October 28, 2010

Ex-CIA agent gets his say


In a follow up to an earlier MobyLives post regarding the CIA lawsuit against former CIA agent Ishmael Jones for his book, The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture, the New Yorker magazine has posted an interview by Gregory Levey with Jones on their blog.

The CIA’s statement claims, “Although Jones submitted his manuscript to the Agency’s Publications Review Board (PRB) as his secrecy agreement requires, he did not let that review process run its course and instead published in defiance of the Board’s initial disapproval.” Jones tells Levey:

I sent the book to C.I.A. censors and repeatedly asked them, over the course of a year, to tell me what they wanted taken out or rewritten, but they just sat on it. They finally sent it back to me as a stack of blank pages. There is no classified information in this book, but it is highly critical. I had approached my entire chain of command beforehand. In addition, I had also confronted the Agency’s Inspector General. Writing the book was a last resort.

Jones says that he “wrote the book as a tool in intelligence reform.” And he notes, “Nuclear weapons are a nineteen-thirties technology, and they’re becoming easier to obtain. We need a strong clandestine service.”

Levey notes that one of the demands in the lawsuit is that the CIA have all film rights. Jones’ reply tips his hand on some of his CIA postings’ locations:

The lawsuit is based on the Snepp decision from the nineteen-seventies. It doesn’t say that I’ve published classified information, just that I published without approval. The Snepp case established that they can come after book and movie profits. It seems a very light downside. For so many years my downside has been an arrest and a bag over my head, so the result of this lawsuit is trivial. All money is given to veterans’ groups anyway.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.