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Friday, January 11, 2008

CIA Agent Phil Agee - In Memoriam

To some he was a conscientious whistleblower, to others a "traitor" responsible for the deaths of American, and possibly British, intelligence agents. The former CIA officer Philip Agee stunned the world in 1975 when he published Inside the Company -- CIA Diary, accusing the US intelligence agency of "state terrorism", authorised by the White House, to thwart rising left-wing movements in Latin America.

It included a list of some 250 CIA agents in the region. As a result, Agee was forced to live underground fearing a CIA "hit" for much of the rest of his life.He said that even before his expose appeared the CIA were keeping track of him, with miniature microphones and location devices planted in his typewriter case, images he used for the first cover of the book. He was thrown out of Britain at the behest of Washington, and finally died in Cuba, where he had been given safe haven, and free medical treatment, by Fidel Castro.

Agee worked as a case officer for the CIA for 12 years, mostly in Washington DC or Latin America, until he resigned in 1969. He had served during what was probably the intelligence agency's highest peak of influence, emboldened by the perceived threat of Soviet expansion worldwide -- but what was surely its lowest moral ebb.

When Penguin first published Agee's book, in London -- he had assumed the CIA would find a way to censor it if it were published in the United States -- it came as a bombshell. The agency had considered itself untouchable in print but Agee's exposé struck a chord with youth around the world increasingly concerned by US foreign policy. CIA-bashing became the fashion.He was the first person to publish what many Americans had preferred to ignore during the Cold War, that the CIA supported "dirty tricks", including assassinations, to keep pro-Soviet movements out of power in Latin America.

He described how, while based in the CIA's station in Montevideo, Uruguay, he visited police headquarters to find they were torturing a prisoner he had tipped them off about merely as asible leftist.

When he complained, the police simply turned up the volume of a radio-broadcast football match to drown out the screams.Initially, Agee was prime CIA material. He was a conservative Catholic from a comfortable white family in Tampa, Florida, a 1956 graduate in philosophy and law from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, who said later he had set out to serve his country. Interviewed by Playboy magazine after the book appeared, Agee said:

"Millions of people all over the world had been killed or at least had their lives destroyed by the CIA.

I couldn't just sit by and do nothing."His decision to quit stemmed largely from the so-called Tlatelolco massacre of hundreds of students by troops in Mexico City 10 days before the 1968 Olympic Games. As a CIA agent in the Mexican capital at the time, Agee said he had worked with the then Mexican interior minister (and future President) Luis Echeverría to subdue student opposition to both the government and the games. A year earlier, he insisted, it was the CIA who had ordered the assassination in Bolivia of Cuba's Argentinian revolutionary hero, Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

"For more than 25 years I have been one more American working in solidarittivities with Cuba and against US hostility, aggression, blockade,"

Agee replied. "If this makes me a 'Cuban agent', then there are certainly a lot of us out there."Having sought refuge in England after the publication of CIA Diary, Agee lived in Cambridge, where he also provided material on CIA activities to publications such as Time Out.
But the Labour government of James Callaghan, under heavy pressure from the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, deported him in June 1977, saying his book's revelations might have led to the deaths of two MI6 agents in Poland.Agee sought asylum in other European countries but, again under US pressure, was expelled from France, the Netherlands, Italy and West Germany, though the latter later allowed him back after he married the German ballet dancer Giselle Roberge. He spent his last years between Hamburg and Havana, where he was eulogised after his death as "a loyal friend of Cuba and staunch defender of the people's struggle for a better world". Despite his earlier deportation from the UK, and the fact that his US passport had been revoked in 1979, he was allowed in to both countries in recent years to lecture or attend rallies opposed to American foreign policy.


