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Last Refuge of a Rock Critic: A Bicentennial Search for Patriotism

Editors’ note, July 2, 2021: There was so much happening in New York City during the Bicentennial all those years ago that the Village Voice spread its coverage over two issues, spanning June 28 to July 12, 1976. The Big Apple was ready to party: King Kong had just left town and the Democrats were rolling in, preparing for their quadrennial convention two years after a Republican president — a liar, cheat, and bully who attempted to use his office to punish political and personal enemies — had resigned in disgrace. There was some sort of cosmic justice in Richard Nixon flaming out after winning re-election in a landslide but before he could preside over the Bicentennial, that nationwide celebration of American democracy’s survival after one civil war, two world conflicts, and countless cultural battles.

It was in the Spirit of ’76 that Greil Marcus, author of the previous year’s Mystery Train — a monumental collection of essays delving into the heart of rock ’n’ roll to reveal a luminous chunk of America’s soul — undertook a wide-ranging disquisition on the meaning of patriotism in the pages of the Village Voice. (Mark Alan Stamaty’s boisterous, labyrinthine cartoons added to the wild and woolly mood.) As they do in Mystery Train, Marcus’s references, digressions, and footnotes shoot off like fireworks. Radiant as a rocket’s red glare — think of Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” aurally transmuting Francis Scott Key’s “bombs bursting in air” into bombs dropping on screaming Vietnam civilians — Marcus’s Voice article asks us to look at America’s full history, both glorious and savage. He finds beauty in “an essential harmony, a recognition of uniquely American things shared,” but also quotes Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, delivered shortly before the Civil War reached its bloody end. The president, who would be assassinated just 42 days later, was acknowledging that the carnage was penance for allowing slavery to have been a part of the nation’s founding. “Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bond-men’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’ ”

Marcus also quotes W.E.B. DuBois from 1897, when America’s freed slaves were still waiting for the forty acres and a mule that had been promised to help them start new lives more than three decades earlier. “One ever feels his two-ness — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

And in typical Marcus fashion, we get a bonus line of dialogue from Claude Rains, in his role as Captain Renault in 1942’s Casablanca: “Well, Rick, you’re not only a sentimentalist, but you’ve become a patriot.” Marcus was in some ways less concerned with whether patriotism is truly “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” as Dr. Johnson so famously put it, than with the divisions that were fracturing the nation into the broken mirror we gaze further into today. “America may be breaking up into separate ‘patrimonies.’ The rise of ethnicity and cultural nationalism on all fronts suggests this; so does the widening split between cities and suburbs, between classes, sexes, races, religions, nationalities.”

In November 1972, shortly after he’d won re-election, Nixon — whose somber Quaker facade in public was belied by the profane conniver heard on the Watergate tapes — discussed cabinet changes with an adviser, noting that he might keep one lawyer on to be the “house Jew” and to “handle the Bicentennial and all that nonsense.” Such nasty cynicism has long permeated the political right — consider Coolidge’s desiccated view, “the business of America is business” — because it cannot reconcile lust for unfettered profit with government’s role of legislating for the common good. Marcus worked on Mystery Train as the Watergate scandal was unfolding. In his author’s note, he points out, “To do one’s most personal work in a time of public crisis is an honest, legitimate, paradoxically democratic act of common faith.” Although this book about the music that bound America together across generational, racial, class, and political divides was not published until 1975, Marcus signed his note with a precise date: “August 9, 1974.”

Certainly not coincidentally, that was the day Nixon resigned the presidency.

So, sometime this week, between helpings of apple pie and baseball games, take a few moments to revisit the 200th birthday of a great, if forever flawed, nation as seen through the typewriter of an ever-thoughtful writer grappling with the meaning of patriotism in these United States. Note how he praises conservative members of the House Judiciary Committee who voted for the impeachment of a conservative president whose lies, capriciousness, self-aggrandizement, and intimidation tactics they could no longer stomach: “They made distinct efforts to trace a line between their particular responsibilities and the founding of the country.”

My, how times have changed. —R.C. Baker

***

In America Even the Humblest Harmony Is an Incredible Dream

By Greil Marcus
July 12, 1976

…In America, the humblest harmony is still an incredible dream.
— Edmund Wilson, “Night Thoughts in Paris,” 1922 (1) 

“Rick, you’re not only a sentimentalist, but you’ve become a patriot!”
— Claude Rains to Humphrey Bogart, at the close of Casablanca, 1942 (2)

To claim patriotism in America, where the thing is so undefined, is to claim a very great deal. It is to claim, in one way or another, to embody the republic. So as I thought about what I might say regarding patriotism, which seemed to me an appropriate subject in a week that falls between the Fourth of July and the opening of the Democratic Convention, one conviction that took shape very early was that one could not claim to be a patriot and that anyone who does should be instantly suspected.

This no doubt sounds familiar — patriotism as “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” (3) as Dr. Johnson put it — but that is not at all what I mean to get at. Rather it is what I mean to get behind me, and to do that it’s necessary to deal at least briefly with the People’s Bicentennial Commission.

The PBC, organized by activist Jeremy Rifkin, presupposes to offer the real, people’s, revolutionary-at-its heart America, as opposed to the official America promulgated for Bicentennial purposes by various hucksters and governmental agencies. The PBC has received some media coverage for its “counterdemonstrations” held alongside various commemorative exercises and dress-up shows.

PBC members are self-described “New Patriots”; you can become a “New Patriot” simply by joining the PBC. According to the PBC line, America is divided into “Patriots” and “Tories” — in fact, all American history, and the American present, can be seen this way. “Patriots” past and present are those the PBC aligns on the side of social and economic justice, defined in the usual radical/liberal manner; Tories are all those who are perceived by the PBC to have resisted such goals. Thus Alexander Hamilton, despite his role in the Revolution, was really a “Tory,” as are Republicans, bankers, factory foremen, and mean high school principals (I’m not making this up).

This approach is indistinguishable from that of the American Legion. There’s nothing troublesome or ambiguous about PBC patriotism; all it takes is a correct stand on the issues, and maybe a membership card. What’s the PBC program? “Patriots” should publicly expose “Tories.” Political candidates should be forced to sign oaths affirming their loyalty to the creed of the revolution.

The PBC makes me think of James Mann of South Carolina, Walter Flowers of Alabama, and Caldwell Butler of Virginia, three conservative members of the House Judiciary Committee who were crucial to the successful impeachment votes against Richard Nixon. In PBC terms they are quite obvious “Tories”; in a PBC America is it irrelevant that in working out their decisions on impeachment they made distinct efforts to trace a line between their particular responsibilities and the founding of the country. (With Mann there was perhaps no “effort” — that line may have always been visible to him, as it clearly has been to, say, Sam Ervin and William O. Douglas.)

Though the PBC is not to be taken seriously (“Have your political club ask that the Declaration of Independence be displayed at the polling place, so that citizens may spend their time thinking about self-evident truths,” they suggest), the PBC mode of thought is to be taken seriously, if only because it is a mode liberals and radicals often fall into. These days especially, we want our political affairs simple, clean and above all pure. Politics may be many things but it is narcissism first and foremost, because there is more safety in the certainties of separation than in the contingencies of wholeness.

The belief that patriotism is a question of the correct stand on vital social and political issues is not only the most hollow but the most invidious version of the concept; it empties the concept of all possible meaning. The truth is that patriotism makes stranger bedfellows than politics.

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Rather than something that can be easily fixed on individuals for the asking or that adheres to issues because of their necessity, and rather than something that can be claimed, awarded, or withheld, patriotism in America is a conundrum. Most who consider themselves sophisticated in their politics think patriotism is something to outgrow, preferably by the age of 12; many more Americans of all sorts, as John Scholar has written, “are simply without patriotism.… They do not think unpatriotic thoughts, but they do not think patriotic thoughts either. The republic for them is a vague and distant thing.” Yet it seems to me that patriotism should be explored, evoked, doubted, acted, and written out. The language of patriotism needs to be retrieved, invented, nurtured, and spoken, but we should not be too quick to decide who is a patriot and who is not, nor be too careful about establishing standards for the virtuous to meet. It isn’t my purpose here to prove my patriotism to you nor to provide guidelines with which you can prove yours to yourself — should you wish to. Instead I simply want to make the idea real; and I will try to do that by focusing on two themes central to an understanding of the possibilities of the patriotic spirit in America: wholeness, or harmony, and division, separateness.

***

Three texts:

One ever feels his two-ness — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
— W.E.B. Du Bois (4)

When I think of Greenwich Village, it is almost with tears. For there this battered battalion dress their guns against a whole nation… From the darkest corners of the country they have fled for comfort and asylum. You may think them feeble and ridiculous — but feebleness is always relative. It may require as much force of character and as much independent thought for one of these to leave his Kansas home and espouse the opinions of Freud as for Wagner to achieve new harmonies or Einstein to conceive a finite universe. The thought of them makes me respond with a sharp gust of sympathy, precisely because they are ridiculous and yet stand for something noble. And one is touched by something like reverence when one finds among this strange indifferent people, to whom the rest of the world is a newspaper story, history a tedious legend, and abstract thought a form of insanity, a man who really knows on what stage he is playing, for what drama he has been cast. By his realization he makes us realize, too, for what drama our setting is the setting: for the drama of humanity, in a sense, no setting can be trivial or mean. Gopher Prairie itself, in all its ludicrousness and futility when the human spirit rears itself there, has its importance and its dignity. 

And now that a breach has been made what a flood might sweep off the dam! — what a thundering torrent of energy, of enthusiasm, or life! Things are always beginning in America; we are always on the verge of great adventures. History seems to lie before us instead of behind.
— Edmund Wilson, “Night Thoughts in Paris,” The New Republic, March 12, 1922 (5)

…The patriot is one who is grateful for a legacy and recognizes that the legacy makes him a debtor. There is a whole way of being in the world, captured best by the word reverence, which defines life by its debts: One is what one owes, what one acknowledges as a rightful debt or obligation. The patriot moves within that mentality. The gift of land, people, language, gods, memories, and customs, which is the patrimony of the patriot, defines who he or she is. Patrimony is mixed with person; the two barely separable. The very tone and rhythm of a life, the shapes of perception, the texture of its hopes and fears goes from membership in a territorially rooted group. The conscious patriot is one who feels deeply indebted for these gifts, grateful to the people and places through which they come, and determined to defend the legacy against enemies and pass it unspoiled to those will come after. 

But… we are not taught to define our lives by our debts and legacies, but by our rights and opportunities. 
— John. J. Schaar, “The Case for Patriotism,” American Review 17, May 1973

I suggest that to truly “read” these passages, which is what I will be doing for the remainder of this piece, it’s necessary to pay as close attention to the voice of each writer as to his words. Du Bois, meditating on truths that predated his time and which he does not seem to expect to change, is stymied, perplexed, quietly angry, yet full of a sort of determination that perhaps suggests the bridging of gaps he is telling us cannot be bridged. Schaar, with his eyes on the past (not merely the American past, but the past per se, the past as something that constantly informs the present), speaks in tones of regret; his cadences are measured and restrained, and what is measured out is the pain of loss, the loss of the “way of being in the world” he is describing. All this is evident well before his final disclaimer: that we are not taught the rich and complex values that make patriotism possible but cheaper values that imply the separation of each man and woman from every other as the positive basis for American society.

But Schaar and Du Bois speak as realists; their words communicate an almost tragic refusal to grant a single assumption they do not see as justified by the disappointments and betrayals of the American story. They will not speak a word they cannot prove. But they will whisper. Wilson’s “in America, the humblest harmony is still an incredible dream” — and not harmony as consensus, or lack of crucial disagreement, but an essential harmony, a recognition of uniquely American things shared — is at the heart of what both men are saying. They are saying that whatever the American reality, or even the American fate, the possibilities of such harmony cannot be decently abandoned; that harmony is an absolute necessity if Americans are to keep the promises on which America was founded: the promises that flowed instantly from the original justification of America in 1776 as something new under the sun, and perhaps even the promises as they were reclaimed in 1865, with Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, when he incorporated the truth that the betrayal of those promises in fact preceded the promises themselves into the fabric of official American thought, where it has been officially buried ever since. (See box.)

To turn from the fundamental gloom of Du Bois and Schaar to late-night meditations of a young Edmund Wilson, thinking of America from a distance, where a good deal of the best of such thinking has been done, is a shock. One may have to read what he wrote carefully to appreciate how bizarre it is.

When I first came to Berkeley, in 1963, a campus veteran told me that Berkeley and Greenwich Village were the only places in America where a person could be really free. Wilson begins with this cozily embattled fallacy; a farther shore from the kind of patriotism Schaar speaks of can hardly be imagined. And yet — or perhaps, “and so” — Wilson then drives straight back into the “darkest corners” of the country, to what Fitzgerald called “the dark fields of the republic,” and embraces them with all the restraint of a Fourth of July orator. Suddenly he has delivered himself from the repression of the American present, as only the future is of any consequence. But there is the slightest hint of condescension in Wilson’s “Gopher Prairie itself” — and, perhaps in flight from doubts that not even the most visionary moment can banish, Wilson abandons the fatal pull of specifics for a virtual manifesto of American mysticism. It’s as if he is seeking, against the terrific odds he has been careful to establish in advance, to fix precisely those things Americans can recognize — those attributes by which they can recognize each other — the feeling that “things are always beginning in America,” blown up suddenly with exclamation points into images of a great dam breaking and a flood of — not ideas, not justice, not even freedom (which was what Wilson started with, but which is somehow no longer exactly the question) — “energy, of enthusiasm, of life!” And this is because what Wilson was working out of in Paris was not a “feeling,” but a leap of faith — a leap straight across what were to Lincoln the almost predestined American crimes and divisions, the crimes and divisions that were the source of Du Bois’s torment.

The desperation in Wilson’s voice is as palpable as the joy. A moment later in the essay he will pull back again; America will become a monster of banality. But he can’t quit with this. He returns as an American St. George come not to slay the dragon but magically to transform it. The passage continues: “Our enemy offers huger bulk than the enemy in Europe, but he is much less firmly rooted. Two generations might rout him. To arms then! Let me return; I shall not cease from mental fight nor shall my sword rest in my hand till intolerance has been stricken from the laws, till the time-clock has been beaten to a punch-bowl!”

In the great tradition of John Wesley Harding, who never made a foolish move, Wilson does not choose a foolish word. The struggle he is lining out is a matter of spiritual life or death for him, and — in the sense that a true patriot, one who truly perceives and accepts a patrimony, embodies the republic — for the country equally so. Thus Wilson’s language is overblown, with every pretension undercut by self-parody (“my sword” a seemingly absurd weapon for a “mental fight”; “till intolerance has been stricken from the laws” taken down a peg by “till the time clock has been beaten to a punch bowl”). Only with a frame of the ridiculous can Wilson get away with the absolute and discomforting seriousness of every word he is speaking. He is dedicating — like Lincoln in 1865, rededicating — himself, and his country, to the liberating destiny that his country, like no other before it, set out for itself; he recognizes and affirms that the republic, along with itself, invented a birthright each American would, in a way of his or her own determining, have to accept, as a burden, before he or she could fully claim to be American.

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This overblown way of speaking is the language, or a language, of American patriotism, and its affirmation also a settling of affairs. It sweeps right by Du Bois’s analysis of what cannot be resolved, even though Wilson’s words do not quite leave Du Bois’s statement of the facts out. “How far can love for my oppressed race accord with love for the oppressing country?” Du Bois wrote at another time. “And when these loyalties diverge, where shall my soul find refuge?” (7) Here and above, Du Bois speaks of black people, but the question he insists on contains all Americans who have been, and are, systematically refused America’s promises and excluded form its patrimony. That exclusion has been and is more widespread in terms of class than of race — and it is equally as subtle, as debilitating, and as resistant to fundamental change. As Du Bois would have said, the question of racial oppression is also a question of class. My attempt to follow the meaning of Du Bois’s idea applies, as metaphor, to Americans of all kinds who are excluded — and given that America was once known as “a good poor man’s country,” there are many whites who were included in the past who are excluded now.

Du Bois says that any resolution a black man or woman can make of Wilsons’s contradictions will by necessity be very different from and properly fall far short of, the glorious unity Wilson saw. The black American patrimony is separation and division; not simply because the “American” side is so full of horror and crime, but at least partly because it is so alive with promise. As Theodore Rosengarten’s All God’s Daughters, the life of Ned Cobb, a black Alabama sharecropper, makes clear, a full recognition of “the injustice of the laws” does not preclude the deepest recognition of that promise nor the determination to fulfill it precisely on its original, 200-year-old terms. But the laws refuse to recognize Cobb’s claim to his “American” patrimony, and without that double recognition Du Bois’s words hold.

It is very questionable whether the burden I spoke of Wilson accepting, or the debts and obligations of which Schaar writes, can be set forth by me, or anyone, as a necessary part of the patrimony of a black man or woman in America. Black men and women have made their own history in America, which America ignored or did not even see, and the evidence is strong today that it is in that specific history that black men and women are finding their patrimony — their debts, obligations, promises, possibilities — finding what it is they have to live up to, finding a way of being in the world. In Lincoln’s terms of crime and punishment, it is a measure of the price white Americans of any sort must pay for the forced odyssey of black people in America that a black American patrimony, which grows out of an altogether different kind of heroism and resourcefulness than white Americans draw on — different in kind and in quality — may not only be impossible for whites to connect to, but wrong for them to connect to. With Gayl Jones’s Corregidora, Lucille Clifton’s family memoir Generations (which begins with the story of Clifton’s great-great grandmother, born in Dahomey in 1822, brought to the New Orleans slave markets and made to walk to Virginia at the age of eight, whose message to her family, into this century, was “Get what you want, you from Dahomey, women”), Alice Walker’s The Third Life of Grange Copeland, or the film of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, a white American may feel that he or she is somehow violating these tales simply by responding to them. To say, this is part of my legacy, my patrimony, too, which is to say that the “American” patrimony is, or should be, that of a black man or woman is to go much farther than any white can decently go.

Because of such history, and because the language of patriotism in America has not flourished — because it is not easily spoken nor easily understood when it is spoken; because the “way of being in the world” of which Schaar writes is foreign to most of us, so foreign as to be hard to imagine clearly — ­America may be breaking up into separate “patrimonies.” The rise of ethnicity and cultural nationalism on all fronts suggests this; so does a widening split between cities and suburbs, between classes, sexes, races, religions, nationalities. I don’t mean such groupings are always in explicit conflict, but that people are locating their primary loyalties away from “America,” as a place, a society, a republic, an idea, a promise, whatever. Historian William Appleman Williams’s recent Bicentennial book, America Confronts a Revolutionary World, takes this movement apart to one conclusion: He argues that America can best be true to its best self by returning to the Articles of Confederation, and fragmenting, by secession (violently if need be; “I will meet you on the barricades,” he says) (8), into regional socialist republics. This is a bad moment in the work of a valuable historian. But there is some truth in the book — as a skewed metaphor for retreats from America that are already well advanced.

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It may be that this is not a problem to “solve” but a reality to accept or struggle against, on an individual level, at least in the beginning. Schaar writes of America, an invented political and moral society, as a place where patriotism is not simply a matter of inheritance or lack of it — in America, patriotism is an earned choice, an earned recognition. Wilson, 51 years earlier, agreed when he spoke as baldly as he dared of a “mental fight,” of a battle he would carry on, in American letters, as a critic and a reporter, to rout the enemy, to make the wisp of American harmony he glimpsed one night in Paris more real.

When we speak of patriotism in America we must recognize an inevitable division of self in the very act of speaking, and in that sense Du Bois’s statement can serve for anyone. America is big, conformist, monolithic, faceless, cruel, and its economic game is rigged. For any sense of freedom the first impulse is to separate oneself, either following the trail of countless American lone-wolfs, solitaries, and Ishmaels, or settling for the homogeneous familiarities and protections of “one’s own”: family, religion, nationality, race, region. Yet America is still astonishing — too big, too complex, and too various for any mind to take in, and in that astonishment, in the realization of an enormous place finally justified and held together by little more than a few phrases from an old document, comes the yearning to make America whole by seeing it clearly; by pursuing that patrimony, discovering it, retrieving it, inventing it, or simply affirming it. What is it that Americans share? In what images, of crime or beauty, do Americans uniquely recognize themselves as no others would, recognize that in an essential way they are linked, that they can carry on certain conversations about certain things that others could not or would not think to enter?

One probably cannot raise such questions without realizing that if they are asked with the utmost seriousness of intent there may be no encouraging answers. But one cannot wear such questions out either. Schaar’s statement, like Wilson’s, points toward a way of being in touch with America; com­bative, suspicious, and yet deeply accepting of something like a common fate, that cannot, and should not be avoided.

***

There are two ideas around which this piece revolves, no mat­ter how erratic the orbit has been.The first is the idea of the patriot as one who embodies the republic. This is not as grand or pretentious as it might seem. A civil rights worker linking people to the re­public by convincing them to vote is embodying the republic, in many ways. Many of those on the House Judiciary Committee, by what they said and the manner in which they said it, embodied the repub­lic, for a time. James Agee, writ­ing Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, embodied the republic, in all of its mystical and factual complexity. Those who honestly and visibly refuse to let the repub­lic stop short of itself embody it.

Visibly — publicly — is the key word. Wilson spoke almost mys­teriously of “a man who really knows on what stage he is playing, for what drama he has been cast,” who “by his realization… makes us realize, too, for what drama our setting is the setting.” To say that this can mean anything is to point to the strength of what Wilson said, not its weakness; Wilson himself took this conviction to its extreme only 21 years after he first set it down. He wrote of Lincoln, in “Eight Essays”: “It was as if he had not only foreseen the drama [of the war] but had seen all around it, with a kind of poetic objectivity, aware of the various points of view the world must take toward its protagonist. In the poem that Lincoln lived, Booth had been prepared for, too, and the tragic conclusion was necessary to justify all the rest. It was dramatically and mortally inevitable that this prophet who had overruled opposition and sent thousands of men to their deaths should finally attest his good faith by laying down his own life with theirs.” The patriot is a man or woman, who, in embodying the possibilities of American life, dramatizes them in view of others. That is both an instinct — the yearning for and affirmation of wholeness — and a role — the act of wholeness.

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The second idea is that of “a whole way of being in the world.” Schaar has defined it in the lines I quoted; I cannot really set it forth more fully without a long, close consideration of how specific indi­viduals, or a group of people, made their choices and lived their lives. It is both the treasure of patriotism and the key to it. It is a constant, renewing sensitivity to questions I asked earlier: What do Americans share, what is essential and unique, in their history, experience, fate? It is a state of mind that Edmund Wilson caught as well as anyone.

In Paris, in 1922, he began his meditation on America thinking of Futurism, “born in Italy, where the weight of the past lies heaviest.” “But I can scarcely adore the locomotive,” he wrote. ” I know it all too well.” He went on to wonder at his dreams of America, to criticize America as brutally as he could manage, to pull away, back and forth, back and forth, the double vision of the American pa­triot at work, searching for at least a night’s truce with itself. Wilson turned back finally to that image of the rails: “Where there is a petu­lance and a sadness in the piping of the French engines, I shall hear in the American ones an eagerness and a zest: They have elbow room here for their racing; they can drive on as far as they like; they have an unknown country to explore, a country that no one has ever heard of — What sort of men are these who live in nameless towns? At a distance, they seem, neither intelligent nor colorful nor fine — scarcely members of the same race as the beings who have built civilization. But I know that in the wide spaces of all that wilder­ness, in the life of that loose abun­dant world, for all the reign of mediocrity and the tyranny of in­tolerance, there is a new freshness and freedom to be brought to the function of mankind — the function which, in the long run, we shall never be able to get out of: staring out in wonder and dismay at the mysterious shapes of the world, either to ask ourselves what laws move them or, combining those shapes anew, to makeshift to create a nobler world in which our souls may find a home.”

Footnotes 

  1. In Keywords, Raymond Williams’s recent book on the etymology of fundamental con­temporary social concepts, the word “patriotism” is missing (so are “roots” and “fraternity”). But because I like Williams’s idea, if not his choices, I have pulled out words from the quotes I refer to that seem to me keys to an Ameri­can language of patriotism — words that in some way signify an aspect or element of “patriotism.” Here, the keywords are “humblest,” “harmony,” and “still.”
  2. Keyword: “sentimentalist.”
  3. Keyword: “refuge.”
  4. Virtually every word in this statement is a keyword. Still: “two-ness,” “souls,” “ideals,” “dogged,” “keeps it from.”
  5. Keywords: “tears,” “against,” “nation,” “corners,” “comfort,” “character,” “inde­pendent,” “home,” “espouse,” “new,” “harmonies,” “finite,” “sympathy,” “stand for,” “noble,” “reverence,” “indiffer­ent,” “history,” “legend,” “drama,” “spirit,” “dignity,” “enthusiasm,” “beginning,” “adventures.”
  6. Again, since essentially Schaar is writing a brief on the keywords of patriotism, only a few of the less obvious: “a whole way of being in the world,” “defines life by,” “one acknowledges,” “men­tality,” “tone,” “rhythm,” “shapes,” “texture,” “taught.” The grace and civility of Schaar’s writing tells one as much about patriotism as any of his words.
  7. Keywords: “how far,” “accord,” “loyalties,”
  8. Keyword: “I will meet you.”     ❖

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Emma Goldman Is Alive and Well and Making Trouble on the Lower East Side

Emma said it in 1910/Now we’re gonna say it again!
—Protest marchers on Fifth Avenue, 1970

A certain kind of career is well known among American intellectuals. An eager young person joins the Socialist Something-­or-other movement and spends several fer­vent years in its ranks. He develops literary and analytic skills. And after a while the Socialist Something-or-others begin to dis­appoint him. They aren’t prospering the way he expected. They need to shape up. He tells them how. But they won’t hear of it.

The young comrade therefore undergoes a crisis. Why, he asks himself, can’t the Something-or-other movement do better? Why is the Party a failure and why is social­ism not proving popular in America?

Different answers come to mind. Maybe socialism doesn’t deserve to be popular. In that case the young militant becomes a con­servative. Maybe socialism is all right but the Party’s version is extreme, rigid, or mis­guided. The militant becomes some sort of liberal or social democrat. Maybe what the Party believed as literal truth should be reinterpreted figuratively. The militant be­comes a sophisticated radical.

In any case, the young person makes some amazing discoveries, namely three. (A) He discovers his interests have broad­ened. In his days in the Party he wrote and talked about economics and the doctrines of Marxism or anarchism. But in pondering why socialism hasn’t prospered, he finds he requires answers from literature and drama and every possible field. He is no longer a militant, he is an intellectual. (B) He is a very smart intellectual. He may have gone to a seedy public college or to no college at all, and in formal terms his education may be none too great. But in fact his education turns out to be superb. The Trotsky alcove at City College and the dingy office at Union Square stand revealed as schools of the first rank. And these places have put their stamp on him. The pitch of his voice is a little higher than what you find among intellectuals who lack the left-wing back­ground. His tone is a little more urgent. He has the knack for debate, perhaps in excess. He is a little tougher, a little shrewder, than other intellectuals. (C) He discovers, won­der of wonders, that people listen to him. In the old days he addressed no one but his own comrades, who never paid much atten­tion, anyway. Now he gets up to talk and notices that the auditorium, if not exactly full, isn’t empty either. Quite a few people seem to take an interest in why the Some­thing-or-others have failed, or at any rate take an interest in the broader topics this inquiry has led him to explore. In the old days the young militant had the distinct impression of standing on the remote side­lines of American life; but by a miraculous development, he now finds himself as close to the center as intellectuals get to be in America.

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How many times this story has been told! Among writers who came up in the 1930s you find it, in whole or in part, in autobio­graphical accounts by William Phillips, William Barrett, Sidney Hook, Lionel Abel, Richard Wright, Daniel Bell, and Dwight Macdonald. Among the young writers of the 1940s, you see it in memoirs by Irving Howe and Irving Kristol. Last year the radical historians’ organization published a volume of interviews called Visions of History in which the same story is told over and over by scholars who came up in the 1950s, such as the late Herbert Gutman, and in the 1960s. Soon enough we will, I am positive, be hearing the same story from student rad­icals of the 1970s. For some reason the story has never much been told on stage or in the movies, though traces can be found. One very striking version exists in fiction, Lionel Trilling’s The Middle of the Journey, though otherwise it hasn’t been too prominent there, either. Still, Norman Mailer’s Trotskyist novel, The Barbary Shore, touches on some of the themes. Bits and pieces of the story turn up in Mary McCarthy’s early fiction and in early writings by Saul Bellow, where Trotskyism or Commu­nism is always lurking in the background. James T. Farrell evoked the story. Clancy Sigal’s novel, Going Away, follows the clas­sic plot: young militant despairs of the left and goes off to become a writer. And from the sundry autobiographies and fictions a generalization can be drawn. Intellectual classes must always come from somewhere; they are not self-generating. The some­where might be life at Versailles, or training in the ministry, or work on the daily press; and in the case of modern American intel­lectuals, a prominent somewhere turns out to be apprenticeship in the socialist ranks, then one or another kind of breaking away.

What can explain this very curious phe­nomenon? Socialism has not, after all, played a central role in a great many areas of American life. Thus far its failure has been real, and it’s not often that movements produce, in the dismal course of failing, dy­namic intellectual cultures. Yet this does occur sometimes. The collapse of a movement can under certain circumstances send up dust and rubble that are altogether stim­ulating to writers and thinkers who happen to be in the way. American literature offers a 19th-century example. New England Puri­tanism went into a decline after the Ameri­can Revolution. As an intellectual system and as a social system, Puritanism no longer seemed to work. Young intellectual-minded people who grew up in the Puritan environment were shocked. They retained the in­tense Puritan emotions, the sense of pain and suffering that derived from settler days in New England, plus the keen desire to create a perfect society. The young people retained these feelings because that was their tradition, and because their own par­ents underwent those experiences. They also retained the old Puritan tone of voice. But the dogmas had stopped making sense, and the young people had to ask why. Why, and what should come next? And by some mysterious process, these questions, posed in the tone that only Boston intellectuals could achieve, produced a main current of the 19th century. You see it in Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and many lesser writers, refugees all from the collapse of the Christian church.

Surely something similar accounts for the New York intellectuals of the present cen­tury. Over the course of many years, the socialist church more or less fell apart. The young intellectual-minded militants were shocked. The intellectuals retained certain of the feelings expressed by the old socialist cause. Those feelings were a sense of suffer­ing and pain deriving from immigrant days, the feelings of people who fell victim to the horrors of the industrial revolution — com­bined with a keen desire to make a perfect society for industrial times. The modern intellectuals retained these feelings because that was the tradition they learned from socialism, and because they themselves in some cases, or their parents or grandpar­ents, were the oppressed and exploited workers. They also retained the old socialist tone of voice, the instinct for moral urgency, the conviction that ideas are a form of pow­er. But the dogmas had collapsed, and like the Boston intellectuals contemplating the failure of old-fashioned Christianity, the New York intellectuals had to ask why. Why, and what should come next? And by that same mysterious process, these ques­tions, posed in the inflection commanded only by writers with a background in social­ism, have produced, well, something less than the Boston renaissance, but surely a main impulse of modern culture — the urge to experiment with the new, the tendency to emphasize social interpretations and to scorn the narrowness of academic life, the habit of debating with a little more passion than American intellectuals are used to summoning up, the orientation toward Eu­rope, the tendencies, in short, that we think of in connection with New York.

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***

Emma Goldman makes an odd example of a New York intellectual. She is certainly remote in time. Her own generation is the one that came up in the 1890s. Her best­-known book, the autobiography Living My Life, which Knopf brought out in 1931, suc­ceeds chiefly when it recounts events that took place at the turn of the century. What influence she once had dissipated after 1919, when she was deported. Nearly every­thing about her, in short, reflects an era considerably earlier than that of modern intellectual life. Nevertheless that autobiog­raphy, read with a proper eye, has one very noticeable quality. Buried within it is pre­cisely the story I’ve just described — the sto­ry of a radical militant who leaves behind her first revolutionary enthusiasm and blos­soms into an arts critic or philosopher, finds herself championing everything modern and innovative, finds that she is no longer on the despised sidelines of American life but instead in its vanguard. It is the classic story of a New York intellectual. Only it is that story in an exceptionally early and primitive version.

Naturally some of the sophistication, not to say campus tranquility, of later variants cannot be seen in Emma Goldman’s long-­ago version. She converted to revolutionary socialism in sympathetic indignation over the 1887 Haymarket hangings in Chicago, and the doctrine she embraced, though it contained several virtues, was less than a shrewd theoretical system. There was a good deal of talk about proletarians rising up to massacre the capitalist bloodsuckers. Gory social vengeance was the characteris­tic note. The doctrine was, in fact, a furious sort of raw left-wing fundamentalism. The commitment she made likewise differed from that known by certain more fortunate later generations. One went to anarchist meetings in the years after the Haymarket affair as if going to the gallows. There was an unmistakable cult of martyrdom. The Martyrs of Chicago had died in a mood very close to exhilaration, and the young people of Goldman’s age who followed them into the revolutionary ranks half-expected, half-­hoped, to come to a similarly glorious and grisly end, perhaps a death like that of Louis Lingg, who blew himself up rather than let the government put a rope around his neck. Louis Lingg, Goldman tells us, was the special hero of her little circle of comrades.

His fate, as it turned out, was something she always managed to avoid, but not for fear of running a risk. Five years after the Chicago hangings, she and her companion Alexander Berkman were building bombs in a tenement on East 5th Street, New York City, and conspiring to avenge the wronged steelworkers of Homestead, Pa., by assassi­nating their odious employer, Henry Clay Frick. Berkman, for reasons of economy, ended up all alone in the attack on Frick, and afterward he did have to endure suffer­ing on a martyr’s scale. He was imprisoned from 1892 until 1906, spent years at a time in solitary confinement, at one point was locked in a straitjacket for two days in a pitch-black room. During most of his term he was denied the right to receive visitors. Goldman got off scot-free, somehow. But even with the best of luck, an anarchist commitment meant a great deal of punishment. A year after Berkman’s assassination attempt, at the depth of a depression, social democrats and anarchists led an unem­ployed movement and Goldman, the 24-year-old firebrand, was invited to speak at Union Square. She commended the anar­chist tactic of direct action; she may have advised direct assaults on the homes of the wealthy; and in the anti-labor, none-too­-libertarian atmosphere of the time, she found herself serving 10 months on Black­well’s (Welfare) Island, the New York City jail. That was the minimum a prominent revolutionary could expect. And thus it went through all of her younger years. The anarchists in Europe had adopted a policy of tyrannicide — during the 1880s and ’90s revolutionaries assassinated the president of France, the archduke’s wife in Austria, the king of Italy (liquidated by a New Jer­sey comrade named Gaetano Bresci), the prime minister of Spain, and many lesser figures — and each time one of these individ­ualist deeds of insurrection took place Goldman was likely to find herself under suspicion, handcuffed to some unsympa­thetic uniformed agent of the upper classes.

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Then came 1901 and President William McKinley was assassinated by a young man on the outskirts of the movement named Leon Czolgosz, who regrettably professed to be a follower of Emma Goldman. This time she spent two weeks in the Chicago jail, where she was alternately treated well (Mc­Kinley was Republican, and Chicago was Democratic!) and subjected to beatings. One of her front teeth was knocked out. The shadow of the Haymarket gallows was definitely creeping up on her then. One of her guards had stood watch over the Mar­tyrs themselves 14 years before. Her friends were convinced a new Haymarket was in the making, and that Comrade Emma would hang, and Comrade Emma’s friends would hang, too. They advised caution. But Emma herself, being in the Martyr mold, the mold of Berkman and the old Russian revolutionaries, was nothing fazed. From her cell in the Chicago jail she insisted on defending Czolgosz, not because she be­lieved that shooting presidents did any good, but on a principle of solidarity. It was because of her admiration for rebels, her respect for the out-of-control emotions of people who cannot tolerate an unjust social order even for one moment more; and it was because Berkman was in prison and she thought Czolgosz was another Berkman. Neither fear nor any other sort of personal consideration could have much effect on someone with a commitment like that. Fa­naticism is not an inappropriate word.

Yet the autobiography shows that she nearly broke in 1901. It was due to the political situation. The Haymarket Martyrs went to death 14 years earlier convinced that a popular revolutionary labor movement was cheering them on and that a mili­tant finale would hasten the day of retribu­tion. But no one could sustain such beliefs in 1901. Goldman discovered that she was the only well-known person in America to say a good word for the assassin of William McKinley. Her own comrades were keeping quiet, or worse, heaping abuse on the poor imprisoned avenger. They were changing, these comrades. Even on the Lower East Side, where anarchism enjoyed a certain popular acceptance, a mob attacked the offices of the Jewish revolutionary paper, the Freie Arbeiter Stimme, and the previously courageous stalwarts, from behind their overturned desks and chairs, pretty much found that accustomed ways of thinking, the belief in individual deeds and justice by tyrannicide, the willingness to suffer and die in the expectation of barricades tomor­row and a new world the day after — in short, the primitive flags of the Haymarket revolution — were hard to wave with the old enthusiasm. She was still waving them. But she was the only one. Then she got out of jail and things were so bad she couldn’t rent an apartment or find a job. She was obliged to print up calling cards labeled “E.G. Smith,” nurse. (Nursing was what she learned during the year on Blackwell’s Island.) With her self-professed follower in the electric chair and Berkman in a Penn­sylvania penitentiary and herself on a blacklist one name long, she entered the new, crucial phase of her long career. It was the moment of crisis, the moment of real­ization that the movement had failed and revolution was not about to descend on America. It was, in its antique, exaggerated way, the crisis that so many milder, less operatic militants of the left have under­gone at a certain point in their careers, the crisis, that is, of the left-wing intellectual.

What to do? In 1901 the possibilities were as follows. One could pretend nothing had happened. That was no response. One could try to cover up the difficulties with rhetori­cal maneuvers. Anarchists had been trying that for some years. Reading through Pitts­burgh newspapers for the period of Berk­man’s attentat, I came across a story of three comrades who arrived at Homestead to rally the striking steelworkers to anar­chist action and addressed them with all sorts of appeals to Washington, Jefferson, Tom Paine, and other “noble revolution­ists” of 1776, as if revolutionary socialism were nothing but George Washington brought up to date. That didn’t work; that never works. The three anarchists were run out of town. Alternatively, one might drop out. Goldman’s most important lover of that period, Ed Brady, who served 10 years in Austrian prisons for his anarchist propaganda, quietly dropped out and went into business. Goldman considered it, too. She was despondent after Czolgosz’s execution; she felt contempt for her cowardly com­rades; she wanted nothing more to do with them. That was her urge, anyway. There was also the possibility of defecting to other movements. A good many anarchists were becoming electoral socialists, like Abraham Cahan, the novelist and editor. According to Living My Life, still others were drifting toward William Jennings Bryan, the Demo­crat. Yet how could an Emma Goldman do such things? She had shouted too many illegal slogans from wagon tops in Union Square to give it up now, and in any case could neither convert nor drop out without betraying Berkman in his cell at Pittsburgh and the Martyrs in their Waldheim graves. Whatever Goldman did had to be in the name of revolutionary anarchism, had to feel like anarchism, had to be a plausible continuation of what the Martyrs set out to do, had to wage the revolution.

