Phillip Agee Dead


CIA whistleblower and communist agent Philip Agee has died at his residence in Cuba. The New York Times fills in some of the details of his life:

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. Deprived of his American passport and expelled from several countries at the request of the United States, he had lived for the most part in Germany and Cuba, where he operated a travel Web site,

His 1975 book, "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," infuriated 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.

As documented by former KGB archivist Vasily Mitrokhin, Covert Action Information Bulletin also published forgeries and misinformation provided to the magazine by Soviet intelligence (Mitrokhin makes clear that Agee did so deliberately). As the Times acknowledges, Agee's "troubled conscience," which he detailed in his autobiography On the Run, worked in only one direction. Having been initially rebuffed by the Soviets, who presumed he was a double agent, Agee, who later carried Grenadian (issued by Maurice Bishop), Cuban and Nicaraguan passports, went on to work for sundry totalitarian regimes:

Oleg D. Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who now lives outside Washington, said Mr. Agee approached Soviet intelligence in Mexico in the early 1970s but was rejected by an officer who thought he was a plant. He then approached Cuban intelligence, supplying details of C.I.A. operations in Latin America that were passed on to the K.G.B.

"He was a valuable source," Mr. Kalugin said.

According to this 2000 account in the New York Times, Agee began doing spadework for Cuban intelligence way back in 1973:

Mr. Riera said he had worked with Mr. Agee for years. He said the work began in 1973, when he was a liaison between Mr. Agee and the Cuban Politburo, when Mr. Agee was writing a book exposing C.I.A. secrets. Mr. Riera said that he conveyed suggestions from the government about what information Mr. Agee should disclose in his book. He said telephone numbers for C.I.A. officials in the United States Embassy in Mexico City provided by Mr.Agee proved useful to Cuba years later, when Mr. Riera was posted here, helping him identify which embassy personnel were C.I.A. officers.

Check out Jesse Walker's terrific recapitulation of the Agee story and the absurdity of the law he inspired, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, here.