New York Times reporter Barry Meier recently released a new book on CIA Operative Robert Levinson that highlights the efforts of Beggs & Lane attorney David McGee to secure his safe return to the United States. The book, entitled “Missing Man: The American Spy Who Vanished in Iran” was published in May of 2016, and was recently named by Time Magazine as one of the Best Books of 2016.
Levinson was a longtime FBI Agent who, after his retirement from the FBI, began doing contract work for the CIA. While working for the CIA, he was involved in a long list of high priority inquiries by the CIA. One of those inquiries involved corruption at the top level of the Iranian government. In furtherance of that investigation, he arranged a clandestine meeting with a confidential source in Iran. On March 9, 2007, while meeting with this source on Iranian soil, he disappeared. Subsequent evidence indicates he was seized by elements of the Iranian government.
Beggs & Lane attorney David McGee was an old friend of Bob Levinson. Dave knew Bob from his former days as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Dave learned of Bob’s disappearance one day later and along with Ira Silverman, another longtime friend of Bob, immediately began contacting agencies in the U.S. Government to notify them of his disappearance and to seek their help in securing his safe return home. Because Bob’s trip to Iran had not been properly authorized, the CIA initially denied their involvement in his mission. They also denied they had any connection whatsoever with Bob. In order to prove Bob’s connection to the CIA, they went through Bob’s s files and found documents connecting him to the CIA. While engaged in this investigation, Dave’s paralegal, Sonya Dobbs, managed to hack into the numerous emails through which the CIA communicated with Bob. Those emails, along with the documents from his office, demonstrated conclusively that Bob was working on a secret mission for the CIA at the time of his disappearance.
Dave and Ira brought this information to the Senate Intelligence Committee which began a series of secret hearings in which it became clear that the CIA was responsible for Bob’s disappearance. As a result, the CIA personnel responsible for Bob’s mission were fired and a criminal investigation was launched into their activities. Subsequently, CIA officials came to the Pensacola office of Beggs & Lane to report on their internal investigation and to offer an apology to the family. Dave McGee also obtained a substantial settlement from the CIA, on behalf of the family.
Dave, Ira and Sonya continued efforts to locate Bob and to return him to the USA and to his family. As a part of that effort, Dave and Ira flew to Cypress for a week to meet with Hezbollah, who at the time claimed to have Bob. Dave and Ira were aided by the CIA and the FBI on this trip. For several years afterwards there was little information about Bob’s whereabouts and condition. It was widely believed that Bob was dead. On November 13, 2010, a video was received from an unknown source in the Middle East; the video was in an obscure format and difficult to open. Ira forwarded the video to Sonya who managed to open the video. It contained a video recording of Bob. For the first time in 3 years it was apparent that Bob was alive.
Knowing then that Bob was alive, Dave, Ira, Sonya, along with Larry Sweeney, another old friend and former FBI Agent, continued almost daily efforts to get the U.S. to take the steps necessary to recover Bob. All of this was done in secret until ABC News, The Washington Post and The New York Times released stories detailing Bob’s disappearance. Those efforts continue to this day.
Since the release of the story by the AP, Washington Post and The New York Times, Dave has made several national television appearances on behalf of Bob’s family, and was recently interviewed locally by WEAR TV.