The revolution, though, can mean differ­ent things. The Haymarket image of a working-class insurrection, the battle-to­-death with the capitalist class, the creation overnight of new socialist institutions — that was the fundamentalist idea. But there’s no reason revolution can’t also be gradual, even unto 300 years. C.L.R. James has ob­served that the democratic revolution in England began in the 1640s and wasn’t completed until women got the vote in the 20th century. That is the social democratic idea. Then again, even 300 years may not express revolution’s possibilities. There is a third idea, not usually acknowledged by those who hold it, according to which revo­lution will take place neither at once nor over the course of an epoch. This third kind of revolution isn’t historical at all. It is a feeling of expectation, a sense that inequal­ity and injustice are false and intolerable, and that truer, greater, more human princi­ples exist. These truer principles we intu­itively assign to the future. We say, “The revolution is coming.” But we’re careful not to assign a date. Our phrase is a metaphor. “In common speech we refer all things to time,” Emerson wrote. “And so we say that the Judgement is distant or near, that the Millennium approaches, that a day of cer­tain political, moral, social reforms is at hand, and the like, when we mean that in the nature of things one of the facts we contemplate is external and fugitive, and the other permanent and connate with the soul.” Injustice and tyranny may be facts of the present moment; but justice and liberty are principles for all moments. That’s what we mean when we say the revolution is com­ing. Naturally the revolution in this third or metaphoric version looks a little different than revolution in its other meanings. Some people can’t see it at all. The feeling of anticipation, the notion that what exists to­day is too horrible to last forever, that a tremendous new potential exists, that the potential is burrowing steadily underground, advancing always, retreating never — this feeling is not something that everyone experiences. Yet it is an actual emotion not just a figure of speech. Revolutionaries feel it and other people don’t. The other people must accept its existence on faith.

The anarchists of the 19th century always stood for revolution in its primitive or fundamentalist sense. But once they had dispatched sundry heads of state without sparking the expected insurrection, there was reason to think anew. That was Peter Kropotkin’s role. Socialists of all varieties accepted the progressive idea of history according to which society advances from primitive to the present to future perfection, and it was this view that justified revolution in either its gradual or overnight forms. But in the 1890s Kropotkin proposed something more anthropological. History in his theory reveals a struggle between what he called mutual aid as a factor in society, and the principle of hierarchical authority. In some eras, the happy ones, mutual aid has dominated; in other eras, authority. The goal of anarchist revolution was a society of perfect mutual aid, which he called anarchist communism; but it was an implication of his theory (which be hesitated to draw out) that such a society could never fully exist. Mutual aid or anarchist communism could someday flower, possibly even soon; but authority would never entirely go away and would require constant opposition. In this respect the revolution as final stage of history would never come about but the revolution considered as endless struggle for more mutual aid and less au­thority — this revolution exists always. Rev­olution is evolution; evolution never ends. Anarchists might use a lot of rhetoric about the impending upheaval; he himself was prone to inspired passages about the chariot of humanity advancing into the future; but the actual goal should be the creation of ever-increasing spheres of liberty and mu­tual aid in the present, not the future.

Where might these spheres be estab­lished? Among the European anarchists, events presented an unexpected answer. The world center of the anarchist move­ment in the 1880s and ’90s was Paris, and revolutionary tenor and tyrannicide in Par­is didn’t greatly bestir the oppressed and exploited classes. Instead, it was the radical artists and intellectuals who felt excited. The problem that tyrannicide presented to the workers’ movement — that it failed to advance the movement’s future goals — was no problem to artists and intellectuals, to the bohemians. Their goal was in the present­. They wanted to criticize bourgeois life, which is to say, “dynamite” the bourgeoisie, and bold and grisly attentats presented a kind of model. Anarchist heroes and bandits ­threw bombs, and avant-garde artists and writers rushed to join the anarchist ranks — much to the horror of old-timers like Kropotkin who never intended such a re­sult. Some of these old-timers broke away to build the trade unions, and the movement that remained consequently veered in a bohemian direction. The movement’s language, the talk of proletarian revolution, remained the same, but the meanings began to shift. All kinds of ideas about individual rebellion, about the need to shake up mid­dle class sensibilities, about the sanctity of the individual and the importance of artis­tic creation, ideas about realizing human capacity in the here and now instead of in some abstract revolutionary future — these ideas, which had never played much of a role in the anarchist workers’ movement, now gathered under the anarchist flag. It was the triumph of the revolutionary meta­phor. Nietzsche was the new prophet, Sym­bolism the new literary form. There were slogans like “Long live anarchy! Long live free verse!”

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That was Paris, but it’s plain in Living My Life that something similar was hap­pening in New York City, in a slightly dif­ferent and more provincial way. When Goldman first arrived on the Lower East Side in 1889, the environment she encoun­tered was dominated by old-fashioned revo­lutionaries, the kind of radical fundamentalists who were hanged at Chicago. These men were by no means negligible as intellectual or cultural types. Johann Most, her first mentor, who fulminated so ferociously for dynamite and assassination, was a frustrated actor whose deformed jaw had pre­vented him from attempting a career on the stage, yet who still got up to perform now and then. He loved Schiller and the Romantic writers and was happy to lend her books during the time of their affair. He took her to the opera. He was not narrow. The same could be said of a man like Robert Reitzel of Detroit, who was influential in the move­ment nationally through his weekly news­paper, Der Arme Teufel. Reitzel published some of the only reports in America of the artistic avant-garde in Europe. When he got up in public, he was likely to deliver the old anarchist ferocity with a cultured touch. He addressed the funeral for the Chicago Mar­tyrs in Waldheim Cemetery and quoted Herwegh: “We have loved long enough/Now we are going to hate!” Yet no one could call these men rounded intellectuals. They were, rather, conspirators and revolu­tionists of the old European type, men who might have consorted with Blanqui or Bakunin in 1848. They were consumed with revolutionary wrath and with plotting con­spiracies and with accusing one another of being police spies. That was the fundamen­talist environment. Nor was the immigrant world they inhabited rich with cultural in­stitutions. There were the choral societies and the revolutionary press, and there were the anarchist bars and cafés. Goldman de­scribes some of these hangouts in Living My Life, Sach’s cafe on Suffolk Street and Justus Schwab’s saloon on 1st Street. They sound lively, Schwab’s especially. American intellectuals like Ambrose Bierce and James Huneker went to Schwab’s to meet the immigrant radicals. Six hundred books were stacked behind the bar. But that didn’t make for a very profound cultural environment. The old-fashioned fundamen­talist revolution didn’t require a profound cultural environment. It required social bit­terness and determined militants, and these it had.

***

What you see in Living My Life, though, is the growth of something more like the bohemian environment that took up anar­chism in Paris. Goldman’s generation of militants, the people who were in their twenties in the decade after Haymarket, were sincere about the revolution, but their interests showed a new dimension. Her em­phasis on attending opera and theater indi­cates what this was. She got up a sort of commune with three or four other young comrades, moving from apartment to apart­ment for a couple of years, everyone falling in and out of love with one another, and among this group was Berkman’s cousin Modest Stein, called “Fedya” in Living My Life — an anarchist, but rather more of an artist. Already she was arguing with Berkman over the place of art and beauty in the revolution, which Berkman, as a man tem­peramentally of the older rock-ribbed gen­eration, thought was no place at all. She describes going with other young people to Netter’s grocery on the East Side, where they would sit around in the back room discussing serious issues over tea and snacks with the learned grocer and his family. Netter’s grocery was the kind of place where she got to know young men like Da­vid Edelstad — an anarchist, but a poet, too (in Yiddish). She began a romance with Max Baginski, who went to Chicago to take the job once held by August Spies, one of the Martyrs, as editor of the anarchist daily, the Arbeiter-Zeitung, and what she empha­sizes is that Baginski personally knew the great German playwright Gerhart Haupt­mann. She lists the writers that she and Baginski discussed: Strindberg, Wedekind, Nietzsche, and so forth. In fact, with almost every one of the lovers she had in those early years, she pauses to list the books they read together, which is nice to see. It’s always enjoyable to watch the unfolding of an intellect, the eager way someone young gob­bles down an education. The enthusiasm captures what it means to follow that non­vocation, “intellectual.”

We watch, too, the growth not just of Goldman herself but of a large community, the community we see over her shoulder, the crowd at her lectures. This community, the readers of the radical literary press, the audience at productions of Chekhov in Rus­sian or the German playwrights in German, the crowd before whom Goldman played her part, was the new intellectual class of the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village, with outposts in Chicago and other places. It’s hard to look at this crowd without feeling a certain fondness. The downtown intelligentsia of 75 years ago had several qual­ities that have largely disappeared today, not to our benefit. The fact that tendencies like bohemian anarchism had emerged from the labor movement meant that the artists and intellectuals remained tied in some way to the unions and the working class. Anar­chism and social democracy — in their newly loosened, more metaphoric forms — pro­vided something of a coherent view of the world. They gave a purpose to artistic and intellectual work, which was to serve the cause of the people, and they rooted that work in the neighborhoods where the peo­ple live. You see the results in the work of anarchist artists like George Bellows and Robert Henri (who were followers of Gold­man) and electoral socialists like John Sloan (who admired her, but disagreed). Historic innovators in the world of art these men were not; but they were dedicated to capturing the life of the city, and at this they succeeded. They caught the New York spirit, indeed they were the only artists ever to do that, so that when one thinks of the authentic New York hurly-burly, of the life of the stoops and the vistas that appear from second-floor windows and tenement roofs, it is these artists who come to mind. That intellectual class may not have been the most brilliant in New York history, but it was surely the most local, the most close­ly tied to the lives of ordinary people, the most expressive of the city — no matter how many languages it spoke. Living My Life is a classic example. Goldman tells us she lived now on 3rd Street, now in a Bowery flophouse, now on East 13th Street, now she ran a facial massage parlor on Union Square. Those are addresses of the intelli­gentsia and of the working class both. Now she toiled in a factory, now she hung out with a visiting Russian theater troupe in the Bronx. She wasn’t escaping from the work­ing class, she was living the peculiar kind of working-class life that was also the life of the intellectual.

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The anarchists were never a very large party on the East Side, but they did play an important role in helping to build that envi­ronment. Their characteristic “deed” was, after all, the lecture, and once the Czolgosz debacle was behind them those lectures ex­panded into a handful of notable institu­tions. In 1910 Goldman herself helped orga­nize something called, after a martyred Spanish anarchist, the Ferrer Center on St. Mark’s Place (later 12th Street, still later East Harlem), which until it was suppressed by the government served as a meeting ground for teachers like Will Durant and Robert Henri and students like Moses and Raphael Soyer. Artists and writers rubbed shoulders there with union organizers and the ordinary working people who came by to take a class or attend a talk. Trotsky, during his exile in New York, studied art at the Ferrer Center. Similarly, she started a “revolutionary literary magazine,” the monthly Mother Earth, which for most of its history was published on 13th Street. Mother Earth was a stolid journal, digest-­size, with magnificent political cartoons by the great Robert Minor and other anarchist artists, though with political articles by Goldman and Berkman and other comrades that were often wooden, sometimes looney in the old bomb-throwing style. One issue was dedicated to the memory of Leon Czol­gosz. Still, Mother Earth had influence: it published items on European literature and theater, it championed the cause of artistic realism and the legacy of Walt Whitman (still considered innovative and daring in 1906, when the journal began) and it was able now and then to set an appropriately riotous tone. The founder famously waltzed in a nun’s habit at the magazine’s “Red Revel” anniversary ball in 1915. Such was the spirit. It’s worth mentioning that this Lower East Side monthly constituted the first journal of its type — the journal of radi­cal culture and radical politics — to appear in New York. What was arising was Man­hattan’s downtown left-wing arts communi­ty. In those years she was also conducting free speech campaigns coast to coast, and these too ought to be regarded as part of her cultural work, a free speech committee being a sort of muscle wing or enforcer unit for cultural radicalism. (The free speech campaigns laid a groundwork for the American Civil Liberties Union, “that most vital organization in America,” whose founder was happy to acknowledge Gold­man’s inspiration.)

Her shift from anarchist fundamentalism to the new-style bohemian radicalism came without any shift in rhetoric, which is how it always is when the revolution turns to metaphor. And this same supercharged rhetoric, vivid though it could be, did not necessarily generate great sensitivity to her new artistic themes. During the period of her largest success, 1908–1917, she fastened on drama criticism and lectured around the country on European playwrights; but you can barely read these lectures today with­out squirming in your chair at all those dynamite bombs besprinkling the page. She praised the arts as “a greater menace to our social fabric” than “the wildest harangue of the soapbox orator.” Ibsen she described as a “dynamiter of all social shams and hypoc­risies.” Drama as a whole she defended as a kind of revolutionary tactic. “In countries where political oppression affects all class­es, the best intellectual elements have made common cause with the people, have become their teachers, comrades, and spokesmen. But in America political pressure has so far affected only the ‘common’ people. It is they who are thrown into prison; they who are persecuted and mobbed, tarred and deported. Therefore another medium is needed to arouse the intellectuals of this country, to make them realize their relation to the people, to the social unrest permeating the atmosphere” — this medium being excellent plays imported from Europe. The normal language of drama criticism this was not.

What the radical rhetoric did, of course, was fend off the old-style purists among her comrades. To their philistine claim that art is no help in revolutions, she was replying in semi-philistine fashion that art is, too, a help. She never did get beyond this debate, never managed to loosen up the oratorical style, either (except when she wrote about herself). Great claims therefore cannot be made for her critical achievement. Even her interpretation of the political and social val­ues in plays tended to be what you’d expect from essays called, in their collected form, The Social Significance of the Modern Drama. She saw what she wanted to see. Yet testimony is strong that those interpre­tations played a very large role in populariz­ing Ibsen and Strindberg and helping estab­lish the “little theater” revolt against Broadway. “No one did more,” said Van Wyck Brooks. One can cite remarks by Eu­gene O’Neill, Rebecca West, Kenneth Rex­roth. Henry Miller described meeting Emma Goldman as “the most important encounter of my life” because of how she “opened up the whole world of European culture.” And it was the revolutionary approach, in spite of everything, that made these successes possible. For Goldman’s revolution, in turning metaphoric, had tak­en on a new list of enemies entirely suited to the stage, no longer just capitalists, po­licemen, and politicians, but also busybod­ies, puritans, preachy monogamists, cen­sors, and defenders of civic virtue. Let one of these walk into the room and the anar­chist drama critic would swell up “like a toad” about to burst. (We know this physi­ognomical detail from a fellow convict dur­ing one of Goldman’s spells in jail, who happened to watch when an evangelist came to address the inmates.) If that was her idea of the revolution’s enemies, then she was not at all out of tune with the advanced European theater, even if the sound of bombs going off begins to wear on the ear. In Ghosts, Ibsen spent an entire play swelling up like a toad at the local minister, who is the seat of all hypocrisy, nastiness, and oppression unto the second generation. Goldman loved Ghosts. “Verily a more revolutionary condemnation has never been uttered in dramatic form before or since.” Boom! Brieux, in Damaged Goods, showed how sexual prudishness leads to calamities of venereal disease. Brieux was a “revolutionary.” Boom again! Those booms were in the right spirit: that was the main thing. The plays were meant to be subversive, and no one attending an Emma Goldman lecture was going to forget that.

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The “social significance” that she pointed to mostly concerned the difficulties faced by women and the horrors that derive from sexual repression, and about these topics it is reasonable to ask how feminist was her point of view. Alix Kates Shulman, who has been championing Emma Goldman for many years, argues that it was entirely (and on this question Margaret Forster, in her history of feminism’s precursors, funda­mentally agrees). Goldman saw, as the earli­er anarchist theoreticians did not, that women suffered as women, not just as pro­letarians, that what must be swept away are not only the economic and political rela­tions of class society but the web of atti­tudes and relations obtaining between men and women. Therefore she stood up and defended the reasonableness of women sometimes abandoning their husbands, as in Ibsen, or of women having children with­out being married, as in Brieux. She de­fended the idea of women playing many different roles, living without families or pursuing careers, and many ideas of that variety, for which today we have a clear and undisputed name. So Shulman is right. Yet Goldman herself did not like that name, and it’s important to see why. Feminism for her was a word to describe the kind of wom­an reformer who was too much in the old American Protestant vein. The people she considered feminists looked to institutional reforms, like giving women the vote, which Goldman thought would do no good at all. And they were too keen for morality. The American feminists, in her eyes, wanted more morality, loftier morals, a stronger way for society to condemn the wayward and the wicked. But Goldman watched all those European plays and knew that as soon as talk goes to lofty morals, duties and obligations are about to descend on women. She wasn’t a feminist; she was a radical.

Her ideal was Dr. Stockman in Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. Stockman is the man who blows the whistle on the town health spa, having discovered pollution in the wa­ter, and then discovers his scientific analy­sis has been censored from the newspaper, and no auditorium in town will let him speak, and rocks are coming through his window. That was easy to identify with: Goldman had been in Stockman’s position from coast to coast. She was the national Dr. Stockman. But what she liked especial­ly was Stockman’s individualist ethic, his contempt for the stupid conformist masses, his assurance that “the strongest man is he who stands alone.” Dr. Stockman doesn’t want to improve the town morals or make the general tone loftier. He’s not a moral guardian, he’s a hardcore individualist, he wants to take his own position and let the world do as it may. That was Goldman’s viewpoint, too. From the perspective of feminist solidarity, this kind of strong-indi­vidual stuff was a trifle problematic. To tell people to go do like Dr. Stockman can be a pretty heartless thing. Stockmanism has many virtues, but sympathy for the weak is not among them. There was nothing in Goldman’s individualism that couldn’t lead to sudden lapses of sympathy. And in fact she was, on the issue of women’s solidarity, an undependable ally. She liked Strindberg, for instance. Strindberg wrote all those plays in which poor bedeviled men get trampled by hateful harridans, and even James Huneker, who quaffed beers at Schwab’s and wasn’t averse to a bit of anar­cho-individualism himself, called him a mi­sogynist. Goldman would have none of that. She responded to the wild note in Strind­berg, the bitterness against the upper class, the sympathy for outcasts, the hatred for hypocrisy. She saw him ripping down veils of deception, and if ripping veils left women looking bad for once, that was for the best. Strindberg wrote a play called Comrades satirizing an emancipated woman who de­mands alimony, and Goldman stood with Strindberg. Why should a woman who has no children require alimony? Why shouldn’t a woman be equal with a man, therefore have to suffer and labor just as men do? A hard line, which she was happy to make too hard, on occasion. But the hard line was what Goldman had in mind when she said, in her most famous passage, that “true emancipation begins neither at the polls nor in courts. It begins in woman’s soul.” Institutional equality or support for women wasn’t her goal, nor even collective action against society’s oppression of wom­en, not that she was against these things; she looked instead for personal strength, self-reliance. Woman “must realize that her freedom will reach as far as her power to achieve her freedom reaches.” The power of individuals: that is what Ibsen and Strind­berg showed on stage. “The strongest man is he who stands alone.”

***

There was a lot of this Dr. Stockman stuff — superman, blond beast, it was all the same — at the turn of the century. Rough-­tough individualism was a useful corrective to the sickly sentimentality of the age. Sometimes the individualism was right-­wing, sometimes left-wing. Among the writ­ers of her generation, Jack London, the So­cialist, was making it right-wing and left-wing both. Goldman’s inspiration was to apply the individualist idea not only to women but to matters of love. That was her stroke of genius. The passage about true emancipation beginning in woman’s soul continues like this: “The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved.” Why she intro­duced this issue, why she went so far be­yond even the bohemian anarchists on this particular point, isn’t hard to see. In certain respects she didn’t suffer very much as a woman and encountered no more obstacles in her career as lecturer and agitator than men with similar views encountered (though she did often feel she had to resist the objections of various men in her life). But for “the right to love and be loved” she had always had to struggle. The reason she left Russia for America in the first place was to escape her despotic father’s schemes to marry her off. Then she married a man of her own choice, discovered the choice was bad, and needed to get out of it, for which she lacked courage. That was 1887 and the example of the Chicago Martyrs gave her courage. She left the husband and was os­tracized by “the entire Jewish community of Rochester,” New York. But off she went to the arms and comradeship of such as Berkman the terrorist and Most, the mad dog propagandist. The Dr. Stockman question, then, the revolt of the individual against the tyrannical community, intruded into her life from the start, and it took the form of struggling for the right to love as she chose.

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The principle she enunciated, the anar­chist doctrine of Free Love, was of course a kind of libertarian rationalism. “Every love relation should by its very nature remain an absolutely private affair.” No church, no state, no entire Jewish community of Roch­ester. That meant if a woman wanted vari­ety in love, variety was her right; indeed variety, a bit of flitting about, seemed a good idea. She populated Living My Life with quite a few lovers, some of them more serious than others, to show what she had in mind. There was “Fedya,” Johann Most, “Dan,” Hippolyte Havel, Baginski, Ed Bra­dy, not to mention Berkman, with whom she maintained an always tender and close lifelong relation that was sometimes amo­rous, sometimes amicable. And she de­scribed going rather easily from one or an­other of these men to the next. Baginski, who ran off to Europe with another woman at the wrong moment, was the only one to make her suffer. More often it was the men who took it hard. Most, Brady, and Havel were all heartbroken by her: they wanted homes, children, a faithful life’s companion. What she wanted was her career as lecturer and revolutionary, and resented anyone who proposed something different. She was generally the strong one in these relations, the indomitable, the free spirit. That was the idea. Everyone was supposed to be strong and indomitable.

On the other hand, Free Love was more than a rationalist doctrine, it was a celebration of high passion. This notion came natu­rally from all those Romantic plays and novels she read. Or possibly she merely reflected her geographical base, for after she left Rochester she ultimately arrived on the Manhattan square mile bounded by East 14th and East Broadway, and this neigh­borhood has always been a seat of emotion­al abandon, a thumping heart to the rest of the country’s phlegmatic body. The history of the Lower East Side is, after all, a story of successive youth movements, the young generation of anarchists in the 1890s and early 1900s, Young Communists of the 1930s, beatniks of the ’50s, hippies of the ’60s, punks and neo-anarchists of the ’70s and ’80s; and each of these movements has in its own way, whether impressively or not, elevated high emotion to a principle. Some­thing like that certainly emerges in the first hundred pages of Living My Life. Those early chapters are practically an ode to emotional excess, abandon, outrage, inflam­mation of the heart. And in accordance with that romantic sensibility, Free Love was supposed to enable something a bit warmer, a bit more passionate than anything associ­ated with stability or convention. This her early loves demonstrated — in moderation.

Then in 1908, when she was 38, she took up with Ben Reitman, who was a kind of low-life gynecologist, hobo activist, friend of prostitutes and pimps, lost soul. “The fan­tastic Ben R,” went Margaret Anderson’s famous remark, “wasn’t so bad if you could hastily drop all your ideas as to how human beings should look and act.” Anarchists were a bit quicker than others at dropping their ideas, but even among the comrades Reitman proved a trying case. His under­world connections brought him uncomfort­ably close to the police; on one of her first evenings out with him, Goldman sat aghast at the table as he jumped up to greet warm­ly the very Chicago cop who had arrested Louis Lingg in 1886. He was oddly devoted to his mother, whom he preferred to live with, and he was relentlessly promiscuous, sometimes secretly, sometimes openly, and was always showing up with someone new. On the other hand, it’s not hard to see, almost 80 years later, what the man’s at­tractions were, apart from his good looks and exotic appeal, which were not negligi­ble. The promiscuity expressed a profound need both for sex and for mothering, a de­sire to lose himself in love, to drown in it, and the fact that this desire was, at least in his younger years, so insistent, only made it keener. Women who met Reitman must have felt repulsed or attracted, but in either case impressed, and in a matter of minutes. Goldman was attracted. Reitman made her feel more powerfully desired than anyone had made her feel before. She wasn’t averse to mothering him; she loved it. And he opened doors to places she had never quite been. Odd as it seems for someone with her experiences, she felt herself to be the pris­oner of refinement, she had the scholar’s fear of missing out on raw life — even her. And in Reitman she found a barbarian (“You are the savage, the primitive man of the cave”), which pleasantly fit the bill. As for her appeal to him, this too is pretty clear. The cave man wanted civilization, and in Goldman he stumbled on one of the only champions of high culture in America who managed also to identify with his own world of outcasts. She was his match emo­tionally, too, for if the rushing about from lover to lover expressed a desire on his part to be wanted with more than ordinary power, to be desired endlessly, then Goldman had a lot to offer. Her energy was no small thing. To be taken up by her meant to receive letters day after day, outpourings of love, endearments, heart-wringings, complaints, naggings, emotional explosions, confessions of need. Other men might have been appalled by the directness and sensuality, might have felt themselves under siege, but to someone like Reitman it must have seemed his heart’s desire. At last! he must have exclaimed, and she must have exclaimed, when they first met, and the walls of their Chicago hotel must have trembled assent, for there was bound to be no end of intensity in the coming together of people as formidably equipped as these remarkable characters.

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Reitman’s wanderings did raise certain difficulties. Goldman, the “arch-varietist,” had no objection on principle, needless to say, though she did worry that Reitman was exploiting the women he met and perhaps was even seducing them with the glamour he drew from being the lover of Emma Goldman, which wasn’t thrilling to contemplate. But this time she wanted more from her man than she wanted from earlier loves, she wanted to feel she was satisfying him completely. Her own interest in variety by and large disappeared; the thought of other men suddenly repulsed her. And she was always abruptly discovering that he could never respond in the same way. This was not a happy situation. “I am mad, absolute­ly mad and miserable.” Candace Falk, in her biography of Goldman, prints so many letters in this vein that you wish poor Emma would go champion some cause to take her mind off her problems — and of course she did accumulate causes and was continually organizing solidarity commit­tees for the Mexican Revolution or cam­paigns to free IWW boys from Texas jails. But the Mexican Revolution was only so much help. From Reitman’s perspective, too, there were plentiful fields of unhappi­ness. He was not a cowardly man, he was willing to risk life and limb going around the country as Goldman’s manager year after year, spreading the news about Henrik Ibsen and birth control and getting at­tacked by mobs and tyrants. On behalf of birth control he went to jail twice and served more than six months. On behalf of Ibsen he was tortured and tarred and feath­ered by vigilantes in San Diego, and the letters IWW were seared into his buttocks. Yet in the anarchist crowd into which he had fallen, Alexander Berkman set the standard for bravery, and Reitman, who was not above beating an indecorous retreat now and then, came out second best. Com­parisons to Berkman were unfair, as Gold­man herself recognized in one passage of Living My Life, though not in other pas­sages. Berkman was “a revolutionist first and human afterwards.” He was without fear, therefore it was nothing for him to be brave. Nevertheless that was the standard, and Reitman looked like a mouse. Intellec­tually, he stood at mouse-level as well in the bookish anarchist world. So there was hu­miliation for him, too, in his long affair. And these powerful things, her insecurity, his humiliation, her unsatisfied desires, his frustrated rage, took on, between passages of serene delirium, an almost sensual antag­onism, a “voluptuousness,” in Alice Wexler’s word. Their letters show the two of them luxuriating in mutual pleasures, and something very close to luxuriating in their individual pains. The resulting insta­bility, the inequalities now tipping one way, now the other, only tied them closer togeth­er. Love requires sacrifice, Goldman thought, and they were both sacrificing like mad.

It was inescapable in any such affair that what was rationalist in Free Love would run up against what was passionate. As one of the biographers points out, Emma Goldman the rationalist was roaming the country delivering a lecture called “Jealousy: Causes and a Possible Cure,” in which the causes were linked to the institution of private property and the possible cure was linked to varietism and the triumph of anarchy, and all the while the woman behind the podium was dying of jealousy while her faithless manager stalked members of the audience. A bad scene. Eventually she was throwing chairs at him. The lecturer herself saw it all too clearly. “How is it possible that one so decided, so energetic, so independent, as I, one who has defied a World and fought so many battles, should have wound herself around a human being without whom life seems absolutely desolate. How has such a process taken place? I cannot find an an­swer. I only know it is so, that my being is so closely glued to yours, I feel as if all interest, all energy, all desire had gone with you and left me numb and paralyzed.…” So she had to make a choice about Free Love, had to decide between high passion and level sensibleness, and during the 10 years when her lectures were proving suc­cessful, she stuck to her heart’s yearning and quietly let a few shafts of irony fall across her public doctrine. The biographers, Falk and Wexler, both express disappointment at this decision. They think the life failed to live up to the dogma. They find their Goldman a little neurotic and self­-destructive. Reading these writers, one can appreciate what Goldman had in mind in complaining about the over-moral feminists of her own time.

In any case, matters of love emphasize again what a rock of integrity this woman was. The Chicago Martyrs set a standard of absolute courage and independence, and this standard became a norm in American anarchism, became in fact that movement’s greatest accomplishment. Berkman merely followed in that path, and some years later Sacco and Vanzetti did the same. Goldman spent her years in America always expecting that someday she too would be called on to die for the cause or to suffer in some other monumental way, and beyond her lost tooth, some beatings by the police, the three years she spent in jail (her imprison­ment in 1893 was repeated for a longer term in 1918–9 for the crime of opposing the World War I draft) and the numberless arrests for speaking out on birth control or Ibsen or something, plus the federal sup­pression of her magazine and ultimately her cruel deportation — beyond this continual wretched treatment, nothing worse ever happened, miraculously enough. But the iron adherence to principle was the same, and that was as true of her life in love as her life in politics. She was many things, but she was certainly dauntless. When love had ended with Brady or some other man, she left him; and when it began with even some­one as preposterous and embarrassing as the hobo doctor, she was not afraid to join him. Appearances meant little to her, even appearances within the anarchist move­ment, where Reitman was always in bad odor. In her older years it was more difficult, she was living in exile, and she suffered what she called the hardships of an emanci­pated woman, which become severer with age. The loneliness and instability that she acknowledged were a risk of Free Love afflicted her then (though it’s true she always had Berkman in his role as comrade-for-life). But even then her romantic heart still managed an occasional insurrection. In Ger­many in the 1920s, she struck up an affair with a Swedish man — her “Swedish sunbeam” — more than 20 years younger than herself. The next decade, during the time she was living in Montreal, it was with an anarchist delicatessen man from Albany, New York. She was in her sixties, a “grandmotherly person with a blue twinkling eye,” or alternatively “a battleship going into action” (two contemporary descriptions), yet once again she was besieging the new light of her life with sexy billet doux and one can only imagine what in person. Later still she found a blind young man from Chicago who, full of enthusiasm for her, traveled to Canada and raised her to “sublime heights.” “Imagine, last Thursday, the 27th of June, I was sixty-six years of age. Never did I feel my years so much. Never before was it borne in on me how utterly incongruous is my mad infatuation for you, a man thirty years younger than I.…” She complained to Berkman about her own per­sonality: “I wish I could at least make my peace with the world, as behooves an old lady. I get disgusted with myself for the fire that is consuming me at my age. But what will you do? No one can get out of his skin.” In the end she was not, of course, failing to live up to the dogma. “Anarchism,” she wrote to a European comrade, “must be lived now in our relations to each other, not in the future,” and on that basis the battleship steamed steadily forward.

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More to the point, her labor as writer was also steaming forward, for all those experi­ences always managed to express them­selves in words. How do you become a prophet, Allen Ginsberg was asked. “Tell your secrets,” he said. Goldman devoted two volumes of memoirs plus sundry other writings and something approaching a quarter-million letters (not all of which survive) to telling her secrets. In a sense even the drabbest of her lectures and essays told a secret, for everything she did was intended to mythologize its author, and the myth revealed a secret about people’s capacity for experience. That was her success. Ginsberg isn’t wrong. In the early years, when she lectured solely on the proletarian revolution, she never reached more than a small number of sympathizers. But when she be­gan presenting herself as the woman who has lived, as the real-life Nora or female Dr. Stockman, the woman who has fled the so­cial conformities for a free-fall through the anarchist air — then she was someone people wanted to see. That person was no longer on the despised immigrant sidelines. That per­son had stumbled into a series of debates that still seem recognizably current. It’s not too much to say that in her half-cranky, not always deft manner, she had become the first stalwart of the radical left to make the move into modern intellectual life.

***

Emma Goldman’s final distinction was to last so long in the revolutionary movement, 53 years altogether, that she went through the crisis of the socialist intellectual not once but several times. About the last of these crises, which occupied the final four years of her life, very little has been known. This crisis had to do with the Spanish Civil War. She was 67 when the war broke out, living in France, burdened by Berkman’s suicide a few weeks earlier, and reluctant to get involved. But the comrades insisted and two months later she was in Barcelona, wel­comed by the anarchist groups as their “spiritual mother.” She addressed 16,000 people at a Barcelona anarchist youth rally (characteristically, she quoted Ibsen), toured areas where social revolution had begun, then took up duties, in answer to her Spanish comrades’ instructions, as solidari­ty organizer in London. She returned to Spain for two additional extended visits in the next couple of years and she wrote at length about it. But these writings never received much play. Her condemnations of the Soviet Union — she was already talking about Communism and Fascism in the same breath — had damaged her standing among the duller and more authoritarian liberals and radicals in the United States, and liberal magazines like The New Republic and The Nation, where her writings nor­mally ought to have appeared, were no long­er open to her. The energy to write another book was more than she could summon. Her Spanish commentary took the form, then, of lectures, personal letters, and articles for obscure British and American anarchist magazines whose public influence was zero. Only today have these writings been collect­ed, under the title Vision on Fire, in an edition laboriously edited by David Porter, and even this book is a product of a not­-very-powerful movement press.

The importance of Goldman’s Spanish commentary ought, however, to be immedi­ately apparent. Many well-known English ­language writers reported on Spanish events, but none of these writers was especially sympathetic to the anarchists. George Orwell, who didn’t hate the anarchists, be­longed to a splinter party of Marxists and wrote about Spain more or less from that party’s perspective. Even John Dos Passos, who was a bit anarchisant, wrote affection­ately about anarchists in his Spanish novel yet in practice sympathized mostly with a moderate non-revolutionary breakaway fac­tion of the Spanish “libertarians.” Heming­way went to Spain and was positively terrified of the anarchists. He called them “dirty, foul, undisciplined, kind, loving, sil­ly and ignorant, but always dangerous be­cause they were armed” (For Whom the Bell Tolls). Their personal habits revolted him. And of course that was not Emma Goldman’s view. The more armed and dan­gerous were the men in red and black, the more she liked them. She went to live among them, during her time in Spain, at the expropriated ITT building in Barcelona which served as anarchist headquarters, and she earned their respect by refusing to flee to bomb shelters when German and Italian planes were bombing the city. She was no old lady, one might say; she was Hemingway. And since the anarchists were, in fact, the largest single political group in Spain, the dominant force in several re­gions, and the group chiefly responsible for holding off the Fascist uprising at the start of the war, her writings are singularly im­portant. Fragmented and occasional as they are, they constitute the one book we have that was written in English by a well-known observer whose principal sympathies were with the mainstream of the Spanish resistance, not with a splinter party or secondary force.

She went around to the anarchist collectives and the experiments in workers’ self-management, the Syndicate of Public Amusement, the Socialized Milk industry, the anarcho-syndicalist chicken farms and rabbit breeders, and the textile factories that were organized on principles of libertarian self-management. She didn’t describe at great length these constructive achievements of the anarchist revolution — the experiments in democratizing industry, in collectivizing the land in a libertarian manner, in establishing a nonstate variety of grassroots socialism, el communismo libertario — mostly because she didn’t know Spanish (she had to get by with French) and because she was touring in any case with Augustin Souchy, the German anarcho-syndicalist, who was taking this duty on himself. But what she did describe conforms generally to accounts provided by other witnesses. Needless to say, she was thrilled. “There was never a more proletarian revolution than the Spanish one,” she wrote, no doubt correctly. “Yes, my dear, I feel it was worth all I have given to the Anarchist movement to see with my own eyes its first buddings. It is my grandest hour.” But the enthusiasm didn’t extend to every particular. The ecstatic tone that writers fell into in regard to the Spanish revolution, the tone you see in Orwell’s de­scriptions of Barcelona, crops up in Gold­man’s reports only in fleeting passages and often then leads to a raised eyebrow, a bit of skepticism, a holding back. “Yesterday I visited the largest, most important champag­ne vineyards and industry in this country­. It was founded in the 16th century and continued by a long line of the same family until the Revolution. It is the most modern and perfectly organized plant I have seen there. And would you believe it, the entire personnel including the manager are members of the CNT [the anarchist labor federation]. The plant is now collectivized and run by the workers themselves. The manag­er, a comrade who fell on my neck when he learned my name, was quite surprised when I asked him whether the workers will have a chance to drink the champagne. ‘Of course,’ he said. ‘What is the Revolution for if not to give the workers what they never en­joyed?’ ” — to which she added, “Well, let’s hope this will really be so.” She was espe­cially critical of women’s status in the anarchist areas. She thought the women needed to speak a little louder. “It is true of women, as it is of the workers. Those who would be free must themselves strike the first blow.” She lectured the anarchist men and sent furious letters to her old comrade Max Nettlau explaining that no, all Spanish women don’t want broods of babies.

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The chief point of skepticism concerned the political policies of the anarchist leaders toward the Communists. What Orwell re­ported about the Communists — the rise of the tiny Communist party through shrewd use of Soviet aid, which was the only significant source of arms, the start of Communist assassinations and executions, the jailing of anarchists and other revolutionary anti­-Fascists, finally the Communist assaults on the farmworkers’ collectives and self-man­aged factories, which is to say the outbreak of civil war within the civil war — Goldman reported, too. What was different in her account was that, as an “influential” in the anarchist ranks, she partook in the debate over how to respond. There was, alas, no way to respond. It would have been possible for the anarchists to establish a dictatorship in anti-Fascist Spain and to suppress the Communists altogether, but this they were against on principle (though it is striking to see that the possibility was discussed). Be­sides, where would they get arms if they alienated the Soviet Union? They were stuck, these anarchists. They were stuck in the very situation that in later years would recur several times in the Spanish-speaking world, the situation of indigenous revolu­tionaries fighting a Catholic feudal reaction that is tacitly backed by the Western de­mocracies, and in which their own allies are tied to the Soviet Union whether they like it or not. The Spanish anarchists agreed to appease the Communists. They accepted a limit on the anarchist revolution, recog­nized Communist areas of power, agreed not to publish unfavorable truths about the Soviet Union. They went further yet and joined the United Front with the Commu­nists, which meant taking their place as members of what they had sworn to destroy, the centralized state. They were given four ministries in the Spanish Republic. And all this Goldman went along with. More: she herself accepted a position from the United Front government. She became an official representative to England of the Catalan government. A state official at the age of 68! But she wasn’t happy about these concessions. Certain of the anarcho-syndicalist leaders seemed actually to like the Communists, even to like Stalin, and this naiveté revolted her. She had little expectation that allying with the Soviets would do any good. But she did not go public with her reservations and she corresponded with an­archists around the world telling them not to go public either. Solidarity with the Spanish libertarians was her priority, and the Spanish libertarians felt they had no alternative. So she exercised “discipline”­ — her word — an anarchist discipline, self-imposed. Then, of course, it turned out that appeasing the Communists was no good anyway. The jailing of labor militants and the executions and murders began in ear­nest; her own building, the expropriated ITT headquarters in Barcelona, was as­saulted by Communist troops, though not while she was there (it was this attack that Orwell described). She toured a Communist prison and saw non-Communist revolution­aries from all over Europe locked up there, men who had fought fascism in their own countries and then continued after defeat to fight it in Spain only to fall into the hands of their supposed allies. Some of the in­mates turned out to be Communists them­selves, at any rate members of the Commu­nist-led International Brigades, jailed on charges of Trotskyism and other preposter­ous offenses. It was an appalling scene. And finally she unmuzzled herself.

The Communists, she wrote to John Dew­ey, “have done so much harm to the labor and revolutionary movement in the world that it may well take a hundred years to undo.” To another correspondent, she blamed Marxism itself: “The introduction of Marxist theories into the world has done no less harm, indeed I would say more, than the introduction of Christianity — at any rate in Spain it has helped to assassinate the Spanish revolution and the anti-fascist struggle.” She swore undying hostility. “The rest of my years will be devoted to the exposure of the scourge that has been im­posed on the world by Soviet Russia.” But by then the war was lost. The revolutionar­ies were getting massacred in Spain by Franco, and those who escaped were locked in concentration camps by the French, and within the concentration camps the Com­munists were continuing their persecutions, incredibly enough. And there was nothing to be done. Her influence over liberals was long over, and now the one place on earth where anarchism had prospered was elimi­nated, too. She had reached the ultimate point in the crisis of the left-wing intellectual, the point of total political isolation. Henceforth anything she said spoke only for herself. She came up with a lecture called “Stalin: Judas of Spain” and delivered it to Canadian audiences. But she could hardly pretend to be a leader of a political move­ment anymore.

