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2005-07-27

FLASHBACK: Renegade CIA Officer Phillip Agee Calls Outing of Valerie Plame "Dirty Politics"

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Whoever in the White House exposed Valerie Plame could be charged under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. We rebroadcast an interview with former CIA officer Phillip Agee, for whom, many believe, the Act was written. [includes rush transcript]

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 made it a felony to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert government agent.

Many believe the law was passed in direct response to former CIA officer Philip Agee blowing the whistle on CIA dirty tricks in his book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary." George H.W. Bush, who was vice-president when the law was passed, said some of the criticism of the Agency undermined secret U.S. clandestine operations in foreign countries.

So seriously did the Bushes take the crime of exposing CIA operatives that Barbara Bush, in her memoirs, accused Agee of blowing the cover of the CIA Station Chief in Greece, Richard Welch, who was assassinated outside his Athens residence in 1975. Agee sued the former first lady and Mrs. Bush withdrew the statement from additional printings of her book. Still, at a celebration marking the fiftieth anniversary of the CIA, the elder Bush again singled out Agee in his remarks, calling him "a traitor to our country."

  • Phillip Agee, interviewed on Democracy Now!, October 2, 2003.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We spoke with Phillip Agee in October of 2003. He was in Cuba. He talked about why George H.W. Bush leveled extreme charges against him and why he denied those charges.

PHILLIP AGEE: I was involved with quite a lot of other people in a guerrilla journalism campaign to expose the C.I.A.’s operations and its people, especially in Western Europe at that time. George Bush, father, came in as C.I.A. Director the month following the Welsh assassination. And as Director, he presided over the agency as they mounted a campaign throughout Western Europe, trying to make me appear to be a security threat, a traitor, a Soviet agent, a Cuban agent, all of those sorts of things which led to my expulsion from five different NATO countries in the late 1970s.

In fact, it was all based on lies, and to think that — to think that I was responsible for the death of any C.I.A. people for their exposures is absolutely false, because no one, as far as I know, of all of those people who were exposed as C.I.A. people along with their operations, was ever even harassed or threatened. What happened was their operations were disrupted. And that was the purpose of what we were doing. And we were right to do it then, because the U.S. policy at the time, executed by the C.I.A., was to support murderous dictatorships around the world, as in Vietnam, as in Greece, as in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil. And that’s only to name a few. We opposed that use of the U.S. intelligence service for those dirty operations. And I’m talking about regimes now that tortured and disappeared people by the thousands.

AMY GOODMAN: Phillip Agee, speaking to us from Cuba in October 2003. He then talked about his time in Latin America working for the C.I.A. He left the agency in 1968 and subsequently decided to expose the C.I.A. support of corrupt oligarchies and death squads. Agee goes on to respond to the outing of Valerie Plame.

PHILLIP AGEE: Well, first, you have to realize that this law, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, under which someone in the White House may be indicted, is his father’s law. This is a law sought by George Bush, Sr., when he was C.I.A. Director, and later as Vice President. He worked hard to get that law passed. And it’s the irony of ironies that the law is violated, I believe for the first time in a serious way, by someone working in the office of his own son. This is simply dirty politics, I believe. The Ambassador, that is Ambassador Wilson, poked a hole in this whole pack of lies that had been concocted to justify the war. And in retaliation, they try to ruin his wife’s career, and get even with him. You could say that it’s dirty politics as usual, but also one has to wonder what Papa Bush is thinking about the fact that it’s his own son’s office that has violated the law that he worked so hard to get passed.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of people saying it’s similar to what you did?

PHILLIP AGEE: But for a different reasons. My reasons were very clear, and we stated them many times. And as I mentioned earlier, I was not alone in that campaign. I was working with a lot of people from a lot of different countries. And it was a spontaneous campaign because people were opposed to the horrible political repression that the United States, through the C.I.A., was supporting in the 1970s. This current case is totally different. It’s simply a dirty, low shot to — out of revenge, essentially, I believe.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you have any dealings with, for example, some of the players we’re talking about today: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, George Bush?

PHILLIP AGEE: I have not had dealings with them, but I have followed the political positions of these people since the early 1990s when Wolfowitz first came out with this policy document on a new United States foreign policy based on what would best be called, I think, neo-imperialism. And then later in the Project for a New American Century, the major players in this Bush administration were all signers of that policy statement back in the 1990s. And it called for preemptive wars, it called for the control of the United States of the world, essentially. And in this case, it’s a question of control of Middle East oil, among several other reasons, and these lies that were used to justify it have all now been exposed. The world knows that they were all false —- the justifications, that is. And so, the United States has been left alone. Germany is not going to participate. France is not going to participate. Russia is not participating. The United States has been left totally isolated in its intervention in Iraq -—

AMY GOODMAN: Do you —

PHILLIP AGEE: — and deservedly so.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you condemn the blowing of Valerie Plame’s cover?

PHILLIP AGEE: I don’t have any feelings whether it’s the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do. What is wrong is that it’s simply dirty politics, whether it was the blowing of her cover or some other action. It’s small potatoes, though, compared to the whole scenario of lies that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq and the continued occupation of that country.

AMY GOODMAN: Former C.I.A. operative, Phillip Agee, talking from Cuba in October 2003 here on Democracy Now!

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