOR, the US and NATO operations in Libya.
Returning to the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2011, I served as Chief of the Policy and Strategy branch, Afghanistan-Pakistan Task Force, until transferring to the Navy Reserves in April, 2013, where I am assigned to the Directorate of Intelligence for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.
The inaugural meeting is coming up. What will other meetings be like? (How often and what form will they take?)
Like most scion societies, the Diogenes Club of Washington, DC will meet on an irregular schedule. I suspect that we will convene about four times a year and hopefully sponsor a few excursions to places of Sherlockian interest in the future. I don’t wish to make Diogenes Club a highly ritualized organization, but I do expect a Rite of Initiation to be part of the process for membership. Together with one of my dearest Sherlockian friends, my Sherlockian godfather of sorts, John Baesch, we have drafted a constitution and, barring a few more refinements, this charter will guide our future endeavors of Sherlockian scholarship. One annual event I hope to bring to fruition will be a black tie dinner meeting to be held in February, in honour of the supposed birth month of Mycroft Holmes, where the annual initiation ritual will take place. Beyond that, our meetings will likely feature a keynote address, such as the one you are preparing for our inaugural luncheon meeting in September. I also hope to publish a Christmas Annual journal called, “The Pall Mall Gazette,” as an outlet for original Sherlockian scholarship, with particular emphasis on governmental or public service and any American connections for in the Canon.
How did you first encounter Mr. Sherlock Holmes?
I first met Sherlock Holmes in 1980 when my grandmother gave me the Barring-Gould boxed set of the Annotated Sherlock Holmes. This began my lifelong love for and adventure with Sherlock Holmes. I credit my interest in foreign intelligence to Holmes’s methods. I learned how to become a keen observer of mere trifles, which has served me well in the world of human intelligence. In 1993, I discovered the Baker Street Journal and even attempted to “apply” for membership in the Baker Street Irregulars, not knowing how this august body of Sherlockians actually work. To my initial disappointment (but now delight), I received a personal note from John Bennett Shaw disabusing me of my naïveté. But he encouraged him to join a local scion. This letter is one of my treasured relics of Sherlockiana!
What has been your involvement in Sherlockian affairs over the years? What has that meant to you?
In 2009, I finally joined several scion societies of the Baker Street Irregulars, including the Red Circle of Washington, DC; the Six Napoleons of Baltimore; and Watson's Tin Box. I have attended every BSI weekend since 2009 except one owing to being overseas at the time. As you well know, Sherlock Holmes draws together some of the best and most interesting people from across generations and from every corner of the earth. I have really made some wonderful friends as a result of entering into the social and scholarly aspect of Sherlock Holmes. This past year has been especially memorable for me as I was invited to attend my first BSI annual dinner this past January and just last month, I published my first essay in the Baker Street Journal. With the founding of the Diogenes Club and our first meeting already on the calendar, I think I shall recall 2014 as a seminal year in my Sherlockian development.