Friday, June 22, 2007

The CIA 'Family Jewels' To Be Released

The CIA will now release the legendary "family jewels" but they won't release their IG's report on the mistakes that led to 9/11.

Interesting timing, too.

The CIA will declassify hundreds of pages of long-secret records detailing some of the intelligence agency's worst illegal abuses -- the so-called "family jewels" documenting a quarter-century of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying, kidnapping and infiltration of leftist groups from the 1950s to the 1970s, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday.

The documents, to be publicly released next week, also include accounts of break-ins and theft, the agency's opening of private mail to and from China and the Soviet Union, wiretaps and surveillance of journalists, and a series of "unwitting" tests on U.S. civilians, including the use of drugs. ...

Most of the major incidents and operations in the reports to be released next week were revealed in varying detail during congressional investigations that led to widespread intelligence reforms and increased oversight. But the treasure-trove of CIA documents, generated as the Vietnam War wound down and agency involvement in Nixon's "dirty tricks" political campaign began to be revealed, is expected to provide far more comprehensive accounts, written by the agency itself.

The reports, known collectively by historians and CIA officials as the "family jewels," were initially produced in response to a 1973 request by then-CIA Director James R. Schlesinger. Alarmed by press accounts of CIA involvement in Watergate under his predecessor, Schlesinger asked the agency's employees to inform him of all operations that were "outside" the agency's legal charter. ...

Operations listed in the report began in 1953, when the CIA's counterintelligence staff started a 20-year program to screen and in some cases open mail between the United States and the Soviet Union passing through a New York airport. A similar program in San Francisco intercepted mail to and from China from 1969 to 1972. Under its charter, the CIA is prohibited from domestic operations. ...

Among several new details, the summary document reveals a 1969 program about CIA efforts against "the international activities of radicals and black militants." Undercover CIA agents were placed inside U.S. peace groups and sent abroad as credentialed members to identify any foreign contacts. This came at a time when the Soviet Union was suspected of financing and influencing U.S. domestic organizations. ...

CIA surveillance of Michael Getler, then The Washington Post's national security reporter, was conducted between October 1971 and April 1972 under direct authorization by then-Director Richard Helms, the memo said. Getler had written a story published on Oct. 18, 1971, sparked by what Colby called "an obvious intelligence leak," headlined "Soviet Subs Are Reported Cuba-Bound."

Getler, who is now the ombudsman for the Public Broadcasting Service, said yesterday that he learned of the surveillance in 1975, when The Post published an article based on a secret report by congressional investigators. The story said that the CIA used physical surveillance against "five Americans" and listed Getler, the late columnist Jack Anderson and Victor Marchetti, a former CIA employee who had just written a book critical of the agency.

"I never knew about it at the time, although it was a full 24 hours a day with teams of people following me, looking for my sources," Getler said. He said he went to see Colby afterward, with Washington lawyer Joseph Califano. Getler recalled, "Colby said it happened under Helms and apologized and said it wouldn't happen again."

Personal surveillance was conducted on Anderson and three of his staff members, including Brit Hume, now with Fox News, for two months in 1972 after Anderson wrote of the administration's "tilt toward Pakistan." The 1972 surveillance of Marchetti was carried out "to determine contacts with CIA employees," the summary said.

CIA monitoring and infiltration of antiwar dissident groups took place between 1967 and 1971 at a time when the public was turning against the Vietnam War. Agency officials "covertly monitored" groups in the Washington area "who were considered to pose a threat to CIA installations." Some of the information "might have been distributed to the FBI," the summary said. Other "skeletons" listed in the summary included:

  • The confinement by the CIA of a Russian defector [Nosenko], suspected by the CIA as a possible "fake," in Maryland and Virginia safe houses for two years, beginning in 1964. Colby speculated that this might be "a violation of the kidnapping laws."

  • The "very productive" 1963 wiretapping of two columnists -- Robert Allen and Paul Scott -- whose conversations included talks with 12 senators and six congressmen.

  • Break-ins by the CIA's office of security at the homes of one current and one former CIA official suspected of retaining classified documents.

  • CIA-funded testing of American citizens, "including reactions to certain drugs." [LSD]

Former Senate Intelligence Committee member Gary Hart said privately that the "family jewels" report contained many additional revelations of a more newsworthy nature than were made public in the mid-1970's. I will bet that none of these see the light of day in the upcoming declassification.


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