SECRETS  The CIA's War at Home

a book By Angus Mackenzie

The CIA and the Origins of the Freedom of Information Act
The Cover-up Begins,
You Expose Us-We Spy on You
CIA Censors Books,
Bush Perfects the Cover-up
Hiding Political Spying
One Man Says No
Control of Information
CIA Openness Task Force
Epilogue: The Cold War Ends and Secrecy Spreads,
Targets of Domestic Spying

The CIA and the Origins of the Freedom of Information Act

Congressman Clare E. Hoffman's first reaction to the National Security Act of I947 was exceedingly positive. Indeed, Hoffman, a conservative Michigan Republican who chaired the House Committee on Government Operations, agreed to introduce the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The surprise Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in I94I had profoundly shaken American intelligence officials, and it was generally agreed that the absence of a centralized intelligence authority was at least partly to blame. Once the war was over, Army Major General Lauris Norstad and Navy Vice Admiral Forrest Sherman laid out a plan for the consolidation of command and intelligence. The Joint Chiefs of Staff would oversee military planning at the Pentagon; a National Security Council would coordinate the conduct of foreign affairs and national security matters at the White House; and, most important, a Central Intelligence Agency, independent of both the Pentagon and the White House, would function as a neutral repository of military intelligence.

Norstad and Sherman's plan was incorporated in the National Security Act, and with Hoffman's support it was expected to sail smoothly through Congress. The more Hoffman studied the legislation, however, the more it troubled him. The proposed CIA was to advise the National Security Council in matters concerning intelligence, to make recommendations for the coordination of spying, to disseminate intelligence, and to perform "other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct." Hoffman feared this open-ended authority.

Hoffman's concerns were shared by a fellow Midwestern conservative Republican, Clarence J. Brown of Ohio, who also worried about the seemingly unlimited power of the proposed director of Central Intelligence. In open hearings, Brown confronted Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, a key advocate of the plan. "I am not sure that I want to trust, unless it is just absolutely necessary, any one individual or any one group with all-out power over citizens of the United States," Brown remarked. "How far does this central intelligence agency go in its authority and scope?" He posed a hypothetical question: "Should [the CIA director] decide he wants to go into my income tax reports, I presume he could do so, could he not?"

"No, I do not assume he could," Forrestal replied.

Brown pressed on. "I am not interested in setting up here, in the United States, any particular central policy agency under any president, and I do not care what his name may be, and just allowing him to have a Gestapo of his own if he wants to have it." Forrestal argued that the CIA's authority would be "limited definitely to purposes outside this country." But when asked a key question-"Is that stated in the law?"-Forrestal was stymied: "It is not; no sir."

Without protections for domestic liberties written into the law, it was easy to imagine any number of situations in which the power of the proposed CIA or its director could go unchecked: the president could use the CIA to spy on Congress, could secretly manipulate elections, or could undermine political opponents. The greatest danger was that, once created, the CIA would be hard to contain. Should Congress try in the future to legislate a change, the president could veto such legislation and attack members of Congress for being weak on national security. Hoffman said, "If we are going to fix anything we had better do it now before we turn over any blanket authority to anyone because we can never get it back."

Admiral Sherman suggested a compromise. The CIA would not have "police, law enforcement, or internal security functions," and it would be prohibited from "investigations inside the continental limits of the United States and its possessions." Once this bargain was struck, most opposition to the CIA faded away. Little attention was given to a seemingly innocuous sentence buried in the proposal: "The Director of Central Intelligence shall be responsible for protecting sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure."

Almost no one foresaw the sweeping secrecy powers that would emanate from those few words. Almost no one had a hint that these words would be taken by courts, twenty-five years later, as congressional authorization for peacetime censorship in a nation that had been free of such censorship for nearly two hundred years. Almost no one, that is, except Hoffman, who had become convinced that the new CIA was anathema to a democracy. Although he had introduced the bill in the House, Hoffman at the end was speaking sharply but unsuccessfully against it-virtually a solitary voice in the wilderness.

In the decades that followed the passage of the I947 National Security Act, the CIA would become increasingly involved in domestic politics, abridging the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and press; it would spy on law-abiding American dissidents, tell the Internal Revenue Service to investigate political "enemies" of the Agency, and attempt to silence news reporters and news publications in order to keep the American public from learning that the I947 law was being systematically violated. Moreover, more than four million employees and contractors of the United States government would be prevented from disclosing matters of wrongdoing, large or small, because the I947 act would be interpreted as an endorsement of widespread censorship.

In I954 Congressman John Emerson Moss, a Democrat from California, tried to find out if supervisors at federal agencies were using allegations of security violations as an excuse to fire federal employees who were not well liked or who had contrary political views. Moss wrote to the Civil Service Commission, asking for a review of dozens of firings, but he was not afforded even the courtesy of a reply. "No response, no letter, no nothing," he said. Moss realized that certain members of the executive branch had little more than contempt for congressional prerogatives. His response was to introduce the Freedom of Information Act, known as the FOIA. The FOIA was designed as a legal means of access for members of Congress, as well as for citizens at large, to obtain a wide array of documentary information from inside the executive branch.

At earlier times in American history not only would the FOIA have been enacted as a matter of course by Congress, it would have been perceived as part of mainstream political tradition. The American government's dedication to a policy of openness had been one of its hallmarks since the War of Independence. In the panic and self-doubt that followed the catastrophe at Pearl Harbor, however, a different attitude had begun to prevail in the corridors of government. During World War II new regulations were instituted, imposing an unprecedented regime of secrecy in Washington, and with the onset of the cold war many high-ranking government officials believed that the wartime rules should continue in force.

As the Eisenhower administration gave way to the Kennedy administration and in turn to the Johnson administration, Moss still did not have enough votes in Congress for his bill to pass. Even though by no stretch of the imagination would the FOIA have caused the release of legitimate secrets-plans for nuclear weaponry, for instance, or private communiqués between heads of state-it was construed as a threat by a new school of political thought. For the first time in American history, the combined wisdom of official Washington leaned toward advocating secrecy and restricting openness as much as possible. This school of thought, which had been codified in the I947 National Security Act, ran counter to the very foundation of American democracy, and yet in the atmosphere of the cold war it passed for patriotism.

In I966 Moss achieved a political breakthrough, and the FOIA became law. The essential conflict, however, was far from resolved. In fact, the conflict was merely formalized. The Freedom of Information Act's requirements of openness placed it on a collision course with the National Security Act and its provisions for secrecy. For the next three decades there would be a series of confrontations between those devoted to reducing governmental secrecy and those bent on adding more layers to it.

The Cover-up Begins

Late at night at the watering holes of American intelligence agents, the mention of Stanley K. Sheinbaum's name can still arouse a muttering of anger. Sheinbaum was the first person to go public with his experience of CIA activity in the United States--a story about the Agency's infiltration of a legitimate civilian institution. Sheinbaum so embarrassed senior officials of the CIA that they set in motion an elaborate internal operation intended to prevent anyone else from ever doing what he had done.

Sheinbaum's connection with the CIA began in the 1950s, a period when security officers at the rapidly expanding Agency were sometimes overworked. On occasion they neglected to ask someone to sign a secrecy contract, which was normally a prerequisite of employment. Once signed, it committed a CIA agent to complete secrecy, beginning with the first day on the job and continuing until death. But Sheinbaum's association with the CIA was indirect, through a university that turned out to be working under contract with the Agency. He was never a CIA employee and, as far as he can remember, was never asked to sign a secrecy agreement. During his days as a doctoral student at Stanford University and as a Fulbright fellow in Paris, Sheinbaum developed a strong interest in helping the economies of underdeveloped nations expand. When his Fulbright ran out in the summer of 1995, he landed a position at Michigan State University, working on a $25 million government project to advise South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. By 1957, Sheinbaum was coordinator of the project.

His new responsibilities included inspecting work in Vietnam. Before he went on a trip there in 1957, university officials told him about the general CIA connection; once there, Vietnamese officials informed him that his project staff included CIA officers. The revelation bothered him. He thought it inappropriate that he and other legitimate academic advisers were being used as cover for U.S. government manipulation. Sheinbaum left Vietnam feeling that his work and his program had been compromised. Upon his return to the United States, he was further entangled when he was called upon to meet with four top South Vietnamese officials in San Francisco. "Within an hour of their arrival," Sheinbaum later recalled, "the youngest, a nephew of Ngo Dinh Diem, conspiratorially drew me aside and informed me that one of the others was going to kill the eldest of the group." While taking steps to thwart the plot, Sheinbaum realized that his original goal, the economic improvement of impoverished nations, was getting lost in his administrative work as coordinator. His growing dismay--at what he later called the "unhealthy" CIA component and the general U.S. policy ... in Vietnam"--led him to resign from the project in 1959.

By this stage, however, Sheinbaum had information that was confidential. Following the buildup of U.S. troops in Vietnam and the assassination of Diem, Sheinbaum decided it was his patriotic duty to publicize information that he hoped might put the brakes on U.S. involvement. Writing about the connections between Michigan State University, the CIA, and the Saigon police (with the help of Robert Scheer, a young investigative reporter), the Sheinbaum story was to appear in the June 1966 issue of Ramparts magazine. The article disposed that Michigan State University had been secretly used by the CIA to train Saigon police and to keep an inventory of ammunition for grenade launchers, Browning automatic rifles, and .50 caliber machine guns, as well as to write the South Vietnamese constitution. The problem, in Sheinbaum's view, was that such secret funding of academics to execute government programs undercut scholarly integrity. When scholars are forced into a conflict of interest, he wrote, "where is the source of serious intellectual criticism that would help us avoid future Vietnams?"

Word of Sheinbaum's forthcoming article caused consternation on the seventh floor of CIA headquarters. On April 18, 1966, Director of Central Intelligence William F. Raborn Jr. notified his director of security that he wanted a "run down" on Ramparts magazine on a "high priority basis." This strongly worded order would prove to be a turning point for the Agency. To "run down" a domestic news publication because it had exposed questionable practices of the CIA was clearly in violation of the 1947 National Security Act's prohibition on domestic operations and meant the CIA eventually would have to engage in a cover-up. The CIA director of security, Howard J. Osborn, was also told: "The Director [Raborn] is particularly interested in the authors of the article, namely, Stanley Sheinbaum and Robert Scheer. He is also interested in any other individuals who worked for the magazine."

Osborn's deputies had just two days to prepare a special briefing on Ramparts for the director. By searching existing CIA files they were able to assemble dossiers on approximately twenty-two of the fifty-five Ramparts writers and editors, which itself indicates the Agency's penchant for collecting information on American critics of government policies. Osborn was able to tell Raborn that Ramparts had grown from a Catholic lay journal into a publication with a staff of more than fifty people in New York, Paris, and Munich, including two active members of the U.S. Communist Party. The most outspoken of the CIA critics at the magazine was not a Communist but a former Green Beret veteran, Donald Duncan. Duncan had written, according to then CIA Deputy Director Richard Helms, "We will continue to be in danger as long as the CIA is deciding policy and manipulating nations." Of immediate concern to Raborn, however, was Osborn's finding that Sheinbaum was in the process of exposing more CIA domestic organizations. The investigation of Ramparts was to be intensified, Raborn told Osborn.

At the same time, Helms passed information to President Lyndon Johnson's aide, William D. Moyers, about the plans of two Ramparts editors to run for Congress on an antiwar platform. Within days, the CIA had progressed from investigating a news publication to sending domestic political intelligence to the White House, just as a few members of Congress had feared nineteen years earlier.

Upon publication, Sheinbaum's article triggered a storm of protests from academicians and legislators across the country who saw the CIA's infiltration of a college campus as a threat to academic freedom. The outcry grew so loud that President Johnson felt he had to make a reassuring public statement and establish a task force to review any government activities that might endanger the integrity of the educational community. The task force was a collection of political statesmen--such as Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John Gardner--but also included Richard Helms, the CIA official who himself had been dealing in political espionage. The purpose of the task force, it soon became clear, was to forestall further embarrassment and preclude any congressional investigation of CIA operations. Helms, furthermore, organized an internal task force of directorate chiefs to examine all CIA relationships with academic institutions but that review, from all appearances, was designed only to ensure that these operations remained secret.

Meanwhile, CIA officers spent April and May of 1966 identifying the source of Ramparts's money. Their target was executive editor Warren Hinckle, the magazine's chief fund-raiser and a man easy to track. He wore a black patch over one eye and made no secret of the difficult state of the magazine's finances as he continually begged a network of rich donors for operating funds. The agents also reported that Hinckle had launched a $2.5 million lawsuit against Alabama Governor George Wallace for calling the magazine pro-Communist (information that Osborn dutifully passed on to Raborn). The real point of the CIA investigation, however, was to place Ramparts reporters under such dose surveillance that any CIA officials involved in domestic operations would have time to rehearse cover stories before the reporters arrived to question them.

Next, Raborn broadened the scope of his investigation of Ramparts's staff by recruiting help from other agencies. On June 16, 1966, he ordered Osborn to "urge" the FBI to "investigate these people as a subversive unit." Osborn forwarded this request to the FBI, expressing the CIA's interest in anything the FBI might develop "of a derogatory nature." One CIA officer, who later inspected the CIA file of the Ramparts investigation, said that the Agency was trying to find a way of shutting down the magazine that would stand up in court, notwithstanding the constraints of the First Amendment.


In January 1967, in the dining room of the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, Hinckle met Michael Wood, a former employee of a CIA contractor like Sheinbaum. Wood, twenty-four years old, was nervous. A Pomona College dropout, he had been a fund-raiser for the National Student Association, whose representatives attended a variety of international meetings on behalf of three million American college students. In the course of his work, Wood learned that money for the student association was coming from the CIA Covert Action Division No. Five. The CIA was funding the association in order to counter the Moscow-dominated student groups around the world and to assist with recruiting foreign students. Having financed a large segment of the association's budget, the CIA had effectively made agents out of many of the association's senior officers. Wood told Hinckle that the CIA had required most officers of the student association to sign secrecy oaths, leading the students to believe they would be imprisoned if they violated the oath. Wood was one of the very few students who both knew about the CIA connection and had not signed a secrecy contract. He had in his possession copies of the association's financial records, which he turned over to Hinckle.

