[The website Libya: News and Views contains an item (sourced to The Washington Post) dated 17 May 2000 that reads as follows:]
A new book published this week reveals that CIA officer Matt Gannon died aboard Pan Am Flight 103, a jumbo jet that was blown out of the sky in 1988 by, US officials believe, Libyan operatives in retaliation for US attacks on Libya in 1986. By coincidence, Gannon was the son-in-law of Thomas A Twetten, a top CIA official who helped plan the air strikes on Tripoli. Throughout the book, its author Ted Gup, a former Washington Post investigative reporter, describes how agency officials lied to family members about how their loved ones died to maintain "plausible deniability" and keep the CIA from being linked to controversial overseas missions.
[RB: I cannot find the article in question on The Washington Post’s website. But an article dated 15 May 2000 on the CBS News website contains the following:]
One of the 189 Americans killed when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, just before Christmas 1988 was a CIA officer, reports CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv.
A new book, by former Time correspondent Ted Gup, says 34-year-old Matthew Gannon, an Arabic-speaking CIA officer, was returning from an undercover mission in Beirut "to gather intelligence on a number of terrorist cells."
The Book Of Honor also reveals that Gannon's father-in-law, Tom Twetten, was director of covert operations at the CIA at the time who helped plan the airstrikes on Tripoli. It's believed the Pan Am bombing was in retaliation for those raids.
Now retired in Vermont, Twetten told CBS News he has assured himself the two Libyans on trial are the bombers — "the right guys" — but they probably didn't know a CIA operative was aboard the doomed jet.
And, until now, neither did Americans.
"The agency maintains that identifying its casualties, even decades later, would endanger foreign nationals who may have provided the CIA with intelligence," writes Gup, a former Washington Post investigative reporter who now teaches journalism at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "But the oft-invoked argument wears thinner and thinner as the years wear on and bereaved families are asked to bear their losses in continued silence."
Gup reports agency officials often lie to family members about how their loved ones died to maintain "plausible deniability" and keep the CIA from being linked to controversial overseas missions.