Philip Agee
Born July 19, 1935 (1935-07-19)
Tacoma, Florida
Died January 7, 2008 (2008-01-08) (aged 72)
Education University of Notre Dame
University of Florida
Occupation Central Intelligence Agency
Spouse(s) Giselle Roberge Agee

Philip Burnett Franklin Agee (July 19, 1935 – January 7, 2008)[1] was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officer and writer, best known as author of the 1975 book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary,[2] detailing his experiences in the CIA. Agee joined the CIA in 1957, and over the following decade had postings in Washington, D.C., Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico. After resigning from the Agency in 1968, he became a leading opponent of CIA practices.[3][4][5] A co-founder of CovertAction Quarterly, he died in Cuba in January 2008.[6]

Early years[edit | edit source]

Agee was born in Tacoma, Florida.[7] He graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1956, and attended the University of Florida College of Law.[7]

Leaving CIA[edit | edit source]

Agee stated that his Roman Catholic social conscience had made him increasingly uncomfortable with his work by the late 1960s leading to his disillusionment with the CIA and its support for authoritarian governments across Latin America. He and other dissidents took encouragement in their stand from the Church Committee (1975–76), which cast a critical light on the role of the CIA in assassinations, domestic espionage, and other illegal activities.[citation needed]

In the book Agee condemned the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City and wrote that this was the immediate event precipitating his leaving the agency.

While Agee claimed that the CIA was "very pleased with his work",[2] offered him "another promotion"[2] and his superior "was startled"[2] when Agee told him about his plans to resign, the anti-communist journalist John Barron claims that Agee's resignation was forced "for a variety of reasons, including his irresponsible drinking, continuous and vulgar propositioning of embassy wives, and inability to manage his finances".[8]

Agee was accused by U.S. President George H. W. Bush of being responsible for the death of Richard Welch, a Harvard-educated classicist who was murdered by the Revolutionary Organization 17 November while heading the CIA Station in Athens. Bush had directed the CIA from 1976 to 1977.[9]

KGB/Cuban intelligence involvement[edit | edit source]

Oleg Kalugin, former head of the KGB’s Counterintelligence Directorate, states that in 1973 Agee approached the KGB's resident in Mexico City and offered a "treasure trove of information". The KGB was too suspicious to accept his offer.[10]

Kalugin states that:

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 revelations coming from Agee, I cursed our officers for turning away such a prize.[10]

For his part, Agee claimed in his later work On the Run that he had no intention of ever working for the KGB, which he still considered the enemy, and that he worked with the Cubans to assist left-wing and labour organizations in Latin America against fascism and CIA meddling in political affairs.

While Agee was writing Inside the Company: CIA Diary, the KGB kept in contact with him through Edgar Anatolvevich Cheporov, a London correspondent of the Novosti News Agency.[11]

Agee was accused of receiving up to $1 million in payments from the Cuban intelligence service. He denied the accusations, which were first made by a high-ranking Cuban intelligence officer and defector in a 1992 Los Angeles Times report.[12]

A later Los Angeles Times article stated that Agee posed as a CIA Inspector General in order to target a member of the CIA's Mexico City station on behalf of Cuban intelligence. According to the article, Agee was identified during a meeting by a CIA case officer.[13]

Book published[edit | edit source]

Because of legal problems in the United States, Inside the Company was first published in 1975 in Britain, while Agee was living in London.[11] Playboy Magazine (August 1975) published excerpts from his book in the article titled "What You Still Don't Know About The CIA! Ex-Company Man Philip Agee Tells All".

Agee acknowledged that "Representatives of the Communist Party of Cuba also gave important encouragement at a time when I doubted that I would be able to find the additional information I needed."[2]

The London Evening News called Inside the Company: CIA Diary "a frightening picture of corruption, pressure, assassination and conspiracy". The Economist called the book "inescapable reading". Miles Copeland, Jr., a former CIA station chief in Cairo, said the book was "as complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere"[14] and it is "an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British 'case officer' operates...All of presented with deadly accuracy."[15]

The book was delayed for six months before being published in the United States; it became an immediate best seller.[11]

Inside the Company[edit | edit source]

Inside the Company identified 250 alleged CIA officers and agents.[3] The officers and agents, all personally known to Agee, are listed in an appendix to the book.[16] While written as a diary, it is actually a reconstruction of events based on Agee's memory and his subsequent research.[17]