Hinckle was wary. "Wood's story was not one calculated to instill faith in the skeptic," he wrote later. Hinckle told his reporters to check Wood's story. They found that several years earlier, Texas Congressman Wright Patman had openly identified eight philanthropic foundations serving as undercover financial conduits for the CIA. Obtaining publicly available IRS records on the tax-exempt foundations, Hinckle's reporters cross-referenced them with the financial records that Wood had provided. To their astonishment, they discovered that the foundations named by Congressman Patman had funded the National Student Association. Wood was telling the truth. Hinckle could scarcely believe the CIA's poor spycraft: even after the CIA conduits had been exposed, the Agency had continued to use them. The Ramparts reporters soon ran into obstacles, however. "The CIA knew we were onto their game before we had time to discover what it really was. Doors slammed in the faces of our inquiring reporters.... The blank walls were impressive," Hinckle recalled.

Meanwhile, President Johnson had replaced Raborn as CIA director with Helms, who immediately made a crucial decision. He transferred responsibility for the Ramparts operation away from Osborn to a key CIA operative whose identity would not be known for years. Richard Ober's name is curiously absent from indexes of books about political spying of his era. Ober managed to keep in the shadows--a force behind the scenes, a man careful to say nothing that would reveal his true role. Few of his associates would even admit to knowing him. It was a breach of the code when one associate gave me a rough description of Ober as a big man with reddish skin and hair.

Ober was a counterintelligence specialist in the Directorate of Plans, sometimes known as the dirty tricks department. He had joined the Agency in 1948 and had a background that CIA directors trusted--Harvard class of 1943, army experience, graduate study in international affairs at Columbia University. At the CIA, Ober had completed two tours of duty abroad, returning to run clandestine operations from a desk and to study at the National War College before becoming the elite of the elite: a counterintelligence officer. Ober and his fellow counterintelligence agents worked in isolation from the rest of the Agency, in the most secret of the Agency's secret compartments. Counterintelligence involves destroying the effectiveness of foreign intelligence services and protecting one's own spies from exposure and subversion. During the 1950s and early 1960s counterintelligence had been widely expanded to all manner of internal police jobs, which now included stopping American publications from printing articles about questionable CIA operations.

As Ober studied the legal options for getting the courts to prevent Ramparts from printing a story about the National Student Association, he found that none existed. There simply was no legal precedent for stopping publication. Instead a decision was reached to try to achieve "damage control." A press conference was planned before Ramparts was due to break the story. Leaders of the National Student Association were to admit to their CIA relationship and were to say it had been ended at their insistence. The plan was to steal the thunder from the Ramparts story, limiting its impact by making it old news.

However, Hinckle discovered the plan before the press conference could be held. "I was damned if I was going to let the CIA scoop me," recalled Hinckle. "I bought full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Washington Post to scoop myself, which seemed the preferable alternative." Hinckle's ad read, "In its March issue, Ramparts magazine will document how the CIA has infiltrated and subverted the world of American student leaders over the past fifteen years." On February 13, 1967, the day before Hinckle's advertisements appeared, the news that they were forthcoming panicked the CIA, the State Department, and the White House. The acting secretary of state drafted a secret memorandum for President Johnson suggesting a Plan B for handling this fiasco. The State Department, making a "bare bones" admission, would claim that the student operation was "tapering off" and would soon come to a complete halt.

Even as the fallback plan was being developed, a new surprise was in the works. Although CIA officers had already told the students not to talk, one of the student leaders confirmed to reporters the accuracy of the Ramparts allegations. Hinckle was astounded yet again: "It is a rare thing in this business when you say bang and somebody says I'm dead."

In short order, eight influential congressmen--California Democrats George E. Brown Jr., Phillip Burton, and Don Edwards, plus Democrats John G. Dow, Benjamin S. Rosenthal, and William F. Ryan of New York, Robert W. Kastenmeier of Wisconsin, and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan--signed a letter of protest to President Johnson. It arrived at the White House the same evening the Ramparts advertisements were printed. "We were appalled to learn today that the Central Intelligence Agency has been subsidizing the National Student Association for more than a decade," the letter said. "It represents an unconscionable extension of power by an agency of government over institutions outside its jurisdiction. This disclosure leads us and many others here and abroad to believe that the CIA can be as much a threat to American as to foreign democratic institutions."

The day after the ads appeared, the IRS acted on a request from the CIA by providing copies of Ramparts's tax returns to Ober. It turned out that the IRS had audited the magazine's corporate returns, as well as the personal returns of publisher Edward Keating, for the tax years 1960-64. Keating, a philanthropist in the 70 percent tax bracket, had been deducting the magazine's annual deficit from his personal taxes. A CIA officer analyzed the tax data and noticed an apparent discrepancy overlooked by the IRS. While Keating was claiming all of the losses, which were in the range of $450,000 a year, five others, including Hinckle, also owned stock in the magazine. The IRS advised the CIA it intended to check out this discrepancy. Ober by now had a fairly clear picture of the financial situation at Ramparts. One of Ober's men had filed the following report: "Keating's wife, the former Helen English, had a substantial personal estate (derived from family interests in U.S. Gypsum) from which came the capital funds which provided the wherewithal for the operations of Ramparts. They have been liquidating this estate steadily over the years and by 1965, it was completely gone. Examination of bank statements and capital transactions confirmed this source of funds."

The bad news for Ober was that none of his men could turn up any foreign funding of Ramparts. Without any evidence of foreign influence over the magazine, Ober was legally barred by the 1947 National Security Act from further pursuit of the Ramparts staff. Instead of halting the operation against Ramparts, however, Ober went on the offensive. On the same day he got the IRS tax data on Ramparts, Ober circulated a memo discussing "certain operational recommendations." While the CIA continues to withhold the full story of what Ober had in mind, this much has been discovered: news stories meant to discredit Ramparts were to be planted. CIA officer Louis Dube would later admit, somewhat cryptically, that Ober's operational recommendations involved "articles that would appear in other media." In fact, Ober planned a propaganda campaign against Ramparts.

Ten days later, the campaign began. A story presumably planted by the CIA was widely syndicated in newspapers such as the Washington Star. The story was written by Carl Rowan, former director of the United States Information Agency. Now a national columnist, Rowan implied that Ramparts's exposes were Communist-inspired:

A few days ago a brief, cryptic report out of Prague, Czechoslovakia, was passed among a handful of top officials in Washington. It said that an editor of Ramparts magazine had come to Prague and held a long, secret session with officers of the Communist-controlled International Union of Students.
Ramparts is the magazine that exposed the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency has been financing the National Student Association, which in turn has worked for several years to prevent the International Union of Students from dominating the youth of the world.

The Prague report aroused deep suspicions here among officials who are privately shocked and dismayed at the damage to the CIA and to U.S. foreign policy interests caused by the needless series of busted intelligence "covers" that has resulted from the Ramparts expose.

What, if any, relationship does Ramparts have to the IUS?

At Langley, a CIA officer summarized Rowan's article in a memo. That memo is still secret. To release it, the CIA contends, would reveal a CIA "method." Rowan refused to discuss the matter at the time.

On March 4, 1967, Richard Ober got a report from a person who attended a Ramparts staff meeting at which magazine reporters had discussed their interviews of high executive branch government officials and their attempts to meet with White House staff members. Now Ober knew who was saying what to whom. Three days later, Ober's task force found out that a Ramparts reporter was going to interview a CIA "asset": that is, someone under CIA control. In preparation, CIA officers told the asset how to handle the reporter, and after the interview the asset reported back to the CIA.

On March 16, two of Ober's men drove from CIA headquarters to a nearby airport to pick up a CIA agent who was a good friend of a Ramparts reporter. They went to a hotel, where the CIA agent was debriefed. Then the agent and his case officers reviewed his cover story, which he went on to tell his Ramparts contact as a means of obtaining more information. During the same period Ober was trying to recruit five former Ramparts employees as informants. "Maybe they were unhappy," a CIA agent would later explain. On April 4, Ober completed a status report on his Ramparts task force. His men had identified and investigated 127 Ramparts writers and researchers, as well as nearly 200 other American civilians with some link to the magazine.

Three more CIA officers joined Ober's team, bringing to twelve the number of full-time or part-time officers coordinating intelligence and operations on Ramparts at the headquarters level. On April 5, 1967, the task force completed its tentative assessment and recommendations, setting forth future actions--which, the CIA was still insisting in 1994, cannot be released under the Freedom of Information Act. CIA officer Louis Dube described the recommendations as "heady shit" but refused to be more specific.

It is known that Ober became fascinated with Ramparts advertisers. "One of our officers was in contact with a source who provided us with information about Ramparts's advertising," Dube admitted. On April 28, a CIA analyst working for Ober tried to learn if the CIA had any friends who might have influence with Ramparts advertisers, apparently with the intention of getting them to drop their accounts.


Richard Ober, acutely aware that the scandals exposed by Ramparts were symptoms of a leaky secrecy system, took pains to protect his own operation from similar leaks. Indeed, Ober knew that any publicity about his work would generate a much bigger scandal. The twelve men working with him on the operation were his primary concern. Even though he expected them to maintain their silence, he reinforced this expectation by relying heavily on secrecy contracts. In secret testimony Ober would later explain, "Those [secrecy] agreements were signed by everybody exposed to my project at headquarters."
Eventually, the failure to have Michael Wood sign a secrecy agreement meant the CIA had to sever its ties to the National Student Association. The instrument of this divorce was a settlement drafted by the CIA chief counsel. On August 11, 1967, the CIA signed over to the student association the title to a building at 2115 and 2117 S Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., which the CIA had owned. However, the building was heavily mortgaged, and after the CIA stopped paying the debt, the payments bled the student treasury for many years. The National Student Association changed its name to the United States Student Association but never fully recovered its reputation. American students, unlike their European counterparts, are for the most part still without an effective organization to lobby their national legislature, the Congress.

You Expose Us, We Spy on You

In response to President Johnson's rising anxiety about Vietnam, CIA interest in the dissident press dramatically expanded in the summer of I967. In July, Director Helms appointed Thomas H. Karamessines, an admirer of Helms, one of four deputy directors in the Agency. As deputy director of operations, Karamessines was in charge of all espionage, counterespionage, and covert action worldwide-including, of course, such activities within the United States.

Karamessines's twenty-three years in the CIA had included, most recently, the top job in foreign intelligence. He began as a desk officer in Greece at the end of World War II, when Greece was a focal point in the developing cold war. He did similar duty in Vienna and Rome, attended the prestigious National War College in the mid-I950s, and later was deeply involved in often deadly operations to bring down nationalist leaders such as Salvador Allende, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and Patrice Lumumba.

Less than a month after Karamessines was promoted, he started an operation to handle the antiwar press. The new campaign was evidently sprung on August 4, I967, when a "telegram [went out] to a great many field stations talking about high level interest in this activity," according to Richard Ober, in testimony before the Rockefeller Commission years later. The new operation, called Special Operations Group (SOG), was to be part of counterintelligence, and as such in the domain of the counterintelligence chief, James Jesus Angleton, then working under Karamessines. When Angleton learned of the new group, he was also given the names of two candidates to head it. He chose Ober.

On or about August I,, Angleton called a small meeting to announce Ober's new title and responsibilities. Ober's job was to coordinate SOG and expand his Ramparts investigation to encompass the entire antiwar underground press, numbering some five hundred newspapers. He was to use the same plausible denial-"foreign funding"-that was used to justify the Ramparts operation. The special operation was later designated MHCHAOS: "MH" for the worldwide area of operations, "CHAOS" for, well, chaos. The Ramparts Task Force had been "high priority." MHCHAOS was above that: "operational priority in the field is in the highest category, ranking with Soviet and Chinese" operations. In twenty years, from I947 to I967, the CIA had moved from forswearing internal security functions to assigning domestic political espionage the highest level of priority.

The underground press was the spinal column of the antiwar movement. In California, Max Scheer had founded the Berkeley Bar/o on Friday, August I3, I965. The front page of the Barb's first issue had a report on antiwar demonstrators attempting to stop a troop train carrying soldiers to a deployment point for Vietnam. Subsequent issues contained regular reports from the front lines of the movement. Barb's staffers left their offices on Friday afternoons to hawk papers on street corners. Circulation grew to 85,000 copies a week. In Washington, D.C., the Washington Free Press distributed antiwar polemics on the streets outside the White House and the State Department. One of the Free Press editors was Frank Speltz, a white student at predominantly black Howard University. He had started the paper as a newsletter meant to carry civil rights news to nearby white campuses, but he then broadened its focus to include reporting on antiwar demonstrations. In Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, and New York, similar papers sold for twenty-five cents a copy. By I967, there were hundreds of antiwar, counterculture newspapers-some of them in towns as small as Grinnell, Iowa, and Lubbock, Texas. They had their own news service, the equivalent of an underground Associated Press. Their combined circulation would peak at seven million a month. In conjunction with the campus press, the underground press was a mighty antiwar propaganda machine.

The CIA was not alone in its mission. Ober coordinated efforts with agents of the army, the local police, and the FBI. At the U.S. Army Intelligence Command, Ralph Stein was assigned to a similar underground newspaper desk. Stein soon figured out that antiwar publications were being financed by change collected on the street, not by the KGB or the Chinese secret service. When Stein was called from his office to brief Ober's team at CIA headquarters, he was shocked to find that the CIA officers had knowledge about the lives of underground editors so intimate that it could only have come from infiltrators. Concerned that Ober's task force was operating in violation of the I947 National Security Act, Stein returned to his office and registered an official objection with his commanders. The next thing he knew, he had been relieved of his liaison duties with the CIA.

