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Philip Agee

Philip Agee

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Warren Hinkle and William Turner, in The Fish is Red, easily the best book on the CIA's war against Cuba during the first 20 years of the revolution, tell the story of the CIA's efforts to save the life of one of their Batista Cubans. It was March 1959, less than three months after the revolutionary movement triumphed. The Deputy Chief of the CIA's main Batista secret police force had been captured, tried and condemned to a firing squad. The Agency had set up the unit in 1956 and called it the Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities or BRAC for its initials in Spanish. With CIA training, equipment and money it became arguably the worst of Batista's torture and murder organizations, spreading its terror across the whole of the political opposition, not just the communists.

The Deputy Chief of BRAC, one José Castaño Quevedo, had been trained in the United States and was the BRAC liaison man with the CIA Station in the U.S. Embassy. On learning of his sentence, the Agency Chief of Station sent a journalist collaborator named Andrew St. George to Che Guevara, then in charge of the revolutionary tribunals, to plead for Castaño's life. After hearing out St. George for much of a day, Che told him to tell the CIA chief that Castaño was going to die, if not because he was an executioner of Batista, then because he was an agent of the CIA. St. George headed from Che's headquarters in the Cabaña fortress to the seaside U.S. Embassy on the Malecón to deliver the message. On hearing Che's words the CIA Chief responded solemnly, "This is a declaration of war." Indeed, the CIA lost many more of its Cuban agents during those early days and in the unconventional war years that followed.

Today when I drive on 31st Avenue on the way to the airport, just before turning left at the Marianao military hospital, I pass on the left a large, multi-story white police station that occupies an entire city block. The style looks like 1920's fake castle, resulting in a kind of giant White Castle hamburger joint. High walls surround the building on the side streets, and on top of the walls at the corners are guard posts, now unoccupied, like those overlooking workout yards in prisons. Next door, separated from the castle by 110th street, is a fairly large two-story green house with barred windows and other security protection. I don't know its use today, but before it was the dreaded BRAC Headquarters, one of the CIA's more infamous legacies in Cuba. The same month as the BRAC Deputy was executed, on March 10, 1959, President Eisenhower presided over a meeting of his National Security Council at which they discussed how to replace the government in Cuba. It was the beginning of a continuous policy of regime change that every administration since Eisenhower has continued.

As I read of the arrests of the 75 dissidents, 44 years to the month after the BRAC Deputy's execution, and saw the U.S. government's outrage over their trials and sentences, one phrase from Washington came to mind that united American reactions in 1959 with events in 2003: "Hey! Those are OUR GUYS the bastards are screwing!"

A year later I was in training at a secret CIA base in Virginia when, in March 1960, Eisenhower signed off on the project that would become the Bay of Pigs invasion. We were learning the tricks of the spy trade including telephone tapping, bugging, weapons handling, martial arts, explosives, and sabotage. That same month the CIA, in its efforts to deny arms to Cuba prior to the coming exile invasion, blew up a French freighter, Le Coubre, as it was unloading a shipment of weapons from Belgium at a Havana wharf. More than 100 died in the blast and in fighting the fire afterwards. I see the rudder and other scrap from Le Coubre, now a monument to those who died, every time I drive along the port avenue passing Havana's main railway station.

In April the following year, two days before the Bay of Pigs invasion started, a CIA sabotage operation burned down El Encanto, Havana's largest department store where I had shopped on my first visit here in 1957. It was never rebuilt. Now each time I drive up Galiano in Central Havana on my way for a meal in Chinatown, I pass Fe del Valle Park, the block where El Encanto stood, named for a woman killed in the blaze.

Some who signed statements condemning Cuba for the dissidents' trials and the executions of the hijackers know perfectly well the history of U.S. aggression against Cuba since 1959: the murder, terrorism, sabotage and destruction that has cost nearly 3,500 lives and left more than 2,000 disabled. Those who don't know can find it in Jane Franklin's classic historical chronology The Cuban Revolution and the United States.

One of the best sum-ups of the U.S. terrorist war against Cuba in the 1960's came from Richard Helms, the former CIA Director, when testifying in 1975 before the Senate Committee investigating the CIA's attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. In admitting to "invasions of Cuba which we were constantly running under government aegis," he added: "We had task forces that that were striking at Cuba constantly. We were attempting to blow up power plants. We were attempting to ruin sugar mills. We were attempting to do all kinds of things in this period. This was a matter of American government policy."

During the same hearing Senator Christopher Dodd commented to Helms: "It is likely that at the very moment that President Kennedy was shot, a CIA officer was meeting with a Cuban agent in Paris and giving him an assassination device to use against Castro."

Helms responded: "I believe it was a hypodermic syringe they had given him. It was something called Blackleaf Number 40 and this was in response to AMLASH's request that he be provided with some sort of a device providing he could kill Castro. I'm sorry that he didn't give him a pistol. It would have made the whole thing a whole lot simpler and less exotic."

Review the history and you will find that no U.S. administration since Eisenhower has renounced the use of state terrorism against Cuba, and terrorism against Cuba has never stopped. True, Kennedy undertook to Khrushchev that the U.S. would not invade Cuba, which ended the 1962 missile crisis, and his commitment was ratified by succeeding administrations. But the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991 and the commitment with it.

Cuban exile terrorist groups, mostly based in Miami and owing their skills to the CIA, have continued attacks through the years. Whether or not they have been operating on their own or under CIA direction, U.S. authorities have tolerated them.

As recently as April 2003 the Sun-Sentinel of Ft. Lauderdale reported, with accompanying photographs, exile guerrilla training outside Miami by the F-4 Commandos, one of several terrorist groups currently based there, along with remarks by the FBI spokeswoman that Cuban exile activities in Miami are not an FBI priority. Abundant details on exile terrorist activities can be found with a web search including their connections with the paramilitary arm of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF).

Back in the 1970s, when he was director of the CIA, Bush tried to get a criminal indictment against me for revelations I was making about CIA operations and personnel. But he couldn't get it, I discovered later in documents I received under the Freedom of Information Act. The reason was that in the early 1970s the CIA had committed crimes against me while I was in Europe writing my first book. If they indicted and persecuted me, I would learn the details of those crimes, whatever they were: conspiracy to assassination, kidnapping, a drug plant. So they couldn't indict because the CIA under Bush, and before him under William Colby, said the details had to stay secret. So what did Bush do? He prevailed on President Ford to send Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State, to Britain where I was living, to get them to take action. A few weeks after Kissinger's secret trip a Cambridge policeman arrived at my door with a deportation notice. After living in Britain nearly five years, I had suddenly become a threat to security of the realm. During the next two years I was not only expelled from Britain, but also from France, Holland, West Germany, and Italy all under U.S. pressure. For two years I didn't know where I was living, and my two sons, then teenagers, attended four different schools in four different countries...

There have been several times when ClA autonomy was threatened. The Hoover Commission Task Force on Intelligence Activities headed by General Mark Clark recommended in 1955 that a Congressional Watchdog Committee be established to oversee the CIA much as the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy watches over the AEC. The Clark Committee, in fact, did not believe the sub-committees of the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees were able to exercise effectively the Congressional monitoring function. However, the problem was corrected, according to the Agency position, when President Eisenhower, early in 1956, established his own appointative committee to oversee the Agency. This is the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities, whose chairman is James R. Killian, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It can provide the kind of 'private citizen' monitoring of the Agency that Congress didn't want. Moreover ... the more Congress gets into the act the greater the danger of accidental revelation of secrets by indiscreet politicians. Established relationships with intelligence services of other countries, like Great Britain, might be complicated. The Congress was quite right at the beginning in giving up control - so much for them, their job is to appropriate the money.

At the close of World War II, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union began a major propaganda and agitation programme through the formation of the International Union of Students (IUS) and the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), both of which brought together national affiliates within their respective fields in as many countries as possible. These organizations promoted CPSU objectives and policy under the guise of unified campaigns (anti-colonialism, anti-nuclear weapons, propeace groups, etc.), in which they enlisted the support of their local affiliates in capitalist countries as well as within the communist bloc. During the late 1940s the US government, using the Agency for its purpose, began to brand these fronts as stooges of the CPSU with the object of discouraging non-communist participation. In addition to this the Agency engaged in operations in many places designed to stop local groups affiliating with the international bodies. By recruiting leaders of the local groups and by infiltrating agents, the Agency tried to gain control of as many of them as possible, so that even if such a group had already affiliated itself to either the IUS or the WFDY, it could be persuaded or compelled to withdraw.

The Agency also began to form alternative youth and student organizations at local and international level. The two international bodies constructed to rival those sponsored by the Soviet Union were the Coordinating Secretariat of National Unions of Students (COSEC) with headquarters in Leyden, and the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) situated in Brussels. Headquarters' planning, guidance and operational functions in the CTA youth and student operations are centralized in the International Organizations Division of the DDP.

Both COSEC and WAY, like the TUS and WFDY, promote travel, cultural activities and welfare, but both also work as propaganda agencies for the CTA - particularly in underdeveloped countries. They also have consultative status as non-governmental institutions with United Nations agencies such as UNESCO and they participate in the UN special agencies' programmes.

One very important function of the CTA youth and student operations is the spotting, assessing and recruiting of student and youth leaders as long-term agents, both in the PI and PP fields. The organizations sponsored or affected by the Agency are obvious recruiting grounds for these and, indeed, for other CTA operations. It is particularly the case in the underdeveloped world that both COSEC and WAY programmes lead to the recruitment of young agents who can be relied on to continue CTA policies and remain under CTA control long after they have moved up their political or professional ladders.

I joined the Agency because I thought I would be protecting the security of my country by fighting against communism and Soviet expansion while at the same time helping other countries to preserve their freedom. Six years in Latin America have taught me that the injustices forced by small ruling minorities on the mass of the people cannot be eased sufficiently by reform movements such as the Alliance for Progress. The ruling class will never willingly give up its special privileges and comforts. This is class warfare and is the reason why communism appeals to the masses in the first place. We call this the 'free world'; but the only freedom under these circumstances is the rich people's freedom to exploit the poor.

Economic growth in Latin America might broaden the benefits in some countries but in most places the structural contradictions and population growth preclude meaningful increased income for most of the people. Worse still, the value of private investment and loans and everything else sent by the US into Latin America is far exceeded year after year by what is taken out - profits, interest, royalties, loan repayments - all sent back to the US. The income left over in Latin America is sucked up by the ruling minority who are determined to live by our standards of wealth.

Agency operations cannot be separated from these conditions. Our training and support for police and military forces, particularly the intelligence services, combined with other US support through military assistance missions and Public Safety programmes, give the ruling minorities ever stronger tools to keep themselves in power and to retain their disproportionate share of the national income. Our operations to penetrate and suppress the extreme left also serve to strengthen the ruling minorities by eliminating the main danger to their power.

American business and government are bound up with the ruling minorities in Latin America - with the rural and industrial property holders. Our interests and their interests - stability, return on investment - are the same. Meanwhile the masses of the people keep on suffering because they lack even minimal educational facilities, healthcare, housing, and diet. They could have these benefits of national income were not so unevenly distributed.

To me what is important is to see that what little there is to go around goes around fairly. A communist hospital can cure just like a capitalist hospital and of communism is the likely alternative to what I've seen in Latin America, then it's up to the Latin Americans to decide. Our only alternatives are to continue supporting injustice or to withdraw and let the cards fall by themselves.

And the Soviets? Does KGB terror come packaged of necessity with socialism and communism? Perhaps so, perhaps not, but for most of the people in Latin America the situation couldn't be much worse - they've got more pressing matters than the opportunity to read dissident writers. For them it's a question of day-by-day survival.

No, I can't answer the dilemma of Soviet expansion, their pledge to 'bury' us, and socialism in Latin America. Uruguay, however, is proof enough that conventional reform does not work, and to me it is clear that the only real solutions are those advocated by the communists and others of the extreme left. The trouble is that they're on the Soviet side, or the Chinese side or the Cuban side - all our enemies.

Assuming the US was not indifferent to an invasion, one has to ask whether Bush administration policy was in effect to encourage Hussein to create a world crisis. After all, Iraq had chemical weapons and had already used them against Iran and against Kurds inside Iraq. He was known to be within two to five years of possessing nuclear weapons. He had completely upset the power balance in the Middle East by creating an army one million strong. He aspired to leadership of the Arab world against Israel, and he threatened all the so-called moderate, i.e., feudal regimes, not just Kuwait. And with Kuwait's oil he would control 20% of the world's reserves, a concentration in radical nationalist hands that would be equal, perhaps to the Soviet Union, Iraq's main arms supplier. Saddam Hussein, then, was the perfect subject to allow enough rein to create a crisis, and he was even more perfect for post-invasion media demonization, a la Qaddafi, Ortega, and Noriega.

Why would Bush seek a world crisis? The first suggestion came, for me at least, when he uttered those words about "our way of life" being at stake. They brought to mind Harry Truman's speech in 1950 that broke Congressional resistance to Cold War militarism and began 40 years of Pentagon dominance of the US economy. It's worth recalling Truman's speech because Bush is trying to use the Gulf crisis, as Truman used the Korean War, to justify what some call military Keynesianism as a solution for US economic problems. This is, using enormous military expenditures to prevent or rectify economic slumps and depressions, while reducing as much as possible spending on civilian and social programs. Exactly what Reagan and Bush did, for example, in the early and mid-1980s.

In 1950 the Truman administration adopted a program to vastly expand the US and West European military services under a National Security Council document called NSC-68. This document was Top Secret for 25 years and, by error, it was released in 1975 and published. The purpose of military expansion under NSC-68 was to reverse the economic slide that began with the end of World War II wherein during five years the US GNP had declined 209S and unemployment had risen from 700,000 to 4.7 million. US exports, despite the subsidy program known as the Marshall Plan, were inadequate to sustain the economy, and remilitarization of Western Europe would allow transfer of dollars, under so-called defense support grants, that would in turn generate European imports from the US As NSC-68 put the situation in early 1950: "the United States and other free nations will within a period of a few years at most experience a decline in economic activity of serious proportions unless more positive governmental programs are developed ..."

