Philip Agee, a former CIA agent who became a bitter critic of Washington's Cuba policy, has died aged 72, Cuban state media reported today. Agee quit the CIA in 1969 after 12 years in which he mainly worked in Latin America. He was later denounced as a traitor by George Bush Sr and was threatened with death by his former colleagues. His famous 1975 book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, cited alleged CIA misdeeds against leftwingers in the region and included a 22-page list of people he claimed were agency operatives.And so on. As Kamm notes, however, the paper omits a significant fact:
It is extraordinary that the report makes no mention of the fact that George Bush Snr's description of Agee was a simple statement of the literal truth. Agee was no mere political dissenter from CIA misdeeds. His affiliation was confirmed by documents smuggled to the West by the late Vasili Mitrokhin, the KGB's chief archivist from 1972 to 1984. These were made public in The Mitrokhin Archive, 1999, by Mitrokhin and the Cambridge historian Christopher Andrew. The authors state (p. 300): "Agee became in effect the CIA's first defector. In 1973 he approached the KGB residency in Mexico City and offered what the head of the FCD's Counter-Intelligence Directorate, Oleg Kalugin, called 'reams of information about CIA operations'."(Kamm, don't forget, is a British socialist.)
With self-defeating circumspection, the suspicious KGB resident turned Agee away. So Agee turned to the Cubans, who unsurprisingly welcomed him enthusiastically and shared the information that he brought. . . .
Apparently no one else has mentioned the archivist's smuggled docs either. Not Reuters or AP or the Times' blog The Lede or even Mother Jones. All any of them say are that "defectors" or "the U.S. government" have in the past accused Agee of working for the commies (as opposed, of course, to just helping them out like any good egg would.) Why the free pass?
In any case, Kamm's close will do for Agee's obit: "His was an ignoble life, and I do not mourn his passing."
Update: The sheer crap Agee spewed over the years reminds me of someone. (Sorry, this is who I mean, of course. Just can't believe I didn't get a single comment on that separated-at-birth post the other day.)