In some respects Ober was a fugitive within his own agency, but the very illegality of MHCHAOS gave him power. Because he had been ordered to carry out an illegal mission, he had certain leverage over his bosses, as long as he kept his operation secret. Indeed, he had leverage over not only Karamessines but also CIA Director Helms, as well as anyone at the White House and the National Security Council who received his domestic intelligence reports. In time these would include Henry Kissinger and Nixon's counsel, John Dean. Ober was a man walking on the edge of a razor. As long as everything remained secret, he was not only safe but powerful: he had the ear of presidents.

With Richard Nixon in the White House, the demands on Ober for more political espionage became louder and clearer. Ober's sixty agents became the Nixon administration's primary source of intelligence about the antiwar leadership.


CIA Censors Books,

Bush Perfects the Cover-up
In March 1972, a typescript of an article and a related book proposal were purloined by a CIA agent from a New York publisher and forwarded to Langley. For Richard Ober, the manuscript was right out of a bad dream. A former senior CIA official, Victor Marchetti, was planning to write a book exposing CIA deceptions. Marchetti had been the executive assistant to the deputy director of Central Intelligence and had attended regular planning and intelligence meetings attended by Richard Helms. He had also been a courier for the Agency group that approves covert operations. The most carefully guarded CIA information was called Sensitive Compartmented Information, or SCI, and was distributed to officials strictly on a need-to-know basis. But his position had allowed Marchetti an overview of the Agency purposely denied to most CIA officers.

Over time, Marchetti had become troubled by the Agency's role in the overthrow of democracies on behalf of dictators and by CIA manipulation of other nations' internal policies. He saw evidence of corruption in overseas operations. Marchetti's intellectual honesty was also offended by intrigue inside CIA headquarters that disrupted the accuracy of intelligence estimates. Furthermore, the Vietnam War had disillusioned Marchetti, whose sons would soon reach draft age. And when Eagle Scouts from a troop he served as scoutmaster began dodging the draft, Marchetti began to feel his CIA job was isolating him.

Upon quitting the Agency at age thirty-nine, after a highly successful fourteen-year career, Marchetti wrote a novel called The Rope Dancer. Prior to its publication by Grosset and Dunlap in I97I, a CIA officer read a version of the manuscript at Marchetti's home, in keeping with the rules set out in the CIA secrecy contract Marchetti had signed. The CIA officer found no security breaches, and publication went forward.

What troubled Ober and Ober's immediate supervisor, Thomas Karamessines, was one particular line in the novel. Marchetti's central character is speaking with jaundiced anger about the fictional CIA: "Somebody should publicize the Agency's mistakes." Suppose Marchetti got it in his head to write about MHCHAOS? Concerned, Helms himself ordered Marchetti placed under surveillance beginning on March 23, I972.

Within days, an article written by Marchetti appeared in the April 3 Nation under the headline "CIA: The President's Loyal Tool." Marchetti wrote that the CIA was using the news media to create myths about the Agency and was fooling such influential publications as the New York Times and Newsweek. Additionally, he claimed, the CIA had continued to control youth, labor, and cultural organizations in the United States, notwithstanding the scandals triggered by the report in Ramparts. Marchetti also castigated Helms for spending too little time engaged with the intricacies of intelligence analysis, satirically calling him a "master spy" who conducted his most important weekly meetings in less than twenty minutes. Marchetti concluded: "Secrecy, like power, tends to corrupt, and it will not be easy to persuade those who rule in the United States to change their ways."

Even while MHCHAOS was surviving the Marchetti scare, the CIA inspector general, an internal cop, was the focal point of a second emergency. Worried that the inspector general might discover MHCHAOS and expose it, Helms called in Colby, Ober, and Karamessines for a meeting on December 5, I972. Helms emphasized the importance of running a cleaner, less dubious-looking operation. There was a need to proceed cautiously, he said, to avoid a showdown with "some CIA personnel." Nonetheless, Helms was adamant that MHCHAOS not be abandoned. It will not be "stopped simply because some members of the organization do not like this activity," he insisted.

Helms cautioned Ober against attending meetings of the Justice Department Intelligence Evaluation Committee, because security was lax and its role in domestic politics might lead investigative reporters to MHCHAOS. Helms had come up with a solution to the problem of CIA officers who doubted the legality of MHCHAOS. Henceforth, it would be described within the Agency as an operation against international terrorism. "To a [sic] maximum extent possible, Ober should become identified with the subject of terrorism inside the Agency as well as in the Intelligence Community," Helms ordered. Afterward, Colby sent Karamessines a summary of the meeting: "A clear priority is to be given in this general field to the subject of terrorism. This should bring about a reduction in the intensity of attention to political dissidents in the United States not apt to be involved in terrorism." The change in label was evidently intended to improve the Agency's image and cover, on the assumption that "terrorists" were more believable as a genuine threat than "dissidents."

But there was in fact to be little change in targets. MHCHAOS continued to hold radicals in its sights, specifically radical youths, Blacks, women, and antiwar militants. The label "international terrorist" was designed to replace "political dissident" as the ongoing justification for illegal domestic operations. And in the final move to clean up Ober's act, in December Helms put an end to the operation of the five-year-old MHCHAOS by formally transforming it into the International Terrorism Group-with Ober still in charge.

Only seventeen days later, Helms and Karamessines announced their resignations from the CIA. Nixon named James Schlesinger to replace Helms as director, and Schlesinger in turn replaced Karamessines with Colby as deputy director for plans. In a euphemistic change, Schlesinger and Colby renamed the Directorate for Plans as the Directorate for Operations, which was the CIA's way of saying, "Let's call domestic spying a response to terrorism."

One of the most productive agents, Sal Ferrera, was at this stage operating overseas, where his targets were Americans. Upon first landing in Europe in the summer of I97I, Ferrera had moved fast. He was in Zurich on July 7 and in Rome on July I,. In September he was in Copenhagen, spying on peace activists who were involved in an underground railroad for U.S. GIs who had deserted because of qualms over Vietnam. Ferrera then based himself in Paris, site of the Vietnamese embassies, where unofficial and official peaceseekers from the United States and Vietnam were trying to negotiate an end to the war. In his nice guy role, Ferrera sought out and befriended Americans sympathetic to the peace effort. He introduced himself to the five-member youth contingent attending the Versailles Peace Assembly, an international conference of antiwar activists.

Ferrera's cover was the same as it had been in the United States, that of a leftist journalist. College Press Service distributed his writings to its U.S. campus subscribers. In one article, Ferrera wrote about German radical political groups and the divisions between them. Another article, syndicated by the Alternative Features Service to underground newspapers in the United States, was headlined "Just Another Day in Derry" and analyzed the ideological conflicts within the Irish Republican Army.

Ferrera had proved adept at penetrating the CIA's political opponents in the United States. He was well established as a MHCHAOS star. But his new assignment was his most sensitive yet. He was to befriend former CIA officer Philip Agee, who was writing a book filled with one CIA secret after another-revealing far more than those divulged by Sheinbaum, Wood, Marchetti, and McCoy put together. Because Agee had served as a CIA case officer on the streets in South America, he had been privy to more intelligence work than the office-bound Marchetti. But, like Marchetti, Agee had grown disenchanted, responding to a general cultural wave of doubts about the U.S. imperial role in Vietnam. Agee had moved to Paris, out of the reach of U.S. courts. In France, the CIA could not enforce the secrecy contract Agee had signed.

Living in the same expatriate community, however, was Ferrera, who began to frequent the Paris cafe Le Yams, where Agee often sipped coffee and socialized. Ferrera introduced himself as a reporter for College Press Service. Once he had become a familiar fixture at the cafe, Ferrera introduced Agee to a young woman he invitingly described as an "heiress." Agee had spent all his savings while at work on his book and was desperately poor. When the woman expressed an interest in financing him while he finished the book, Agee allowed her to read the unfinished manuscript over a weekend. She responded with enthusiastic support, giving Agee enough money to see him through several months of writing.

Of course, Ferrera now had the perfect rationalization to see Agee's manuscript at any point. As Agee grew more and more dependent on Ferrera, he began using Ferrera's address as his own. One of the letters that came to Ferrera's apartment was from Agee's father, and it described CIA Counsel John Greaney's visit to the Agee family home in the United States. Greaney had given Agee's father a copy of his son's secrecy contract, along with a copy of the recent Marchetti court decision.

Ferrera also apparently arranged a typewriter swap, allowing him to introduce into Agee's apartment a portable Royal typewriter and a case crammed with microphones and transmitters. Agee soon discovered the surveillance device and had it photographed; eventually the photo of the bugged typewriter would appear on the cover of his book. In the meantime, though, Ferrera had learned that Agee was about to identify CIA operatives in South America. This advance notice enabled the Agency to move the operatives, as well as to take preventive measures to reduce the embarrassment from a host of other stories in Agee's book.

The book itself, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, was published in I975 without prior censorship. In a twenty-two-page appendix, Agee named scores of individuals and organizations controlled, supported, or used by the CIA. Agee had by this time realized that Ferrera was an undercover operative, and Ferrera's name was included in the appendix, linked to the impressively wired typewriter case pictured on the cover. The book jacket excerpted a Washington Post reference to Marchetti's blank-filled book and boasted, "There are no blanks in Philip Agee's." Seizing on the Agee case, CIA officials in Washington began to agitate for a law to imprison anyone who publicly identified intelligence agents.


Bush Perfects the Cover-up

Amid the numerous scandals of the Nixon administration and under particular pressure from partisans of Ralph Nader, Congress was moving toward a new openness. Amendments to strengthen the I966 Freedom of Information Act were drafted. The FOIA had been reduced to near uselessness by bureaucratic intransigence and judicial refusals to restrain executive secrecy. The U.S. Supreme Court, in deciding the I973 FOIA case Environmental Protection Agency v Mink, had said the courts should not be allowed to inspect classified national security records unless Congress directed otherwise. By rejecting judicial review, the Supreme Court had in the Mink case adopted basically the same line of reasoning as had Chief Judge Haynsworth in the Marchetti case.

In the fall of I974, however, Congress amended the FOIA to reverse the Mink decision. The main proponents of the amendment were Edward Kennedy in the Senate and John E. Moss in the House. The amendment explicitly authorized federal judges to inspect classified records in chambers in order to determine whether the government was warranted in withholding them from public release. In addition, Congress added teeth to the FOIA in several other ways. In the future, the government would have to prove why secrecy was necessary for each specific case. Government agencies would have to publish indexes identifying information that had been made public, as a means of assisting citizens in locating government documents. And the fees charged to citizens for copies of government records, which sometimes were prohibitively high, could be waived under a new range of circumstances, thus ensuring that fees could not be used as barriers to disclosures. Bureaucratic delays in the release of data also were sharply curtailed. A new deadline of ten working days was imposed on the government for all FOIA requests. In a case in which the government denied a request, a twenty-day appeal period was established, after which the case could be taken to court.

The CIA would spend the next two decades fighting the release of documents to citizens who requested them under the FOIA. For CIA officials, whose lives were dedicated to secrecy, the logic behind the checks and balances of the three-branch system of government may have been incomprehensible. The idea that federal judges not trained in espionage could inspect CIA files and even order their release was enough to curdle the blood of secret operatives like Richard Ober. CIA officers felt that neither Congress nor the courts could comprehend the perils that faced secret agents. Their instinctive reaction, therefore, was to find any avenue by which they could avoid judicial or journalistic scrutiny.

A month after Congress enacted the new FOIA amendments, someone at the CIA leaked the news of MHCHAOS to Seymour Hersh at the New York Times. Hersh's article appeared on the front page of the December 22, I974, issue under the headline "Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U.S. against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years." Although sparse in detail, the article revealed that the CIA had spied on U.S. citizens in a massive domestic operation, keeping 10,000 dossiers on individuals and groups and violating the I947 National Security Act. Hersh reported that intelligence officials were claiming the domestic operations began as legitimate spying to investigate overseas connections to dissenters.

Gerald Ford, who only four and a half months earlier had assumed the presidency in the wake of Nixon's resignation, took the public position that the CIA would be ordered to cease and desist. William Colby, who had replaced James Schlesinger as CIA director, was told to issue a report on MHCHAOS to Henry Kissinger. Apparently Ford was not informed that Kissinger was well aware of the operation. A few days later, after Helms categorically denied that the CIA had conducted "illegal" spying, Ford named Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to head a commission that would be charged with making a more comprehensive report. Ford's choice of Rockefeller to head the probe was most fortunate for Ober. Rockefeller was closely allied with Kissinger, who had been a central figure in the former New York governor's I968 presidential primary campaign. Although Rockefeller was well regarded in media and political circles for his streak of independence, it was all but certain from the beginning that his report would amount to a cover-up.

A continuing series of scandals had eroded the CIA's public credibility. In November I975, Frank Church's Senate committee reported that the CIA had tried to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro and had engineered the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the prime minister of the new Republic of the Congo. The Church Committee also contradicted the sworn testimony of Richard Helms by revealing that the CIA had helped engineer the I973 coup in Chile. Moreover, several former CIA operatives-Victor Marchetti, Philip Agee, and Stanley Sheinbaum-had joined the CounterSpy advisory board to help consolidate the outside pressure against the CIA.'

The CIA was not without resources, of course. In I975, former CIA officers, including David Atlee Phillips, organized the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers to undertake a public relations campaign to enhance the Agency's image. Phillips also operated behind the scenes. He told Marchetti, whose name was on the CounterSpy masthead, "Get your name off. We're going to land on them." Marchetti respected the CIA's power and took the warning to heart. He withdrew from the magazine and talked others into leaving with him.

