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.
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...
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.
Agee was a darling of the left in the same tradition as Alger Hiss, and he was just as guilty.
We know from the Mitrokhin Archive and former KGB Counter Intelligence Chief Oleg Kalugin that Agee approached the Soviets with his information but the KGB turned him down. They were too suspicious of him. Agee then approached the Cubans who welcomed him with open arms and shared his information with the KGB.
The CIA support for dictators in Latin America may have been a "hold your nose" policy. However, we know definitively from The World Was Going Our Way, a book based on the information in Mitrokhin Archive that the KGB was actively supporting communist/leftist groups in the same Latin American countries. The Cold War was fully on in Latin America.
Agee chose the wrong side.