CIA’s pre-1972 Illegal Domestic Operations Declassified

[UPDATED 26 Jun: the full 702-pages of primary source materials, referred to below, were posted today on GWU’s National Security Archive. Download or keyword-search the files, HERE (24 meg, .pdf).  GWU’s summary of the documents is HERE, with links to brief/meaty selections.]

Thank “nature’s God” (or your own preference) each day you’re able to discuss and debate the merits of Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, and other matters du jour. Although I leave my own personal opinions out of many of these matters, the freedom to blog and debate is quintessentially the right of a free and democratic people–relish it. History, too, must inform our debates: Jefferson presciently believed that an educated electorate was the sine qua non of democracy. With that in mind, A.O. welcomes the yesterday’s revelations about CIA history.

In recognition of the need for “Government of, by, and for the People,” the Central Intelligence Agency will as soon as next week declassify materials revealing some 25 years of illegal domestic spying activities against Americans until official investigations and reforms took place in the 1970s. CIA Director General Michael Hayden made the announcement Thursday, 21 Jun 07, in a speech to a conference of foreign policy historians. For decades, the documents to be declassified had been sought under the Freedom of Information Act by Americans, but the requests had been rebuffed.

Related documents, already posted at D.C.’s George Washington University’s National Security Archive on June 21st, reveal a summarized list of the CIA’s activities, also known as “the Family Jewels,” which are variously in violation of the CIA charter and various laws:

  1. Thinking a Russian defector brought to the U.S. was a “fake,” the CIA “immediately confined” him in a house in Maryland and later in a Virginia “CIA facility” “for about two years,” interrogating him during the two-year confinement. Then CIA-director William Colby suggested to then deputy AG Lawrence Silberman that the confinement might have violated kidnapping laws;
  2. Wiretapping two syndicated columnists, having received approval by the CIA Director (and apparently no court);
  3. Physically surveilling columnist Jack Anderson and his staff, including now Fox-anchor Brit Hume, after the reporter penned a series of stories on the Administration’s “tilt toward Pakistan”;
  4. Physically surveilling a Washington Post reporter (Mike Getler),
  5. Breaking into (without a warrant) the home of a former CIA employee (in Fairfax, Virginia) to search for documents (and finding none) that the CIA employee may have taken with her;
  6. Breaking into (without a warrant) the home of an active CIA employee;
  7. CIA employees “talking themselves” (without a warrant) into and searching the home of an active CIA employee;
  8. CIA Counterintelligence Staff screening and opening mail to and from the Soviet Union as it passed through Kennedy Airport Mail Depot (1953-1973);
  9. Screening and opening mail to and from China as it went through San Francisco (1969-1972);
  10. Behavior modification studies on “unwitting” citizens–including studies on citizens as they walked down sidewalks, and also testing for citizens’ “reactions to certain drugs” (although it was uncertain whether this latter test was on “unwitting” citizens or not);
  11. Plotting assassination of various foreign leaders, including Fidel Castro;
  12. Covertly monitoring dissident groups both in D.C. and possibly elsewhere who were thought to pose a threat to CIA installations (1967-1971);
  13. Physically surveilling a Latin American female and U.S. citizens in Detroit;
  14. Physically surveilling a CIA critic and former officer;
  15. Amassing files on approximately 10,000 Americans related to the anti-war movement;
  16. Having state officials conduct polygraph experiments on job applicants to test the effectiveness of the polygraph for the CIA;
  17. Creating fake CIA identification documents that might violate state laws;
  18. Testing electronic equipment on U.S. telephone circuits.

More reporting at Washington Post and BBC.

Lime out



Filed under Criminal Law, Culture, Law, Politics

2 responses to “CIA’s pre-1972 Illegal Domestic Operations Declassified

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