NYU gets the papers of Philip Agee, renegade CIA agent
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
NYU library acquires the papers of Philip Agee, renegade spy
The private papers of Philip Agee, the disaffected CIA operative whose
unauthorized publication of agency secrets 35 years ago was arguably
more damaging than anything WikiLeaks has produced, have been obtained
by New York University, which plans to make them public next spring.
Agee, who worked undercover in Latin America from 1960 to 1968 and died
in Cuba nearly three years ago, once said he resigned because the values
of his Catholic upbringing clashed with his CIA assignments to destroy
movements that aimed to overthrow U.S.-backed military regimes. CIA
defenders said he was on the verge of being fired.
Agee's first book, "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," published in 1975,
included a 22-page appendix with the real names of about 250 undercover
agency operatives and accused a handful of Latin American heads of state
of being CIA assets. The CIA's classified in-house journal, Studies in
Intelligence, called it "a severe body blow" to the agency.
Two subsequent books by Agee and Louis Wolf revealed the names of about
2,000 more alleged CIA operatives in Western Europe and Africa.
After the release of "Inside the Company," Congress passed legislation
making it a crime to intentionally publish the names of undercover CIA
In contrast to Agee, WikiLeaks withheld the names of hundreds of
informants from the nearly 400,000 Iraq war documents it released over
the weekend, according to news reports. And its previous surfacing of
Afghan war documents, which an Army specialist is suspected of leaking,
did not reveal "any sensitive intelligence sources and methods,"
according to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
Agee may have started out as an independent whistleblower, but according
to retired KGB Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin, the ex-operative offered CIA
documents to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City in 1973. Suspecting a
ruse, the KGB turned him down, Kalugin said. Agee denied that he worked
for the Russians, but he openly enlisted Cuba's help in his campaign to
neutralize CIA operations against leftists and trade unions in Latin
NYU's Tamiment Library, which acquired Agee's papers from his widow,
Giselle Roberge Agee, made no mention of the renegade agent's KGB and
Cuban intelligence connections in its Monday news release.
But it did maintain that "for the rest of his life Agee was a target of
CIA assassination threats."
In response to a query, Michael Nash, the library's associate curator,
said, "This information came from the Agee book 'On the Run,' and it is
supported by some CIA documents that Agee received as a result of a
Freedom of Information Act request."
A CIA spokesperson, speaking on the condition of anonymity, dismissed
the allegation as "not only wrong, but ludicrous."
NYU said the acquisition of the Agee collection will be celebrated with
a Nov. 9 reception, but the papers will not be available until April.
They include "legal records, correspondence with left-wing activists,
mainly in Latin America, and others opposed to CIA practices and covert
operations; papers relating to his life as an exile living and working
in Cuba, Western and Eastern Europe; lecture notes, photographs, and
posters," the library said.
"Mrs. Agee donated the collection to Tamiment because we have an
international reputation as a repository documenting the history of left
politics and the movement for progressive social change," Nash said in
the library's statement.