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January 9, 2008

No One Will Miss You

Philip Agee has died in Cuba during surgery for a perforated ulcer. Agee, 72, worked for the CIA in Latin America until he wrote a book in 1975 that revealed the names of agents, allegedly leading to their deaths in some cases:

Agee worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for 12 years in Washington, Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico. He resigned in 1968 in disagreement with U.S. support for military dictatorships in Latin America and became one of the first to blow the whistle on the CIA's activities around the world.

His book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary" revealed the names of agents in Latin America and was published in 27 languages. ...

Agee went to live in London but was deported by Britain in 1976 at the request of then secretary of state Henry Kissinger. The U.S. government revoked his passport three years later.

Barbara Bush, the wife of former U.S. president George Bush, who was CIA director in 1976, blamed Agee in her memoirs for the murder of the Athens station chief, Richard Welsh, in 1975. Agee denied any connection and sued her for $4 million, forcing her to revise the book to settle the libel case.

One can argue about the policies of the Nixon and Ford administrations in Latin America, but one cannot argue that Agee committed a despicable act by exposing American agents to lethal exposure. If people within these organizations dissent from the policies being pursued or believe crimes to have been committed, they have options outside of violating security. They can go to the Inspector General, or to Congress if necessary, if they want to go around the chain of command. Certainly, the Congress of the Nixon years was very unfriendly to the administration, and they would have been happy to hear from Agee and gather evidence of any wrongdoing.

Instead, he stabbed his nation in the back, and did so by not-coincidentally stabbing his fellow agents in the back as well. It was a traitorous act, one that eventually prompted Congress to pass laws forcing agents to have any potential publications reviewed by the CIA. Meanwhile, Agee fled to Cuba, where he could act as a stooge for Fidel Castro.

Now he's gone, well past his expiration date, and it looks like Cuban medical care helped send him on his way. That seems rather fitting, if long overdue.


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