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Letter from DCI Tenet to the Chairman of Random House

Letter to Peter Olson, Chairman, Random House Inc.

The following is the text of a June 14, 2002 letter from Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet to the Chairman of Random House, asking that the name of a covert CIA employee not be included in a book by author David Wise that Random House planned to publish.

14 June 2002


Mr. Peter Olson


Random House, Inc.

1540 Broadway

New York, NY  10036 


Dear Mr. Olson:

I am writing to ask that you maintain the covert status of one of CIA’s employees who had the misfortune of being the FBI’s prime suspect in what turned out to be the Hanssen spy case.  Mr. David Wise has been writing a book on Hanssen for publication by Random House and has told both the employee’s private counsel and officers from our Public Affairs Office that he intends to use the employee’s true name in the book.  On a purely personal level, the employee has already endured an eighteen-month counterintelligence investigation that was devastating to him and his family.  Moreover, many of his colleagues, friends and neighbors do not know that he was the officer wrongly accused, and exposing his name will only cause him additional emotional stress that appears both unnecessary and gratuitous.

Beyond the personal consideration, the exposure of the officer’s name would also be harmful on a national security level as his exposure would result in a loss to our efforts in the counterintelligence area.  The employee is one of the Agency’s experts in counterintelligence, including initiatives to thwart the activities of foreign intelligence organizations in the United States. 

His cover status, that is, remaining unidentified to potential adversaries, is key to his continued effectiveness and travel overseas.

Mr. Wise’s book will not suffer if the officer’s true name is not used.  His name has not yet appeared in the press even though many other journalists know it.  They have agreed not to use it based on their understanding that the story can be told without it, without damaging national security or this man personally.  This officer’s attorney recently wrote to Mr. Wise asking for a meeting with your staff to discuss this issue.  Mr. Wise declined.  I understand that our officer even offered to be interviewed by Mr. Wise to provide additional detail on his difficult ordeal that could be used in the book.  His only condition was that his true name be withheld.  That offer too was declined.

I request that the employee’s true name not be published in the book.  To reveal his name is unnecessary and will simply add further harm to an employee who has already endured more than many of us ever will.


George J. Tenet
Director of Central Intelligence



Posted: Apr 30, 2007 12:18 PM
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2007 12:18 PM