26 October 2010
CIA renegade Agees files surface at NYU
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.
From Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe, by Philip Agee and Louis Wolf, 1978:
5 October 1999
Allegations Concerning Philip Agee and the Covert Action Information Bulletin
Source: The Sword and the Shield: the Mitrokhin Archive and the History of the KGB, Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, Basic Books, (published September) 1999, 700 pages.
Vasili Mitrokhin is a former KGB librarian who secretly took home thousands of files from the KGB archives and after his retirement revealed them to the US and UK intelligence services. The Sword and the Shield was written with the cooperation of the UK intelligence services.
This is an excerpt of allegations concerning former CIA officer Philip Agee and the Covert Action Information Bulletin, pp. 230-34.
The purpose here is not to slam Agee and Covert Action but to offer him and others accused an opportunity to rebut The Sword allegations and those made by Arnaud de Borchgrave in The Washington Times. We look forward to publishing such counter counterintelligence.
Service A seized eagerly on Church's ill-chosen metaphor. The KGB's most valuable asset in its active measures to discredit the Agency was an embittered former CIA operations officer in Latin America, Philip Agee (codenamed PONT),42 who had been forced to resign in 1968 after complaints at his heavy drinking, poor financial management and attempts to proposition wives of American diplomats.43 Though he remained in the West, Agee became, in effect, the CIA's first defector. In 1973 he approached the KGB residency in Mexico City and offered what the head of the FCD's Counter-intelligence Directorate, Oleg Kalugin, called "reams of information about CIA operations." The suspicious KGB resident, however, found Agee's offer too good to be true, concluded that he was part of a CIA plot and turned him away. According to Kalugin:
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 list of revelations coming from Agee, I cursed our officers for turning away such a prize.44
In January 1975 Agee published an uncompromisingly hostile memoir of his career in the CIA entitled Inside the Company: CIA Diary, which identified approximately 250 Agency officers and agents and claimed that "millions of people all over the world had been killed or had their lives destroyed by the CIA and the institutions it supports."45 The self-congratulatory KGB file on the book claims, doubtless with some exaggeration, that it was "prepared by Service A, together with the Cubans."46
Mitrokhin's notes do not indicate exactly what the KGB and its Cuban ally, the DGI, contributed to Agee's text. As Agee himself acknowledged, however: "Representatives of the Communist Party of Cuba [the DGI] . . . gave important encouragement at a time when I doubted that I would be able to find the additional information I needed."47 While Agee was writing his book in Britain, the KGB maintained contact with him through its co-optee, Edgar Anatolyevich Cheporov, London correspondent of the Novosti news agency and the Literaturnaya Gazeta.48 At Service A's insistence, Agee removed all references to CIA penetration of Latin American Communist parties from his typescript before publication.49
Because of legal problems in the United States, Inside the Company was first published in Britain, where it was an instant bestseller. The London Evening News called it "a frightening picture of corruption, pressure, assassination and conspiracy." The Economist commended it as "inescapable reading." Probably most valuable of all, from Service A's viewpoint, was a review in the Spectator by Miles Copeland, a former CIA station chief in Cairo, who described Inside the Company as "as complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere." With enthusiastic support from a number of journalists, Agee then set about unmasking the members of the CIA London station, some of whom were surprised emerging from their homes by press photographers. An American theater director staged a production satirizing the Agency in front of a number of CIA officers' houses. "For a while," claimed Agee, "the CIA in Britain was a laughing stock." The left-wing Labor MP Stan Newens promoted a Commons bill, signed by thirty-two of his colleagues, calling for the CIA station to be expelled. Encouraged by Agee's success in Britain, there was a rush by the media in other parts of Europe to expose the CIA stations in their own capitals.50
The six-month delay between the publication of the British and American editions of Inside the Company, and the associated legal difficulties, merely served to increase media interest in the United States and ensure its place high on the bestseller list. A review of Inside the Company in the CIA's classified in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, acknowledged that it was "a severe body blow" to the Agency: "A considerable number of CIA personnel must be diverted from their normal duties to undertake meticulous and time-consuming task of repairing the damage done to its Latin-American program . . ."51