A younger person under those circum­stances might have done some rethinking. Reading her Spanish commentaries, you can almost see what that rethinking could have been. It is what Orwell came up with. So much of Goldman’s commentary resem­bles Orwell’s that you can’t help supplying some of his conclusions and observations. She did read his book and approved of it heartily, and you keep expecting to find her own version of his analysis of totalitarian­ism, with its unavoidable corollary, which is that worse things exist on earth than bourgeois democracy. There was, in fact, a breeze blowing toward democratic liberalism among some of the older anarchist thinkers in the 1930s. The German anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker was going soft on democracy. Certain comrades in America were finding friendly things to say about liberalism. These people were becoming, in the contemptuous phrase of the harder-line comrades, “almost social-democratic.” And Goldman was definitely wafting in that particular breeze. She was one of the “social democratic anarchists.” You see it in some of her surprisingly sympathetic references to Franklin Roosevelt (who for his part returned the interest to the extent of reading Living My Life, not that he ever lifted a finger to rescind her deportation).

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But more than a breeze this never came to be. Social democratic anarchism died aborning. In one passage of her Spanish writings she would acknowledge that the democracies were infinitely to be preferred to the totalitarian states, but in another passage she would write that democracy was totalitarianism in disguise. She was against the Communists, but sometimes she would indulge just as much hostility to the parliamentary Socialists. She opposed the fascist above all, to be sure. But did she oppose them in the only way that commanded rea­sonable degrees of might, once the anarchist alternative was defeated — which is to say, was she willing to go far enough beyond anarchist tradition to endorse the Allied war effort? She pointed out that the democ­racies were, from a colonial point of view, themselves vile dictatorships. (That was a good point.) Sometimes she thought about pacifism. She was leaning in that direction.

The debate over World War II — should anarchists come to the defense of the anti­fascist governments? — was the last she en­gaged in. She conducted it in circumstances that were anything but happy. She was in Canada because Western Europe was fall­ing to the Nazis and because she loathed every aspect of British life and wouldn’t dream of staying there; but mostly because Canada was close to what she still consid­ered home, the United States. She used to get a comrade to drive her to the border so she could look across. Meanwhile the anar­chist circles were growing pathetically small. My Yiddish translator and old friend Ahrne Thorne, the last editor of the Freie Arbeiter Stimme many years later, tells me he used to come around in those days to cheer the venerable comrade up. He himself supported the war, anarchism notwithstanding. He took an exceptionally dim view of the Germans; he felt that as a Jew the issues were entirely clear. But by then Emma had reverted to tradition all the way. An imperialist war was an imperialist war. She recalled that Kropotkin let the cause down in World War I by deciding the Ger­mans were especially evil and the Allies ought to be supported. “Look, you are now assuming the same attitude as Kropotkin,” she said. “But look at the Germans today!” said Thorne. “Maybe Kropotkin was right.” But no. That was not going to be Goldman’s line. The woman who came alive by reading about the martyrdom of Haymarket, who had thrown herself into the most forward trenches of the class war and then was first in America to follow the path from revolu­tionary militant to free-lance intellectual, the woman who had transformed so much of the old proletarian revolutionary bitter­ness into a passion for European theater and free speech and modem ideas, who her­self embodied American labor’s role in gen­erating modern intellectual life and went on to raise some questions that have not exact­ly disappeared from contemporary debate — this woman was not going to do anything else. And as if to mark the completion of her work, the anarchist comrades in Canada and the United States arranged, after she died, for her body to be brought across the border — then the American authorities would let her in — and buried her at Waldheim Cemetery, Chicago, a few feet from where the Martyrs themselves, her inspiration, were buried.

I have only one story about Emma’s death to add to what has already been pub­lished. It is a story that Thorne tells. He remembers when he first learned, in Toron­to, that she had suffered a stroke. He ran to her apartment — it was upstairs from the home of some Dutch comrades — and found several other anarchists already gathering. They were mostly Italians. The Italian an­archists in Toronto loved Emma because she had led a quiet campaign to save them from deportation back to Mussolini. The comrades stood around in front of her door, and the narrowness of the corridor formed them into a sort of honor guard. Then Emma was carried out on a stretcher, para­lyzed on her right side. She stared at the honor guard through her thick eyeglasses, and as she passed, she pulled her skirt down to cover her knee. This detail somehow stuck in Thorne’s mind. A few days later he figured out why.

The tug on her skirt reminded him of a story he read by Y.L. Peretz 20 years earli­er, during his childhood in Lodz, Poland. In this story, “The Three Gifts,” a beautiful Jewish girl is caught wandering outside the ghetto, where Jews are not allowed to go. It is a Christian holy day and for a Jew to wander about on such a day is a heinous crime. Worse, her beauty has attracted the attention of a noble knight and thereby sul­lied his religious purity. Guards bring the girl before a magistrate, who condemns her to a gruesome death. Her long hair will be tied to a horse’s tail and she will be dragged through the streets until the blood from her corpse has washed away her sin.

The magistrate allows her, however, one wish. She asks for pins. Pins? No one can imagine what she has in mind. Still, the wish is granted, the pins are brought, and she fastens the hem of her dress to her feet, sticking the pins right into the flesh. Then her hair is tied to the horse’s tail and the horse begins to trot. The doomed girl gets miserably dragged through the streets. Yet as this happens her skirt remains immovably fastened. The girl will die but her mod­esty will never be violated. The crowd will gape but never will anyone see anything that should not be seen. It is a story about defiance. ■

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES Dance Archives FILM ARCHIVES From The Archives NYC ARCHIVES show-old-images Theater

Farewell to Fosse

Fosse was dead and after the urgent calls and the logistics of death, there seemed nothing really to do about it except go for a walk along Broadway in the midnight rain.

This was the square mile of the earth Bob Fosse cared for more than any other. Up there on the second floor at 56th Street was the rehearsal hall where I’d met him years ago. Around the corner was the Carnegie Deli, where he’d have lunch with Paddy Chayefsky and Herb Gardner, trading lines, drinking coffee, smoking all those goddamned cigarettes. On the 11th floor of 850 Seventh Avenue, he and Chayefsky and Gardner had their separate offices, and from Paddy’s they would often gaze in wonder across the back courtyard of the Hotel Woodward, at the man in underwear who was always shaving, no matter what the hour. A few blocks away was the building where Fosse lived the last decade of his life.

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And down the rain-drowned avenue was the sleazy hamlet I always thought of as Fosseville: all glitter and neon and dangerous shadows. This wasn’t Runyon’s fairy-tale Broadway; it was harder, meaner, as reliable in its ruthlessness as a switchblade. Yet even in his most cynical years, Fosse insisted on seeing its citizens as human, observing their felonies and betrayals not as a journalist or a sociologist but as the fine artist he was. “I see a hooker on a corner,” he said to me once, “and I can only think: there’s some kinda story there. I mean, she was once six years old … ” On this late night, I could see Fosse in black shirt and trousers, standing in some grimy doorway, looking out at his lurid parish; he had been young here and almost died here and sometimes fled from the place and always came back. In Fosseville the gaudiest dreams existed side by side with the most vicious betrayals; everything was real but nothing was true. And, of course, he believed in some dark way that all could be redeemed by love.

Nobody loved harder. He loved his wives: Mary Ann Niles, who danced with him in the last years of the nightclub era (and who died a year after Fosse), Joan McCracken, who died on him when they were both young, and Gwen Verdon, who was with him when he lay down for the final time on the grass of a small park in Washington. But Fosse wasn’t one of those men who can be married; the emotional core of his masterpiece, All That Jazz, is not so much the romantic attraction of death, but the impossibility of fidelity. There were simply too many beautiful women in this world, with their grace and style and intelligence and mystery; the demand of monogamy was like ordering a man to love only one Vermeer.

And so he loved many women; most were dancers and actresses, because in the world where he worked they were the women he met. He treated all of them with the same grace. I saw him most often when he was between women; he was then usually engulfed by a bleakly romantic sense of loss (although the only remorse he ever expressed was about Gwen). When be met a new woman, when he was swept away, he would vanish from his usual precincts; no male friends were as important as a woman or the possibility of love.

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It was no accident that he always celebrated women in his work, although he was hardly an illustrator of feminist dogma. In the ’50s and ’60s, half the men I knew were in love with Gwen Verdon, who on stage combined humor, vulnerability, toughness, and sensuality in shows designed, choreographed, directed by Fosse. She always moved the tough guys most of all. “Every time I see her,” the sports-writer Jimmy Cannon said of Gwen, “I want to run away with her.” When Damn Yankees was in its long run, Paul Sann, the greatest newspaperman I ever knew, said of Gwen one night: “You better go see her now, kid, ’cause you ain’t gonna see anything like her again on Broadway for the rest of your fucking life.” About Gwen Verdon, as about so many things, Sann was absolutely right.

But if it’s forever impossible to separate Fosse from Gwen, he was also a fine director of other women. Liza Minnelli, Valerie Perrine, and Anne Reinking did their best work with Fosse. He was one of the few directors to see King Kong and recognize that Jessica Lange could be a superb actress; later they would become lovers, and he would cast her as the Angel of Death in All That Jazz. It was entirely appropriate, of course, that Fosse would imagine death as a woman, thus merging his two most passionate obsessions.

But he loved other things too: almost all forms of music; nightclub comics; cheap vaudeville jokes (Q. “Do you file your nails?” A. “No, I throw them away …”); the New York Mets; good food (he spent hours cooking in the huge kitchen of the house in Quogue, bringing his perfectionism to the details of the simplest meal); Fred Astaire (there were no pictures of himself in the Quogue house and two of Astaire); air hockey; children; New York Post headlines; boxing and football; his daughter Nicole; good wine, margaritas, and brandy; his cat, Macho, a stray discovered beaten-up and bloodied in the Quogue grasslands and nursed to plump domesticity; and, of course, those goddamned cigarettes.

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After family and lovers, he admired writers more than anyone else. Among his friends were Gardner and Chayefsky, E. L. Doctorow, Peter Maas, and Budd Schulberg. Although he liked to affect the I’m-only-a-song-and-dance-man pose, Fosse was a careful, intelligent reader. His writer friends knew how high Fosse’s own standards were (whether he failed or succeeded, he never set out to manufacture crap) and they often responded to his subtle urgings that they do better. Some writers who worked with him were angry at the end, as he demanded from them what he could more easily demand from a dancer; those who didn’t work with him had easier friendships.

Yes, Fosse was competitive, and cared (perhaps too much) about the way he stood in relation to other directors. In 1974, after he had his first ferocious heart attack, Gardner and Chayefsky were summoned to Fosse’s hospital room to serve as witnesses to his will. There were two lawyers waiting. Fosse was in critical condition in his bed, silent and trapped in a ganglia of tubes and wires. The lawyers asked the two writers to sign the will; Gardner did so immediately. But Chayefsky insisted on reading the text. He discovered that Fosse hadn’t left him anything, so he turned to the silent Fosse and said: “Fuck you, live!” Fosse started to laugh; all measuring devices began to go wild; the lawyers blanched; a platoon of nurses arrived to save Fosse’s life. Finally, all was calmed down again. Chayefsky resumed reading the will while Fosse lay silent. Then Paddy came to a provision that reserved $20,000 for a party for Fosse’s friends. Hey, that’s great, Chayefsky said, it’s just what Josh Logan did. For the first time, Fosse spoke.

“How much did Logan leave for the party?” he said, in a thin weak voice.

“Twenty thousand,” said Chayefsky.

“Make mine twenty-five,” said Fosse, falling back, as Chayefsky and Gardner dissolved into laughter. That visit probably saved his life.

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Quite simply, Fosse wanted to be the best at what he did. In that impossibly romantic quest, he drove dancers hard (although never harder than he drove himself) and kept demanding more from his stars. He worked hard at understanding actors, studying with Sanford Meisner, reading the basic texts from Stanislavski to Harold Clurman. And he developed his own ways to get his actors to do their best work.

“He could act incredibly humble when he wanted something from you,” said Roy Scheider, who believes his own best work was in All That Jazz. “When he met someone he wanted for the first time, he knew everything about you. He’d done research, he’d seen your movies or plays. He’d say, ‘You know, you were very good in that part, hey, wait, you got a nomination, didn’t you? You won.’ And there’d be a pause, after he did all this praising. And then he’d say how that was nothing compared to what lies ahead in your work with me. And he made you believe it. And then he did it … After three, four meetings you’d be thoroughly convinced that you were not capable of giving him what he wanted. And then he would begin to build your confidence, making you feel that your reflowering would take place in his show.” Scheider laughed. “You see, for him, it was always being done for posterity. Every time out of the chute, it was for history.”

Because he worked so hard, and because he knew how much pain was involved in the making of a show or a movie, Fosse generally despised critics. He thought they saw too much and, as a result, their sensibilities were blunted, making them unable to respond to amazing theatrical moments in the way an audience might. They were all too glib, dismissing (or praising) two years of another’s work in a review dashed off in an hour. He thought critics were primarily responsible for the failure of Star 80 (based on Teresa Carpenter’s brilliant article for the Voice); when Big Deal opened to lukewarm reviews last year and then closed after 100-odd performances, he was disheartened.

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“Maybe all they want are Eddie Murphy movies or sets that sing,” he said. “Maybe all they want is shit. Maybe it’s over for people like me.”

But he was still working at the end; trying to choose between a movie about Walter Winchell, a movie version of Chicago, probably with Madonna, or something completely new. During the summer, we talked a few times about his experiences during the Second World War, when he was a 17-year-old sailor working in an entertainment unit in the South Pacific; he was with the first Americans to enter Japan at the end of the war and was still horrified at the scale of the destruction in Tokyo and the stupidly brutal way so many American soldiers treated the Japanese, particularly the women. “It still makes me sick,” he said. “That was the first time I was really ashamed to be an American.” The contrast between the idealism of fighting the war and the morally corrosive realities of victory was a splendid setup for a Fosse movie, but Fosse was uneasy about it. “That world is gone, that music, the way people were … Most of the country wouldn’t know what I was talking about.”

Now we’ll never know. The night after we all got the news, there was a small gathering at Gardner’s apartment, a kind of secular wake. Some wept; others told the old stories, with examples of Fosse’s dark humor; all were in shock, because Fosse had been looking better than at any time in years. Later, wandering through Broadway in the rain, I thought that for Fosse, who so perfectly expressed a certain vision of New York, the worst thing about dying in Washington might have been that he closed out of town. ♦

1987 Village Voice article by Pete Hamill about director and choreographer Bob Fosse

Categories
From The Archives Security show-old-images THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

The CIA Report the President Doesn’t Want You to Read

A 24-Page Special Supplement

The Pike Papers: An Introduction by Aaron Latham

These are not the Pentagon Papers, but there are points of similarity. For, once again, an American president has set himself against the publication of a government study of dangerous government adventures. Once again the White House is seeking to protect the American people from a reading of a part of their own history.

The history in this case was written by the House Select Committee on In­telligence, which is chaired by New York Congressman Otis Pike. The com­mittee’s report was finished on January 19, 1976, but ten days later the House of Representatives voted not to release it until it is censored by the executive branch. Since the report details at great length all the obstacles which the execu­tive branch put in the way of the Pike committee from the beginning of its work to the end, the White House would not seem the ideal, unbiased expurgator. 

If the executive branch “sanitized” the report the way it sanitized many of the documents it turned over to the com­mittee, little would remain. For, according to the report, “sanitized” quite often turned out to be “merely a euphemism for blank sheets of paper with a few scattered words left in, often illegible, sometimes misleading, and usually in­conclusive. One page was blank except for the following: “3/ND/DOLL-VNM/T-0144-6SG TRANSLATED DECRYPT UNJAC/VN NR I Y 30/300G FM IJB TO CQ INFO BBM STOP CNMB 30119 5610M Tol: 30JA68/10/22 300.” Another page was blank except for the “TOP SECRET” stamp. 

At the moment, the White House and the House are stalemated. Perhaps this unofficial publication of the Pike Papers will moot that stalemate. The reports are now in the custody of Carl Albert, the Speaker of the House, who must decide what the House’s next move will be. One Congressional source says that Albert plans simply to sit on the report until the press prints it. Then he will be able to move to make it public officially. 

The Pike committee report is divided into three sections: (I) “The Select Committee’s Oversight Experience”… (II) “The Select Committee’s Investigative Record”… and (III) “Recom­mendations.” In the text which follows this introduction, we are printing only the second section and even here some of the footnotes have had to be trimmed for space reasons. (As a result, the footnotes are not numbered consecutively; we have followed the committee report’s numbering throughout.) We chose to omit the first section because it is primarily a record of the committee’s frustrations rather than its findings. We had no choice but to leave out the third section, the recommendations section, since, as we went to press, these had not yet been written.

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The first section of the report, missing here, begins with this sentence: “If the Committee’s recent experience is any test, intelligence agencies that are to be controlled by Congressional lawmaking are, today, beyond lawmaker’s scrutiny.” The document then goes on to present an 81-page catalog of obstruction which begins but does not end with the “sanitizing” of papers. 

For example, one Pike committee witness was harassed. A man named Martin Kaiser, who manufactures wiretap equip­ment, testified that the FBI bought eaves­-dropping devices from him through a middleman, the U.S. Recording Company. This middleman’s sole function was to camouflage the Bureau’s purchases, and yet the company tacked on a 30 percent markup to the price. The committee eventually learned that the president of U.S. Recording was a poker buddy of a top FBI official.

After Kaiser testified, two FBI agents subjected him to a six-hour interroga­tion. They then wrote out a statement recanting several trivial aspects of his testimony and stood over him while he signed it. Undaunted, Kaiser went back before the committee, complained about the harassment, and repudiated the statement written for him by the G-men.

But the biggest single obstacle, ac­cording to the report, was Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. The Pike com­mittee report accuses Kissinger of putting forth “a new doctrine that can best be characterized as ‘secretarial privilege.’ ” He defied Congressional subpoenas, prevented State Department witnesses from testifying, and leaked stories to embarrass the committee. 

The committee began the second sec­tion of its report, the section we do print, with an attempt to make visible the long invisible intelligence budget. The Pike Papers conclude that Congress is told that the intelligence budget is about $3 billion, but that it is really closer to $10 billion.

The report also concludes that even within the intelligence agencies, where they presumably know what the real budgets are, “spending controls [are] inadequate.” The study supports this allegation with such examples as the CIA station in a small country which turned in a one-year liquor bill of $41,000… the taxpayers’ money spent to provide heads of state with female companions” and more tax dollars invested in the making of pornographic movies, one of which was entitled Happy Days with former Hughes Tool executive Robert Maheu acting “as casting director, make-up man, cameraman, and director.”

What happened to that station chief who managed to spend $41,000 on alcohol? He was transferred to Angola.

Having answered the question, how much does it cost?, the Pike committee then turned to another question: Is it worth it? In attempting to answer this question, the committee undertook case studies of six intelligence failures: the Tet Offensive, the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the 1973 Mid-East War, the coup in Portugal, India’s first atomic test, and the coup in Cyprus. 

They began with Tet. As background to this predictive failure, the committee chronicled the pressure on the CIA to provide “confirmation of the contention that there was light at the end of the tunnel.” For example, the committee reported that Walt Rostow, the then as­sistant to the president for national security affairs, asked the CIA for a report on pacification-program successes. When an intelligence officer replied that there had not been many, Rostow re­portedly replied, “I am amazed at your unwillingness to support the president in his time of need.” The agency eventu­ally did supply an optimistic pacification report, but with a caveat letter attached. Rostow removed the letter and then gave the report to the president, remarking: “At last an objective appraisal from CIA.”

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Moving from Asia to Europe, the committee found that we could be caught just as much by surprise in Czechoslovakia as in Vietnam. The committee dis­covered that one reason we did not anticipate the 1968 Russian invasion was simply this: “We ‘lost’ the Russian army for two weeks.”

How did we finally learn that the USSR was in fact invading Czechoslovakia? Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin called at the White House and told President Johnson that that was what Russia was doing. At least we had found the Russian army. 

Moving to the Holy Land, the com­mittee reported: “The Mid-East war gave the intelligence community a real test of how it can perform when all its best technology and human skills are focused on a known world ‘hot-spot.’ It failed.”

The failure of our intelligence before the Arab assault has been generally rec­ognized for some time, but the Pike Papers maintain that there may have been an even more serious intelligence failure after the attack. Since we had not anticipated trouble in the Middle East, our spy satellites were caught out of position. We were therefore unable to monitor adequately the progress of the fighting and wound up relying “al­most unquestioningly” on Israeli battle­field reports. We therefore believed the Israelis when they said they had not violated the cease-fire.

The Pike committee concluded: “Thus misled, the U.S. clashed with the better-informed Soviets on the latter’s strong reaction to Israeli cease-fire violations. Soviet threats to intervene militarily were met with a worldwide U.S. troop alert. Poor intelligence had brought America to the brink of war.”

Moving on to Portugal, the committee asked: “Do our intelligence services know what is going on beneath the sur­face in allied nations that are not making headlines?” The answer on April 25, 1974, turned out to be no. 

We failed equally to predict the first nuclear test in the Third World. It hap­pened in India on May 18, 1974. A De­fense Intelligence Analysis report issued shortly before the test carried this title: “India: A nuclear weapons program will not likely be pursued in the near term.”

A CIA post-mortem report said of our intelligence blindspot: “This failure de­nied the U.S. Government the option of considering diplomatic or other initia­tive to try to prevent this significant step in nuclear proliferation.”

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In Cyprus, our apparent failure to predict the overthrow of Archbishop Makarios helped set the stage for a spectacular diplomatic failure: we somehow managed to offend all sides and to under­mine NATO’s southern flank. However, in this case, it is not altogether clear how much of the blame belongs to the CIA and how much to the State Department. For some evidence suggests that we may not have been totally surprised by the Cyprus coup. 

The man behind the overthrow of Archbishop Makarios was Greek strongman General Dimitrios Ioannides, who happened to be on close personal terms with the CIA station chief in Athens. Evidently the station chief had exclusive access to the dictator, which meant that the U.S. ambassador to Greece was walled out. This special relationship be­tween our spook and their chief of state made many believe that we were either stupid in missing signs of a developing crisis — or else we encouraged it. 

An internal State Department memorandum, written by a critic of Kissinger’s handling of the Cyprus crisis, concluded: “I believe that strong U.S. representations to Ioannides would have prevented the crisis.”

The coup which the United States might have been able to prevent led not only to thousands of casualties, a near war between NATO allies, and a deterioration of our relations with Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. It also got an American ambassador killed. Roger Davies, our ambassador to Cyprus, was fatally shot during an anti-American demonstration at the embassy in Nicosia.

The Pike committee report says: “Contemporary accounts concluded that Davies was simply struck by a stray bullet. Information made available to the Committee suggests that Davies may have been the victim of an assassination.” Our intelligence and/or diplomatic failure may have led to the assassination of our ambassador. 

Having concluded that the U.S. tax­payer does not receive his money’s worth in foreign intelligence, the Pike com­mittee turned to domestic intelligence — ­and came to the same conclusion.

The Pike Papers report that the FBI investigated the Institute for Policy Study, a left-wing Washington think tank, for five years without ever observ­ing criminal violations. Yet the FBI manual states that investigations should be terminated within 90 days if criminal violations are not observed. 

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The FBI investigation of the Socialist Workers Party went on for 34 years. Back in 1941, the Bureau did prosecute several members under the Smith Act, but the portions of the law used to bring those cases have since been declared unconstitutional. Since 1941, the FBI has brought no charges at all against SWP members.

The net result of the IPS and SWP operations would seem to be 39 years of wasted funds.

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One of the most important conclusions reached by the Pike committee’s report is that the CIA is not a “rogue elephant” — as Senator Church, the chairman of the Senate select committee on intelligence, once called it. The Pike report says: “All evidence in hand suggests that the CIA, far from being out of control, has been utterly responsive to the instructions of the President and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.”

The committee came to this conclusion after an unprecedented study of all covert operations approved by the Forty Committee over the past ten years. The Forty Committee, which is chaired by the president’s foreign policy adviser, is supposed to pass on all sensitive covert activities undertaken by the CIA. The Pike committee categorized different types of covert operations and looked for patterns.

It may surprise some to discover that the largest single category of covert activity concerned tampering with free elections around the world. These election operations make up a full 32 percent of the covert action projects approved by the Forty Committee since 1965. The report says the operations usually mean “providing some form of financial election support to foreign parties and individuals. Such support could be negative as well as positive.” Most of the money has gone to developing countries and generally “to incumbent moderate party leaders and heads of state.” One “Third World leader” received $960,000 over a 14-year period. 

The second largest covert action category is “media and propaganda.” The committee found that 29 percent of the covert projects approved by the Forty Committee fell under this heading. The report says: “Activities have included support of friendly media, major propaganda efforts, insertion of articles into the local press, and distribution of books and leaflets. By far the largest single recipient has been a European publishing house funded since 1951.… About 25 percent of the program has been directed at the Soviet Bloc, in the publication and clandestine import and export of Western and Soviet dissident literature.” 

The third largest category is “Paramilitary/Arms Transfers.” These make up 23 percent of the total Forty Committee–approved covert action projects. Although these rank third in total numbers, they rank first in expense. The committee report states: “By far the most interesting, and important, fact to emerge was the recognition that the great majority of these covert action projects were proposed by parties outside CIA. Many of these programs were summarily ordered, over CIA objections. CIA misgivings, however, were at times weakly expressed, as the CIA is afflicted with a ‘can do’ attitude.” 

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As a part of its investigation of covert action, the Pike committee examined three recent operations: our funding of pro-U.S. elements during the 1972 Italian election, our funding of the Kurdish rebellion in Iraq, and our assistance to one of the contending factions in Angola.

The committee report says that we spent $10 million in the 1972 Italian general election “perhaps needlessly.” The election produced not only a bitter struggle between Italy’s Christian Democratic party and its Communist party — it also produced an even more bitter struggle between our CIA station chief in Rome and our ambassador in Rome. 

The ambassador, Graham Martin, wanted to pour money into the election, but the CIA station chief cabled headquarters that “money is not the problem.” While this tug-of-war continued, President Nixon, according to the report, “was indirectly approached by prominent international businessmen, who were former nationals” of Italy. Ultimately the CIA was ordered to draw up a covert election-funding operation. The ambassador had won. 

Then Ambassador Martin wanted to run the operation himself as if he were the station chief. The actual station chief sent a memorandum to Washington, which protested: “I do not feel that any ambassador has the requisite background in clandestine activities to successfully manage a covert political action program.” But again the ambassador, backed by Kissinger, won. 

In charge now, Ambassador Martin decided he wanted to give $800,000 to General Vito Miceli, the head of the Italian military intelligence agency, described by the Pike committee as a man “clearly linked to anti-democratic elements of the right.” General Miceli currently faces charges in Italy for his alleged involvement in a 1970 plot to overthrow the Italian government. The failed plot was led by Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, known as the “Black Prince,” who hoped to rule Italy. 

Challenging the ambassador, the CIA station chief opposed giving money to Miceli. At one point the CIA man asked the ambassador if he really cared if Miceli’s proposed propaganda operation turned out to be successful. Martin replied, according to a CIA cable, “Yes, I do, but not a helluva lot. Important thing is to demonstrate solidarity for the long pull.” 

Relations between the ambassador and the station chief became so strained that the ambassador once told the CIA man he would “instruct the Marine guards not to let you in this building and put you on the airplane [home].” 

In the end, the ambassador and the station chief not only hated one another but the Christian Democrats did not do very well in the election. They narrowly won the general election — continuing an unbroken string since 1948 — but they suffered severe reverses in the subsequent local elections held last year. 

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But by then Ambassador Martin was no longer in Italy. He was our ambassador in Saigon presiding over an even greater foreign policy debacle, the fall of South Vietnam. 

In 1972, Dr. Henry Kissinger met with the Shah of Iran, who asked the U.S. to aid the Kurds in their rebellion against Iraq, an enemy of the Shah. Kissinger later presented the proposal to President Nixon who approved what would become a $ 16 million program. Then John B. Connally, the former Nixon Treasury secretary, was dispatched to Iran to inform the Shah, one oil man to another. 

The committee report charges that: “The President, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state [the Shah] hoped our clients would not prevail. They preferred the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally’s neighboring country [Iraq]. This policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting. Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise.”

During the Arab-Israeli war, when the Kurds might have been able to strike at a distracted Iraqi government, Kissinger, according to the report, “personally restrained the insurgents from an all-out offensive on the one occasion when such an attack might have been successful.”

Then, when Iran resolved its border dispute with Iraq, the U.S. summarily dropped the Kurds. And Iraq, knowing aid would be cut off, launched a search-and-destroy campaign the day after the border agreement was signed.

A high U.S. official later explained to the Pike committee staff: “Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.”

In its section on Angola, the Pike committee says: “Information supplied to the committee suggests that the military intervention of the Soviet Union and Cuba is in part a reaction to U.S. efforts to break a political stalemate in favor of its clients.”

The committee also learned that a task force composed of U.S. experts on Africa “strongly opposed military intervention” in Angola, but National Security Council aides removed this recommendation from the task force report.

At one point, the Forty Committee approved $300,000 for non-military activities in Angola. Part of this money went to pay for 50,000 campaign-style FNLA buttons. But these did not seem to be winning any more battles than the WIN buttons at home. 

The Pike report also deplores seventeen wiretaps which the FBI “installed for Dr. Kissinger,” pointing out that these “posed a risk that the FBI could become the tool by which an administration in power obtains political information.”

And finally the study censures Henry Kissinger for his “passion for secrecy,” especially regarding possible violations of the Strategic Arms Limitation treaties. The committee says: “Nowhere is the risk of corrupting intelligence greater than in recent efforts to restrict and shape important data on Soviet compliance with strategic arms agreements.”

In many ways, the moral of the Pike Papers seems to be: controlling the intelligence community must begin with controlling Henry Kissinger.

Contents
The Select Committee’s Investigation Record

A. COSTS

  1. Deceptive Budgets 
  2. An Absence of Accountability 
  3. Spending Abuses
    a. 
    Covert Procurement 
    b.
    Local Procurement 
    c.
    Accommodation Procurements
    d.
    Research and Development 
    e.
    Colleges and Universities 
    f.
    U.S. Recording Co.
  4. Budget Secrecy 

B. PERFORMANCE

  1. TET: Failure to Adapt to a New Kind of War
    a. 
    The Order of Battle Controversy 
    b.
    The Consequences
    c.
    The Aftermath
  2. Czechoslovakia: Failure of Tactical Warning 
  3. The Mid-East War: The System Breaks Down 
  4. Portugal: The U.S. Caught Napping
  5. India: Priorities Lost
  6. Cyprus: Failure of Intelligence Policy 
  7. Domestic Internal Security and Counterintelligence
    a. 
    Institute for Policy Studies 
    b.
    Socialist Workers Party
  8. President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board 
  9. National Security Council Intelligence Committee
  10. The Management and Production of Defense Intelligence

C. Risks

  1. Covert Action
    a.
     Ten Year Survey 
    b.
    Election Support 
    c.
    Media and Propaganda 
    d.
    Paramilitary/Arms Transfers
    e.
    Organizational Support
    f.
    Trends 
    g.
    Three Projects
  2. Intelligence Collection
    a.
    Submarines 
    b.
    Interception of International Communications
    c.
    Manipulation of the Media
    d.
    CIA Presence in the Executive Branch
    e.
    CIA Relationships with U.S. and Foreign Police
  3. Domestic Intelligence Investigations
    a.
    Programs as Abuses
    b.
    Law Enforcement Turned Law-Breaking
  4. SALT: Political Control of Intelligence 

The Select Committee’s Investigation Record

COSTS

No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
Art. l, Sec. 9, cl. vii, U.S. Const. 

Money and spending were the first topics of Committee hearings. This choice of a beginning was founded on Constitutional responsibilities, and it implemented a straightforward investigative tech­nique — by following the dollars, the Committee would locate activities and priorities of our intelligence services. 

The inquiry was fruitful and interesting. By the time it was over, GAO accountants on loan to the Committee had concluded that the foreign intelligence budget is three to four times more costly than Con­gress has been told. (135) An OMB review of the domes­tic intelligence budget, conducted at the Commit­tee’s request, concluded that it may be five times the estimate given to Congress by federal officials. 

Totals do not tell the whole story. Congressional and Executive scrutiny of these budgets was found to range somewhere between cursory and nonexistent. Spending controls by the agencies themselves were, likewise, often inadequate, as a few preliminary examples indicate. 

  • A CIA Station in a small country spent $41,000 on liquor in one year.
  • Taxpayer monies were spent to provide heads of state with female companions, and to pay people with questionable reputations to make pornographic movies (137) for blackmail. 
  • The “accommodation procurement” mechanism was used to buy limousines for foreign dignitaries, with cash payments that were difficult to verify. 
  • A huge arsenal of weapons and access to ammu­nition have been developed by CIA, giving it a capa­bility that exceeds most armies of the world. 
  • A middleman who is a close friend of top FBI officials tacked thousands, if not millions, of dollars of unwarranted markups on to covert pur­chases. 

These examples reflect the wide range of problems with secret financing of secret activities. A more detailed review of these and other examples, along with the basic processes or mechanisms that accom­pany them, is a good base for suggested reforms. 

  1. Deceptive Budgets

Much attention is paid to numbers when the foreign and domestic intelligence budgets are prepared. Not much attention is paid to substance. 

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), and other of­ficials go through an elaborate process in arriving at budget numbers. As described to Congress, it is an impressive procedure. 

What is not described is the close, almost inbred relationship between OMB officials and intelligence budget-makers. OMB also does not point out that it completely lacks the expertise to evaluate huge tech­nological expenditures by the National Security Agency. 

Executive officials do not stress the lack of a cen­tralized budget authority in the intelligence services, which causes enormous waste, duplication and hid­den costs in military intelligence. There is little con­sideration given to the extraordinary spending latitude granted to CIA, or to the CIA’s heavy use of “unvouchered”‘ funds. There is no explanation from FBI of the reasons for millions of dollars of “confidential” purchases. 

When appearing before Congress, executive officials do not review the inadequacies of internal Agency auditors. No mention is made of items trans­ferred elsewhere in the federal budget to keep the intelligence budget small. 

These officials do not remind Congress that our government’s auditors, the General Accounting Of­fice, have been denied access to secret intelligence budgets for more than a decade. They do not explain abuses of covert purchasing mechanisms, domestic as well as foreign. 

These same officials do, however, stress that anything they can or will say must be kept a secret. 

All this adds up to more than $10 billion being spent by a handful of people, with little independent supervision, with inadequate controls, even less auditing, and an overabundance of secrecy. 

It begins with OMB officials and their counterparts in the various agencies. Testimony before this Committee revealed that only six OMB employees work full-time on the foreign intelligence budget. Of those six, three are former CIA employees. In turn, the CIA official in charge of the Agency’s budget has re­cently arrived from OMB, where he had primary responsibility for ClA’s budget. 

This, in itself, does not bode well for a vigorous review of the merits of intelligence programs. It is set back further by the fact that OMB is not told of sensitive projects as they are being planned. Even after it is told, OMB’s officials are not free to evalu­ate all details of sensitive projects. 

The absence of real involvement by outsiders in intelligence spending continues. 

For example, CIA’s budget appears as only a single line item in the published Federal budget. This is done in the name of secrecy, but it gives CIA an un­usual advantage. Congress requires any agency wish­ing to transfer funds from one line item to another to come back to Congress for approval. 

This is called reprogramming. Most agencies have many line items, giving Congress some check on their spending. CIA has had no reprogramming problems in the past. It could tell Congress it was spending a certain amount on covert action, then proceed to transfer large amounts to covert programs without Congress’ approval. (148)

This is not, however, the most significant lack of knowledge about intelligence spending. Billions of dollars spent every year for intelligence are not in­cluded in the “official” intelligence budgets. 

One way this has been accomplished has been by shifting items that have traditionally appeared in the intelligence budget into other budget categories. For example, the Department of Defense has switched the following items, by reclassifying them as “com­munications”: Counterintelligence and Investigative Activities; Mapping, Charting, and Geodesy; and the Advance Location Strike Program. A sizeable secret reconnaissance activity at Defense was switched to “research and development.” All of these activities and many more were, until recently, in Defense’s in­telligence budget. (149) Defense is not alone in using this tactic. 

The costs given Congress for military intelligence do not include expenditures for tactical military intelligence, which would approximately double intelligence budgets for the three armed services. (150) Rough­ly 20 percent of the National Security Agency’s budget is not added into the intelligence budget. It should be noted that NSA does nothing else except gather and analyze technical intelligence, and it has one of the largest budgets in the intelligence com­munity. 

Sometimes entire agencies, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are completely omitted from estimates of intelligence-related costs as well as the intelligence budget. 

The budget for the National Security Council is omitted completely, although a sizeable portion of their staff and subcommittees work exclusively on intelligence matters. (153)

Still another technique is undervaluation of the real cost of certain operations. The Committee ana­lyzed one covert operation and found that the dollar amounts given by CIA for weapons supplied were about half of the Defense Department’s contract prices.

At the Committee’s request, OMB did add up the total cost for all federal domestic intelligence, for the first time ever. The total they came up with was more than five times the amount that had been given to the Committee in testimony by domestic intelligence officials. (155) The FBI, for example, had neglected to include such clear intelligence functions as the National Bomb Data Center, or Counterintelligence. More significantly there had never been an attempt to add up all the divergent intelligence op­erations in the federal government. (156)

By using the new OMB figures for domestic in­telligence, and by adding such items as transferred expenditures, the full NSA budget, and revalued cost figures, the Committee estimated that the cost of intelligence today is at least three to four times the amount reported to Congress. 

An obvious question is how can there be such a difference in total cost estimates? One answer is the lack of coordination in approaching the budget. Another is that there are no adequate standards for what is, and is not, intelligence spending. A final answer may be that there is a conscious desire to keep the totals small, by dividing and confusing the estimates. 

It should be obvious that if nobody has ever added up the costs of the many domestic intelligence units, then certainly nobody is coordinating their budgets, as intelligence per se. In foreign intelligence, the problem is, to a large degree, a lack of centralized authority. For example, the DCI presents the entire foreign intelligence budget to Congress and the President, but he only has authority for CIA’s budget. Defense officials testified that a substantial part of their intelligence budget is considered the responsibility of the Secretary of Defense. The DCI, they say, merely reviews their work. 

Fragmented authority leads to overall coordination problems. A good illustration is the existence of sep­arate counterintelligence budgets in FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA, Army, Navy, and Air Force. (159) Some are in­cluded in the intelligence budget; some are not. Some coordinate with other counterintelligence programs; some do not. The FBI testified, for example, that it does not know if CIA has a counterintelligence group, that it does not know how much CIA’s operations cost, and that it does not know if CIA duplicates FBI’s work. (160

Fragmented authority and coordination leave the budget wide open to distortions. Each agency applies its own budget standards… 

There is, for example, no standard for allocating the cost of a military base whose primary purpose is to support intelligence operations. The repair of a submarine damaged on intelligence duty may or may not be included in spy costs. The Committee asked OMB, GAO, and all the intelligence agencies for their standards for allocating support costs. No agency had any to offer. No agency had even a basic defi­nition of intelligence. 

In a statement prepared for the Committee, the DCI made it clear that there are no good definitions in use today. As he said, “…[I]n essence, it boils down to a judgment call.”

The Committee has compiled its own set or sug­gested guidelines. (164) In addition, a good first step would be to include the same items in the intelligence budget from one year to the next. This alone would have prevented the official intelligence budgets from remaining at constant levels over the past few years, which is fundamentally deceptive.

