A former deep cover agent for the CIA may have to pay back his former employer for writing a book that was, by his own admission, "intensely critical" of the agency's "dysfunctional intelligence culture."
A Virginia judge ruled earlier this month that the officer, who wrote under the pseudonym Ishmael Jones, violated an agreement with the agency by publishing his book "The Human Factor" before the CIA had approved the final manuscript. In the book, Jones chronicles his two decades as a globe-trotting undercover spy and rails against what he calls systematic waste, fraud and abuse by CIA personnel.
Jones attempted to have the book approved in two versions, but the first was rejected and the second was only partially approved. Two years after he published the book without approval, the CIA sued. Jones' attorney, Laurin Mills, told ABC News today he argued that it was clear the agency was "horsing him around."
"We argued that the CIA had breached [the agreement] first" when they dragged their feet in approving the manuscript, Mills said. "The judge said 'Nice try,' but he wasn't going to let us assert our prior breach defense."
Instead, the judge said that if Jones had an issue with the way the agency was handling his novel, he should have taken it to court rather than publishing outright without the agency's permission, according to Mills' account. The decision in the civil case came down June 20 after a hearing on June 15.
"We're fighting the good fight," Jones said in an email to his supporters before the judgment. "Our constructive criticism of the CIA over the last three years has paid off in improvements in clandestine programs and in tighter financial discipline, but there's a long way to go."
He did not immediately respond to request for comment on this report. George Little, spokesperson for the CIA, told Politico.com of the case, "Former agency officers are well aware of their lifelong obligation to protect classified information, and that includes submitting written materials on intelligence matters for pre-publication review."
Jones has previously told ABC News no classified information was revealed in his book. "I think it's a simple case of going after a whistle-blower who is trying to expose government waste and fraud," said Jones in an email when the CIA initially filed their suit.
"The Human Factor" went largely unnoticed when it was published in July 2008, but within hours of the CIA's lawsuit in October 2010, the book vaulted up in Amazon.com's rankings.
The case against Jones is technically still open while Mills determines how Jones will compensate the agency for the breach.