“You’re exactly right. Barbara Bush perpetuated the lie that Philip Agee’s revelations led to Dick Welch’s murder. It wasn’t true, and Agee successfully sued Bush and got a retraction. IIPA was passed based on a lie.”
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou — Tweet replying to Intel Today (July 13 2019)
The CIA is urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would make it a criminal offence to reveal the identity of CIA operatives working in the US. Critics of the draft law say it will hobble free speech and discourage whistleblowers from revealing crimes committed by the CIA. The Los Angeles Times has published an editorial on this matter. Here are my comments. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_Today
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The Times makes several good points.
For instance, the piece points out correctly that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act has only been used twice in 37 years!
Indeed, there have been only two successful prosecutions involving the IPPA.
In 1985, Sharon Scranage, a secretary in the CIA’s office in Accra, Ghana, was sentenced to five years and served eight months, for giving the names of other agents to her boyfriend in Ghana.
In February 28 2013., John C. Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, was sent to prison for disclosing the name of another CIA officer to a reporter. Kiriakou was released on February 3 2015. He served the remaining three months of his term at his home in Arlington, Virginia.
RELATED POST: Two Years Ago — Former CIA John Kiriakou : “Doing Time Like A Spy”
However, like every other pieces written on the subject, the Times editorial overlooks the fact the IIPA was born out of a fictional account of CIA Athens station chief Richard Welch’s assassination (1975) in Greece.
RELATED POST: CIA Director Mike Pompeo tells a whopper
In fact, several journalists appear to believe this fictional account.
Tim Cushing writes:
“The CIA is pushing for an expansion of a 37-year-old law that would deter journalists from covering national security issues or reporting on leaked documents. Thanks to a disillusioned CIA case officer’s actions in 1975, there are currently a few limits to what can or can’t be reported about covert operatives working overseas.
In 1975, Philip Agee published a memoir about his years with the CIA. Attached to his memoir — which detailed his growing discontentment with the CIA’s clandestine support of overseas dictators — was a list of 250 CIA agents or informants. In response to this disclosure, Congress passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), which criminalized disclosing the identity of covert intelligence agents.”
Yahoo News reported that:
“In 1975, Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens, was murdered in front of his home as he returned with his wife from a Christmas party.
Intelligence officials said Welch’s identity had been compromised by stories in Greek and American news outlets. A Communist terror group known as 17N was blamed for the assassination.
Welch’s death (…) prompted the passage of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a crime to reveal the identities of undercover officers serving the CIA abroad. President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1982.”
As it has been said many times: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Steven Aftergood — the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists — has clearly identify the issues.
“In principle, I think there is room to consider tailored steps to increase protections for ‘covert agents’ in light of the many developments — the Internet, social media, wholesale leaks, cyber operations, etc…
But CIA has not articulated a clear public argument in favor of the latest amendment.”
What is really going on?
The Espionage Act is the main provision to deal with the disclosure of classified information. So, why does the CIA needs an expansion of the IPPA?
RELATED POST: On This Day — Espionage and Sabotage Act of 1954 [September 3 1954]
Well, the Agency cites to the Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program — that is the CIA torture program — to justify the urgency of an expanded law.
In other words, it appears that the CIA wants to protect the identity of senior officials who were involved in the RDI program and have long since — more than 5 years –returned to the United States.
The CIA request to criminalize disclosures crucial to an informed citizenry is a clear and present danger to Democracy. The Press should be very worried. The Congress should think twice.
Congress is rushing to make the CIA less accountable — LA Times Editorial Board (July 16 2019)
It’s already a crime to identify a covert intelligence agent or confidential informant working overseas. But even though the law has only been used twice in 37 years — and even though no persuasive case has been made that it needs to be toughened or expanded — Congress is now proposing to broaden it, imposing new restrictions on free speech.
It needs to slow down and demand evidence that a new version of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act is necessary and that it won’t be wielded to silence whistleblowers or make it harder for the press to report on abuses.
In its present form, the law allows for the prosecution of anyone who discloses the identity of a covert agent who has served outside the United States during the previous five years or a foreign-based U.S. citizen whose relationship with an intelligence agency is classified. The law assumes that operatives posted in foreign countries face a special danger from exposure of their identities.
But at the behest of the CIA, Congress is considering removing the requirement that an agent or informant live outside the United States; that way, the law would apply to operatives in the U.S. as well. The change could be voted on this week.
The CIA argued that the changes are necessary in light of “ever-evolving threats, including cyberthreats” and pointed to disclosures by WikiLeaks as well as revelations about the agency’s treatment of suspected terrorists. An agency spokesman told the New York Times that in the last five years, “hundreds of covert officers have had their identity and covert affiliation disclosed without authorization.” The CIA has not presented evidence, at least publicly, that its agents’ lives are in danger or have been lost as a result of disclosure.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he didn’t believe the expanded law would be used against journalists, and noted that the earlier version hadn’t been either.
Journalists aren’t so sanguine. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has warned that the proposed amendments would “upset the balance carefully struck by Congress and make journalists, especially national security and investigative reporters, more vulnerable to potential criminal liability for disclosing classified information.”
On another front, one of the two uses of the 1982 law was to prosecute former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who provided a reporter with the name of an undercover operative who had been linked to brutal interrogation tactics during the George W. Bush administration.
Before approving any change in the law, Congress should listen to those concerns — and demand from the CIA proof that new restrictions are necessary to protect the lives of its operatives. So far the case has not been made.
CIA No Evil, Hear No Evil
According to former CIA officer John Kiriakou, the CIA is simply trying to get a pass on crimes even before they are committed.
Congress is rushing to make the CIA less accountable — Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times : “Congress is rushing to make the CIA less accountable”