On November 16, 1976 a deportation order served on Agee requiring him to leave England turned his case, much to the delight of the Centre, into a cause celebre. According to one of the files noted by Mitrokhin:
KGB employed firm and purposeful measures to force the Home Office to cancel their decision . . . The London residency was used to direct action by a number of members of the Labor Party Executive, union leaders, leading parliamentarians, leaders of the National Union of Journalists to take a stand against the Home Office decision.52
On November 30 the first in a series of well-publicized meetings to protest against the deportation order was held in London, with speakers including Judith Hart, former Labor Minister of Overseas Development, the leading Labor left-winger Ian Mikardo, Alan Sapper of the film and TV technicians union and the distinguished historian E. P. Thompson. An active defense committee53 based at the National Council of Civil Liberties organized petitions, rallies and pickets of the Home Office. In the Commons Stan Newens sponsored a protest supported by over fifty MPs and led a delegation to see the Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees. Agee addressed sympathetic meetings in Birmingham, Blackpool, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Coventry, London, Manchester and Newcastle. At his appeal against deportation in January and February 1977, Agee's character witnesses included Stan Newens, Judith Hart, former Home Office minister Alex Lyon, former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, Kissinger's former aide Morton Halperin and Sean MacBride, Nobel Peace Prize winner and UN High Commissioner for Namibia. Hart and another ex-Labor minister, Barbara Castle, sponsored a motion, supported by 150 MPs, to reform the appeals procedure. According to Agee's KGB file, "Campaigns of support for PONT were initiated in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland, Finland, Norway, Mexico and Venezuela." After Agee's appeals had failed, the final act in the long drawn-out protest campaign was a Commons debate on May 3. The Guardian, which supported Agee's appeal, commented:
When Merlyn Rees . . . decided that Philip Agee and [American journalist] Mark Hosenball must go, he must equally have known there would be a fuss. But did he realize the endlessly stretching, deeply embarrassing nature of that fuss -- the evidence at a length to rival War and Peace, the press conferences, the parade of fervent witnesses?54
Though Agee was eventually forced to leave England for Holland on June 3, 1977, the KGB was jubilant at the "deeply embarrassing nature of [the] fuss" his deportation had caused. The London residency's claim that it had been able to "direct" the campaign by prominent Labor politicians and others in support of Agee was, however, greatly exaggerated.55 It doubtless did not occur to the vast majority of Agee's supporters to suspect the involvement of the KGB and the DGI.56
After Agee's well-publicized expulsion from Britain, the KGB continued to use him and some of his supporters in active measures against the CIA.57 Among the documents received by Agee from what he described as "an anonymous sender" was an authentic copy of a classified State Department circular, signed by Kissinger, which contained the CIA's "key intelligence questions" for fiscal year 1975 on economic, financial and commercial reporting.58 KGB files identify the source of the document as Service A.59 In the summer of 1977 the circular was published in a pamphlet entitled "What Uncle Sam Wants to Know about You," with an introduction by Agee. While acknowledging that it was "not the most gripping document in the world," Agee claimed that it demonstrated the unfair assistance secretly given to US companies abroad by the American intelligence community.60
In 1978 Agee and a small group of supporters began publishing the Covert Action Information Bulletin in order to promote what Agee called "a worldwide campaign to destabilize the CIA through exposure of its operations and personnel."61 Files noted by Mitrokhin claim that the Bulletin was founded "on the initiative of the KGB" and that the group running it (collectively codenamed RUPOR), which held its first meeting in Jamaica early in 1978, was "put together" by FCD Directorate K (counterintelligence).62 The Bulletin was edited in Washington by Bill Schaap, a radical lawyer codenamed RUBY by the KGB, his wife, the journalist Ellen Ray, and another journalist, Louis Wolf, codenamed ARSENIO. Agee and two other disaffected former members of the CIA, Jim and Elsie Wilcott (previously employed by the Agency as, respectively, finance officer and secretary), contributed articles and formation.63 There is no evidence in Mitrokhin's notes that any member of the RUPOR group, apart from Agee, was conscious of the role of the DGI or KGB.
