“Remember Phil Agee, who I consider a traitor to our country? The guy encouraged the publishing of names of those serving under cover, sacrificing their lives. And Counterspy magazine did publish names, including the name of Richard Welch, our station chief in Greece, who shortly thereafter was gunned down in Greece outside his residence.”
President George H. W. Bush —
September 17, 1997
On April 13 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo delivered his first public speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. In a recent post, I pointed out that Pompeo — or at least his speech writers — had clearly distorted historical facts to suit his narrative. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
In his attempt to build a parallel between Philip Agee and Julian Assange, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said:
“That man was Philip Agee, one of the founding members of the magazine Counterspy, which in its first issue in 1973 called for the exposure of CIA undercover operatives overseas. In its September 1974 issue, Counterspy publicly identified Richard Welch as the CIA Chief of Station in Athens. Later, Richard’s home address and phone number were outed in the press in Greece.
In December 1975, Richard and his wife were returning home from a Christmas party in Athens. When he got out of his car to open the gate in front of his house, Richard Welch was assassinated by a Greek terrorist cell. At the time of his death, Richard was the highest-ranking CIA officer killed in the line of duty.”
In a previous post, I pointed the following mistakes.
RELATED POST: CIA Director Mike Pompeo tells a whopper
First, let us point out the obvious. Counterspy could not have publicly identified Richard Welch as the CIA Chief of Station in Athens in September 1974 since Welch arrived in Greece in July 1975!
[NOTE: The article — Exposing the CIA — first appeared in the Winter 1974/1975 issue of CounterSpy magazine, published in early 1975 in Washington D.C. The article — Chiefs of Station– appeared in the same edition.]
Secondly, while it is true that Agee wrote the lead article in CounterSpy’s Winter 1975 edition, it was a separate article in that edition that named Welch. Agee had no knowledge of this article on Welch until after its publication.
Thirdly, Agee was not a co-founder of the magazine.
Fourthly, the CounterSpy story was hardly ‘news’ as the identity of Richard Welch had been revealed to the public since 1968.
And finally, N17 – the group that assassinated Welch — did not need any of this information as the CIA Chiefs of Station in Athens had been living in the same house for the last 25 years.
November 17 Revolutionary Organization
The communiqué provided by N17 makes it very clear that the group did not rely on the information provided by the media (Athens News, CounterSpy). President George H. W. Bush’s claim — repeated by CIA Director Pompeo — that CounterSpy/Agee was responsible for the death of Welch is simply not true and a declassified CIA document shows that the Agency is well aware of the facts. Allegedly, the CIA even warned Welch that his life was at risk and that he had to relocate immediately. [To our knowledge, this cable has not been declassified.]
“The incident provoked widespread examination of both the quality of cover for American intelligence officers working overseas and of the activities of Americans who purposely engaged in exposing the identities of clandestine operatives. With respect to the former, Welch had lived in the same house as his CIA predecessors, and he was not listed in the State Department’s biographical book of senior diplomatic personnel.” [CIA Official website]
Please, notice that N17 knew the identity of the former Station Chief — Stacy Hulse — as well as the identity of his deputy — Ronald Estes — who resided… on the same street.
President George H. W. Bush’s allegation was made on September 17 1997 to retirees attending festivities at CIA Headquarters recognizing the Agency’s 50th birthday. Sued for libel, Barbara Bush was forced to retract the allegation from her Memoir.
Why is Pompeo making such bogus claim today at a time when many have great doubts about the Agency? [The list of former US Intel officers, academics and diplomats who dispute the US narrative of the Syria chemical attack is growing everyday…] And lo and behold, it is not the worse mistake in the speech… Can you spot the other obvious factual error?
Communiqué by the November 17 Revolutionary Organization
[EDITORS’ NOTE: As the communique notes, the day of the asassassination of Richard Welch, this group sent its first communiqué to the Athens media. Although it was referred to in the Athens News, it was never published, in Greece or elsewhere. Several weeks later the group apparently mailed this lengthy communique to numerous media, including Liberation. For many months the editors of Liberation debated the genuineness
of the communique. Nearly a year later, a police officer of the deposed junta, noted for his brutality, was murdered with, according to Greek authorities, the same weapon. Liberation decided the communique was authentic, and published large parts of it. While the communique appears genuine, many Greek leftists do not believe that this organization was part of their movement. The entire communique is published here for the first time; the portions which did not appear in Liberation are in brackets.]