Just before Christmas I975, a tragedy had provided an opportunity to shift the scrutiny away from the CIA scandals. In Athens, Greece, the CIA chief of station Richard Skeffington Welch was assassinated on December 23, gunned down as he returned to his house from a party at the U.S. ambassador's residence. His death focused attention on the danger inherent in publishing the names of CIA agents. Welch had been identified as a CIA officer in a letter to the editor published by the Athens News a month earlier on November 25. The letter, signed by the "Committee of Greeks and Greek Americans to Prevent Their Country, Their Fatherland, from Being Perverted to the Uses of the CIA," denounced the CIA for its role in the installation of a reactionary Greek government. While Welch's assassins most likely learned about his CIA affiliation from this letter (or from his decision to live in an Athens house well known as a CIA residence), most of the blame for his death was aimed at CounterSpy, which also had printed Welch's name.

In the midst of the Senate vote to confirm George Bush in January I976, intelligence officials were making no secret of their outrage over Welch's death and their fury at CounterSpy. A well-known reporter told editor Tim Butz that his own life had been threatened by angry former intelligence officers, and Butz began to carry a gun. Members of the New York intelligentsia, who had been drawn to CounterSpy by Norman Mailer, began to keep their distance. It was unseemly to be contributing money to a magazine accused of having blood on its hands.

Even though CIA critics were put on the defensive by the Welch assassination, it did not take Bush long to appreciate that he had his work cut out for him when it came to casting the Agency in a positive light. Less than a month after taking over, he had to answer questions about a report by the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Although the House had voted to suppress the report at President Ford's request, someone leaked it. The whole report, known as the Pike Report after U.S. Representative Otis Pike, Democrat of New York, was reprinted in the Village Voice issues of February I6 and z3, I976.

The Pike Report was shocking because it provided the first official overview of CIA excesses: the Agency ran large propaganda operations, bankrolled armies of its own, and incurred billions in unsupervised expenses. The report revealed that top CIA officials had tolerated cost overruns nearly 400 percent beyond the Agency budget for foreign operations and 500 percent beyond the budget for domestic operations, for years concealing their profligacy from Congress. The CIA also was said to have secretly built up a military capacity larger than most foreign armies; the CIA and FBI between them had spent $I0 billion with little independent supervision. Further, the CIA's single biggest category of overseas covert projects involved the news media: it supported friendly news publications, planted articles in newspapers, and distributed ClA-sponsored books and leaflets. The phony CIA dispatches had often found their way into domestic news stories, thus polluting with inaccuracies the news received by Americans.


Hiding Political Spying

Soon after Reagan's second inauguration, he appointed Bush to chair a cabinet-level Task Force on Combating Terrorism. With this mandate, Bush set out not only to narrow congressional oversight of the CIA and to pass new secrecy laws but also to use terrorism as a justification for domestic spying against left-wing citizen groups that had lobbied Congress to ban Contra funding. That this task force was a cover is clear from its own statistics, which showed domestic terrorism in sharp decline just as Bush was ostensibly cranking up his force to fight it. The number of terrorist incidents reported in the United States fell off sharply from twenty-nine in I980 to only seven by I985, with a high of fifty-one in I982. Nevertheless, the thirty-four-page Public Report of the Vice President's Task Force on Combating Terrorism of I986 recommended that the intelligence agencies involve "conventional human and technical intelligence capabilities that penetrate terrorist groups and their support systems."

In an accompanying cover letter, Bush self-consciously tried to explain away the inconsistency between his orders to "improve America's capability for combating terrorism" and FBI reports that domestic terrorism was virtually nonexistent, arguing that terrorism being waged in foreign countries posed "the potential for future problems . . . here at home.'' Moreover, the report shifted the ground of the debate by describing terrorism as "political theater designed to undermine or alter governmental authority or behavior." This was a radically new definition. Political theater aimed at altering governmental behavior is an American tradition that started with the Boston Tea Party and has long since been protected by the First Amendment.

Following recommendations from Bush's task force to increase the overall surveillance of terrorists, the FBI conducted 8,450 domestic terrorism investigations in I986, even though they reported only seventeen actual terrorist incidents that year. Much of the difference between the two figures can be explained by the fact that the FBI was conducting political spying under the "terrorism" label. According to FBI documents later released through FOIA requests, the prime targets of these so-called terrorist investigations were those groups advocating the congressional ban on Contra funding. The CIA used a similar strategy when covering up MHCHAOS: domestic political operations are more easily defended if they are labeled as anti-terrorism.

Some FBI special agents were not willing to pursue wholesale spying against U.S. citizens. In Buffalo, New York, agents took the unprecedented action of refusing to conduct the political investigations ordered by headquarters. In a few instances, the executive assistant director of the FBI, Oliver "Buck" Revell (who was also a member of Bush's terrorism task force), overrode the FBI agents' objections and ordered the investigations to continue.

An even larger problem for Bush's task force was finding a way to keep secrets from journalists. Indeed, there were already problems with exposure. Reporters were beginning to write about some FBI political spying for the White House that had occurred in I984. Syndicated columnist Jack Anderson reported that the FBI was spying on peace groups. It became known that in I982 the FBI had conducted an "administrative" probe of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, a worldwide group of doctors whose campaign for a nuclear weapons freeze at the international level was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in I985. FBI Assistant Director William Baker admitted to me in the mid-I980s that FBI informants had been used inside the group.

Intent on improving secrecy, Bush's task force attacked the FOIA- particularly the I974 amendments, which had been a vehicle for exposing Nixon's political intelligence operations. Among the recommendations in the report was the repeal of these post-Watergate reforms on the grounds that terrorists might be using the FOIA. It was a wholly speculative argument, as the recommendation itself showed: "Members of terrorist groups may have used the Freedom of Information Act to identify FBI informants, frustrate FBI investigations, and tie up government resources in responding to requests. This would be a clear abuse of the Act that should be investigated by the Department of Justice and, if confirmed, addressed through legislation to close the loophole" (emphasis added).

The truth was that the task force's concern with the FOIA had little to do with terrorism but much to do with political spying. By the end of I986, this emphasis on spying was causing a growing rebellion within the FBI's usually well-disciplined ranks. Special Agent John C. Ryan, a twenty-one-year veteran from Peoria, Illinois, flatly and repeatedly had refused FBI orders to conduct a "terrorism" investigation of anti-Contra protesters whom he knew to be religious pacifists. As a result, Ryan was fired for insubordination on August 25, I987, eighteen months after Bush's task force issued its report. Ryan was the first FBI agent fired for refusing to obey orders as a matter of conscience.

As Congress raced toward adjournment, the FOIA amendment was hurriedly put to a vote. Members of Congress said aye without ever seeing a copy of what they were voting on; there had not been enough time to print an up-to-date version of the legislation. As one staffer for Congressman Glenn English commented in an aside to me, "My boss was over on the floor asking, 'Who's got a copy?' " The bill passed October I7, I986, and Reagan signed it into law. The fact that the legislation was the handiwork of Bush's task force went essentially unnoticed. And to make matters more confusing, some journalists got it wrong. The Washington Post, for instance, reported that the FOIA amendment had not been enacted.

Given this level of misinformation, there was little opportunity to fully assess the political implication. Few journalists understood that the FBI would now be able to withhold files that had nothing to do with the enforcement of laws, such as those dealing with political spying operations. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, whose job it was to implement the new FOIA amendment, reported that it "established important new records exclusions"-a different story than the one told by the ACLU. The amendment shielded "more routine monitoring," said Meese. Under it, the FBI could keep secret all kinds of data, not just "specifically focused law enforcement inquiries." Almost gleefully Meese advised the FOIA supervisors to "be mindful of the greater latitude": documents could be treated "as if they did not exist." Most important, the FBI could now largely exclude secret counterintelligence or international terrorism files from public and judicial review, so long as the operation was so secret that its very existence was classified.

Most journalists missed the significance of the new amendment because they were taking their cues from Halperin, but one who saw through the smoke screen was Scott Armstrong, a former Washington Post reporter who had founded the National Security Archive-a privately funded group that collects, indexes, and circulates government documents released under the FOIA. Armstrong tried to make it known that the amendment allowed terrorism and counterintelligence files to be kept secret forever, but his efforts were to little avail.

Another part of the new FOIA amendment permitted the government to seek the dismissal of pending FOIA lawsuits. During the slam-bang passage of the legislation, no one in Congress had thought to remove this ex post facto section, and in equally hasty fashion the Justice Department moved to dismiss FOIA cases just days after the final vote. U.S. District Judge Thomas Flannery subsequently interpreted the law exactly contrary to Halperin's intention. Flannery cited "the newly amended statute, and the broader category of information that is protectable" in blocking the release of documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy.

The Justice Department attorney assigned to take advantage of the new FOIA amendment was Richard Willard. He lost no time in using the amendment to fend off a class action lawsuit brought by, among others, Frank Wilkinson in California. Wilkinson had sued the FBI in I980 for documents about himself and his organization, the Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee, founded in the I960s. Members of the House Un-American Activities Committee, who had a close relationship with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, cited informers who said Wilkinson was a Communist. On that basis the FBI had amassed more than I30,000 pages of documents concerning him and his associates. Wilkinson was asking to see those files under the FOIA, but so far all he had obtained from the FBI were heavily censored copies.

Richard Criley, an elder statesman among California's civil libertarians, had inspected the I30,000 pages, threading his way around the blacked-out words, and had constructed a cross-reference file. He concluded that the documents would prove that the FBI had done the following:

disrupted meetings at which Frank Wilkinson was to speak

manipulated the news media to discredit another organization founded by Wilkinson, the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (formerly the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee)

prepared "poison pen" letters against the group

intervened illegally in the legislative process

disrupted the organization through the use of informer/agent provocateurs

sabotaged fund-raising

According to Criley, "the entire operation of the FBI was focused on 'discrediting' and 'disrupting' the organization by illegal means and could not be considered 'law enforcement' by the furthest stretch of the imagination.

Now Wilkinson, represented by attorneys from the Southern California ACLU affiliate, was petitioning the federal courts to compel release of the information that had been blacked out. Three days after Reagan signed the FOIA amendment, however, Willard invoked it to block further release of the files. He argued that the goal of the FOIA amendments was to frustrate the efforts of people like Criley "who have both the incentive and the resources to use the act systematically-to gather, analyze, and piece together segregated bits of information obtained from agency files." He accused Criley of having already put together apparently innocuous information to reveal the identity of at least one FBI informant.

"It's true," Criley said. "I did identify an informant who was dead . . . the guy was an officer of NCARL reporting to the FBI." And by authority of the new amendment, the presiding judge in the Wilkinson case ruled that the relationship of an informer to the Bureau can be kept secret in perpetuity, even after the informant's death.

In one hard-fought case, however, the persistence of Ann Marie Buitrago, chairwoman of a group called Freedom of Information and Accountability, together with Michael Ratner of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, led to the release of thousands of pages of the FBI file on the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. CISPES had opposed U.S. intervention in Central America. While many portions of the file were censored, the documents revealed that under the heading "terrorism matter," CISPES and more than two hundred other anti-Reagan groups had been targeted by the FBI. Investigations had been carried out by fifty-two of the FBI's fifty-nine field offices (see appendix).

Leaders of CISPES held press conferences simultaneously in five cities to call attention to the FBI's massive political operation. In response to the publicity, FBI Director William S. Sessions denied that the operation was ordered by the White House or was politically motivated. He claimed that it began as a "reasonable examination of a possible terrorist threat." However, Sessions was compelled to concede that the FBI found "no substantial link between CISPES and international terrorism," and in an extraordinary move he disciplined six FBI agents for their role in the scandal, suspending some without pay for two weeks.

In the wake of the CISPES disclosures, Congressman Don Edwards ordered the General Accounting Office to inspect politically motivated FBI "terrorism" investigations into peaceful dissenters opposed to U.S. foreign policy in Central America. But the GAO was stymied by the FBI and not allowed to inspect Bureau files for their political content. Instead, the GAO had to be satisfied with responses to questionnaires, which were filled out by FBI agents themselves. Even so, the GAO did discover that the FBI had obtained information on lawful activities in many of the I8,I44 FBI international terrorism cases between January I982 and June I988.

"Terrorism incidents are down, and hype is up," said one congressional staffer with FBI oversight responsibilities. "There was a concern that administration policy was undercut by domestic opposition groups. It was necessary to discredit and disrupt those groups. There was interest in the investigation of those groups. It was thought they could be disrupted by arrests. There was at the time a sincere belief that there was a link between political opposition and illegal activity."

A House investigator specializing in the FBI observed, "The only way, the best way, for Congress to learn about FBI political investigations is with the aggressive use of the FOIA. In past years, congressional oversight of the FBI could not function without FOIA. Did the changes in the FOIA adversely affect congressional oversight? Yes. Definitely."

William H. Webster, who had moved laterally from FBI director to CIA director, admitted that the FOIA amendment helped agencies maintain the secrecy of classified covert operations. "[The laws] have been made a little more reasonable in protecting sources and methods," Webster said. "That's what it's all about." With the curbing of the FOIA's application to the FBI and the CIA, the Reagan administration's secrecy program continued to roll along in high gear. At the Pentagon, however, the secrecy program ran into one man who stood up and organized a political counterattack.

One Man Says No

At age fifteen, A. Ernest Fitzgerald followed his fathers footsteps, working as a pattern maker, an exacting craft in the making of precision tools for mass production, in Birmingham, Alabama. His father taught Fitzgerald to work to the closest possible tolerances, produce his products for a reasonable price, and deliver them on time. "Nothing was wasted at my father's shop," he says. With an American Foundryman's scholarship he obtained a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering and took a job as a quality control engineer in an aircraft factory. Later, he started his own consulting business in cost and quality control analysis for the government and for large corporations with military contracts. In I965 the air force gave Fitzgerald a position in procurement cost control for some of its systems, with a mandate to find savings. His boss, the assistant secretary of the air force, gave him a large office on the fifth floor of the Pentagon. He had taken a large cut in pay to work for the government, but, he says, "I thought I could do some good. I thought-before I wised up-that if the top guys knew about waste, they'd want big changes made.

