Thursday, July 27, 2017

Huge CIA Operation Reported in US Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years


NYTimes |  Mr. Colby refused comment on the domestic spying issue. But one clue to the depth of his feelings emerged during an off‐the‐record talk he gave Monday night at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

The C.I.A. chief, who had been informed the previous week of the inquiry by The Times, said at the meeting that be had ordered a complete investigation of the agency's domestic activities and had found some improprieties.

But he is known to have added, “I think family skeletons are best left where they are—in the closet.”
He then said that the “good thing about all of this was the red flag” was raised by a group of junior employes inside the agency.

It was because of the prodding from below, some sources have reported, that Mr. Colby decided last year to inform the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Oversight Committees of the domestic activities.

Mr. Schlesinger, who became Secretary of Defense after serving less than six months at the C.I.A., similarly refused to discuss the domestic spying activities.

Anguish Reported
But he was'described by an associate as extremely concerned and disturbed by what he discovered at the C.I.A. upon replacing Mr. Helms.

“He found himself in a cesspool,” the associate said. “He was having a grenade blowing up in his face every time he turned around.”

Mr. Schlesinger was at the C.I.A. when the first word of the agency's involvement in the September, 1971, burglary of the office of Dr. Daniel Ellsberg's former psychiatrist by the White House security force known as the “plumbers” became known.

It was Mr. Schlesinger who also discovered and turned over to the Justice Department a series of letters written to a Mr. Helms by James W. McCord Jr., one of the original Watergate defendants and a former C.I.A. security official. The letters, which told of White House involvement in the Watergate burglary, had been deposited in an agency office.

The associate said one result of Mr. Schlesinger's inquiries into Watergate and the domestic of the C.I.A. operations was his executive edict ordering a halt to all questionable counterintelligence operations inside the United States.

During his short stay at the C.I.A., Mr. Schlesinger also initiated a 10 per cent employe cutback. Because of his actions, the associate said, security officials at the agency decided to increase the number of his personal bodyguards. It could not be learned whether that action was taken after a threat.

Many past and present C.I.A. men acknowledged that Mr. Schlesinger's reforms were harder to bear because he was an outsider.

Mr. Colby, these men said, while continuing the same basic programs initiated by his predecessor, was viewed by some as “the saving force” at the agency because as a former high‐ranking official himself in the C.I.A.'s clandestine services, he had the respect and power. to ensure that the alleged illegal domestic programs would cease.

Some sources also reported that there was widespread paper shredding at the agency shortly after Mr. Schlesinger began to crack down on the C.I.A.'s operations.

Asked about that, however, Government officials said that they could “guarantee” that the domestic intelligence files were still intact.

“There's certainly been no order to destroy them,” one official said:
When confronted with the Times's Information about the C.I.A.'s domestic operations earlier this week, high‐ranking American intelligence officials confirmed its basic accuracy, but cautioned against drawing “unwarranted conclusions.”

Espionage Feared
Those officials, who insisted on not being quoted by name, contended that all of the C.I.A.'s domestic activities against American citizens were initiated in the belief that foreign governments and foreign espionage may have been involved.

“Anything that we did was In the context of foreign counterintelligence and it was focused at foreign intelligence and foreign intelligence problems,” one official said.

The official also said that the requirement to maintain files on American citizens emanated, in part, from the so‐called Huston plan. That plan, named for its author, Tom Charles Huston, a Presidential aide, was a White House project in 1970 calling for the use of such, illegal activities as burglaries and wiretapping to combat antiwait activities, and student turmoil that the White House believed was being “fomented” —as the Huston plan stated—by black extremists.