The solution adopted was expansion of the military. But support in Congress and the public at large was lacking for a variety of reasons, not least the increased taxes the programs would require. So Truman's State Department, under Dean Acheson, set out to sell the so-called Communist Threat as justification, through a fear campaign in the media that would create a permanent war atmosphere. But a domestic media campaign was not enough. A real crisis was needed, and it came in Korea. Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, in their history of the 1945-55 period, The Limits of Power, show that the Truman administration manipulated this crisis to overcome resistance to military build-up and a review of those events shows striking parallels to the Persian Gulf crisis of 1990. Korea at the end of World War II had been divided north-south along the 38th parallel by the US and the Soviets. But years of on-again, off-again conflict continued: first between revolutionary forces in the south and US occupation forces, then between the respective states established first by the US in the south and then by the Soviets in the north. Both states threatened to reunify the country by force, and border incursions with heavy fighting by military forces were common. In June 1950, communist North Korean military forces moved across the border toward Seoul, the South Korean capital At the time, the North Korean move was called "naked aggression," but I.F. Stone made a convincing case, in his Hidden History of the Korean War, that the invasion was provoked by South Korea and Taiwan, another US client regime.

For a month South Korean forces retreated practically without fighting, in effect inviting the North Koreans to follow them south. Meanwhile Truman rushed in US military forces under a United Nations command, and he made a dramatic appeal to Congress for an additional $10 billion beyond requirements for Korea, for US and European military expansion. Congress refused. Truman then made a fateful decision. In September 1950, about three months after the conflict began, US, South Korean, and token forces from other countries, under the United Nations banner, began to push back the North Koreans. Within three weeks the North Koreans had been pushed north to the border, the 38th parallel, in defeat. That would have been the end of the matter, at least the military action, if the US had accepted a Soviet UN resolution for a cease-fire and UN-supervised country-wide elections.

Truman, however, needed to prolong the crisis in order to overcome congressional and public resistance to his plans for US and European rearmament. Although the UN resolution under which US forces were fighting called only for "repelling" aggression from the north, Truman had another plan. In early October US and South Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel heading north, and rapidly advanced toward the Yalu River, North Korea's border with China where only the year before the communists had defeated the U.S.-backed Kuomintang regime. The Chinese communist government threatened to intervene, but Truman had decided to overthrow the communist government in North Korea and unite the country under the anti-Communist South Korean dictatorship. As predicted, the Chinese entered the war in November and forced the US and its allies to retreat once again southward. The following month, with the media full of stories and pictures of American soldiers retreating through snow and ice before hordes of advancing Chinese troops, Truman went on national radio, declared a state of national emergency, and said what Bush's remarks about "our way of life" at state recalled. Truman mustered all the hype and emotion he could, and said: "Our homes, our nation, all the things that we believe in, are in great danger. This danger has been created by the rulers of the Soviet Union." He also called again for massive increases in military spending for US and European forces, apart from needs in Korea.

Of course, there was no threat of war with the Soviet Union at all. Truman attributed the Korean situation to the Russians in order to create emotional hysteria, a false threat, and to get the leverage over Congress needed for approval of the huge amounts of money that Congress had refused. As we know, Truman's deceit worked. Congress went along in its so-called bi-partisan spirit, like the sheep in the same offices today. The US military budget more than tripled from $13 billion in 1950 to $44 billion in 1952, while US military forces doubled to 3.6 million. The Korean War continued for three more years, after it could have ended, with the final casualty count in the millions, including 34,000 US dead and more than 100,000 wounded. But in the United States, Korea made the permanent war economy a reality, and we have lived with it for 40 years.

The CIA, as you probably know, was founded in the years following World War II - supposedly, to prevent another Pearl Harbor, the Japanese surprise attack which brought the United States into that war. In that sense, the events of September 11th represent a terrible failure on the part of the CIA and the rest of the US intelligence establishment.

There are at least twelve or thirteen different intelligence agencies in the United States, and they are spending on the order of thirty billion dollars per year - the CIA being simply the foremost among them. Of course, the CIA was not only established to collect information and to anticipate attacks.

From the beginning of the CIA's existence, it was also used to intervene secretly in the internal affairs of other countries. Virtually no country on earth was exempt.

This secret intervention - as opposed to the collection of information - was called covert action, and it was used in a variety of ways to influence the institutions of other countries. Interventions in elections were very frequent. Every CIA station, that is the undercover CIA office inside a US embassy, included agents who were involved in covert action. In addition to intervention to ensure the election of favoured candidates and the defeat of disfavoured candidates, the CIA also infiltrated the institutions of power in countries all over the world. I am sure that Sweden is no exception, and was not an exception during all the years of the Cold War.

There was electoral intervention, propaganda via the media, and also the penetration and manipulation of women's organizations, religious organizations, youth and student organizations, the trade-union movement-- very important-- but also the military and security services and, of course, political parties. All of these institutions were free game for penetration and manipulation by the CIA.

In short, the CIA influenced the civic life of countries all around the world. It did this due to a lack of faith in democracy in other countries.

There was a desire for control. The secret US policy was to not leave things to "chance", that is to the will of the people in whatever country it might be. They had to be tutored, they had to be "guided" in such a way that they would be safe for US control. Control was the key word. None of this was done for altruistic or idealistic reasons.

Sanjay S. Rajput: The CIA knew that you intended to expose their operations in South America when you left the agency. Is their a reason they didn't kill you prior to publishing your book?

Philip Agee: There is no black and white answer to that question. My belief is that they had a plan to lure me to Spain through 2 young Americans who befriended me in Paris in the early 1970's and who did in fact do everything they could to lure me to Spain. They offered financial inducements and other things. But I knew that the CIA was thick as thieves with the Franco fascist security services. This was still the Franco time in Spain. I have documentation, which I received under the Freedom of Information Act, these are not CIA documents they are criminal division documents from the Justice Department which show there was a criminal conspiracy. I currently have a $7 million lawsuit against the government under the federal court claims act for this conspiracy for damages and we will see whether the lawsuit prospers and whether I do get access to the documentation which we know exists. In fact this documentation was judged by the justice department to be described as illegal actions be taken against me in the 1970's. Because of these documents, which I would have had access to had the government prosecuted me at any particular point through criminal discovery procedure, the CIA could not prosecute me. They tried in 1975 when my first book came out and during the 1970's, from 1975 to 1980. All together they tried 5 times to get a criminal indictment against me and each time they had to back down because they could not let me have these documents which showed the criminal activity which they conspiring to carry out against me. They effectively, by their own actions, precluded prosecution. Not to atypical for them.

Sanjay S. Rajput: Looking back at all of the harassment you faced when you exposed the covert operations, do you think you would do it all over again?

Philip Agee: I wouldn't think twice about doing it over again. Of course I would. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. I went into the CIA right out of college as a product of the 1950's. Which means the McCarthy period and the anti-communist hysteria of that time. It also meant that I had no political education. I simple accepted the traditional assumptions that the Soviet Union was out to conquer the world and I was going to play a patriotic role in stopping that. By age 25 I was down in South America doing the work. My eyes began to open little by little down there as I began to realize more and more that all of the things that I, and my colleagues were doing in the CIA had one goal that was that we were supporting the traditional power structures in Latin America. These power structures had been in place for centuries. Where in a relative few families where able to control the wealth and income and power of the state and the economy. To the exclusion of the majority of the population in many countries. The only glue that kept this system together was political repression. I was involved in this. Eventually I decided I didn't want anything more to do with that. I left the CIA to start a new life in 1969 I went back to the university. I enrolled in the National University of Mexico in Mexico City, where I remained living after resigning from the CIA. As I carried out the studies, doing the reading and the research and writing papers and such, I began to realize more and more that what I and my colleagues had been doing in the 60's and 50's was nothing more than a continuation of early 500 years of genocide of the worst imaginable political repression that anyone can come up with. The figures are mind blowing in terms of the numbers of Native Americans who were killed or put to work in South America in what is now Bolivia and Brazil. Where their life expectancy was measured in weeks and months once they went to work in these places. Or in North America as well. So I then began to think at that time about something that was unthinkable: a book about how it all worked. No one had ever written such a book and I had a pretty wide experience in CIA operations in Latin America and I knew many operations that existed around the world as well. So I decided to write a book about it.. I had to make a decision whether to continue these studies or to write this book and I couldn't find the research material for this book in Mexico City. I wanted to reconstruct events to show our hand in the events. So I had to choose between the 2 and I chose to write the book. Not knowing whether it would ever get written or where it would take me.

As to whether I would do it over again. I wouldn't change a thing. I might be a little more discreet and careful here and there. Not quite so flamboyant in some places. I would certainly not change anything. I would encourage people also to look at their own lives and determine what role they or going to play. Whether they are going to go with the flow. Whether they are going to adopt the proposition that you have to go along to get along. Or whether they want to stand back and take a look and join this long and honorable tradition of dissidence in the United States. This goes back to the early opposition to the Constitution, the abolitionist movement of the 1840's and 50's. Which goes back to the opposition of wars: the Spanish-American War in 1898, to world war 1 and 2, to the Vietnam war and the Korean war. There is a long and respectable tradition in the United States of seeking change and social justice. I can assure anyone that reads this interview that they will never be disappointed if they try to help in this respect. If they decide to, besides profession and family, that they will work politically for change. That they will have great self esteem and satisfaction from knowing that they are doing the right thing and that they are not selling out.

I was in training at a secret CIA base in Virginia when, in March 1960, Eisenhower signed off on the project that would become the Bay of Pigs invasion. I see the rudder and other scrap from Le Coubre, now a monument to those who died, every time I drive along the port avenue passing Havana's main railway station

In April the following year, two days before the Bay of Pigs invasion started, a CIA sabotage operation burned down El Encanto, Havana's largest department store where I had shopped on my first here visit in 1957. Now each time I drive up Galiano in Centro Habana on my way for a meal in Chinatown, I pass Fe del Valle Park, the block where El Encanto stood, named for a woman killed in the blaze.

Some who signed statements condemning Cuba for the dissidents' trials and the executions of the hijackers know perfectly well the history of US aggression against Cuba since 1959: the murder, terrorism, sabotage and destruction that has cost nearly 3500 lives and left more than 2000 disabled. Those who don't know can find it in Jane Franklin's classic historical chronology The Cuban Revolution and the United States.

One of the best sum-ups of the US terrorist war against Cuba in the 1960's came from Richard Helms, the former CIA Director, when testifying in 1975 before the Senate Committee investigating the CIA's attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. In admitting to "invasions of Cuba which we were constantly running under government aegis," he added:

We had task forces that that were striking at Cuba constantly. This was a matter of American government policy...

Most recently, in declaring an unending war against terrorism following the September 2001 attacks by Al Qaeda and prior to the war against Iraq, President Bush declared that no weapons in US possession are banned from use, presumably including terrorism. But rather than starting his anti-terrorist war in Miami, where his theft of the White House was assured and his election to a second term may depend, he started the series of preemptive wars we have watched on television, first Afghanistan and then Iraq, and now he threatens Syria, Iran and others on his list of nations that supposedly promote terrorism. Cuba, of course, is wrongfully on that list, but people here take this seriously as a preliminary pretext for US military action against this country.

Going back to the Reagan administration of the early 1980's, the decision was taken that more than terrorist operations was needed to impose regime change in Cuba. Terrorism hadn't worked, nor had the Bay of Pigs invasion, nor had Cuba's diplomatic isolation which gradually ended, nor had the economic embargo. Now Cuba would be included in a new world wide program to finance and develop non-governmental and voluntary organizations, what was to become known as civil society, within the context of U.S. global neo-liberal policies. The CIA and the Agency for International Development (AID) would have key roles in this program as well as a new organization christened in 1983 The National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Actually the new program was not really new. Since its founding in 1947, the CIA had been deeply involved in secretly funding and manipulating foreign non-governmental voluntary organizations. These vast operations circled the globe and were targeted at political parties, trade unions and businessmen's associations, youth and student organizations, women's groups, civic organizations, religious communities, professional, intellectual and cultural societies, and the public information media. The network functioned at local, national, regional and global levels. Media operations, for example, were underway continuously in practically every country, wherein the CIA would pay journalists to publish its materials as if they were the journalists' own. In the Directorate of Operations at the CIA's headquarters, these operations were coordinated with the regional operations divisions by the International Organizations Division (IOD), since many of the operations were regional or continental in nature, encompassing many countries, with some even worldwide in scope.

Over the years the CIA exerted phenomenal influence behind the scenes in country after country, using these powerful elements of civil society to penetrate, divide, weaken and destroy corresponding enemy organizations on the left, and indeed to impose regime change by toppling unwanted governments. Such was the case, among many others, in Guyana where in 1964, culminating 10 years of efforts, the Cheddi Jagan government was overthrown through strikes, terrorism, violence and arson perpetrated by CIA international trade union agents. About the same time, while I was assigned in Ecuador, our agents in civil society, through mass demonstrations and civil unrest, provoked two military coups in three years against elected, civilian governments. And in Brazil in the early 1960's, the same CIA trade union operations were brought together with other operations in civil society in opposition to the government, and these mass actions over time provoked the 1964 military coup against President Joao Goulart, ushering in 20 years of unspeakably brutal political repression.

But on February 26th, 1967, the sky crashed on IOD and its global civil society networks. At the time I was on a visit to Headquarters in Langley, Virginia near Washington, between assignments in Ecuador and Uruguay. That day the Washington Post published an extensive report revealing a grand stable of foundations, some bogus, some real, that the CIA was using to fund its global non-governmental networks. These financial arrangements were known as "funding conduits." Along with the foundations scores of recipient organizations were identified, including well-known intellectual journals, trade unions, and political think tanks. Soon journalists around the world completed the picture with reports on the names and operations of organizations in their countries affiliated with the network. They were the CIA's darkest days since the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

President Johnson ordered an investigation and said such CIA operations would end, but in fact they never did. The proof is in the CIA's successful operations in Chile to provoke the 1973 Pinochet coup against the elected government of Salvador Allende. Here they combined the forces of opposition political parties, trade unions, businessmen's groups, civic organizations, housewife's associations and the information media to create chaos and disorder, knowing that sooner or later the Chilean military, faithful to traditional fascist military doctrine in Latin America, would use such unrest to justify usurping governmental power to restore order and to stamp out the left. The operations were almost a carbon copy of the Brazilian destabilization and coup program ten years earlier. We all remember the horror that followed for years afterwards in Chile.

