Haig v. Agee

LOCATION: U.S. Department of State

DOCKET NO.: 80-83
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 453 US 280 (1981)
ARGUED: Jan 14, 1981
DECIDED: Jun 29, 1981

Melvin L. Wulf - Argued the cause for the respondent
Wade H. McCree, Jr. - on behalf of the petitioner -- rebuttal

Facts of the case

In 1974, Philip Agee, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, announced a campaign "to fight the United States CIA wherever it is operating." Over the next several years, Agee successfully exposed a number of CIA agents and sources working in other countries. When Secretary of State Alexander Haig revoked Agee's passport, Agee filed suit claiming that Haig did not have congressional authorization to do so. Agee also claimed that the action violated his right to travel, his First Amendment right to criticize the government, and his Fifth Amendment Due Process rights.


Did the President, acting through the Secretary of State, have the constitutional authority to revoke the passport?

Media for Haig v. Agee

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 14, 1981 in Haig v. Agee

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Muskie v. Agee.

Mr. Solicitor General, I think you may proceed when you are ready.

Wade H. McCree, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case presents the question whether the President of the United States acting through the Secretary of State has the authority to revoke the passport of an American citizen whose international travel activities concededly have caused and will continue to cause serious damage to the national security and to the foreign policy of the United States.

The jurisdiction of this Court is found in 28 U.S.C. 2254(1), and the facts that give rise to this controversy may be succinctly stated.

For 11 years, from 1957 until 1968, respondent, an American citizen, was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency in the course of which employment he took an oath which this Court considered in Snepp recently, not to divulge, except upon prior approval, any information gained in the course of his employment.

During the course of his employment he became acquainted with the techniques of intelligence gathering of the Central Intelligence Agency, and learned the identities of many covert operatives who were employed by or utilized by that agency.

Many of these persons are still employed abroad by the agency.

In 1974 respondent publicly announced his intention to disrupt and to destroy the Central Intelligence Agency.

I'd like to direct the Court's attention to Footnote 2 on page 3 of our brief in which, in an extraordinary press release in London on October 3, 1974, he said... and I'll just mention the first paragraph:

"Today I announced a new campaign to fight the United States CIA wherever it is operating. "

"This campaign will have two main functions: First, to expose CIA officers and agents and to take the measures necessary to drive them out of the countries where they are operating; secondly, to seek within the United States to have the CIA abolished. "

Is that in the record?

Wade H. McCree, Jr.:

It's in an affidavit that was filed with cross-motions for summary judgment in the district court.

Byron R. White:

And not controverted?

Wade H. McCree, Jr.:

And not controverted.

Potter Stewart:

So it is in the record.

William H. Rehnquist:

General McCree, when was the respondent issued his passport?

Wade H. McCree, Jr.:

I believe his passport... I can't answer that precisely without reference to the record, but his passport was issued, I believe, before he terminated his employment, which would be 1968, because... I'm not certain.

William H. Rehnquist:

Before the issuance of the press release?

Wade H. McCree, Jr.:

Before the issuance of the press release.

But I can't tell you specifically, Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

I can furnish that if it becomes relevant.

The respondent has traveled abroad extensively from his current residence in the Federal Republic of Germany, and is purported to identify CIA agents, employees, and sources in several countries.

These activities have resulted in a number of understandable consequences, including his exclusion from four West European countries because of these activities.

On one occasion his coauthor of a book in Kingston, Jamaica, identified 15 reported CIA agents whose homes... the homes of two of which were violently attacked by armed men subsequent to the disclosure.

William H. Rehnquist:

General McCree, may I ask you this question, which perhaps I ought to know the answer to but don't.

What is the purpose of a passport?

It's been my own experience in the couple of times I've been abroad other than in the Army that you don't need a passport to get out of this country.

Wade H. McCree, Jr.:

A passport is currently required both to enter and to leave the United States under an Act of Congress in 1978, unless the President provides otherwise by rule.