The secret is out - sort of.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura met with a group of Central Intelligence Agency officers in 1999 shortly after he was elected, he claims in his soon-to-be-released book "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me," co-written with author Dick Russell.
"There were 23 CIA agents waiting in a conference room for me. I counted," Ventura writes. "I got the gist of what they were after. All their questions centered around how we campaigned, how we achieved what we did, and did I think we truly could win from the start? In short, how had the independent wrestler candidate pulled this off?"
A CIA spokeswoman, who - as is the intelligence agency's custom - did not want to be identified by name, confirmed the meeting but not the rest of Ventura's statement.
"It was part of a training class apparently, so yes," said the spokeswoman. "I can't comment on the content of the meeting. I wasn't there. I can just say that yes, he did have this meeting, but it was part of a training exercise."
As to the number of agents in attendance: "Our population is actually classified," she said. "So we don't usually comment on numbers."
Ventura also writes in the book: "There is a CIA operative inside every state government. ... They are not in executive positions - in other words, not appointed by the governor - but are permanent state employees. Governors come and go, but they keep working - in a legitimate job with a dual identity. In Minnesota,
That claim the spokeswoman did not confirm.
"We are federal employees so that, I think, is a little bit off. We are federal employees; we are not anywhere near being state employees," she said.
For other excerpts from Ventura's book - to be publicly released in April - go to twincities.com/ci_7867383.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.