Fast forward to now. Anyone who has watched the civil society opposition to the Hugo Chavez government in Venezuela develop can be certain that U.S. government agencies, the CIA included, along with the Agency for International Development (AID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), are coordinating the destabilization and were behind the failed coup in April 2002 as well as the failed "civic strike" of last December-January. The International Republican Institute (IRI) of the Republican Party even opened an office in Caracas. See below for more on NED, AID and IRI in civil society operations.

(10) Duncan Campbell, The Guardian (10th January, 2007)

Looking back over the 30 years since he made his decision to step out into the cold, Agee says: "There was a price to pay. It disrupted the education of my children [Phil and Chris, teenagers then], and I don't think it was a happy period for them. It also cost me all my money. Everything I made from the book, I had to spend. But it made me a stronger person in many ways, and it ensured I would never lose interest or go back in the other direction politically. The more they did these dirty things, the more they made me realise what I was doing was important."

Under the US Freedom of Information Act, Agee has been able to see the scope of the operation mounted against him by an unforgiving CIA. "They admitted to having 18,000 pages on me. I figured out there were 120 pages a day for seven or eight years. That can only be things like telephone transcripts and letter intercepts. Some person from the Pentagon was talking about me and saying they had two or three people working on me full time. I thought it was so foolish, such a waste of money, because I don't do anything that's not public. I don't pay much attention to them any more, but now and then something will come up."

What comes up most often is the name of Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens who was assassinated in 1975. Although Welch was named not by Agee but in other publications, Agee has often been blamed for his death. "George Bush's father came in as CIA director in the month after the assassination and he intensified the campaign, spreading the lie that I was the cause of the assassination. His wife, Barbara, published her memoirs and she repeated the same lie, and this time I sued and won, in the sense that she was required to send me a letter in which she apologised and recognised what she wrote about me was false. They've tried to make this story stick for years. I never know what government hand or neocon hand is behind the allegations, and I don't pay too much attention, but I know I haven't been forgotten."

Agee may not be on the run any more - he has been back to the US many times without being arrested and was allowed back into Britain under the Major government - but life is lived at least at a trot. He has just arrived from Spain, where he has addressed a rally in support of the Miami Five, the Cubans jailed for up to 25 years on espionage charges for infiltrating anti-Castro groups in Florida. Soon he will return from Hamburg to his other home, Havana, and his travel business. Initially, his customers came from the US, but Americans are forbidden by law from visiting Cuba and can be fined heavily if caught, so his clients now come mainly from Europe.

Would it be possible for someone in the CIA today to do what Agee did? "I think it would be much harder," he says. "I can think of plenty of people in the CIA who would be horrified by what the CIA has been doing in terms of the torture of suspected terrorists, but a person who tried to do what I did would face kidnapping and possibly being put on ice in a secret prison for many years to come."

(11) Will Weissert, Ex-CIA Agent Philip Agee Dead in Cuba (10th January, 2008)

Former CIA agent Philip Agee, a critic of U.S. foreign policy who infuriated American intelligence officials by naming purported agency operatives in a 1975 book, has died, state media reported Wednesday. He was 72.

Agee quit the CIA in 1969 after 12 years working mostly in Latin America at a time when leftist movements were gaining prominence and sympathizers. His 1975 book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," cited alleged CIA misdeeds against leftists in the region and included a 22-page list of purported agency operatives.

Granma, Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, said Agee died Monday night and described him as "a loyal friend of Cuba and fervent defender of the peoples' fight for a better world."

Bernie Dwyer, a journalist with state-run Radio Havana, said in a Tuesday message posted to a Cuba e-mail group that Agee's wife called him to say he had died after ulcer surgery in a hospital where he has he been since Dec. 15.

"He had several operations for perforated ulcers and didn't survive all the surgery," Dwyer wrote, adding that Agee was cremated Tuesday and that friends planned a memorial ceremony for him Sunday at his Havana apartment.

Agee's U.S. passport was revoked in 1979. U.S. officials said he had threatened national security. After years of living in Hamburg, Germany — occasionally underground, fearing CIA retribution — Agee moved to Havana to open a travel Web site.

Barbara Bush, the wife of former President George H.W. Bush — himself a one-time CIA chief — in her autobiography accused Agee's book of exposing a CIA station chief, Richard S. Welch, who was later killed by leftist terrorists in Athens in 1975. Agee, who denied any involvement in the killing, sued her for $4 million for defamation, and she revised the book to settle the case.

Agee's actions in the 1970s inspired a law criminalizing the exposure of covert U.S. operatives.

But in 2003, he drew a distinction between what he did and the exposure of CIA officer Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a prominent critic of President Bush's Iraq policy.

"This is entirely different than what I was doing in the 1970s," Agee said. "This is purely dirty politics in my opinion."

Agee said that in his case, he disclosed the identities of his former CIA colleagues to "weaken the instrument for carrying out the policy of supporting military dictatorships" in Greece, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

Those regimes "were supported by the CIA and the human cost was immense: torture, executions, death squads," he said.

(12) Duncan Campbell, The Guardian (10th January, 2008)

Agee had left the CIA in 1969 after 12 years working mainly in Latin America, where he gradually became disgusted by the agency's collusion with military dictators in the region and decided to blow the whistle on their activities. The Mexico City massacre of student protesters in 1968 also stiffened his resolve. His 1975 book Inside the Company: CIA Diary spilled the beans on his former employers and enraged the US government, not least because it named CIA operatives.

"It was a time in the 70s when the worst imaginable horrors were going on in Latin America," he told the Guardian in an interview published a year ago today. "Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador - they were military dictatorships with death squads, all with the backing of the CIA and the US government. That was what motivated me to name all the names and work with journalists who were interested in knowing just who the CIA were in their countries."

To carry out his work, Agee moved to London in the early 1970s with his then partner, Angela, a leftwing Brazilian who had been jailed and tortured in her own country, and his two young sons by his estranged American wife. He worked with the magazine Time Out and other publications to expose the CIA's work internationally. His activities had already alerted the then US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, who urged the prime minister, James Callaghan, to deport him. After an arcane legal process, Agee was deported in 1977, along with a young American journalist, Mark Hosenball (now a senior investigative writer with Newsweek), who had worked at Time Out. The then home secretary, Merlyn Rees, who issued the deportation order, claimed - falsely and maliciously, according to Agee - that he was behind the deaths of two British agents. Their case became a liberal cause celebre.

Banished from Britain, Agee found the door closed to him in France and the Netherlands, and he faced prosecution and jail if he returned to the US, where his passport was revoked in 1979. His relationship with Angela ended under the pressure and he met and fell in love with a well-known ballet dancer, Giselle Roberge. At her suggestion, they married, which gave him the right to stay in Germany. Until the time of his death, he lived between their home in Hamburg and an apartment in Havana, Cuba. He continued his exposés of the CIA in the Covert Action Information Bulletin.


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 (1975–76), which cast a critical light on the role of the CIA in assassinations, domestic espionage, and other illegal activities. [ citation needed ]

In the book Agee condemned the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City and wrote that this was the immediate event precipitating his leaving the agency.

While Agee claimed that the CIA was "very pleased with his work", ΐ] offered him "another promotion" ΐ] and his superior "was startled" ΐ] when Agee told him about his plans to resign, the anti-communist journalist John Barron claims that Agee's 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". Ζ]

Agee was accused by U.S. President George H. W. Bush of being responsible for the death of Richard Welch, a Harvard-educated classicist who was murdered by the Revolutionary Organization 17 November while heading the CIA Station in Athens. Bush had directed the CIA from 1976 to 1977. Η]

Ex-CIA officer wrote book divulging agency secrets

Philip Agee, a former undercover officer with the Central Intelligence Agency whose disillusionment with U.S. policy in support of dictatorial regimes prompted him to name names and reveal CIA secrets, died Monday in Cuba. He was 72.

His wife, Giselle Roberge Agee, told the Associated Press that Agee was hospitalized in Havana on Dec. 16 and underwent surgery for perforated ulcers. His death, she said, was the result of a related infection. He had lived primarily in Hamburg, Germany, but kept an apartment in Havana, she said.

In his controversial 1975 book, “Inside the Company: CIA Diary,” Agee detailed the inner workings of U.S. intelligence operations around the world, but primarily in Latin America, where he had been stationed for eight years during the 1960s.

The CIA, he contended, was interested only in propping up decaying dictatorships and thwarting radical reform efforts. The book included a 22-page list of purported agency operatives.

“That was right in the middle of a political crisis in the United States connected to the war in Vietnam, and the history of the CIA was very much on people’s minds,” said Thomas Powers, author of “Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to al-Qaeda” (2002). “The elementary-school version of American history had always been that the U.S. is always on the side of the good guys, and here comes Philip Agee to tell us it ain’t so.”

Agee insisted that publishing the names of fellow case officers was a political act in the “long and honorable tradition of dissidence in the United States” and not an act of espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union or any other foreign power.

Former colleagues and government officials termed it treason. In 1979, then-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance stripped Agee of his passport.

Prompted in large part by Agee’s book, Congress in 1982 passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, making it illegal to knowingly divulge the identities of covert CIA officers.

Former President George H.W. Bush, who directed the CIA in 1976-77, accused Agee of identifying Richard Welch, the CIA chief in Athens who was assassinated by Greek terrorists in 1975. Bush maintained in 1989 that by publicly identifying Welch, Agee was responsible for his death. Barbara Bush, the former first lady, repeated the claim in her 1994 autobiography, and Agee sued her for libel. As part of a legal settlement, she agreed to remove the allegation from the paperback edition of her book.

In a 2003 Los Angeles Times opinion piece, Agee described as “dirty politics” the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband had called into question the current Bush administration’s rationale for the Iraq war.

His own exposure of CIA operatives was something different, he maintained, saying: “We were right in exposing the CIA in the 1970s, because the agency was being used to impose a criminal U.S. policy.”

Agee was born in Tacoma, Fla., in 1935, graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1956 then studied law at the University of Florida.

He served as an Air Force officer from 1957 to 1960 and then began his CIA career, first in Ecuador and then in Mexico and Uruguay. At the time, he considered himself a “patriot dedicated to the preservation of my country and our way of life,” he wrote in “Inside the Company.”

Agee resigned in 1969 and began working on his book. After receiving death threats after the book was published, he moved to London but was expelled after nearly five years. He also was expelled after brief stays throughout Western Europe. He blamed U.S. pressure for making him persona non grata.

He lived in Grenada and Nicaragua before moving back to Hamburg. He was again denied a passport in 1987.

Agee also wrote “Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe” (1978) and “On the Run” (1987).

In 2000, he founded Cubalinda, an online travel agency, and encouraged Americans to ignore the decades-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and vacation on the island.

Survivors include his wife of 17 years and two sons from a previous marriage.

SNOWDEN predecessor: Philip AGEE, “First Deserter”. History * PHILIP AGEE, “Primer Desertor”: el predecesor de Edward Snowden. Historia.

Philip Burnett Franklin Agee (July 19, 1935 – January 7, 2008) 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 was born in Tacoma, Florida. He graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1956, and attended the University of Florida College of Law.

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. With no Internet and WikiLeaks. Agee hit the intelligence apparatus of his country in 1968 to give the agency and disclosing secrets Nexus Washington with Latin American and Caribbean military dictatorships.

Agee knew too much: it was the first defector from the American CIA and predecessor Edward Snowden, former intelligence technician who is in a diplomatic and political struggle by stripping intimacies of U.S. intelligence.

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. In the book Agee condemned the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City and wrote that this was the immediate event precipitating his leaving the agency. Agee claimed that the CIA was “very pleased with his work”, had offered him “another promotion”, and that his superior “was startled” when Agee told him about his plans to resign.

In contrast, Sovietologist John Barron maintained in his book The KGB Today that Agee’s 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”.

Oleg Kalugin, former head of the KGB’s Counterintelligence Directorate, states that in 1973 Agee approached the KGB’s resident in Mexico City and offered a “treasure trove of information”. The KGB was too suspicious to accept his offer.

“Agee then went to the Cubans, who welcomed him with open arms…The Cubans shared Agee’s information with us. But as I sat in my office in Moscow reading reports about the growing revelations coming from Agee, I cursed our officers for turning away such a prize.”

For his part, Agee claimed in his later work On the Run that he had no intention of ever working for the KGB, which he still considered the enemy, and that he worked with the Cubans to assist left-wing and labor organizations in Latin America against fascism and CIA meddling in political affairs.

While Agee was writing Inside the Company: CIA Diary, the KGB kept in contact with him through Edgar Anatolyevich Cheporov, a London correspondent of the Novosti News Agency.

Agee was accused of receiving up to $1 million in payments from the Cuban intelligence service. He had his office in a building in the intersection of E St. and 9 in the neighborhood of El Vedado, Havana. He denied the accusations, which were first made by a high-ranking Cuban intelligence officer and defector in a 1992 Los Angeles Times report.

A later Los Angeles Times article stated that Agee posed as a CIA Inspector General in order to target a member of the CIA’s Mexico City station on behalf of Cuban intelligence. According to the article, Agee was identified during a meeting by a CIA case officer.

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.”

Inside the Company identified 250 alleged CIA officers and agents. The officers and agents, all personally known to Agee, are listed in an appendix to the book. While written as a diary, it is actually a reconstruction of events based on Agee’s memory and his subsequent research.

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.

In “CIA Diary” Agee revealed 429 names of employees, agents, partners and organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean in the service of the CIA.

Following this he details how he resigned from the CIA and began writing the book, conducting research in Cuba, London and Paris. During this time he alleges he was being spied on by the CIA.

Persecuted for over 25 years, the United States will deactivated his passport in 1970, as Snowden. In that decade, and in 1980 gave passports used socialist governments of Nicaragua and the Caribbean island of Grenada and in 1990 won one of Germany.

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.