Agee writes that his first overseas assignment was in 1960 to Ecuador where his primary mission was to force a diplomatic break between Ecuador and Cuba, no matter what the cost to Ecuador's shaky stability, using bribery, intimidation, bugging, and forgery. Agee spent four years in Ecuador penetrating Ecuadorian politics. He states that his actions subverted and destroyed the political fabric of Ecuador.[5]

Agee helped bug the United Arab Republic code room in Montevideo, Uruguay, with two contact microphones placed on the ceiling of the room below.[5]

On December 12, 1965 Agee explains how he visited senior Uruguayan military and police officers at a Montevideo police headquarters. He realized that the screaming he heard from a nearby cell was the torturing of a Uruguayan, whose name he had given to the police as someone to watch. The Uruguayan senior officers simply turned up a radio report of a soccer game to drown out the screams.[5]

Agee also ran CIA operations within the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games and he witnessed the events of the Tlatelolco massacre.

Agee stated that President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica, President Luis Echeverría Álvarez (1970–1976) of Mexico and President Alfonso López Michelsen (1974–1978) of Colombia were CIA collaborators or agents.[18]

Following this he details how he resigned from the CIA and began writing the book, conducting research in Cuba, London and Paris. During this time he alleges he was being spied on by the CIA.[5][18][19]

Expulsion[edit | edit source]

Agee became something of a minor celebrity in the United Kingdom after the publication of Inside the Company. Agee revealed the identities of dozens of CIA agents in their London station.[11] After numerous requests from the American government as well as an MI6 report that blamed Agee’s work for the execution of two MI6 agents in Poland, a request was put in to deport Agee from the UK.[citation needed] Although Agee fought this and was supported by dozens of left wing MPs, journalists, and private citizens, he eventually departed from the UK on June 3, 1977, and traveled to the Netherlands.[20] Agee was also eventually expelled from the Netherlands, France, West Germany and Italy.

On January 12, 1975, Agee testified before the second Bertrand Russell Tribunal in Brussels that in 1960 he had conducted personal name checks of Venezuelan employees for a Venezuelan subsidiary of what is now Exxon. Exxon was "letting the CIA assist in employment decisions, and my guess is that those name checks...are continuing to this day." Agee stated that the CIA customarily performed this service for subsidiaries of large U.S. corporations throughout Latin America. An Exxon spokesman denied Agee's accusations.[15]

In 1978, Agee and a small group of his supporters began publishing the Covert Action Information Bulletin, which promoted "a worldwide campaign to destabilize the CIA through exposure of its operations and personnel." Mitrokhin states that the bulletin had help from both the KGB and the Cuban DGI.[20] The January 1979 issue of Agee's Bulletin published the infamous FM 30-31B, which the US government claims is a forgery.[21]

In 1978 and 1979, Agee published the two volumes of Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe and Dirty Work: The CIA in Africa which contained information of 2000 CIA personnel.[20]

Agee told Swiss journalist Peter Studer that “The CIA is plainly on the wrong side, that is, the capitalistic side. I approve KGB activities, communist activities in general. Between the overdone activities that the CIA initiates and the more modest activities of the KGB, there is absolutely no comparison.”[22][23]

Agee's US passport was revoked in 1979.[24][25] In 1980, Maurice Bishop's government conferred citizenship of Grenada on Agee, and he took up residence in that island. The collapse of the Grenada Revolution removed that safe haven, and Agee then was given a passport by the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. After a change of government there, this passport was revoked in 1990, and he was given a German passport, the nationality of his wife, ballet dancer Giselle Roberge. They later lived in Germany and Cuba. Agee was later readmitted to both the U.S. and United Kingdom.[26] Agee's own description of his odyssey was published in his autobiography, On the Run, in 1987.

Intelligence Identities Protection Act[edit | edit source]

In 1982, the United States Congress passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), legislation that seemed directly aimed at Agee's works. The law would later figure in the investigation into the Valerie Plame scandal into whether Bush administration officials leaked a case officer's name to the media as an act of retaliation against her husband.[citation needed]

Late activities[edit | edit source]

Until his death, Agee ran a website in Havana,[27][28] which uses loopholes in American law to arrange holidays to Cuba for American citizens, who are generally prohibited by the Trading with the Enemy Act statute of US law from spending money in Cuba. In the 1980s NameBase founder Daniel Brandt had taught Agee how to use computers and computer databases for his research.[29] According to an author's biography attached to an essay by Agee in March 2007 in the Alexander Cockburn-edited magazine Counterpunch, Agee "has lived since 1978 with his wife in Hamburg, Germany. He travels frequently to Cuba and South America for solidarity and business activities." The Cubalinda travel service was begun in 2000.