The first issue of the Covert Action Information Bulletin was launched by Agee and the RUPOR group at a Cuban press conference on the eve of the Eleventh World festival of Youth and Students, held to coincide with the Havana carnival in the summer of 1978. Agee also produced advance copies of another book, Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe, coauthored by himself and Wolf, which contained the names and biographical details of 700 CIA personnel who were, or had been, stationed in western Europe. "Press reaction," wrote Agee, "was not disappointing. In the next few days we learned by telephone from friends in the States and elsewhere that most of the major publications carried stories about the Bulletin and Dirty Work. Perfect."64
The Centre assembled a task force of personnel from Service A and Directorate K headed by V. N. Kosterin, assistant to the chief of Service A, to keep the Covert Action Information Bulletin supplied with material designed to compromise the CIA. Among the material which the task force supplied for publication in 1979 was an eighteen-page CIA document entitled "Director of Central Intelligence: Perspectives for Intelligence, 1976-1981." The document had originally been delivered anonymously to the apartment of the Washington resident, Dmitri Ivanovich Yakushkin, and at the time had been wrongly assessed by both the residency and the Centre as a "dangle" by US intelligence.65 Agee's commentary on the document highlighted the complaint by DCI William Colby that recent revelations of its operations were among the most serious problems the CIA had to face.66 Kosterin's task force, however, became increasingly concerned about the difficulty of finding enough secret material for the Bulletin, and recommended that it look harder for open-source material, ranging from readers' letters to crises around the world which could be blamed on the CIA -- among them the Jonestown massacre in Guyana, when 900 members of the American religious cult the "People's Temple" had been persuaded to commit mass suicide or had been murdered.67
Following what Service A believed was the success of Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe, Agee began work with Wolf on a sequel, Dirty Work II. The CIA in Africa. Early in 1979 Oleg Maksimovich Nechiporenko of Directorate K and A. N. Itskov of Service A met Agee in Cuba and gave him a list of CIA officers working on the African continent.68 Shortly before Dirty Work II was finished, Agee decided not to be publicly identified as one of the authors for fear that he might lose his residence permit in Germany, where he now lived. He also changed his official role on the Covert Action Information Bulletin from editor to "editorial adviser." "How that would save my residence in Germany," Agee later acknowledged, "was a little obscure . . . but such was my fear that I was barely rational -- at least on this point."69 Nechiporenko and Itskov agreed with Pedro Pupo Perez, the head of the DGI, that publication of Dirty Work II should be timed to coincide with the conference of ninety-two heads of non-aligned nations to be held in Havana, presided over by Fidel Castro, in September 1979.70
By Agee's own count, Dirty Work II brought the total number of CIA officials exposed by him and the RUPOR team to about 2,000. For the KGB it had been a remarkably effective active measure. The Senate Intelligence Committee reported in 1980:
In recent years members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees . . . have become increasingly concerned about the systematic effort by a small group of Americans . . . to disclose the names of covert intelligence agents . . . Foremost among them has been Philip Agee . . . The destructive effect of these disclosures has been varied and wide-ranging . . .
The professional effectiveness of officers who have been compromised is substantially and sometimes irreparably damaged. They must reduce or break contact with sensitive covert sources and continued contact must be coupled with increased defensive measures that are inevitably more costly and time-consuming. Some officers must be removed from their assignments and returned from overseas at substantial cost, and years of irreplaceable area experience and language skills are lost.
Since the ability to reassign the compromised officer is impaired, the pool of experienced CIA officers who can serve abroad is being reduced. Replacement of officers thus compromised is difficult and, in some cases, impossible. Such disclosures also sensitize hostile security services to CIA presence and influence foreign populations, making operations more difficult.
All thirteen members of the House Intelligence Committee sponsored the Intelligence Identities Protection Bill, popularly known as the "Anti-Agee Bill," which eventually became law in June 1982. Agee himself had been deprived of his American passport in 1981 and traveled over the next few years on passports issued by, successively, Maurice Bishop's Marxist-Leninist regime in Grenada and the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. His influence, by now, was in sharp decline. As he complained, "My 1983 call for a continent-wide action front against the CIA's people in Latin America went nowhere. People had other preoccupations and priorities."71
[References to "vol. 6" et al are to KGB librarian Mitrokhin's purloined archives.]
42. vol. 6, ch. 14, parts 1,2, 3; vol. 6, app. 1, part 22.
43. On Agee's resignation from the CIA, see Barron, KGB Today, p. 228.
44. Kalugin, Spymaster, pp. 191-2. The KGB files noted by Mitrokhin describe Agee as an agent of the Cuban DGI and give details of his collaboration with the KGB, but do not formally list him as a KGB, as well as DGI, agent. vol. 6, ch. 14, parts 1, 2, 3; vol. 6, app. 1, part 22.
