Editor’s Note. The following background essay first appeared in a monograph published by the Center for the Study of Intelligence in October 1993.
The 1975 was a watershed in literature about the year CIA. Before that time, only a few outsiders, usually professional journalists, had written books critical of the Agency. Most of the others were neutral or even positive, especially those written by former Agency officials like Allen Dulles and Lyman Kirkpatrick. But in 1975 a disgruntled former Agency employee, Philip Agee, published his highly critical book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary. Books by other ex-employees—J. B. Smith, John Stockwell, Victor Marchetti (with J. D. Marks), and R. W. McGehee—followed in quick succession, each exposing highly confidential material.
These authors usually wrote about subjects of which they had special knowledge, and the cumulative effect was to breach the walls of confidentiality that had protected Agency operations and personnel. Although the net effect was damaging—especially in the case of
Agee, who disclosed the identities of officers serving abroad under cover—information about sensitive operations against the Soviet Union and its intelligence organs was not compromised.