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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spy's Case Offers Rare Glimpse Inside CIA

A  highly decorated former CIA deep cover operative’s long quest to nail the spy agency for obliterating his career in retaliation for exposing the security violations of a senior agency official and her State Department husband gets a rare public hearing Friday.

“Peter B,” whose full name and former duties remain classified, contends that he lost his CIA job because he had learned about an affair that the husband of his supervisor, Margaret “Peggy” Lyons, was carrying on with a Taiwanese spy. 

Lyon’s husband, State Department Asia expert Donald Keyes, eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his affair with the Taiwan operative and the hoard of secret documents he kept at home.

But investigators also discovered that Lyons, too, had illegally carted home dozens classified CIA documents. 

“I believe that the work I was doing, and about to do, potentially risked exposure of the illegal activities of her husband and that defendant Lyons sought to eliminate me as a threat to her husband, and perhaps, to her own actions,” Peter B. told the court in a 2010 declaration.

After edging him out of the CIA to protect their activities, Peter B. maintains, Lyons and other unidentified agency officials blocked him from working for Abraxis, a McLean, Va. company founded by an ex-agency official that gins up deep cover schemes for CIA operatives.

Lyons, who was seconded to the office of DNI chief John D. Negroponte in 2005, is now a Senior Director at CENTRA Technology, Inc, a government security contractor. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Peter B., who was awarded three exceptional performance commendations by CIA Director George Tenet between 1999 and 2001, is demanding that the CIA restore his officer status and benefits and to have his case reviewed through due process.

On Friday, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Peter B.’s attorney Mark Zaid will argue against the CIA’s motion for dismissal and summary judgment.

"Peter was a dedicated CIA officer who was wronged in the days after 9/11 when his services and skills were most needed,” said Zaid, a Washington, D.C. attorney who specializes in national security cases. “In the dark shadow world he lived and worked in, this case presents his opportunity to effectively get his life back."

Along the way, the case may provide a rare peek into sensitive CIA-contractor relationships.

“The case not only involves highly classified activities but it also explores the outsourcing connections between a major defense contractor, Abraxis, and the CIA, as well as touches upon a former alleged espionage case,” Zaid said.

 For my earlier reporting on this case, see my Apr. 6, 2010 Washington Post SpyTalk column, here.