45. Agee, Inside the Company, p. viii. (Page references are to the Bantam edition.)
46. vol. 6, app. 1, part 22.
47. Agee, Inside the Company, p. 659.
48. The London residency eventually became dissatisfied with Cheporov, claiming that he "used his cooperation with the KGB for his own benefit" and "expressed improper criticism of the system in the USSR." k-14, 115.
49. vol. 6, app.1, part 22.
50. Agee, On The Run, pp. 111-12, 120-1.
51. Agee, On The Run, p. 123.
52. vol. 7, ch. 16, para. 46.
53. The defense committee also took up the case of an American journalist, Mark Hosenball, who had also been served with a deportation order. Unlike Agee, however, Hosenball had no contact with the committee and took no part in its campaign. In the KGB files noted by Mitrokhin there is no mention of Hosenball, save for a passing reference to the work of the defense committee.
54. Agee, On The Run, chs. 7, 8; Kelly, "The Deportations of Philip Agee"; vol. 7, ch. 16, para. 45.
55. On the residency's tendency to exaggerate in its influence on protest demonstrations, see Andrew and Gordievsky, KGB, p. 586.
56. At a private meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on February 17, 1977, however, the Home secretary, Merlyn Rees, implied a KGB connection. Tony Benn's diary vaguely records that the gist of Rees's comments was that Agee and Hosenball "had been in contact or whatever with enemy agents or something.'' According to Benn, Rees "got quite a reasonable hearing from the Party." Benn, Conflicts of Interest, pp. 41-2.
57. vol. 6, ch.14, parts 1, 2, 3; k-8, 607.
58. Agee, "What Uncle Sam Wants to Know about You," p.113. (Page references are to the 1978 reprint Agee and Wolf, Dirty Work.)
59. vol.6, ch.14, part 1; vol. 7, ch. 16, para. 46.
60. Agee, "What Uncle Sam Wants to Know about You," p. 114.
61. Agee, On The Run, pp. 255, 280-1.
62. vol.6, ch. 14, part 2.
63 Agee, On The Run, p. 255. Codenames of some of the RUPOR group in vol. 6, ch. 14, part 2. Mitrokhin's notes record that the group included "former CIA employees" apart from Agee, but do not identify Jim and Elsie Wilcott by name.
64. Agee, On The Run, pp.276-82.
65. The document was also sent anonymously to the British journal Leveller, which published extracts from it in August 1979. vol. 6, ch.14, part 2.
66. Agee, On The Run, p. 304.
67. vol. 6, ch. 14, part 2.
68. vol.6, ch.14, part 2.
69. Agee, On The Run, p. 306.
70. vol. 6, ch. 14, part 2.
71. Agee, On The Run, chs. 13-15.
Source: The Washington Times, October 4, 1999
By Arnaud de Borchgrave
Almost 20 years ago, this writer and Robert Moss co-authored a novel about Soviet disinformation operations in the Western media that was immediately dismissed by the mainstream media as loony lucubrations from the far right. Hollywood directors who were interested in turning "he Spike" into a movie were threatened with blacklisting. A $250,000 option remained on the shelf -- to this day. It was a classic case of reverse McCarthyism, or anti-anti-communism.
Top editors, both print and media, scoffed at the book's central premise by arguing that editorial gatekeepers were far too savvy to let something as crude as Soviet disinformation slip through their adroit and ever-vigilant blue pencils (before the computer "kill" button).
Whenever a defector from the KGB or its proxy services in Eastern Europe and Cuba confirmed that the Soviet intelligence agency's Service A (for "Active Measures") was in charge of "dezinformatsiya" (disinformation) in the Western media, mainstream media adopted the ungainly posture of the proverbial ostrich. Now we have a new book, "The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive," the most complete picture of the KGB and its operations in the United States and Europe, courtesy of Vasili Mitrokhin, who toiled for three decades in the KGB's archives, and co-author Christopher Andrew, chair of the History Department at Cambridge University and a former visiting professor of national security at Harvard.
After the Soviet collapse, Mr. Mitrokhin took to Britain a massive secret collection of Cold War material about the KGB's activities in Western countries.