Footnotes:
(135) A special study done in 1971 by Dr. Schlesinger, as head of OMB, concluded that the foreign intelligence budget was nearly double the amount being told to Congress at that time. See, A Review of the Intel­ligence Community, OMB (March 10, 1971). 

(137) One of these was titled “Happy Days,” with Mr. Robert Maheu as casting director, make-up man, cameraman and director. 

(148) MR. ASPIN. For the record again, tell us who has to approve reprogramming, who is informed, and who approves reprogramming?
“MR. COLBY. I do.
“MR. ASPIN. And that is all?
“MR. COLBY. Yes…”
…Comm. Hearings… Aug. 4, 1975. 

(149) In total, the transfer of these programs from the “intelligence” portion of DoD’s budget to “Communi­cations” and “Research & Development” by them­selves involved hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of personnel. 

(150) Some costs for military/tactical activities are dis­closed to Congressional Committees in chart form, entitled “Intelligence Related.” However, after examination, the staff believes that the charts vastly under­state the costs of military/tactical intelligence activi[ties].

(153) Examples of this would be the Forty Committee whose sole task is to approve covert action projects, or the Verification Panel and its Restricted Working Group who verify intelligence indicating alleged Soviet violations of SALT. 

(155)
Letter to Staff Director. from Mr Ogilvie, OMB, Nov. 12, 1975:

Department of Justice
                                                                           FY76 except as noted
                                                                               $ in K      Personnel
Deputy Attorney General’s Office                      125                    5
Federal Bureau of Investigation                     87,119             3385
Drug Enforcement Administration                11,913               463
Immigration & Naturalization Service              814                 38
Criminal Division                                               1,262                  51   
–                                                                          101,233             3942

Civil Service Commission
National Agency Check & Inquiry                   3,366               265
Full Field Investigations                                   15,386               722
Other Investigations                                           3,082                 95     
–                                                                             21,834             1082

Department of Treasury
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms       62,929            2269
Customs Service                                                183,441             7748
Internal Revenue Service
     Intelligence Division                                    101,942            3813
     Internal Security (Inspection)                       12,141              553
Secret Service                                                      94,466            2934
INTERPOL dues                                                       140*          —–
INTERPOL other                                                     388*          —–     
–                                                                            455,447           17,317  

Energy Research & Development
Administration
                                                         295                 15

TOTALS                                                              578,809        22,356”
*1975 costs                                                           ———-       ———-

(156) Testimony on Aug. 7, 1975, by Eugene W. Walsh, Assistant Director, Administrative Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation:
“MR. FIELD. It sounds like that is all they are over there for and that it is a way of shifting the real cost of intelligence out of that budget. How about the National Bomb Data Center?
“MR. WALSH. Yes, sir.
“MR. FIELD. That is intelligence?
“MR. WALSH. It may be in the dictionary’s definition, sir, but it is not in ours.” Comm. Hearings… Aug. 7, 1975.

(159) When Mr. Walsh appeared before the Committee on Aug. 7, 1975, he was asked if FBI was aware of the multitude of counterintelligence programs:
“Are you aware that the CIA, the DIA, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and NSA, all have their counterintelligence programs?
“MR. WALSH. I haven’t acquainted myself with their programs, sir.” Comm. Hearings… Aug. 7, 1975. 

(160) Mr. Walsh was also asked: “Do you know if the CIA spends more than you do?
“MR. WALSH. I would certainly think so.
“MR. FIELD. Has anybody in the administration ever told all of these people, who spend multi-multi millions of dollars, over and over again — really on the same program — has anybody in the vernacular of my generation, told them to ‘get their act together’?
“MR. WALSH. I have no knowledge on that, no sir.” Comm. Hearings… Aug. 7, 1975. 

(164) The Committee used three major classifications: 

  1. Foreign/National — This intelligence relates to “national” programs (i.e., overhead reconnaissance with various detection and sensing devices) targeted against foreign countries. Intelligence of this nature is “national” in the sense that it is a concerted effort of the CIA, DoD components and State Department.
    a. National intelligence is intelligence bearing on the broad aspects of U.S. national policy and national security transcending the competence of a single agency to produce.
  2. Domestic Intelligence — This intelligence includes activities of civil departments and agencies such as DEA, IRS, FBI. It is conducted within the United States and directed at U.S. citizenry.
  3. Military/Tactical — Intelligence of this nature includes a variety of DoD activities to support military commanders ranging from detailed weapons performance assessments of our adversaries, to R&D projects for upgrading present radar early warning and ocean surveillance and patrol systems.
    a. Tactical intelligence is intelligence in support of military plans and operations at the military unit level.
    b. Strategic intelligence is intelligence in support of military plans and operations at national and international levels.

2. An Absence of Accountability 

The General Accounting Office (GAO) is the auditing arm of Congress. When it comes to intelligence agencies, that arm is no arm at all. 

In the early years, GAO was generally limited to an auditing function. With the passage of time, Congress has turned to GAO for more than balancing books. Today, under authority of law, GAO is empowered to analyze the economy and efficiency with which government funds are spent. 

The Comptroller General, who heads GAO, testified that he cannot even balance CIA’s books, let alone analyze its efficiency. Specifically, he said that from 1962, GAO has made no attempt to audit the CIA, because it was allowed scant access to classified spending. 

Last year GAO was directed to compile basic budgetary information on federal investigative and intelligence functions. It was refused information by CIA, NSA, and intelligence agencies of the Defense Department. In another recent instance, the FBI refused to permit GAO to examine case files. The Bureau offered special summaries, but refused to allow any verification of those summaries. 

The Executive agencies’ treatment of GAO is curious. In January 1966, the CIA enter into a sole-source contract with the management consulting firm of Peat, Marwick, Livingston & Co., for a total contract price of $55,725.00. CIA could have saved taxpayers some money, if it had given GAO access. 

CIA officials conceded that these independent consultants were given complete and free access to all classified procurement documents, as well as all personnel concerned with Agency procurement activities. In June 1966, the firm completed its work and issued a full report of findings and recommendations. A cover memorandum addressed to the Inspector General expressed appreciation for the Agency’s full cooperation. 

By contrast, this Committee’s staff encountered lengthy delays in gaining limited access to similar documents and personnel, including the report of Peat, Marwick, Livingston & Co. 

The issue is not really whether Congress — with Constitutional responsibility for federal spending — should have equal access with a private company. The issue is whether an objective look at secret expenditures ever takes place. 

It does not take place at OMB. GAO cannot look. Even this Congressional investigating committee has now tested access and come up wanting. 

Do intelligence agencies themselves adequately audit their own operations? No. 

The CIA is a good example. Their audit staff is undermanned for a comprehensive review of complex and extensive agency spending that takes place worldwide. They are allowed to balance books, but they are not always allowed to know the exact purpose of expenditures. Only five percent of all vouchered transactions are checked, even though these add up to 20 percent of CIA’s entire budget. Substantive corroborating records are not kept. Their audits deviate from the standards of professional Certified Public Accountants, and CIA has not compiled a list of these exceptions to control the deviances. 

These and other shortcomings in audit and control, for both foreign and domestic intelligence agencies, lead to an inevitable result — spending abuses. 

3. Spending Abuses 

The easiest way to illustrate problems encountered in secret spending is to examine a number of mechanisms currently in use, and a number of situations that have grown out of those mechanisms. 

a. Covert Procurement 

Many CIA covert actions and clandestine operations must be supported in a “non-attributable” manner, which led CIA to establish a covert procurement branch. Unfortunately, covert procurement has become an overused, expensive, and often uncontrollable technique for questionable purchasing. 

The branch’s activities include support of overseas stations and the procurement of weapons and paramilitary materials. To facilitate these requirements, covert procurement has under its control a number of operational proprietaries and “notional” companies. Notional companies are merely paper firms, with appropriate stationery and checking accounts. These companies make requests to the proprietaries so the proprietary can bill an apparently legitimate company for covert requirements. Needless to say, it is an expensive way to buy a refrigerator, and should not be used unnecessarily. 

When an overseas station requires an item that cannot be traced to the United States government, it sends a requisition with a special code. One code is for items that should not be traceable to CIA. Another code means it should not be traceable to the U.S. government. 

Theoretically, once these codes, called “sterility codes,” (180) are attached, there is no more traceable involvement with the government. However, the Committee reviewed documents which showed that items purchased in a non-traceable manner are sometimes transported by U.S. military air-pouch, rather than sent by private carrier as a truly non-government purchase would be. 

Another procedure which the Committee staff questioned was the routing of requests for small quantity, low-cost, and even non-traceable items through the expensive covert process. The logical alternative would be to have the item purchased either overseas or here with petty cash, avoiding the expense of covert procurement. These included such items as quantities of ball point pens, ping-pong paddles, or hams. 

The staff was also unable to determine the reason for certain high-cost items being purchased through this mechanism. Hundreds of refrigerators, televisions, cameras, and watches are purchased each year, along with a variety of home furnishings. 

The question is why an American television would be purchased here and sent to Europe if someone was trying to conceal his involvement with the United States. This is especially true because the power requirements abroad are different, and a transformer has to be installed on an appliance bought in the U.S. before it will work. In fact, a large percentage of electrical appliances did not have transformers added, which raises the possibility that these items are being covertly purchased for use in the United States. 

The same question arises with the purchases of home furnishings. A review of overseas station purchases showed, for example, that one station bought more than one hundred thousand dollars of furnishings in the past few years. In that context, additional covert purchases here at home seem excessive. Finally, why not buy a Smithfield ham through normal purchasing channels? There is no way that ham could be traced to the CIA or the U.S. government, no matter how it was bought. 

As in every other component of the Agency, the effort to maintain secrecy, even within the branch itself, is highly emphasized. 

The Committee was told that because proprietary employees do not have a “need to know,” they are not put in a position to question any request the Agency might make. Three high procurement officials have conceded that the sterility code is not questioned by the covert procurement staff. The 1966 study by Peat, Marwick, Livingston & Co., stated that there was excessive use of these codes, without justification. (188) The Committee’s investigation indicates that this situation has not been remedied. 

b. Local Procurement 

The Committee’s investigation of the covert procurement mechanism led to a review of records from local, or in-field, procurement. The staff reviewed records for the past five fiscal years from three typical overseas stations varying in size and number of employees. Overspending and under-auditing seemed to be prevalent. 

An example is a medium-sized station that purchased over $86,000 in liquor and cigarettes during the past five years. (189) The majority of these purchases were designated “operational gifts” — gifts to friendly agents or officials in return for information or assistance. 

It would appear that spending practices have an uncanny way of changing with new station chiefs. A station that purchased $41,000 in liquor in 1971, had a new chief in 1972. Liquor purchases dropped to $25,000, which is still a lot of liquor. (190

One station had purchased over $175,00 in furnishings for leased quarters and safehouses. (191

In an effort to determine whether this kind of spending is questioned by CIA auditors, the staff interviewed the CIA audit official who audited these stations. He recalled the liquor, and that when he inquired as to the quantity, he was told by the Station Chief that they would “try to hold it down in the future.” (192) The same auditor had audited the station that purchased over $175,000 in furnishings. When questioned, he was not even aware of the total figure. 

This experience led the Committee staff to interview several members of the Internal Audit Division, as well as eight overseas case officers and chiefs of station. From these interviews, several things became apparent. 

Auditors do not perform thorough reviews of case officers’ “advance accounts.” At all overseas stations, each case officer is allotted an advance, which is nothing more than a petty cash fund. From this fund, the officer pays operating expenses and the salaries of his agents. He is required by Agency regulations to obtain a receipt for every expenditure, but, due to manpower considerations, these are only spot-checked when audited — which is not often. (195) Such funds run into millions of dollars each year. 

Every case officer and Internal Audit officer conceded that the Agency must “rely solely on the integrity of its case officer.” When a case officer’s agents refuse to sign receipts, the case officer “certifies” that he expended the funds. A case officer might have as many as ten agents working for him, each of whom may receive between $50 and $3,000 per month, all in cash. 

Finally, audits of all overseas stations are not performed on a regular basis. It may be two or three years, or more, before a station is audited. Even then, the Committee discovered that recommendations made by auditors are usually not disclosed in the auditor’s report to headquarters.

c. Accommodation Procurements 

In addition to procuring goods and services for its own use, CIA makes “accommodation procurements” for foreign governments, officials, agents, and others. 

The Agency serves more or less as a purchasing agent for an undisclosed principal. Although the individual for whom the accommodation procurement was made advances the necessary funds or repays the Agency after delivery, the indirect administrative costs are borne by American taxpayers. These costs include the salary of the agency purchaser, certain transportation charges, accounting costs, and in some cases the salaries of training and technical personnel. 

In investigating one series of accommodation procurements, the Committee learned that a foreign government received a 20 percent discount by having CIA buy equipment in the name of the U.S. government. 

If the foreign government had contracted for the same items in its own name, this discount would not have been available. In just two of these actions CIA saved the foreign government over $200,000, at the expense of American suppliers. 

The Agency will usually refuse to make such procurements only if the requested item might appear to be beyond the requester’s financial means, and might therefore give rise to questions about the requester’s sources of income. Agency security officers feel that such questions might lead to disclosure of the requester’s relationship with the agency. 

Accommodation procurements involving less than $3,000 require only the approval of a CIA chief of station. When larger sums are involved, approval must be obtained from the Deputy Director for Operations. When the amount is more than $500,000, it must also be approved by the Director of Central Intelligence. 

The Committee examined a number of accommodation procurement records. The following two examples illustrate that the facilities and resources of the United States government are sometimes used to satisfy little more than the whims of foreign officials. 

In one instance, a foreign official described his son’s enthusiasm for model airplanes to the chief of station. The foreign official wanted three model airplane kits, and even advised the CIA officer precisely where the kits could be purchased in the United States. A cable was sent to Agency headquarters asking for the purchase of three kits from the store in Baltimore suggested by the foreign official. Further, the cable instructed that the items were to be designated by a “sterility code,” to indicate that the purchase of the kits could not be attributable to the United States government. Documents provided to the Committee in this case by the Agency were sanitized. (206

In another instance, the President of an allied nation was preparing to play golf on a hot afternoon. Anticipating his thirst after several hours in the sun, he made a “priority” request to the local chief of station for six bottles of Gatorade. An Agency employee was immediately relieved of his ordinary duties and assigned to make the accommodation procurement. (207

Nor was this the chief of state’s only experience with the Agency’s merchandising talents. In the past, the Agency has purchased for him several automobiles, including at least two custom-built armored limousines, (208) and, among other things, an entire electronic security system for his official residence. It is worth noting that these security devices are being supplied to a man who runs a police-state. 

Accommodation procurements have also involved more expensive and politically sensitive items. For example, another head of a one-party state had long been fascinated by certain highly sophisticated electronic intelligence gathering equipment. He wished to develop his own independent collection capability. As an accommodation, and to “share the take,” the Agency procured an entire electronic intelligence network for him in two phases. Phase I involved contract costs in excess of $85,000, and Phase II cost more than $500,000. 

In investigating one series of accommodation procurements for an oil exporting country, the Committee asked CIA officials about the coordination and effect of the Agency’s purchasing favors on the foreign country’s oil pricing policy. The country’s oil policy, incidentally, has not been among the most favorable to the United States. Agency officials were uncertain as to the effect, but they indicated that the two policies are largely considered separate issues. 

In return for making accommodation procurements, the Agency is usually reimbursed by the requesting party. Although reimbursement may be in U.S. dollars, it is usually made in local foreign currency. (210) The Committee was unable to learn whether the Agency has any firm policy on what rate of currency exchange is to be used in making reimbursement. In many countries, U.S. dollars exchanged for local currency at the official rate bring fewer units of local currency than if exchanged at an unofficial, but more commonly used, rate. 

d. Research and Development 

CIA has long prided itself on technological capability, and many of its projects operate at far reaches of the “state of the art.” Such accomplishments are made by the Agency with assistance and advice from the private sector. 

Each year, CIA’s Deputy Director for Science and Technology enters into hundreds of contracts with industry, usually in the name of other government agencies. (211) These contracts total millions of dollars for Agency contracts alone. Not only does the Agency contract for its own research and development programs, but also for national intelligence programs. Total contracts for both programs amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, annually. 

Committee Staff interviewed numerous members of the Science and Technology Staff. A major target of this investigation was “contractor selection” practices. Although Mr. Colby testified before the Committee that CIA has established management controls to insure that contracting is carried out according to the intent of Congress, the investigation revealed that 84 percent of these contracts are “sole source contracts.” 

Staff also examined “cost overrun” aspects of research and development contracting. CIA claimed two and one-half percent of all research and development contracts involved cost overruns of 15 percent or more. There is no reason to doubt the figures; however, certain caveats must be considered. Contractors’ cost estimates in sole-source contracts can easily be inflated to cover anticipated cost increases. Overruns can also be labeled “changes in scope.” 

In several interviews with contracting officers, “by the book” answers were given to questions regarding which officer is authorized, and does, accept contract changes. However, one former Agency Contracting officer indicated that, to a considerable degree, the technical representative actually makes the contractual decisions, and the contracting officer then has to “catch up” by preparing contract amendments to legitimize changes already made. 

Another target of the investigation was the disposal of Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). Regulations regarding GFE appear to be precise in determining when to “abandon” this equipment. However, the Office of Communications, for example, contracted in 1965 with an electronics company to do research work. The contract required the purchase of a large piece of industrial equipment, as well as related testing equipment. CIA provided funds for the equipment as well as the research. (221) The testing equipment cost $74,000 and the industrial equipment over $243,000. At the termination of the contract in 1975, the testing equipment was sold to the contractor for $18,500, the large piece of industrial [equipment] was abandoned, in place. 

Calls to the manufacturer of this piece of machinery, as well as two “experts” in the field of this particular type of testing, revealed that the machinery which was abandoned, while perhaps “useless” to the Agency, was not a “worthless” piece of equipment which should have been “abandoned.” According to documents provided to the Committee, CIA made no attempt to contact other government agencies, to see if the chamber could have been used by another

e. Colleges and Universities 

In 1967 Ramparts Magazine disclosed CIA support to the National Students Association. As a result, President Johnson issued a flat prohibition against covert assistance to educational institutions; but the Agency unilaterally reserved the right to, and does, depart from the Presidential order when it has the need to do so. (224

There is no evidence that a President authorized this departure from the Johnson directive. 

As background, President Johnson had appointed a committee to investigate the matter and make policy recommendations. 

Under Secretary of State, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, and CIA Director, Richard H. Helms, served on the Committee. It recommended that “no federal agency shall provide any covert financial assistance or support, direct or indirect, to any of the nation’s educational or private voluntary organizations.” 

On March 29, 1967, President Johnson issued a statement accepting the recommendation and directing “all agencies of the government to implement it fully.” 

The Agency then issued internal policy statements to implement the President’s orders, stating that, whenever possible, the Agency’s identity and sponsorship are to be made known. But the Agency was to clearly retain the option of entering into a covert contract with colleges and universities, after obtaining approval from the Deputy Director for Administration. 

Mr. Carl Duckett, Deputy Director for Science and Technology, testified before the Committee on November 4, 1975, that the Agency still has on-going contracts with “a small number of universities.” Mr. Duckett also revealed that some of the contracts involved “classified work,” and some are covert. 

f. U.S. Recording 

On October 9, 1975, the Committee held hearings on electronic surveillance in the United States. One of the witnesses. Mr. Martin Kaiser, was a manufacturer of electronic surveillance and counter-measure equipment. In the course of his testimony, he revealed that all sales of his equipment were routed — pursuant to FBI instructions — through a cutout or middle-man, U.S. Recording Company, of Washington. D.C. (232)

The equipment was neither modified nor serviced by U.S. Recording. Kaiser testified that he delivered 80 percent of his equipment directly to the FBI. On one such occasion Kaiser noticed an invoice from U.S. Recording for equipment he had supplied, and it showed that U.S. Recording had tacked on 30 percent more than it had paid for the devices. (235

The markup interested Committee investigators because, according to Kaiser, the middle-man had handled only paperwork and deliveries. The staff therefore acquired records of all sales between U.S. Recording and the FBI involving Kaiser’s equipment. A Committee staff accountant did a detailed study and determined that the 30 percent markup on the invoice seen by Mr. Kaiser was representative of all such sales. 

As a result of numerous interviews, it became apparent that Mr. Joseph Tait — the President of U.S. Recording— was a long-time friend and poker-playing companion of Mr. John P. Mohr, the Associate Director of the FBI in charge of Administration until 1972. (236)

During the course of investigation, the staff learned the poker games had been held at the Blue Ridge Club near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, on several weekends each year for the past decade. (237) Guest lists included FBI officials connected with the Administrative Division, OMB officials, and a procurement officer from CIA. The only non-governmental officials at the poker games were Tait, and Mr. Gus Oberdick — the President of Fargo International — a supplier of police equipment to the FBI and CIA. (238) Mr. Mohr had invited all the guests, although Mr. Tait was the only person in the poker games who possessed membership in the Blue Ridge Club. 

Interestingly, the Blue Ridge Club burned to the ground the evening before two staff attorneys traveled to Harpers Ferry to examine its records. 

Most purchasing procedures of the FBI are governed by General Services Administration (GSO) regulations. However, confidential contracts are not subject to GSA regulations or supervision. The U.S. Recording Company was the sole company serving as an FBI cutout. (239) Interviews revealed that there was virtually no control exercised over the confidential contracts between U.S. Recording Company [and] the FBI. 

Neither the Laboratory Division, which initiated the equipment requisitions, nor the Administrative Division, which authorized the requisitions, had any knowledge of the percentage markup being charged. The General Services Administration was consulted and gave an opinion that an appropriate markup for similar services would have been in the 5 percent range. 

FBI’s use of U.S. Recording was apparently motivated by the need for secrecy in purchases of sensitive electronic equipment. That justification appears questionable. In most instances, FBI Laboratory Division personnel negotiated for equipment directly with the manufacturers. When manufacturers later received purchase orders from U.S. Recording, for equipment with corresponding model number, quantities, and prices, it was apparent that the equipment was indeed going to FBI. In fact, the FBI told Kaiser that they were using U.S. Recording Company and not to worry about it. 

FBI’s use of U.S. Recording represents a grossly inefficient expenditure for intelligence equipment. Similarly, the fact that the persons within the FBI responsible for requisitioning and purchasing the equipment had no clear knowledge of the chain of authority regarding the arrangement, is at best, nonfeasance. Further ramifications are presently being investigated by the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, and by the IRS. The Committee has made its information on this matter available to both authorities.

[related_posts post_id_1=”605560″ /]

Footnotes:
(180) “Sterility Codes,” as they are termed within the Agency, designate the “degree of traceability” which can accompany an item procured or shipped. These codes range from “unclassified,” which may be attributed to CIA, to a code which designates that a purchase is so sensitive that it is an “off-shore purchase of a foreign item.” 

(188) …This was one of many deficiencies and recommendations highlighted by the study. Some of the recommendations were adopted; most were not, according to the Committee’s investigation. 

(189) This figure was computed by Committee staff during several reviews of Local Procurement expenditures for one of the three typical overseas situations. 

(190) Those two figures were likewise computed by Committee staff during reviews of Local Procurement records. The same Agency employee who was chief of the station in 1971, is now responsible for CIA operations in Angola. 

(191) Figures computed by staff during review of local procurement expenditures. “Leased Quarters” are housing units supplied by CIA for staff or contract employees at field stations. “Safehouses” are housing units where the Agency’s primary interest is that of a secure location to conduct clandestine meetings; its housing function, per se, is only incidental. The Agency also provides furnishings for these quarters, such as refrigerators, ranges, and living room furniture, and at times provides luxury items, such as china or crystal ware. 

(192) Interview with Agency auditor, by S. A. Zeune, Oct. 29, 1975. The auditor concurred, with another high level Agency official, that in the country in question, it was “traditional” to give liquor and cigarettes as gifts. He also stated, “the controls on the issuances [of liquor] are not so stiff.” 

(195) Ibid. Agency regulations permit expenditures of less than $15.00 without receipts. 

(197) Staff interviews with case officers and a former Chief of Station revealed this fact. Interviews, by S. A. Zeune, Oct. 17 & 24, 1975, copies on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. Further, it was revealed during these interviews that polygraph examinations of staff employees, at one time carried out on a regular basis, are no longer performed except during pre-employment investigations. The agency continues, however, to polygraph indigenous agents on a regular basis. 

(206) This information first came to the attention of the Committee from staff review of requisition documents in Sept. 1975. Further inquiry about the model plane purchases led CIA to give staff access to the cables. 

(207) This was related to Staff, in response to questions concerning “accommodation procurements” made for the President of the allied country. The response was supplied by the former Chief of Station in the country. Interview with Chief of Station, by S.A. Zeune, Oct. 31, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. 

(208) CIA documents made available to the Committee revealed that the Agency made three such accommodation procurements for the Chief of State. In all three instances — three times in the last ten years — the Chief of State requested that CIA procure the limousines. A Staff interview with the former Chief of Station disclosed that in the instances concerning the limousines, the Agency was reimbursed by way of American currency, hand-delivered in bags or briefcases to the Station. In one instance, the transaction involved the equivalent of (U.S.) $50,000. Further, the documents appeared to reveal that the Agency was not disturbed by the fact that the President, in two instances, did not reimburse the full balance to the Agency until some months after the transaction had taken place. Interview with Chief of Station by S.A. Zeune, Oct. 31, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell.

(210) A staff interview with the member of CIA Review Staff (and former Chief or Station) revealed that this is considered a further accommodation to the requesting party, inasmuch as the local currency is certain to be more readily available than U.S. dollars.

(211) For security reasons, CIA usually contracts in the name of other government agencies, such as Department of Defense, Air Force, or Army. Contractor employees are usually unwitting of CIA’s association, although in most cases a high company officer will be briefed by the Agency on a “need to know” basis.

(221) In this instance, CIA did not advance the funds to the contractor for the purchase of the test equipment or the industrial equipment. The cost of both was added to the contractor’s fee to the Agency. Interview with Office of Communications staff members, by S.A. Zeune and J.C. Mingee, Oct. 28, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell.

(224) “3. It is proposed that upon your approval:
“a. The attached guidelines be applied immediately to all future contractual arrangements with U.S. educational institutions.
“b. Contracts and grants now in existence be conformed to these guidelines as rapidly as feasible and wherever possible, no later than 30 December ’67 for relationships that will extend beyond that date… The thrust of the review of existing contracts and the placement of future contracts will be that our contractor relationships with academic institutions will be strongly on the premise that CIA will be identified as the contractor… Any special contract arrangement will be considered only when there is extremely strong justification warranting a variance from the principles of CIA identification as the contractor. It is felt that the Agency must retain some flexibility for contracting arrangements’ with academic institutions and this can be carefully monitored and accomplished within the policies and principles expressed in the Katzenbach report…” Memorandum for Director of Central Intelligence, June 21, 1967. 

(232) “I began my relationship with the FBI around 1967 or 1968. All my correspondence was sent directly to the FBI. However, I think it was on only one occasion that the Bureau ever contacted me personally. All other addresses were made personally or verbally. Once they began purchasing equipment I was directed not to send this equipment to the FBI, but rather sell it to a company known as United States Recording, a private company operating on South Capitol Street in Washington, D.C. I informed the Bureau, as if they needed that piece of information, that Federal law would not allow me to sell equipment to anyone except bona fide governmental agencies. The FBI agents assured me my actions were proper and subsequently supplied a stamp to United States Recording which purported to certify on the purchase order that the transaction was in accordance with Federal law.” Comm. Hearings… Oct. 9, 1975. 

(235) “I might point out at this time, by the way, that nearly all the equipment deliveries I made to the Equipment Bureau involving orders to United States Recording were handled by me and billed to United States Recording. So the paperwork went through that route. I discovered at one time that United States Recording was adding a 30 percent markup on the bills for the equipment. During my dealings with the Federal Bureau of Investigation I sold them approximately $100,000 worth of electronic equipment.” Comm. Hearings… Oct 9, 1975. 

(236) “MR. VERMEIRE. Mr. Tait, I believe at the last deposition, November 21, you mentioned that you had played poker on a number of occasions with Mr. John Mohr, former Assistant Director of the FBI.
“MR. TAIT. Yes.” Interview with Mr. Tait, by J.B.F. Oliphant and R. Vermeire, Dec. 1, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell.
“MR. VERMEIRE. And I think you testified that you had played poker with him not only privately at each other’s homes or homes in the area but also at a club up in Harpers Ferry. I think at the time that is all that was said; it was up in Harpers Ferry.
“MR. TAIT. That’s right.
“MR. VERMEIRE. What was the name of that club?
“MR. TAIT. Blue Ridge.
“MR. VERMEIRE. How did you become a member of the club?
“MR TAIT. I used to play cards up there… with another man by the name of Parsons, Donald Parsons (former Chief of the FBI Laboratory Division).
“MR. VERMEIRE. And was Mr. Parsons alive when you became a member?
“MR. TAIT. No.
“MR. VERMEIRE. How long had you been playing at the club prior to becoming a member?
“MR. TAIT. I don’t know. I’d say probably four or five years.
“MR. VERMEIRE. Who is the one business person who was connected with private enterprise that was there?
“MR. TAIT. A man by the name of Oberdick.
“MR. VERMEIRE. Mr. Oberdick?
“MR. TAIT. Yes.
‘”MR. VERMEIRE: May I have his-first name?
“MR. TAIT. Godfrey.
“MR. VERMEIRE. What business was he in?
“MR. TAIT. He is — I don’t know exactly what you would say. He is a representative to various companies that supply equipment. What companies, I’m not sure.
“MR. VERMEIRE. What kind of equipment?
“MR. TAIT. Firearms, tear gas.” Ibid. 

(239) This fact was established through numerous staff interviews with knowledgeable FBI personnel in the Laboratory and Administrative Divisions.
“MR. VERMIERE. Were there other companies that you dealt with in that way?
“MR. HARWARD. I don’t know of any company.
“MR. VERMEIRE. U.S. Recording is the only company that you know of that you had this confidential relationship with?
“MR. HARWARD. Yes.” Interview with Mr. Harward. 

4. Budget Secrecy 

During Senate hearings in 1975, to confirm James Schlesinger as Secretary of Defense, Mr. Schlesinger indicated it might be possible to make public the total budget cost of foreign intelligence. When William Colby was confirmed as head of CIA in 1973, he, likewise, testified that publication of budget totals might not be harmful. (244)

In a television interview some years later, Dr. Schlesinger inadvertently revealed the size of the foreign intelligence budget. No great harm apparently came from that disclosure. 

In 1973, a recommendation to publish the annual costs of intelligence was made by a Senate Special Committee to Study Questions Related to Secret and Confidential Documents. 

On June 4, 1974, Senator J. William Proxmire of Wisconsin offered a floor amendment to a defense procurement authorization bill. His amendment would have required the Director of Central Intelligence to provide Congress with an annual, unclassified report describing the total amount requested for the “national intelligence program” in the budget submitted by the President. 

In June 1975, the report of the Rockefeller Commission recommended that Congress carefully consider whether all or part of the CIA budget should be made public. 

On October 1, 1975, Representative Robert N. Giaimo of Connecticut offered a floor amendment to a defense appropriations bill, prohibiting any of the funds provided for “Other Procurement, Air Force” from being expended by the CIA. Had the amendment been adopted, a subsequent amendment would have been offered to restore funds for the CIA, and a specific total for the agency would have been disclosed. 

Today, however, taxpayers and most Congressmen do not know, and cannot find out, how much they spend on spy activities. 

This is in direct conflict with the Constitution, which requires a regular and public accounting for all funds spent by the federal government. 

Those who argue for secrecy do not mention the Constitution. They do not mention taxpayers. Instead, they talk of rather obscure understandings the Russians might derive about some specific operation, (251) even if all the Russians knew was a single total which would be in the billions of dollars and would cover dozens of diverse agencies. 

How the Russians would do this is not clear. The Committee asked, but there was no real answer. What is clear is that the Russians probably already have a detailed account of our intelligence spending, far more than just the budget total. (252) In all likelihood, the only people who care to know and do not know these costs today are American taxpayers. 

 

Footnotes:
(244) When the same question was put to William E. Colby during his confirmation hearings to be Direc­tor of Central Intelligence, he replied: “I would pro­pose to leave that question, Mr. Chairman, in the hands of the Congress to decide… We are not going to run the kind of intelligence service that other countries run.We are going to run one in the Ameri­can society and the American constitutional structure, and I can see there may be a requirement to expose to the American people a great deal more than might be convenient from the narrow intelligence point of view.” Cong. Rec. S. 9603, June 4, 1974. 

(251) “CHAIRMAN PIKE… Do you think the Soviets know what our intelligence effort is?
“MR. COLBY. They know a good deal about it, from the various books that have been published by ‘X’ members of the intelligence community.” Comm. Hearings… Aug. 6, 1975. 

(252) “CHAIRMAN PIKE… Don’t you think really that the Soviets have a far better estimate of what we are spending for intelligence than the average taxpayer in America has?
“MR. COLBY. I think they have put a great deal of time and attention trying to identify that, and they undoubtedly have a better perception of it than the average taxpayer who just takes the general statements he gets in the press. But — and that comes from the careful analysis of the material that is released. This does help you get a more accurate estimate of what it is.” Ibid. 

PERFORMANCE

It is one thing to conclude that tens of billions of intelligence dollars have been rather independently spent, and sometimes misspent, over the past few years. 

The important issues are whether this spending sufficiently meets our needs, whether Americans have received their money’s worth, and whether non-monetary costs sometimes outweigh the benefits. 

The latter question is a matter of risks… To test the first two questions, the Committee investigated a representative spectrum of recent events. Some involved war; some involved law enforcement. Some involved American lives overseas; some involved personal freedoms at home. All involved important interests. 

How did intelligence perform? Let the events speak for themselves. 

1. Tet: Failure to Adapt to a New Kind of War 

War in Vietnam meant that intelligence had to adapt to an unconventional war, and true perceptions could spell life or death for Americans. In Tet, perceptions were shattered. 

Taking advantage of the Vietnamese lunar holiday, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launched an all-out offensive on January 30, 1968, against virtually every urban center and base in South Vietnam. The scale of attacks was unprecedented in the history of American involvement in the Vietnam War and flatly challenged the reassuring picture intelligence officials in Saigon and Washington had helped present to the American people. 

With nearly all provincial capitals under siege, the American embassy compound was penetrated by the Viet Cong, and the pacification program set back in all areas; predictions of successes, announced scant months before, had turned into one of the greatest misjudgments of the war. 

The Committee’s investigation of Tet focused on the questions of warning in a combat situation and communicating the realities of a guerrilla war to executive branch policy-makers. Both are interrelated. Mr. William Colby and the post-mortems certify, “warning of the Tet offensive had not fully anticipated the intensity, coordination and timing of the enemy attack.” A chief cause was our degraded image of the enemy. 

There were at least two primary causes for such degradation. First, the dispute between CIA and MACV (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam) over enemy strength — called Order of Battle figures — created false perceptions of the enemy U.S. forces faced, and prevented measurement of changes in enemy strength over time. Second, pressure from policy-making officials to produce positive intelligence indicators reinforced erroneous assessments of allied progress and enemy capabilities. 

a. The Order of Battle Controversy 

According to Mr. Colby, the CIA had been suspicious of MACV’s numerical estimate of the Vietnamese enemy since at least mid-1966. At an order of Battle conference held in Saigon in September, 1967, the differences between Washington and the field, and between CIA and MACV, were thrashed out; but according to Mr. Colby, to neither’s satisfaction. 

A resulting compromise represented the best resolution of MACV’s preoccupation with viewing the order of battle in the classic military sense and CIA’s assessment of enemy capabilities as a much broader people’s war. The Special National Intelligence estimate that emerged from this conference quantified the order of battle in MACV terms, and merely described other potential enemy forces. Categories now proposed from previous estimates of order of battle detailed as much as 200,000 irregular personnel, self [one word illegible] and secret self-defense forces, and assault [one word illegible] and political cadre. 

As foot soldiers realized at the time, and as different studies by the Army Surgeon General confirm, the destructiveness of mines and booby traps, which irregular forces set out, was increasingly responsible for American losses. This was primarily because American forces were engaging the enemy with increased frequency in his defensive positions. Documents indicate that, even during the Order of Battle Conference, there was a large increase in sabotage for which irregulars and civilians were responsible. It appears clear in retrospect that, given the nature of protracted guerrilla war, irregular forces were basic determinants of the nature and scope of combat. 

The numbers game not only diverted a direct confrontation with the realities of war in Vietnam, but also prevented the intelligence community, perhaps the President, and certainly Members of Congress, from judging the real changes in Vietnam over time. 

The Saigon Order of Battle Conference dropped numbers that had been used since 1962, and used those that were left in what appears to have been an arbitrary attempt to maintain some ceiling. It prompted Secretary of State Dean Rusk to cable the American Embassy in Saigon, on October 21, 1967: “Need your recommendation how to resolve problem of unknown percentage of enemy KIA (Killed in Action) and WIA (Wounded in Action) which comes from ranks of self-defense, assault youth and VC civilian supporters. Since these others not carried as part of VC strength, indicators of attrition could be misleading.” 

When the Systems Analysis office in the Department of Defense examined the results of the conference and reinterpreted them in terms consistent with prior quantification, it remarked that the new estimate should have been 595,000–480,000 if computed on the same basis as before. “The computations do not show that enemy strength has increased, but that previous estimates of enemy strength were too low.” 

In the context of the late 1960s, numbers were not at all an academic exercise. Mr. Colby has testified that “(T)he effort to develop a number with respect to the enemy strength was a part of the advising of our government, as to their amount of effort we would have to spend to counter that kind of (guerrilla) effort by the Viet Cong.” They were also used to inform Members of Congress and the American public on the progress in Vietnam. 

The validity of most of the numbers was significantly dubious. Unfortunately, they were relied on for optimistic presentations. For example, while mentioning in parenthetical and classified comments that the numbers supporting its indicators of progress in Vietnam were suspect, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research provided Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy with quantified measures of success. (263) General Westmoreland used such figures to support his contentions in the fall of 1967, that the enemy’s “guerrilla force is declining at a steady rate.” 

In testimony before this Committee, Mr. Colby has stated that the “infatuation with numbers” was “one of the more trying experiences the Intelligence Community has had to endure.” In the context of the period it appears that considerable pressure was placed on the Intelligence Community to generate numbers, less out of tactical necessity than for political purposes. 

The Administration’s need was for confirmation of the contention that there was light at the end of the tunnel, that the pacification program was working and generally that American involvement in Vietnam was not only correct, but effective. (266) In this sense, the Intelligence Community could not help but find its powers to effect objective analysis substantially undermined. Whether this was by conspiracy or not is somewhat irrelevant. 

b. The Consequences 

Four months after the Saigon Order of Battle Conference, the Tet offensive began. On February 1, hours after the initial mass assaults, General Westmoreland explained to a press conference, “I’m frank to admit I didn’t know he (the enemy) would do it on the occasion of Tet itself. I thought he would do it before or after.” The U.S. naval officer in command of the river forces in the Mekong Delta and his army counterpart were similarly caught off guard. Appalled at how poorly positioned they were to provide quick and efficient response, the naval officer, now a retired Vice Admiral, has told the Committee that he “well remember(s) the words of the Army General who brought us the orders to extricate ourselves from the mudflats as fast as possible. They were, ‘It’s Pearl Harbor all over again.’ ”

The April, 1968, post-mortem done by a collection of intelligence officers discussed the general question of warning. It concluded that while units in one corps area were on alert, allied forces throughout the country, generally, were caught unprepared for what was unfolding. Certain forces even while “on a higher than normal state of alert” were postured to meet “inevitable cease-fire violations rather than attacks on the cities.” In other areas “the nature and extent of the enemy’s attacks were almost totally unexpected.” One-half of the South Vietnamese army was on leave at the time of the attacks, observing a 36-hour stand-down. 

In testimony before this Committee, both General Graham and William Colby confirmed the fact of some amount of surprise. General Graham preferred to label it surprise at the enemy’s “rashness.” Mr. Colby spoke of a misjudgment of their potential “intensity, coordination and timing.” 