Philip Burnett Franklin Agee (July 19, 1935 -- January 7, 2008[1]) was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officer and writer, best known as author of the 1975 book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, detailing his experiences in the CIA. Agee joined the CIA in 1957, and over the following decade had postings in Washington, D.C., Ecuador, Uruguay, and Mexico. After resigning from the Agency in 1968, he became a leading opponent of CIA practices. He died in Cuba in January 2008.
Agee was born in Tacoma Park, Florida. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1956.
Leaving CIA
Agee stated that his Roman Catholic social conscience had made him increasingly uncomfortable with his work by the late 1960s leading to his disillusionment with the CIA and its support for authoritarian governments across Latin America. He and other dissidents took encouragement in their stand from the Church Committee (1975-6), which cast a critical light on the role of the CIA in assassinations, domestic espionage, and other illegal activities.
In the book Agee condemned the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City and wrote that this was the immediate event precipitating him leaving the agency.
While Agee claims that the CIA was "very pleased with his work", offered him "another promotion" and his superior "was startled" when Agee told him about his plans to resign, the journalist "and longtime Communist conspiracy fighter" John Barron reports his resignation was forced "for a variety of reasons, including his irresponsible drinking, continuous and vulgar propositioning of embassy wives, and inability to manage his finances".
Book published
Because of legal problems in the US, in 1975, Inside the Company was first published in Britain, while Agee was living in London. It was eventually published worldwide, in 27 different languages. Playboy Magazine (August 1975) published excerpts from his book in the article titled What You Still Don't Know About The CIA! Ex-Company Man Philip Agee Tells All
Agee acknowledged that "Representatives of the Communist Party of Cuba also gave important encouragement at a time when I doubted that I would be able to find the additional information I needed."
The London Evening news called Inside the Company: CIA Diary "a frightening picture of corruption, pressure, assassination and conspiracy". The Economist called the book "inescapable reading". Miles Copeland, Jr., a former CIA station chief in Cairo, said the book was "as complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere"
and it is "an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British 'case officer' operates . . . All of it . . . is presented with deadly accuracy."
The book was delayed for six months before being published in the United States, it became an immediate best seller.
The head of the Western Hemisphere Division of the CIA, Ted Shackley, was tasked with stopping the publication of Agee's CIA Diary
Inside the Company
Inside the Company identifies 250 CIA officers and agents.
Agee's first overseas assignment was in 1960 in Ecuador where his primary mission was to force a diplomatic break between Ecuador and Cuba, no matter what the cost to Ecuador's shaky stability, using bribery, intimidation, bugging, and forgery. Agee spent four years in Ecuador penetrating Ecuadorian politics. He states that his actions subverted and destroyed the political fabric of Ecuador.
Agee helped bug the United Arab Republic code room in Montevideo, Uruguay, with two contact microphones placed on the ceiling of the room below.
On December 12, 1965 Agee explains how he visited senior Uruguayan military and police officers at a Montevideo police headquarters. He realized that the screaming he heard from a nearby cell was the torturing of an Uruguayan, a name he had given to the police as someone to watch. The Uruguayan senior officers simply turned up a radio report of a soccer game to drown out the screams.
Agee also ran CIA operations within the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. He then went to Cuba to do some research, in May 1971 and May 1972, and began to be monitored by the CIA in Paris.
