Philip Agee

Philip Burnett Franklin Agee (/ˈi/; July 19, 1935  January 7, 2008)[1] was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officer and writer of the 1975 book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary,[2] detailing his experiences in the CIA. Agee joined the CIA in 1957, and over the following decade had postings in Washington, D.C., Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico. After resigning from the Agency in 1968, he became a leading opponent of CIA practices.[2][3][4] A co-founder of the CounterSpy and CovertAction series of periodicals, he died in Cuba in January 2008.[5]

Philip Agee
Agee in 1977
BornJuly 19, 1935 (1935-01-19)
DiedJanuary 7, 2008 (2008-01-08) (aged 72)
Resting placeCanley Garden Cemetery and Crematorium, Canley, Metropolitan Borough of Coventry, West Midlands, England
EducationUniversity of Notre Dame
University of Florida
EmployerCentral Intelligence Agency
Spouse(s)Giselle Roberge Agee
ChildrenPhil Agee, Jr. and Christopher John Agee

Early years

Agee was born and raised in Tampa, Florida.[6] He had, Agee wrote in On the run, "a privileged upbringing in a big white house bordering an exclusive golf club".[7] After graduating from Tampa's Jesuit High School, he attended the University of Notre Dame, from which he graduated cum laude in 1956.[6] Agee later attended the University of Florida College of Law.[6] He served in the United States Air Force from 1957 to 1960.[6] Agee then worked as a case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1960 to 1968, including postings to Quito, Montevideo, and Mexico City.[6]

Leaving the CIA

Agee stated that his Roman Catholic social conscience had made him increasingly uncomfortable with his work by the late 1960s leading to his disillusionment with the CIA and its support for authoritarian governments across Latin America. In the book Agee condemned the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City and wrote that this was the immediate event precipitating his leaving the agency. Agee claimed that the CIA was "very pleased with his work" and had offered him "another promotion", and that his superior "was startled" when Agee told him about his plans to resign.[8]

In contrast, Sovietologist John Barron maintained in his book The KGB Today (1983) that Agee's resignation was forced "for a variety of reasons, including his irresponsible drinking, continuous and vulgar propositioning of embassy wives, and inability to manage his finances".[9][10] Agee denied these claims as merely ad hominem attacks meant to discredit him.[11]

Involvement in Soviet and Cuban Intelligence

Russian exile Oleg Kalugin, former head of the KGB's Counterintelligence Directorate, claimed that in 1973 Agee approached the KGB's resident in Mexico City and offered a "treasure trove of information." According to Kalugin, the KGB was too suspicious to accept his offer.[12]

Kalugin states that:[12]

Agee then went to the Cubans, who welcomed him with open arms ... The Cubans shared Agee's information with us. But as I sat in my office in Moscow reading reports about the growing revelations coming from Agee, I cursed our officers for turning away such a prize.

For his part, Agee claimed in his later work On the Run that he never had any intention of working for the KGB or Cuban intelligence. He was merely following his conscience in revealing the CIA's subversion and sabotage of democratically elected governments and genuine movements for social justice.[13]

While Agee was writing Inside the Company, the KGB kept in contact with him through Edgar Anatolyevich Cheporov, a London correspondent of the Novosti News Agency.[14]

Agee was accused of receiving up to US$1 million in payments from the Cuban intelligence service. He denied the accusations, which were first made by a high-ranking Cuban intelligence officer and 'defector' in a 1992 Los Angeles Times report.[15]

A later Los Angeles Times article claimed that Agee posed as a CIA Inspector General staff member in order to target a member of the CIA's Mexico City station on behalf of Cuban intelligence. According to this story, Agee was identified during a meeting by a CIA case officer.[16]

To the end of his life, Philip Agee categorically denied ever having worked for any intelligence service after leaving the CIA. He maintained that his motives were genuinely altruistic.[13]


