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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 10/25/2010

CIA renegade Agee’s files surface at NYU

By Jeff Stein

The private papers of Philip Agee, the disaffected CIA operative whose unauthorized publication of agency secrets 35 years ago was arguably far more damaging than anything WikiLeaks has produced, have been obtained by New York University, which plans to make them public next spring.

Agee, who worked undercover in Latin America from 1960 to 1968 and died in Cuba two years ago, once said he resigned because the values of his Catholic upbringing clashed with his CIA assignments to destroy movements to overthrow U.S.-backed military regimes. CIA defenders said he was on the verge of being fired.

Agee’s first book, "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," published in 1975, included a 22-page appendix with the real names of some 250 undercover agency operatives and accused a handful of Latin American heads of state of being CIA assets.

The CIA’s classified in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, called it “a severe body blow" to the agency.

"As complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere," wrote Miles Copeland, a former CIA station chief, "an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British 'case officer' operates... All of it … presented with deadly accuracy."

Two subsequent books by Agee and his co-author Louis Wolf revealed the names of about 2,000 more alleged CIA operatives in Western Europe and Africa.

Wolf, co-editor with Agee of Covert Action Information Bulletin, said he was principally responsible for digging up the names, not Agee.

"I did all the research for that book, from public sources," Wolf said in a brief telephone interview, "not from classified government information. I had no such access to that information."

President George H.W. Bush, a former CIA director, blamed Agee for contributing to the murder of a CIA station chief in Athens, Richard Welch, and Congress soon passed legislation making it a crime to publish intentionally the names of undercover CIA personnel. But when Bush’s wife Barbara repeated his claim about Agee in a 1994 memoir, his libel suit forced her to delete the accusation from the paperback version of the book.

In contrast to Agee, WikiLeaks withheld the names of hundreds of informants from the nearly 400,000 Iraq war documents it released over the weekend, according to news reports. And its previous surfacing of Afghan war documents, which an Army specialist is suspected of leaking, did not reveal “any sensitive intelligence sources and methods,” according to a letter from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Agee may have started out as an independent whistleblower, but according to retired KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin, the ex-operative offered CIA documents to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City in 1973. Suspecting a ruse, the KGB turned him down, Kalugin said. Agee denied he ever worked for the Russians, but he openly enlisted Cuba's help in his campaign to neutralize CIA operations against leftists and trade unions in Latin America.

NYU’s Tamiment Library, which acquired Agee’s papers from his widow, makes no mention of the renegade agent’s KGB and Cuban intelligence connections in its Monday press release.

But it did maintain that “[f]or the rest of his life Agee was a target of CIA assassination threats.”

In response to a query, Michael Nash, the library’s associate curator, said, “this information came from the Agee book, ‘On the Run,’ and it is supported by some CIA documents that Agee received as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request.”

Nash added, “I would not say we have a smoking gun, you rarely get that, but there are reports that came from the FOIA requests and some Agee correspondence that led me to this conclusion.”

A CIA spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity, dismissed the allegation as "not only wrong, but ludicrous.”

NYU said the Agee collection, which "spans some 20 linear feet, and is currently being catalogued," will be celebrated in a Nov. 9 reception, but not available until April.

The papers include “legal records, correspondence with left-wing activists, mainly in Latin America, and others opposed to CIA practices and covert operations; papers relating to his life as an exile living and working in Cuba, Western and Eastern Europe; lecture notes, photographs, and posters,” the library said.

“Mrs. Agee donated the collection to Tamiment because we have an international reputation as a repository documenting the history of left politics and the movement for progressive social change,” the library said.

By Jeff Stein  | October 25, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Lawandcourts, Media  
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this POC traitor like the rest of these scum should have been executed on the spot.castro ,thanks to J friggin Kennedy made this country a haven for his lunacy. boating his criminals and infiltrators to do anything necessary to undermine our society.the enemy now controls miami and the illegals that pour across our borders.drug dealing is and has been supported by this despicible regime with ties to the muslim scum.

Posted by: pofinpa | October 25, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Interesting but unrelated factoid: the former CIA station chief Miles Copeland mentioned in this article is the father of Stewart Copeland, drummer for The Police.

Posted by: deltaterp | October 25, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

so NYU is using taxdollars to purchase a traitor who is loved in the academic community?? Total Dollars:

Posted by: Rockvillers | October 25, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Philip Agee died a natural death. That pretty much proves that all the nonsense about CIA assassins from the media and Hollywood is just that, nonsense.

Posted by: devluddite | October 25, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse


Why did you agree to grant anonymity to a CIA spokesperson?

Posted by: GeorgeMaschke | October 26, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

deltaterp said: "Interesting but unrelated factoid: the former CIA station chief Miles Copeland mentioned in this article is the father of Stewart Copeland, drummer for The Police."

HA! His dad was in the CIA and he was in The Police!!

Incidentally, for the people calling for his immediate execution, it sounds like it was this attitude that he had trouble embracing. The idea that anyone could be killed without a proper trial and so on (as we Americans believe is a basic human right), is troublesome for a lot of folks. Sure, he clearly broke the law, but sometimes laws are unjust--laws protecting an abusive government would seem fairly unjust to me.

Posted by: thepete | October 26, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

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