WASHINGTON - JUNE 22 - The Central Intelligence
Agency violated its charter for 25 years until revelations of
illegal wiretapping, domestic surveillance, assassination plots,
and human experimentation led to official investigations and
reforms in the 1970s, according to declassified documents posted
today on the Web by the National Security Archive at George
CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden announced today that the Agency
is declassifying the full 693-page file amassed on CIA's illegal
activities by order of then-CIA director James Schlesinger in
1973--the so-called "family jewels." Only a few dozen
heavily-censored pages of this file have previously been declassified,
although multiple Freedom of Information Act requests have been
filed over the years for the documents. Gen. Hayden called today's
release "a glimpse of a very different time and a very
"This is the first voluntary CIA declassification of controversial
material since George
Tenet in 1998 reneged on the 1990s promises of greater openness
at the Agency," commented Thomas Blanton, the Archive's
Hayden also announced the declassification of some 11,000 pages
of the so-called CAESAR, POLO and ESAU papers--hard-target analyses
of Soviet and Chinese leadership internal politics and Sino-Soviet
relations from 1953-1973, a collection of intelligence on Warsaw
Pact military programs, and hundreds of pages on the A-12 spy
The National Security Archive separately obtained (and posted
today) a six-page
summary of the illegal CIA activities, prepared
by Justice Department lawyers after a CIA briefing in December
1974, and the memorandum
of conversation when the CIA first briefed President
Gerald Ford on the scandal on January 3, 1975.
Then-CIA director Schlesinger commissioned the "family
jewels" compilation with a May 9, 1973 directive after
finding out that Watergate burglars E. Howard Hunt and James
McCord (both veteran CIA officers) had cooperation from the
Agency as they carried out "dirty tricks" for President
Nixon. The Schlesinger directive, drafted by deputy director
for operations William Colby, commanded senior CIA officials
to report immediately on any current or past Agency matters
that might fall outside CIA authority. By the end of May, Colby
had been named to succeed Schlesinger as DCI, and his loose-leaf
notebook of memos totaled 693 pages [see John
Prados, Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William
Colby (Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 259-260.]
Seymour Hersh broke the story of CIA's illegal domestic operations
with a front page story in the New York Times on December
22, 1974 ("Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U.S. Against
Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years"), writing
that "a check of the CIA's domestic files ordered last
year… produced evidence of dozens of other illegal activities…
beginning in the nineteen fifties, including break-ins, wiretapping,
and the surreptitious inspection of mail."
On December 31, 1974, CIA director Colby and the CIA general
counsel John Warner met
with the deputy attorney general, Lawrence Silberman,
and his associate, James Wilderotter, to brief Justice "in
connection with the recent New York Times articles"
on CIA matters that "presented legal questions." Colby's
list included 18 specifics:
1. Confinement of a Russian defector that "might be
regarded as a violation of the kidnapping laws."
2. Wiretapping of two syndicated columnists, Robert Allen
and Paul Scott.
3. Physical surveillance of muckraker Jack Anderson and his
associates, including current Fox News anchor Britt Hume.
4. Physical surveillance of then Washington Post reporter
5. Break-in at the home of a former CIA employee.
6. Break-in at the office of a former defector.
7. Warrantless entry into the apartment of a former CIA employee.
8. Mail opening from 1953 to 1973 of letters to and from the
9. Mail opening from 1969 to 1972 of letters to and from China.
10. Behavior modification experiments on "unwitting"
11. Assassination plots against Castro, Lumumba, and Trujillo
(on the latter, "no active part" but a "faint
connection" to the killers).
12. Surveillance of dissident groups between 1967 and 1971.
13. Surveillance of a particular Latin American female and
U.S. citizens in Detroit.
14. Surveillance of a CIA critic and former officer, Victor
15. Amassing of files on 9,900-plus Americans related to the
16. Polygraph experiments with the San Mateo, California,
17. Fake CIA identification documents that might violate state
18. Testing of electronic equipment on US telephone circuits.
The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe
Acrobat Reader to view.
1: Colby Briefs President Ford on the Family Jewels
Memorandum of Conversation, 3 January 1975
Source: Gerald R. Ford President Library
Ten days after the appearance of Hersh's New York Times
story, DCI William Colby tells President Ford how his predecessor
James Schlesinger (then serving as Secretary of Defense) ordered
CIA staffers to compile the "skeletons" in the Agency's
closet, such as surveillance of student radicals, illegal wiretaps,
assassination plots, and the three year confinement of a Soviet
defector, Yuri Nosenko.
2: Summary of the Family Jewels
Memorandum for the File, "CIA Matters," by James A.
Wilderotter, Associate Deputy Attorney General, 3 January 1975
Source: Gerald R. Ford Presidential
On New Years' eve, 1974, DCI Colby met with Justice Department
officials, including Deputy Attorney General Lawrence H. Silberman,
to give them a full briefing of the "skeletons."
3: Kissinger's Reaction
Memorandum of Conversation between President Ford and Secretary
of State/National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, 4 January
Source: Gerald R. Ford President Library
An apoplectic Kissinger argues that the unspilling of CIA secrets
is "worse than the days of McCarthyism" when the Wisconsin
Senator went after the State Department. Kissinger had met with
former DCI Richard Helms who told him that "these stories
are just the tip of the iceberg," citing as one example
Robert F. Kennedy's role in assassination planning. Ford wondered
whether to fire Colby, but Kissinger advised him to wait until
after the investigations were complete when he could "put
in someone of towering integrity." The "Blue Ribbon"
announcement refers to the creation of a commission chaired
by then-vice president Nelson A. Rockefeller.
4: Investigations Continue
Memorandum of Conversation between Kissinger, Schlesinger, Colby
et al., "Investigations of Allegations of CIA Domestic
Activities," 20 February 1975
Source: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
Cabinet and sub-cabinet level officials led by Kissinger discuss
ways and means to protect information sought by ongoing Senate
(Church Committee) and House (Pike Committee) investigations
of intelligence community abuses during the first decades of
the Cold War. Worried about the foreign governments that have
cooperated with U.S. intelligence agencies, Kissinger wants
to "demonstrate to foreign countries that we aren't too
dangerous to cooperate with because of leaks."