Even though quick corrective action was taken to salvage American equipment and protect U.S. personnel, the ultimate ramifications on political and military fronts were considerable. General Westmoreland requested a dramatic increase of 206,000 in U.S. troop strength, and additional equipment supplies. Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford began rethinking the substance of intelligence. A collection of intelligence officers finally briefed the President of the United States on the realities of the Vietnam War in mid-March, and a few days later he announced he would not seek re-election. (271)

c. The Aftermath 

The Committee received testimony that problems with intelligence in Vietnam were not confined to Tet. Up to the last days of South Vietnam’s existence, certain blinders prevented objective reporting from the field and an accurate assessment of the field situation by Washington. Tet raised the issue of whether American intelligence could effectively account for enemy strength. Later events, among them the collapse of the Saigon government, pointed to a failure to properly acknowledge weaknesses of allies. 

A real attempt to address the shortcomings of friendly forces m Vietnam was hampered by many factors. During the time of massive American presence, there was a failure to attribute at least partial South Vietnamese “success” to American air power and logistics support. Consequently, projected ARVN performance in 1975, after the U.S. pullout, was measured against the yardstick of the Easter Offensive of 1972, when American support was crucial. 

Mission restrictions curtailed necessary collection activity by professional intelligence officers, and forced reliance on officials charged with military aid responsibilities. This promoted biased interpretations. (274) The sum total of restrictions, manipulations, and censorship no doubt led to the conclusion Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger reached at an April, 1975, news conference. He pointed out that “the strength, resiliency and steadfastness of those forces (South Vietnamese) were more highly valued than they should have been, so that the misestimate, I think, applied largely to Saigon’s capabilities rather than Hanoi’s intentions.” 

Ultimately, the Vietnam intelligence experience is a sobering reminder of the limitations and pitfalls the United States can expect to encounter if it chooses to align itself in unconventional battle with unconventional allies. It illustrates how very different guerrilla war is from World War II, and how much more problematic an alliance with emerging and unstable Third World governments will be. 

Reviewing the American experience in Indochina, an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence wrote a note of caution to the Secretary of Defense emphasizing the following view: 

“The problems that occurred in Vietnam or Cambodia can now be occurring in our efforts to assess [an allied and an adversary Third World country’s] forces, forces in the Persian Gulf or forces in the Middle East. These problems must be addressed before the U.S. becomes involved in any future crisis in the Third World that requires objective and timely intelligence analysis.” 

Given the substantial American involvement in these areas, strong remedies and honest retrospect appear necessary, to overcome and prevent intelligence output that fails, for whatever reason, to present comprehensive and undisguised perceptions of war. 

Footnotes:
(263) The memorandum to William Bundy is from Fred Greene of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and is dated Sept. 22, 1967. It notes that claims of enemy captured, enemy re­cruited, weapons lost, desertions, incidents of battalion size attacks, killed in action, vital roads opened, and the percentage of population under South Viet­namese control are not supported by the statistics. The memorandum also advises that Mr. Bundy not bring to light other figures that present a negative picture. 

After alleging that the VC was having difficulties in its recruitment, Mr. Greene goes on to point out, in a confidential comment, that “Recruitment sta­tistics should be avoided since they are based on a relatively small number of reports of dubious reliability. Moreover, any use of recruitment figures might well be used by our critics to question the reliability of our estimates on Communist order of battle, a subject which almost certainly will soon cause us considerable public relations problems.” 

(264) “It is significant that the enemy has not won a major battle in more than a year. In general, he can fight his large forces only at the edges of his sanctu­aries… His Viet Cong military units can no longer fill their ranks from the South but must depend in­creasingly on replacements from North Viet Nam. His guerrilla force is declining at a steady rate. Mo­rale problems are developing within his ranks.” He concluded by saying, “The enemy has many prob­lems: He is losing control of the scattered population under his influence. He is losing credibility with the population he still controls. He is alienating the people by his increased demands and taxes, where he can impose them. He sees the strength of his forces steadily declining. He can no longer recruit in the South to any meaningful extent; he must plug the gap with North Vietnamese. His monsoon offensives have been failures. He was dealt a mortal blow by the installation of a freely elected representative government. And he failed in his desperate effort to take the world’s headlines from the inauguration by a military victory.”
General Westmoreland, “Progress Report on the War in Viet Nam,” before the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 1967.

(266) According to George Allen, pressure was put on CIA by Walt Rostow, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, to prepare positive indicators of progress in the pacification program. When Mr. Allen suggested that there were few, he received the reply, “I am amazed at your unwillingness to support your President in his time of need.” Rostow then requested that the Office of Current Intelligence produce a compilation of extracts showing progress, which OCI did, while attaching a cover letter caveat. Rostow removed the cover letter and reported to the President “at last an objective appraisal from CIA.”
Staff interview with George Allen, Dec. 1, 1975. 

(271) Immediately after the Tet offensive, President Johnson began to seek independent assessments of the U.S. role in Vietnam. Turning first to Dean Acheson, the former Secretary of State, he solicited opinions from an informal study group, known as the “Wise Men.” Startled by the pessimism of these advisers from outside of the government, the President demanded an individual presentation of three briefings provided to the group, in order to discover “who poisoned the well.” George Carver from CIA opined that the President had a two-audience problem and could not very well continue to tell the Americans one thing and the Vietnamese another.
Staff interview with George Carver, Jan. 9, 1975. 

(274) Defense attaches in Vietnam held the dual responsibilities of monitoring military aid and coordinating intelligence reporting on friendly forces. The former tended to affect the latter, and attaches would use supply figures to interpret South Vietnamese capabilities toward the end of the war. 

The Ambassador in Vietnam in 1975 “personally and through his Political Section monitored very closely the intelligence reporting from Vietnam.” Reports on the political and economic conditions (including reports on corruption) were either censored or retained within the Embassy.
(See Henry A. Shockley, “Intelligence Collection in Vietnam, March 1974–March 1975” in Appendix.)

2. Czechoslovakia: Failure of Tactical Warning 

The Czechoslovakia crisis challenged our ability to monitor an attack by the Soviet Union — our prime military adversary. We “lost” the Russian army for two weeks. 

Forces of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia on August 20, 1968, to overthrow the Dubcek regime which, since spring, had been moving toward liberal, independent policies the Soviets could not tolerate. U.S. intelligence had understood and reported the basic issues in the developing Soviet-Czech confron­tation, and concluded that the Soviets were capable of launching an invasion at any time. 

Intelligence failed, however, to provide a warning that the Soviets had “decided to intervene with force.” Consequently, President Johnson first learned of the invasion when Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin visited the White House and told him. 

A review of U.S. intelligence performance during the Czech crisis indicates the agencies were not up to the difficult task of divining Soviet intentions. We knew Soviet capabilities, and that the tactical decision to invade might leave only hours of advance warning. The CIA, DIA, and NSA should have been prepared for lightning-quick reaction to Soviet mili­tary moves. 

Czech radio broadcasted news of the invasion at 8:50 p.m., Washington time. CIA translated and trans­mitted its reports of invasion to Washington at 9:15 p.m. By that time, President Johnson had already met his appointment with the Soviet Ambassador. 

U.S. technical intelligence learned of the Soviet invasion several hours before — but the information did not reach Washington until after the Czech radio message. The CIA later concluded that the information “might have made a difference” in our ability to provide the tactical warning. 

One alarming failure of intelligence prior to the invasion occurred during the first two weeks in August, when U.S. intelligence could not locate a Soviet combat formation, which had moved into northern Poland. Director Helms later admitted he was not “happy about those two weeks” when he could not locate the Soviet troops. 

Information from technical intelligence, which would have been helpful, was not available until days later. Clandestine reporting in the previous weeks had been so slow to arrive it proved of little value to current intelligence publications. 

Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms reported to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Ad­visory Board in October, 1968, that the intelligence record of failing to detect the actual attack “distresses me.” The Director provided reassurances that the record would have been better “if West Germany had been the target rather than Czechoslovakia.” 

In 1971, a Presidential Commission reported to President Nixon that its review of U.S. ability to respond to sudden attack had found serious weak­nesses. The Pentagon was directed to improve its warning system. Improvement to the very best possible degree is, of course, the minimum acceptable standard. There will be no more important area for Congressional oversight committees to explore thoroughly. 

3. The Mid-East War: The System Breaks Down

The Mid-East war gave the intelligence community a real test of how it can perform when all its best technology and human skills are focused on a known world “hot spot.” It failed. 

On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a major assault across the Suez Canal and Golan Heights against a stunned Israel. Although Israel eventually repelled the attack, at a cost of thousands of lives, the war’s consequences cannot be measured in purely military terms. 

For Americans, the subsequent U.S.-Soviet con­frontation of October 24–25, 1973, when the Soviets threatened to unilaterally intervene in the conflict, and the Arab oil embargo are reminders that war in the Middle East has a direct impact on our own national interests.

The Committee’s analysis of the U.S. intelligence performance in this crisis confirms the judgment of an intelligence community post-mortem that “the principal conclusions concerning the imminence of hostilities… were — quite simply, obviously, and starkly — wrong.” Even after the conflict had begun, we did not accurately monitor the course of events. 

The important question is what went wrong? 

The last relevant National Intelligence Estimate before the October War was published five months earlier, in May, 1973, during a particularly bad period in Arab-Israeli relations. That estimate addressed the likelihood of war “in the next few weeks.” No long-range view was presented, and the crisis soon passed. 

The only intelligence report concerned with future political-military issues was a May 31, 1973, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) memorandum to Secretary of State Rogers. The authors reasoned correctly that Egypt’s President Sadat, for political reasons, would be strongly tempted to resort to arms if diplomacy proved fruitless. Accordingly, the report concluded, the “resumption of hostilities by autumn will become a better than even bet” should the diplomatic impasse continue. 

By September 30, 1975 — less than a week before the attack — INR had lost “the wisdom of the Spring.” By then, all U.S. intelligence agencies argued that the political climate in the Arab nations was not conducive to a major war. Intelligence consumers were reassured that hostilities were not likely. (292)

The next question is why this happened. 

Analytical bias was part of the problem. (293) In the summer of 1973, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), CIA, and INR all flatly asserted that Egypt was not capable of a major assault across the Suez Canal. Syria, they said, was not much of a threat either, despite recent acquisitions of sophisticated Soviet… missile systems and other material. 

One reason for the analysts’ optimism can be found in a 1971 CIA handbook, in a passage reiterated and reinforced in discussions in early October, 1973. The Arab fighting man, it reported, “lacks the necessary physical and cultural qualities for performing effective military services.” The Arabs were thought to be so clearly inferior that another attack would be irrational and, thus, out of the question. 

No doubt this attitude was not far in the background when CIA advised Dr. Kissinger on September 30, 1975, that “the whole thrust of President Sadat’s activities since last spring has been in the direction of bringing moral, political, and economic force to bear on Israel in tacit acknowledgment of Arab unreadiness to make war.” 

That analysis is quite surprising, in light of information acquired during that period, which indicated that imminent war was a distinct possibility. By late September, for example, CIA had acquired vital evidence of the timing and warlike intentions of the Arabs. The source was disbelieved, for reasons still unclear. 

There were other positive indications. In late September, the National Security Agency began picking up clear signs that Egypt and Syria were preparing for a major offensive. NSA information indicated that [a major foreign nation] had become extremely sensitive to the prospect of war and concerned about their citizens and dependents in Egypt. NSA’s warning escaped the serious attention of most intelligence analysts responsible for the Middle East. (299) 

The fault may well lie in the system itself. NSA intercepts of Egyptian-Syrian war preparations in this period were so voluminous — an average of hundreds of reports each week — that few analysts had time to digest more than a small portion of them. Even fewer analysts were qualified by technical training to read raw NSA traffic. Costly intercepts had scant impact on estimates. 

These reports lacked visibility and prestige to such a degree that when, two days before the war, an NSA briefer insisted to General Daniel Graham of CIA that unusual Arab movements suggested imminent hostilities, Graham retorted that his staff had reported a “ho-hum” day in the Middle East. Later, a key military analyst claimed that if he had only seen certain NSA reports, which were so “sensitive” they had not been disseminated until after the war began, he would have forecast hostilities. (302)

There was testimony that Dr. Kissinger’s secrecy may also have thwarted effective intelligence analysis. Kissinger had been in close contact with both the Soviets and the Arabs throughout the pre-war period. He, presumably, was in a unique position to pick up indications of Arab dissatisfaction with diplomatic talks, and signs of an ever-increasing Soviet belief that war would soon break out. When the Committee was denied its request for high-level reports, it was unable to learn whether Kissinger elicited this information in any usable form. It is clear, however, that the Secretary passed no such warning to the intelligence community. (303) 

The Committee was told by high U.S. intelligence officials and policy-makers that information from high-level diplomatic contacts is of great intelligence value as an often-reliable indicator of both capabilities and intentions. Despite the obvious usefulness of this information, Dr. Kissinger has continued to deny intelligence officials access to notes of his talks with foreign leaders. 

The morning of the Arab attack, the Watch Committee — which is responsible for crisis alerts — met to assess the likelihood of major hostilities. It concluded that no major, coordinated offensive was in the offing. (305) Perhaps one of the reasons for this was that some participants were not “cleared” for all intelligence data, so the subject and its implications could not be fully discussed. 

The entire system had malfunctioned. Massive amounts of data had proven indigestible by analysts. Analysts, reluctant to raise false alarms and lulled by anti-Arab biases, ignored clear warnings. Top-level policy-makers declined to share perceptions gained from talks with key Arab and Soviet diplomats during the critical period. The fact that Israeli intelligence, to which the U.S. often deferred in this period, had been wrong was small consolation. 

Performance did not measurably improve after the war’s outbreak, when the full resources of the U.S. intelligence community were focused [there]. 

The Defense Intelligence Agency, having no military contingency plan for the area, proved unable to deal with a deluge of reports from the war zone, and quickly found itself in chaos. CIA and INR also engulfed Washington and each other with situation reports, notable for their redundancy. 

Technical intelligence-gathering was untimely, as well as indiscriminate. U.S. national technical means of overhead coverage of the Middle East, according to the post-mortem, was “of no practical value” because of time problems. Two overflight reconnaissance missions, on October 13 and 25, “straddled the most critical phase of the war and were, therefore, of little use.” (310) 

The U.S. failure to accurately track war developments may have contributed to a U.S.-Soviet confrontation and troop alert called by President Nixon on October 24, 1973. (311) 

A second intelligence community post-mortem, the existence of which was not disclosed to the Committee until after its hearing, (312) reported that CIA and DIA almost unquestionably relied on overly optimistic Israeli battle reports. Thus misled, the U.S. clashed with the better-informed Soviets on the latter’s strong reaction to Israeli cease-fire violations. Soviet threats to intervene militarily were met with a worldwide U.S. troop alert. Poor intelligence had brought America to the brink of war. 

Administration witnesses assured the Committee that analysts who had performed poorly during the crisis had been replaced. (313) The broader record suggests, however, that the intelligence system faults have survived largely intact. New analysts will continue to find themselves harassed and deluged with largely equivocal, unreadable, or unusable data from CIA, DIA, INR, and the collection-conscious NSA. At the same time, they can expect to be cut off, by top-level policy-makers, from some of the best indicators of hostile intentions.

Footnotes:
(292) “If analysts did not provide forewarning, what did they offer in its stead? Instead of warnings, the Community’s analytical effort in effect produced reassurances. That is to say, the analysts, in reacting to indicators which could be interpreted in themselves as portents of hostile Arab actions against Israel, sought in effect to reassure their audience that the Arabs would not resort to war, at least not deliberately.” (Emphasis in original.) CIA’s Post-Mortem, page 3. 

(293) CIA-DIA-INR Arab-Israeli Handbook, July 1973. The CIA’s Post-Mortem at 13 characterizes this Handbook and analytic preconceptions: “No preconceptions seem to have had a greater impact on analytical attitudes than those concerning relative Arab and Israeli military prowess. The June War was frequently invoked by analysts as proof of fundamental and perhaps permanent weaknesses in the Arab forces and, inferentially, of Israeli invincibility. The Arabs, despite the continuing acquisition of modern weapons from the Russians, remained about as far behind the Israelis as ever.” At page 14 the Post-Mortem concludes: “There was, in addition, a fairly widespread notion based largely (though perhaps not entirely) on past performances that many Arabs, as Arabs, simply weren’t up to the demands of modern warfare and that they lacked understanding, motivation, and probably in some cases courage as well. These judgments were often alluded to in conversations between analysts…” 

(299) The draft CIA Post-Mortem states that NSA SIGINT Summaries probably did not convey the full significance of these technical indicators to the reader. The conclusion of all intelligence officials interviewed by the Committee staff was unanimous: the National Security Agency products — particularly raw products — are difficult to understand. The CIA’s Post-Mortem, page 9, states the problem with NSA products as seen by Middle East intelligence analysts: “Two particular problems associated with SIGINT should be mentioned here: (1) Certain highly classified and specially handled categories of COMINT reached their consumers only several days after intercept, a circumstance which perhaps had unfortunate effects; (2) SIGINT reporting is very voluminous: in a typical non-crisis week, hundreds of SIGINT reports on the Middle East cross the desk of the area specialist in a production office. Moreover, partly because of the requirements levied on it by a wide variety of consumers, NSA issues most SIGINT reports (not merely ELINT) in very technical language. SIGINT can thus challenge the ingenuity of even the most experienced, all-source analyst searching for meaning and patterns in a mountain of material.”… 

(302) From the Draft CIA Post-Mortem: “If the information contained in the NSA messages had been available prior to the time of the outbreak of hostilities, we could have clearly predicted that [a foreign nation] knew in advance that renewed hostilities were imminent in the Middle East.” This particular type of NSA-acquired intelligence was delayed “a minimum of ten days.” 

(303) Among such reports on Soviet and Arab attitudes were “The Secretary Afternoon Summary,” Sept. 27, 1973, which reported an intelligence finding that a high Arab official “has said that Kissinger’s statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that U.S. policy in the Middle East remains the same, destroyed the recent Egyptian hope aroused by President Nixon’s comment that the U.S. is partial neither to the Arabs or to Israel.”…

(305) “The Watch Committee met in special session at 0900 on 6 October 1973 to consider the outbreak of Israeli-Arab hostilities and Soviet actions with respect to the situation. 

“We can find no hard evidence of a major, coordinated Egyptian/Syrian offensive across the Canal and in the Golan Heights area. Rather, the weight of evidence indicates an action-reaction situation where a series of responses by each side to preconceived threats created an increasingly dangerous potential for confrontation. The current hostilities are apparently a result of that situation, although we are in a position to clarify the sequence of events. It is possible that the Egyptians or Syrians, particularly the latter, may have been preparing a raid or other small-scale action.”
Special Meeting of the Watch Committee, Oct. 7, 1973. 

(311) “We do not know whether, in fact, these differing appreciations contributed to the development of a confrontation between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. during the final three days of the crisis (24–26 October). But this seems to be a real possibility. And it is clear in any event that in certain crises and under certain circumstances an accurate view of the tactical military situation can be of critical importance to decision-makers.” Also: “If U.S. decision-makers had had a more accurate view of the tactical situation around Suez between 21 and 25 October, they might have had better insight into why the Soviets reacted as they did to the Israeli violations.” Ibid.…

(312) The second post-mortem… was not given to any Congressional Committee, even those who were told of the first post-mortem. 

(313) Three DIA officials were removed from then positions; there were no changes at the CIA, INR, or NSA. Community analysts interviewed by Committee staff all agreed the reassignments involved internal DIA controversies more than any effort to revamp the agency after the Middle East War.

4. Portugal: The U.S. Caught Napping 

Do our intelligence services know what is going on beneath the surface in allied nations that are not making headlines? Quiet Portugal exploded in 1974, leaving serious questions in its aftermath. 

When a group of left-leaning Portuguese junior military officers ousted the Caetano regime on April 25, 1974, State Department officials represented to the New York Times that Washington knew those who were behind the coup well. State indicated that we were not surprised by the coup, and that no significant changes in Portugal’s NATO membership were expected. Nothing could have been further from the truth. 

The Committee has reviewed documents which show that the U.S. intelligence community had not even been asked to probe deeply into Portugal in the waning months of the Caetano dictatorship. (315) As a result, policy makers were given no real warning of the timing and probable ideological consequences of the coup, despite clear and public indications that a political upheaval was at hand. (316)

The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research had not analyzed events in Portugal in the month before the April coup. In retrospect, four warning signals, beginning in late February and continuing through mid-March, 1974, should have sparked “speculation at that time that a crisis of major proportions was brewing,” according to the Director of Intelligence and Research, William Hyland. All four events were reported in the American press: 

  1. The publication in February 1974, of General Antonio de Spinola’s controversial book criticizing Portugal’s African colonial wars, which unleashed an unprecedented public storm. 
  2. The refusal of General Spinola and the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Francisco Costa Gomes, to participate in a demonstration of military unity and support for the Caetano dictatorship. 
  3. An abortive coup, in mid-March, when an infantry regiment attempted to march upon Lisbon. This was followed by the subsequent dismissal of Spinola and Costa Gomes from their commands. 
  4. A period of rising tensions, the arrests of leftists, and a purge of military officers following the first three developments. 

The intelligence community, however, was too preoccupied to closely examine the Portuguese situation. Those responsible for writing current intelligence publications had deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, and relatively little time to speculate on developments in the previously sleepy Caetano dictatorship. (318) 

The Committee’s investigation indicates there were other, earlier warning signs which might have sparked some intelligence interest. Again, these indications of deeper unrest were not subjected to close analysis. 

On October 26, 1973, the Defense Attache in Lisbon reported to DIA headquarters in the Pentagon rumors of a “coup plot,” and serious discontent among Portuguese officers.

On November 8, 1973, the attache reported that 860 Portuguese Army Captains had signed a petition protesting conditions. (320) The attache quickly concluded these dissidents had no intentions of revolution. Nevertheless, the fact that over 800 military officers felt deeply enough to risk retribution was a good indication of the profound social revolution which Portugal faced.

The record does not suggest that the attache attempted to get to know these junior officers, understand their views, or even record their names. Nor had anyone in Washington assigned him the task of searching for signs of social and political unrest in the Portuguese military. One reason for this was that the Director of Attache Affairs was not allowed to assign duties to attaches. Assignments were done elsewhere, in an unbelievable demonstration of confusing and inefficient administration. (321)

Also in November 1973, the attache attended a social gathering at the home of a retired American officer where he heard discussion of right-wing Spanish and Portuguese countercoup plans, should “extremists” overthrow the Caetano government. Neither the identities of the counter-plotters nor of the “extremists” were reported by the attache. No further reference to this report was found in a review of subsequent attache activities prior to the April coup. 

In February 1974, the attache forwarded information from December 1973, on the Portuguese government response to a petition of complaints signed by over 1,500 junior military officers. (323) There was no effort to identify the leaders of the petition campaign or to contact any of the signers. After the coup, high CIA officials would complain of the lack of in-depth biographic reporting from the attache office. 

A review of all Defense Attache reports in the months prior to the coup indicated substantial delays in forwarding reports to Washington. It even took a month for the attache to send Washington the Spinola book which unleashed the public storm when it was published in February. 

Twice, Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters in Washington wrote the attache office in Lisbon urging the six officers there to be more aggressive, to travel more, and frequent the diplomatic party circuit less. Only the most junior attache, a Navy lieutenant, made an attempt to probe beyond the obvious. 

The Committee was also told that a serious problem in DIA is a tendency to reward senior officers, nearing the ends of their careers, by assigning them to attache posts. Not only were these officers often untrained and unmotivated for intelligence duties, but the Director of Attache Affairs testified that he was powerless to assign substantive duties to the attaches in any case. 

The Committee did not have the opportunity to review raw CIA reports during the six months prior to the coup. CIA officials who relied on these reports told this Committee that the CIA Station in Lisbon was so small, and so dependent upon the official Portuguese security service for information, that very little was picked up. In fact, attaches were in a better position than CIA to get to know the Portuguese military. There is no indication that attaches and the Chief of Station attempted to pool their resources and combine CIA’s knowledge of the Portuguese Community movement with attaches’ supposed military contacts. 

The National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Western Europe did attempt an analysis. A draft memorandum on trends in Portugal, titled, “Cracks in the Facade,” had been in preparation for nearly a month, and was almost complete when the April coup erupted. It had to be re-titled. The document itself, despite its titles, was not attuned to the real causes of intense discontent which produced a leftist-military revolt. 

That same National Intelligence Officer testified that he had some twenty-five European countries to monitor, with the help of only one staff assistant. NIO’s do not have command authority over CIA’s intelligence or operations directorates. They cannot order that papers be written, that staffers be detached from the current intelligence office to work on an in-depth estimate. They cannot instruct clandestine operations to collect certain types of information. Nor will the NIO always be informed of covert actions that may be underway in one of his countries. 

The most disturbing testimony before this Committee was official satisfaction with intelligence prior to the Portuguese coup. The Director of Attache Affairs told the Committee that intelligence performance had been “generally satisfactory and responsive to requirements.” The National Intelligence Officer for Western Europe said intelligence reports had described “a situation clearly in process of change, an old order coming apart at the seams.” (331) 

However, both officials quickly admitted under questioning that the attaches had not, in fact, been very aggressive. Nor had any intelligence document warned when and how the old order was “coming apart at the seams.” Without access to intelligence reports, this Committee might have believed official claims that the system was functioning well.

Footnotes:
(315) Interview with Dennis Clift, Senior Staff Member, National Security Council, by G. Rushfort, Oct. 3, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. Mr. Clift stated there was no National Security Council effort to levy requirements on the intelligence community, nor was there any National Security Council study memorandum addressed to Portugal. 

(316) Testimony of William Hyland before the Committee: “Even a cursory review of the intelligence record indicates there was no specific warning of the coup of April 25, 1974, in Portugal. As far as the Bureau of Intelligence and Research was concerned, our last analytical reporting was in late March and we drew no conclusions that pointed to more than a continuing struggle for power but short of a military revolt.”
Comm. Hearings… October 7, 1975. 

(320) Defense Attache report from Lisbon to the Defense Intelligence Agency: “These younger officers are not disloyal and desire to serve Portugal as military officers and have no intention of revolution. They are patriots who want to make changes for the improvement of the P.A. [Portuguese Army — editor’s note] and Portugal.” 

(323) Defense Attache report also commented on the Spinola appointment as Deputy Chief of Staff, Armed Forces: “Although there are some political reasons in back of this appointment, it is reported that he will concern himself mainly with personnel and logistics in the Metropole.” Defense Attache report, Feb. 6. 1974 

(331) Testimony of Keith Clark and Samuel V. Wilson. Only William Hyland, Director of INR, testified without prodding that the system had not functioned well in the Portugal crisis.

5. India: Priorities Lost 

How well does U.S. intelligence keep track of non-military events that affect our foreign policy interests? Not very well, if the first nuclear test in the Third World is any indication. 

The intelligence community estimated, in 1965, that India was capable of conducting a nuclear test, and probably would produce a nuclear device within the next few years. In 1972, a special estimate said the “chances are roughly even that India will conduct a [nuclear] test at some time in the next several years and label it a peaceful explosion.” 

DIA, in reports distributed only within the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had stated since 1971 that India might already have a nuclear device. However, when India did explode a nuclear device on May 18, 1974, U.S. intelligence was caught off-guard. As the CIA’s post-mortem says of the community’s surprise: “This failure denied the U.S. Government the option of considering diplomatic or other initiatives to try to prevent this significant step in nuclear proliferation.” 

Only one current intelligence article was published in the six months before the May explosion. That article, by DIA, stated for the first time that India might already possess such a device. Perhaps one reason the article did not provoke more debate and initiative was the title: “India: A nuclear weapons program will not likely be pursued in the near term.” 

In 1972, U.S. intelligence had picked up 26 reports that India would soon test a device, or that she was capable of doing so if the government made the decision to proceed. There were only two reports on the subject from August 1972 to May 1974, when the device was exploded. Neither was pursued with what the CIA can claim was a “real follow-up.” 

An April 17, 1974, report indicated that India might have already conducted an unsuccessful nuclear test in the Rajasthan Desert. The CIA did not disseminate this report to other agencies, nor did CIA officials pursue the subject. 

The Director of Central Intelligence had established the bureaucratic device of “Key Intelligence Questions” in 1974. Although nuclear proliferation was on the list, few officials outside the upper reaches of the bureaucracy expressed much interest. The CIA’s general nuclear developments priority list did not address India, and the military attaches received no clear instructions on nuclear matters. Nevertheless, previous estimates on India had identified “gaps” in our information. 

After India exploded the nuclear device in May 1974, Director Colby wrote Dr. Kissinger to say he intended to mount a more aggressive effort on the nuclear proliferation problem. 

One of several justifications for national technical means of overhead coverage over India in the two years prior to May 1974, was the nuclear test issue. However, the Intelligence Community technical analysts were never asked to interpret the data. The CIA’s post-mortem stated, in effect, the system had been tasked to obtain data, but the analysts had not been asked to examine such data. After the explosion, the analysts were able to identify the test location, from pre-test data. 

Following the failure to anticipate India’s test, the United States Intelligence Board agreed to hold one committee meeting a year on nuclear proliferation. Interagency “coordinating” mechanisms were established. Teams of experts traveled to various countries to impress on American embassy personnel the importance of the proliferation threat. Analysts once again were encouraged to talk to each other more. 

The missing element, as the bureaucracy reshuffled its priorities after the Indian failure, is quite simple: the system itself must be reformed to promote anticipation of, rather than reaction to, important world events. 

6. Cyprus: Failure of Intelligence Policy 

Cyprus presented a complex mix of politics, personalities, and NATO allies. Unfortunately, a crisis turned to war, while intelligence tried to unravel events — and America offended all participants. 

On the morning of July 15, 1974, Greek strongman General Dimitrios loannides and his military forces on Cyprus overthrew the elected government of Archbishop Makarios. Five days later, Turkey invaded the island, ostensibly to protect the Turkish minority there and to prevent the Greek annexation long promoted by the new Cyprus leadership. Unsatisfied with its initial military success, Turkey renewed its offensive on August 14, 1974. 

The failure of U.S. intelligence to forecast the coup, despite strong strategic and tactical signs, may be attributed to several factors: poor reporting from the U.S. Embassy in Athens, in part due to CIA’s exclusive access to Ioannides; the general analytical assumption of rational behavior; and analysts’ reluctance to raise false claims of an impending crisis. (346) 

The failure to predict the coup is puzzling in view of the abundance of strategic warnings. When Ioannides wrested power from George Papadopoulos in November, 1974, analysts concluded that relations between Greece and Makarios were destined to worsen. Ioannides’ hatred of Makarios, whom he considered pro-Communist or worse, has been described as having “bordered on the pathological.” Moreover, Makarios was seen as a stumbling block to Ioannides’ hopes for onosis. Observers agreed that a serious confrontation was only a matter of time. 

By spring of 1974, that confrontation would at times appear imminent, with intervening lulls. Each trip to the brink elicited dire warnings to policy officials from Near East desks in the State Department. However, the nuances of these events, indicating a gathering of storm clouds, were largely lost on analysts as their attention remained focused on the Greek-Turkish clash over mineral rights in the Aegean. Cyprus remained a side issue despite growing evidence that the Ioannides-Makarios relationship was reaching a critical stage. 

There would soon be several tactical indications that a coup was in the works. On June 7, 1974, the National Intelligence Daily warned that Ioannides was actively considering the ouster of Makarios if the Archbishop made an “extremely provocative move.” (350) On June 29, intelligence officials reported that Ioannides had again told his CIA contact nine days before, that if Makarios continued his provocation, the Greek would have only two options: to write-off Cyprus, with its sizeable Greek majority, or eliminate the Archbishop as a factor. 

On July 5, 1974, Makarios made that “extremely provocative move,” by demanding the immediate withdrawal of a Greek National Guard contingent on Cyprus. The ultimatum was delivered in an extraordinary open-letter to the Greek government, accusing Ioannides’ associates of attempting his physical as well as political liquidation. (352) 

On June 29, 1974, Secretary Kissinger, responding to alarms sounded by State Department desk officers, approved a cable to U.S. Ambassador Henry J. Tasca in Athens, instructing that he personally tell Ioannides of U.S. opposition to any adventure on Cyprus. (353) The instruction was only partially heeded. 

Tasca, assured by the CIA station chief that Ioannides would continue to deal only with CIA, and not sharing the State Department desk officer’s alarm, was content to pass a message to the Greek leader indirectly. 

Tasca’s colleagues subsequently persuaded secretary Kissinger’s top aide, Joseph Sisco, that a general message passed through regular government channels would have sufficient impact. The Ambassador told Committee staff that Sisco agreed it was unnecessary for Tasca himself to approach Ioannides, who had no official government position. That interpretation has been vigorously disputed. It is clear, however, that the Embassy took no steps to underscore for Ioannides the depth of U.S. concern over a possible Cyprus coup attempt. 

This episode, the exclusive CIA access to Ioannides, Tasca’s indications that he may not have seen all important messages to and from the CIA Station, Ioannides’ suggestions of U.S. acquiescence, and Washington’s well-known coolness to Makarios, have led to public speculation that either U.S. officials were inattentive to the reports of the developing crisis or simply allowed it to happen, by not strongly, directly, and unequivocally warning Ioannides against it. (358)

Due to State Department access policies, the Committee was unsuccessful in obtaining closely-held cables to and from the Secretary of State during this period including a message the Secretary sent to Ioannides through the CIA the day after the coup. Accordingly, it is impossible to reach a definitive conclusion. 

On July 3, 1974, a CIA report stated that an individual, later described as “an untested source,” had passed the word that despite new aggressiveness on Makarios’ part, Ioannides had changed his mind: there would be no coup after all. For reasons still unclear, this CIA report was embraced and heeded until July 15, the day of the coup. The Intelligence Community post-mortem, appears to have concluded that the “tip” was probably a ruse. 

Ioannides’ dubious change of heart went virtually unquestioned despite Makarios’ open letter, despite further ultimatums from the Archbishop to remove the Greek officers, and despite the en masse resignations of three high-level Greek Foreign Ministry officials known to be soft-liners on Cyprus. In this setting, the grotesquely erroneous National Intelligence Bulletin of July 15, 1974, is not surprising, nor are Ambassador Tasca’s protestations that he saw no coup on the horizon. 

Almost at the moment Ioannides unleashed his forces, a National Intelligence Bulletin was reassuring intelligence consumers with the headline: “Ioannides is taking a moderate line while he plays for time in his dispute with Archbishop Makarios.” 

Results of the events triggered by the coup included: thousands of Cypriot casualties and refugees, a narrowly-averted war between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, a tragic worsening of U.S. relations with all three nations, and the death of an American Ambassador. U.S. intelligence must be accorded a share of the responsibility. 

The intelligence community somewhat generously termed its performance during the Cyprus crisis as “a mixture of strengths and weaknesses.” The Committee’s conclusion, after an analysis of the record, is less sanguine. Intelligence clearly failed to provide adequate warning of the coup, and it performed indifferently once the crisis had begun. 

The analytical failure in the Cyprus crisis brings to mind several parallels with the 1975 Middle East debacle. In both cases, analysts and policymakers were afflicted both with a past history of false alarms, and with the rigid notion, unsupported in fact, that foreign leaders invariably act “rationally.” In the Cyprus crisis, as in the Mid-East, analysts were deluged with unreadable and redundant data subsequent to the initial intelligence failure. (363) Still, given the ample indications that Makarios had sufficiently aroused Ioannides’ ire, these analytical quirks should not have prevented a correct interpretation of events. 

There appear to have been collection failures in this period, although additional evidence could probably not have overcome the analytical deficiencies that caused erroneous conclusions. For example, CIA personnel had been instructed by the U.S. Ambassador not to establish contacts within the Turkish minority, and to obviate any allegations of collusion with the anti-Makarios EOKA-B movement. They were told to seek intelligence on EOKA-B by indirect means, rather than through direct contact with members of that organization. Finally, signals intelligence in the area was focused elsewhere and even after the coup was not a significant factor. (366) 

Since the coup inevitably led to the two Turkish invasions and the Greek-Turkish confrontation, the performance of intelligence in predicting military hostilities after the coup is both less important and unremarkable in its successes. 

Along with most newspaper articles of the time, U.S. intelligence concluded that Ioannides’ installation of Nicos Sampson, notoriously anti-Turk, as Cypriot President insured a Turkish invasion of the island. Despite prominent stories in Turkish newspapers and undisguised troop movements at the coast, DIA did not predict the invasion until literally hours before Turkish forces hit the beaches on July 20, 1974. A National Intelligence Officer’s report had picked July 20 as a likely invasion date, but was never disseminated to the intelligence community. (368)

Perhaps flushed by its “success” in calling the first Turkish invasion just after the Turkish press did, U.S. intelligence appeared to lose interest, in the belief that the crisis was over. Thus, there was no real forewarning that the Turkish forces would launch an even more ambitious invasion on August 14, resulting in the capture of fully one-third of the island. 

In terms of both its immediate (370) and long-range consequences, the sum total of U.S. intelligence failure during the Cyprus crisis may have been the most damaging intelligence performance in recent years. 

Footnotes:
(346) Former intelligence officials have described to this Committee the difficulties encountered by those who must report from an area which has frequent and intense crises. “After a while, Washington officials get tired of hearing about impending crises from your area and it actually gets embarrassing to report them.” That observation gained credence when witnesses from the Department of State jokingly referred to the number of times Cypriot Desk officers had predicted coups.
Interview with intelligence official, by F. Kirschstein. Sept. 29, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. 

(350) The June 7 National Intelligence Daily was based on a June 3 Field Intelligence Report which stated that “Ioannides claimed that Greece is capable of removing Makarios and his key supporters from power in twenty-four hours with little if any blood being shed and without EOKA assistance. The Turks would quietly acquiesce to the removal of Makarios, a key enemy… Ioannides prayed for some unexpected favorable gift from heaven, Ioannides stated that if Makarios decides on some type of extreme provocation against Greece to obtain a tactical advantage, he (Ioannides) is not sure whether he should merely pull the Greek troops out of Cyprift and let Makarios fend for himself, or remove Makarios once and for all and have Greece deal directly with Turkey over Cyprus’ future.” That report has been confirmed by former CIA Athens officials interviewed by staff. Interview with CIA operations officials, by J. Boos and G. Rushford… copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. 

(352) The letter reads in part: “I have many times asked myself why an unlawful and nationally harmful organization … is supported by Greek officers… The Greek officers’ support for EOKA-B constitutes an undeniable reality… I am sorry to say, Mr. President, that the root of evil is very deep, reaching as far as Athens. It is from there that the tree of evil, the bitter fruits of which the Greek Cypriot people are tasting today, is being fed and maintained and helped to grow and spread. In order to be absolutely clear, I say that cadres of the military regime of Greece support and direct the activity of the EOKA-B terrorist organization. This also explains the involvement of Greek officers of the National Guard in illegal activities, conspiracy and other inadmissible situations… You realize, Mr. President, the sad thoughts which have been preoccupying and tormenting me following the ascertainment that men of the Government of Greece are incessantly preparing conspiracies against me and, what is worse, are dividing the Greek Cypriot people and pushing them to catastrophe through civil strife. I have more than once so far felt, and some cases I have almost touched, a hand invisibly extending from Athens and seeking to liquidate my human existence…” Makarios went on to ask for the immediate withdrawal of all Greek officers in the Cypriot National Guard. 

(353) The State cable, drafted by John Day, of the Greek desk, was dispatched to the Embassy in Athens under Undersecretary Joseph Sisco’s signature. It stated in part: “We share concerns of Athens and Nicosia regarding gravity of relationship between Government of Greece and Government of Cyprus. From various reports, it is evident that Ioannides is seriously considering way to topple Makarios from power…. In our view effort to remove Makarios by force contains unacceptable risks of generating chaos eventually causing Greco-Turk confrontation; involving Soviets in Cyprus situation; and complicating developing U.S.-Soviet detente. 

