Agee discusses leak of name
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Posted on Wed, Oct. 01, 2003
Ex-CIA Agent Discusses Leak of Name
HAVANA - Former CIA agent Philip Agee, whose actions in the 1970s inspired a law criminalizing the exposure of covert U.S. operatives, said Wednesday the recent leak of one such agent's identity was motivated by "dirty politics."
The White House is investigating the exposure of the CIA officer, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a prominent critic of President Bush's Iraq policy.
"This is entirely different than what I was doing in the 1970s," said Agee, who in 1975 wrote "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," a tell-all book about his experiences with the agency from 1957 to 1968.
"This is purely dirty politics in my opinion," said Agee, who four years ago launched a Havana-based online travel agency, Cubalinda.com. The disclosure that the ambassador's wife was a CIA operative was "a cheap shot made because (Wilson) picked a hole in that pack of lies justifying the war," Agee said.
The probe in Washington is aimed at finding who leaked the name of the CIA operative, possibly in an attempt to punish Wilson, who had accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq.
Agee said that in his case, he disclosed the identities of his former CIA colleagues to "weaken the instrument for carrying out the policy of supporting military dictatorships" in Greece, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.
Those regimes "were supported by the CIA and the human cost was immense: torture, executions, death squads," Agee said.
In the current probe, Wilson has blamed the White House political operation and presidential adviser Karl Rove for his wife's name being made public. The operative's name showed up in a column by Robert Novak.
While he doesn't think Rove himself leaked the name, "I thought that it came from the White House, and Karl Rove was the personification of the White House political operation," Wilson said Monday.
The federal law prohibiting the public disclosure of a covert agent's name was passed in the early 1980s and carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Agee said U.S. officials in the past had falsely accused him of blowing the cover of CIA Athens station chief Richard Welch, who was assassinated in December 1975.
In 1995, Agee sued former first lady Barbara Bush, saying that she had falsely said in her 1994 autobiography "A Memoir" that disclosures in his book led to Welch's assassination.
Agee withdrew his $4 million defamation suit against Mrs. Bush two years later after she acknowledged that his book was not to blame for the killing.