Because of legal problems in the United States, Inside the Company was first published in 1975 in Britain, while Agee was living in London.[14] In an issue of Playboy magazine after the book's publication, Agee was interviewed: "Millions of people all over the world had been killed or at least had their lives destroyed by the CIA ... I couldn't just sit by and do nothing."[17]

Agee acknowledged that "Representatives of the Communist Party of Cuba also gave important encouragement at a time when I doubted that I would be able to find the additional information I needed."[8]

The London Evening News called Inside the Company: CIA Diary "a frightening picture of corruption, pressure, assassination and conspiracy". The Economist called the book "inescapable reading". Miles Copeland, Jr., a former CIA station chief in Cairo, said the book was "as complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere"[18] and it is "an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British 'case officer' operates ... All of it ... is presented with deadly accuracy."[19]

The book was delayed for six months before being published in the United States; it became an immediate best seller.[14]

Inside the Company identified 250 alleged CIA officers and agents.[3] The list of officers and agents, all personally known to Agee, appears in an appendix to the book.[20] While written as a diary, the book actually reconstructs events based on Agee's memory and his subsequent research.[21]

Agee describes his first overseas assignment in 1960 to Ecuador, where his primary mission had the aim of forcing a diplomatic break between Ecuador and Cuba. He writes that the technique he used included bribery, intimidation, bugging, and forgery. Agee spent four years in Ecuador penetrating Ecuadorian politics. He states that his actions subverted and destroyed the political fabric of Ecuador.[4]

Agee helped bug the United Arab Republic code-room in Montevideo, Uruguay, with two contact microphones placed on the ceiling of the room below.[4]

On December 12, 1965 Agee visited senior Uruguayan military and police officers at a Montevideo police headquarters. He realized that the screaming he heard from a nearby cell was the torturing of a Uruguayan, whose name he had given to the police as someone to watch. The Uruguayan senior officers simply turned up a radio report of a soccer game to drown out the screams.[4]

Agee also ran CIA operations within the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games and he witnessed the events of the Tlatelolco massacre.

Agee identified President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica, President Luis Echeverría Álvarez (19701976) of Mexico and President Alfonso López Michelsen (19741978) of Colombia as CIA collaborators or agents.[22]

Following this he details how he resigned from the CIA and began writing the book, conducting research in Cuba, London and Paris. During this time he alleged that the CIA spied on him.[4][22][23] The cover of the book actually featured an image of the bugged typewriter given to Agee by a CIA agent as part of their surveillance and attempts to stop publication of the book.[13]

In 1982, the United States Congress passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), legislation that seemed directly aimed at Agee's works. The law would later figure in the 2003 Valerie Plame affair.[7]


Agee gained attention from the United Kingdom media after the publication of Inside the Company. He revealed the identities of dozens of CIA agents in the CIA London station.[14] After numerous requests from the American government as well as an MI6 report that blamed Agee's work for the execution of two MI6 agents in Poland, a request was put in to deport Agee from the UK.[14] Agee fought this and was supported by MPs and journalists. The Labour MP Stan Newens promoted a parliamentary bill, gaining the support of more than 50 of his colleagues, which called for the CIA station in London to be expelled.[24] The activity in support of Agee did not prevent his eventual deportation from the UK on June 3, 1977 when he traveled to the Netherlands.[25] Agee was also eventually expelled from the Netherlands, France, West Germany and Italy.[26]

On January 12, 1975, Agee testified before the second Bertrand Russell Tribunal in Brussels that in 1960 he had conducted personal name-checks of Venezuelan employees for a Venezuelan subsidiary of what is now ExxonMobil. Exxon was "letting the CIA assist in employment decisions, and my guess is that those name checks ... are continuing to this day". Agee stated that the CIA customarily performed this service for subsidiaries of large U.S. corporations throughout Latin America. An Exxon spokesman denied Agee's accusations.[19]