Agee stated that President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica, President Luis Echeverría Álvarez (1970-1976) of Mexico and President Alfonso López Michelsen (1974-1978) of Colombia were CIA collaborators or agents.
Agee became somewhat of a minor celebrity in the United Kingdom after the publication of Inside the Company. Agee revealed the identities of dozens of CIA agents in their London station. After numerous requests from the American government as well as an MI6 report that blamed Agee's work for the execution of two MI6 agents in Poland, a request was put in to deport Agee from the UK. Although Agee fought this and was supported by dozens of left wing MPs, journalists, and private citizens, he eventually left from the UK on June 3, 1977, and traveled to the Netherlands. Agee was also eventually expelled from Holland, France, West Germany, and Italy.
On January 12, 1975, Agee testified before the second Bertrand Russell Tribunal in Brussels that in 1960 he had conducted personal name checks of Venezuelan employees for a Venezuelan subsidiary of Exxon. Exxon was "letting the CIA assist in employment decisions, and my guess is that those name checks... are continuing to this day." Agee stated that the CIA customarily performed this service for subsidiaries of large U.S. corporations throughout Latin America. An Exxon spokesman denied Agee's accusations.
In 1978, Agee and a small group of his supporters began publishing the Covert Action Information Bulletin, which promoted "a worldwide campaign to destabilize the CIA through exposure of its operations and personnel." Mitrokhin states that the bulletin had help from both the KGB and the Cuban DGI. The January 1979 issue of Agee's Bulletin published the FM 30-31B forgery.
In 1978 and 1979, Agee published the two volumes of Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe, and Dirty Work: The CIA in Africa which contained information of 2000 CIA personnel.
Agee told Swiss journalist Peter Studer that "The CIA is plainly on the wrong side, that is, the capitalistic side. I approve KGB activities, communist activities in general. Between the overdone activities that the CIA initiates and the more modest activities of the KGB, there is absolutely no comparison."
Agee's US passport was revoked in 1979.[18][19] In 1980, Maurice Bishop's government conferred citizenship of Grenada on Agee, and he took up residence in that island. The collapse of the Grenada Revolution removed that safe haven, and Agee then was given a passport by the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. After a change of government there, this passport was revoked in 1990, and he was given a German passport, the nationality of his wife, ballet dancer Giselle Roberge. They later lived in Germany and Cuba. Agee was later readmitted to both the U.S. and United Kingdom.[20] Agee's own description of his odyssey was published in his autobiography, On the Run, in 1987
Intelligence Identities Protection Act
In 1982, the United States Congress passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), legislation that seemed directly aimed at Agee's works. The law would later figure in the investigation into the Valerie Plame scandal into whether Bush administration officials leaked a case officer's name to the media as an act of retaliation against her husband.
Late activities
Until his death, Agee ran a website from his home in Havana,[21][22] which uses loopholes in American law to arrange holidays to Cuba for American citizens, who are generally prohibited by the Trading with the Enemy Act statute of US law from spending money in Cuba. In the 1980s NameBase founder Daniel Brandt had taught Agee how to use computers and computer databases for his research.[23] According to an author's biography attached to an essay by Agee in March, 2007 in the Alexander Cockburn-edited magazine Counterpunch, Agee "has lived since 1978 with his wife in Hamburg, Germany. He travels frequently to Cuba and South America for solidarity and business activities." The Cubalinda travel service was begun in 2000.
On December 16, 2007, Agee was admitted to a hospital in Havana, and surgery was performed on him due to perforated ulcers. His wife said on January 9, 2008 that he had died in Cuba on January 7 and had been cremated