Agee was accused by U.S. President George H. W. Bush of being responsible for the death of Richard Welch, a Harvard-educated classicist who was murdered by the Revolutionary Organization 17 November while heading the CIA Station in Athens. Bush had directed the CIA from 1976 to 1977. This assertion was included in Barbara Bush’s 1994 memoir, prompting Agee to sue her for libel.

Becoming tourism entrepreneur until his death, Agee ran a website in Havana, Cubalinda.com 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. 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. Traveling frequently to Cuba and South America for solidarity and business activities.” The Cubalinda travel service was begun in 2000 in Cuba where Agee settled with the approval of Fidel Castro.

In a review published by the May 2, 1996 on its website on Agee first book, the CIA called him “first actual deserter” and said he could be tried for offering assistance to enemies in wartime. The review, he said, did not consider the “possibility or degree of Soviet intervention” on Agee.

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.

Sources: Wiki/Various/Avarona/Excerpts/Internetphotos/www.thecubanhistory.com
EDWARD SNOWDEN predecessor: Philip Agee, “First Deserter”
The Cuban History, Arnoldo Varona, Editor

PHILIP AGEE, “Primer Desertor”: el predecesor de Edward Snowden.

Philip Burnett Franklin Agee (19 jul 1935 a Enero 7 de 2008) fue una Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA) oficial de casos y escritor, más conocido como autor del libro 1975, Inside the Company: CIA diario, detallando sus experiencias en la CIA .

Agee nació en Tacoma, Florida. Se graduó ‘cum laude’ de la Universidad de Notre Dame en 1956, y asistió a la Universidad de Florida College of Law.

Agee se unió a la CIA en 1957, y durante la década siguiente había sido destinado en Washington, DC, Ecuador, Uruguay y México. Después de renunciar a la Agencia en 1968, se convirtió en el principal opositor de las prácticas de la CIA. Sin Internet y WikiLeaks. Agee dio en el aparato de inteligencia de su país en 1968 para dar a la agencia y la revelación de secretos Nexus Washington con América Latina y el Caribe, las dictaduras militares.

Agee sabía demasiado: era el primer desertor de la CIA estadounidense y predecesor Edward Snowden, el ex técnico de la inteligencia que está en una lucha diplomática y política de intimidad de desbroce de inteligencia de EE.UU..

Agee dijo que su conciencia social católica romana había hecho cada vez más incómodo con su trabajo a finales de la década de 1960 que condujeron a su desilusión con la CIA y su apoyo a los gobiernos autoritarios en América Latina. En el libro de Agee condenó la masacre de Tlatelolco de 1968 en la Ciudad de México y escribió que este era el caso inmediato precipitar su salida de la agencia. Agee afirmó que la CIA estaba “muy contento con su trabajo”, le había ofrecido “otra promoción”, y que su superior “se asustó” cuando Agee le habló de sus planes de renunciar.

Por el contrario, sovietólogo John Barron mantiene en su libro La KGB hoy que la renuncia de Agee fue forzado “por una variedad de razones, incluyendo su consumo irresponsable, continua y vulgar propositiva de las esposas embajada, y la incapacidad para administrar sus finanzas”.

Oleg Kalugin, ex jefe de la Dirección de Contrainteligencia de la KGB, afirma que en 1973 se acercó Agee residente de la KGB en la Ciudad de México y ofreció un “tesoro de información.” La KGB era demasiado sospechoso de aceptar su oferta.

“Agee se dirigió a los cubanos, que lo recibió con los brazos abiertos … Los cubanos compartieron información de Agee con nosotros. Pero cuando me senté en mi oficina en Moscú lectura de los informes sobre las revelaciones crecientes procedentes de Agee, maldije a nuestros oficiales para alejarse tal premio “.

Por su parte, Agee se reivindica en su obra posterior En la huida que no tenía ninguna intención de volver a trabajar para la KGB, que todavía se considera el enemigo, y que trabajó con los cubanos para ayudar a las organizaciones de izquierda y el trabajo en América Latina contra el fascismo y la CIA inmiscuirse en los asuntos políticos.

Mientras Agee estaba escribiendo el interior de la empresa: Diario de la CIA, la KGB se mantuvo en contacto con él a través de Edgar Anatolyevich Cheporov, un corresponsal en Londres de la agencia de noticias Novosti.

Agee fue acusado de recibir hasta $ 1 millón en pagos del servicio de inteligencia cubano. Él tenía su oficina en un edificio en la intersección de la E Street y 9 en el barrio de El Vedado, La Habana. Él negó las acusaciones, que se hicieron por primera vez por un oficial de la inteligencia cubana de alto nivel y desertor en un informe de 1992 de Los Angeles Times.

Un artículo posterior Los Angeles Times declaró que Agee hizo pasar por un Inspector General de la CIA con el fin de dirigirse a un miembro de la estación de la CIA Ciudad de México, en nombre de la inteligencia cubana. Según el artículo, Agee fue identificado durante una reunión por un oficial de la CIA.

Agee reconoció que “Los representantes del Partido Comunista de Cuba también dio aliento importante en un momento dudé de que iba a ser capaz de encontrar la información que necesitaba.”

Dentro de la compañía identificó 250 presuntos agentes de la CIA y agentes. Los oficiales y agentes, todos se conocen personalmente a Agee, figuran en un apéndice del libro. Si bien escrita como un diario, en realidad es una reconstrucción de los hechos en base a la memoria de Agee y su posterior investigación.

Agee afirmó que el presidente José Figueres Ferrer de Costa Rica, el presidente Luis Echeverría Álvarez (1970-1976) de México y el presidente Alfonso López Michelsen (1974-1978) de Colombia eran colaboradores de la CIA o agentes.

En “CIA Diary” Agee reveló 429 nombres de empleados, agentes, socios y organizaciones en América Latina y el Caribe en el servicio de la CIA.

Después de esto él se detalla cómo renunció a la CIA y comenzó a escribir el libro, la realización de investigaciones en Cuba, Londres y París. Durante este tiempo se alega que estaba siendo espiado por la CIA.

Perseguido por más de 25 años, Estados Unidos se desactiva su pasaporte en 1970, como Snowden. En esa década, y en 1980 dio pasaportes utilizados gobiernos socialistas de Nicaragua y la isla caribeña de Granada y en 1990 ganó uno de Alemania.

En 1982, el Congreso de Estados Unidos aprobó la Ley de Protección de Identidades de Inteligencia (IIPA), legislación que parece directamente dirigida a las obras de Agee. La ley que más tarde figurar en la investigación sobre el escándalo Plame Valerie en si los funcionarios del gobierno de Bush filtraron el nombre de un oficial de caso a los medios de comunicación como un acto de represalia en contra de su marido.

Agee fue acusado por el presidente de EE.UU. George HW Bush de ser responsable de la muerte de Richard Welch, un clasicista educado en Harvard que fue asesinado por la Organización Revolucionaria 17 de noviembre, mientras que al frente de la estación de la CIA en Atenas. Bush había dirigido la CIA desde 1976 hasta 1977. Esta afirmación se incluyó en 1994 la autobiografía de Barbara Bush, lo que provocó Agee demandar a ella por difamación.

Convertirse en empresario turístico hasta su muerte, Agee publicó una página web en La Habana, Cubalinda.com que utiliza las lagunas en la legislación estadounidense para organizar las vacaciones a Cuba para los ciudadanos estadounidenses, quienes generalmente están prohibidas por la Ley de Comercio con el Enemigo estatuto de la ley de EE.UU. de gastar dinero en Cuba. En la década de 1980 NameBase fundador Daniel Brandt había enseñado Agee cómo usar las computadoras y bases de datos informáticas para su investigación. Según la biografía de un autor adjunto a un ensayo de Agee marzo 2007 en el Cockburn editado por Counterpunch revista Alexander, Agee “vive desde 1978 con su esposa en Hamburgo, Alemania. Viajando con frecuencia a Cuba y América del Sur para la solidaridad y las actividades comerciales. ” El servicio de viajes Cubalinda se inició en 2000 en Cuba, donde Agee se estableció con la aprobación de Fidel Castro.

En un estudio publicado por el 02 de mayo 1996 en su página web Agee primer libro, la CIA lo “primero desertor actual” llamó y me dijo que podía ser juzgado por ofrecer asistencia a los enemigos en tiempo de guerra. La revisión, dijo, no tuvo en cuenta la “posibilidad o el grado de intervención soviética” en Agee.

El 16 de diciembre de 2007, Agee fue ingresado en un hospital de La Habana, y la cirugía se realizó en él debido a úlceras perforadas. Su esposa dijo el 9 de enero de 2008, que había muerto en Cuba el 7 de enero y había sido incinerado.

Legal History Blog

Philip Agee, the former Central Intelligence Agency officer who turned against the agency and spent years exposing undercover American spies overseas, died Monday in Havana. He was 72.
. . . .
Mr. 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.
. . . .

His 1975 book, “Inside the Company: CIA Diary,” infuriated American 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 Mr. Agee’s help, which published the names and often the addresses of hundreds more agency officers working under cover around the world.

The exposés of Mr. 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.

Uncovering the CIA - Philip Agee interviewed by Author John Marks (1976)

John Marks: There are things I want to ask you about which people don't understand about you in the States. It's stuff about motivations and where you're coming from and why you're doing it and what you're doing. I guess, to be perfectly honest, not all of that has come across clearly, because one reason is you're overseas.

Marks: What are trying to do?

Agee: John, I am working on several projects. I share with you the. situation. which I felt ever since I first got into the newspapers on the CIA question, of being somewhat isolated from the movement in the United States in which ever direction it happens to be - for the CIA or against it.

There've been good reasons for having stayed out of the country during the period when I wrote my book, and I think there's still good reasons right now to stay away. But any case, what I'm trying to do is work on two or three or four different projects.

What I'm mainly concerned with is the writing of that part of World War II history, that is post World War II history, which is the clandestine side of American foreign policy. This is something that could occupy a person for a whole lifetime. In fact, it could occupy a whole university. Because the clandestine intervention in the affairs of other countries, which has gone hand in hand with the overt and acknowledged foreign policy, has been just as important and has, in some cases, maybe even been more important.

But I'm trying to work on a second book now, which I'm co-authoring with Steve Weisman on different countries and regions, and different stories and cases, of major interventions by the CIA, secretly in other countries, starting in Western Europe and Eastern Europe after World War II, contributing in a large way to the development of the cold war in the '50s and '60s. Then proceeding on into other regions and countries and coming back into Western Europe in a major way in the late 1970s, in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, the southern tier particularly, and France of course, where left tendencies are gaining n strength.

This is essentially the major project where, in addition to that, I've been working also -

Marks: So what you're saying is that the history that the people are going to find out about, is very different than the history that's in the books now or as people generally perceive it.

Agee: Yes. It depends on the person, and it depends on his understanding.

Agee: Yeah, most people. Certainly.

Marks: And historians.

Agee: Well, I was just going to say, take Gabriel Kolko for example. If you read Kolko on the post war period, you see practically nothing about the CIA interventions, the secret operations, the covert action, the Congress of Cultural Freedom for example, the intervention and trade unions, student organizations.

What has to be written I think is the history of this secret side of American foreign policy, and it's not just America, but it's Britain, British security services in other countries which participated, which would go hand in hand so that people know their own histories in these countries. Western Europe and the third world.

Marks: It will make a difference, I assume, about how people perceive it. Do you think people are going to be shocked? What's going to happen?

Agee: I don't think people will be too shocked. It, again, depends upon the person, but in the United States, I have a feeling that a lot of people, with all the revelations that have occurred and the general atmosphere of paranoia, or things approaching paranoia, that have developed over the last say 10 years in the United States, that people will say, "Oh yeah. I figured that probably would have happened."

Marks: Cynical people.

Agee: Right. But these are all operations which occurred and which I didn't participate in especially, in an intimate way in the CIA, but which I knew about peripherally, and which can be researched quite nicely and written up as, you might say popularized history. But there are a number of other projects too.

In fact, that particular work also provides the basis for a whole series of films on the same subject matter. In other words, if I and Steve can write this up as a book, with say 12-14 different chapters on different episodes, to show how the same mechanisms, the same methods are used from country to country.

Then we can also do it in audio visual, and I think that this will probably come out of it.

Marks: You could make a great book about the CIA plotting with the mafia in the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach to kill Fidel Castro. Very dramatic isn't it!

Agee: Well, you can do the dramatic side or you can also do the documentary side, or you can combine the two. So there are tremendous possibilities there to try to show, or to educate in fact, on what this secret side of foreign policy has been, which goes along with the overt side, and which also reflects on a domestic policy.

Marks: We're kind of getting into the media a little bit. Do you feel cut off that you're over here in England and it's an American institution at least that you're concerning yourself most with. Do you feel cut off not being back home?

Agee: Yeah, very much so, but I generally have been able, over say two years, two and a half years, to suppress the feeling, or the yen to return to the United States and to participate there, in what really is the place I ought to be. If a person is concerned with American matters and his own country, obviously I ought to be there, but I have to recognize at the same time, as I did when I first started my book, that once I go back there, I'm going to be susceptible or subject to very considerable activity on the part of the organs of government.

Agee: FBI, the courts, the CIA, all of those things which will probably or could be used to terrorize me, to inhibit, to cause me to be disrupted or delayed in what I'm trying to do. So that's why I wanted to stay here in Britain, in order to get this second book project out of the way, and several other projects which I've been working on at the same time.

Marks: What do you think would happen to you if you went home? I mean, what would the restraints be?

Agee: First of all, I'd have an injunction just like you have, and I would have to get the CIA's permission prior to any statement or writing that I might make about the agency. In addition, they might just try to prosecute me for having written the book I wrote -

Agee: Yes, the same section of the law they applied in the Ellsberg case, and that doesn't imply the passage of secrets to a foreign power. It's simply making public secret government information. Mel Wolf is my lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union doesn't think that there's any chance that they could get a conviction, but even if they prosecuted and tied me up in the courts for a year, year and half, the expense involved would be tremendous, and also the time.

Mel has told me that I would have to decide probably not to work on anything but that case over a period of years.

Marks: Since Mel is also my lawyer in my suite, I know that he's been trying to find out from the Justice Department what would the reaction be if you came back. Their reaction is they ain't saying.