[This communique was issued in early 1976. with copies mailed to various newspapers and magazines. On December 24, 1976, large portions of it were published, in French, in Liberation, in Paris, France.) The Truth about the Execution of Richard Welch (Chief of the CIA Station in Greece) and the Manipulation of Public Opinion in Greece and Abroad]
[On December 23, 1975, Richard Welch, First Secretary at the American Embassy-but in fact Chief of the CIA Station in Greece-was re turning home with his wife and driver after a reception given by the U.S. Ambassador. At the moment he was entering his house, a commando unit of three members of the Greek Revolutionary Organization “November 17” executed him, immobilizing his wife and driver. A mystery has intention ally been created around this action . Through a broad and stupefying operation , the Greek government , with the collaboration of the press, has been able to bolster , in an odd way, the line inside the CIA: Welch had some enemies inside the CIA, who shot him, or he was killed by the KGB. Even today, two months after the execution , few people in Greece or abroad know the truth.]
[Facing this mystery and confusion, we find ourselves obligated to appeal to the foreign press to reestablish the truth . For the first time, we are going to explain exactly how we carried out this action. We are going to explain why the mystery and confusion exist. And we are going to prove through the details we reveal for the first time that the letter in the Athens News had no link whatsoever with our operation. It is merely a coincidence that this expose appeared a month before our operation . Our decision, as well as our investigation of Welch, came well before, as the explanations below will prove, and which can be verified by the Americans and the Greek Criminal Investigation Department.]
[The day after the action , the newspapers discussed the event on the front page , and could not hide the real activities of Welch, because of the revelations in the Athens News. They began to attack the criminal activities of the CIA in this country in mystery-style articles. They wrote that Welch was the instigator of events in Cyprus in 1964; that he was a specialist in the “destabilization” and overthrow of governments, that he was working
closely with Ambassador Kubisch, who was Kissinger ‘s advisor for Chilean affairs during the Allende regime, etc.]
[So these articles on the CIA and its criminal activities in Greece led more and more people to justify and to approve of the execution, even within the Kararnanlis party. Since the action had these important repercussions, and was generating approval and even enthusiasm among the masses, the government decided to act quickly. The first measure was to forbid the publication of all information on Welch. This measure was respected in part by the newspapers, which nevertheless continued to discuss the CIA over the next several weeks. At the same time, the government has interrogated, searched, and followed approximately 2,000 left activists; put up a reward for us of the fabulous (for Greece) sum of five million drachma; and undertaken a most important operation of confusion and manipulation. They passed “information” to Greek journalists, to “prove” this action was an internal CIA affair, or the consequence of a struggle with the KGB.]
[The government did everything possible to spread confusion, to create mystery, and to hide the truth: that simple activists with relatively simple means could have “hit” the CIA Chief of Station in Greece.]
[So the unfolding of the operation has been described a dozen times in the newspapers in mystery-style articles with details which give the reader the impression that something is fishy. The newspapers invented theories: the fact that three bullets were shot proves that we were professionals from the secret services, who are the only people who act this way. They asked: How did we know the driver was not armed, and that he was not going to
shoot back? Just another proof that we were CIA agents. How did we know the time that Welch was supposed to return? We were waiting for him at the very second he got back. So, we had an informant in the Ambassador’s house. This action was too well-organized, too scientific to be done by Greek activists, who are not capable of such precision. A “liberal” newspaper considered it suspect that Mrs. Welch and the driver were not also
executed. Professionals do not leave any witnesses unless they are sure they will not talk. All of this crap finally created confusion and doubt in the masses.]
[Yet all the newspapers knew the truth from the very first day! The very evening of the operation, we sent to all of them some political texts where we explained the reasons for this operation. The same evening we called three newspapers claiming credit for the action and telling them where to go to get the texts that we left for them in different parts of Athens. Finally, that same evening, we distributed tracts in other areas of Athens.]
[Three days later, the 26th of December, faced with the attitude of the press, we sent a letter to the newspapers denouncing all the lies which were appearing. The press did not mention any of this, and on the contrary continued their romance. Some journalists, even from left-wing newspapers, claimed that they were holding information from absolutely reliable sources, proving it was the CIA, and challenging anyone to contradict them.