Within a year, Fitzgerald was ready to suggest specific cuts from the Pentagon budget. At a meeting attended by generals, high civilian officials, and defense contractors, Fitzgerald attacked the Pentagon's unscientific system of estimating costs. Contractors who planned costs to be high, he said, were able to bilk the government because the Pentagon lacked facts about the real costs of weapons systems. He pointed out that reducing waste in the procurement system could free up money to replace old planes then in the air over Vietnam.

Many of Fitzgerald's listeners approved and asked for transcripts of his talk. But before he was permitted to distribute copies, his superiors told him he must submit the speech to a security review. Three weeks passed, and his transcript was not returned. Finally, Director of Security Review Charles Hinckle wrote that Fitzgerald's speech had been "caustic" and "inappropriate," and on September 29, I966, the Office of the Secretary of Defense suppressed the speech and ordered it to be neither printed nor distributed.

Security review officials told Fitzgerald that his negative comments on procurement practices might undermine public confidence in the Defense Department, which in turn would undermine security. From a security officer, Fitzgerald got a copy of his speech with the reviewers' comments on it. Fitzgerald discovered that among other things the reviewers had objected to his comments on scientific method. Among the material censored were quotes he used from Francis Bacon, the father of the scientific method. "It had become painfully obvious that my stand on cost control was not supported by the powers in the Pentagon," Fitzgerald concluded.

In the interim, as part of his air force duties, Fitzgerald visited the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Georgia, where construction was under way on a fleet of fifty-eight giant C-5A transport planes. Each C-5A was nearly as long as a football field, more a flying freight train than an airplane. They were built to haul two M-I tanks over the ocean at 552 miles per hour and land on twenty-eight tires.

But the multibillion-dollar project was in serious financial difficulty. On his second visit, after inspecting the partially finished planes encased by scaffolding, Fitzgerald calculated that the cost to the Pentagon would run more than $2 billion over the contract. Two years later, when the matter of C-5A cost overruns reached Congress, Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin, chairman of a joint economic committee, summoned Fitzgerald to testify. Proxmire planned to dispute testimony by the assistant secretary of the air force for research and development, who had told Congress that costs of the C-5As were normal. Proxmire asked Fitzgerald to submit 100 copies of a prepared statement twenty-four hours in advance of testifying, as is usual for such appearances.

But Fitzgerald appeared without a prepared statement and gave this explanation: "Mr. Chairman, I was directed not to prepare a statement directly by my immediate superior, Mr. [Thomas H.] Nielsen, the assistant secretary of the air force for financial management."

"Well, this is very troublesome to this committee, very disturbing," Proxmire replied. "Here is a man who is well qualified, has information of importance to Congress, nothing classified in it. He is directed by the air force not to prepare a statement for the committee . . . did Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford provide instructions to muzzle this witness?"

An air force officer who accompanied Fitzgerald tried to dodge that question, asserting that Fitzgerald was free to respond to the senator's inquiries. Proxmire then launched into his questions, and Fitzgerald began to make public his findings about the C-5A cost overruns, setting the total at more than $2 billion. "The current Lockheed program . . . could exceed its target cost by 100 percent," he said. He then described fundamental problems with the Pentagon's procurement system. When Fitzgerald finished his testimony, reporters swarmed around him, seeking more answers. Flashbulbs popped. "I knew then that I was in the soup," he recalls.

The Pentagon immediately removed Fitzgerald from any cost control responsibilities. Then, in January I969-after Frank Weitzel, the assistant comptroller general of the General Accounting Office, told Proxmire that the air force had refused to provide the General Accounting Office with the current C-5A estimates-Fitzgerald was again called to testify.

Proxmire began, "I understand since your testimony in November you have lost your career tenure, is that true?"

"I certainly do not have it today," Fitzgerald responded.

Proxmire asked Fitzgerald if his job loss was the result of his unauthorized disclosures.


"In a sense, Mr. Chairman, it was. I had not cleared the remarks I made with the secretary of the navy."

Proxmire then asked if all Fitzgerald had done was to respond to congressional questions-a key point in the congressional battle with the executive branch for information about expenditures.

"That is correct, and I would answer again," Fitzgerald said.

"Well, Mr. Fitzgerald . . . you have been an excellent witness, and if there was a computer into which you could put courage and integrity, you certainly would be promoted rather than have your status in such serious and unfortunate jeopardy." Proxmire went on to chew out the air force and issue a warning intended to protect Fitzgerald. "The air force can say, and the armed services can say that their officials are free to speak any time and tell Congress the facts as they see them. But it is going to be very hard for the public and the Congress to accept that if there is any further disciplinary action against you, Mr. Fitzgerald.''

Approximately six weeks later, the Pentagon assigned Fitzgerald to a new job. He and his two cost-accounting experts were to review the construction of a bowling alley and mess hall in Thailand. Fitzgerald later recalled, "My civilian assistant found that the bowling alley project was greatly overrun (about 300 percent).... [W]e lost that job, too." About two months later, the subject of cost overruns hit the front pages. On December 30, I969, an Associated Press story ran in the New York Times: "Major U.S. Weapons Systems Costing $2 Billion More Than Original Estimates."

Fitzgerald expected to return to making money in the private sector. Although he had sold his interest in his old consulting firm, he contacted the firm's attorney, Alex Keyes, a well-connected New Yorker who had previously helped Fitzgerald by referring many highpowered corporate clients to him. "We had lunch at the Yale Club in New York," Fitzgerald recounted. "He said he'd ask around for me. When I didn't hear from him, I called him. He gave me some advice. 'Open a service station,' he said. 'You're dead on the Street [Wall Street].' " Another old friend, Dick Burtner of Goodyear Aerospace, told Fitzgerald he would loan him money, but " 'if I hire you I'll never get Pentagon business.' "

Unable to find work in his profession, Fitzgerald felt he had little choice but to file a lawsuit demanding to have his old Pentagon job back. At the same time he wrote a book, published in I972, titled High Priests of Waste. It detailed how military contractors plunder the public treasury, how they keep auditors from finding out about high profits and low quality, and how the waste is hidden behind a veil of military secrecy in the name of national security.

In September I973 a federal judge ordered the air force to reinstate Fitzgerald, but his claims for back salary and damages were to be locked up by legal battles for years. In November I98I, when the case finally went before the U.S. Supreme Court, one of the legal issues was whether the executive branch enjoyed absolute immunity from suits arising from the violation of someone's civil rights.

While Fitzgerald's suit was pending, Morton Halperin was suing former President Nixon for wiretaps illegally placed on his home while Halperin served on the National Security Council staff. Halperin was afraid that the Supreme Court would rule in Fitzgerald's case that Nixon enjoyed absolute immunity, so Halperin intervened. Halperin's lawyer, Mark Lynch, told the court that "civil service employees, such as Fitzgerald, who are fired in alleged retaliation for the exercise of their First Amendment rights, have no cause of action under the First Amendment in view of the special relationship between the federal government and its employees." Lynch also wrote in a motion for Halperin that "the speech for which Fitzgerald was allegedly fired is not protected by the First Amendment." This position by Halperin and Lynch presaged their future stances as civil libertarians: government employees are not protected by the First Amendment.

In May I984, Secretary of the Air Force Verne Orr assigned Fitzgerald to assist Chairman John D. Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who headed the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to help investigate stock manipulations related to the awarding of multibillion dollar defense contracts. Resuming his role as a cost-cutting detective, Fitzgerald traveled to the Hughes Aircraft plant in Tucson, Arizona, where he was informed that in a tear-down inspection, made in conjunction with an inspection of the air force's Maverick system, the navy Phoenix missile guidance system had passed all normal quality controls. On probing further, however, he discovered there were 2,578 defects, of which I06 were considered extremely serious. The guidance system is a critical part of the air-launched, radar-guided, solid propellant rocket. But the Pentagon generals did little to fix the problems, and, once again, Fitzgerald decided that his only recourse was to make a public disclosure. As a result, the plant was forced to shut down for six months.

Over the years, Fitzgerald had lost his dark lean look and was now the picture of a bureaucrat, with gray trousers, gray glasses, and gray close-cropped hair. Even his I985 Toyota GTS, a present from his wife and kids, was gray. On May I3, I987, he arrived at his office, a much smaller one than he used to command, and walked past the bank of five gray file cabinets containing classified information. Each was secured by a Diebold dial combination lock and had a small paper form affixed to the front of its drawers on which was recorded the times of opening and closing. At 9:20 A.M. Captain David Price walked into Fitzgerald's office. "Mr. Fitzgerald," said Captain Price, "I have a nondisclosure form for you to sign. You must sign it or your security clearance will be revoked." He handed Fitzgerald an envelope, turned, and walked out of the office.

Fitzgerald took a deep breath. His security clearance was necessary for him to do his job: he needed access to the classified papers in his office cabinets. The sheet of paper in Captain Price's envelope was titled "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement"-Standard Form I89. The sheet was filled with thirteen paragraphs and at the top was a space for his name: "An agreement between [space] and the United States." Paragraph one defined what was to be kept secret- "information that is classified or is classifiable." It was clear to Fitzgerald that any information is classifiable, especially if it is embarrassing to the Pentagon. He might give unclassified information to Congress, and then the generals could classify it.

Fitzgerald came to the third paragraph, an agreement never to divulge any classified information without "written authorization." Instantly, Fitzgerald realized this would mean he could not divulge information to Congress about waste, fraud, and abuse if the Pentagon classified that information as secret. He recalled that his first disclosures about the C-5A cost overruns had been "unauthorized." He had talked to Congress without receiving written permission. That data in his testimony had not been classified. But were they classifiable?

Fitzgerald kept reading. The contract forbade "direct or indirect" disclosure. What if he told Congressman Dingell about classified data and Dingell released the information to the public? Under Form I89, Fitzgerald would be liable for this disclosure by the chairman of a House committee. And the scope of the coverage was vast. Paragraph seven said, "I understand that all information to which I may obtain access by signing this agreement is now and will forever remain the property of the United States Government." Fitzgerald's eyebrows shot up. "All information?" he thought.

Fitzgerald realized that if he signed the form, he would be greatly restricted from informing Congress about cost overruns. "No way am I going to sign this and be silenced for life," he told his assistant, Betty Dudka. The outlook was bleak. Who would help? The ACLU had capitulated on Form I89. The government worker unions had been all but silent on the issue. Liberals in Congress had been less than effective. The federal courts had bowed to national security claims and long ago ruled that secrecy contracts were binding. The news media had also shown no inclination to fight against Form I89. "I'm alone on this one," Fitzgerald thought, "but I'll be damned if I'm just going to let the Pentagon shut me up without a fight."

Fitzgerald picked up the phone and called one of Capitol Hill's most able investigators, Peter Stockton, an aide to Dingell. Fitzgerald explained that if he signed Form I89, he would be effectively removed from his role as a congressional investigator. On the other hand, if he failed to sign it, he would be terminated from his Pentagon job. Stockton quickly arranged to have the two of them meet with Steven Garfinkel of the Information Security Oversight Office. Garfinkel explained that Form I89 had been drawn up in response to White House irritation over leaks to the press. Fitzgerald made a mental note-Garfinkel was referring to leaks of embarrassing information rather than leaks of classified information.

Stockton and Fitzgerald pressed Garfinkel. "What does the term classifiable mean? According to Fitzgerald, Garfinkel responded, "It could mean anything." He tried to clarify his position. Classifiable meant any data that would be understood to need classification and hadn't been classified through an oversight. Stockton and Fitzgerald grew more concerned after this vague answer and asked Garfinkel if he would remove the term "classifiable" from the nondisclosure contract before Fitzgerald signed it. Garfinkel replied that he could not.

Fitzgerald felt insulted. He had never been accused of divulging classified information about weapons systems-or anything else. But Garfinkel brushed aside his arguments, boasting that the director of the Washington office of the ACLU had approved Form I89. Why should one man be exempt when so many others had signed?

After Garfinkel left the congressional offices, Stockton and Fitzgerald composed a letter for Dingell to send to William D. Ford, the chairman of the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, asking him to investigate. "We wanted to make sure that these agreements . . . would not inhibit the proper and timely flow of information to the Congress," the letter said.

Fitzgerald returned to his Pentagon office, his resolve stronger than ever. "I don't intend to sign it, particularly after talking to Garfinkel. I've talked to my wife and my lawyer and I've prepared for the worst. I can't conceive of any conditions under which I'll sign that damn form," Fitzgerald vowed to Dudka in his Alabama drawl.

While being pestered for his signature on an almost daily basis, Fitzgerald widened his effort to gain congressional support. He phoned and visited the staff of Gerry Sikorski, a young Minnesota Democrat who chaired the House Post Office and Civil Service Subcommittee on Human Resources, which had jurisdiction over government workers. Sikorski agreed to write a letter on Fitzgerald's behalf, which was sent to Frank Carlucci, Reagan's new National Security Adviser. The letter roundly criticized Form I89 for its "ambiguities and inconsistencies, as well as vague and questionable terms which coercively impose inescapable liability on federal employees in violation of their rights." Sikorski's letter also raised a question of whether Form I89 violates laws that prohibit interfering with the rights of federal employees to furnish information to both houses of Congress. "Standard Form I89 tramples on the right of federal employees and the First Amendment" and is "a new thinly veiled attempt to impose prepublication review . . . on federal employees." Sikorski concluded by requesting that Carlucci halt the use of the form.

