INSIDE THE COMPANY: CIA DIARY

AGEE

“The book will affect the CIA as a severe body blow does any living organism: some parts obviously will be affected more than others, but the health of the whole is bound to suffer. A considerable number of CIA personnel must be diverted from their normal duties to undertake the meticulous and time-consuming task of repairing the damage done to its Latin American program, and to see what can be done to help those injured by the author’s revelations”

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INSIDE THE COMPANY: CIA DIARY. By Philip Agee. Penguin Books, 1975

Philip Agee’s 600-page story of his career and views as a junior and middle-level case officer in Quito, Montevideo, and Mexico City will anger all those who have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency because he is its first real defector in the classic sense of the word. Though it is unlikely that he could be successfully prosecuted in a cold or at least cooling war, in a hotter context Agee would fall into the area which the Constitution, speaking of enemies in time of war, defines as “giving them aid and comfort.” In any case Inside the Company: CIA Diary will certainly give aid and comfort to any one looking for concrete and heretofore classified information about some aspects of the Clandestine Service. Unlike previous information about CIA operations made available by Victor Marchetti and others who have claimed to have had the best interests of the country at heart, this book aims, Mr. Agee says, to get “useful information on the CIA to revolutionary organizations that could use it.”

Agee begins with an account of his recruitment in 1959 and his training in the Career Trainee program. His 50-page recitation of the instruction he received is an accurate description of the intelligence community, the CIA structure, and the doctrines, tradecraft, and terms of the Clandestine Service. He then devotes 216 pages to his tour of duty in the Embassy in Quito, 1960-1963, almost as many pages to Montevideo, 1964-1966, and 64 pages to his final tour in Mexico City, 1966-1968. He introduces each of his three tours with the headquarters appreciation of the local operating climate, a description of the political parties, and, except for Mexico, the CIA’s objectives in the area (the Related Mission Directives). His most thorough revelation of sensitive information is given in his accurate descriptions of each station’s operations under identifying cryptonym.

After establishing this very complete background, Agee publishes what appear to be chronological diary entries which describe his operations and their progress, other station operations, and new operational initiatives as they developed. However, whatever factual information may have been contained in his actual diary, the entries now have been expanded to include the historical, political and economic contexts of his operations as he now views those contexts since leaving the Agency. Thus, what we have in this book is not a diary of the period, but an account of that period interpreted after four years of subsequent research, and evaluated by very different ideas and attitudes than those he held at the time. Agee makes no attempt to conceal his methods of composition, but what he presents in the form and rhetoric of his restructured recollections is a “diary” that sounds more authoritative, comprehensive, and intelligible than any diary actually kept by a professional in similar circumstances could possibly have been.

Agee’s personal story as he now sets it forth is that, upon joining the Agency as a “patriot dedicated to the preservation of my country and our way of life,” he readily accepted the policy that some covert extension of the national effort to counter Communist expansion was desirable in order to allow political forces to evolve a better society. He finished his three and one half years in Quito in tune with the station program. He wanted to resign by the end of his Montevideo assignment, however, because — he says — he arrived slowly at the conclusion that the U.S. role in Latin America, while superficially well intended, perpetuated injustice rather than reducing it. In Mexico City his increasing dissent amounts to defection. After resigning from the Agency in Mexico City, he cast about for other employment. His need to earn a living became acute, and the writing of this book appears to have been a solution to that problem. In the last and briefest part of the book he shares some of his new economic views on Latin America and describes some of his steps and problems between 1970 and 1974 in preparing and publishing his “diary.”

The effect of the publication of the classified information in his book is clearest in its damaging impact on CIA’s activities and persons with whom it dealt in Ecuador, Uruguay, and Mexico. Those whose interests lie in identifying and neutralizing U.S. covert action will find it useful, especially the alphabetized Appendix of 429 names and descriptions of “CIA Employees, Agents, Collaborators and Organizations,” largely in Latin America. He does not discuss specific projects or identify agents in other geographic areas, though some of the text could be used to identify operations outside Latin America, such as CIA’s international security cooperation, Labor, Division D, and UN operations. His description of the Clandestine Service’s modus operandi is valid outside Latin America, and Agee is said to be working on a larger project describing CIA activities all over the world. I would assume that he has prepared a long extension of the Appendix name list, with the new title of “Probable and possible CIA employees, Agents, Collaborators and organizations,” and that such a list would be extremely useful to other intelligence organizations. However, I would judge that most Latin readers will perceive his revelations in context with the Soviet and other nations’ activities and within the concrete realities of their own continuing struggles, and that they..

Read more: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol19no2/html/v19i2a06p_0001.htm

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