The scope of the KGB's disinformation operations in the West during the Cold War was breathtaking. Philip Agee, the CIA's first ideological defector who specialized in burning CIA operatives, rapidly became a liberal left icon in the U.S. and Western Europe. Now we have confirmation that Agee's book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," published in 1975, that identified 250 Agency officers and agents, and claimed that "millions of people all over the world had been killed or had their lives destroyed by the CIA and the institutions it supports," was the work of the KGB and the DGI, the Cuban proxy of the KGB.
Agee (KGB code name: Pont) became the darling of the liberal left in the U.S. and Europe. But his activities on behalf of the intelligence services of Cold War enemies became too much for Britain's Labor government. And in November 1976, a deportation order was served. The far left sprang into action, aided and abetted by the KGB's Service A. Among traitor Agee's character witnesses: Morton Halperin, a former Kissinger aide and now head of policy planning at the State Department; former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who has flacked for anti-American causes the world over; Melvin Wolf, a hard-left lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union.
In 1993, President Clinton nominated Mr. Halperin to the new position of assistant secretary of defense for democracy and peacekeeping. But Mr. Halperin withdrew at the last moment. His backers were fearful he would be grilled about his relationship with Agee.
Agee lost his appeals against deportation from Britain and moved to the Netherlands where he was expelled again. He finally landed in Germany, married a German dancer, and could no longer be kicked out. In 1978, Agee, again with the covert assistance of the KGB and the DGI, began publishing the Covert Action Information Bulletin that was designed to promote "a worldwide campaign to destabilize the CIA through exposure of its operations and personnel."
KGB files note that Agee's Bulletin was "the initiative of the KGB." The Soviet Agency thus gave Agee the names of 2,000 CIA agents to expose publicly.
Agee's mill was kept supplied by a KGB Task Force headed by V.N. Kosterin, deputy head of the service in charge of Actives Measures in the Western media. Thus the KGB planted numerous stories that were picked up as news by the mainstream media -- e.g., extreme right-wingers and CIA rogues were behind the assassination of President Kennedy. It forged a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald, dated two weeks before Kennedy was killed, to CIA officer E. Howard Hunt asking for information "before any steps are taken by me or anyone else." The letter was created 12 years after the assassination and passed on anonymously to conspiracy buffs.
In 1971, according to the Mitrokhin archives, KGB chief Yuri Andropov personally approved the fabrication of pamphlets full of racist insults purporting to come from the extremist Jewish Defense League (JDL) and calling for a campaign against "black mongrels" who, it was claimed, were looting Jewish shops. At the same time forged letters were sent to 60 black organizations giving fictitious details of atrocities committed by JDL against blacks. They called for revenge against JDL leader Meir Kahane. He was assassinated some years later, not by a black extremist, but by an Arab.
Throughout the Cold War, KGB disinformation was under orders to stir up racial tensions in the United States. Before the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, KGB operatives in the Washington residency mailed forgeries from the Ku Klux Klan to the Olympic Committees of African and Asian nations.
These are among hundreds of examples of KGB operations that wound up in various media as fact. When Washington denounced them as forgeries, Moscow indignantly responded "anti-Soviet slanders." Both sides were dutifully reported.
The KGB's Service A also helped Agee craft his next book, "Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe." Mr. Agee then met with Service A operatives in Cuba who went to work on yet another tome, "Dirty Work II: The CIA in Africa." But Agee, fearful of being expelled from Germany, decided to drop his name from the title. The director of the Cuban DGI and the KGB then decided to release the book for the opening of the summit of 92 non-aligned nations in Havana, presided over by Fidel Castro, in September 1979.
"The Sword and the Shield" also tells about the recruitment of 10 French journalists whose job was to put across a positive image of communist countries and a negative image of their enemies. This writer knew one of them. He was the Renard character in "The Spike." He had been blackmailed by the KGB into doing the Soviet Union's dirty work in the French media --and now works as a legitimate journalist.
The disinformation themes these journalists were fed by the KGB always contained a kernel of truth that became the lead to a story followed by a tissue of falsehoods. Apologists for the Soviet Union in the U.S. would then quote them when interviewed for their reactions to major events abroad. The falsehoods quickly became conventional wisdom. So far, 10 years after the implosion of the Soviet empire, no one has come forward to say they were victims of KGB disinformation operations.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large for The Washington Times.
Copyright © 1999 News World Communications, Inc.