Click on video to view. [Source:]

In a new CovertAction webinar famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg slams the author of new book alleging that Agee was a traitor when, ironically, everything in the book virtually screams out the opposite.

U.S. Colonel Ann Wright—outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, and recipient of the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997 for helping to rescue thousands from death during the Sierra Leone civil war—notes that the CIA ‘Dirty Tricks’ exposed by Agee in Inside the Company (1975), are now being dusted off and reused to overthrow progressive governments in countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Famed Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg praised CIA whistleblower Philip Agee as a man of moral courage at a CovertAction Magazine (CAM) webinar on Monday, stating that Agee “tried to put a spoke in the wheel of the U.S. imperial project.”

The webinar was convened as a response to a book on Agee by former National Security Council staffer Jonathan Stevenson entitled A Drop of Treason.

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While it accuses Agee of treason, readers of the book have been coming away saying, “Huh? It proves exactly the opposite! It portrays Agree as a true patriot, loyal to the very bedrock of American democratic principles.”

Agee quit the CIA in 1969 out of disgust for its conduct and, in 1975, published Inside the Company: CIA Diary, which outed CIA officers who were involved in criminal activity.

Agee subsequently helped found CovertAction Information Bulletin in 1978 to carry on his work exposing the CIA.

Ellsberg specified that he had gotten to know Agee reasonably well in the 1980s when both were part of an association of ex-national security alumni and found Agee to be “extremely intelligent” and “in a very conventional sense a patriot.”

“[Agee] wanted what was best for this country but not at the expense of other countries and civil rights … He had a universal outlook that was consistent with the best values of America which put him at odds with the national security bureaucracy.”

CovertAction Magazine - YouTube
Philip Agee [Source:]

Ellsberg added that he was impressed by the “tenacity of Agee’s work and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution and human project. Agee and I both worked for the [national security complex] when we were young. We believed what we were told about the American purpose in the world [in the Cold War]—that the United States was an altruistic power that supported democracy and self-determination in the Third World.”

But this notion, Ellsberg said, was “flatly false.”

“It took a while for me and Agee to see this. Initially we considered Vietnam an aberration, but it took a while to realize that it was characteristic of U.S. policy in the Third World.

“We were part of a covert empire in which regime change, bribery, coups and assassinations were routinely carried out—that’s who we worked for. Agee and I both woke up around the same time to realize that the family business was really the mafia—like the Sopranos.”

The Growth of the National Security State — Alternative Radio
Dan Ellsberg [Source:]

Ellsberg continued: “As a society [generally] we are in denial about this empire and give false explanations and stories to deceive people about it. We make like we are better than others, even though we [have] routinely undertaken efforts to suppress democracy in countries around the world; to suppress unions and peasant organizations—anything that supported the welfare of the local people against multi-national corporations. Agee brought this up and went further in trying to sabotage these operations and to name the people [involved].”

As to Stevenson’s book, Ellsberg said that “you can read the book and come out an admirer of Agee.” Stevenson even refuted the notion that “Phil led to the death of Richard Welch [CIA Station Chief in Athens] or anyone else.”

The National Security Counselor | by Jonathan Stevenson | The New York Review of Books
Jonathan Stevenson, author of Drop of Treason: Philip Agee and his Exposure of the CIA, is professor at the Naval War College and National Security Council Director for political-military affairs. [Source:]

But Stevenson got it wrong about Agee being a traitor.

This conclusion stemmed from his background as a professor at the Naval War College and National Security Council director for political-military affairs, Middle East, and North Africa; he “had to distance himself from Agee to stay employed.”

“The Same Dirty Tricks”

Besides responding to Stevenson’s book, the webinar was set up to commemorate whistle-blowers on the eve of the sentencing of Daniel Hale, a former drone operator who leaked classified documents exposing the inhumanity of the drone warfare program.

Committing the Truth”: Whistleblower Daniel Hale to Be Sentenced Tuesday for Drone Program Leaks | Democracy Now!
Daniel Hale [Source:]

The event also coincides with National Whistleblower Day—which is on Friday, July 30th.

NATIONAL WHISTLEBLOWER DAY - July 30 - National Day Calendar

One of the keynote speakers was retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, who resigned from her position in the State Department in protest of the impending Iraq War.

Beginning her career with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Wright served as a diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia.

Wright said that the message that she took from her 35 years in government was to be “very suspicious of what the government is doing” and “not to trust it.”

Ann Wright - Wikipedia
Colonel Ann Wright [Source:]

Wright said she read Philip Agee’s book and that very little has changed today as to how the government and its covert agencies operate.

“Oh yes, the same dirty tricks are being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua [among other countries].”

Philip Agee Speaks

The webinar opened with clips of an interview Philip Agee gave during the late 1970s for a documentary called On Company Business. Agee pointed out that the CIA’s support for repressive security services in Iran, South Korea, Chile and Indonesia was incompatible with Jimmy Carter’s “human rights” policy, and said that U.S. foreign policy since World War II was driven by the need to create foreign markets for the over-production of U.S. products.

XYZresistance on Twitter: "[Thread] The creation of #SAVAK (with the help of #CIA & #Mossad) to torture, imprison and executions of those who dared speak out against the #Shah's policies of repression.…
Torture by the CIA-created SAVAK was incompatible with Jimmy Carter’s human rights policy. [Source:]

According to Agee, the CIA was set up to combat efforts by left-wing parties in Europe to impede the success of the Marshall Plan, whose purpose was to create new investment outlets and contain the spread of socialism/communism.

Truman Signing the Marshall Plan
President Harry Truman signs the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948, the U.S. law authorizing the Marshall Plan. [Source:]

The CIA, according to Agee, achieved its ends by penetrating and manipulating the institutions of power and propping up friendly forces that were in alignment with political reactionaries.

It worked to penetrate, divide, weaken and destroy left-wing parties, in part by infiltrating trade unions, youth and student movements and creating front organizations.

The same tactics were adopted in Latin American countries that Agee worked, such as Ecuador, where the CIA created a pseudo-leftist political party, disseminated propaganda, and created conditions of fear and hysteria about the spread of the Cuban revolution and communism, which were exploited by right-wing forces that orchestrated a military coup in 1963.

A decade later in Chile, the CIA applied a financial squeeze in order to bring down the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende, and encouraged truckers to strike in order to help create a climate of chaos that justified a military coup.

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Allende supporters being rounded up during 1973 military coup in Chile. [Source:]

The webinar ended with another speech by Agee at the time of the Persian Gulf War, whose roots according to Agee lay in the post-World War II grand strategy.

Since that time, the U.S. required a permanent threat to preserve the war economy, which had to be kept intact out of fear of returning to the conditions of the Great Depression.

According to Agee, those in positions of political power in the U.S. had no interest in solving the major crises afflicting U.S. society—including its lack of a national health plan.

They wanted to keep the public ill-informed because, otherwise, the public might debate substantive issues in the electoral process and form a third party—or rather second party—since both major parties served similar interests.

The new world order of the 1990s, according to Agee, was nothing more than the institutionalization of the North-South dimension of the Cold War.

Third World countries were supposed to know their place and continue to provide cheap raw materials and access to cheap labor to multinational corporations.

If they stepped out of line, they would be smashed.

Naming Names

Louis Wolf, who helped found CovertAction Information Bulletin in the 1970s, recalled during the webinar meeting Agee in 1975 in London, when Agee later said that he thought Wolf was sent by the Agency to “get close” to him, and telling him that he was surprised that the CIA had not killed him yet. 

Lou Wolf [Source:]

Together with Bill Schaap, Ellen Ray, the renowned lawyers Bill Kunstler and Michael Ratner, also with CIA finance officer in the Tokyo CIA station James Wilcott and his CIA secretary-wife Elsie who had both resigned from the CIA in 1966, Wolf and Agee in 1978 co-founded CovertAction Information Bulletin, later renamed CovertAction Quarterly, and now Covert Action Magazine.

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A key feature of CovertAction Information Bulletin at its inception was the “Naming Names” column—which drew exclusively from open public sources, not from a single classified document.

Agee was nevertheless deported from seven European countries at the behest of the State Department and CIA and was the first U.S. citizen since civil rights leader Paul Robeson at the height of the McCarthy era to have his passport canceled.

Protest against Agee’s deportation from England in 1977. A young Chris Agee is next to his father on his left, and Philip Agee, Jr., is on his right. Mark Hosenball was a journalist who was deported after writing an article on secret surveillance carried out by the British government. [Source:]

Agee’s son Chris, at the webinar, emphasized how his father felt that one could not separate the people from the activities that they had carried out.

Chris Agee – p o l i t i c a l ~ s o c i o l o g i s t
Christopher Agee has overseen the relaunch of CovertAction Magazine. [Source:]

In comparison to other whistleblowers, Agee was remarkable because he developed a sophisticated critique of the political-economic dimensions underlying U.S. imperialism and worked to tirelessly educate the public and develop anti-imperialist solidarity networks, and trained students to organize a CIA-off-the-campus movement.

Philip Agee - The CIA Off Campus Movement - YouTube
Philip Agee speaking in support of the CIA-off-the-campus movement at Carnegie Mellon University in 1992. [Source:]

Stevenson in his book wanted to label Agee as a “bad” whistleblower because he questioned the U.S. imperial project, but this made Agee a good whistleblower like Ellsberg, according to Chris, because he did not just question one specific program, but challenged the entire framework of U.S. foreign policy.

Agee provided a deep analysis about U.S. imperialism and its thirst for grabbing oil, minerals and other natural resources and accessing cheap labor—as Wolf put it—which lies at the root of the human tragedy.

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About the Author


  1. I wish to commend all of you for your great heroic service for supporting American democracy vs. the cancer of its ‘national security state’ system.

    As an honorable veteran w/Veterans for Peace and community college poli sci & history prof, and one who knew Phil personally, it is a sad today, that we live in times when all history has proven based on all the mountains of evidence disclosed, declassified that it is time for America to jettison this monster of both the ‘cold war doctrinal ideologues,’ and the ‘national security state regime’ that gave rise to it… and to rise above and beyond this terrible shameful legacy.

    This American national security state regime has always been antithetical to the very true popular democracy that all people in this country have fought, died and labored for so many generations.

    Phil Agee is an historical echo from a troubled American empire, a trouble past of imperial dishonor, that has shed more blood, more dissent, more anger over a cold war that should have never happened and all its wasted lives, wealth and hope that could have been lived for a better world future.

    I had the honor of knowing Phil Agee, if there ever was a true patriot who fought for a true American democracy, it was Phil… he still tells us all that Past is Prologue…. we all need to keep teaching truth to power… until a true American Democracy is realized…

  2. I have Philip Agee´s book “Inside the Company” .It is transladted into Swedish in , 1975, with a foreword where he describes Sweden´s part in espionage for the US. He reveals that ALL kinds of organizations are infiltrated by CIA assets.I have also read Danile Ellsberg s book and his short article ” Call to Mutiny”..They have together with Ann Wright Daniel Hale and other made me convinced thet there are a lot of good Americnas.Sometimes have actually doubted.

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