Agee: Right. They've said that I haven't been indicted for anything, now two years after my book was published. Let's say, it would be over five years after I went to Cuba for the first time. It doesn't mean they wouldn't try to indict and prosecute once I were back there, but they won't say. You're right. They're trying to keep me from going back, I think.

Marks: And they could indict you in the United States now if they wanted to, and that espionage is an extraditable offense, and the British certainly very free to extradite people. James Earl Ray got extradited from here. I mean, if they wanted to extradite you, and there was a charge against you, they could indict you.

Agee: Well, the fact they don't is proof that they don't have a case.

Marks: Yep, but the injunction against you writing things with their permission would be a serious restraint.

Agee: Yes. It means that the book I'm writing with Weissman would be jeopardized. It means the film would be jeopardized. It means another book which I've participated in . I don't know if this would be directly affected, but I've helped work on another book and I've written the introduction to it. I hope it's published early in 1976, which is a book on the CIA in Europe, called The CIA in Europe Who's Who and What They Do [editors note: I believe he is refering to a book that was eventually published under the title Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe].

Agee: It is a series of stories on current and recent CIA operations in Europe, such as the recruiting of mercenaries for Angola, and the recruitment in Sweden, for example, of a journalist by blackmail.

Marks: The Swedish journalist?

Agee: A Kenyan journalist who was resident in Stockholm, and who's cousin had been arrested and was being tortured in Nairobi, by the Kenyan security service at the CIA's request, in order to get a handle over the journalist living in Stockholm, because they wanted to send him . He was a Black . to Angola to collect information last year during the Civil War in Angola.

But anyway this book is a series of stories. It's all prepared and ready to go, but it also has, as a second section besides the stories, a section on biographies, which starts with date of birth and place of birth and continues on through education and whole career program of over 500 CIA people who have been the subject of the various revelations of CIA people all over Europe in the past year, more or less since the Welch killing -

Marks: And their names have been named?

Agee: Yes and there are over 500 people involved in this.

Marks: The trips to Moscow, Havana, you said they were five years ago, but that it bothered people, especially people you might call establishment journalists in the United States are very bothered by that, you know, the bad things said about you because you go to Moscow, because you've been to Moscow once and because you've been to Havana for longer period of time. Do you just want to talk about that a bit?

Agee: Well, I didn't go to Moscow or Eastern Europe until this year.

Marks: That's five years after you started to write the book.

Agee: No, that's seven years after I started to write the book.

Agee: But I had felt very sensitive about any trip I might make to Eastern Europe, or to the Soviet Union because of the implications, because people would say, or the CIA would certainly say as they did anyway, that I had been recruited by the KGB.

Marks: Which is not true.

Agee: Which is not true of course. The Cuba trip in 19 -

Marks: No, let's stay with this. Why did you go in 1976, after eight years of not having gone? I don't know if you've been invited before but .

Agee: No, I never been invited but what happened was this. In May or so of 1975, the Novosti correspondent in London, like hundreds of others, asked me for an interview. Of course, I granted it, and he took that interview at his place after a Sunday dinner I think, and then he went off to Soviet Union to pass his vacation there, in the summer of '75. Sorry.

He came back in the fall and called me and said he had the clippings and wanted to see me. If I was interested, he would be glad to read them to me in English, because the interview was published in two or three hundred newspapers in the Soviet Union. He was going to explain to me what he'd written. So I went to his place and he explained that to me.

But at the same time, he earlier had agreed to try to see what the possibility for publishing my book in the Soviet Union was. He came back saying that they were interested and were going to publish it. Well, I supposed in late '75 and early '76, I might have spoken to him twice, or three times. I don't remember exactly.

Because, first the Soviets were going to publish. Then I got a letter from Progress Publishers in Moscow saying that they were not going to publish. Then he said again that they were going to publish, so there was a question of whether they were or they weren't. Finally, in July of this year, they wanted to discuss the edition of the book with me, and I went to Moscow with my wife and we worked for a week on shortening the book to the size or the length that the Soviets would be able to publish, and discussing contract and all those matters. That's the beginning of the end of the Soviet connection.

Marks: Now you, as an ex-CIA man knows full well that when you went to the apartment of the Novosti correspondent, that somebody probably made a note of it, and that that's the kind of thing that would drive the CIA wild and the like.

How do you feel about that?

Agee: Well I did it perfectly openly. There was no secret about it. He called me by telephone. I said yes I'd go by telephone. I assumed all along that the British security services were monitoring my telephone, probably his too, and that they would understand that it was a normal, open contact.

Marks: It's a problem dealing with that kind of paranoia isn't it, because the other people have it. You call up a member . or Soviet calls you up, and suddenly bells ring in Langley, Virginia. That's tough.

Agee: Well, you know I had lots of contacts with Soviets when I was in the CIA. One of my jobs was to cultivate KGB officers, so I never felt odd or spooked by the other side, by the KGB. My book documents cases in which I participated where the KGB was concerned.

I look upon KGB or Soviet officials as ordinary human beings just like CIA people, and I didn't think that there could be any special implications if I were to give an interview with a Novosti correspondent . Who knows if he was KGB or not . in London. If he were to try to push the publication of my book through the Soviet publishing bureaucracy, I didn't know.

Marks: I had a Novosti correspondent come to visit me in Washington, and he was one of these characters who's been named 16 columns as the KGB meeting man at Novosti, so I believe he probably is a KGB man at Novosti, the Soviet press agency.

I just told him. I said, "Look. With the kind of work, the writing I do about the CIA, I don't want any part of you folks," in any real kind of sense.

It probably is better not to have that kind of contact, and he said to me, "I'm leaving," with kind of a sly smile on his face, "Ah yes. If I can be of any help to you in the future, Mr. Marks, you will call me, about journalistic matters of course."

I felt I didn't want to get involved, and I assume you feel the same way.

Agee: Well you may have felt there, a certain insinuation that was was uncomfortable. In my case, I had no occasion to suspect that he might have been an intelligence officer. Although, there are two ways to look at it.

One, they might understand that it would be very improper for them to try to compromise me by sending a intelligence officer working under journalistic cover, to try to interview me. I don't see that they would gain anything by that.

While at the same time, they might feel that they better send an intelligence officer who would be able to handle himself better with an ex-CIA officer. I don't know. But in any case, there was no intelligence content to any of the meetings I had with him, which had been just a handful over the period of time. In fact, it appears that they're going to publish my book in whatever shortened length we finally come up with.

Marks: They published our book . They published a chapter of our book in one of their publications too, and I think we got paid $250.

Agee: Well you know, the key to it is whether or not a person like me, as I said in the very beginning, can have a non-compromising relationship with officials of a country, or with the publishing house of a country, which is one of the major important countries of the world today.

It wasn't until Morton Halperin, former assistant secretary of defense, stopped to see me in London . last year, I think it was . on his way back from Moscow where he spent a couple of weeks I think at the American Studies Institute there . that I began to think that maybe I might be able to go to the Soviet Union too and not be compromised into some sort of relationship that would damage my credibility.

Marks: You know Averell Harriman and Cyrus Vance have been going for years.

Agee: That's right, but those are establishment figures. What makes it more touchy in my case is that I'm a critic of the CIA, so it gives them the leverage or the issue they want in order to promote this story that there's some sinister subversive KGB connection, which just doesn't exist.

Marks: They've alluded that in leaks to newspapers, haven't they?

Agee: They've been doing that for two and a half years, and this most recent crisis, which is my imminent deportation from Britain, is a continuation of the same campaign. What is most interesting of the whole campaign is that it is completely unattributed.

No CIA person, or officer, or employee has ever stood up and made the allegations. They have simply tried to surface them in a subtle way, to susceptible journalists, like Jack Anderson for example, who have published these things as if they were the truth.

But no CIA person has ever stood up and said it himself, and certainly there has been no court action, which would be the normal procedure, if in fact they had something substantial that I had done with the Soviets or Cubans or some other country.

Marks: Newsweek said you got drunk one night and told everything you knew to, was it a Cuban or a Soviet agent?

Agee: That was the first story. That was in July 1974. It was just at the time I had finished my book, and when my name was about to come out in connection with the Watergate scandals and the report of the Senate, the Ervin committee remember, on the Watergate scandals.

Marks: That's because you were the WH/FLAP.

Agee: That's right. That was mentioned. They though WH stood for White House flap at first, so they went back and checked.

Marks: What did it stand for?

Agee: Western Hemisphere Division of the CIA.

Marks: You were a Western Hemisphere Division officer?

Agee: Yeah. So I was about to come to the surface, even though my book was still six months away from publication. I was about to come to the surface in that context, so the CIA decided they'd get in the first blow. They leaked this preposterous story about a former CIA officer, not naming me at first, telling all drunk and despondent to the KGB.

This was headlines all over the United States. My family in Florida practically . They knew that it must attach to me, and I called them right away when Victor Marchetti called me about the matter.

Marks: Victor knew it was you because he had the same lawyer also.

Agee: Yes, well, I was out in Cornwall. I wasn't reading newspapers or listening to telephones or listening to radios or anything. I didn't have a telephone, but he sent me a telegram and I immediately called him.

He said, "Look Phil," he said, "they started it."

He explained to me what had happened, about that story, and I said, "My gosh. That's incredible."

He said, "Look, if you want to talk to a friend of mine, from The Washington Post, he'd be glad to fly over and talk to you."

That was when Larry Stern came over to see me in Cornwall, and we spent two days together, and he went back and wrote a story. Then, all of the media thing .

Marks: That you hadn't got drunk and you hadn't talked to a Soviet Agent.

Agee: No, and they didn't say when. They didn't say where. They didn't say the name of the Soviet officer. They didn't say anything. It was just one of those very vague stories, which unfortunately American media snap on to, and propagate.

Marks: Then the other charge they tend to throw at you is that you spent considerable time in Cuba.

Agee: I did spend considerable time in Cuba. I lived there for six months.

Agee: In 1971. I had been working on my book since early 1970, which was a little over a year after I left he CIA. I had been turned down my five American publishers, when I presented the book project in New York. I think they thought I was an imposter or they just didn't know what to think, because this was before the Pentagon Papers, before Watergate, all the rest.

Marks: They didn't believe you were a real CIA operative who wanted to unload his knowledge to the world.

Agee: It's hard to say. I don't know why they turned me down, frankly. I was flabbergasted because I thought I had an important story, and I was scared to death that the CIA would get wind of the fact that I wanted to write a book. Also, I was continuing to live in Mexico, which was my last country of assignment in the CIA, and I was very afraid that if the word got around in Mexico that I had been a CIA agent, I would just have had to leave, and that meant the whole domestic disruption, and all that.

Marks: Moving households.

Agee: Yeah. I wanted to stay living in Mexico, and I'd already enrolled in the National University of Mexico for a graduate program, and I thought eventually I'd come back to the United States to teach.

In any case, I eventually, in early 1971, got support, or pledge of support, an interest in a offer from François Maspero in Paris.

Marks: Who is a French publisher.

Agee: He's a French publisher, and I made the proposal to him through a mutual friend in Mexico, who never wanted to be openly involved in the case, because she's still there.

Maspero thought, and I agreed, that I could never get the book written in Mexico because they simply didn't have the research materials. I wanted to go back and reconstruct the events that had occurred in Mexico and Uruguay and Ecuador and other countries.

Marks: The countries you had served in.

Agee: Yeah, and other countries too, in order to show the CIA participation in those events. It was a major research task to go back, partly with memory and partly with one document leading to another.

Marks: And newspapers.

Agee: Newspapers, etc. So how was I going to do it? Should I go to the United States, for example, and try it, already having been to the American publishers and expecting the CIA may have learned through them that I was on this project. Or should I go to the cities in Latin America where I had served, and where other operations had occurred, in order to research in the newspaper mourges, for example, or other places, what I needed.

Should I go to Paris where I could be working with Maspero more, or should I go to London? There were all sorts of possibilities. Maspero suggested that Havana might be on possibility because they did have research facilities there, and they have several documentation centers that might be of use.

Marks: In other words, libraries that have the newspapers from Latin America.

Agee: They had newspapers and magazines and all sorts of other material, which would help on the reconstruction of the events, and on the general description of the realities. So I was extremely, let's say, interested in the possibility of the Cuban angle, because I had been to Cuba during the Batista Era, before I went into the CIA.

Agee: As a tourist, and I had lived in Latin America for the last ten years, or eleven years, and I had sent agents to Cuba to spy.

Marks: You would have people you had recruited in Ecuador or Uruguay, who's purpose was to go into Cuba and spy.

I sent agents to Cuba to spy, and they came back praising the Cuban revolution, so I was quite fascinated by the possibility of going and seeing firsthand for myself. I knew though that if I did go, that would give the CIA every reason to try to denounce me as being a turncoat or traitor, defector, all those things.

Agee: I sent them there to spy, and they came back praising the Cuban revolution, so I was quite fascinated by the possibility of going and seeing firsthand for myself. I knew though that if I did go, that would give the CIA, when they finally found out, every reason to try to denounce me as having sold out or being a turncoat or traitor, defector, all those things.

I had to decide then whether I would do it the really safe way and not go to Cuba, simply do whatever I could do in Paris or whatever city, or whether I should go . let's say a lo macho in Spanish, which means straightforward and all out . and go ahead and go to Cuba and hope that they agreed, because what I had done was to tell Maspero, "Look. I don't want to go to Cuba to be a defector in the sense of what a Soviet or Cuban or somebody else would be in the United States. I don't want to go through months and months, or even years of debriefing. I don't want to get involved in counter intelligence ploys, which would arise from the revelations that I might make. I don't want other people telling me what to do. I don't want to write a book for other people."

Marks: You didn't still want to be a spook.

Agee: No, and I wanted to write the book for Americans, not for Cubans or for Soviets or anybody else. I wanted to write the book so that Americans who, at the end of the day, are the only people who are going to stop this, would be able to get a knowledge of what the CIA is and what the CIA does, particularly the covert action interventionist operations which serve to promote repression in many countries and cause terrible human suffering.