In 1978 Agee and a small group of his supporters began publishing the Covert Action Information Bulletin, which promoted "a worldwide campaign to destabilize the CIA through exposure of its operations and personnel". Mitrokhin states that the bulletin had help from both the KGB and the Cuban DGI.[25] The January 1979 issue of Agee's Bulletin published the infamous FM 30-31B,[27] which was claimed by the United States House Intelligence Committee to be a hoax produced by the Soviet intelligence services.[28][29][30][31][32] In 1978 and 1979, Agee published the two volumes of Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe and Dirty Work: The CIA in Africa which contained information on 2,000 CIA personnel.[25]

Agee told Swiss journalist Peter Studer: "The CIA is plainly on the wrong side, that is, the capitalistic side. I approve KGB activities, communist activities in general. Between the overdone activities that the CIA initiates and the more modest activities of the KGB, there is absolutely no comparison."[33][34]

Agee's US passport was revoked by the US government in 1979. The State Department offered him an administrative hearing to challenge the passport revocation, but Agee instead sued in federal court. The case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled against Agee in 1981.[35]

In 1980 Maurice Bishop's government conferred citizenship of Grenada on Agee, and he took up residence in that island. The collapse of the Grenada Revolution removed that safe haven, and Agee then received a passport from the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. After a change of government there, this passport was revoked in 1990, and he was given a German passport, the nationality of his wife, ballet dancer Giselle Roberge. Agee was later readmitted to both the U.S. and United Kingdom.[36] Agee's own description of his odyssey was published in his autobiography, On the Run, in 1987.[17]

Later activities

In the 1980s NameBase founder Daniel Brandt had taught Agee how to use computers and computer databases for his research.[37] Agee lived with his wife principally in Hamburg, Germany and Havana, Cuba, founding the travel website in the 1990s.[38]

Agee was accused by U.S. President George H. W. Bush, who considered Agee to be a traitor,[7] of being responsible for the death of Richard Welch, a Harvard-educated classicist who was murdered by the Revolutionary Organization 17 November while heading the CIA Station in Athens. Bush had directed the CIA from 1976 to 1977.[26] Agee and his friends disputed Bush's assertion about Welch.[7] This accusation was included in Barbara Bush's 1994 memoir, but was removed from its paperback edition after Agee sued her for libel.[26]

On December 16, 2007, Agee was admitted to a hospital in Havana, and surgery was performed on him for perforated ulcers. His wife said on January 9, 2008 that he had died in Cuba on January 7 and had been cremated.[1]




  • Inside the Company: CIA Diary. Penguin, 1975. ISBN 0-14-004007-2. 629 pages.
  • Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe. Edited by Lois Wolf. Lyle Stuart, 1978. ISBN 0-88029-132-X. 318 pages.
  • Dirty Work 2: The CIA in Africa. Edited by Lois Wolf. Lyle Stuart, January 1979. ISBN 0-8184-0294-6. 258 pages.
  • On the Run. Lyle Stuart, June 1987. ISBN 0-8184-0419-1. 400 pages.
  • White Paper Whitewash: Interviews with Philip Agee on the CIA and El Salvador. Edited by Warner Poelchau. Deep Cover Books, 1982. ISBN 0-940380-00-5, OCLC 557663936. 203 pages.



Articles by other authors

Talks given by Melvin Wulf, William Schaap, and Len Weinglass at a memorial for Philip Agee held at the West Side Y in New York City, on May 3, 2009.