They were issuing challenges, but they were carefully hiding the truth.]
[In these texts, we explained that we had decided to execute Richard Welch as an example, because as CIA Chief of Station in Athens he was responsible, as well as the other professional agents, for all the crimes committed by American Imperialism,
and particularly by the CIA against our people. Among them, the most important: setting up and supporting the Fascist Dictatorship for seven years; and the coup in Cyprus in July 1975, with thousands dead and 200,000 refugees. Welch, as a Station Chief, had a direct responsibility. He was not a minor official, a simple executive.]
[The main problem in Greece is its dependence on American Imperialism. The Karamanlis government has never done anything about this, and finds itself tied to the Americans. Getting out of NATO remains only words. The American bases and the ships of the Sixth Fleet are still here. Even more, Americans, considering Greece as a safe country, are in the process, according to the Greek newspapers, of moving the General Staff of the CIA for the Middle East and the offices of the multinationals from Beirut to Athens. The graffiti “exo i Americani” (“out with the Americans”), which was the main cry during the popular
insurrection of November 1973 and which was still dominant after the fall of the dictatorship, has been seen by millions of demonstrators going past the American Embassy this last November 17. The Americans are still the masters here; the government
cannot do anything; all that is left for us is to go on with the struggle against them, using simultaneously both pacific and legal means of struggle, and other means of struggle.]
On the other hand, neither Welch’s wife nor his driver had any direct responsibility for the crimes committed by the CIA against our people. That is why he, and only he, was executed. And these are the unique reasons we chose the method we did. We wanted to exclude any possibility of harming others, even by accident. We wanted to carry out the action correctly and efficiently. And that is why we had to take more risks in stopping
our car and getting out of it, instead of choosing an easier way, such as throwing a bomb or a grenade, or using a machine gun from our car. In such a case we might have hit someone besides Welch.
[The Investigation and the Operation]
The former Station Chief, Stacy Hulse, left Athens on May 30, 1975. He was living in the same house, 5 Vassilis Frederikis, in Psychico. Welch arrived in Athens around the 15th of June. He lived for three weeks in the villa of the Deputy Chief of the CIA, Ronald Estes, number 12 of the same street. For a month or so, the villa was closed. Welch moved in to number 5 on Wednesday, July 9. His driver was also different; he was not the same one Hulse used to have, contrary to what the newspapers wrote. We learned the name of Welch and his function through a very easy means, which we will not reveal for the moment. Welch left with his driver every morning around 8:30 A.M., and returned between 6:30 and 7:30 P.M. His driver would park his own car, an AMI-6, orange, registered as BE-9339, along the sidewalk, near the villa. He would get the black Ford, registered as CD3-131, out of the garden, and drive Welch to the Embassy. Welch went out at night very seldom, contrary to the Deputy, who went out nearly every night. Welch was always home before 11:00 P.M. On weekends, he would go out during the day, using, since the end of September, a second car, a white Mustang registered as CD3-181, which he kept in the garage.
[What struck us was that these professional killers considered Greece so safe that they never took any security measures. We thought they must have had some bodyguards, but nothing. They felt safe, like at home. Only after the November 17 demonstration did they become scared, and barricade themselves at home. Welch did not go out for the next two weeks, even on weekends, and did not park his car along the sidewalk, outside the villa, as he used to do fairly often before.]
[On July 27, Sunday, Welch ate lunch at 1:30 P.M. with his father at the Theoxenis de Kifissia Restaurant. He drove his car. He never took any security measures, except that he always looked intently at the people who passed him. He wore grey pants and a blue summer shirt. As he had parked the car a bit away. and his father was tired, he walked about 50 meters to the car and backed it down to his father.]
Welch went to the movies on Tuesday, November 11, at 6:30 P.M. (to the Astron Theatre in the Ambelokipi area), with his wife and another woman, to see Godfather II. That night he was driving his white Mustang, which he parked along the sidewalk, near the theatre, leaving his key on the dashboard. They sat in the balcony and left about 10:00 P.M. That night, the black Ford was parked along the sidewalk in front of the main entrance to the villa, and when they arrived home around 10:30, the conditions for the operation were ideal. While Welch was parking the Mustang in the garage, the two women went into the house; then he came out through the garage door, walked 15 meters in the darkness toward the black Ford to park it in the garden. We passed by him while he was walking, and it would have been very easy for us to shoot him. There was nobody around.
