Philip Agee on CIA Role


Your article by Robert Toth, “CIA Critic Agee Reportedly Paid by Cuba” (Aug. 10), will be welcome news to my friends and family, and creditors as well, who never suspected that I am a KGB-via-Cuba-made millionaire who lives “like the shah of Iran.” But I find the comments that I was ungrateful, complaining that the large sums were insufficient, and that Iwas “anti-Soviet” while unaware of my Soviet benefactors, thoroughly unflattering.

As for my Cuban code name, “Curiel,” that could be dangerous. For that is the name of a man I knew before his murder in Paris in 1978. He was Egyptian-born but stateless, a former political prisoner, and a tireless advocate for political refugees. His press credits included such praise as “a one-man revolutionary clearing house” and “a redoubtable Soviet spymaster and terrorist boss extraordinaire.” Perhaps his code name was Agee.

Your article reminds me of the CIA’s first attempt, in mid-1974, to link me with the KGB through a similar “press plant,” but in the New York Times. According to that story I had been drunk and despondent somewhere in Latin America in 1972, telling all to the KGB. In fact, in 1972 I was in Paris, nearly destitute and working on “Inside the Company: CIA Diary,” my first book. Had it not been for CIA money, passed to me then through two Americans who had “befriended” me, and whose CIA connections I discovered later, I might never have finished the book, now available in almost 30 languages.


Over the nearly 20 years from that New York Times piece, to this Los Angeles Times article, CIA officials have never tired of “surfacing” such fairy tales in order to discredit and isolate an opponent.

Your readers should know that Florintino Aspillaga, the Cuban intelligence defector who spoke to Toth, is under total CIA control and has been used by the agency to “plant” the false, if hardly credible, allegations. Readers may also find of interest some of Aspillaga’s background.

Aspillaga defected to the CIA in 1987, the same year that I ended more than 15 years’ absence from the U.S. Since then I have traveled nearly the entire country speaking at literally hundreds of events. Aspillaga, meanwhile, was serving the CIA in such places as London where in542336368h intelligence escorts.

More than a year ago, the CIA-Aspillaga allegations were offered to your newspaper by the same George Chritton mentioned in the article as having lost his appointment as “CIA officer in residence” at UC Santa Barbara because of my activities. My role there, as a matter of record, was to speak with other former CIA officers at a 1987 fund-raiser for students on trial for civil disobedience in protest of Chritton’s presence at the university.

Regarding your article, I can assure your readers that if Aspillaga’s allegations had any truth to them, the CIA would not have waited for four years following his defection before attempting last year to publish them. The allegations are made-in-CIA, plain and simple.

Concerning passports, the State Department denied my 1987 application--the first since the 1979 revocation--on the basis of a letter from then-CIA Director William Webster containing a dozen unsubstantiated allegations and the conclusion that my activities continued to harm U.S. national security. Under the passport regulations, I had an explicit right to “confrontationand cross-examination” of every witness against me. The department denied me this right with Webster, who was the only witness against me. In subsequent District Court proceedings, Judge Gerhard Gesell, the man who bungled the Oliver North prosecution, refused to order the department to follow its own regulations.

I then started the procedure again with another passport application, but I demanded that the department confirm that my rights this time would be honored, a demand the department refused. Because of this, and because I then received a German passport for aliens, I withdrew the application to avoid more waste of time and money.

I cannot know why the CIA, in 1991, decided to float another package of lies about me, although one could see it as confirmation that my writings and speeches on the agency’s support for torture, death squads, terrorism and the overthrow of elected governments are still having an effect.

However, the agency did know in 1991 that I had recently received confirmation from a former CIA colleague of an early 1970s CIA plot to stop my first book by killing me. Years earlier I had received documents under the Freedom of Information Act revealing an agency criminal conspiracy against me, but without details. And less than two months ago a second former CIA officer also confirmed that it was a murder plot. Documents containing the details have been in the federal District Court for 10 years, and the same Judge Gerhard Gesell has refused me access to them, at the CIA’s insistence. This, I told Toth, was a real news story, not the CIA-Aspillaga farrago whose purpose may have been to preempt attention from revelation of the murder plot.

Space limitations preclude a detailed analysis of Toth’s errors of fact. The documents containing statements by the agency’s William Webster and Lee E. Carle are neither “legal depositions” nor “court documents” as described by Toth. Rather they are from the file of administrative proceedings in the State Department on my passport case, which parties in State or, more likely the CIA, illegally gave him for preparation of his article. And he is all too clever in quoting from a State Department letter to my lawyer while adding that State refused him copies of this private correspondence and that “the CIA had no comment.” Only the CIA and State, and my lawyers and I, have copies, so Aspillaga and the documentation are clearly a CIA-promo, give-away package.

For any readers who might give credence to the CIA-Aspillaga-Toth story, I recommend perusal of the daily reports of the current criminal trial of Clair George, the former CIA deputy director of operations. He’s accused of--what else?--lying, in this case, to Congress. In other words he was doing what good CIA officers do, and what The Times, through the Toth story, has facilitated.


Hamburg, Germany