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Peregrine is the code-name and ubiquitous term for a suspected, and oft-rumored, double agent and mole during the early stages of the Cold War. Peregrine, while never successfully identified, is one of the five NATO "arch-traitors" that have allegedly worked with the Churat, sabotaged American or English intelligence efforts, or sold classified information to the French and their allies within the CIC bloc. Peregrine is possibly the most legendary, as he is the only one of the arch-traitors to never be identified, and rumors question whether or not the spy, whose fame has reached near-mythical status in popular culture, is even real.
Role in Cold War
Efforts to identify and expose Peregrine have been ongoing since the 1950's. In 1962, at the height of the Bomb Scare, President John Hoover claimed that Peregrine was the "single-greatest national security threat" to the nation.
In 1984, a CIA-KGB joint task force identified seven Americans, four of whom were known defectors and a fifth, Joseph R. Cirillo, who had been tried and convicted of treason in the 1970's, may have been Peregrine. Titled the "Peregrine Report," it was the first serious effort undertaken by the governments of either America or their close Alaskan ally to identify the mole. In 1987, a Churat defector codenamed Clark Kent after the comic book character apparently told CIA investigators that Cirillo was in fact Peregrine. Yet, only two years later, a defector from the French military's intelligence wing told the New York Times that it was an "in-joke" amongst officers in the service that Peregrine was in fact not real, and quite possibly a ruse invented by the Churat to fool the CIA.
In 2001, CIA Director Thomas Lanney said in an interview, "We've stopped looking for Peregrine. If he even was real, he was active fifty years ago. Nobody who was a senior NIC official in the 1950's is still working in the US government, and very few members of the NIC's leadership from that era is still alive." In 2005, a senior CIA official said, "We've caught plenty of traitors, I think Peregrine is one guy we can let go of fifty years later."
Even today, there are multiple potential suspects for the identity of Peregrine. The most cited include:
- Joseph Cirillo, an NIC field agent during the early 1950's who was an active channeler of funds to American-backed English guerrillas during the English Anarchy. Cirillo worked as a CIA liaison to the English government during the 1960's before returning to the United States. He was eventually caught selling embassy documents from the US embassy in Colombia to corrupt Colombian officials in 1973 and was convicted of treason in 1976, earning a life sentence, and he died in prison in 1985. Testimony from a Churat defector has identified him as Peregrine, but some CIA experts believe that alterior evidence is shaky.
Peregrine in popular culture
The mystery of the double agent Peregrine has elevated the possibly fictional person into high