CIA confirms Ventura meeting occurred
by Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
January 3, 2008
The St. Paul Pioneer Press offered a sneak peak Thursday Jesse Ventura's forthcoming book, Don't Start the Revolution Without Me. In one excerpt, Ventura describes a post-inaugural meeting with CIA agents. He also claims a CIA operative was on the state payroll. Even a Ventura confidant is questioning the account. But the surprising revelations are at least partially true.
St. Paul, Minn. — Shortly after taking office in 1999, Jesse Ventura writes he was asked to attend a meeting at the state Capitol. He says 23 CIA agents were waiting for him in a basement conference room.
Ventura's account of the meeting is detailed in an advance copy of his new book, which is scheduled for release in April. He claims the agents' questions focused how he campaigned for office, or as Ventura writes "how had the independent wrestler candidate pulled this off?"
Memories can fade after nine years, but a meeting with 23 CIA agents is something that might stand out. John Wodele, who served as Ventura's director of communications, said the meeting was news to him.
Turns out there actually was a Ventura meeting with the CIA in 1999. CIA Spokesman George Little confirmed the event today in a written statement, but he offered few details.
Little said that
Little shed less light on another revelation in Ventura's book. The former Independence Party governor says he was
In response to a question about Ventura's claim, Little wrote,
John Wodele said it would seem unusual that a CIA agent would be working in state government.
"If that did happen, I'm not aware of it," he said. "And I guess that would be that way it should be. I think the CIA is supposed to operate that way, where directors of communication are not made aware."
CIA operations primarily focus on the collection and analysis of information about foreign threats to the United States. Domestic matters fall into the jurisdiction of the FBI.
Former Republican U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger is questioning Ventura's claims. Durenberger, who spent eight years on the Senate intellegence committee, says he never heard of CIA operatives in state governments or agents grilling new governors.
CIA finances and personnel are classified. But Durenberger said he thinks the agency would be stretched to assign operatives to every state capitol and send 23 agents to attend the same meeting.
A spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty was not available to answer questions about the current administration's dealings with the CIA.