Corporate media lessons in character assassination

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Fun And Fidel


An Alienated Cia Man Touts His Ideological Tours Of Cuba

From the magazine issue dated Jun 3, 2002 | [print_link]

Editors’ Note: Philip Agee, the brave former CIA operative who unmasked the “Company’s” true role and M.O. throughout the world in the mid-1970s via his expos√©, INSIDE THE COMPANY, just passed away at age 75 in Havana, as a result of complications from perforated ulcers. The article we republish below originated in NEWSWEEK, in 2002. Wrapped in the standard anti-communist tegument of lies and half-truths perfected over decades of unrelenting propaganda against the idea of socialism, and the impossibility of conceiving of a world not ruled by plutocrats, it drips sarcasm and condescension toward a man who dared to commit apostasy against the Great God of Capitalism. After flagging down in bold face some of the most egregious examples of “directed thinking”, we have inserted countercomments in brackets to suggest our own translation of such underhanded messages.

[For more on Agee, please see SPEAKING OF TRUE AMERICAN HEROES]

IF NOTHING ELSE, Philip Agee knows how to turn ideology into a quick buck. {in the end, there’s no principles that last, it’s all about money folks.] The product of an affluent Tampa, Florida, family, { dilettante bastard, traitor to his class ] Agee wrote a best-selling 1975 memoir about his 12-year career as a CIA agent and then spent the succeeding years railing [ouch! The man is strident. Who can trust an out-of-control guy like this?] against the perceived [ just “perceived” not factual ] evils of U.S. imperialism. These days Agee, 67, and his wife, Giselle, live in a dingy Havana apartment building, [ Let that be a lesson to those who toy with the notion of abandoning the American Way of Life…just rewards for being a traitor and clinging to the commie dream ] hustling to make a buck { hustling... what else do you expect from such low-life? ] in the tourism business. { Note the badly concealed tone of sarcasm to their effort to make an honest living.] Three years ago he launched an interactive travel agency,, to market affordable excursion packages to Americans and other foreigners intrigued by the prospect of a vacation in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. But his new endeavor is not limited to the mere pursuit of profit. { Aha, he’s pursuing profit…so much for revolutionary aspirations, eh? But wait…what’s this? ] As his Web site puts it, Agee aims to continue “solidarity activities with the revolution by presenting Cuban realities to the world” and “help to correct the many years of lies and distortions fomented by the U.S. government.” When September 11 put a crimp on international travel, he came up with a new line. Agee began pitching Cuba as “the safest country in the world,” where foreigners needn’t worry about street crime, terrorism or any of the other assorted ills of early-21st-century life.

Not exactly the stuff of a Madison Avenue advertising campaign, { who except system apologists like this Newsweek scrivener would admire Madison Avenue’s “art”?] but the approach seems to be working. This year Agee expects to draw more than 2,000 foreign tourists to the island nation, nearly 10 times the number who came to Cuba during his company’s first full year of operations in 2000. Upwards of 80 percent of his clientele is American, and Agee is generating enough business to keep 13 full-time employees on a $4,000 monthly payroll.

His life story has been one long, strange trip from the day he quit the CIA in 1969 and began exposing its agents and methods for destabilizing unfriendly Third World countries. The publication of his first book, “Inside the Company: CIA Diary,” outraged the Ford administration and prompted the then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to pressure the government of British Prime Minister James Callaghan into expelling Agee, who was then living in Cambridge. Over the ensuing years Agee was tossed out { Advice to would-be disinformers: use the verb “toss” whenever you want to imply “human garbage” ] of four more European countries, had his U.S. passport revoked and made do with passports issued by Grenada, Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua { as opposed to corporation-ruled America ] and Castro’s Cuba. { Ha ha all pathetic basket-case Third World countries…! What a loser! ] The self-described man without a country moved to Havana with Giselle Roberge, a former classical-ballet dancer, in 1998 and gets around the world on a German travel document. Agee’s experiences provided the basic plotline for a late-1970s film titled “Covert Action” starring the late actor David Janssen, better known for his American TV series about another man on the run, “The Fugitive.”

Agee’s love affair with Cuba dates back to January 1957, when he first traveled to Havana to celebrate his 22d birthday. His arrival came a month after Castro and 81 fellow rebels landed on the southern shores of Cuba to relaunch their armed struggle against the pro-U.S. dictator Fulgencio Batista, a fight that ended in triumph for Castro in January 1959. { Just the facts, ma’am, but serve them cold. Do not for a moment imply warmth toward Fidel Castro. ]

Forty-three years later Agee makes no attempt to conceal his unflagging support for Castro’s brand of totalitarian rule. { Totalitarian according to whom? But this we saw it coming. You can’t write a piece on a mainstream American magazine without throwing some brickbats at the “outlaw” Cuban “regime” ]. Only two framed photos adorn the whitewashed walls of his office { hmm..more poverty…being a revolutionary sucks…] on the 27th floor of a high-rise building overlooking Havana’s seaside Malecon Boulevard. They were taken during Oakland, California, Mayor Jerry Brown’s visit to Cuba in the summer of 2000 and feature Castro–who usually addresses Agee as “Felipe”–and Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba’s rubber-stamp National Assembly { This Assembly, however, “rubber stamps” measures that help the people, as opposed to the US Congress that generally rubber stamps legislation that favors the superrich and disempowers the people ]. If the ex-spook harbors any deep-seated reservations about The System That Fidel Built, he does not voice them. “I support the Cuban revolution for the same reasons that I quit the CIA,” says Agee. “In my experience, the U.S. doesn’t give a s–t about free and fair elections, and nowhere else in Latin America has the power of the oligarchs been eliminated.”

For now, at least, the Notre Dame graduate plans on staying put. As proof of that, the Agees recently took delivery of a container loaded with furniture and personal effects accumulated over 23 years of marriage. In person, the spy turned entrepreneur has the earnest, soft-spoken manner of a clergyman, and in his youth the Jesuit-educated Agee seriously considered becoming a Roman Catholic priest. But he still relishes his self-appointed role { No real credentials or perfectly justified reasons to stand up against the crimes of imperialism, just perverse ego-driven bull ] as perennial thorn in Washington’s backside. Ordinary Americans who visit Cuba in violation of the longstanding U.S. trade embargo are theoretically liable for fines as high as $55,000. But if a holidaymaker gets in trouble with the Feds, Agee says not to worry. His Web site will give you free advice on how, he claims, you can get around it. Hence the fortune-cookie message taped to his laptop computer that reads, “A Change for the Better.”

Countercomments supplied by Patrice Greanville. Greanville helms The Greanville Journal, and is Editor in Chief of Cyrano’s Journal Online.

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