18 January 1999. Thanks to D. Add note on talk with John King.


New York Daily News

Sunday, January 17, 1999

CIA Not Tickled By Jokes With Intelligence

He calls himself "America's Funniest Intelligence Officer," but the Central Intelligence Agency apparently is not laughing now that his Web site has exposed some of their alleged "oddballs."

John Alejandro King says he's worked at the Company for 14 years "building data bases" and that he's always gotten high marks. But that was before he started poking fun at the CIA on the Internet.

'The Covert Comic' 

Currently featured on King's site (www.covertcomic.com) is an essay titled "The Intelligence Underground: The Spookiest of the Spooks," by one "Jim Beetel." King tells us that "Beetel" is a fake name for another CIA officer, but that his roster of "highly unorthodox" employees is "all real."

Among the spooks:

"Beetel" asks: "Why haven't these kooks been fired for their bizarre activities? Perhaps, in the end, they will be. For the moment though, these and other crazies continue in their official duties as custodians of some of America's most sensitive information."

King, whose site also includes "CIA jokes," says his own future at the agency remains cloudy.

Although he insists he hasn't spilled any classified info, he says his bosses at Langley have told him him his site is "highly inappropriate."

"They can't fire me, but they did it anyway," says King, adding that he's 40 years old and makes about $72,500. "I had to get an attorney to reinstate me. My attorney suggested I abandon the Web site. I don't want to. I don't see why I can't write satire and work in the intelligence community."

The CIA's phone directory lists a John King, but an agency spokesman declined any sort of comment.

King doesn't think he'll be "terminated with prejudice," as they say in his business. He does believe the agency may put "me into what I think they'll call Special Status. The Covert Comic is still hanging in there, but barely."

JYA Note, 18 January 1999:

After browsing The Covert Comic site we had an informative and humorous talk with John King (got his phone number from Internic).

John said he's being nastily hassled for his site by the security folks at CIA -- so far only by verbal threats with nothing official in writing -- but is still doing his intel job, telling intel jokes to intelligence staffers, giving "intel briefings" -- see what that means at his site at "1/98 Briefing."

Punishment may be in the offing, he claims, but says he'll tell the all-too-telling intel jokes from jail if that's the way the Bad Dog wag its tail.

So we asked to let us know if he's sacked or censored in order to publicize violation of his freedom of comedy, er, expression. That's if he's not muzzled with a no-joke secrecy order about it.

We asked if there are classified jokes at CIA. John said he'd never heard any, but would never reveal anything classified. There it is.

John is available to perform Covert Comedy at public events, for pay, with proceeds to go to dead-serious non-profits like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and World Vision -- or other orgs favored by the payers.

E-mail him at: kingja@covertcomic.com

Telephone: (703) 560-5521

PS: Near the end of our talk the phone suddenly clicked dead. After a few minutes I got through to John again. We both immediately blurted, "Wasn't me did that."

See John King's "I Killed JFK."