The Cubans accepted this version or this scenario, this condition. I was never pressured by them in Cuba when I went. I went wondering, of course, and worried, but when I got there, it was serious. It was straight forward, and in addition to getting to two university students to help me on the research at the José Martí library, for example, the Casa las Américas, I also was able to travel all over the island and see different projects which were just fascinating to me because I could compare the developments in the Cuban Revolution with what I had seen in Latin America for the last 10 or 11 years, and also what I'd seen in Cuba under Batista.

Marks: What were the differences?

Agee: Well, the differences were tremendous. You saw a health program which was serving the needs of the country. You saw no unemployment at all. In fact, you saw a tremendous labor shortage. You saw an educational system which is very, very impressive, not only in the formal sense, but in the adult educational system. That is the night courses that everybody was taking.

I also saw a lot of the economic development projects such as citrus growing area, such as the agricultural projects such as rice growing areas and other cultivations, the efforts to create new and better herds of cattle according to the special needs of the tropical climate there in Cuba.

I really did spend a lot of time studying these different projects, and took a lot of notes, and in fact while I was there I was infatuated by the idea of writing a book on the Cuban Revolution.

At the same time, I also saw the failings, the disruption, which had been caused by the Ten Million Ton project of the year before, which had failed.

Marks: The sugar, when they didn't harvest enough.

Agee: That's right. I also saw, for example, the long lines. They had a lot of rationing still . restaurants, for example . You had to wait in line for long periods of time or you had to make reservations the day before. There were still grave problems that they were facing, which people were accepting and working to overcome.

So I thought that, at least of what I saw, the Cuban Revolution was very positive on balance. Housing, for example, was another major area of concern, and I could see for myself that the people were really participating, even though there was really a lot of hardship and aggravating things like standing in lines.

Compared to what I'd seen in Latin America before, like in Mexico, Uruguay, or Ecuador, it was very significant. While I was there, of course, the Pentagon Papers were surfaced. I'd gone there about April I think of 1971, and I think in June the Pentagon Papers first came out, and I was given a tremendous jolt of encouragement by that and did everything I had to do over a six month period.

You know, the odd thing is, John, that I went back to the United States after I'd been in Cuba, and nobody ever approached me. No one ever said anything. I had been in Cuba about three months, and I decided to go back to the United States to visit and be with my sons, who were with their mother in Washington . in August I think it was . Or July and August of '71 . and I went back and spent about six weeks, I suppose, in the States.

I had gone to Cuba perfectly openly, and had flown back under my own name to Spain and the back the normal route. Apparently CIA didn't know anything about it.

Marks: But you knew from your own CIA experience that those passenger lists coming into Madrid or coming into Mexico City, were surveilled. I mean, you knew they knew.

Agee: Yes I did, and I was so stupid for doing that. I was so desperate to see my children and to be with them, that I did a stupid thing.

Marks: What difference did it make? I mean, why didn't you, as an American citizen, have the right to go to Cuba?

Agee: Well, I knew what they would think, you see, and I knew that they might be able to take . or I suspected they might be able to take some measures against me there in the States, but as I say, I was somewhat . I just didn't have a very good political criteria at the time, and if it were to happen today, I wouldn't take that risk.

Marks: You obviously were impressed by Cuba. Shouldn't you, as an American citizen, have the right to go see positive economic development in Cuba or any other place in the world?

Agee: Of course, but again there is this question of fact that I am so special, having worked in the CIA, and I was writing a book. If I wanted to get the book finished, I shouldn't have placed myself under the control of the people who stood the most to lose by the publication of my book.

So no matter what the reality was, I was sure that, somehow the CIA and the government would concoct a way to . or this is what I thought afterwards, because I went there thinking, oh no, I'll get away with it, which in fact I did but it was absolute chance.

Of course, when I went back to Cuba, then I began to think, well, the Cubans are going to think that something is fishy because they'll think surely if the CIA has been monitoring, as anyone would assume they do, people who come and go from Cuba. In fact, in Mexico, they used to take people off planes and send them back up to the United States.

Marks: Oh that's interesting. The Mexican's would take people off planes on their way to Cuba and deport them to the United States?

Agee: Damn right. Anybody flying to Cuba on Cubana from . well anybody flying to Cuba . had to be there about three hours ahead of time. When they got there, they had to wait, had to fill out a card with all sorts of data . you know, place and date of birth and full name and all that stuff. Then that would all be phoned into the American Embassy, to the CIA.

The CIA would then check all their files against those people, and any -

Marks: Run them through the computers.

Agee: Well, they didn't have computers. It was all done sort of manually, but in any case, the CIA was able to say, "No this guy shouldn't go," and the Mexicans wouldn't let him go.

They photographed everybody in the airport while they were waiting.

Marks: What would they do to the people who the CIA said shouldn't go?

Agee: Well if it was American that they didn't want to go, they'd just bundle him in a car with a bunch of guards and send him back up and dump him across the border in Brownsville or in Laredo or some place like that.

Marks: Do you know anybody specifically that ever happened to?

Agee: No, I don't from memory off hand but I'm sure I can find a case.

Marks: What kinds of people though?

Agee: Americans who were wanted for some political offense in the United States, who may have been active in some sort of criminal activities in the United States.

Marks: Would somebody who was in the anti-war movement fit into that category?

Agee: That could certainly be, yes.

Marks: Did you know of cases -

Agee: No, but now that you mention it, I think there may have been. There probably were. I would expect that there're people who will remember that sort of thing.

Marks: The CIA always seemed disturbed about people and things like Venceremos Brigade, young American radicals who went to Cuba to cut sugar and things like that. What was your experience on that attitude?

Agee: One of the things that impressed me most when I was in Cuba, in fact probably more than everything I saw in Cuba, was the book Venceremos by the Venceremos Brigade, because I could identify so closely with them. In Mexico, after I had left the CIA, I sort of became, I wouldn't say completely hippy, but I -

Marks: You got your hippy period at least.

Agee: Yeah, I kind of got into that and I drifted away from the convention and the conformity which was required of an American foreign service officer and CIA officer and all that. I didn't, like we used to say years ago, "go ape" or anything, but I still had my little release.

Marks: You were on the edge of the counter-culture at least.

Agee: Yeah and I tried to join from time to time too, but how does a former CIA officer join the counter-culture? I would drive down to Oaxaca and get friendly with students bumming around down there, or wherever it happened to be, but I always felt a little bit of a fraud.

Marks: Because of your age or because you came out of the CIA or what?

Agee: Well after all I was 33. That's not so old, but because mainly I'd had this background in the CIA, and I couldn't be really honest with anybody.

Marks: In other words if they asked you, "Hey man, what do you do?"

Agee: I began to stumble. Look at the words.

Marks: What would you say?

Agee: I'd say, "Well, I was a foreign service officer. I was an legal attache. " crap like that which generally turned people off anyway, you see.

Agee: Anyway, by the time I got into Cuba, maybe the Venceremos book jolted me back into reality because -

Marks: You had read it before you went to Cuba.

Agee: No, I ready when I got to Cuba. I found the copy someplace, or somebody gave me a copy and it was a series of stories written by the actual participants in the Vinceremos Brigade. I just gobbled that up. I thought it was the most wonderful thing. At the same time, I was doing a lot of reading like, at that time, The Greening of America, for example, was a best seller. There was another book, The Age of Aquarius, by a fellow. I think his name was Braden. There was also Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness.

There were a number of books which I read at that time which had a really profound affect. The mafia story that was made into the movie -

Agee: The Godfather also. I mean, I did a lot of reading of, let's say, provocative books and fiction, which I hadn't done before, because I didn't have anything else to do in Cuba. I had a motorcycle which they'd given me, and it kept breaking down, so I was sort of stuck a lot of the time, at a beach house where I lived.

I'd take a bus into Havana, or my motorcycle, and see my friends in there, then come back and I did a lot of reading. So the Venceremos book really had a profound effect and I thought, "Boy there's really a group of Americans who had their problems."

I mean, read the book and you see how they fight. They got sexist and racist and all kinds of problems, but fascinating reading, so I dearly wanted to join them. I mean, I in fact asked the Cubans, my friends there, if I could possibly go and meet the Brigade because they were -

Marks: The people who were down there cutting cane that year.

Agee: Yeah, or if I could go speak to them and talk about the CIA and all, and it didn't work. They -

Marks: The Cubans didn't want you to see them.

Agee: No, they didn't want . Well, they were right, in fact, because if I'd gone there and then it was assorted, suddenly the story would be out about the CIA guy working in Cuba but I was terribly deprived of human contact at that time and I was awfully lonely.

Marks: So I suppose we should go off into the political thing. I mean, you essentially support the aims of the Cuban Revolution.

Agee: Well it depends on which aims you talking about. The social aims, of course I would support, which is such things as medical care for everybody, adequate housing, educational system, the fact that he productive capacity and the distributive capacity of the country works for all of the people, that there isn't a small elite of the population that kind of festers and thrives on others, and also unemployment. Cuba had terrible, terrible unemployment problems before the Revolution.

They have been able to solve a lot of these problems. They have serious problems now currently because of the collapse in the sugar price, and they're still dependent on, or largely dependent on a monoculture. But at the same time, they have been able to create a spirit, a community spirit, or a national spirit of sharing the hardships, which has really been the key to the success of the Cuban Revolution.

I wonder really what would have happened in Cuba if the United States had not shown such terrible hostility toward the Cuban Revolution during the Eisenhower administration.

At the same time, they've been able to develop a certain independence in foreign policy, which is limited, but it's still an independence. I don't know. I wonder really what would have happened in Cuba if the United States had not shown such terrible hostility toward the Cuban Revolution during the Eisenhower administration.

Marks: And the Kennedy administration and the Johnson administration.

Agee: Yeah but it really started during the Eisenhower administration, and it started, remember, over the oil that -

Marks: The nationalization.

Agee: Well, first of all, no it was whether -

Marks: It was to refine Soviet -

Agee: Soviet oil as opposed to Venezuelan oil, and there were Cities Service Texaco, and I don't remember the other refinery which refused, and then they nationalized those refineries and brought in the Soviet oil. That was probably the most important event that determined the organization of the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Marks: In other words, the United States government reacted to that, what turned out to be an expropriation and moving closer to the Soviets by deciding that Fidel Castro ought to be overthrown.

Agee: Yeah, well Eisenhower's poker partner was the chairman of Cities Service, and I think he was eventually killed in a plane crash, but Cities Service I think had one of the refineries in Havana, so you see the very intimate relationship.

Marks: So the United States government, or at least the top level, decided they had to overthrow Castro.

Agee: Yes, because not only was the situation critical to Cuba, but the incentive, or the tremendous influence that the Cuban Revolution had all over the rest of Latin America was just incredible.

Marks: People in other countries were impressed in some favorable way by what was going on in Cuba.

Agee: Yes, well, you'd have to study the history or Latin America to understand it, but when most of Latin America was liberated from the Spanish in the early 19th Century, by 1825 every country was independent, and the United States backed it . backed the wars of liberation in most of Latin America.

Marks: Wars of National Liberation.

Agee: Well, in Cuba it was a different story. In Cuba, the United States didn't want independence from Spain, because they realized, following the Haiti pattern, Cuba might become a refuge for runaway slaves from the South. Because of the great influence and power of Southern politicians in the Washington government, the American support for Cuban independence never existed, never cropped up.

In fact, Cuba wasn't liberated, and in the 1850's the United States offered to buy Cuba for I don't know how many millions of dollars, maybe something insulting like two million dollars from the Spanish government, which they refused. Then later on, after the Civil War, when the First Cuban War for Independence occurred in 1868, lasted for 10 years, the United States was very much opposed to it, because by that time, the United States American Capital had began to invest in Cuba, in sugar particularly.

This long drawn out war that lasted on into 1878 was very detrimental to American investment interests in Cuba. So much the more was the case in the 1890's when the Second War for Independence began in Cuba for independence from Spain, in 1895, when José Martí went back and was killed, I think, within two weeks of the landing.

In any case, that war went on, and finally the United States intervened in 1898, the Spanish-American War, which is what they call it, but it really the Cuban Independence War, and took over the running of the whole show.

Marks: So Cuba became our colony.

Agee: Cuba became a colony and remained a colony until 1959.

Marks: Yeah. You didn't directly participate in the secret war against Castro, did you?

Agee: My participation was peripheral in the sense that it occurred in the countries were Cuban missions existed, such as -

Marks: Cuban embassies.

Agee: Cuban embassies, yes. My job was to try to penetrate those embassies through technical devices, like bugging, telephone tapping, and also to recruit Cuban officials to betray the Cuban Revolution and to come over to our side.

Marks: Be spies for the CIA.

Agee: Right. I was very near to success a number of times in those types of operations. I never, let's say, was involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion, but I did do considerable damage where the foreign missions were concerned. But any case, this didn't come up and hit me in the face, in other words, when I went to Cuba in 1971.

Marks: What techniques would you use to recruit a Cuban diplomat?

Agee: It depended on what we knew about the diplomat. We -

Marks: You'd study them very carefully.

We would study our targets very carefully through telephone taps on their homes, and on the embassy. We would also get all the reports that we might have on this individual. We would look for all of the possible vulnerabilities of the person.

Agee: We would study them very carefully through telephone taps on their homes, and on the embassy. We would also get all the reports that we might have on this individual, from other countries where he may have served. That is the central file. We would look for all of the possible vulnerabilities of the person.

For example, in one case in Uruguay, the Cuban code clerk, his wife had just had a baby, but for months he had been running around with an Uruguayan woman, and we thought that he might want to re-settle someplace . perhaps in Argentina . with the Uruguayan woman and leave his wife, from a number of things he had said. Our principal source on this was not just a telephone, but it was the chauffeur of the Cuban Embassy, who was an Uruguayan -

Marks: Who was your agent.

Agee: . who was our agent working for us, and who had also become a very good friend of this Cuban code clerk. So we worked out a possible recruitment scenario, and in fact, it almost worked. It in fact worked at first, and then it didn't work, and then it was going to work again and then finally it failed. He admitted what happened and they sent him back to Cuba under -

Marks: The Cuban wasn't sure, even though he may have had some love for this woman, that he really wanted to be a traitor to his country and become a CIA agent, even though you were promising money, a new life, and a beautiful woman, or something of that sort.

