The agency is trying to get a pass on crimes even before they’re committed and it represents a threat to press freedom.
The CIA has quietly asked the Senate Intelligence Committee to include a provision in its next authorization bill that would vastly expand the definition of a “covert agent” whose identity would be protected from unauthorized disclosure.
The current law, called the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1981, defines a covert agent as any intelligence officer who is serving abroad or who has served abroad in a covert capacity in the past five years. The new bill would expand that protection to include all unacknowledged intelligence personnel even if they have never left the United States.
Let me be clear: This measure is not at all about protecting the identities of CIA officers doing their jobs. It is about protecting those CIA employees who have committed crimes against humanity. It’s a cover-up. Take it from me. I have first-hand experience with this law.
The agency’s headquarters. (Central Intelligence Agency via Flickr)
The Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) has been used only twice since its passage. It was used to convict Sharon Scranage, a CIA secretary who had had an affair with an intelligence officer in Ghana and had given him the names of all CIA employees in the country and the identities of Ghanaians who were working for the CIA. She was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in a minimum-security prison. My prosecution was the second and it came in retaliation for my blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program. I never made public the name of any covert operative and I ended up with 23 months.
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