“We know that Ioannides has long been obsessed with issue of communism both in Greece and in Cyprus and that his dislike for Makarios has bordered on the pathological. Until recently, our impression has been that he preferred to play for time on Cyprus problem until he had consolidated his position in the internal Greek context. Now, however, he apparently feels that Makarios is seeking to take advantage of Greek-Turkish tensions and the Greek regime’s domestic difficulties to reduce Greek influence on the island and that this effort is a personal challenge which he cannot ignore.” The cable went on to instruct Ambassador Tasca to personally tell Ioannides that the U.S. opposed any adventure on Cyprus. Department of State cable to Athens Embassy, June 29, 1974. 

(358) “It is reasonable to ask whether this U.S. action was perceived in Athens as a reflection of the depth of Washington’s concern about Ioannides’ scheme to oust Makarios. Clearly General General Ioannides had much ground to believe that in light of the direct contact he enjoyed with the CIA station, he would have received a stronger, more categoric warning if the U.S. were genuinely exercised about protecting Makarios, whom he regarded as a communist sympathizer. 

“All this leads to one basic conclusion: I believe that strong U.S. representations to Ioannides would have prevented the crisis. This judgment is shared by the rest of the Greek language/area specialists in SE.” “Criticisms of United States Policy in the Cyprus Crisis.” Internal Department of State memorandum. 

(363) As in the previous Mid-East crisis, many NSA SIGINT reports were too technical to be understood by lay analysts. The Post-Mortem added: “As in past crises, most of the Customers interviewed complained of the volume of… reporting, as well as its frequent redundancy. Many also complained of too little analysis of the facts, too few assessments of the significance of reported developments.” 

(366) Intelligence officials have told our staff that U.S. SIGINT resources were not focused on targets which would have the most relevance to an Athens-Nicosia crisis, i.e., Greek National Guard communications. Emergency reaction SIGINT teams were rushed into the area after the coup and later contributed to some successful intelligence. Interview with Intelligence officials, by F. Kirschstein, Dec. 2, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell.

(368) The NIO responsible for the report which predicted July 20 as the invasion date was preoccupied with the production of a National Intelligence Estimate on Italy which was to be presented at a USIB meeting on the 18th of July. It should also be noted that Cypriot experts within State and CIA were in the process of being shuffled around in a bureaucratic reorganization of area responsibilities. In addition. State Department Washington experts on all three countries concerned, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, were removed from their posts at one time or another during the crisis. 

(370) Some days later, Roger Davies, the U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, was fatally wounded during an anti-American demonstration at the Embassy in Nicosia. Contemporary accounts concluded that Davies was simply struck by a stray bullet. Information made available to the Committee suggests that Davies may have been the victim of an assassin. 

Ambassador Tasca disclosed to staff a report that EOKA-B had decided to kill either Davies or himself. U.S.. intelligence officers have asserted not only that Davies may have been intentionally shot, but also that the identities of individuals firing at the Embassy are also known. The intelligence sources have alleged that the individuals may be officials of the Nicosia police. Despite repeated private U.S. protests, the Cypriot government is said to have declined to remove these individuals from their jobs. 

Interview with Henry J. Tasca, by J. Boos, Sept. 26-27, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. Interview with CIA officials by G. Rushford and F. Kirschstein, Oct. 22, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell.

  1. Domestic Internal Security and Counterintelligence 

The Intelligence Division of the FBI is divided into two sections: Internal Security and Counterintelligence. The Internal Security Division investigates domestic subversive or extremist groups with the goal of ascertaining whether individuals are violating federal laws. 

These investigations are costly, in monetary terms and in terms of personal privacy. Are they effectively and dispassionately controlled, in keeping with criminal priorities? Are they efficiently terminated when clearly unproductive? Thirty-four years of investigating the Socialist Workers Party and over five years spying on the Institute for Policy Studies provide some examples of disturbing answers.

a. Institute for Policy Studies 

The FBI Manual of Instructions allows preliminary investigations to be opened on groups espousing extremist philosophies. If these investigations do not demonstrate reasonable likelihood of uncovering criminal violations, the Manual states that they should be terminated within 90 days. 

In 1968, the FBI saw sufficient connection between the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to open a preliminary investigation of IPS. 

The investigation was not terminated after an initial 90-day period, even though it had turned up no evidence that IPS members or their associates were violating federal laws. Six months later, at the end of a vigorous nine-month investigation of IPS, the Washington field office reported the results as “negative.” 

The IPS investigation was destined to continue for five more years. 

The investigation had been based on an SDS connection. During the investigation, however, FBI had received information from a source, advising “that, in general, the IPS is not well thought of by the hardcore SDS leaders because members of the IPS are not activists,” except for one IPS leader considered sympathetic with SDS objectives. The FBI was not discouraged by the loss of its investigative base, and went ahead reporting unrelated matters. One report, for example, described IPS as “a non-profit, non-taxable institute which studies programs to present policies.” The same report noted the fact that “IPS educational curriculum centers on topics which are critical of the present U.S. system…” 

In January, 1971, the Bureau continued reporting non-criminal matters, such as the fact that the Institute “though small… exerts considerable influence through contacts with educators, Congress and labor.” It is important to remember that the whole probe began with an investigation of alleged contacts between one IPS staffer and an SDS leader. The FBI had effectively reversed the traditional concept of “guilt by association.” Instead of a suspect group tainting an individual, the individual had tainted the group. (377)

An October 1971 Bureau report said of the Institute: 

The popular impression of IPS as the “think tank” of radical United States politics is justified. It has taken and continues to take a major role in the antiwar movement and calls for disarmament. While IPS people see themselves as leaders of radical thought, they would appear to be leaders without a popular constituency. 

The same report concentrated on IPS suspicions of FBI surveillance. It stated that “they suspect that they are being watched from the building across the street and from adjacent buildings.” The same report went on to say that two members of the Institute had been “observed by a representative of the FBI… walking slowly around the block of IPS, sometimes several times, conversing with each other… they appear to be conversing in low tones and in a guarded manner.” 

In August 1972, an alert Bureau agent collected some IPS garbage. (380

The trash revealed no evidence of criminal conduct. However, eight used typewriter ribbons were found. Even though there were no signs of crimes, and despite the fact that IPS itself was not suspected of crimes, FBI devoted time and money to the expensive process of reconstructing the documents that had been typed by the ribbon. 

Part of the yield was intimate sexual gossip. 

FBI officials told Committee staff, under oath, that personal information, such as sexual activities, is discarded if it does not bear on a crime. That was not true. Information from the trash retrieval, including the sexual gossip, was incorporated into a number of reports. In each report, the information was attributed to “a source who has supplied reliable information in the past.” 

In 1975, the Washington Field Office reported that “the organization [IPS] is fragmented into a wide variety of studies and interests, the vast majority of which appear to be within legal limits.” In May 1974, the Washington Field Office concluded that a “paucity of information exists that would support the likelihood of IPS or its leaders to be functioning in violation of federal law.” Only then, after five years and no evidence of law-breaking, did the investigation become inactive. 

b. Socialist Workers Party 

The second example involved the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The SWP adopted a Declaration of Principles and a Constitution at their founding convention in January 1958. The Declaration of Principles was replete with revolutionary rhetoric of the Marxist Left. The fledgling Socialist Workers Party also swore allegiance to the world-wide organization of Trotsky — the Fourth International. 

Nevertheless, the SWP dissolved their allegiance with the Fourth International and retracted this Declaration of Principles on December 21, 1940, in order to comply with the Voorhis Act. The FBI maintained that this disassociation with the Fourth International was merely cosmetic. However, the FBI has been unable to prove any illegal relationship between the SWP and the Fourth International. 

FBI’s failure to uncover illegal activity by this political party is not from lack of effort. SWP has been subjected to 54 years of intensive investigation. 

On November 5, 1975, FBI officials testified that the Fourth International itself was a body made up of Marxist elements around the world and enjoyed no structural power base in the Soviet Union. Significantly, these officials demonstrated no detailed knowledge about the Fourth International. FBI officials did not mention the fact that the Socialist Workers are a legitimate American political party, that even runs a candidate for President. Equally as important, the FBI has found no evidence to support a federal prosecution of an SWP member, with the exception of several Smith Act violations in 1941. Since that time, not only have there been no further prosecutions against the SWP for any Federal offense, but the portions of the Smith Act under which these earlier convictions had been obtained have been declared unconstitutional. 

The investigation, which FBI officials tacitly admit has been conducted partially under the aegis of an unprosecutable statue, has revealed that the SWP is a highly law-abiding group. The SWP has even avoided illegal and potentially violent confrontations with the authorities during any sort of civil protest. Nevertheless, this had no apparent impact on 34 years of unproductive spying. 

According to the Presidential candidate of the SWP, Peter Camejo, party members are even forbidden by the SWP to smoke marijuana. The Bureau apparently formulated a philosophy, in this case, to justify their investigation. 

Considerable resources have been allocated to compound the error of a continuing unproductive investigation and to back-stop the preconceptions of FBI personnel. 

For example, FBI Internal Security investigators committed a massive manpower allocation to interviewing landlords, employers, fellow employees, and family relations of SWP members. The FBI also maintained intensive surveillance of most, if not all, of the SWP’s 2500 members. 

Americans are often concerned about privacy invasions of domestic security investigations. One-fifth of all investigations initiated by the FBI during the last decade dealt with security matters. The important issue is whether citizens receive a valuable product in the form of anticipatory intelligence which would serve as a deterrent to, and a prevention of crime. While it is impossible to accurately gauge the deterrent effect of FBI efforts, it is obvious that the FBI failed to anticipate groups dedicated to the overthrow of the existing government and fully committed to violence. (400

The FBI has likewise had a dismal record in the prompt apprehension of fugitives from the New Left underground. (401) Domestic intelligence appears to be suffering from a misallocation of resources and effort. 

Footnotes:
(377) One group may taint another group. The FBI initiated investigation of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War because the VVAW had the misfortune of being mentioned favorably by the Communist Party.… 

(380) “Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) is DASH, RA. On August two three last, [a Special Agent] observed a private trash truck picking up trash from IPS. The truck proceeded to a burning dump, where the trash was abandoned. [The Special Agent] obtained the IPS trash, and information obtained from this source is being assigned symbol number [deleted] .” NITEL Cable to Acting Director, FBI from SAC, WFO, Aug. 8, 1972. 

(400) The S.L.A. is an example. The FBI provided staff attorneys with a detailed after-the-fact history of the S.L.A. However, the FBI was apparently unable to anticipate the formation of the group or thwart its initial criminal activities. FBI briefing on Intelligence by [W. Raymond] Wannall, et al., attended by J.B.F. Oliphant and R. Vermeire. 

(401) Mark Rudd, Abbie Hoffman, et al. 

  1. President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board 

In addition to day-to-day bureaucratic efforts to monitor and to improve intelligence, the executive branch oversees performance through mechanisms like the quasi-public President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). The issue is whether such a mechanism is viable and effective. 

Staff investigation suggests that reliance on PFIAB for oversight responsibility is totally without merit. The Board, admittedly part-time, meets for one- or two-day sessions about six times a year. The Chairman spends about half his time on PFIAB affairs. Only two professional staff members support the Board, and both are detailees from the very intelligence agencies they are supposed to oversee. 

The meeting and staffing arrangements do not lend themselves to a responsible analysis and review of massive and complex intelligence programs. It is said that, from time to time, PFIAB submits to the President useful documents on covert action and technical collection programs. However, the Committee, denied access to these and other periodic PFIAB reports, is unable to determine whether the Board has been functioning meaningfully. (405

Two important and limiting factors shed light on the role and performance of the Board. The Board cannot establish or even oversee policy, but is limited to advising the President with respect to objectives and conduct of the foreign intelligence and related activities. The Board’s effectiveness also is limited by the interest and confidence of the President, and this has varied considerably throughout the five Administrations of the Board’s existence. 

The problems do not end there. Board members are chosen for distinguished careers in government, academia, and the business world. Not surprisingly, members of PFIAB, whose principal functions include advice on research and development goals, are typically affiliated with firms holding lucrative intelligence and defense contracts. (408

There are no indications that a PFIAB member has ever improperly profited from his Board service. However, after searching Board records at the request of Committee staff, a PFIAB spokesman stipulated that there are no conflict-of-interest regulations applicable to its members. Likewise, there were no regulations covering the expense and confidential contracts they assess and review. Instead, members are provided, on their appointment, with the “Standards of Conduct for the White House Staff.” 

There are obviously difficult policy problems in gathering a group of distinguished and knowledgeable citizens and, at the same time, insuring that the Board’s activities and judgments are entirely beyond reproach. 

The part-time nature of PFIAB, if its work is recognized as being cursory, is not necessarily undesirable. Members can bring a fresh perspective from their other pursuits, and they are less compromised by the secrecy and insular views of intelligence agencies. On the other hand, heavy reliance on this Board for oversight, without more outside professional staff and greater Presidential commitment, is an illusion. 

Footnotes:
(405) The Committee felt that access to materials relied on and prepared by the Board was the only equitable method of assessing the Board’s past performance and role within the structure of the intelligence community. The Committee, without reliance on subpoena, attempted in vain to gain access to materials used by and prepared by the Board. After several months of negotiation, the Committee was granted access to a classified Board history, which outlined, but did not specifically enunciate, the kinds of recommendations the Board has made since its inception, and the agendas of the Board’s meetings from January 1961 to the present. 

(408) For example, present members of the Board whose corporations hold such contracts include William O. Baker, President, Bell Telephone Laboratories: John S. Foster, Jr., Vice-President for Energy Research and Development, TRW; Robert W. Galvin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Motorola, Inc.; Edwin H. Land, Board Chairman, Polaroid Corporation; and Edward Teller, Associate Director of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. In addition, three of the remaining four members have formidable military credentials and affiliations: George W. Anderson, Jr., former Chief of Naval Operations: Leo Cheme, member of the Board of Advisors of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces; and Gordon Gray, former Secretary of the Army and Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization.

  1. National Security Council Intelligence Committee 

…The National Security Intelligence Committee has met only twice in four years. [Membership consists of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs as Chairman, DCI, Deputy Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Under Secretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs — editor’s note.] It met once in December 1971, to organize, and once in August, 1974, to re-organize. It has no permanent staff, other than the NSC Director for Intelligence Coordination, Richard Ober, a CIA detailee and architect of the controversial CHAOS program. There is no indication that the Committee has been effective. 

A Working Group is composed of the next lower-level of consumers. Although in existence from 1971 to 1974, it apparently did not perform any useful function. This group was revived following the 1974 Intelligence Committee meeting and met seven times thereafter. While Working Group principals assert a need for intelligence consumers to somehow institutionally convey their problems to collectors, there appears to be a general low level of interest on the part of several members and misgivings as to the effectiveness of the panel as presently constituted. 

The Economic Intelligence Subcommittee’s performance to date can be easily evaluated. While its purpose — to provide consumers of economic intelligence a forum to convey their needs — appears worthwhile on paper, it has produced no results. One meeting was held in May 1975, at the behest of the DCI. 

The Chairman, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, told Committee staff that as a consumer he was generally satisfied with intelligence input, that the group was a waste of time, and that he intended to hold as few meetings as possible. Displaying an attitude rare among government officials, the Chairman disdained formal high-level committees and called for informal communication at the working level. He has since left his post and may well be replaced by a proponent of bureaucratic committees. Nonetheless, the record strongly calls for an abolition of the Subcommittee, as presently operated and tasked. 

  1. The Management and Production of Defense Intelligence 

The Deputy Secretary of Defense recently expressed frustration at the apparent inability of a multi-billion dollar U.S. intelligence establishment to produce timely and useful information. He reportedly complained that “In a mechanical sense the system produces the information, but it’s so damn big and cumbersome and uncoordinated, that you can’t get the information properly assessed and to the right people.” (417

Mismanaged and uncoordinated intelligence operations result in more than resource wastage. 

During the Mideast war and Cyprus crisis, for example, uncoordinated and duplicative reports compounded the problem of interpreting events. (418

There is a clear need to challenge organizational proliferation, duplication of activity and product, and overlapping of management layers that have plagued defense intelligence for years. The significance of these problems is contained in the fact that the Department of Defense controls nearly 80 percent of the intelligence community’s resources and employs nearly 90 percent of its personnel. 

Particular attention must be directed toward the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), an organization established in the early 1960s to integrate and align defense intelligence activities, and a major production unit in its own right. 

As chartered, DIA was to function as both a supervisor and coordinator, and as centralized producer of intelligence. 

Over the years, however, it became increasingly apparent that DIA could not accomplish the ambitious management and production goals envisioned at the time of its formation. A string of overviews, including the 1969 Froehlke report, the 1970 Blue Ribbon Defense Panel, the 1971 Schlesinger study for the Office of Management and Budget, the 1974 Management Review, and the 1975 Defense Panel on Intelligence all found that organizational impediments and product imperfection have continued to persist after years of DIA operation. Each in turn recommended reorganization and substantive improvements. None solved the problems. 

DIA lacks comprehensive authority to direct and control resources throughout the Defense Department, as initially envisioned. For example, the vast cryptologic resources in the armed services and the National Security Agency are not responsible to DIA. DIA’s resources management functions were taken over in 1972 by an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence with a broader mandate to coordinate budgeting. 

The central problem is bureaucratic politics. The three individual branches of the military resist any organization which might curb their authority to direct programs and allocate resources. They undermine the concept on which DIA was founded, by avoiding its authority and preventing it from obtaining qualified manpower. 

President Nixon recognized that DIA had not achieved its purpose and issued a directive on Nov. 5, 1971, charging the DCI with responsibility for intelligence budget preparation, including the budget for tactical military intelligence. This too failed, since the DCI lacked authority for over 80 percent of the community’s budget, which remained in the Department of Defense. (421)

The only noticeable effect of these reforms has been an added layer of bureaucracy and a confused sharing of responsibilities. 

The output side of DIA’s operation has been criticized from a number of directions. Over the years, neither the Secretary of Defense nor the armed services have been completely satisfied with DIA product. Secretary of Defense McNamara reportedly preferred CIA’s product; the services prefer their own analysis. (423) Their criticisms focus on DIA’s current intelligence and its estimates. They raise questions as to DIA’s capability to produce unique and quality intelligence to meet tactical and national demands. 

An internal Defense Department memorandum to the Deputy Secretary of Defense in January 1974, indicated the scope of DIA inadequacy in light of the Mid-East war failures. The memorandum concluded: “What has been stated briefly are only the symptoms of the disease. The causes lie deeper…”

While noting the failure of DIA analysts to predict the war, the memo stated, “The blame is not theirs alone. It is a corporate failure, a chronic unsoundness of the entire DIA mechanism. Unless we make the required changes in organization, procedures, and personnel, we are going to reap another intelligence failure — and the next one could be a disaster involving U.S. Forces.” 

While several of the root causes of poor performance provide an argument for piecemeal reform, in general the problems are too permanent to allow for anything less than across-the-board changes. 

A major obstacle to strong analytic capability within DIA results from the civilian-military nature of DIA, in a setting of independent military establishments. As long as the service branches retain viable intelligence units, DIA remains an unattractive assignment and will not attract qualified officers. In addition, manpower reductions have spread available personnel too thin for effective reporting. 

Civilians in DIA are confronted with two disincentives. DIA cannot compete with CIA and NSA in appointments and promotions, and persistent military control of higher grade management positions limits mobility. (428)

Officials within DIA are ready to admit they cannot match CIA. They justify their contribution as that of “devil’s advocates,” or “honest brokers.” Even in military intelligence, the Committee was told, “they (CIA) are at least our equals,” meaning that DIA was no real improvement over CIA intelligence.

In summary, finished intelligence generated by DIA has repeatedly failed to meet consumer needs. The evidence suggests that DIA does not fulfill the ambitious expectations of the early 1960s. It is duplicative, expensive, unattractive, and its production capabilities are handicapped by the consistent weaknesses of its own organization. 

Footnotes:
(417) Quoted by William Beecher, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, in Report of the Defense Panel on Intelligence, January, 1975, p. 7 of his statement. 

(418) See, for example, the IC Staff Preliminary Post-Mortem report on the October War which concludes, “The coordination procedures which are followed by the Community during normal times are frequently abandoned during times of crisis — because the press of time may simply not allow regular processes to continue. It thus has been said that the Community is pretty good about coordinating, except when the intelligence becomes important. And, in a way, this did indeed happen immediately before and during the October War in the Middle East. Coordination of the Central Intelligence Bulletin, for example, was suspended for a time, and the wartime Situation Reports and Spot Reports prepared by CIA, DIA and INR were unilateral and often duplicative issuances. This, if not a major problem for the analysts themselves, was certainly one for the consumers.…” (IC Stall., The Performance of the Intelligence Community Before the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973: A preliminary Post-Mortem Report, December, 1973, p. 19, emphasis added.)…. 

(421) The President on November 5, 1971, citing the “need for improved intelligence product and for greater efficiency in the use of resources allocated to intelligence” charged the DCI with greater responsibility for coordinating the community intelligence effort. His Memorandum stated that the President would “look to him (DCI) to improve the performance of the community, to provide his judgments on the efficiency and effectiveness of all intelligence programs and activities (including tactical intelligence), and to recommend the appropriate allocation of resources to be devoted to intelligence,” (emphasis added). More specifically, he directed “the Director of Central Intelligence to prepare and submit each year, through OMB, a consolidated intelligence program budget, including tactical intelligence,” (emphasis added). These sentiments are reiterated in an October 9, 1974, Presidential Memorandum.… 

(423) General Graham has written the committee: “I believe that much of this criticism stems from the early growing pains of the DIA, when its consumers, particularly those on Mr. McNamara’s staff, turned elsewhere for intelligence analysis, when the DIA product did not satisfy them.” The 1975 Defense Panel on intelligence indicated dissatisfaction with DIA by Secretary of Defense Schlesinger and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, both important consumers. Vice Admiral David Richardson, in the same report, offered his experience as a commander of deployed forces to point out “the institutional inability of the Agency to provide other than intelligence for background and database purposes.” 

(428) The most recent density ratios (supergrades compared to total force) show that possibility of advancement for civilians is vastly better in CIA than in DIA. The Civil Service Commission has refused DIA exemption from the General Schedule that CIA maintains. A deputy director of DIA informed Committee staff that civilians are still “second class citizens” there. Staff interview with James Agersborg, DDI/DIA, Nov. 10, 1975. Statistics provided by ASDI.

RISKS

The American taxpayer clearly does not receive full value for his intelligence dollar. The costs of intelligence should not, however, be measured in dollars alone. Many day-to-day activities inevitably pose real risks. 

The Committee has found that when results are measured against hazards alone, certain intelligence programs may be wholly unacceptable; other projects may too easily stray from wise and worthwhile courses, without detection. 

It is disturbing that the consequences of intelligence activities are sometimes apparently given scant consideration by policy-makers. Even more troubling are indications that this insensitivity continues when dangers reveal themselves. 

  1. Covert Action 

The Committee has examined CIA covert action operations and has considerable evidence that they are irregularly approved, sloppily implemented, and at times have been forced on a reluctant CIA by the President and his National Security Advisor. 

“Covert action” may be defined as clandestine activity other than purely information-gathering, which is directed at producing a particular political, economic, or military result. 

Successive administrations have cited Section 102 of the National Security Act of 1947 as the legal justification for covert action. (431) During the course of this investigation, the Special Counsel to the Director of Central Intelligence has argued that the President, in his conduct of foreign relations, has an inherent Constitutional mandate to authorize these activities. (432

On the other hand, in recent years, commentators have maintained that in establishing the CIA, Congress had no specific intention that covert operations apart from intelligence-gathering missions be conducted. Witnesses before the Committee likewise disputed any inherent Constitutional power to conduct covert actions. In any event, Congress has implicitly acquiesced in covert action through the oversight process. 

It may be argued that there has been explicit approval as well. Just as the War Powers Act acknowledges the authority of the President to conduct overt military hostilities, albeit for a limited period, without a Congressional declaration of war, the Ryan-Hughes Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 (434) formally acknowledges the existence and legality of covert action. 

The Committee has surveyed all Forty Committee approvals since 1965, and has delved deeply into three recent covert action projects. It is believed that the Committee’s review of ten years of covert action is without precedent in the Congress or the executive branch. 

a. Ten Year Survey 

Our primary purpose was to determine whether the Forty Committee and its predecessors had been exercising their oversight and control responsibilities from 1965 to date. (435) To do this, it was necessary to trace the process from proposal to final approval. 

Like other aspects of covert action, fixing responsibility for the initiation of various covert action projects was a difficult task. As recorded in Forty Committee records, the vast majority of projects was submitted by the CIA, 88 percent of the total projects since 1965. The high number of covert action proposals represents a general activism within the foreign affairs bureaucracy, especially within CIA. 

The overall picture, however, does not support the contention that covert action has been used in furtherance of any particular principle, form of government, or identifiable national interest. Instead, the record indicates a general lack of a long-term direction in U.S. foreign policy. Covert actions, as the means for implementing a policy, reflected this band-aid approach, substituting short-term remedies for problems which required long-term cures. 

Covert action proposals came from a variety of interest areas: a foreign head of state, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, an Ambassador. CIA. the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, a cabinet member, or the President himself. 

Proposals involving a large expenditure of funds or classified as “politically sensitive,” required review and approval of the Forty Committee. Unfortunately, the executive branch does not have a clear definition of what constitutes a large or politically sensitive operation. Projects of less sensitivity are approved within the CIA, usually at the level of the Deputy Director for Operations, with the determination of “political sensitivity” being left to the Director of Central Intelligence. 

The Forty Committee is chaired by the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and includes the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of Central Intelligence. Theoretically, a detailed proposal is presented to this group. The members are then afforded an opportunity for a full discussion of the merits and a reporting of their views to the President. In practice, the Forty Committee has often been little more than a rubber stamp. 

The procedures for approval of covert action have changed with administrations, political conditions and personalities. At various times, the approval process has been relatively informal, extraordinarily secretive, and pro-forma. 

While on occasion some projects have been, considered in depth, at Committee meetings which included the approval or disapproval by formal votes, several informal procedures have frequently been used. These informal procedures, such as telephonic votes, do not allow each member to benefit from the views of his colleagues. At times, members have been given only the barest of details, and instead of formal votes have simply been allowed the opportunity to acknowledge the project’s existence. 

The Forty Committee has only one full-time professional staff member. Because of the high degree of compartmentation attending these projects, committee members — who are among the busiest officials in government — are frequently in the position of evaluating a complex proposal without adequate staff support. The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Director of Central Intelligence, having the incentive and the resources to cope with Forty Committee business, clearly dominate the process. 

The origin of many covert action projects is murky at best. 

The CIA, as the prospective implementation arm, is often directed to produce proposals for covert action and is, therefore, incorrectly seen as a plan’s original proponent. It is clear that on several occasions’ involving highly sensitive projects, CIA was summarily ordered by the President or his National Security advisor to carry out a covert action program. It is further clear that CIA has been ordered to engage in covert action over the Agency’s strong prior objections. 

All evidence in hand suggests that the CIA, far from being out of control, has been utterly responsive to the instructions of the President and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. It must be remembered, however, that the CIA Director determines which CIA-initiated covert action projects are sufficiently “politically sensitive” to require Presidential attention. 

From 1965 to 1972, a majority of approvals occurred subsequent to a formal committee meeting; although many telephonic approvals also took place during this period. In 1972, the process became quite informal, often involving mere notification to members that an operation had already been set in motion by the President. The Forty Committee, as the review and approval mechanism for covert action, fell into virtual disuse, with telephonic approvals being the rule and formal meetings the exception. One formal meeting was held in 1972, none in 1975 and 1974. This process did not begin to reverse itself until 1975. 

b. Election Support 

From 1965 to date, 32 percent of Forty Committee approved covert action projects were for providing some form of financial election support to foreign parties and individuals. Such support could be negative as well as positive. This is the largest covert action category, and its funding has occurred in large part in the developing countries. With few exceptions, financial support has been given to incumbent moderate party leaders and heads of State. 

Certain projects have had a long life. One Third World leader received some $960,000 over a 14-year period. Others were financially supported for over a decade. 

c. Media and Propaganda 

Some 29 percent of Forty Committee–approved covert actions were for media and propaganda projects. This number is probably not representative. Staff has determined the existence of a large number of CIA internally-approved operations of this type, apparently deemed not politically sensitive. It is believed that if the correct number of all media and propaganda projects could be determined, it would exceed Election Support as the largest single category of covert action projects undertaken by the CIA. 

Activities have included support of friendly media, major propaganda efforts, insertion of articles into the local press, and distribution of books and leaflets. By far the largest single recipient has been a European publishing house funded since 1951. There are a number of similar operations in the region. About 25 percent of the program has been directed at the Soviet Bloc, in the publication and clandestine import and export of Western and Soviet dissident literature. 

d. Paramilitary/Arms Transfers 

The 23 percent approvals in this category from 1965 to 1975 have taken one of essentially four forms: secret armies; financial support to groups engaged in hostilities; paramilitary training and advisers; and shipment of arms, ammunition and other military equipment. Military ordnance is typically supplied by CIA out of its large inventory of U.S. weaponry and captured foreign weapons. 

The Committee scrutinized these projects carefully, since this category is the most expensive and represents the greatest potential for escalating hostilities and deepening American involvement. By far the most interesting, and important, fact to emerge was the recognition that the great majority of these covert action projects were proposed by parties outside CIA. Many of these programs were summarily ordered, over CIA objections. CIA misgivings, however, were at times weakly expressed, as CIA is afflicted with a “can do” attitude. 

At times, CIA has been used as a conduit for arms transfers in order to bypass Congressional scrutiny. A State Department–proposed project which could have been accomplished under the Military Assistance Program was tasked on CIA because the Department of Defense did not desire to return to Congress for additional funds and approval. 

e. Organizational Support 

A plethora of foreign, civic, religious, professional, and labor organizations have received CIA funding. There has been no real geographical concentration, although the Third World was again well represented. For example, one labor confederation in a developing country received an annual subsidy of $30,000 in three successive years. 

f. Trends 

Since 1965, there has been a general decline in the number of covert action projects approved by the Forty Committee. There are indications that the low figure represents the Director of Central Intelligence’s determination that not as many projects should be considered “politically sensitive” and taken to the Forty Committee for approval. This, in turn, may reflect his recognition that the Forty Committee had fallen into disuse and their approvals pro-forma. 

There is no indication that the passage of the Ryan-Hughes Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, requiring Presidential certification and briefings of Congressional oversight committees, has had a significant impact on the national covert action program. As the events of 1975 have shown, those who had warned that the Amendment and the Congressional probes into the U.S. intelligence community would make covert action impossible, have not seen their fears realized. 

g. Three Projects 

The three projects examined in depth were selected from major recent operations, apart from the American experience in Indochina, and involved different types of covert activity. One was election funding of pro-U.S. elements in an allied country. The second was Presidentially-directed arms support of an insurgency movement at the behest of the foreign head of a third country. The last involved a mix of political action, military training, and assistance to pro-Western forces in Angola. The last project was also initiated in part at the request of a third party. 

The Committee became aware of each of these operations through other parts of its investigation and through information provided to staff by sources outside the intelligence community. For example, a study of CIA arms inventories and shipments led to the major Agency paramilitary support operations. 

The case studies are not representative of all covert action since 1965. The Committee does believe that they are not atypical of most major programs of this type. CIA has indicated its agreement with the completeness and factual accuracy of the staff’s analysis, though not necessarily with the conclusions. 

Case 1: Election Support

The U.S., perhaps needlessly, expended some $10 million in contributions to political parties, affiliated organizations, and 21 individual candidates in a recent parliamentary election [1972 — editor’s note] held in an allied country (447) [Italy — editor’s note]. 

The program was initiated by our Ambassador [Graham Martin — editor’s note], who later persuaded the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs [Henry Kissinger — editor’s note] to authorize him, rather than CIA, to select funding recipients and otherwise control the program’s implementation. The results of the aid were mixed, and short-lived. 

With national assembly elections less than two years away, the U. S. country team concluded from a CIA-contracted survey that the pro-U.S. elements, which had governed the country since the post-war period, were being seriously challenged by the Communists. The opposition, apparently heavily financed by Moscow, had scored gains in regional elections and trailed the incumbents by only a few points in the opinion polls. 

Pro-West parties and affiliates had received substantial funding in the past. CIA reports total U.S. election financing over a previous 20-year period at some $65 million. (448) Despite this massive aid, the beneficiaries had suffered repeated electoral setbacks. American observers apparently concluded that another “quick fix” was necessary to see our clients through the next vote. 

Anxious to gain control of the covert program, and fearing that inter-agency consideration would be inhibiting, the Ambassador has originally sought the President’s personal approval of this proposed political action. (449

This course would avoid the Forty Committee and, with it, the inevitable role of CIA in implementing the program. The Ambassador was rebuffed. Ironically, the Assistant to the President then requested that CIA draft a proposal without the knowledge of the Ambassador or the Department of State. (450

It is known that during this period the President was indirectly approached by prominent international businessmen, who were former nationals of the allied country. Their communications to the President were not available to the Committee. (451

The Forty Committee subsequently approved the CIA proposal, but with unusual implementation. Despite the usual near-automatic control of covert action by CIA, the Ambassador, by all accounts a man of unusual force, successfully extracted from the Assistant to the President the commitment that he would have total control of the “mix and implementation” of the project. (452) Thus, the Ambassador, who had been in the country less than two years and did not speak the language, would determine which individuals and organizations would receive U.S. funds. The CIA station would be reduced to couriers. The Agency expressed concern that a high profile by the Ambassador would needlessly compromise the program; their complaints fell on deaf ears, despite the agreement of all that exposure would bring down the pro-West government. 

A major political party received $3.4 million; a political organization created and supported by CIA, $3.4 million; other organizations and parties, a total of $1.3 million. Substantial funds were provided to several incumbents whose seats did not appear in jeopardy. Of a total of $11.8 million approved by the Forty Committee, only $9.9 million was actually spent. The reserve was held to be spent in the following year. 

CIA concurred in most of the recipients chosen by the Ambassador, although differences were expressed on precise amounts. There were serious disagreements over some recipients. One of these was a high local intelligence official to whom the Ambassador wanted to give over $800,000, to conduct a propaganda effort. The Ambassador was unmoved by CIA warnings that the man was clearly linked to anti-democratic elements of the right, and went ahead with the funding. (456

Embassy control of the funds was poor. Participants in the program testified before the Committee that little effort was made to earmark grants or, failing that, at least seek assurances that the money was spent as intended by the Forty Committee. The Ambassador resisted most CIA control suggestions, insisting that such monitoring would insult the recipients. Thus, there was almost no accounting or control of the expenditures. (457) There is no indication that the Ambassador began to encounter interference from Washington at this point. 

The fruits of this U.S. investment are difficult to assess. The pro-U.S. elements retained control of the government by a small plurality, and most of the incumbents supported were returned to office. On the other hand, the ruling coalition quickly lost public support and suffered severe reverses in subsequent local elections. 

Case 2: Arms Support 

[At this point in the committee report one manuscript page was missing. It is clear from the context that the missing material opened a discussion of a U.S. scheme, involving the Shah of Iran, to channel secret aid to the Kurds in their rebellion against the government of Iraq.] (459)

The program, ultimately to involve some $16 million, was apparently endorsed by the President after a private meeting with the foreign head of state and Dr. Kissinger. 

There was no Forty Committee meeting at which cons could be discussed and voted on. Instead, members were simply directed to acknowledge receipt of a sparse, one-paragraph description of the operation. In a setting of almost unprecedented secrecy within the U.S. government, John B. Connally, the former Treasury Secretary, about to assume a major role in the President’s re-election campaign, personally advised the head of state that the U.S. would cooperate. (461) 

The recipients of U.S. arms and. cash were an insurgent ethnic group fighting for autonomy in a country bordering our ally. The bordering country and our ally had long been bitter enemies. They differed substantially in ideological orientation and in their relations with the U.S. 

Evidence collected by the Committee suggests that the project was initiated primarily as a favor to our ally, who had cooperated with U.S. intelligence agencies. and who had come to feel menaced by his neighbor. 

As our ally’s aid dwarfed the U.S. aid package, our assistance can be seen as largely symbolic. Documents made available to the Committee indicate that the U.S. acted in effect as a guarantor that the insurgent group would not be summarily dropped by the foreign head of state. (462) Notwithstanding these implicit assurances, the insurgents were abruptly cut off by our ally, three years, thousands of deaths, and 16 million U.S. dollars later. (463)

It appears that, had the U.S. not reinforced our ally’s prodding, the insurgents may have reached an accommodation with the central government, thus gaining at least a measure of autonomy while avoiding further bloodshed. Instead, our clients fought on, sustaining thousands of casualties and 200,000 refugees. 

There is little doubt that the highly unusual security precautions and the circumvention of the Forty Committee were the product of fears by the President and Dr. Kissinger that details of the project would otherwise leak — a result which by all accounts would have mightily displeased our ally. It is also clear that the secrecy was motivated by a desire that the Department of State, which had consistently opposed such ventures in the region, be kept in the dark. (464)

Perhaps more than the President’s disregard of the Forty Committee, the apparent “no win” policy of the U.S. and its ally deeply disturbed this Committee. Documents in the Committee’s possession clearly show that the President, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state hoped that our clients would not prevail. (465) They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally’s neighboring country. (466) This policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting. Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise. 

It is particularly ironic that, despite President Nixon’s and Dr. Kissinger’s encouragement of hostilities to keep the target country off-balance, the United States personally restrained the insurgents from an all-out offensive on one occasion when such an attack might have been successful because other events were occupying the neighboring country. (467) 

All U.S. aid was channeled through our collaborator, without whose logistical help direct assistance would have been impossible. Our national interest had thus become effectively meshed with his. Accordingly, when our ally reached an agreement with the target country and abruptly ended his own aid to the insurgents, the U.S. had no choice but to acquiesce. The extent of our ally’s leverage over U.S. policy was such that he apparently made no effort to notify his junior American partners that the program’s end was near. 

The insurgents were clearly taken by surprise as well. Their adversaries, knowing of the impending aid cut-off, launched an all-out search-and-destroy campaign the day after the agreement was signed. (469) The autonomy movement was over and our former clients scattered before the central government’s superior forces. (470) 

The cynicism of the U.S. and its ally had not yet completely run its course, however. Despite direct pleas from the insurgent leader and the CIA station chief in the area to the President and Dr. Kissinger, the U.S. refused to extend humanitarian assistance to the thousands of refugees created by the abrupt termination of military aid. As the Committee staff was reminded by a high U.S. official, “covert action should not be confused with missionary work.” (471)

Case 5: Angola 

For reasons not altogether clear, and despite the opposition of senior government officials, the U.S. has been heavily involved in the current civil war in Angola. 

The CIA has informed the Committee that since January 1975, it had expended over $31 million in military hardware, transportation costs and cash payments by the end of 1975. The Committee has reason to believe that the actual U.S. investment is much higher. Information supplied to the Committee also suggests that the military intervention of the Soviet Union and Cuba is in large part a reaction to U.S. efforts to break a political stalemate, in favor of its clients. 

The beneficiaries of U.S. aid are two of the three contesting factions: the National Front for the Independence of Angola (FNLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The third faction contesting for control of the government, following independence on November 11, 1975, is the Soviet-backed Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). CIA estimates that the fighting had claimed several thousand casualties by the end of 1975. 

The main U.S. client is the National Front, headed by Holden Roberto, a longtime associate and relative of President Mobutu Sese Seko of neighboring Zaire. Subsequent to President Mobutu’s request last winter to Dr. Kissinger, as independence for Angola became a certainty and liberation groups began to jockey for position, the Forty Committee approved furnishing Roberto $300,000 for various political action activities, (474) restricted to non-military objectives. 

