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Hillhouse is also a health care executive who has developed behavioral health programs for children with autism. She was CEO and President of Hawaii Behavioral Health. She also founded Thrive Autism Solutions in Northwest Arkansas.
When living as a student in Europe, she claims to have engaged in the black market between East and West, running Cuban rum, smuggling jewels from the Soviet Union and laundering East Bloc currencies. She claims to have been recruited by the East German secret police, the Stasi, and by the Libyan Intelligence Service. Some sources assert that she was an American intelligence officer, but Hillhouse denies this.
Hillhouse studied in Central and Eastern Europe for over six years at various institutions including Moscow State University, Moscow Finance Institute, Humboldt University of Berlin, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (Germany) and Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj, Romania). She earned her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis and her MA in Russian and East European Studies as well as her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan.
Hillhouse writes a national security blog which was featured in the New York Times Week in Review after the head of the private military corporation Blackwater USA granted her an exclusive interview. In June 2007, Hillhouse discovered the US national Intelligence Community budget metadata in a declassified PowerPoint presentation released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. On August 7, 2011 Hillhouse published an account of Osama bin Laden's death on her blog that suggested Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had been sheltering bin Laden in return for Saudi cash and that he was betrayed by a Pakistani intelligence officer.
She has also published stories on national security in the Washington Post and The Nation. In the controversial Washington Post article, Hillhouse wrote that "the private spy industry has succeeded where no foreign government has: It has penetrated the CIA and is running the show." In the Nation article, Hillhouse revealed that private companies are heavily involved in the nation’s most important and most sensitive national security document — the President’s Daily Brief.
- "Don't Blame Blackwater." "The Christian Science Monitor." 2 November 2007.
- “The Government Can Find You.” The New York Times, 7 August 2007.
- “Outsourcing Intelligence.” The Nation, 31 July 2007.
- “Who Runs the CIA?” Washington Post, Sunday op-ed. 8 July 2007.
- “A Security Contractor Defends His Team, Which, He Says, Is Not a Private Army.” The New York Times, 29 April 2007.
- "Communist Politics and Sexual Dissidents. Social Movements in Eastern Europe." Sexual Minorities and Society: The Changing Attitudes toward Sexuality in 20th Century Europe. Tallinn: Estonian Academy of Sciences, 1991.
- "Out of the Closet behind the Wall: Sexual Politics and Social Change in the GDR." Slavic Review, 49:4 (Winter 1990), 585-96.
Hillhouse's controversial articles have twice elicited a response from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—the only times the office of the nation's chief spy has ever publicly responded to the writings of a private citizen.
Hillhouse's debut novel, Rift Zone (2004), is a spy thriller about a female smuggler who becomes entangled in an East German plot to stop the fall of the Berlin Wall. The American Booksellers Association Book Sense program selected it as one of the best books of 2004 and Library Journal named it one of the year's most promising debuts. Her second novel, Outsourced (2007) is a political thriller about the outsourcing of the CIA and Pentagon and the turf wars between the two agencies.
- Outsourced. New York: Forge Books, 2007.
- (Audio). Blackstone Audiobooks, 2007.
- (Italian). Mondadori, 2008.
- (Dutch). Uitgeverij Luitingh, 2008.
- “Diplomatic Constraints.” Thriller. Ed. by James Patterson. New York: Mira Books, 2006.
- “I knew Julius No. Julius No was a friend of mine. Osama, you are no Dr. No.—An open letter to bin Laden from James Bond’s Greatest Villains.” James Bond in the 21st Century: Why We Still Need 007. Dallas: BenBella Books, 2006.
- “Secret Agent Chick.” This is Chick-Lit. Ed. by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Dallas: BenBella Books, 2006.
- Rift Zone. Forge Books: New York, 2004.
- (Mass market paperback) Forge Books: New York, 2005.
- (Russian translation, Шпионка по случаю), St. Petersburg: Alpharet, 2006.
- "East Germany--Lothar DeMaizière," Leaders of Nations. Lansdale [Penn.]: Current Leaders Publishing Co., 1990.
- "A Reevaluation of Soviet Policy in Central Europe: The Soviet Union and the Occupation of Austria." Eastern European Politics and Societies, 3:1 (1989), 83-104.
- (McGuire, 2004; Adler, 2004)
- (Nolan, 2004)
- John McGuire (Sept. 8, 2004). "The Spy who Loved it." St. Louis Post-Dispatch', p. E1
- The Spy Who Billed Me blog
- metadata office.microsoft.com
- Crilly, Rob (10 August 2011). "Osama bin Laden 'protected by Pakistan in return for Saudi cash'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- Washington Post
- Nolan, Tom (May 18, 2004). "Women Writers Infiltrate the Realm of Spy Novels." The Wall Street Journal, p. D10.
- (Sept. 6, 2004). "Last Gasp!" People, p. 60.
- "Big Achievers Share the Greatest Risk They Ever Took," Forbes.
- Dick Adler (August 22, 2004). "Smugglers, Spies, Killers and More." Chicago Tribune.
- Eugene Weber (Oct. 17, 2004). "Freedom, Fire and Ire." Los Angeles Times, part R, p. 9.
- Thrive Autism Solutions
- The Spy Who Billed Me, National Security blog
- An online video interview with Hillhouse about her smuggling background