On December 16, 2007, Agee was admitted to a hospital in Havana, and surgery was performed on him due to perforated ulcers. His wife said on January 9, 2008 that he had died in Cuba on January 7 and had been cremated.[1]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Agee, Philip (1975). Inside the Company: CIA Diary. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-004007-2. 
  • Agee, Philip; Louis Wolf (Editor) (1978). Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe. Lyle Stuart. ISBN 0-88029-132-X. ASIN B000I8NARO. 
  • Agee, Philip; Louis Wolf (Editor) (January 1979). Dirty Work 2: The CIA in Africa. Lyle Stuart. ISBN 0-8184-0294-6. 
  • Agee, Philip (June 1987). On the Run. L. Stuart. ISBN 0-8184-0419-1. 
  • Agee, Philip (1982). White Paper Whitewash. Deep Cover Books. ISBN 0-940380-00-5. 

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Will Weissert, "Ex-CIA Agent Philip Agee Dead in Cuba", Associated Press (, January 9, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 p. 551 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "diary" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "diary" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 Andrew, Christopher; Vasili Mitrokhin (2000). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00312-5.  p. 230
  4. Agee, Philip (1975). Inside The Company: CIA Diary. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-004007-2. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Kapstein, Jonathan (July 28 1975). "Philip Agee: The spy who came in and told; Inside the Company: CIA Diary". Business Week: 12. 
  6. "Former CIA agent Agee dies in Cuba at age 72". 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Joe Holley (10 January 2008). "Philip Agee, 72; Agent Who Turned Against CIA". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 November 2010. "Mr. Agee was born in Tacoma, Fla., attended Jesuit schools and graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1956. He told the New York Times in 1974 that the CIA attempted to recruit him while he was at Notre Dame, offering a package plan that included Air Force duty. He said no but reconsidered while studying law at the University of Florida." 
  8. Barron, John (1983). KGB Today: The Hidden Hand. Readers Digest Assn. pp. 227–230. ISBN 0-88349-164-8. 
  9. Holley, Joe (2008-01-09). "Philip Agee, 72; Agent Who Turned Against CIA". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Andrew p. 230, referencing Kalugin, Oleg (1995). Spymaster: The Highest-ranking KGB Officer Ever to Break His Silence. Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85685-101-X.  p. 191-192 Andrew states: "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 or DGI agent. vol. 6, ch. 14, parts 1,2,3; vol. 6, app. 1, part 22."
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Andrew, p. 231
  12. "Former CIA agent attempts to draw U.S. tourists to Cuba over Internet". 2000-06-25. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  13. "Once Again, Ex-Agent Philip Agee Eludes CIA's Grasp", Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1997
  14. Andrew, p. 231 referencing Agee, Philip (June 1987). On the Run. L. Stuart. ISBN 0-8184-0419-1.  p. 111-112, 120-121.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Book details CIA activities". Facts on File World News Digest: 37 B3. January 25 1975. 
  16. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Allen Lane, 1975, pp 599-624.
  17. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Allen Lane, 1975, p 9.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Secret agent; Inside the Company: CIA Diary. By Philip Agee. Penguin. 640 pages. 95p". The Economist: 87. January 11 1975. 
  19. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Allen Lane, 1975, pp 573-583
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Andrew, p. 232-233.
  21. CovertAction, Number 3, January 1979.
  22. Horowitz, David (December 1991). "The Politics of Public Television" (– Scholar search). Commentary Magazine 92 (6). [dead link]
  23. William E. Simon (December 1980). "You can't trust the news". The Saturday Evening Post. 
  24. Andrew and Mitrokhin, Sword and Shield, p. 231, incorrectly states Agee's passport was revoked in 1981.
  25. "U.S. Revokes Agee Passport". Facts on File World News Digest: 991 C2. December 31 1979. 
  26. Duncan Campbell (2007-01-10). "The spy who stayed out in the cold". London: The Guardian.,,1986660,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  27. "Cuba Travel Agency". Retrieved 2006-07-30. 
  28. "Spy's Tourist Agency". Retrieved 2006-07-30. 
  29. Hand, Mark (January 3, 2003). "Searching for Daniel Brandt". CounterPunch

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Andrew, Christopher; Mitrokhin, Vasili. The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. Basic Books (2005)

External links[edit | edit source]


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