Later events have suggested that this infusion of U.S. aid, unprecedented (475) and massive in the underdeveloped colony, may have panicked the Soviets into arming their MPLA clients, whom they had backed for over a decade and who were now in danger of being eclipsed by the National Front. Events in Angola took a bellicose turn as the U.S. was requested by President Mobutu to make a serious military investment. 

In early June. 1975, CIA prepared a proposal paper for military aid to pro-U.S. elements in Angola, the cost of which was set at $6 million. A revised program, costing $14 million, was approved by the Forty Committee and by President Ford in July. This was increased to $25 million in August, and to about $32 million in November. By mid-summer, it was decided that U.S. aid should not be given solely to Roberto, but instead, divided between him and UNITA’s Jonas Savimbi. 

The Committee has learned that a task force composed of high U.S. experts on Africa (477) strongly opposed military intervention; instead, last April they called for diplomatic efforts to encourage a political settlement among the three factions to avert bloodshed. Apparently at the direction of National Security Council aides, the task force recommendation was removed from the report and presented to NSC members as merely one policy option. The other two alternatives were a hands-off policy or substantial military intervention. 

Of CIA’s $31 million figure, said to represent expenditures to the end of 1975, about half is attributed to supply of light arms, mortars, ammunition, vehicles, boats, and communication equipment. The balance includes shipping expenses and cash payments. The Committee has reason to question the accuracy of CIA’s valuation of military equipment sent to Angola. 

A staff accountant on loan from the General Accounting Office has determined that CIA “costing” procedures and the use of surplus equipment have resulted in a substantial understatement of the value of U.S. aid. Examples include .45 caliber automatic weapons “valued” by CIA at $5.00 each and .30 caliber semi-automatic carbines at $7.55. Based on a sampling of ordnance cost figures and a comparison with Department of Defense procedures, staff advises that the CIA’s ordnance figure should at least be doubled. 

Dr. Kissinger has indicated that U.S. military intervention in Angola is based on three factors: Soviet support of the MPLA and the USSR’s increased presence in Africa, U.S. policy to encourage moderate independence groups in southern Africa, and the U.S. interest in promoting the stability of Mobutu and other leadership figures in the area. Past support to Mobutu, along with his responsiveness to some of the United States recent diplomatic needs for Third World support, make it equally likely that the paramount factor in the U.S. involvement is Dr. Kissinger’s desire to reward and protect African leaders in the area. The U.S.’s expressed opposition to the MPLA is puzzling in view of Director’s Colby’s statement to the Committee that there are scant ideological differences among the three factions, all of whom are nationalists above all else. (481

Control of resources may be a factor. Angola has significant oil deposits and two American multinationals, Gulf and Texaco, operate in the off-shore area. Gulf had deposited some $100 million in concession fees in a national bank now under MPLA control. At the suggestion of the U.S. government, the company suspended further payments. 

Until recently, the U.S.-backed National Front was supported by the People’s Republic of China, which had provided about 100 military advisers. Moboutu has provided a staging area for U.S. arms shipments and has periodically sent Zairois troops, trained by the Republic of North Korea, into Angola to support Roberto’s operations. Small numbers of South African forces have been in the country and are known to have been in contact with Savimbi’s UNITA troops. 

Pursuant to Section 662 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974. the President has found that the Angola action program is “important to the national security.” As directed by the Act. CIA has briefed the Congressional oversight committees as to the Forty Committee approvals of increased amounts of military aid. 

CIA officials have testified to the Committee that there appears to be little hope of an outright MPLA military defeat. Instead, U.S. efforts are now aimed at promoting a stalemate, and in turn, the ceasefire and the coalition government urged by the long-forgotten NSC task force. 

Footnotes:
(431) Section 102 (d) (5) calls on CIA, under National Security Council direction, “to perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct.” 

(432) Mitchell Rogovin, Counsel to the DCI, argued that “before there was a 1947 Act there was a United States and a United States with a President with the authority to conduct foreign affairs and he conducted such affairs over the history of the nation which involved activity which we now know as covert activity. Now the 1947 Act did not give the President a power he did not have before. The 1947 Act merely came upon the scene as it was and it set up the National Security Council. The Council itself subsequently took its authority and devised a 40 Committee as an implementing system for getting information with respect to covert activity. So that the activity in 1972 grew from two separate legal authorities for the President to pursue.” 

(434) Section 32 of Public Law 93-559 (The Foreign Assistance Act Amendments of 1974) states in part: “No funds appropriated under the authority of this or any other Act may be expended by or on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency for operations in foreign countries, other than activities intended solely for obtaining necessary intelligence, unless and until the President of the United States finds that each such operation is important to the national security of the United States and reports, in a timely fashion, a description and scope of such operation to the appropriate committees of the Congress, including the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the United States House of Representatives.” The remaining four committees are the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate. 

(435) Subsequent to a subpoena issued by the Committee on Nov. 6, 1975, two staff members reviewed all records of the Forty Committee reflecting approvals for Covert Action from 1965 to 1975. All information and statistics used in the section entitled “Ten Year Survey” are drawn from the staff review of those documents. The staff presented their findings to the full Committee in Executive Session testimony on Dec. 9, 1975. During that session, Mr. Colby had an opportunity to express his views on the staff report and while he had reservations about the conclusions, he raised no substantial disagreement with the facts. 

(447) It appears clear that this expenditure was made despite the fact that money was “not the problem.”
Cable from Chief of Station t
o Headquarters in Washington, 3 March:
“Ambassador continues to cogitate on nature, amount and channel for financial assistance and telling Station very little. He is aware of Station view that money is not the problem, [deleted] has plenty and any amount we contribute to [deleted] will have insignificant effect on, electoral showing. If could reduce the pernicious effect of interparty squabbling and get party to pull, in unison this would be worth financial support. We do not exclude possibility Ambassador [deleted] will want to give some money strictly as a demonstration of ‘solidarity,’ and a case might be made for this, but not two million dollars worth.” (Emphasis supplied) 

MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelli[gence]
VIA: Deputy Director of Plans
SUBJECT: Forty Committee Approval For Political Action Program, 18 February
“Costs
This program will cost $1,050, 000 the first year and $2,465,000 the second…” 

MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelligence
SUBJECT: Ambassador [deleted] Proposed [deleted] Election Program, 7 March
“Costs
Of the $10,000,000, the $1,790,000 for the [deleted] is to come from the budget approved on March 10 by the 40 Committee… $8,300,000 in new funds will be required.” 

(448) MEMORANDUM FOR: The Forty Committee
SUBJECT: Political Action Program for [deleted] to Arrest the Growing Power of the Communists, 10 March
“1. History of CIA Supported Political Action in [deleted]. The United States government was concerned in 1948 that the Communists would emerge from the national elections sufficiently strong to enter the government as a major if not dominant force. As a counter, it was decided that CIA should give $1,000,000 to the center parties for this election with the bulk going to [deleted].
“Between 1948 and 1964 funds provided to [deleted] totaled approximately $5,450,000. Between 1948 and 1963 additional support to [deleted] in eight national and regional elections amounted to $11,800,000. Between 1958 and 1968, the [deleted] received about $26,000,000 to support its opposition to the Communist dominated labor confederation, [deleted] received some $11,350,000 during this period.”
“Between 1948 and 1968 other organizations received about $10,550,000 of CIA assistance. This support was given to the following political parties associated with center or center-left governments…
“In sum, excluding the initial $1,000,000 spent in the 1948 campaign, CIA gave [deleted] and its related organizations $54,600,000 as well as $10,550,000 to the other non-Communist parties and affiliates for a grand total of $65,150,000 over approximately twenty years, starting in 1948…” 

(449) The Ambassador had decided during the first months of the project that he would go directly to the President for his approval, and that he would exclude the CIA from whatever plans he would propose.

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, 13 March
“Ambassador [deleted] case (which he hopes present to President [deleted] and [National Security Advisor]), and not to State Department or 40 Committee… Imperative keep these observations as privileged within CIA owing Ambassador [deleted] explicit admonitions to Chief of Station to effect he does not repeat not wish inform anyone in Washington his views until he personally sees President [deleted].” 

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, 14 October
“Concur that Ambassador [deleted] will raise the need for political action in [deleted] in the future… A key to his thinking is his strong conviction that any political action program in [deleted] which requires ‘interagency approval’ is not likely to get off the ground.” 

Cable from Headquarters to Chief of Station, 15 October
Keep in mind that Ambassador [deleted] previous proposal re support of [projects in other countries]… floundered in large measure because it was not submitted through proper channels and thus was not injected into interagency mechanism until too late.” Nonetheless, the Ambassador stated to the Committee that he had not really attempted to bypass the Forty Committee. 

Comm. Hearings
“CHAIRMAN PIKE. But was not an effort made to have your plan approved by the President without going through the Forty Committee route?
AMBASSADOR [deleted]. No sir, it would never have occurred to me that this was even possible.” 

(450) The initial Forty Committee approval paper which was drafted by the CIA stated,
“4. Coordination.
“At the request of [National Security Advisor], this program has not yet been coordinated with Ambassador or with the Bureau of [deleted] of the Department of State.”
The CIA, while waiting for the President to respond to the Ambassador’s proposal, did not believe that the CIA could wait indefinitely for that answer. 

Cable from Headquarters to CIA Chief of Station, 7 January
“At this juncture. Ambassador [deleted] should not repeat not be apprised of this draft paper’s preparation. CIA is preparing this draft paper… for internal purposes and it will not repeat not be discussed with State at this time.” 

(451) The CIA alluded to other approaches to the President by private individuals. 

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, 10 February
“2. An important factor in Ambassador [deleted] desire to present an action program is his problem of how to cope with the many American and [deleted] channels to President [deleted] office which now exist. Ambassador [deleted] has become aware of this special character of [deleted] U.S. relations and is trying to get a handle on this problem rather than having to react to the advice and influence offered by others.” 

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, 11 February
“B. Ambassador [deleted] insists that unless he proceeds quickly ‘certain people’ will push the White House into a ‘disastrous program.’ The name of [an international businessman who contacted the White House] finally emerged. If you think the [right-wing foreign intelligence officer’s] program is bad, you should see the kind of stuff [international businessman] is trying to sell.’ In the Ambassador’s view ‘[international businessman] is further to the right than [right-wing politician].’”
State Department officials in talks with the Agency also expressed reservations in dealing with these channels to the White House. 

MEMORANDUM
FOR THE RECORD, 14 JULY
“2. [State Department official] said that one of the problems that he had in dealing with [deleted] affairs is that people like [international businessman] had excellent access to higher echelons of our government, and there was no way of knowing their information input. He said that [international businessman] had very good relations with [deleted] of the White House. (The international businessman conducted foreign fund-raising activities for a U.S. political party.)” 

(452) Testimony given to the Committee by the CIA Deputy Director for Operations states that “…The Forty Committee approval stated that Ambassador [deleted] would ‘control the mix and implementation…’ of the program and would be expected to ‘forward recommendations’ for additional overt activities which might be undertaken in support of U.S. objectives in [deleted].” Comm. Hearings…
The Agency was uncomfortable with this unaccustomed turn of events. In cables from the Station, it was reiterated that the Ambassador was to be the one calling the shots. 

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, June
“1. Morning 4 June I delivered to Ambassador, a sterile copy of your message. After reading it he commented that ‘They still do not understand that the program as approved by 40 Committee and the President is only an illustrative one leaving to Ambassador [deleted] the authority to decide what should be done.’
“4. Headquarters is in error if it really believes friction with Ambassador [deleted] can be avoided if Ambassador understands CIA views better. He understands them only too well. It is this ‘understanding’ that causes the friction and it will continue…”
The Agency and the Ambassador had frequent disagreements over the “mix and implementation” of the project and its developments.
Comm. Hearings at
“AMBASSADOR. One of the people who was here this morning, the Acting Chief of Station, couldn’t get away from the fact that the Agency had traditionally run all this and [thought that] the Agency knew better what needed to be done and [couldn’t accept] what the 40 Committee had said and the President had approved, that the authority and the mix and implementation would be mine. He felt that if he disagreed with something, that therefore they could veto it and send it back, you see, for whatever. Yes. I did object to this.”
The Ambassador felt so strongly about his differences of opinion with the Acting Chief of Station that he mentioned their disagreements nine times during his testimony before the Committee.
The Ambassador reacted vigorously even when his authority was questioned by [the National Security adviser] and reviewed by the Forty Committee. When [the National Security adviser] decided that the CIA should submit a separate progress report of the project to the Forty Committee, the Ambassador was aroused. 

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, 28 February
“1. You should be aware that Ambassador [deleted] reaction to (memo) was negative in the extreme. He considers it offensive to him personally that the CIA would submit annual report. Says it is not true that [National Security adviser] ‘ruled’ that CIA submit report. It was CIA that suggested that idea to him…”
At the annual 40 Committee review of the project, reservations were expressed by the embers on portions of the operation, particularly the funding of a moribund [political action group]. The Ambassador was annoyed at this interference from Washington and he apparently resorted to subterfuge. 

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, 16 March
“1. Ambassador intensely annoyed by outcome of 40 Committee meeting.
“2. You will note that Ambassador’s message states he has committed additional [amount of money] to [affiliated political action group] effort. This is not repeat repeat not true. He was urged not to make this statement because it: (A) not accurate and (B) still not determined that [affiliated political action group] could effectively use or absorb this additional amount. Ambassador said he insisted on reporting that funds ‘committed for tactical reasons’…”

(456) The Ambassador and the CIA had sharp disagreements about the funding of this [right-wing, senior intelligence officer] and his propaganda program. Initially, the Chief of Station expressed his reservations about the project to the Ambassador. 

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, 10 February
“…3. In response to Chief of Station’s question, ‘Do you really care if [foreign intelligence officer] propaganda efforts are successful or not,’ Ambassador [deleted] replied. ‘Yes, I do, but not a helluva lot. Important thing is to demonstrate solidarity for the long pull.’ ”
When the Chief of Station continued to resist further on the funding, the Ambassador became very annoyed.

Cable from Chief of Station to Headquarters, 11 February
“3. Ambassador [deleted] said Headquarters absolutely wrong. Said he had discussed in Washington (did not say with whom) and all agreed this was legitimate… Chief of Station expressed the view that Ambassador [deleted] should first clarify this point in personal exchange with CIA… He [Ambassador] thereupon accused Chief of Station of dragging his feet in contacting [foreign intelligence officer], and said if this continued beyond today he would ‘Instruct Marine guards not to let you in this building and put you on the airplane.’ “Chief of Station said he thought this a bit extreme and expressed view that Ambassador [deleted] could hardly object to what appeared legitimate Headquarters question. He did object and with vigor.”
The CIA headquarters shared the same concerns as the Station Chief and warned the Ambassador in conciliatory terms against funding, especially on a no-strings-attached.…

(457) …Control over funding was so loose that there was no way of checking to see if funds were being expended for the purposes for which they said the were to be used. The Ambassador said before the Committee, “…I think as it turned out that we did get our full money’s worth.
“Now on the question of the possibility of a rip-off, that is quite true. The possibility exists…” 

(459) [The beginning of this footnote was not available — editor’s note]… we do not wish to become involved, even indirectly, in operations which would have the effect of prolonging the insurgency, thereby encouraging separatist aspirations and possibly providing to the Soviet Union an opportunity to create difficulties for [two other U.S. allies].” A CIA cable from the COS in the area to the DCI contains the U.S. Ambassador’s views on the proposal: “My reaction is against giving financial support to this operation unless there are important policy considerations to the contrary of which I am not aware… Furthermore, the road is open-ended and if we begin and then decide to withdraw there might be unfortunate misinterpretations of our reasons which could adversely affect our relations with [our ally].” A second proposal was turned down in August of 1971 and again in March of 1972. On the latter occasion. Dr. Kissinger conferred with a high State Department official in-depth on the proposal and agreed that it should be disapproved.…

(461) The Secretary of the 40 Committee hand-carried a brief one paragraph synopsis of the project to the members for them to initial. The conclusion that the procedure was simply pro-forma is indicated by the fact that John Connally had already informed our ally that the U.S. would provide support to the insurgents. In addition, even the pros and cons contained in the CIA proposal paper prepared for Dr. Kissinger were foregone conclusions. Responding to a question by staff concerning why CIA’s negative views of the project were not put more forcefully, a CIA official responded that “the Committee must realize that CIA was told to prepare a paper on ‘how’ the project could be done, not ‘whether’ the project should be done.”…

(462) On numerous occasions the leader of the ethnic group expressed his distrust of our allies’ intentions. He did, however, trust the United States as indicated by his frequent statements that “he trusted no other major power” and asserted that if his cause were successful he was “ready to become the 51st state.” (See COS cable to DCI of January 16, 1975, for one example.) In addition, his admiration for Dr. Kissinger was expressed on two occasions when he sent a gift of three rugs and later on the occasion of Dr. Kissinger’s marriage, a gold and pearl necklace. A May 20, 1974 Memorandum to Brent Scowcroft explains the necessity of keeping the gifts secret: “As you are aware, the relationship between the United States Government and the (ethnic group) remains extremely sensitive. Knowledge of its existence has been severely restricted; therefore, the fact that Dr. Kissinger has received this gift should be similarly restricted.

(463) The cut-off of aid to the ethnic group came as a severe shock to its leadership. A CIA cable from the COS to the DCI on March 15, 1975, describes the method used by our ally to inform the ethnic group’s leadership. On March 5, a representative of our ally’s intelligence service visited the headquarters of the ethnic group and “told [them] in bluntest imaginable terms that a) the border was being closed to all repeat all movement, b) …could expect no more assistance from [our ally] , c) …should settle with our [ally’s enemy] on whatever terms he could get, and d) his military units would be allowed to take refuge in [our ally’s country] only in small groups “and only if they surrendered their arms to [our ally’s] army.” 

(464) Elaborate measures were taken to insure that the Department of State did not gain knowledge of the project. Documents suggest that it may have originally been planned to keep the project so severely restricted that not even the Ambassador to the country involved was to be told.…

In addition, evidence in the Committee files is conflicting on whether Secretary of State William P. Rogers was ever informed of the project. Officials of Kissinger’s staff and CIA officials assumed that he had been briefed since U. Alexis Johnson was a mem­ber of the Forty Committee. And, in an interview with staff, Mr. Rogers stated that he felt certain that he had been informed. Nevertheless a cable from Secretary Rogers almost a year after the project began suggests that he did not have knowledge, as of June 22, 1973. The cable ,tales that “in view of continued U.S. policy not repeat not give encouragement to the [ethnic group’s] hopes for U.S. assistance or recogni­tion, we would intend keep contact at country di­rectorate level.” Interview with William P. Rogers, by Aaron Donner, Oct 20, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on lntell. 

(465) The progressively deteriorating position of the ethnic group reflected the fact that none of the nations who were aiding them seriously desired that they re­alize their objective of an autonomous state. A CIA memo of March 22, 1974, states our ally’s and the United States’ position clearly: “We would think that [our ally] would not look with favor on the establish­ment of a formalized autonomous government. (Our ally) like ourselves, has seen benefit in a stalemate situation… in which [our ally’s enemy] is intrinsi­cally weakened by [the ethnic group’s] refusal to relinquish its semi-autonomy. Neither [our ally] nor ourselves wish to see the mailer resolved one way or the other.” 

(466) The CIA had early information which suggested that our ally would abandon the ethnic group the minute he came to an agreement with his enemy over border disputes. Two months after initialing the proj­ect a CIA memo or Oct. 17, 1972 slates: “[Our ally] has apparently used [another government’s] Foreign Minister to pass word to [his enemy] that he would be willing to allow peace to prevail [in the area] if [his enemy] would publicly agree to abrogate [a pre­vious treaty concerning their respective borders].” In addition, CIA memos and cables characterize our ally’s views of the ethnic group as “a card to play” in this dispute with his neighbor. And a CIA memo of March 22, 1974, characterizes the ethnic group as a uniquely useful tool for weakening [our ally’s enemy’s] potential for international adventurism.”

(467) A White House memorandum of October 16, 1973, from Dr. Kissinger to the DCI states: “The President concurs in your judgment in paragraph 3 of your memorandum of October 15 on the above subject. You should therefore send the following reply immediately to [the ethnic group] — We do not repeat not consider it advisable for you to undertake the offensive military action that [another government] has suggested to you. — For your information, we have consulted with [our ally] through the Ambassador and they have both made the same recommendation.” 

(469) The attack launched the day after the agreement was signed caught the ethnic group by surprise. A message from their headquarters to CIA on 10 March, 1975, read as follows: “There is confusion and dismay among our people and forces. Our people’s fate in unprecedented danger. Complete destruction hanging over our head. No explanation for all this. We appeal you and USG intervene according to your promises and not letting down ally, to save [ethnic leader’s] life and dignity of our families, to find honorable solution to [our] problem.” On that same day the Chief of Station sent the following cable to the DCI: “Is headquarters in touch with Kissinger’s office on this; if USG does not handle this situation deftly in a way which will avoid giving the [ethnic group] the impression that we are abandoning them they are likely to go public. [Our ally’s] action has not only shattered their political hopes; it endangers lives of thousands.” The COS proceeded to make suggestions for what the USG could do to help and ended with the remark “it would be the decent thing for USG to do.” 

(470) Also on March 10, 1975 the following letter ar­rived from the leader of the ethnic group to Secretary or State, Henry Kissinger: “Your Excellency, Having always believed in the peaceful solution of disputes including those between [your ally and his enemy] we are pleased to see that their two countries have come to some agreement… However, our hearts bleed to see that an immediate by product of their agreement is the destruction of our defenseless people in an unprecedented manner as [your ally] closed its border and stopped help to us completely and while [this enemy] began the biggest offensive they have ever launched and which is now being continued. Our movement and people are being destroyed in an un­believable way with silence from everyone. We feel your Excellency that the United States has a moral and political responsibility towards our people who have committed themselves to your country’s policy. In consideration of this situation we beg your Excellency to take action as immediately as possible on the following issues: 1) Stopping the… offensive and opening the way for talks between us … to arrive at a solution for our people which will at least be face saving. 2) Using whatever influence you have with [your ally] to help our people in this historically tragic and sad moment and at least in such a way that our people and (army) could maintain some liveli­hood and perform at least partisan activity in [our area] until our problem is also solved within the framework of an [overall] agreement. Mr. Secretary, we are anxiously awaiting your quick response and action and we are certain that the United States will not remain indifferent during these critical and trying times…” 

A CIA cable from the COS to the Director on 22 March 1975 states: “No reply has been received from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the message from [the ethnic leader]… The two additional messages received by radio from [his] headquarters are forwarded this morning… and underscore the seriousness of [their] situation, the acute anxiety of their leaders and their emotional appeal that the USG use its influence with [our ally] to get an extension of the cease fire. This would permit the peaceful passage of… refugees to asylum… Hence, if the USG intends to take steps to avert a massacre it must intercede with [our ally] promptly.” Interview with CIA official, by J. Boos, Oct. 18, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. 

(471) Over 200,000 refugees managed to escape into our ally’s country. Once there, however, neither the United States nor our ally extended adequate humanitarian assistance. In fact, our ally was later to forcibly return over 40,000 of the refugees and the United States government refused to admit even one refugee into the United States by way of political asylum even though they qualified for such admittance.…

(474) The political action program included the distribution of 50,000 campaign-type buttons identifying the wearer as a supporter of Roberto’s FNLA. 

(475) The United States has found itself in similar situations on other occasions. Having supported colonial power policies in previous years, they are constrained from developing a rapport with indigenous independence movements. The Soviets, however, are not similarly inhibited. Once the colonial power relinquishes control, the well-organized, well-financed, Soviet backed group is ready to step into the breach. The United States is forced at that point to scurry around looking for a rival faction or leader to support. The U.S. has often chosen leaders who had a prior relationship with the colonial power and whose nationalist credentials are thus somewhat suspect, or leaders who have spent most of their time outside the country waiting for the colonial power to depart. The point is that many of the U.S.-backed groups begin with ‘a variety’ of actors working to their disadvantage. 

(477) The task force was composed of African experts within the Department of State, DoD officials, CIA officials, and others. Officials from the Department of State have told this Committee that the majority of that task force recommended diplomatic efforts to encourage a political settlement rather than intervention. After they had prepared their report for the Secretary of State containing this recommendation, they were informed by National Security Council aides that it was improper for them to make a recommendation on policy. Instead, they were instructed to simply list diplomatic efforts as one option among many in their final report. Thus, the African experts who made up the task force were not allowed to place their recommendations on paper to be reviewed by the Forty Committee. 

(481) The Committee attempted to determine the difference between the three contesting factions in Angola. Mr. Colby responded to questions of that nature: “They are all independents. They are all for black Africa. They are all for some fuzzy kind of social system, you know, without really much articulation, but some sort of let’s not be exploited by the capitalist nations.” The Committee also attempted to discern why certain nations were supporting different groups if they were all similar in outlook:
“MR. ASPIN. And why are the Chinese backing the moderate group?
“MR. COLBY. Because the Soviets are backing the MPLA is the simplest answer.
“MR. ASPIN. It sounds like that is why we are doing it.
“MR. COLBY. It is.”

  1. Intelligence Collection 

Human and diplomatic risks are not confined to covert action. Certain methods of intelligence-gathering invite the same danger of war and infringement of the Constitutional rights of Americans. 

The Committee has examined both technical and non-technical intelligence-gathering programs and has concluded that the risks accompanying them are often unacceptably great; that information obtained often does not justify the risk; the policy-makers have been insensitive to dangers, especially of the violation of U.S. citizens’ rights; and, that there are inadequate policy-level mechanisms for the regular review of risk assessment. 

a. Submarines 

A highly technical U.S. Navy submarine reconnaissance program, often operating within unfriendly waters, has experienced at least 9 collisions with hostile vessels in the last ten years, over 110 possible detections, and at least three press exposures. Most of the submarines carry nuclear weapons. 

The program clearly produces useful information on our adversaries’ training exercises, weapons testing, and general naval capabilities. It is also clear, however, that the program is inherently risky. Committee staff’s review of the program suggests if both Congress and the Department of the Navy were sufficiently motivated to provide the funds, technical capabilities could be developed which would make possible the acquisition of the same data through less hazardous means. 

The Navy’s own justification of the program as a “low risk” venture is inaccurate, and has, therefore, not met or resolved the Committee’s misgivings. (487) Documents provided the Committee by the Defense Department indicate that, while risk assessments are made prior to operations, they are ritualistic and pro forma. In fact, their mission risk assessments do not vary despite constant changes in political conditions, information sought, distance from enemy shores and hostile forces, and our adversaries’ ability to detect the presence of U.S. submarines. During the hundreds of missions these submarines have conducted, the Navy has never assessed military risk as anything but “low.” The Committee is, therefore, troubled by the completely pro forma nature of the mission risk assessment as it is presently accomplished. 

Just as the Navy’s assurances that the program is secure are inconsistent with the collisions, apparent detections, and press stories, their claims that the sensitive missions are closely monitored are belied by the scant tactical guidance given commanders and regular communications gaps. Once a U.S. submarine enters the 12-mile limit of another nation, communications security and the lack of certain technical capabilities make it impossible to independently verify the location of a submarine at any given moment. Many of these difficulties result from factors which are inherent in the nature of this covert operation. 

Naval inquiries into collisions and other “untoward incidents,” if held at all, are almost always conducted at a low level, effectively keeping policy-makers in the dark on changing operational conditions. Thus, it took a field-initiated, low-level investigation, conducted after three collisions in 1970, to determine that pre-mission training and operational guidelines for U.S. submarines on this type of sensitive mission needed revision and upgrading. If the Washington-based review had been adequate, it would not have taken this field investigation to determine that U.S. submarines were following other submarines too closely. In addition, staff found no evidence which would indicate that commanders of submarines colliding with hostile vessels have ever received disciplinary action of any kind. At times, commanders have escaped censure despite recommendations to that effect by a review panel. 

Despite these faults, the Committee noted the procedures implemented by the Navy to insure the safety of the mission and the crew in situations which are inherently risky. Washington-based control, review, and coordination of this program has been an evolutionary matter over the years. At present it appears to be extremely well managed, with the exception of the risk assessment area and the failure to forward the results of low-level investigations for Washington-based review. 

In reviewing past investigations and formal reviews, the Committee noted the Navy’s implementation of previous suggestions for change. There is, however, one unfortunate exception. A previous review of this program suggested that the Department of the Navy make a firm commitment to the necessity of maintaining an intelligence capability with U.S. submarines by allocating funds to research and development efforts designed to increase both the capabilities and the security of their missions. The Navy has paid only lip service to this commitment. 

Given these factors, the Committee urges a thorough review of the program’s product and hazards, to avert another Pueblo, or worse, and to insure that important intelligence collection continues with significantly less risk than presently exists. 

b. Interception of International Communications 

The National Security Agency (NSA) systematically intercepts international communications, both voice and cable. NSA officials and the Director of Central Intelligence concede that messages to and from American citizens and businesses have been picked up in the course of gathering foreign communications intelligence. They maintain, however, that these messages are small in number and usually discarded in any case. (493)

Earlier NSA programs of questionable legality focused on international narcotics traffic and radicalism, and even targeted Americans. The Committee’s preliminary investigation reveals at least one new area of non-political and non-military emphasis in international intercept — economic intelligence. Communications interception in this area has rapidly developed since 1972, partly in reaction to the Arab oil embargo and the failure to obtain good information on Russian grain production and negotiations for the purchase with American corporations. 

The Committee is not convinced that the current commercial intercept program has yielded sufficiently valuable data to justify its high cost and intrusion, however inadvertent, into the privacy of international communications of U.S. citizens and organizations. Inasmuch as the technical complexity of the program defies easy or quick evaluation, the Committee is hopeful that a permanent oversight mechanism will closely and comprehensively scrutinize the operation to determine whether the risks are necessary and acceptable. 

c. Manipulation of the Media 

The free flow of information, vital to a responsible and credible press, has been threatened as a result of CIA’s use of the world media for cover and for clandestine information-gathering. 

There are disturbing indications that the accuracy of many news stories has been undermined as well. Information supplied to the Committee suggests that some planted, falsified articles have reached readers in the U.S. (495)

Intelligence agencies have long prized journalists as informants and identity-covers. Newsmen generally enjoy great mobility, and are often admitted to areas denied to ordinary businessmen or to suspected intelligence types. Not expected to work in one fixed location, both bona fide journalists and masquerading intelligence officers can move about without arousing suspicions. They also have extraordinary access to important foreign leaders and diplomats. 

CIA, as no doubt every ether major intelligence agency in the world, has manipulated the media. Full-time foreign correspondents for major U.S. publications have worked concurrently for CIA, passing along information received in the normal course of their regular jobs and even, on occasion, traveling to otherwise non-newsworthy areas to acquire data. Far more prevalent is the Agency’s practice of retaining freelancers and “stringers” as informants. 

A stringer working in a less-newsworthy country could supply stories to a newspaper, radio, and a weekly magazine, none of whom can justify a full-time correspondent. This may make the use of stringers even more insidious than exploitation of full-time journalists. 

The Committee has learned that the employment of newsmen by CIA is usually without the knowledge or agreement of the employers back in the U.S. Publishers have been unable, despite strenuous effort, to learn from the Agency which, if any, of their employees have had a clandestine intelligence function. (498) Newsmen-informants apparently do not often disclose this relationship to their editors. The Committee has learned of cases in which informants moved from one bona fide press position to another, without ever making employers aware of their past or present CIA status. 

CIA acknowledges that “stringers” and others with whom the Agency has a relationship are often directed to insert Agency-composed “news” articles into foreign publications and wire services. U.S. intelligence officials do not rule out the possibility that these planted stories may find their way into American newspapers from time to time, but insist that CIA does not intentionally propagandize in this country. CIA insensitivity to the possibility of its adulterating news digested by Americans is indicated by its frequent manipulation of Reuters wire service dispatches — which regularly appear in U.S. media. Because Reuters is British, it is considered fair game. (499

A number of CIA officers employed by U.S. and foreign publications write nothing at all. Their journalistic affiliation is a “cover” — a sham arrangement making possible full-time clandestine work for the Agency. With these arrangements, the employer’s cooperation has been obtained. (500)

After the Washington Star-News discovered a CIA-media relationship in 1975, Director Colby ordered a review of these practices. Subsequently, the Agency terminated the informant relationships of five full-time employees of American periodicals. Stringers and freelancers are still on the payroll, despite their periodic reporting for a U.S. media usually unaware of the writer’s CIA connection. (501)

The use of American press enterprises as a cover has been tightened somewhat. No longer, for example, can a CIA officer in the field arrange for cover without headquarters approval. 

Director Colby, citing the Agency’s continuing need for reliable information, and the increasing reluctance of private firms and the government to provide cover, has maintained that the recent reforms have reduced risks to an acceptable level. 

d: CIA Presence in the Executive Branch 

CIA personnel may be found in a host of U.S. departments and agencies, in the National Security Council, and in the White House itself. 

Typically, their Agency affiliations are unknown to colleagues and to all others, except one or two leadership figures. (503) They sit on interagency panels whose members are unwitting. (504) In some cases these panels already include another, official, CIA representative, giving CIA undue representation. (505) Some of them work in positions involving evaluation of CIA’s work product and proposals. (506)

These individuals are “detailees” — CIA employees on loan to the Executive, usually at the latter’s request. They include all types, from gardeners and typists, to intelligence analysts and practitioners of covert action. (507

Detailees are requested for a variety of reasons — because the White House wants to circumvent Congressional budget ceilings, because there are no other available secretaries with security clearances, because CIA professional expertise is highly regarded, or because the position had always been staffed by an Agency officer. (508)

The Committee has found no indications that CIA detailees are instructed to make clandestine reports to headquarters on the inner workings of the host-employer. Nor is there credible evidence that they are asked by CIA to perform in any manner which is inconsistent with the best interests of the host. Nonetheless, the Committee believes that detailing as presently practiced reflects an unwise policy. 

At best, intelligence personnel such as electrical help are diverted from CIA duties thus frustrating the budget allocating intent of Congress. A far worse specter is that of CIA officers assigned to such posts as the National Security Council where they are susceptible, despite all good intentions, to substantial conflicts of interest on the most sensitive issues. The latter problem is compounded by the fact that the detailee’s background often is unknown to NSC colleagues who are also charged with CIA-related responsibilities. (509)

The Committee discovered detailees, whose Agency ties were closely held secrets, making recommendations on CIA covert action proposals to unwitting senior NSC officials. Such individuals also help conduct the NSC’s evaluation of the intelligence product, and in that capacity regularly compare CIA’s performance with that of rival agencies.

These individuals have impressed staff as highly motivated professionals, acutely aware of the problems resulting from divided loyalties. Their integrity is not at issue. But neither the White House nor the CIA is well served by an unnecessary policy which invites cynicism and compromises the quality of Executive Branch oversight of the intelligence community.

e. CIA Relationship with U.S. and Foreign Police 

In creating the CIA, Congress clearly intended to deny it any domestic police functions. Their fear that a super-secret, bureaucratically powerful spy agency might evolve into a domestic secret police, has not been realized, respite shortcomings in control and oversight. 

Evidence in Committee files, however, indicates that during the late 1960s and early 1970s, CIA allowed itself to become involved in domestic police activity. In addition, the Agency undertook other police assistance activities which jeopardized the integrity of an otherwise legitimate and useful U.S. foreign aid program. 

Association and Collaboration with U.S. Police 

Notwithstanding its charter’s clear prohibition against internal security functions, CIA has maintained relationships — many entirely appropriate — with various Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Questionable activities prior to the Holtman Amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Acts of 1968, included the training by CIA of domestic police and loans of Agency equipment for domestic use. In return, local police departments cooperate with CIA on matters of concern to the Agency’s Office of Security. Both activities appear to have been improper. The first violated the charter’s ban on domestic police functions, and the latter tended to circumvent jurisdiction of the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Of those activities, CIA’s role as a source of ordinary as well as exotic equipment is perhaps the most troubling and publicized. The Agency has loaned such traditional gear as body protectors, billy clubs, mace, and similar civil disturbance paraphernalia. Most of the equipment was provided during the height of the Vietnam War movement and may have been used by local police during the May 1971 demonstrations in Washington. 

More exotic loans consisted of decoders, clandestine transmitters, analyzers, and other wiretapping devices. 

A staff examination of these practices reveals that CIA officials usually provided equipment on a no-questions-asked basis, did not require the production of court orders for eavesdropping gear, and exercised virtually no control over the loaned items. 

The record suggests that on one occasion, CIA-loaned equipment was used in an illegal wiretap. In June, 1971, Mr. Kenyon F. Ballew was severely wounded during a raid on his apartment by agents of the Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, supported by police from Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties in Maryland. 

The raid was conducted pursuant to a Federal search warrant for possession of suspected firearms and hand grenades. Plainclothes agents and police officers broke down the door to the apartment when Mr. Ballew failed to answer their knock. Mr. Ballew, a gun collector, picked up a pistol, was shot, and is now permanently disabled. He is partially paralyzed, walks only with the aid of a brace and cane, speaks with difficulty, and still has the police bullet lodged in his brain. 

Mr. Ballew was never prosecuted for any gun control violations. The case received a large amount of publicity and was the subject of a number of investigations of alleged police misconduct. Mr. Ballew brought suit pursuant to the Federal Torts Claim Act and received an adverse judgment from the courts in February, 1975. 

A CIA Office of Security employee assigned to liaison with the Montgomery County Police Department told staff that, in a conversation with a police inspector on the Ballew case, the possible use of CIA-loaned bugging equipment was revealed. He was advised that police intercepted a telephone conversation in which plans were outlined to “kill a cop.” However, neither the affidavit in support of the search warrant, the subsequent investigations, nor the transcript of the civil suit reflected the existence of any wiretap. Mr. Ballew’s case is now on appeal, and if there had been an illegal wiretap, he may be entitled to a new trial. 

While the Department of Justice’s CIA Task Force has been made aware of this possible wiretap for months, it has apparently refused, both to act upon it, (517) and to notify the attorneys in the case. 

CIA Involvement with Foreign Police 

From the early 1950s until late 1973, CIA operated a proprietary, International Police Services (IPS), in the Washington, D.C., area. It had the dual purpose of improving allies’ internal security, and evaluating foreign cadets for pro-U.S. orientation, which might later enable CIA to recruit them as intelligence assets. 

In the early 1960s the Agency for International Development’s Office of Public Safety (AID-OPS) became actively involved in foreign police training. OPS’ 14 week course was augmented by an additional four weeks of training at IPS, pursuant to a contractual arrangement with AID. Students were not made aware that they were being trained at a CIA facility, and only a handful of AID officials, including the Director of OPS, knew of IPS’ CIA status. 

Instructors were asked to record names of students who demonstrated a pro-American attitude. It does not appear, however, that the CIA attempted to recruit students while in the United States, although CIA documents indicate that with the cooperation of OPS, lists of OPS and IPS students were made available, along with biographical information, to CIA components for operational use. 

As many as 5,000 foreign police officers from over 100 countries, many of whom have become high officials, unwittingly received training from the CIA. The position of these foreign police officers may have been damaged when, in 1973, IPS was revealed as a CIA front. 

In addition to damaging the credibility of these foreign police officers, CIA’s apparently unnecessary involvement with a legitimate foreign aid program could have seriously undermined that program from a propaganda standpoint. (523) Despite these realities, AID-OPS continued its relationship with IPS until late 1973. Department of State and AID officials should review these practices and develop alternative methods of administering foreign aid programs without CIA involvement and support. 

