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Smith is a diplomatic historian and public policy consultant. After serving briefly as a junior Intelligence officer during the Cold War, in 1972, with the late Arthur Schlesinger Jr. as mentor, he wrote the first history of the OSS, the World War II Office of Strategic Services. The following year, he was a consultant to the Defense in the Pentagon Papers trial of Daniel Ellsberg. Smith has since written on national security issues for the Washington POST, the Los Angeles TIMES and the International Journal of Intelligence, and has taught foreign policy seminars at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. A political "gut-liberal" Democrat, he has worked in the campaigns of nine congressional, gubernatorial, senatorial and presidential candidates. He now lives with his daughter on the central coast of California.