Philip Agee, 72, agent that turned against the C.I.A.Published on: 01/10/08
Philip Agee, the former CIA officer who turned against the agency and spent years exposing undercover U.S. spies overseas, died Monday in Havana. He was 72.
The cause was peritonitis, said Louis Wolf, a friend.
Agee, whose disillusionment with his work at the agency led him to embrace leftist views, had spent nearly four decades as an avowed enemy of American foreign policy and particularly of the covert intelligence work that supported it. Deprived of his U.S. passport and expelled from several countries at the request of the United States, he had lived for the most part in Germany and Cuba, where he operated a travel Web site,
His 1975 book, "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," infuriated U.S. officials by identifying about 250 officers, front companies and foreign agents working for the United States. His example inspired several more books and magazines, including Covert Action Information Bulletin, written by close associates and sometimes with Agee's help, which published the names and often the addresses of hundreds more agency officers working under cover around the world.
The exposes of Agee and others led Congress to pass the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, which made it a crime to intentionally reveal the identity of a covert intelligence officer. An investigation of the possible violation of that law in 2003 after Valerie Wilson was named as a CIA officer led to the perjury conviction last year of I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.
"Phil Agee was really the first person to do whistle-blowing on the CIA on the grand scale," said William H. Schaap, a New York lawyer and old friend who worked with him on anti-CIA projects. "He blew the whistle on hundreds and hundreds of undercover operations."
What Agee and his political allies saw as a moral imperative, his former colleagues at the intelligence agency saw as reckless and venal betrayal. He was accused of working with the Soviet KGB and Cuban intelligence against the agency, though as a fellow traveler rather than as a formal agent.
"You can package it any way you want . the simple reality is he defected to the enemy during the Cold War," said Frank R. Anderson, 65, who worked as a clandestine officer for the CIA abroad from 1968 to 1995. "He did everything he could to endanger his colleagues and fellow American citizens."
Agee's efforts and those of his associates, Anderson said, placed in danger not only Americans doing covert work but also all the foreign citizens who had associated with them, whether as spies or in daily life. Even when it did not result in physical threats, the exposure of spies disguised as diplomats or businesspeople forced the agency to withdraw them and caused costly disruptions of intelligence efforts, Anderson said. At a ceremony in 1997 to mark the 50th anniversary of the CIA, the elder George Bush, the former U.S. president and director of Central Intelligence, invoked Agee as a symbol of treachery. "Remember Philip Agee, who I consider a traitor to our country?" Bush asked. Agee was sometimes accused . wrongly, according to him and his friends . of bearing some responsibility for the death of Richard Welch, the agency's Athens station chief, who was assassinated in 1975 by the Greek terrorist group November 17.
Barbara Bush, the former first lady, included such an accusation in her autobiography. Agee sued, and Barbara Bush omitted the reference to him from later printings.
"He really, truly did not want to see anyone hurt," said Wolf, the friend and co-author who carried on Agee's work of exposing agents. "He wanted to neutralize what they were doing . the whole gamut, from fixing elections and hiring local journalists to plant stories all the way up to creating foreign intelligence services that became agencies of oppression."
Philip Burnett Franklin Agee was born July 19, 1935, into a prosperous family in Tacoma Park, Fla., and had "a privileged upbringing in a big white house bordering an exclusive golf club," as he later described in his 1987 memoir "On the Run." An altar boy, he attended a Jesuit high school and graduated from Notre Dame in 1956, joining the CIA the next year after briefly attending law school.
After three years of military training at the direction of the agency, Agee worked under cover for eight years in Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico. His change of heart was influenced by Angela Camargo Seixas, a Brazilian leftist, who Agee wrote, had been arrested and tortured by Brazilian security forces; she later became Agee's lover.
"When I joined the CIA I believed in the need for its existence," he wrote in "CIA Diary." "After 12 years with the agency I finally understood how much suffering it was causing, that millions of people all over the world had been killed or had their lives destroyed by the CIA and the institutions it supports."
The book chronicles his growing disillusionment. An entry for Dec. 12, 1965, describes a meeting with top police officials in Montevideo, Uruguay, during which he heard moans from an adjacent room.
"The moaning grew in intensity, turning to screams," Agee wrote. "By then I knew we were listening to someone being tortured."
Because he feared that the torture victims were people whose names he had given to the Uruguayan authorities, Agee was racked with guilt. "I'm going to be hearing that voice for a long time," he wrote.
Agee is survived by his wife, Giselle Roberge Agee, a former ballet dancer from Germany, and two sons from his first marriage, Philip and Christopher, both of New York. His first marriage, to Janet Agee, ended in divorce.
Despite its political viewpoint, "CIA Diary" is considered by some agency veterans to offer an accurate account of the work of a case officer. In a talk at Harvard last year, Michael Sulick, now head of the CIA's clandestine service, recommended Agee's book as "an excellent reflection of the day-to-day life of an officer, until he starts going bad, and then of course it's totally untrue."

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