On July z the comptroller of the air force, Lieutenant General Claudius E. Watts III, formally issued written orders telling Fitzgerald to sign Form I89 within thirty days or face the loss of his security clearance and his job. That was followed on July 7 by a policy statement from ACLU attorney Allan Adler announcing that "the ACLU finds no inherent constitutional barrier" to an agreement that "imposes an obligation not to disclose ... information without authorization." While Adler recommended that Form I89 be rewritten to eliminate vague language, he seemed to undermine Fitzgerald's lobbying effort on Capitol Hill. Adler recommended congressional action only "if administrative solutions are not soon forthcoming." Fitzgerald was displeased, but not surprised, that the ACLU refused to join the growing congressional pressure to suspend the secrecy contracts.

As the deadline neared, however, Fitzgerald gained new and powerful allies. Congressman Les Aspin of Wisconsin, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote Carlucci, "Compliance with Standard Form I89 should be suspended."

Fitzgerald next received support from Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, a Republican whose rural constituents were suffering serious financial hardship and were outraged at the chronic squandering of tax money by the Pentagon. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Grassley asked the Congressional Research Service's legal arm to review the relevant law regarding secrecy and disclosure. The service concluded that Form I89 "is arguably in conflict with the language and intent of" the law protecting whistleblowers.

The same day, Watts repeated his order to Fitzgerald to sign Standard Form I89 by the deadline, now about a week away. Fitzgerald began a series of frantic phone calls to congressional offices. Just one day before the deadline another powerful committee chairman, Congressman Jack Brooks, complained about Standard Form I89 in a letter, "Such a contract is incompatible with the First Amendment to the Constitution, regardless of who is asked to sign it."

In the face of this support, the Pentagon allowed the deadline to pass and permitted Fitzgerald to stay on the job, at least for the time being. On August I7, I987, the 200,000-member National Federation of Federal Employees, about 40 percent of whom work in the Department of Defense, sued the government to stop implementation of Form I89. The suit was later joined by the 200,000-member American Federation of Government Employees, as well as the American Foreign Service Association, which chiefly represents State Department employees.

On August 21, Garfinkel issued instructions that, as a temporary accommodation to the lawsuit, no employees would have their security clearances revoked solely for refusing to sign Form I89. However, agencies were to continue asking for signed secrecy contracts from their employees. On the same day, the air force suspended Fitzgerald's deadline for signing and set no new one.

With the lines of battle now drawn between the federal employee unions and the Reagan administration, Congressman Sikorski convened a public hearing on October I5, I987. Sikorski began the hearing by asking, "What waste, what fraud, what incompetence, what malfeasance and misfeasance, what high crimes or misdemeanors would never have seen the healing light of legislative and public scrutiny if federal employees of years past had been forced to contend with such an all-encompassing restriction?" Senator Grassley drove home the point that the administration's intent was to place a blanket of silence over all information generated by the government, and he added that Form I89 would make it easier for the government to "go after" whistle-blowers. Grassley then made a declaration that made the next day's headlines: "Grassley to Civil Servants: Ignore Secrecy Pledge."

Even elected members of Congress had been told to sign secrecy contracts. Brooks reported that the Department of Energy had "recently sent me-and I was probably the wrong one to send it to-a Form I89 non-disclosure contract to sign so that I can have access to a report done by the GAO for the United States Congress." Brooks summed up the lessons he had learned about government secrecy during thirty-four years in Congress. "Most of the classification, in my judgment, is not to keep our enemies from finding out information. It is to keep the American people and the Congress from finding out what in God's world various agencies are doing and how they are throwing away money, wasting it.... They throw away money like dirt, and lie and cheat and hide to keep Congress from finding out, and, for God's sake, they don't want the American people to find out," he fumed.

Following the hearing, Congress approved a rider that outlawed the spread of Form I89 (as well as Form 4I93, the prepublication review contract) and attached it to an appropriations bill. Reagan had to sign the bill by December 22, I987, if he wanted the executive branch to have money. Its language was clear: "No funds appropriated in this or any other Act for fiscal year I988 may be used to implement or enforce the agreements in Standard Form I89 and 4I93 of the Government or any other nondisclosure policy, form or agreement . . . that contains the term 'classifiable' [or] . . . obstructs . . . the rights of any individual to petition or communicate with members of Congress in a secure manner." Congress did not want to be kept ignorant. That meant Fitzgerald had prevented his firing-or so it seemed for a time. "Once in a while," Fitzgerald said with a smile, "we get a little bit done. Even a blind hog finds an acorn.

Control of Information

The government employees lawsuit against the secrecy contracts was heard in federal court in Washington, D.C. Judge Oliver Gasch, a conservative, presided. The plaintiffs, including several members of Congress as well as the federal employee unions, took the position that the executive branch was acting in defiance of a congressional ban on Form I89 and Form 4I93. The Reagan administration, in turn, held that the ban was an unconstitutional abridgment of the powers of the commander in chief, arguing on the grounds that the president has sovereign rights to control national security information.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs disputed those grounds. They noted that the Constitution recognizes the occasional need for legislative secrecy and permits Congress to meet in secrecy, but they pointed out that it fails in plain language to mention any secrecy power of the executive. There exists a general legal principle that says, in essence, if a law expressly grants powers to one but not to others, then the omission is presumed as intentional.

Judge Gasch ruled in favor of the Reagan administration, although he could find little constitutional basis for the theory of executive primacy. Indeed, Gasch acknowledged that "[n]either political branch is expressly charged by the Constitution with regulation, accumulation of, or access to, national security information." Nonetheless, relying on English common law, he found that Congress had unconstitutionally violated the president's "sovereign prerogative" to preserve secrets. To posit the existence of a "sovereign prerogative" in a republic such as the United States was strange. The basis of a republic, as distinguished from a monarchy, is that all citizens have equal status before the law, while the notion of sovereignty grants a superlative power to one individual. Nevertheless, Gasch decided that constitutionally the president's secrecy powers were contained, by inference, in his command of the armed forces. Gasch further ruled that the proper role of Congress was to be a supporter of executive secrecy, to "facilitate secrecy with appropriate criminal and civil sanctions."

Gasch did allow that perhaps there was a problem with the excessively broad term "classifiable" used in Form I89. But by the time of Gasch's decision, Steven Garfinkel had written a new definition of "classifiable" as "unmarked classified information . . . in the process of a classification determination." This revision seemed to satisfy Gasch.

Gasch's decision was appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Congress passed yet another ban on the spread of secrecy contracts as part of another appropriations bill. Reagan, placed in the same political box as before, signed the bill into law on September 23, I988, even while denouncing the ban. He charged that it "raises profound constitutional concerns" and "interferes with my ability to prevent unauthorized disclosures of our most sensitive diplomatic, military, and intelligence activities." The general impression was that the spread of censorship again had been outlawed. "People will get the impression . . . that it's ended, yes," Garfinkel observed. However, in his signing statement, Reagan ordered: "In accordance with my sworn obligation to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, [the ban] will be considered of no force or effect unless and until the ruling of the district court is reversed by the Supreme Court."

Seven days later, Garfinkel replaced Standard Form I89 with Standard Form 3I2, from which he had removed the catchall term "classifiable." He sent the new form to more than fifty agency chiefs for circulation to employees. Fitzgerald waited on edge, expecting the worst. If the Supreme Court upheld the Gasch decision, Fitzgerald might be fired.

On November ,, I988, George Bush won the presidential election. As CIA director in I976, he had been a strong advocate of spreading secrecy agreements, and he became the first president-elect in history to require his transition team to sign secrecy contracts.

On April I8, I989, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist delivered the Supreme Court's ruling on the Gasch decision. Gasch was ordered to reconsider the case. Rehnquist stated, "We emphasize that the District Court should not pronounce upon the relative constitutional authority of Congress and the Executive Branch unless it finds it imperative to do so." Rehnquist was sidestepping the issue, preferring to keep the courts out of a fight that might never be settled permanently.

In the fall of I989, Congress again legislated limits on the secrecy contracts with a rider to another appropriations measure. President Bush signed it on November 3, I989, but, as Reagan had done, he instructed his subordinates to ignore the law. Bush's signing statement, which received little notice, read:

I am compelled to note my strong objection to section 6I8, . . . which purports to forbid the implementation or enforcement of certain nondisclosure agreements required of government employees with access to classified information. This provision . . . raises profound constitutional concerns.... Article II of the Constitution confers responsibility on me as President and Commander in Chief to conduct the national defense and foreign affairs of the United States. In this capacity, I have the constitutional duty to ensure the secrecy of information whose disclosure would threaten our national security.... Furthermore, section 6I8 could suggest that I am prohibited from establishing and enforcing appropriate procedures to control the dissemination of classified information by executive branch employees to Members of Congress.

Here was the crux of the matter-the executive branch sought the control of information going to Congress.

"I believe," Bush continued, "that section 6I8, thus construed, would jeopardize the nation's security by unconstitutionally interfering with my ability to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of information concerning our most sensitive diplomatic, military, and intelligence activities." Thus he "direct[ed] that executive branch officials implement the provisions of section 6I8 in a manner consistent with the Constitution." In essence, Bush was ordering that the law be disobeyed.

"We're still in business," Garfinkel said. He kept pressuring agencies to distribute the new Form 3I2. With Bush as president, Garfinkel's Information Security Oversight Office headquarters was moved out of the sixth floor of the General Services building to a fancier address closer to the White House. According to Garfinkel, this move was intended to signal the increased importance of information security.

In his Pentagon office, meanwhile, Fitzgerald kept refusing to sign the new secrecy contract. No one, however, cared to press Fitzgerald any longer, for he had achieved celebrity status in Washington. During an interview Garfinkel threw up his hands at a question about Fitzgerald, as if to say, "I don't ever want to hear about Ernie Fitzgerald again, and I don't want to know if he does not sign a secrecy contract.

With Gasch's decision remanded back to his court, lawyers began trying to negotiate a settlement between Congress and the Bush administration over the secrecy oaths. From the point of view of the congressional lawyers, it was one thing for the executive to say to a civil servant, "You can't disclose to the public," but quite another to say, "You can't disclose to Congress." Bush's lawyers were also willing to make the same distinction. Garfinkel would amend the secrecy contracts to protect government employees who inform Congress. In January I99I, he added to Form 3I2 the sections from the Whistleblower Protection Act that protect those who disclose waste, fraud, and abuse to Congress.

The congressional right to know had been steadily eroded during the previous two decades, and, given a political climate in which the executive branch was still in the ascendancy, Congress was satisfied with this small victory. The compromise essentially ended congressional resistance to the secrecy contracts.


Congress has many arcane rules designed to control information, many in conflict with one another. Historically, Congress could and did release information, classified or not, as a branch of government equal to the executive. Up until I976, even the CIA recognized the power of Congress to declassify information, according to an internal Agency memorandum that has never been made public. The turning point came when the House Select Committee on Intelligence (usually referred to as the Pike Committee for its chairman, Congressman Otis Pike of New York) issued a report on the CIA so scathing that the House voted to seal it. In January I976, John D. Morrison Jr., the CIA deputy general counsel, analyzed the report and discovered to his delight a crucial assertion: "no one in Congress can declassify." To the CIA, this was news. In a memo, Morrison pointedly remarked, We shall cherish this latter statement against interest and use it as precedent, so do not say anything to make them [the committee] reconsider it." It is a particular irony that the Pike Committee, while it criticized the CIA and fought for access to CIA documents, inadvertently contributed to surrendering the congressional right to disclose secrets of the executive branch.

From that point on, Congress continued to lose control of executive information. The next setback was in the traditional right for each and every member of Congress to have complete and equal access to all information in the custody of any congressional committee. In practical terms, this meant when a member was concerned with, say, the overthrow of a government in Chile, the member could inspect the classified testimony of the CIA director delivered in executive session of the intelligence committee and engage in political debate, through correspondence with fellow members about it. However, on July I4, I977, when Stansfield Turner was CIA director, the House consolidated CIA oversight in the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and set up a special House rule creating a five-day waiting period before classified information can be disclosed to the public. The rule gave the president time to indulge in arm twisting, thus preventing the vast majority of secrets from ever being released. Another rule restricted the sharing of such information with another member of Congress. By limiting debate among members of Congress, these rules amounted to an erosion of the basic autonomy of Congress in favor of executive power.

In I987 Congress imposed upon itself the requirement that the House and Senate, in consultation with the CIA director, "shall each establish, by rule or resolution, procedures to protect from unauthorized disclosure all classified information and all information relating to intelligence sources and methods furnished to the intelligence committees." Thus, Congress accepted the president's right to deter- ~ mine unilaterally what must be kept secret from the public.


CIA Openness Task Force

On January I7, I99I, Senator Moynihan made a metaphorical point about the ending of the cold war by introducing a bill that would have abolished the CIA and transferred its functions to the Department of State. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, only the former editor of CourlterSpy magazine had dared to suggest such an idea. Moynihan's bill, S. 236, also proposed that intelligence budgets be published. While the abolition of the CIA was not taken as a serious threat, the prospect that budgets might be drastically cut back struck terror into the heart of the bureaucracy. The leadership of the CIA was put on notice that they had to find new reasons to justify the Agency's rarefied governmental powers.

In May I99I, President Bush nominated Robert M. Gates to replace William Webster as CIA director. Gates had specialized in Soviet affairs as a career intelligence analyst. In September, during Gates's contentious confirmation hearings before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Melvin A. Goodman appeared as a witness. Goodman, a former CIA division chief in Soviet foreign policy, testified that Gates had, over a period of years as deputy director of the CIA, given Congress and the president misleading and politicized intelligence. "Gates's role," he said, "was to corrupt the process and the ethics of intelligence . . . [and] to ignore and suppress signs of the Soviet strategic retreat." Other witnesses at the hearings accused Gates of having shaped intelligence reports during I986 in a manner that supported the U.S. sale of arms to Iran.

This damning testimony undercut Gates's chances of confirmation. Fighting to gain favor and to show that he understood the changing times, Gates pledged to the committee that if approved as director he would run a more open CIA. The committee was persuaded by his promise and voted in favor of his confirmation.