We give these details to show that we had decided on the operation and begun the investigation of Welch as soon as he arrived in Athens, that is to say, far before the publication of the Athens News letter of November 23.
The operation itself happened as follows. The car we used was neither a Mercedes nor a Fiat, as described in the press. It was a light green Simca that we had “expropriated” on December 12, in the Pagrati area. The night of December 23, we realized that Welch had gone out. The black Ford was not in the garden as it was every day after 7:30 P.M., and the driver’s car was parked by the sidewalk. We deduced that Welch had gone to
some reception with the driver. We did not know if there were two, three, or four in the car, but our action plan covered these possibilities. We parked the car around 9:00 P.M. on the left side of Mazaraki Street, approximately halfway down the street, and we waited. We knew he would pass by this place, as he always did, and we would wait till 11 :00 P.M. at the latest. At 10:23, we saw the black Ford, and we let it pass by. When it got to the
intersection of Vassileos Pavlou and Mazaraki streets, we started the car and followed them slowly. We let them go down further a little and they parked in front of the garden door, perpendicular to the sidewalk in order to go into the garden. The driver got out of the car, opened the left rear door, and Mrs. Welch got out; then he turned to open the gate of the garden. At that precise moment. we turned left, and we parked slowly, right
behind the Ford, on the left side of the street. The three of us go tout of the car immediately, with our faces covered. As they saw us, the driver turned, and said, like it was a joke, “What’s happening?” The comrade who was supposed to fire, ordered, “Hands up !” and went over to the right door, where he saw Welch , who had just gotten out of the car. The second comrade threatened Mrs. Welch and the driver with his machine gun. The third of us came around on the right to cut off any flight by Welch to the main door of the villa. The comrade who was to shoot, came closer to Welch and ordered again, “Hands up !” Welch , who spoke good Greek , answered in English, “What?” At this point the comrade fired three shots in rapid succession with his pistol, a Colt .45. With the first shot, Welch fell down . The driver, as soon as he heard the first shot, hid behind the Ford . Mrs. Welch remained still, near us, looking at us. She did not say anything and did not move. Immediately, we went back into the car, and left as follows: we turned left on Tsakona
Street and left again into Narkissou Street. Straight ahead till Amarylidos where we went left and then right onto Yakinton Street, where we abandoned the car, near the comer of Papadiamanti Street. From there , we drove away in another car, taking all our belongings .
As incredible as it seems, the Simca that we used was not found by the police for more than a week after the action, even though it was less than one kilometer from the scene of the action, and did not have a license plate. In passing along Kifissia Avenue, which is a main street, it could still be seen. A week later, December 30, we decided to call the newspapers, giving its description . [And we did this so the owner could have it back .
We had placed ten cassettes, which were in the car, under the front seat, and we told the newspapers this, because we thought the police might take them and say we stole them. Tuesday, we called Ta Nea and Eleftherotypia.]
The next day, the car was still there, so Thursday evening, we called the English journalist
Tonge , and the next day the police took the car.
[The police hid their inability, and did not want to confess that in looking for Fiats and Mercedes, they had failed to discover our car. Two or three days after our phone calls to the newspapers, they announced that they had discovered this Simca, but they said they were not sure it was used in the operation. They even said they left it as a trap, to see who would steal it! They never revealed our phone calls establishing that we were the
ones who had carried out the operation .]
We have described the operation in such detail only to show that there is no mystery at all. To show that everything was organized and done in a very simple way. To show that it was us who carried out this operation. The government, the press, and the political parties dare not say the truth-and this is the significance and the impact of the action on the population. They have preferred talking about “instigators” of the Junta, because they realized that their supporters and the common people approved of our action, even asking themselves why it had not been done earlier, in view of the enormous crimes committed by the CIA against the Greek people. And this was the logical and simple thing which people
had begun to think, before the newspapers began to “doubt.”
Director Pompeo Delivers Remarks at CSIS — CIA Website
Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Richard S. Welch — CIA Website
Philip Agee Sues Barbara Bush for Libel — D.Brandt Analysis
The murder that sparked Identities Protection Act — Chicago Tribune
Turning Against the CIA: Whistleblowers During the ‘Time of Troubles’ — Christopher Moran
CIA Richard Welch’s Assassination– Communiqué by the November 17 Revolutionary Organization