Agee: It's very hard to say. I never did understand quite what happened in that case, because it was quite irregular, and I think that, probably, if I had during the early period, taken out $50,000 and given it to him, or showed it to him at least, then he might have compromised himself completely.

Marks: Voted with his feet.

Agee: Yep. Well, voted with his dollars I suppose, but as it turned out, I was cautious on it, and was being directed all the time by Washington anyway on what exactly could be done, that finally he decided that . He just got cold feet, and he decided that he would just confess all, and go back and spend five years on a correctional farm in Cuba and start a new life, which he probably did.

Marks: How did you feel about doing that to a human being? Did you have any compunctions about it?

When you get into the CIA you become arrogant with the sense of secret power. You become calloused to other people's sensitivities. You look at things in a very inhuman way. I was arrogant and bold and simply rather despicable person.

Agee: Not at that time, because I must say that I was exceedingly cynical at that time. I was a very calloused guy. I just was insensitive. When you get into the CIA you . It's very hard to explain. You have to be practically a psychologist or a psychiatrist to explain the attitude of a person, but you become arrogant with the sense of secret power. You become calloused to other person's sensitivities.

You simply become an operative who is calculating and cold and cool, so you look at things in a very inhuman way. That's more or less the way I was looking at them then. I had come down to Uruguay at that time, after three years in Ecuador, and I was arrogant and bold and simply, rather despicable person.

Marks: You weren't doing this to a human being, you were doing an operation.

Agee: Yes, and you detach yourselves from the realities. You detach yourselves from the personalities involved. You become something of a manipulator, and operator. I mean, you really become the American . Let's say the epitome of the American ripoff con-man, and that sort of thing.

Marks: Have you ever felt an impulse to send letters of apology to any of these people? Or did you ever perhaps run into this guy in Cuba?

Agee: You'd be surprised. I've had a number of people that I mention in my book, who were on the other side, not the agents especially, but the activists on the other side, who bore the brunt of our operations have contacted me and have thanked me for writing the book.

One in particular who came to see me about a year ago, and who I saw a number of times since and did a number of film projects with, was Jaime Galarza. Galarza was the president of the Revolutionary Union of Ecuadorian Youth, and he spent long periods in jail because of us and what I was doing, and he wrote -

Marks: You got him arrested.

Agee: Oh, many times, and he was, to us, one of the most dangerous revolutionaries of the period. He eventually wrote the most important book of the century in Ecuador. It's a book called, El Festin del Petroleo, or The Petroleum Party, and is a historical study of how the petroleum resources of Ecuador, which is now a member of OPEC and one of the great petroleum producers in the world.

How these petroleum resources were discovered in the 1920's more or less, and covered up, and Ecuador became a banana republic and all the poverty and suffering continued until finally it was needed. In the 1970's they reopened the projects and built a pipeline over the Andes, and the country became a great exporter.

Galarza looked me up here in Cambridge through people in London.

Marks: He's now in exile.

Agee: He has gone back and he's politically active again in Ecuador, but he had spent years in prison there, long time in solitary confinement. I don't think that anything has been quite so gripping emotionally, since I wrote my book, as the times that I spent with him, particularly the first few hours of getting to know him, knowing that he had been on the receiving end of the operations that I had been doing, and that he had come to thank me for having written this book.

It was a gesture that, I can't describe how I feel about it.

Marks: Do you have that kind of forgiveness in your heart for people in the CIA? Could you forgive in that way?

Agee: Oh absolutely. I would do anything I possibly can to CIA people who would want to, or who would consider even doing something to try to weaken the agencies ability to promote repression, to promote torture and assassination and all the things that they do through their surrogate intelligence services in countries all around the world.

Marks: They don't actually torture themselves, do they?

Agee: I never knew of any case, no, but they give the training. They give the equipment financing, and everything from paper and pencil to automobiles, and weapons too.

Marks: And they know that the intelligence service who they're helping in Ecuador or Chile or Brazil is torturing?

We heard right through the walls, the moans and groans and screams of a man being tortured right in the Police Department. It turned out that I had given the person's name to the police intelligence. I heard that voice for . I mean, I still hear the voice.

Agee: Absolutely. There's no possible way they can't know. John Horton, who was my Chief of Station in Montevideo, and I were sitting right in the Chief of Police office. He was an army general, and we heard right through the walls, the moans and groans and screams of a man being tortured in the Uruguayan police department, the Montevideo Police Department, 1965.

It so happened, which to me really was a traumatic experience, it turned out that I had given the person's name to the police intelligence for preventive detention, not expecting that he would be tortured of course.

Marks: And you would turn the name over as a representative of the CIA to the local intelligence service as part of your official duties.

Agee: Absolutely. Yes, that's what happened.

Marks: On a personal level, at the time, did it bother you?

Agee: Damn right, it bothered the hell out of me. I heard that voice for . I mean, I still hear the voice.

Marks: Do you have guilts? Do you feel wracked by guilt in any way, or do you feel what you've done now has kind of made up for what you did before?

Agee: I don't feel too much guilt, no, anymore, mainly because of the tremendous acceptance and support and encouragement that I've gotten from people from country after country. Every place I go, I run into somebody who knew somebody who was in my book or whatever it happens to be and the encouragement to keep on and to continue to focus attention on the CIA's work with other intelligence services, the promotion of repression, their secret aversions of the institutions of other countries.

All of this encouragement and support more or less precludes serious feeling of guilt. It's almost like never having worked with the CIA.

Marks: And you've got politics now, don't you?

Agee: What do you mean?

Marks: Don't you have a political commitment to the work you're doing?

Agee: Well I wouldn't do it obviously if I -

Marks: Tell us about your politics. What do you believe?

Agee: I don't know. Why don't we turn this off for a second and we'll come back to it in a minute.

Marks: Okay. I'll just say for the record that that was not a stop for Philip Agee to go off the record on his politics. It was a stop for both the interviewer and the interviewee to go to the bathroom.

I think that what the CIA is doing is like pollution. It's polluting the political environment for future generations of Americans, and that where American security is concerned, in the long run, the support for prevailing social and economic injustices is going to undermine the security of the American people.

Agee: Let's see how much time do we have to talk about politics, not very much. Okay, make it quick is this way. I think that what the CIA is doing is like pollution. It's polluting the political environment for future generations of Americans, and that where American security is concerned, in the long run, the support to the 21 families or the 100 families who control the wealth and income of a lot of countries, together with the support to the security services which enforce the prevailing social and economic injustices, is going to undermine in the long run, the security of the American people.

It serves the short run security, and the short run profits of special interests, particularly economic interests of American companies. I don't think it is the sort of policy that 100 years or 200 years from now, any American would look upon with pride.

Marks: So you think societies in Latin America could be organized a lot differently than they are today.

Agee: Yeah, I think American society could to.

Marks: How would you do that?

Agee: Well, I think there are many different ways. It depends on what the people are ready to take and accept, and what people want. First of all, what is needed is a process of political . I suppose you'd have to say political education, or political development, whereby the fears which have been bred into us as a society from the very beginning that is the sense of insecurity, the sense of having to struggle so hard against insecurity we'll do anything to have a position of some influence or security, has got to be defeated.

We have to learn to live. We have to learn to live or learn to accept the fact that we can learn or that we can live secure with one another. In other words, that there is enough to go around, to satisfy everyone, that we can in fact have a decent life without ripping off our friends.

Marks: Other countries.

Agee: Particularly other countries.

Marks: But it's our own people too.

Agee: But I mean, within the United States, talking about the domestic politics.

Marks: That sounds suspiciously like socialism.

Agee: I think the trouble with terms like socialism is that they are emotive. Socialism to so many people means people who don't want to work, welfare state, people getting money for not working, that sort of thing. I would say yes, socialism in the sense that the major concern is in the welfare of the whole society.

Marks: A more equitable sharing of resources.

Agee: Of resources, of distribution, of all the things that go to make up the human needs of a society.

Marks: And your means to getting to that? The people say you're a radical socialist. Do you feel that armed revolution is the answer? Do you think we can peacefully evolve there, or is it going to have to be a combination or what?

Agee: I don't know really. Having not lived in the United States for so long, I can't tell what it is that would be best or people would want and all of that. I would think that probably the approach would be first education, I said before, first to show people that there are enough resources to go around, that we don't have to be that much farther ahead of our neighbors to have a sense of accomplishment in life, and that it's in everybody's best interest.

Certainly, you see the hatred of the United States all around the world today. Everywhere you go people are commenting or tied into the movement .

The point is that you can't force change on people who are not ready to accept it. I think anybody would agree that it's a mistake to try to force revolution or force socialism onto a society which is not ready to accept it. The fact is, once the fire begins to burn, then people begin to realize what the possibilities are. Then, a lot of violence sometimes occurs, as in Cambodia recently and many other societies before.

Nothing is going to happen until people are ready to accept it, so if people are ready to accept democratic socialism and a mixed economy right now, then I'm all for that and would do anything I could to help promote it in the United States, to support it. I'd vote for it. I'd speak for it. I'd write for it, and everything else.

I also can see beyond that, the possibility of a society in which there isn't any private sector to speak of, but this is something far into the future because it is a whole cultural and political development, which takes sometimes hundreds of years to occur. I don't believe in trying to force people at the point of a sword, to change their ways overnight.

Marks: So you sound more like an evolutionary socialist with common sense than say a revolutionary socialist with theoretical base that had to be implemented tomorrow.

Agee: I don't have a theoretical base because I simply have not done the studying and I don't know the history, and I don't know all the figures and the different political views and all of what goes into sectarianism and left politics today, whether it's the United States or Europe or any other country.

What I do feel is there has to be a very humanist approach to the change so that a minimum of human suffering is caused, even among those people who are the worst exploiters. After all, I come from a very privileged, even elitest home life and education and background in the United States, and of course, naturally I went into the CIA. It wasn't an unusual thing in those days, having been a product of the McCarthy period and the cold war. The CIA wasn't known then for what it's known today.

You can't hold that sort of education against people and inflict pain on them because of them having been a product of those periods. But at the same time, I think that every encouragement should be given to create a more just society, a society in which people are not at the sword point of terrible insecurity and want in terms of food, in terms of education of children, housing, medical care and those sorts of things. And this is why I say I think that socialism will without any doubt come to the United States, but it has to come as Americans are willing to accept it.

Christopher Agee

Spring 2021 Remote/Zoom Office Hours:
1-3 PM on Thursdays and by appointment, please email me.

Expertise Areas:
Twentieth-Century U.S. History, Urban History, Social and Cultural Movements, Modern United States, Criminal Justice System

Ph.D., History, University of California, Berkeley, 2005
B.A., History, University of California, Berkeley, 1998 (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa)

My research focuses on twentieth-century American history, with particular focuses on political history, urban history, social and cultural movements, gender history, and oral history. I teach courses in the history of crime and policing, the history of the American West, urban history, and modern American history. I am a Distinguished Lecturer with the Organization of American Historians.

My first book, The Streets of San Francisco: Policing and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950-1972 (University of Chicago Press, 2014), revealed the central role policing played in the creation of San Francisco's modern liberal politics. Through personal papers and over forty oral histories, I recovered the seldom-reported, street-level interactions between police officers and San Francisco residents during the 1950s and 60s. I found that postwar police officers exercised broad discretion when dealing with North Beach beats, African-American gang leaders, gay and lesbian bar owners, Haight-Ashbury hippies, artists who created sexually explicit works, Chinese-American entrepreneurs, and a wide range of other San Franciscans. Unexpectedly, that police discretion grew into a source of both concern and inspiration for thousands of young professionals who were streaming into the city's growing financial district and expressing desires for both diversity and security. By the late 1960s, marginalized San Franciscans, young white professionals, and even rank-and-file police officers were rallying around issues of police discretion to forge a new liberal coalition. Promising both democracy and physical safety, San Francisco liberals became a driving force behind a national transformation in urban liberal politics. Today, urban liberals across the country ground themselves in similar understandings of democracy through an emphasis on both broad diversity and tough policing.

CIA/Contra Drugs, Intelligence Reform, and Oliver North with Senate Investigator Jack Blum (1996)

Jack Blum was special counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and he was Chief Investigator for the Kerry Committee (The Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations) which investigated, among other things, the CIA-Contra drugs connection. In 1996, he was the lead witness during hearings before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee about the Contra/Cocaine connection which were prompted by the series of articles authored by Gary Webb that appeared in The San Jose Mercury News.

PLEASE VISIT: https://www.pacificaradioarchives.org/recording/kz228001
RECORDED: November 3, 1996.
BROADCAST : November 3, 1996 / KPFK

Written by OurHiddenHistory on Friday July 13, 2018


An exploration of the Hidden History of the United States and the world. Our Hidden History produces audio book versions of historical primary documents from the Cold War to today.

Our recent focus has been to create audio books from the Church Committee's Final Reports for the 40th Anniversary of the Committee.

Philip Agee - History

Today the whole world knows, as never before, how the U.S. government and U.S. corporations have been secretly intervening in country after country to corrupt politicians and to promote political repression. The avalanche of revelations in the mid-1970s, especially those concerning the CIA, shows a policy of secret intervention that is highly refined and consistently applied.

Former President Ford and leading government spokesmen countered by stressing constantly the need for the CIA to retain, and to use when necessary, the capability for executing the kinds of operations that brought to power the military regime in Chile. Ford even said in public that he believed events in Chile had been "in the best interests of the Chilean people." 1 And even with President Carter's human rights campaign there has been no indication that the CIA has reduced or stopped its support of repressive dictatorships in Iran, Indonesia, South Korea, Brazil, and other bastions of "the free world."

The revelations, though, have not only exposed the operations of the CIA, but also the individual identities—the names, addresses, and secret histories —of many of the people who actually do the CIA's work. Yet, with all the newly available information, many people still seem to believe the myths used to justify this secret political police force. Some of the myths are, of course, actively spread by my former CIA colleagues others come from their liberal critics. But whatever the source, until we lay the myths to rest, they will continue to confuse people and permit the CIA—literally—to get away with murder.

Myth Number One: The CIA is primarily engaged in gathering intelligence information against the Soviet Union.