After Gates was sworn in, he sent a memorandum on November I8, I99I, to his director of public affairs, Joseph DeTrani, setting up the CIA Openness Task Force. Its purpose was to continue "improving accessibility to information about [the] CIA by the public and overall openness to the extent possible" (the operative words being "to the extent possible"). DeTrani was ordered to explore how the CIA could improve "openness" and "accessibility" through use of the news media and by expanding relations with universities. A report was due in a month.

DeTrani's task force came up with twenty-one recommendations to counter the growing impression that the CIA and secrecy itself had become anachronisms. The principal recommendation called for a public relations campaign directed at members of the general public. Rather than take any substantive steps toward reform, the idea was to do a better job of selling the mystique of the CIA. "There was substantial agreement," the report said, "that we need to make the institution and the process more visible and understandable rather than strive for openness on specific substantive issues."

For Gates, the point was to use the so-called openness public relations campaign to answer critics who wanted big reductions in the congressional intelligence community appropriation (estimated to be about $30 billion annually). For DeTrani, the point was the same, except on a smaller scale. He was facing a cut of 33 percent in the CIA public affairs office. In his report DeTrani stressed, "We recognize that a program of increased openness will require commitment of additional resources, not only for [the public affairs office] but for other parts of the Agency." Gates and DeTrani proved the Washington cliché: the first concern of a bureaucrat is to preserve his budget.

DeTrani recommended that the CIA engage in a broad program to influence U.S. academia, forgetting the scandal over the CIA use of the National Student Association in the I960s. The CIA Editorial Board had identified hundreds of CIA-authored articles, and DeTrani suggested that scholars connected with journals and editors at university presses could be pushed to publish them. In addition, he noted that the Agency had a wide range of contacts with academics through recruiting, professional societies, and contractual arrangements, which he thought could be expanded. The CIA, he proposed, could become an institutional member of scientific and professional societies and could sponsor more academic conferences and seminars, even bringing scholars to study at Langley. Furthermore, DeTrani wished to expand the CIA officer-in-residence program, which currently had thirteen CIA officers at universities, each provided with about $100,000 This entire recommendation, of course, flew in the face of the lessons supposedly learned after the Pike Committee severely criticized the CIA in the I970s for trying to manipulate public opinion through academia.

The Pike Committee also had rebuked the Agency for manipulating the U.S. media. News organizations, domestic and international, had been scandalized to discover that the CIA employed more than four hundred journalists as spies. Now DeTrani was recommending "a strategy for expanding our work with the media as a means of reaching an even broader audience." It was a suggestion remarkable in its brazenness-and clever as well. DeTrani wanted the CIA to declassify certain files about historical events in order to put the Agency in a more positive light. By assisting journalists, "intelligence failure" stories could be turned into "intelligence success" stories, he argued, and he boasted about past triumphs with the news media: "In many instances, we have persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests or jeopardized sources and methods."

DeTrani also wanted to work with filmmakers on "accuracy" and "authenticity" and to help friendly Hollywood directors by allowing them to shoot movies at CIA headquarters. Along the same lines he wanted to cooperate with feature writers to "personalize the world of intelligence in broad circulation newspapers or magazines." Other propaganda could be aimed directly at the public. Unclassified versions of the Agency's Studies in Intelligence could be sold, and CIA officers could step up their number of speeches to civic and service dubs, mainly Rotary and Kiwanis. A CIA speakers bureau already had been established in I990.

In addition, DeTrani had a full set of recommendations for working more closely with new members of Congress, as well as staffers on Capitol Hill and at congressional agencies, such as the Congressional Research Service and the Office of Technological Assessment. Basically, the plan was to take them into the Agency's confidence in attempts to convince them of the CIA's worth, a rather cynical process of co-optation in which spies befriend and manipulate their targets. This technique is a specialty of espionage agents. For the average outsider, being taken into the CIA's confidence can be breathtaking.

The public release of the Openness Task Force report was scheduled for April Fool's Day I992-with the last four inches of DeTrani's report to be blacked out. But the report was made public after its secrecy had become an embarrassment to the CIA. A New York Times reporter, Elaine Sciolino, revealed its existence on January I2, I992. During the following week, DeTrani called it an "internal advisory document that [could not] go outside the Agency," classified secret. On January I4, DeTrani said he would keep the Openness Task Force report secret until Gates issued his orders based upon it. However, Director Gates had already dispatched those orders for the domestic propaganda operation ten days earlier, on January 6, to his deputy directors: they covered five pages.

Gates accepted DeTrani's primary recommendation-the CIA should improve and update its image without changing its fundamental character. Gates stated, "I believe that CIA, whatever the level of its public affairs effort, will find it difficult to win recognition as an 'open' institution." In other words, the Agency should give out information that makes it look good and, as usual, keep the rest secret. While ordering new cooperation with the news media, Gates cautioned that the CIA would not be pressured into changing its approach to secrets. The only incentive for cooperating with journalists, Gates said, was to enhance "the broader Agency programs."

Gates wanted the CIA to conduct carefully controlled background briefings of selected reporters who could be relied upon to deliver the CIA message without the public being able to discern precisely the source. Gates also took up DeTrani on his suggestion to persuade friendly journalists to write profiles of CIA officers, although he insisted that meticulous records be kept of such contacts. Such records would, of course, assist the Agency's Unauthorized Disclosures Analysis Center agents in combating news leaks. Gates refused DeTrani permission to appear more often on television but instead assigned extra television time for himself He was to be the CIA's premier salesman, and everyone else was to fall in behind him. "All of us in the Agency simply should keep our eyes and ears open for feedback, from whatever quarter, on the success of our efforts," Gates directed.

In addition to media operations, Gates approved direct CIA propagandizing of the general population through the circulation of press releases detailing the Agency's history, mission, and functions in light of the new world order. "The Agency's briefing program for the full range of potential audiences should be expanded as opportunities arise," Gates ordered. He approved CIA officers joining scientific and professional societies and urged that operations on American college campuses be expanded by setting up intelligence studies programs and finding universities to publish CIA material. Scholars would also be encouraged to publish CIA-subsidized articles in the United States. Gates also established a program to bring chief executive officers of corporations to Langley for a day, beginning with CEOs already cooperating with the Agency. Under a similar program, members of the media with influential voices-including even Norman Mailer-were to be invited to speak with CIA groups.

Regarding the release of documents, Gates ordered a review of historical and FOIA records, "with a view to accelerating the process [of release]." However, Gates's orders made it plain that CIA "openness" did not mean the lessening of secrecy. "Openness" meant adopting a well-crafted public relations scheme aimed at the most important opinion makers in the nation.

Gates's assessment that the CIA had a public relations problem was proved later in January. The news commentator with the largest audience in the United States, 60 Minutes sage Andy Rooney, blasted the CIA in his syndicated newspaper column printed January 26, I992. It was headlined by the San Francisco Sunday newspaper "A Lack of Intelligence: Fire the Spies." Rooney wrote, "If they cut the $30 billion [sic] Central Intelligence Agency budget tomorrow by 75 percent, it wouldn't be a month too soon." He said, "When the CIA is questioned about anything, they have a standard answer: 'That's a secret that would compromise the security of the United States."

Epilogue: The Cold War Ends and Secrecy Spreads

For nearly ten years Aldrich Ames spent money in lavish fashion on cars, real estate, and the good things in life. A longtime CIA agent, Ames often purchased his extravagances with cash. Unbeknownst to his superiors at Langley, the KGB was regularly paying him large sums of cash, eventually totaling more than $2.5 million. In return, Ames was stealing documents from Agency files and supplying the Soviets with the names of U.S. agents working behind the Iron Curtain. As far as can be ascertained, the information passed on by Ames led to the deaths or disappearances of at least twelve members of the U.S. intelligence community in Europe and the former Soviet Union. After sustaining a career of thirty-one years with the CIA, Ames was finally caught in February I994. He immediately made Agency history as the most senior officer ever found spying for the other side in the cold war. He was also by far the best-paid KGB mole inside America-so well paid, in fact, as to raise a question about how he was able to elude detection for so long.

On accepting a plea bargain that sentenced him to life in prison without parole, Ames himself suggested an answer in an extraordinary confession at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. First Ames described how a culture of cynicism had taken over at the CIA.

"I had come to believe," he told the judge, "that the espionage business as carried out by the CIA and a few other American agencies was and is a self-serving sham, carried out by careerist bureaucrats who have managed to deceive several generations of American policymakers and the public about both the necessity and the value of their work." In order to protect their own bureaucratic interests, he said, CIA officials set up a system that keeps every detail from the American people. The "sham" of the U.S. intelligence community, he said, is immeasurably aided by secrecy." The revelation of Ames's duplicitous life and the publicity from his courtroom statement sent shock waves across Capitol Hill. Senator John Warner, a Republican from Virginia, spoke grimly about the need to set up an outside, independent group to issue recommendations for a major restructuring of U.S. intelligence.

The new CIA director, R James Woolsey, who had been appointed by the first Democratic president in twelve years, William Jefferson Clinton, felt obliged to try to counter Ames's allegations during a speech on July I8, I994, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Woolsey compared Ames to Benedict Arnold and sarcastically noted that while there were a few differences between the two traitors, "they are all in Benedict Arnold's favor." Clearly no one in Woolsey's audience of journalists and intelligence experts held any brief for someone as mercenary as Ames, and yet the criticisms leveled by Ames had struck a chord with the Washington insiders. Since I947 they had promoted the premise of large-scale secrecy as a necessary element of the cold war. With the cold war over and arguably won, wasn't it time to take a hard look to see if the CIA had become too self-righteous and secretive, too antagonistic to a society based on democratic precepts?

Woolsey tried to deflect the criticisms by accepting some of them as valid. "The camaraderie within the [CIA] fraternity can smack of elitism and arrogance," he admitted. Then, in a Reaganesque tactic, Woolsey straightened up at the lectern and aimed his remarks over the heads of his audience to the public at large. "The American people have the right to ask where the CIA is going after the cold war and after, for that matter, Aldrich Ames," he said. "For us to assume your continued support or your willingness to give us the benefit of the doubt will not do. We have the obligation to provide you with answers through the deliberative process with the members of Congress and through speaking directly to you. Problems that have arisen will be addressed fully, openly and honestly, warts and all. Programs that are no longer relevant will be abolished."

No CIA director had ever sounded so defensive about the Agency in a public speech, nor had a CIA director ever come so close to a mea culpa for the abuses inherent in the secrecy program. Nonetheless, the reforms promised by Woolsey-more openness, more accountability-had been promised before, most recently by Robert Gates. Given the record of past directors and past presidents, was it realistic to believe the Clinton administration would usher in a new era?

The answer lay in a struggle between two forces. One was the historical and political force created by the end of the cold war. In America, land of the free, it had usually been assumed that secrecy was an aberration, something to be tolerated only in the extreme circumstances of wartime. Now, without a security rationale for secrecy, the guardians of open government would presumably be able to rally most of the American people to their side. On the opposite side was the countervailing force of the intelligence bureaucracy, whose leaders for nearly half a century had operated with secrecy uppermost in mind. Although many of the old cold war warriors were now dead or retired, their younger proteges still occupied positions of power. Even if Woolsey could be taken at his word, he would have to overcome active resistance from within his own ranks, as well as the inertia present in any bureaucracy.

The key would be the new president. Clinton's election in I992 had brought into office the first president since Herbert Hoover who had no association with World War II and who had not lived through the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Shortly after his inauguration, Clinton pledged to usher in an era of candor, and he set into motion various efforts to liberalize the rules governing secrecy.

The era of candor began with a presidential memo issued on October 3, I993, addressed to the heads of all government agencies, which directed them to stop their routine resistance to FOIA requests. Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno, explained the rationale for openness by saying that it was essential to government accountability and that the FOIA "has become an integral part of that process." According to Reno, the Justice Department would scrap a I98I rule promulgated by the Reagan administration that allowed agencies to withhold information if they had any conceivable legal excuse. Justice would no longer provide legal counsel as a matter of routine when federal agencies denied FOIA requests. In an even more radical departure from the past, Clinton took the position that the public should not have to rely just on the FOIA to obtain information about the inner workings of the federal government. Rather, he wrote in his memo, it is up to the government to keep the citizens informed: "Each agency has a responsibility to distribute information on its own initiatlve.

Within a month, however, Clinton's enthusiasm for an open, accountable government began to fade, and so did the hope that he would institute a major overhaul of the secrecy program. Like Presidents Johnson and Nixon before him, Clinton found the sticking point to be not concern about national security but rather his own sensitivity about activities at the White House. In essence, Clinton decided that White House affairs would not be subject to his policy of openness. Clinton's friend and associate attorney general, Webster Hubbell, reminded all federal FOIA officers to return to the White House any document found in the course of FOIA searches if it had originated at the White House; under no circumstances were the documents to be released to the public. In addition, Hubbell increased the number of White House departments that could be exempt from the FOIA, including such working groups as the Clinton health care task force, which was then facing a legal challenge for holding meetings in secret under the supervision of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Although actions of the president and his staff had always been exempt from the FOIA, the Clinton administration soon made it clear that the ring of secrecy around the White House would become even tighter. When a request by Knight-Ridder Newspapers for the salaries of presidential staffers was denied, Richard Oppel, on behalf of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, fired off a letter to Clinton: "There may be no specific law commanding the release of the salaries," he wrote, "but there is certainly no law authorizing the withholding of the information. In the absence of such authorization, the information should be public without discussion. The people's business, we submit, is the people's business." Despite the scant possible justification for refusing to disclose as innocuous a piece of information as someone's salary, the Clinton administration held firm.

