The Ghost of Philip Agee

ByKenneth R.Timmerman
|November 30, 2006

The Ghost of Philip Agee rides again.

The former CIA operations officer who made a second career out of “exposing”CIA undercover operatives and operations in the 1970s and the 1980smay not be dead yet, but his legacy lives on.

It has been picked up by a left-wing European parliamentarian fromSicily named

Agee’s scandalous book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary,was published in 27 different languages and exposed the names of morethan 250 covert operations officers. Agee was stripped of his U.S.citizenship in 1979 His actions prompted Congress to pass theIntelligence Identities Protection Act in 1982.

Soviet intelligence files published by former KGB archivist VasiliMitrokhin and Christopher Andrew in The Sword and the Shield: TheMitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, revealedthat Agee received help from the KGB and from Cuban intelligence inhis efforts to undermine the CIA and expose CIA covert operations.Today, Agee lives in Castro’s Cuba.

Claudio Fava has not needed to go so far afield. His anti-CIAoperation has been funded and championed by the EuropeanParliament.

Since January 2006, Fava has been the driving force behind theEuropean Parliament commission to investigate CIA “secretprisons” and extraordinary renditions in Europe.

On Tuesday, Fava’s commission released a draft report thatvigorously condemned the United States for apprehending terrorists onEuropean soil and transporting them to “secret prisons”around the world.

The report called for the closure of the U.S.-run interrogation anddetention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “and for Europeancountries to accept the return of their citizens and residents whoare being held illegally by US authorities.” It also “revealed”(revealed?) that the governments of eleven European whogranted landing rights and provided intelligence and policeassistance to the CIA in apprehending suspected terrorists “wereaware” of what they were doing.

One would certainly hope so.

Fava is a former journalist, in addition to being a leading member ofDemocrats of the Left, which is allied to Italy’s Socialistparty. Those skills stood him in good stead as he compiled animpressive and compelling investigative file on CIA covert operationsin Europe that he released to the public on Tuesday.

His draft report called on the European parliament to issue aresolution that “condemns extraordinary rendition as an illegaland systematic instrument used by the United States in the fightagainst terrorism,” while chastising European countries for “theacceptance and concealing of the practice.”

Instead of taking the war to the terrorists, Fava and his EPcolleagues apparently believe that the United States should return tothe Clinton era and send lawyers knocking on terrorists’ doorswith subpoenas.

Fava and his fellow commissioners traveled to Macedonia, the UnitedStates, Germany, Britain, Rumania, Poland and Portugal in their questto expose CIA covert operations.

In a hearing earlier this year, his Commission released detailedflight logs of hundreds of secret CIA flights used for renditions, aswell as the tail numbers and registration information on twenty-fivecivilian aircraft used by the CIA to transport terrorist detainees.They also named the CIA proprietaries that owned or operatedthem.

These are considered some of the Agency’s most highly-valuedsecrets. Shell companies used for covert operations “cost us afortune to set up,” a former CIA operations officer told me. “Andnow it is going to cost us a fortune to replace them.” Ifindeed they can be replaced, which is questionable.

Fava revealed that since October 2001, the CIA has operated “atleast 1,245 flights& into the European airspace,”and¬Ý chastised European governments for “relinquishingtheir control over their airspace and airports by admitting flightsoperated by the CIA.”

On Wednesday, Fava followed up by releasing complementary informationthat lazy reporters could take straight to the Pulitzer prizecommittee as a demonstration of their investigative prowess.

One of his follow-on reports provided a descriptive data base of theCIA front companies and suspect flights, which Fava claimed were tiedto the transportation of terrorist suspects.

In the French-language introduction to the report, Fava explainedthat the CIA needed to use civilian aircraft rather than militaryplanes, “in order to reach places where military aircraft wouldhave been considered suspect.”

Shell companies were used to disguise CIA ownership of the planes,which then were then managed and operated by real companies, many ofthem in the air charter business.

Knowing that the attention span of most journalists is limited, Favakept his crash course in exposing CIA covert operations short and tothe point. Then he got into the business of naming names.

Some of the CIA fronts were typical inside jokes. There was PremierExecutive Transport Service (PETS), Rapid Air Trans (RAT), and DevonHolding and Leasing (DHL). I doubt any of them will be used for muchin the future, except perhaps to manage the retirement account of CIAcover-girl Valerie Plame.

Fava then broke down the 1,245 flights country by country. 336 CIAflights to Germany, 170 to Britain, 147 to Ireland, 91 to Portugal,68 to Spain, 64 to Greece, 57 to Cyprus, 21 to Romania, and 11 toPoland, all of them detailed with the aircraft tail numbers andall.

He said that he obtained flight logs for the secret flights fromEUROCONTROL, a non-profit agency that controls European air traffic,and the FAA. (Why in the world the FAA cooperated with theEuro-inquisition is beyond me.)

Members of Fava’s commission have been publicly critical of theU.S., but never before in such harsh terms.

Their report called on all European countries that have not alreadydone so to “initiate independent investigations into allstopovers made by civilian aircraft carried out by the CIA”since 2001, and called for a review of existing Europeananti-terrorism legislation “to avoid any repetition” ofthe CIA extraordinary renditions.

The Europeans also gave a nod to Congressional Democrats, by “welcom[ing]the announcement by the incoming majority in the U.S Senate”¬Ýthat it intended to hold hearings on rendition and CIA secretprisons.

In addition to its harsh criticism of the Bush administration, thereport also went after Bush allies in Europe, including formerItalian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and British Prime MinisterTony Blair.

It singled out several European Union officials by name forstonewalling the investigation.

Top EU official Javier Solana was guilty of “omissions anddenials” in his declarations to the committee, the reportsaid.

EU Counter-terrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries was noteworthy for “thelack of credibility of his statements” to the commission, whichsuggested he be fired and his position be eliminated.

EUROPOL director Max-Peter Ratzel also incurred the commission’sire for his refusal to testify, “especially since it appearsthat liaison officers, notably from the U.S. intelligence services,have been posted to his office.”

Current and previous NATO secretaries general Jaap de Hoop Schefferand Lord Robertson took it on the chin for slighting the commission.Particularly galling to Fava and his fellow commissioners was NATO’srefusal to provide the classified minutes of the Oct. 4, 2001 NATOdecision to activate the mutual defense clause of the NATO treaty atthe request of the United States, thus triggering European assistancein the war on terror.

There is a pattern here.

Fava and his colleagues would like to shut down CIA covertoperations. They would like Europe to pursue criminal investigationsof CIA officers involved in the renditions, as Italy is now doing,even though their actions were clearly coordinated with Europeanintelligence services.

Investigate, expose, criminalize, disband.¬Ý It’s aone-way ticket to unilateral disarmament.

All during the 1980s and the 1990s, the¬ÝEuropeans weredeaf to entreaties from countries such as Egypt, who begged them toenforce arrest warrants on exiles wanted on terrorism charges athome.

These were the type of people the CIA has been picking up off thestreets and “rendering” to their home countries.

Pretty, it is not. But it is necessary.

The enemy understands our weaknesses, and has understood that Europe’sstrong political asylum laws provide a convenient shield for them tocontinue their jihadi activities.

Now that he has exposed the secret operations of U.S. intelligence,perhaps Claudio Fava could spend similar time and effort to exposejihadist cells operating in scores of cities across Europe?

Clearly, Fava is a talented investigator. Now, perhaps, he can showus who’s side he is on.

ClickHere to