This is perhaps the CIA's longest-playing myth, going back to the creation of the Agency in 1947 and the choice of the name "Central Intelligence Agency." As the Agency's backers explained the idea to the American Congress, afraid even in those early days of getting dragged into unwanted foreign adventures, the CIA was needed to find out what a possible enemy was planning in order to protect the United States from a surprise attack. Americans at the time still shared a vivid memory of the unexpected Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, and with the likelihood that the new enemy—the Soviet Union —would soon have atomic bombs, no one could really doubt the need to know if and when an attack might come.

The real success in watching the Soviets, however, came from technological breakthroughs like the U-2 spy plane and spy-in-the-sky satellites, and the job of strategic intelligence fell increasingly to the technically sophisticated U.S. National Security Agency. The CIA played a part, of course, and it also provided centralized processing of information and data storage. But in its operations the CIA tended to put its emphasis on covert action—financing friendly politicians, murdering suspected foes, and staging coups d'etat .

This deeply involved the Agency in the internal politics of countries throughout Western Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, as well as in the Soviet bloc. And even where CIA officers and agents did act as spies, gathering intelligence information, they consistently used that information to further their programs of action.

The CIA's operatives will argue that the ultimate goal of discovering Soviet and other governments' intentions requires live spies at work in places like the Kremlin—that the Agency exists to recruit these spies and to keep them alive and working. A Penkovsky or two should be on the payroll at all times to keep America safe from Russian adventures. This argument may influence some people, because theoretically, spy satellites and other forms of monitoring only give a few minutes' warning, whereas a person in the right place can report on decisions as soon as they are made, giving perhaps days or weeks of warning. Such a spy might also be of great value for the normal conduct of relations—whether in negotiations, cooperation, or confrontation.

Nevertheless, the vast CIA effort to recruit officials of importance in the Soviet Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, KGB, and GRU has never had significant success. There have indeed been defections, but these, I was told in the CIA, had nothing to do with the elaborate traps and snares laid out by the CIA around the world. They resulted from varying motivations and psychological pressures operating on the official who defected. In this respect, the CIA's strengthening of repressive foreign security services, necessary for laying out the snares (telephone tapping, travel control, observation posts, surveillance teams, etc.). can scarcely be justified by the nil recruitment record.

Today, notwithstanding recent "reforms", the CIA remains primarily an action agency—doing and not just snooping. Theirs is the grey area of interventionist action between striped-pants diplomacy and invasion by the Marines, and their targets in most countries remain largely the same: governments, political parties, the military, police, secret services, trade unions, youth and student organizations, cultural and professional societies, and the public information media. In each of these, the CIA continues to prop up its friends and beat down its enemies, while its goal remains the furthering of U.S. hegemony so that American multinational companies can intensify their exploitation of the natural resources and labor of foreign lands.

Of course this has little to do with strategic intelligence or preventing another Pearl Harbor, while it has a lot to do with the power of certain privileged groups within the United States and their friends abroad. The CIA spreads the myth of "intelligence gathering" in order to obscure the meaning of what the Agency is really doing.

Myth Number Two: The major problem is lack of control that is, the CIA is a "rogue elephant."

This myth comes not from the CIA, but from its liberal critics, many of whom seem to believe that all would be well if only Congress or the President would exercise tighter control. Yet, for all the recent horror stories, one finds little evidence that a majority in Congress want the responsibility for control, while the executive branch continues to insist—rightly—that the Agency's Covert action operations have, with very few exceptions, followed the orders of successive presidents and their National Security Councils. As former Secretary of State Kissinger told Representative Otis Pike's Intelligence Investigating Committee, "Every operation is personally approved by the President." 2

For its part the Pike committee concluded in its official report, first published in "leaked" form by the Village Voice , that "all evidence in hand suggests that the CIA, far from being out of control has been utterly responsive to the instructions of the President and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs." 3

So the problem is said to be with the presidents—Democratic and Republican —who, over the past 30 years, have given the green light to so many covert operations. But why were the operations necessary? And why secret? The operations had to be secret, whether they involved political bribes, funding of anticommunist journals, or fielding of small armies, because in every case they implied either government control of supposedly non-governmental institutions or violation of treaties and other agreements. In other words, hypocrisy and corruption. If the government was going to subvert free, democratic, and liberal institutions, it would have to do so secretly.

There is, however, a more basic reason for the secrecy—and for the CIA. Successive administrations—together with American-based multinational corporations—have continually demanded the freest possible access to foreign markets, labor, agricultural products, and raw materials. To give muscle to this demand for the "open door", recent presidents have taken increasingly to using the CIA to strengthen those foreign groups who cooperate—and to destroy those who do not. This has been especially clear in countries such as Chile under Allende, or Iran 20 years earlier under Mossadegh, where strong nationalist movements insisted on some form of socialism to ensure national control of economic resources.

The CIA's covert action operations abroad are not sui generis . They happen because they respond to internal U.S. requirements. We cannot wish them away through fantasies of some enlightened President or Congress who would end American subversion of foreign peoples and institutions by the wave of a wand. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Senate rejected by a very wide margin a legislative initiative that would have prohibited covert action programs by the CIA.

Only prior radical change within the U.S., change that will eliminate the process of accumulating the value of foreign labor and resources, will finally allow an end to secret intervention abroad. Until then, we should expect more intervention by the CIA and multinational corporations—not less. Increasingly important will be the repressive capabilities of the Agency's "sister" services abroad.

Myth Number Three: Weakening the CIA opens wider the door for Soviet expansion and eventual world domination.

This myth is peddled especially hard at times when liberation movements make serious gains. Former President Ford and Dr. Kissinger used it frequently during the CIA's ill-fated intervention in Angola, and we continue to hear it again as liberation movements seek Soviet and Cuban help in their struggles against the apartheid policies of the white Rhodesians and South Africans.

The problem for America, however, is not "Soviet expansionism," despite all the anticommunism with which we are indoctrinated practically from the cradle. The problem, rather, is that the American government, preeminently the CIA, continues to intervene on the side of "friends" whose property and privilege rest on the remnants of archaic social systems long since discredited. The political repression required to preserve the old order depends on American and other Western support which quite naturally is turning more and more people against the United States—more effectively, for sure, than anything the KGB could ever concoct.

As Senator Frank Church explained in an interview on British television, "I'm apt to think that the Russians are going to choose [sides] better than we will choose nine times out of ten. After all we're two hundred years away from our revolution we're a very conservative country." 4

Myth Number Four: Those who attack the CIA, especially those who have worked in the intelligence community, are traitors, turncoats, or agents of the KGB.

This has been the Agency's chief attack on me personally, and I'm certain that the fear of being tarred with the same brush is keeping many CIA veterans from voicing their own opposition. But as with earlier efforts to find the "foreign hand" in the American antiwar movement, the CIA has failed to produce a shred of evidence that any of its major American (or European) critics are in the service of any foreign power. The reader will also see that the articles and authors appearing in this book are far too diverse adn spontaneous to have been "orchestrated," either by the KGB or by some other person or institution. The KGB no doubt appreciates the Agency's indirect compliments, but revulsion alone toward what the CIA is and does has been a quite sufficient stimulus.

Would-be "reformers" of the CIA have also discovered how the Agency reacts to criticism. According to Representative Pike, the CIA's Special Counsel threatened to destroy Pike's political career. In a conversation with Pike's chief investigative staff person, the Special Counsel was quoted thus: "Pike will pay for this [directing the vote to approve the committee report on the CIA]—you wait and see. I'm serious. There will be political retaliation. Any political ambitions in New York that Pike had are through. We will destroy him for this." 5

CIA veterans must not be intimidated by the Agency's false and unattributed slander. We have a special responsibility for weakening this organization. If put at the service of those we once oppressed, our knowledge of how the CIA really works could keep the CIA from ever really working again. And though the CIA will brand us as "traitors," people all over the world, including the United States, will respond, as they have already, with enthusiastic and effective support.

Myth Number Five: Naming individual CIA officers does little to change the Agency, and is done only to expose innocent individuals to the threat of assassination.

Nothing in the anti-CIA effort has stirred up more anger than the publishing of the names and addresses of CIA officials in foreign countries, especially since the killing of the CIA Station Chief in Athens, Richard Welch. CIA spokesmen—and journals such as the Washington Post - were quick to accuse me and CounterSpy magazine of having "fingered" Welch for the "hit," charging that in publishing his name, we were issuing "an open invitation to kill him." 6 The Agency also managed to exploit Welch's death to discredit and weaken those liberals in Congress who wanted only to curtail some of the Agency's more obvious abuses. The second edition of this book makes abundantly clear that CounterSpy had nothing to do with the Welch killing.

The result of the Agency's manipulations isn't hard to predict. The CIA, for all it's sins, came out of the recent investigations strengthened by the Ford "reforms," while the Congress may attempt to pass an official secrets act that will attempt to make it a crime for any present or former government official ever again to blow the whistle by making public classified information. No more Pentagon Papers . No more Watergate revelations. No more CIA Diaries .

Nonetheless, the naming goes on. More and more CIA people can now be held personally accountable for what they and the Agency as an institution do —for the real harm they cause to real people. Their military coups, torture chambers, and terrorism cause untold pain, and their backing of multinational corporations and local elites helps push millions to the edge of starvation, and often beyond. They are the Gestapo and SS of our time, and as in the Nuremberg Trials and the war in Vietnam, they cannot shed their individual responsibility simply because they were following a superior's orders.

But apart from the question of personal responsibility, the CIA remains a secret political police, and the exposure of its secret operations—and secret operatives—remains the most effective way to reduce the suffering they cause. Already a handful of journalists and former intelligence officers have managed to reveal the names and addresses of hundreds of CIA people, and even the Washington Post —which condemns us for doing it—has admitted that our efforts added greatly to the CIA's growing demoralization. We also noticed from our own investigations that the Agency was forced to step up its security precautions and to transfer many of those named to other posts. All of this disrupts and destabilizes the CIA, and makes it harder for them to inflict harm on others.

Of course, some people will always raise the cry that we are "trying to get someone killed." But, as it happens, violence is not really needed. By removing the mask of anonymity from CIA officers, we make it difficult for them to remain at overseas posts. We hope that the CIA will have the good sense to shift these people to the increasingly smaller number of safe posts, preferably to a desk inside the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia. In this way the CIA will protect the operatives named—and also the lives of their potential victims.

From the old song and dance of the "intelligence gathering" to the claim that "those who expose are the murderers," these five myths won't simply vanish. The CIA—and its allies—will continue to propagate them, and the CIA's critics will have to respond. We must increasingly expose these myths and the crimes they cover up.

But besides debating, there is much more that we can do—especially in furthering the exposure of the Agency and its secret operatives. The CIA probably has no more than 5,000 officers experienced in running clandestine operations and it should be possible to identify almost all of those who have worked under diplomatic cover at any time in their careers. Dirty Work lists mainly those named as CIA operatives in Europe we hope additional volumes can be published on the CIA's people in other areas. All that is required is a continuing effort—and a novel form of international cooperation. Here's how:

1. In each country a team of interested people, including journalists, should obtain a list of all the Americans working in the official U.S. Mission: the Embassy, consulates, AID offices, and other U.S. installations. This list can be acquired through a friend in the host Foreign Ministry, in the American Embassy—or by other means.

2. The team should then get past editions of necessary public documents - U.S. Foreign Service Lists and Biographic Registers (both published by the Department of State) from a local library, and the Diplomatic List and Consular List published regularly by every Foreign Ministry. The Diplomatic and Consular Lists will contain the names and addresses of the higher ranking members of the official mission, including some of the CIA people.

3. Check the names as suggested in the various articles in Dirty Work, especially John Marks' "How to Spot a Spook." Watch carefully for persons carried on the Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic and Consular Lists , but who are missing from the recent Biographic Registers and Foreign Service Lists. Most of these will be CIA people purposely left off the State Department lists.

4. After narrowing down the list of likely suspects, check them with us and with other Similarly oriented groups. CovertAction Information will follow up on all leads, and publish all the information it can confirm.

5. Once the list is fully checked, publish it. Then organize public demonstrations against those named—both at the American Embassy and at their homes—and, where possible, bring pressure on the government to throw them out. Peaceful protest will do the job. And when it doesn't, those whom the CIA has most oppressed will find other ways of fighting back.

Naturally, as new CIA people replace the old, it will be necessary to repeat the process, perhaps every few months. And as the campaign spreads, and the CIA learns to correct the earlier and more obvious flaws in its use of State Department cover, we will have to develop new ways to spot them. Already the Agency has gotten the State Department to restrict circulation of the all-important Biographic Register , and it is likely that the Administration will in future place more of its people under cover of the Department of Defense (for example, in military bases, and in Military Assistance Groups), the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the multinational corporations.

In rare cases, the CIA may even attempt changing the identities of certain operatives. Nonetheless, the CIA will always need a secure base in embassies and consulates to keep its files and communications facilities, and there are many ways to identify the CIA people in these missions without relying on public documents.

Within the United States, people can help this campaign by supporting the groups struggling to stop covert intervention abroad. There is also the need for continuing research into current CIA operations, and new programs to identify and keep track of all the FBI special agents and informers, military intelligence personnel, and the Red Squads and SWAT groups of local and state police departments.

Together, people of many nationalities and varying political beliefs can cooperate to weaken the CIA and its surrogate intelligence services, striking a blow at political repression and economic injustice. The CIA can be defeated. The proof can be seen from Vietnam to Angola, and in all the other countries where liberation movements are rapidly gaining strength.

We can all aid this struggle, together with the struggle for socialism in the United States itself.

1. News conference, September 16, 1974, reported in the International Herald Tribune , September 18, 1974.

2. Testimony by Kissinger to House Select Committee on Intelligence, October 17, 1975, as reported in the International Herald Tribune , November 1-2, 1975.

3. Report of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, as reported in the Village Voice , February 16, 1978, p. 84.

4. "Newsday," BBC-2 television, February 18, 1975.

5. Hon. Otis Pike, speech on the floor of U.S. House of Representatives on March 9, 1976, as reported in the International Herald Tribune , March 11, 1976.

6. Editorial, Washington Post , as published in the International Herald Tribune , December 30, 1975.

Watch the video: Reaction to death of former CIA agent Philip Agee (August 2022).