In addition, the Clinton administration became the first to argue in court in favor of a more restrictive interpretation of the FOIA with respect to National Security Council (NSC) documents. Previous administrations had agreed that the NSC generated two kinds of records-presidential records and agency records-and that the latter were subject to the FOIA. Departing from precedent, the Clinton Justice Department took the position that all NSC records fell into the presidential category and could not be obtained through the FOIA.

A rare opportunity for reforming the intelligence bureaucracy seemed to be slipping away from an embattled Clinton. At the beginning of his presidency, Clinton did not boldly challenge the bureaucracy and relied on others, often the bureaucrats themselves-to carry out reforms. In the case of the CIA, he relied on Woolsey, a Yale lawyer whose background and sensibilities were similar to those of many career officers under him. In light of Ames, that reliance on Woolsey and the Agency good old boys for reform was now seen as questionable.

Clinton showed how far he was willing to go with the new policy of openness in the summer of I994. The issue at hand was whether the total amount of the intelligence community's annual budget would remain a secret. For some time there had been no plausible reason for the American people not to know how much the intelligence community spends. The full Senate had passed resolutions in I99I, I992, and I993 favoring disclosure of the figure. Robert Gates had testified in I99I that he had no problem with disclosure. Besides, almost everyone who frequented the corridors of Capitol Hill or the nearby watering holes (including any foreign agents worth their salt) already knew the number. And, to make the secrecy even more of a joke, a Senate committee had inadvertently published enough figures to allow easy calculation of the intelligence community budget for fiscal year I994 ($28 billion). However, when it came time for Woolsey to release the budget figure formally, he refused. Instead, he and Clinton's other national security officials lobbied Congress to prevent formal disclosure. When Dan Glickman of Kansas, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Robert Torricelli of New Jersey introduced an amendment to make the disclosure mandatory, the Clinton team managed to defeat it by a 22I-I94 vote.

The lifetime secrecy contracts had emerged from the Operation MHCHAOS offices, spreading throughout the CIA and the National Security Agency. Then, at ISOO and CIA insistence, the contract moved into the ranks of government and civilian workers at the State Department and in the Pentagon and to some I., million employees of government contractors. The use of the contract expanded pervasively through the executive branch; as opposition from the defenders of constitutional rights evaporated, it gradually moved into Congress. In I99I Garfinkel made some small changes in the secrecy contract and added whistle-blower protection for congressional Witnesses. That seemed to silence the last outspoken opposition in the House. A few senators, including Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, continued to be wary of White House intrusions on traditional congressional independence.

By the I990s, reflecting the general conservative shift in Congress, many House members were actively welcoming a secrecy oath. Consideration of the oath, less comprehensive than the standard contract, first came up in the House Select Committee on Intelligence during a discussion of the fiscal year (FY) I992 Intelligence Authorization Act. That led to a House rule requiring the intelligence committee members and staff to sign the oath. Interest in broadening the use of the oath did not stop there, especially for committee member Porter J. Goss of Florida. Goss's ties to the CIA dated from I962 and his ten-year stint as a clandestine service officer at the Agency. He and his fellow enthusiast, Henry J. Hyde of Illinois, offered amendments to the FY I993 and I994 authorization acts that would require secrecy oaths from every member of the House. The amendments did not prosper, but when the I04th Congress convened on January 4, I995, backers of the oath changed tactics. This time the oath requirement for every I House member was included in the packet of rules from the House Conference of the Majority. It became a new rule without debate.


In the mid-I980s, Jeane Kirkpatrick sounded the alarm about government censorship. Although a member of the Reagan administration's inner foreign policy circle, Kirkpatrick had had a personal encounter with government censors over her refusal to sign the lifetime secrecy contract. Upon returning to her political science chair at Georgetown University from her post as U.S. United Nations ambassador, Kirkpatrick reexamined John Stuart Mill's classic essay On Liberty and delivered a lecture on censorship. "Societies are not made stronger by the process of repression that accompanies censorship," she warned. "Censorship requires an assumption of infallibility, and that seems to Mill invariably negative. Repression of an opinion is thus bad for the censor, who inevitably acts from a conviction of his own infallibility," she told her students, "and bad for the opinion itself, which can neither be corrected nor held with conviction equal to the strength of an opinion submitted to challenge."

As the twentieth century draws to a close, the I947 National Security Act has become the Pandora's box that Ambassador Kirkpatrick and Congressman Hoffman had feared. Placing a legal barrier between foreign intelligence operations and domestic politics in the National Security Act has proved ineffectual. In the decades that followed I947, the CIA not only became increasingly involved in domestic politics but abridged First Amendment guarantees of free speech and free press in a conspiracy to keep this intrusion from the American people. The intelligence and military secrecy of the I940s had broadened in the I960s to covering up the suppression of domestic dissent. The I980s registered a further, more fundamental change, as the suppression of unpopular opinions was supplemented by systematic and institutionalized peacetime censorship for the first time in U.S. history. The repressive machinery developed by the CIA has spread secrecy like oil on water.

The U.S. government has always danced with the devil of secrecy during wartime. By attaching the word "war" to the economic and ideological race for world supremacy between the Soviet Union and the United States, a string of administrations continued this dance uninterrupted for fifty years. The cold war provided the foreign threat to justify the pervasive Washington belief that secrecy should have the greatest possible latitude and openness should be restricted as much as possible-constitutional liberties be damned.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union as a world power in I990, even the pseudo-war rationale evaporated. But the partisans of secrecy have not been willing to accept the usual terms of peacetime They have made clear their intentions to preserve and extend the wartime system. They will find a rationalization: if not the threat of the Soviet Union, then the goal of economic hegemony. Thus the U.S. government now needs to keep secrets to give an advantage to American corporate interests. Yet it is entrepreneurs who have been making the most use of FOIA-not journalists, not lawyers. As of I994, the great preponderance of all FOIA requests have been for business purposes. As the framers of the Constitution understood, the free exchange of ideas is good for commerce, but this idea has been widely forgotten in the years since the passage of the I947 National Security Act.

Only recently in the history of the world's oldest republic has secrecy functioned principally to keep the American people in the dark about the nefarious activities of their government. The United States is no longer the nation its citizens once thought: a place, unlike most others in the world, free from censorship and thought police, where people can say what they want, when they want to, about their government. Almost a decade after the end of the cold war, espionage is not the issue, if it ever really was. The issue is freedom, as it was for the Minute Men at Compo Hill. The issue is principle, as it was for Ernest Fitzgerald, who never signed a secrecy contract but retained his Pentagon job because he made his stand for the First Amendment resonate in Congress. Until the citizens of this land aggressively defend their First Amendment rights of free speech, there is little hope that the march to censorship will be reversed. The survival of the cornerstone of the Bill of Rights is at stake.


Targets of Domestic Spying

An Annotated List of Some FBI Surveillance Targets during the 1980s

I wrote the FBI on February in I987 asking for files on I27 political groups, most of which were opposed to the U.S. government's arming of the Contras. The Bureau's response was dragged out over five years. The vast majority of the files were denied under the I986 FOIA amendment, but the FBI did release some information about the size of the files, the number of pages kept secret, and the reasons for that secrecy. The FBI also released a few heavily blacked-out pages, enough to give a glimpse of the Bureau's investigations into a number of highly visible political groups.

The unwanted and unwarranted attention to ... politically active citizen organizations shows both the FBI's institutionalized disregard for constitutionally guaranteed rights and the use of FOIA exemptions to hide this abuse of power. Many of the groups have a long history of lobbying Congress and publishing newsletters-activities well within the scope of the First Amendment. None of the FBI investigations resulted in criminal indictments. Rather the purpose of the investigations, as is evident from the documents, was to monitor their political activities. The following is a digested version of information concerning these FBI investigations.

American Committee on Africa/Africa Fund was a New York-based organization opposed to apartheid in South Africa. The FBI withheld 42, of 6I pages "in the interest of national defense or foreign policy." On July I8, I979, the FBI searched for all subversive and nonsubversive information on this group, on which the FBI kept a domestic security file and a Registration Act investigative file.

Arms Control Computer Network, Christic Institute, and the Committee Against Registration and the Draft. The FBI kept all records on these groups secret for "national defense" and to protect "confidential sources."

Black Student Communications Organizing Network is based in Jamaica, New York, and unifies black student groups. FBI files have been withheld in their entirety to protect "national defense or foreign policy."

The Center for Defense Information, based in Washington, D.C., opposes excessive spending for weapons and policies that increase the danger of war. The FBI Director, in an administrative matter involving no alleged violation of laws, searched FBI files for data on the group for reasons the FBI kept secret. The FBI withheld fifty-seven pages of documents to protect national defense, privacy, and confidential sources in a "foreign counterintelligence matter." Other FBI reports profiled the head of the group, Gene Robert LaRocque, citing Whos Who: "[He] is a retired naval officer, commander Task Group in Sixth Fleet, member of faculty of Naval War College." Another FBI document said the Center for Defense Information "functions as a 'gadfly' to the U.S. military establishment and is staffed with very liberal, anti-establishment, anti-FBI/CIA academics." A memo from the Special Agent in Charge to the FBI Director was stamped "SECRET" and said that LaRocque published The Defense Monitor, which reports timely information regarding military establishments. On August I3, I986, FBI headquarters requested that information on the group be forwarded to the FBI agent attached to the U.S. Embassy in Bonn.

Central American Solidarity Association was a group opposed to Contra funding. Of the seventeen pages in this foreign counterintelligence-terrorism file, fifteen were kept secret.

Children's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Environmental Policy Center is based in Plainfield, Vermont. The FBI has kept one reference secret to protect "confidential sources."

Citizens Against Nuclear War. The FBI has kept six cross-references secret for reasons of national defense."

Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, conducts public education and research and advocates lowering defense spending. In June I983, the Naval Investigative Service asked the FBI to check on this group because of a counterintelligence interest.

Interfaith Center to Reverse the Arms Race. The FBI has kept six cross-references classified secret to "protect the national defense, privacy, and confidential sources."

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. The FBI kept two cross-references exempt from disclosure to protect "confidential sources."

Lutheran World Ministries was based on Park Avenue South in Manhattan, New York. FBI documents containing cross-references were determined to be exempt from disclosure to "protect confidential sources.

Medical Aid for El Salvador. The FBI kept secret one file of an investigation that was pending on November 30, I988, to protect "confidential" sources and the "national defense."

National Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala is a Washington group advocating an end to U.S. military aid in Guatemala. All FBI counterintelligence-terrorism records on it are kept secret under the I986 FOIA amendment.

National Network in Solidarity with the People of Nicaragua was a Washington group opposed to arming the Contras. Of the forty-six pages in this file, the FBI kept secret forty-one pages.

National Peace Academy Campaign, Sojourners Peace Ministry and World Peacemakers. Four cross-references were withheld to protect "national defense."

Nuclear Control Institute has worked since I98I in Washington to oppose nuclear proliferation. Of the FBI file on this group, the FBI has kept nine pages secret "to protect privacy and confidential sources."

The Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign was a major opponent of Reagan-Bush arms policies. Of its file, the FBI kept secret thirty pages and released eight, which revealed that in I985, an FBI agent got a leaflet in Burlington, Vermont, about the organization of a nationwide contingency plan by the Resistance Pledge Network to block U.S. intervention in Central America. The agent reported the contents of the leaflet, which advocated a nonviolent, no drugs, no-property damage demonstration against U.S. intervention, and on March 6, I985, forwarded the report to the CIA, the Naval Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the United States Secret Service, and the Army Intelligence Command at Fort Meade.

Patrice Lumumba Coalition/Unity in Action Network was based in Harlem, New York. Of the FBI's file of I05 pages, it kept secret 78. At least one FBI document in the file had been sent to the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The subjects of the documents were the African National Congress, the Pan African Congress, and the identities of individuals who attended the International Conference on Islam during October I986. The contents of the memo were withheld to protect "foreign policy" and "privacy."

Peace Child Foundation. The FBI has kept twenty-two pages secret concerning a June I986 foreign counterintelligence investigation by FBI Squad I4, San Francisco.

Peace Links: Women Against Nuclear War. An FBI agent in Detroit wrote headquarters on November 6, I986, that a Peace Links chapter was part of a national organization of women to promote nuclear disarmament and peace between East and West. The rest of the memo was censored to protect "defense, foreign policy and confidential sources."

Student/Teacher Organization to Prevent Nuclear War of Boston. The FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven, Connecticut, Field Office sent documents to the FBI director that had been provided by a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority, under the I986 amendment. The New Haven FBI office placed this file in dosed status March II, I985.

Union of Concerned Scientists. The FBI has kept 296 pages secret to protect foreign policy, privacy, and confidential informants. According to a December I6, I986, FBI summary, "The central files of this Bureau reveal the following information.... The Union of Concerned Scientists is composed of senior and junior faculty members and graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . . . organized for the expressed purpose of a one-day strike aimed at turning scientific research applications away from military technology and toward the solution of environmental and social problems. The UCS maintained no formal membership rolls.... As of this date, the UCS is under investigation due to the fact that its activities meet the criteria that fall within the Attorney General's guidelines."

United Nations Center Against Apartheid, established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in I962, was opposed to South African racial policies. The FBI files contain a secret report from the CIA dated April I984. The CIA withheld the document in entirety to protect the "national defense."

U.S. Out of Central America. The FBI has kept twenty pages secret to protect confidential sources.

Washington Office on Latin America was a Washington group with thirteen employees and an annual budget of $500,000 that opposed the Reagan policies in Central America. The FBI's file contained seventy-nine pages, of which the FBI kept secret seventy-three pages under the FOIA amendment's provisions for hiding foreign counterintelligence matters. Parts of this file were distributed to the FBI San Antonio office and to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Witness for Peace is a Washington group with an annual budget in excess of $I million that characterizes itself as a grassroots, faith-based, nonviolent group opposed to U.S. intervention in Central America. The FBI kept secret eleven pages on this group under the I986 amendment because they could "reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings."