On the History of CovertAction Information Bulletin, CovertAction Quarterly and the newly relaunched CovertAction Magazine
David Giglio from “Our Hidden History” Interviews Louis Wolf
By Chris Agee
CovertAction Magazine began publishing in 1978 as a newsletter called Covert Action Information Bulletin (CAIB) and later as CovertAction Quarterly (CAQ). The magazine developed a following not as a conspiracy-theory-related publication, but as a source for reliable, consistent, and accurate investigative reporting.
Originally, CAIB was a watchdog journal that focused on the abuses and activities of the CIA, yet it has gradually evolved into a more general, progressive investigative magazine.
CAIB was cofounded and copublished by Ellen Ray, William Schaap, and Louis Wolf, along with former CIA agents such as James and Elsie Wilcott, and Philip Agee, author of Inside the Company: CIA Diary and On The Run.
Following in the tradition of CounterSpy Magazine (1973-1984)—with whom the founders of CAIB had originally worked—highlights of CAIB included the notorious “Naming Names” column, which printed the names of CIA officers under diplomatic cover. These were tracked through exhaustive research in the State Department Biographic Register and various domestic and international diplomatic lists.
This column, and others like it, came to an end in 1982 when the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. CAIB had to end the “Naming Names” column, but more significantly, the act required that magazines such as CAIB be more wary about the names they published within the articles of their contributors. This was particularly significant after December 1975 when Richard S. Welch, a CIA station chief, was assassinated in Athens, Greece. CounterSpy was criticized by both the CIA and the press for its exposure of the agent’s name.
While almost every issue focused on the CIA and its activities in regions like Central America and Southeast Asia, CAIB also covered the CIA interference in the domestic media and on university campuses, as well as a wider range of domestic and international political issues. Occasionally, CAIB dedicated entire issues to surveillance technologies, the U.S. prison system, the environment, Mad Cow disease, AIDS, ECHELON, media cover-ups, Iraqi sanctions, and the so-called “war against drugs.”
Contributing authors have included intellectuals, writers, and activists such as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Sara Flounders, Philip Agee, John Pilger, Ramsey Clark, Leonard Peltier, Allen Ginsberg, Diana Johnstone, Laura Flanders, Edward S. Herman, and Ward Churchill.
In 1992, with Issue 43, CAIB changed its name to CovertAction Quarterly (CAQ). As a 64 to 78-page magazine published four times a year, the publication became fondly known as the magazine “recommended by Noam Chomsky; targeted by the CIA.” CAQ had a reputation for beating to the punch more mainstream standard-bearers, such as the New York Times.
In 1995, it covered the genocide in Rwanda and U.S. complicity in those events, years before any other publication cared to notice; it ran in-depth investigative articles on the rise of homegrown militias before the Oklahoma bombing; and it was the first U.S. publication to reveal the existence of ECHELON (the security agencies’ surveillance software).
CAQ was the regular recipient of the annual Project Censored awards for the Top 25 Censored Stories.
Twenty-eighteen was the 40th anniversary of the founding of CovertAction and its publisher Covert Action Publications, Inc. Former writers and publishers of CAIB and CAQ relaunched as CovertAction Magazine (CAM).
The relaunch team also intends to publish several books including an annual compilation of the best of CAM, an encyclopedia of espionage and a republication of CIA Diary: Inside the Company and On The Run by Philip Agee, volumes which will include Philip Agee’s iconic articles and papers.
The relaunch team is headed up by the co-founder, publisher and writer, Louis Wolf, as well as our tried and true investigative journalists, professors, organizers, funders, proofreaders and legal representation. The expanded team includes Chris Agee, William Blum, Jack Colhoun, Michel Chossudovsky, Mark Cook, Jennifer Harbury, Bill Montross, Immanuel Ness, James Petras, Karen Ranucci, Stephanie Reich, Hobart Spalding, Victor Wallis and Melvin L. Wulf, all of whom worked with, and/or wrote for, the magazine in the past.
New talent that has come on board for the relaunch include Sam Alcoff, Steve Brown, Tom Burgess, Hester Eisenstein, Victoria Gamez, David Giglio, Josh Klein, Maureen LaMar, Michael Locker, and Chuck Mohan, to name a few.
All together, the expanded team specializes in a variety of social justice issues including intervention, war, covert action, intelligence, political economy, imperialism, labor, repression, surveillance, media, racial justice, sexism, environmentalism, and immigration. See our masthead for more details.
To support this effort, you can subscribe, donate and/or purchase a full back-issue set of all 78 issues that ran from 1978 to 2005. The set is undoubtedly an unparalleled resource of U.S. domestic and foreign policy history found nowhere else!
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About the Author
Chris Agee is Executive Editor of CovertAction Magazine.
He teaches at the City University of New York, the State University of New York and is the author of numerous articles in various publications.
He can be reached at: email@example.com.