The 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act
Passed by Congress to amend the 1947 National Security Act, the IIP Act makes it a federal crime for anyone to reveal the identity of an agent whom one knows to be in, or recently in, covert roles with a U.S. intelligence agency. It was written in response to some specific cases in which identities of CIA agents were revealed. One major impetus to pass the legislation was the case of ex-CIA officer Philip Agee during the 1960s and 1970s. Agee’s tell-all book Inside the Company: CIA Diary, and his publication of the periodical Covert Action Information Bulletin, blew the cover of many long-time agents, including some Cultural Attachés at various U.S. Embassies.
The first person to be convicted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was Sharon Scranage, in 1985. Ms. Scranage was an attractive and romantically-inclined secretary in the CIA’s office in Accra, Ghana, who revealed the names of agents to her boyfriend. She was sentenced to five years, but served only eight months. Between 2003 and 2007, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald investigated the “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame in a newspaper column by Robert Novak. As a result of the investigation former Assistant to the President during George W. Bush’s administration, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted on two counts of perjury, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making false statements to federal investigators. He was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. The leak, whether by Libby or (likely) someone else, enabled the identification of Plame as an employee of the CIA front company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, and in doing so enabled the identification other CIA agents who were “employed” there. President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, and President Donald Trump gave Libby a full pardon on April 13, 2018. Actor David Andrews (A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984; Fight Club, 1999) played Libby in the 2010 film, Fair Game, based on the Valerie Plame affair.
In Philip Agee’s case, the U.S. revoked his passport in 1979, after which he managed to get a Nicaraguan passport from the newly-established Sandinista government. When Violeta Chamorro revoked that in 1990, he obtained a German passport, the nationality of his wife, ballet dancer Giselle Roberge. After being expelled from West Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Italy, he found refuge in Cuba. Agee was eventually readmitted to the U.S., where he wrote his autobiography, On the Run (1987).