Public Speaking

See also


  1. Will Weissert, "Ex-CIA Agent Philip Agee Dead in Cuba", Associated Press (, January 9, 2008.
  2. Agee, Philip (1975). Inside The Company: CIA Diary. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-004007-2.
  3. Andrew, Christopher; Vasili Mitrokhin (2000). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00312-5. p. 230
  4. Kapstein, Jonathan (July 28, 1975). "Philip Agee: The spy who came in and told; Inside the Company: CIA Diary". Business Week: 12. Archived from the original on October 20, 2006.
  5. "Former CIA agent Agee dies in Cuba at age 72". NBC News. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  6. Joe Holley (10 January 2008). "Philip Agee, 72; Agent Who Turned Against CIA". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 November 2010. Mr. Agee was born in Tacoma, Fla., attended Jesuit schools and graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1956. He told the New York Times in 1974 that the CIA attempted to recruit him while he was at Notre Dame, offering a package plan that included Air Force duty. He said no but reconsidered while studying law at the University of Florida.
  7. Shane, Scott (January 10, 2008). "Philip Agee, 72, Is Dead; Exposed Other C.I.A. Officers". The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  8. Inside The Company: CIA Diary, p. 640
  9. Barron, John (1983). KGB Today: The Hidden Hand. Readers Digest Assn. pp. 227–230. ISBN 0-88349-164-8.
  10. "Philip Agee". The Times. London. January 9, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2018. (subscription required)
  11. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Allen Lane, 1975
  12. Andrew p. 230, referencing Kalugin, Oleg (1995). Spymaster: The Highest-ranking KGB Officer Ever to Break His Silence. Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85685-101-X. p. 191-192 Andrew states: "The KGB files noted by Mitrokhin describe Agee as an agent of the Cuban DGI and give details of his collaboration with the KGB, but do not formally list him as a KGB or DGI agent. vol. 6, ch. 14, parts 1,2,3; vol. 6, app. 1, part 22."
  13. Agee, Philip (June 1987). On the Run. L. Stuart.
  14. Andrew, p. 231
  15. "Former CIA agent attempts to draw U.S. tourists to Cuba over Internet". 2000-06-25. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  16. "Once Again, Ex-Agent Philip Agee Eludes CIA's Grasp", Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1997
  17. Davison, Phil (January 11, 2018). "Philip Agee: Former CIA agent who accused his government of 'state terrorism'". The Independent. London. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  18. Andrew, p. 231 referencing Agee, Philip (June 1987). On the Run. L. Stuart. ISBN 0-8184-0419-1. p. 111-112, 120-121.
  19. "Book details CIA activities". Facts on File World News Digest: 37 B3. January 25, 1975. Archived from the original on October 20, 2006.
  20. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Allen Lane, 1975, pp 599-624.
  21. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Allen Lane, 1975, p 9.
  22. "Secret agent; Inside the Company: CIA Diary. By Philip Agee. Penguin. 640 pages. 95p". The Economist: 87. January 11, 1975.
  23. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Allen Lane, 1975, pp 573-583
  24. "Philip Agee". January 10, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  25. Andrew, p. 232-233.
  26. Holley, Joe (2008-01-09). "Philip Agee, 72; Agent Who Turned Against CIA". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  27. CovertAction, Number 3, January 1979.
  28. Elizabeth Pond (1985-02-28). "The West Wakes Up to the Dangers of Misinformation". Christian Science Monitor.
  29. "House Intelligence Committee Begins Inquiry into Allegations of Forgeries". The Washington Post. 1979-01-17.
  30. U.S. House. Hearings Before the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Soviet Active Measures. 97th Congress, 2nd session. July 13, 14, 1982.
  31. U.S. House. Hearings Before the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Soviet Covert Action (The Forgery Offense). 96th Congress, 2nd session. February 6, 19, 1980.
  32. Peer Henrik Hansen (2005). "A Review of: 'Falling Flat on the Stay-Behinds'". International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. 19 (1): 182–186. doi:10.1080/08850600500332656.
  33. Horowitz, David (December 1991). "The Politics of Public Television". Commentary Magazine. 92 (6). Archived from the original ( Scholar search) on April 23, 2005.
  34. William E. Simon (December 1980). "You can't trust the news". The Saturday Evening Post.
  35. "Haig v. Agee 453 U.S. 280 (1981)".
  36. Duncan Campbell (January 10, 2007). "The spy who stayed out in the cold". London: The Guardian. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
  37. Hand, Mark (January 3, 2003). "Searching for Daniel Brandt". CounterPunch
  38. Campbell, Duncan (January 10, 2008). "Philip Agee". The Guardian. London. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
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