CIA operative's memoir is a spy mystery
The paperback edition of “The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Culture,” by the pseudonymous former “deep cover CIA officer” Ishmael Jones, arrived in my mailbox this week. A red medallion on the back cover fairly screams, “Unauthorized By The CIA.”
Indeed: Jones ignored the massive cuts demanded by the agency’s Publications Review Board in 2008, he says, and found somebody publish his manuscript in toto in 2008.
“I’m ready to take whatever they have to do,” Jones told me back then.
They didn’t do anything, evidently. Which seems odd, since the Supreme Court decades ago affirmed the agency’s right to punish ex-employees who spy and tell, in the case of former CIA Vietnam operative Frank Snepp.
When Snepp bypassed agency censors in 1978 with his memoir, “Decent Interval: An Insider’s Account of Saigon’s Indecent End, Told by the CIA’s Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam,” the spy agency was on him like white on rice.
It didn’t matter that Snepp kept classified information out of his book: He had violated the agency’s prohibition on publishing without permission.
“He’s inviting big trouble,” Snepp said of Jones in 2008. “Theoretically, if the CIA argues he exposed state secrets . . . they could go after him on a criminal basis.”
Jones has never answered my queries about any legal actions, if any, the agency has taken toward him.
Today, the CIA commented for the first time.
“Separate and apart from any specific book or author, we take seriously the pre-publication review process," said CIA spokesman George Little. "That process is designed to protect classified information.”
So is the agency taking Jones to court?
He's not saying.
It’s a spy mystery.
| April 9, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
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