Footnotes:
(487) Each monthly mission schedule forwarded to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Forty Committee for approval has an alpha-numeric designator attached for mission risk assessment. By far the most frequently assigned is “4 A 4”; the first digit, “4”, stands for “low military risk”; the second alpha character, “A”, stands for “high intelligence value” and the third digit, “4”, stands for “low political risk.” No mission has ever been assessed a military risk factor other than “low.” This evaluation is belied not only by the nine collisions, 110 possible detections, constantly fluctuating factors which should impact on the calculations of military risk such as presence of enemy forces in the area, distance from enemy shores, political conditions, etc., but also by a variety of statements by Navy personnel who have conducted studies on this program…

(493) Comm. Hearings.…
“MR. ASPIN.… Does the National Security Agency monitor telephone calls between American Citizens and foreigners abroad?
“MR. COLBY. The Agency does monitor foreign communications
***
“MR. ASPIN. Does it involve a U.S. citizen at one end?
“MR. COLBY. On some occasions, that cannot be separated from the traffic that is being monitored. It is technologically impossible to separate them.
“MR. GIAIMO. Obviously, we know that in other countries you undoubtedly perform all kinds of intercepts.
“MR. COLBY. Incidentally we pick up material about Americans abroad; yes.
“MR. GIAIMO. That is the point I am trying to get at. Did you say that incidentally you are also intercepting American citizens?
“MR. COLBY. I did not want to say that we never, never covered any American citizens abroad. If I have made a mistake in what I said, that we were not — that we incidentally cover Americans in our foreign intelligence activities.
“MR. GIAIMO. You incidentally cover Americans where?
“MR. COLBY. I say we do incidentally cover Americans. I would like to get into a further description of this in executive session.”
Ibid…

“Chairman PIKE. Does your system intercept the telephone calls of American citizens?
“Gen. ALLEN. I believe that I can give a satisfactory answer to that question which will relieve the Committee’s concern on that matter in closed session.”

Although the Committee met for some four hours in Executive Session to take testimony from NS A Director Allen and Deputy Director Benson K. Buffham, primarily concerning the interception of international commercial communications, Gen. Allen apparently felt it necessary to clarify and elucidate that testimony in a follow-up letter to Chairman Pike on August 25, 1975: 

“Dear Mr. Chairman:
“I am writing to provide additional clarification to the testimony I gave before your Committee on 8 August.
“At the present time, the telephone calls of U.S. citizens in the United States to a foreign location are not being monitored. The monitoring of telephone conversations of United States citizens in the United States to a location in the United States has never been authorized by NSA. Currently, we are not now monitoring any telephone circuits terminating in the United States.
“For several years prior to mid-1973, a few international radio-telephone circuits were monitored between the United States and foreign countries. This monitoring did include the calls of U.S. citizens as well as foreign nationals, and calls were sometimes selected for monitoring based on the name (or phone number) of a U.S. citizen provided us by another government agency. In the summer of 1973, the use of the names of U.S. citizens to select telephone calls was terminated and remains so.
“From mid 1975 until recently a search of our records reveals there were occasions where radio-telephone circuits between a foreign terminal and a U.S. terminal were monitored. On some occasions the monitoring was for the purpose of developing patterns of foreign communications use and, on yet other occasions, the monitoring was based on the foreign subscriber and the substance of the conversation was obtained. Our records indicate that in all of 1974, reports were made involving the substance of only eight telephone conversations, wherein a U.S. citizen might be presumed to have been conversing, and in these instances, only the foreign intelligence aspects of the conversation were reported, and the names of U.S. citizens were never used in these NSA reports. This number may be compared with reports involving [a vast number of] other foreign communications carried on international circuits.
“The executive directives applying to these efforts state: a. The purpose of the signals intelligence activities of the National Security Agency is to obtain foreign intelligence from foreign communications or foreign electronic signals, b. Foreign communications exclude communications between or among American citizens or entities.
“I hope this letter will help clarify the matter.”
/s/ Lew Allen, Jr., Lieutenant General, USAF, Director, NSA/Chief, CSS. 

(495) William E. Colby, Director of Central Intelligence, told members of the Committee staff at an October 25, 1975, meeting, that the Agency plants propaganda in the foreign press, including English-language newspapers, and can not be inhibited by the possibility that these planted stories may be picked up by American news services, etc. 

(498) The Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA explained that the Agency wants as few people as possible to know the Agency’s sources. Therefore, the CIA considers “stringers” and freelancers to be free agents, working for many employers and so there is no necessity for the CIA to inform a “stringer’s” or free-lancer’s publisher of his other employer (CIA). Committee staff meeting on October 25, 1975.…

(499) An ex-CIA Chief of Station explained that “…our American media assets… are given neither Agency guidance nor information which might influence a piece written for an American audience. These people are used entirely for intelligence gathering purposes, and are left free to write what they would have written had there been no connection with the Agency… This method is quite different from our handling of foreign media assets, writing for foreign audiences, where Agency influence over the content of certain articles is selectively applied.” He further states, CIA will undertake no activity in which there is a risk of influencing domestic public opinion either directly or indirectly.” But he turns around in the next sentence to say: “The Agency does have a responsibility for undertaking certain propaganda activities in foreign countries.” Director Colby emphatically stated on October 25, 1975, to members of the Committee staff and Congressman Johnson that he “differentiates between AP and Reuters. I consider AP to be an American wire service and therefore off limits… but Reuters is a foreign wire service.” It was pointed out to Director Colby that Reuters, a British wire service, was frequently used by American media, but this fact did not change his mind. In an effort to assure that official Washington is not deceived by planted articles in the foreign press, CIA maintains high-level liaison with the Department of State and the U.S. Information Agency to identify spurious stories. 

(500) The CIA’s Cover and Commercial staff files show that in 1975 11 CIA employees used media cover with 15 news field companies — TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Five of these are of major general news impact, nine of no major general news influence, and one a proprietary. 

(501) When the CIA had fiduciary relations with five full-time correspondents of major American news organizations, three of their employers were unwitting, according to William E. Colby.…

(503) At the National Security Council, there are four CIA employees working as professional staff. Three of them are overt employees of the CIA, open employees. The fourth is an undercover employee, one who does not acknowledge the CIA as his true employer. Ironically, through committee staff interviews, the undercover employee was the only CIA detailee readily identified by his colleagues or subordinates. 

(504) [Name deleted] sits on the Interagency Classification Review Committee (ICRC) , representing the National Security Council staff, although he is actually detailed to the NSC staff from the CIA. The CIA also has a representative on the ICRC. [Name deleted] told the Committee staff that he does not tell other ICRC members of his true affiliation. The man who preceded [Name deleted] at the NSC was [Name deleted]. He also sat on the ICRC representing the NSC. And he was also a CIA detailee. Further, he was a key NSC staffer, but the only people at the NSC who knew that he was from the CIA were Dr. Kissinger and Alexander Haig. 

(505) This Interagency Classification Review Committee rules on questions of declassification from the Executive branch agencies. These questions come up as a result of Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests. If a FOI request is initially denied, the requester may appeal to the head of the Agency; and if that appeal is denied, he may appeal to the ICRC. Many of these declassification cases involve the CIA. 

(506) The man who directed Operations CHAOS the CIA is now detailed to the NSC staff as Director or Intelligence Coordination of the NSC staff. His task is to evaluate the quality of intelligence sent to the NSC, including intelligence from his regular employer, the CIA. He maintains close contact with the CIA as part of his job. 

(507) There are, or have been, CIA detailees working the White House (including the Federal Executive Institute, Cabinet Committee on Price Stability, White House Joint Committee on Science, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Council on International Economic Policy and President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board), the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the State Department and the Agency for International Development, the Treasury Department, the Defense Department and the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Energy Administration, the Vice President’s Office, the National Security Council and the Commerce Department.
The CIA details cover: communications technicians, biographic analysts, general illustrators, secretaries, clerks, couriers, laborers, telephone operators, graphic analysts, personal assistants, physical scientist, intelligence officers, operations officers, economists, administrators assistants, program analysts, chauffeurs, sky marshals, and stenographers. 

(508) “The White House used CIA detailees to keep the total number of staff down, in contravention of Congressional appropriation staff ceilings. The NSC staff ‘”borrows” secretaries initially from the CIA, until their secretaries get clearances, but in many cases, the CIA secretaries stay at the NSC for years. Many exec­utive branches, such as the Department of the Trea­sury, use CIA professionals as advisors to Secretaries, etc. And finally, the NSC staffer responsible for covert action proposals and approvals is almost always from the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, which requests the covert actions. He has sole custody of all the Forty Committee’s records. 

(509) See previous note on a key staffer at the NSC who made recommendations on policy options. He, therefore, was called upon to make these recommen­dations on CIA policies to people who did not know of his current CIA affiliation. 

(517) The Agency’s position in this case is that the Agency was not involved beyond the loan of audio equipment, which may have been used against Mr. Ballew…

(523) For example, the AID-OPS program was damaged considerably by allegations linking foreign police training to the CIA. In 1970, Dan Mitrione, a law enforcement officer of impeccable credentials and reputation, employed by AID as a Public Safety Advisor in Uruguay, was kidnapped and murdered by Tupamaro guerrillas. The Tupamnros alleged that Mitrione was a CIA “agent” and that Public Safety Advisors including Mitrione taught torture tactics to police. CIA documents indicate that although Mitrionc may have had some contact with CIA officers stationed in Uruguay, he was not a CIA employee or informant… Allegations of AID-OPS sponsored torture train­ing, depicted in various press reports and the film ‘”Slate of Siege,” appear factually unsupportable. However, this type of allegation had a tremendous propaganda impact which contributed substantially to the termination of AID-OPS in 1975.

  1. Domestic Intelligence Investigations 

Domestic intelligence carries with it two distinct types of risks. There are programs that by their very nature and method offend individual liberties and statutory rights. Then there are legitimate intelligence methods that are improperly applied, turning the law-enforcers into law-breakers.

a. Programs as Abuses 

COINTELPRO was a series of covert counterintelligence programs aimed at identifying, penetrating, and neutralizing subversive elements in the United States. The program itself consisted of myriad clandestine dirty tricks carried put by FBI agents against persons and organizations considered subversive by the FBI. (525) Careers were ruined, friendships severed, reputations sullied, businesses bankrupted and, in some cases, lives endangered. (526

The FBI justified this aberration from traditional law enforcement programs by stating that it was dictated by the mood of the times. The FBI, as implementors of the program, thereby became the barometer of the country’s mood, instead of fulfilling their statutory function of enforcing Federal laws. (527) Evidence received by the Committee of FBI racism, (527a) bias, and strong conservative ideology hardly qualifies it to review people’s politics. Moreover, the Constitution prohibits such a role and protects the very things FBI was attempting to punish. 

COINTELPRO is only one example. Another would be programs grouped under “anticipatory” intelligence. 

FBI states: “Because the FBI’s investigative responsibilities follow the contours of those entrusted to the Attorney General, the Bureau’s domestic intelligence investigations are, of necessity, broader than investigations strictly designed to collect evidence for criminal proceedings. The FBI’s domestic intelligence responsibilities have a distinct anticipatory, or preventive, purpose, requiring continuing investigative activity in cases wherein criminal conduct remains a future possibility. Whereas the evidence required to initiate an investigation under such a standard would obviously be something less than probable cause of a crime, (529) it would nevertheless be more than mere suspicion. The FBI itself states that advocacy of an ideology alone is not sufficient grounds for classifying a group as subversive. 

Anticipatory domestic intelligence projects, however, do create serious problems on occasion. A few examples illustrate the point. 

Lori Paton testified before the Committee on November 18, 1975. In 1974, Miss Paton, then a high school student, inadvertently wrote the Socialist Workers Party as an academic assignment. She intended to write to the Socialist Labor Party. 

The FBI was conducting a “mail cover” (532) on the SWP and intercepted Miss Paton ’s misdirected letter. They immediately began an investigation of her, and the attendant publicity in Miss Paton’s small town caused her great mental anguish. 

The Bureau’s response was that the “FBI did not publicize the fact” of Lori Paton’s investigation, although they had interviewed her school principal and the local police chief. 

Assume, however, that Miss Paton had correctly written to the SWP, as many people undoubtedly have. That fact alone would apparently have been grounds for an anticipatory investigation, even though it is hard to imagine what crimes could be anticipated by writing a letter. In addition, the chilling effect such investigations have on First Amendment rights, including freedom of association, is painfully clear. (534)

For those who do join SWP, the chill is likely to spread to employers. The Committee heard from one witness who termed FBI’s inquiries about his employee, Bruce Bloy, who was an SWP member, as “presumptive, mysterious, and… aggressive.” 

Trash covers are another odious form of anticipatory investigations. The IPS trash cover has already been discussed, save for a comment on command and control. When FBI personnel were originally asked about trash covers by Committee staff, they stated: “we have not engaged in [trash covers] since July 1966… We had no trash covers on the IPS.” Two weeks later, at a Committee hearing, they corrected themselves. They stated that, while there was an FBI policy of not conducting trash covers, that policy was not always followed. 

Two memoranda show that the Bureau knew of the trash covers and recognized the risks in such a method. The concerns? The “potential harm to the FBI and the Federal Government, per se, far outweigh the potential information that could be expected.” (539) It was not risks to an individual’s right of privacy that concerned the FBI. 

b. Law Enforcement Turned Law-Breaking 

The use of informants, albeit an effective law enforcement tool, is a method of investigation which is particularly subject to abuses of Constitutional rights and rights of privacy. 

The Committee heard testimony from a former FBI informant named Robert Hardy. Mr. Hardy chronicled for the Committee his role in a 1971 Camden Draft Board break-in. Pursuant to FBI instructions, he infiltrated a peaceful anti-war group in Camden, New Jersey. (540) He instigated the burglary and supplied the would-be burglars with tools, money, technical assistance and encouragement. (541)

In sum, Mr. Hardy acted as an “agent-provocateur.” At one point, he attempted to halt the actual burglary, because a conspiracy had been established. His FBI handling-agents insisted that the burglary be committed. (542)

The disturbing lesson is that in the FBI system there is virtually no mechanism to control agents in charge of informants. The FBI Manual of Instructions on Informants sets forth specific guidelines for the handling of informants, yet the uniqueness and secrecy surrounding each informant’s relationship with the handling-agent impairs the effectiveness of those instructions. 

In the Hardy case, the informant-agent relationship was further complicated by political considerations. The defendants in a celebrated case in nearby Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had recently been acquitted of all conspiracy counts. The FBI apparently felt that an overt act such as an actual break-in would be required to insure a conviction, even though the alleged crime of conspiracy, which was the basis of later prosecution, appears to have been completed far in advance of the actual break-in. 

It should be noted that Department of Justice attorneys were advised of this situation long before the break-in and did nothing to avert the course of events. 

The Committee investigated another example of lack of control over informants. The FBI used Robert Merritt as an informant on New Left activities during the early 1970s. His duties included reporting on activities at the Institute of Policy Studies. Merritt told the Committee that his FBI handling-agents instructed him to conduct break-ins, deliver unopened mail acquired illegally, and solicit and provide information to the FBI regarding homosexual proclivities of politically prominent people and individuals of the New Left. 

The FBI agents who handled Merritt denied these allegations under oath. They stated that Merritt acted on his own. 

The handling-agents stated that they terminated Merritt because they ascertained that he had provided false information on one occasion and had reason to believe he provided false information at other times in the past. If this was true, it does not fit with other facts. During the seven months that Merritt was an FBI informant, he provided over 100 reports on at least 25 people. He had, in fact, been categorized as “reliable” in FBI records. 

No effort was ever made to “correct” the Merritt reports, by indicating that the information contained therein might be unreliable. No prosecutive actions were ever recommended as a result of Merritt’s allegedly wrong actions. His efforts apparently fit well with intelligence operations. 

Furthermore, Merritt told staff that he had committed numerous illegal acts at the direction of District of Columbus Metropolitan Police. 

His FBI handling-agents stated that although they acquired Merritt from the Metropolitan Police Department, they never inquired as to the nature of his prior activities as a police informant. This attitude of “see no evil, hear no evil” appears to violate the seemingly rigid regulations of the FBI Manual, designed to effect the recruitment of responsible and reliable informants. 

Conflicting testimony in the Merritt matter reveals the problem itself. Since FBI agents’ instructions to their informants are, by necessity, given orally and without witnesses, it is difficult, if not impossible, to accurately fix responsibility for an informant’s actions. 

If the FBI agent is at fault, the problem becomes one of administrative command and control. If, however, the informant has gone bad, the problem is more difficult. For example, if an informant successfully instigates others to commit a crime, as in the Hardy matter, his FBI contact agent may overlook the informant’s improper actions, because the informant is important to a case for which the FBI agent is likely to receive credit. 

The risk that informants may use illegal methods is heightened when one considers the kind of person needed to infiltrate suspected criminal elements. Understating the problem, James Adams, Assistant to the Director of FBI, testified before the Committee on November 18, 1975: “[T]he informants you develop are not recruited from Sunday Schools.” The dubious character of most informants is compounded by the fact that informants are paid cash, and their payment is commensurate with the information they furnish. The more incriminating the information, the more lucrative the reward. 

Electronic Surveillance — The Kissinger Wiretaps 

In the last half-century, electronic technology has revolutionized the science of investigations. These developments also mean that “Big Brother” may be watching. 

Improper application of electronic surveillance poses obvious risks because of its enormous potential for invading privacy and the difficulty of detecting intrusion. 

Some examples follow. 

In the spring of 1969, the Nixon White House was disturbed that extremely sensitive information regarding diplomatic relations and national security was leaking to the press on a fairly regular basis. 

On May 9, 1969, William Beecher of the New York Times wrote an article on Cambodia which triggered a strong reaction from the White House. That day, a series of telephone calls to ascertain the source of the leaks took place. The calls were between Dr. Kissinger and J. Edgar Hoover, and between Colonel Alexander Haig and FBI personnel. 

The apparent result of these consultations was the installation of a wiretap on the residence of a National Security Council staff on May 9, 1969. Significantly, approval for this “national security” wiretap was not requested until May 10, 1969. The wiretap was requested by Col. Haig “on the highest authority,” and was not approved by Attorney General John Mitchell until May 12, 1969. 

Seventeen persons were eventually wiretapped pursuant to this program. 

Although the FBI never overheard information indicating any breach of national security, the taps continued for lengthy periods of time. 

No approval was ever sought for extensions of the wiretaps as they continued unabated and unsupervised. In addition, the FBI continued to report information which can only be characterized as political or personal. 

William C. Sullivan, former Chief of Intelligence for the FBI, told staff that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover did not regard these taps as FBI operations. But as executive requests. According to Mr. Sullivan, Hoover insisted on sending copies of the transcripts directly to the White House, so the President would be apprised of the “service” FBI was providing. 

Several risks were inherent in the FBI’s national security wiretaps installed for Dr. Kissinger. 

The first involved wiretapping United States citizens without prior judicial approval. These dangers were recognized by the Supreme Court in 1972. The Court held that electronic surveillance of domestic organizations or citizens was forbidden unless prior judicial approval was obtained. 

Secondly, wiretapping State Department officials and members of the press, tends to stifle voices of criticism and dissenting views, and infringes upon freedom of the press. 

Finally, the Kissinger wiretaps posed a risk that the FBI could become the tool by which an Administration in power obtains political information. 

The Houston Episode 

On October 9, 1975, Anthony Zavala, a former narcotics officer with the Houston Police Department who had been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on wiretap convictions, told the Committee of widespread illegal police wiretapping in Houston, Texas, from 1969 through 1972. 

Mr. Zavala recounted that wiretapping had become “second nature to us all,” and “that it was all discussed freely, and that everyone knew what was going on.” 

In 1973, Anthony J.P. Farris, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, learned of allegations of wiretapping. He brought this information to the attention of the FBI in the fall of 1973, and requested that the Bureau investigate. 

They did not. His requests continued. Finally, in April 1974, the FBI assigned one special agent to investigate the case. He filed reports, which according to Farris were “…notable only in their lack of substance, consisting largely of Xeroxed newspaper articles.” (572)

Footnotes:
(525) The primary programs were the Communist Party. U.S.A. program (commenced in 1956), the Socialist Workers Party program (commenced in 1961), the White Extremist program (commenced in 1964), the Black Extremist program (commenced in 1967), and the New Left Domestic program (commenced in 1968). Lesser programs were the Puerto Rican Bomber program (1966), Operation Hoodwink (1966) (a program pitting the Mafia against the Communist Party), Operation Border Coverage (1961), the Cuban program (1961) and the Yugoslav program (1969). All COINTELPRO programs terminated after their existence was discovered following the burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pa., on April 27, 1971. Staff COINTELPRO briefing between W. Raymond Wannall. Assistant Director of the FBI in charge of the Intelligence Division and J.B.F. Oliphant and R. Vermeire, at FBI headquarters, Aug. 22. 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. 

(526) The following are but a few examples of specific COINTELPRO programs, of which there were a total of 5,247 proposed and 2,370 carried out:
In 1969, the FBI authorized an agent to send anonymous letters to the superior of Father Augustus Taylor, Jr., a Catholic priest, complaining of Father Taylor’s speaking out on his television show against the war in Vietnam and of his public support of certain black organizations. Father Taylor’s television show was subsequently cancelled and he was transferred. FBI COINTELPRO memoranda…
In 1968, the FBI authorized interfering with a Mellon Foundation’s decision of whether to give Unity Corporation, a black organization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a $150,000 grant. The FBI contacted a confidential source within the Mellon Foundation, the grant was denied, and the Unity Corporation subsequently went bankrupt. FBI COINTELPRO Memoranda…
In 1969, the FBI approved furnishing information to a responsible Harvard University official that a student who was employed by the University was involved in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) activities. Shortly thereafter, the student lost his job. FBI COINTELPRO Memoranda…
More seriously, one program was carried out wherein an anonymous letter was set to the Black Panther Party accusing one of their members of being a police informant. FBI COINTELPRO Memoranda 100-448006-2308. Another program authorized sending a threatening letter to Huey Newton purporting to be from a follower of Eldridge Cleaver. FBI COINTELPRO Memoranda.…

(527) “MR. VERMEIRE. Why was there such a significant break in investigative techniques in 1973?”
“MR. WANNALL. Principally because an analysis was made by a predecessor and a determination, I think, that we should be aware, I think as we always have been, of the climate of the times and restructure on a strict statutory basis.
“I think the history of the Bureau, and I would not bore you with details, has been one of responsiveness, an awareness of the climate of the times, and restructuring.” Staff Interview with W. Raymond Wannall, FBI Assistant Director in charge of Intelligence Division: Robert L. Shackelford. Section Chief, FBI Intelligence Division, and David Ryan. Supervisor, FBI Intelligence Division, by J.B.F. Oliphant, R. Vermeire. J. Atkisson and E. Miller, Nov. 5, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. 

(527a) A case in point was the FBI’s alleged targeting of Congressman Andrew Young, of Georgia, wherein the FBI requested Arthur Murtagh, a Special Agent, to surreptitiously obtain Congressman Young’s personal stationery and handwriting sample. At the time. Congressman Young was a candidate for Congress. Comm. Hearings, testimony of Arthur Murtagh, Nov. 18, 1975.
The FBI denies the aforementioned allegation. Furthermore. Black agents presently comprise approximately 1.2 percent of FBI agent personnel. Comm. Hearings, testimony of W. Raymond Wannall, Nov. 18, 1975. 

(529) The Committee staff attempted to find out what triggered domestic intelligence investigations. The best answer appeared to be:
“MR. VERMEIRE. Investigation with respect to a particular crime?
“MR. SHACKELFORD. Potential crime.
“MR. VERMEIRE. Potential; is there probable cause?
“MR. SHACKELFORD. Of course not.”
Probable cause, of course, has been the traditional test for arrest…

(532) A mail cover is observing only what appears on the outside of an envelope or parcel, a practice which is carried out, of course, with the cooperation of postal authorities. The technique is perfectly legal. 

(534) The risk may even be intended. As Dean Louis Poliak put it: “When the official investigation long outlives its initially professed justification — that is to say, reasoned suspicion or criminal activity imminent or actually carried out — at that point it is inescapable… that an important consequence, if not necessarily a purpose, of the continuing investigation will be the imposition of an official stigma on the political or research activity being carried out by the ‘subject.’ ” 

(539) “[The Washington Field Office] feels it would be most unwise at this point in time to seriously consider instituting a similar operation as encompassed by the utilization of this source [the trash cover]. Potential harm to the FBI and the Federal Government, per se, far outweigh the potential information that could be expected from such a reinstated operation.” FBI Washington Field Office Memorandum to Headquarters, August 4, 1973. 

(540) None of the group’s members was known by the FBI to be violence-prone. 

(541) All of which were paid for with FBI funds. 

(542) The FBI’s denial of this allegation appears in their Memorandum of Nov. 28, 1975.…

(572) The complete ineptitude of the FBI investigation of the Houston matter was brought out by Congressman Johnson’s questioning of Mr. Farris:
“MR. JOHNSON. Can you tell me why in this case, when you requested information with respect to investigation of other law enforcement agencies — in this case the Houston Police Department — you didn’t get any response from anybody who was of real significance?
“MR. FARRIS.… In all other cases they always responded; they always performed admirably; but in this case — the investigation of the allegations of illegal electronic surveillance by the police department in Houston — there was not only reluctance but obvious foot dragging.
“MR. JOHNSON.… What was the result of your contacts with Saxbe and Kelley and the others?
“MR. FARRIS. To quote myself in other hearings, zip; nothing. Saxbe didn’t answer; the Deputy Attorney General of the United States didn’t answer; the Assistant Attorney General Crime Section didn’t answer. No one answered. I don’t think they were listening.
***
“MR. JOHNSON. But you can characterize cooperation they received prior to that time as “zip.”
“MR. FARRIS. It is not worthy of the name investigation; yes, sir.
“MR. JOHNSON. Once again, this is inconsistent make for other investigations?
“MR. FARRIS. That is correct.”

  1. SALT-Political Control of Intelligence 

Nowhere is the risk of corrupting intelligence greater than in recent efforts to restrict and shape important data on Soviet compliance with strategic arms agreements. 

Staff investigation and examination of key documents reveal that these SALT treaties, which are of grave strategic significance, were consummated without full intelligence input, that the prime U.S. official who sponsored the accords also effectively controls the verification of their feasibility, and that day-to-day intelligence analysis of compliance is hindered by arbitrary and inconsistent attempts to prevent leaks of SALT data. 

The prime factor in this situation is Dr. Kissinger, with his passion for secrecy and his efforts to concentrate power and to consolidate ultimate control of important intelligence functions, through his various bureaucratic roles. 

It is clear that, in the final stages of the SALT talks, U.S. negotiators did not fully consult or inform intelligence experts, who had been key figures in previous treaty sessions. Only Russian technical experts were on hand. Dr. Kissinger’s private talks with Soviet leaders in this period were not disseminated. Some officials assert that “ambiguities” which plague the accords may have been the result of U.S. policy-makers’ self-imposed intelligence blackout at the critical moment. (575

The record indicates that Dr. Kissinger, U.S. architect of the accords, has attempted to control the dissemination and analysis of data on apparent Soviet violations of the SALT pact. 

Although CIA, as the government’s principal analytical arm, has both general and specific responsibility for the monitoring of SALT compliance, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs has advised the Agency to avoid any written judgements that the Soviets are in violation of SALT agreements. Such findings were to be privately communicated to the National Security Council, which, coincidentally, was headed by Dr. Kissinger. 

When sensitive intelligence reports on Soviet compliance began to turn up with regularity, the National Security Council initiated the procedure of severely restricting dissemination of the information, by causing it to be placed in a “hold” status. Typically, the CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence would, in consultation with NSC staff, place an item on “hold” until Dr. Kissinger or his representative agreed to release it. 

Two principal reasons have been given for access restrictions: fear of leaks by officials seeking to influence U.S. SALT policy; (578) and the need for adequate time to determine a report’s real significance, thus avoiding rash judgments on complicated technical issues. 

This unusual procedure, invoked previously in such momentous situations as the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, has been strangely implemented this time. At times, the Secretary of State, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and key U.S. officials in SALT compliance meetings with the Soviets have not been aware of the existence of sensitive data suggesting Soviet cheating. Dissemination within several intelligence components has been haphazard and uncontrolled. (589

Two other problems with the “hold” process detract from the integrity of the intelligence product. NSC staff, for example, has influenced the timing and content of intelligence community publications. (590) Worse, both high officials and working level analysts have been cut off from information for periods of time ranging from days to six months. (591)

Dr. Kissinger’s comments on this situation are at variance with the facts. (592)

The specter of important information, suggesting Soviet violation of strategic arms limitations, purposefully withheld for extended periods of time from analysts, decision-makers and Members of Congress, has caused great controversy within the Intelligence Community. (593) In addition, it has raised questions as to the President’s own knowledge of, and concurrence with, the “hold” procedure. (594)

The problem continues, as official fears of leaks and policy-makers’ penchant for a unified view on SALT goes on. Former State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research Director Ray S. Cline, in testimony before the Committee, framed the issue: “I do think the Congress should be sure that the procedures for handling of strategic intelligence… should have certain checks and balances in them so that there is no possibility of suppression of information that is unattractive to policy-makers.” Cline concluded, “As I was leaving government, I found these procedures breaking down, and that is why I feel that the problem does deserve attention from the Congress.” 

Footnotes:
(575) Interview with U.S. intelligence officials, J. Boos, Dec. 4, 1975, copy on file with Sel. Comm. on Intell. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt agreed in testimony to the Committee.…

(578) Testimony by William Hyland, Dec. 17, 1975: “I think the whole SALT process has been plagued by leaks. Not only have negotiating positions and fall-back positions appeared in the press before they could ever be put to the Russians, but the whole issue of compliance has been clouded by a considerable amount of misinformation which has appeared in journals such as Aviation Week and the newspapers on what the Soviets have or have not done.” 

(589) The Assistant Chiefs of Staff for Intelligence told staff they had not received SALT hold items. Interview by E. Sheketoff with Director of Naval Intelligence, and the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the Air Force, Dec. 15 & 16, 1975. On the other hand, one “hold” item was given to at least 75 people in CIA alone. Testimony by William Hyland and Edward Proctor, Dec. 17, 1975. DIA informed the Committee that it kept no records on “hold” dissemination and, consequently could not determine just who was authorized to see these sensitive items. Letter to the Committee, Dec. 16, 1975, from office of Thomas Latimer, Department of Defense; testimony by Edward Proctor, Dec. 17, 1975.
Key U.S. officials, like Sidney Graybeal and U. Alexis Johnson of the SALT compliance team, were kept away from some data. Deputy CIA Director Proctor noted: “After talking with General Walters around noon yesterday I called Ray Cline to tell him about the status outlined above. Cline was of course disappointed. He said that he had talked to Rush about the situation. Although Rush recalled being briefed by Duckett on [deleted] shortly after they were discovered, his recollection was very vague. Rush had not realized that Secretary Rogers had not been briefed. Ray reported that Rush was very concerned that Alex Johnson and Sid Graybeal had not been told. Rush is to talk to Rogers and urge that Rogers talk to Kissinger to get permission to tell Johnson and Graybeal.” Edward Proctor, Note for the Record, July 13, 1973. 

(590) …Col. Merritt of the NSC staff told the CIA official that “Dr. Kissinger wanted to avoid any written judgments to the effect that the Soviets have violated any of the SALT agreements. If the Director believes the Soviets may be in violation, this should be the subject of a memorandum from him to Dr. Kissinger. The judgment that a violation is considered to have occurred is one that will be made at the NSC level.” 

(591) …In one case, the head of the U.S. SALT team in Geneva, U. Alexis Johnston, was not told of a secret understanding made a year earlier on an agreed interpretation of the treaty. Johnson first learned of this from his Soviet counterparts. His cable to Washington is as follows:
“To: The White House for General Scowcroft Only
“From: U. Alexis Johnson SALT Geneva
“I. You will note that statement by Ustinov at yesterday’s SCC meeting contained reftel [sic — editor’s note] refers to ‘the agreed interpretive statements of May 26 and July 29, 1972…’ We have no record here, and no one in the delegation has any recollection of latter statement. Presume it was a result of Henry’s exchanges with Dobrynin following Moscow summit. Would appreciate text or summary of contents, so that we will be in position to handle when Soviets again raise matter in present negotiations on destruction, dismantling and replacement procedures. Presumably Phil Odeen or Bill Hyland are familiar with subject. Warm regards. Johnson.” June 7, 1973.
Admiral Zumwalt testified to the same effect. Comm. Hearings… Dec. 2, 1975. 

(592) Dr. Kissinger: “Whatever compliance issues existed at the time were brought to the Attention of the Verification Panel.” Kissinger press conference, Wash., D.C., Dec. 9, 1975.
From documentary evidence: The Verification Panel consists of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Deputy Secretary of State, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of ACDA, and the Director of Central Intelligence. Intelligence on SALT compliance with is put on hold routinely goes to only the Secretary of Defense, Director of DIA, and Kissinger.
Dr. Kissinger: “All the decisions of the Verification Panel with respect to compliance have been unanimous.”
From documentary evidence: One member wrote a memo on Jan. 14, 1975: “Upon further consideration following the recent Verification Panel meeting on SALT which addressed compliance issues, I am concerned about the decision not to raise the issue of Air Defense Testing… This testing could have major strategic implications and its impact, in my opinion, was not sufficiently assessed at this recent session of the Verification Panel.”
The Panel also does not vote or make formal decisions.
Dr. Kissinger: “There is nobody who has claimed that the issue of compliance was not being adequately pursued. There is nobody who has objected to the handling of the information.”
Documentary evidence: Proctor memo of 13 July, 1973… Colby letter to Richard Kennedy, Nov. 14, 1974…
Dr. Kissinger: “All intelligence concerning alleged noncompliance was immediately distributed to all the members of the Verification Panel…”
***
Dr. Kissinger: “The longest time an item was on ‘hold’ was two months.”
From documentary evidence: Some items were on “hold”: 19 June 1973–8 Aug. 1973; 28 June 1974–17 Dec. 1974; 26 July 1974–17 Dec. 1974; 11 Sept. 1974–17 Dec. 1974; 23 Sept. 1974–17 Dec. 1974.
Dr. Kissinger: “No Soviet interference actions have interfered with our national means of detection.”
From documentary evidence: Some important concealment activities, as well as Soviets interfering with national means of verification. 

(593) On January 15, 1973, Dr. Edward Proctor, Deputy Director of the CIA for Intelligence and a member of the SALT Steering Group, informed Acting Director of Central Intelligence Walters that “It is now 24 days since we reported to Dr. Kissinger on the detection of several” alleged Soviet SALT violations. Proctor noted that the “hold” items had been restricted for so long as to raise suspicions “that important information is being withheld” from the many people in the intelligence community who had related responsibilities. Proctor advised that “there is little likelihood that it [the hold item] will be lifted soon,” and that Mr. Odeen of Dr. Kissinger’s staff “would like to see a draft of the Monitoring Report with the item in it to recommend to Kissinger whether the Report should be published and whether it should have the item in it.” Note for the Record, July 13, 1973, Edward W. Proctor. 

(594) Proctor wrote on July 13 that “Earlier this morning, I had discussed with General Walters and Mr. Colby the DCI’s obligation — a la Watergate — to make sure that the President knew of the withholding of intelligence, was aware of the consequences of prolonged delay in informing others in the Executive and Legislative Branches, and nonetheless had approved the continuation of the restrictions.” Ibid. The President was never personally approached. 

 

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CULTURE ARCHIVES From The Archives From The Archives MUSIC ARCHIVES Pazz & Jop show-old-images

Pazz & Jop: What’s in a Number?

Did you ever try to figure out how old some famous person was when he or she died? Take, for example, the virtuosic writer Lester Bangs, who was born on December 14, 1948, and died on April 30, 1982. Before some programmer at Wikipedia designed an algorithm thingy that calculates age at time of death, the math could be vexing: What month was it? Are the years inclusive? Anyway, 82 – 48 = 34, but Bangs died before his late-in-the-year birthday and so was only 33 — the same age as Jesus Christ — when he arrived in heaven. (At least that was his final destination according to a posthumous letter that fellow music critic Dave Marsh received from “The Cloud of Lester Bangs”: “You know that jive about ‘If there’s a rock & roll heaven, they must have a hell of a band’? Don’t believe it, pal. All the talent went straight to Hell. All of it. The big acts up here are Jim Croce, Karen Carpenter, Cass Elliot, and — especially — Bobby Bloom! It’s a nightmare!… Gotta run. Literally. Another herd of hoary Harp hacks heading here. Playing Zep’s ‘Stairway’ of course. Fucking national anthem in this burg.”)

No doubt Bangs, with his perpetually scraggly mustache, paunch, and wrinkled T-shirts, appreciated the fact that during most of the time he contributed to the Voice’s Pazz & Jop Poll, no one knew what number, exactly, anyone was working on. As the years passed, there would always be a question: Was this the 9th or 10th Pazz & Jop? The 20th or 21st? The 32nd or 33rd? With off-kilter pride, the discrepancy was often trumpeted on the front page.

Even the first Pazz & Jop was imbued with ambiguity, because it seemed as if its days were already numbered. In the February 10, 1972, Village Voice, Robert Christgau, the harried Grand Poohbah of the new critical survey, opened with this emphatic declaration: “I received a total of 84 entries for the first and last annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll. [Emphasis added.] Fortunately or unfortunately, only 39 of these came from what by some stretch of the term might be called legitimate critics — that is, human beings with more access to print media than a lonely attack on “Led Zeppelin III” in a high school newspaper in Minnesota, which was one credential proffered. The thing is, I don’t believe credentials make much difference either. I figure that a critic ought to have three qualities: interest, and arrogance, and writing ability.” Bangs nailed that trifecta early and often, beginning with his first published review (of the MC5’s Kick Out the Jams in the April 5, 1969, issue of Rolling Stone) right up to his final review, in the Village Voice, titled “If Oi Were a Carpenter,” which hit the streets the week of his death.

There was never enough space to publish all the P&J ballots — though Christgau always included his own, and Bangs was generally one of his go-to critics for conveying a sense of a given year’s sonic landscape, as in this ballot from that first poll, in 1972 (when Bangs was an editor and writer at Creem magazine):

Surely a sampler to plug into Spotify one snowy weekend for someone hoping to glean the flavor of those halcyon days of music, when, for instance, David Bowie was starting to register on critical radars. (Hunky Dory was ranked number eighteen on that year’s poll, although the album didn’t make Bangs’s ballot — it was 1976’s Station to Station that finally sold him on the Man Who Sold the World, as reflected in a positive review Bangs wrote for Creem that year.) The Rolling Stones may have been Bangs’s personal top pick, but Sticky Fingers was beat out by the Who’s Who’s Next for the number one spot in that inaugural P&J. Neither of those British behemoths were touring the States when that first poll came out, but it is interesting to note in an ad facing Christgau’s essay “What does it all mean?” that a fan could see number nine finisher Joni Mitchell at Carnegie Hall for the top price of $6.50, or number fourteen Kinks at the same venue for the same amount.

As long as we’re talking numbers, we should take a look at what Bangs’s number one pick, the Stones, were charging for their presence roughly two years earlier.

That was the winter of 1969, and the Stones were commanding top dollar (eight bucks) for what Christgau would later describe as “history’s first mythic rock and roll tour,” partly due to the fact that the wildly successful shows were well-praised by the critics and ended with all good intentions — a free show for the masses — on that well-traveled road to Hell: “The result was Altamont — one murdered; total dead: four; 300,000 bummed out.”

Perhaps, with the Stones rolling out another U.S. juggernaut tour this coming summer as Altamont’s golden anniversary looms on December 6, some intrepid reporter should ask if the Stones might want to try and get it right this time. After all, no other performers from that first P&J poll can command these numbers:

How much one ticket to see the Rolling Stones at MetLife Stadium, this coming summer, will cost you as of February 1, 2019

Ahhh, but we were discussing how those Pazz & Jop edition numbers went awry, not commerce and death. Well, Christgau seemed, for a while, as good as his word, and the world saw nothing of Pazz & Jop for three years. Then, in the January 20, 1975, Voice, the poll was back, the Grand Poohbah apparently having had time to contemplate queries about the survey’s name: “The confusion of forms originally implied by the title (a play on the very defunct Jazz & Pop magazine, which came up with the rating system) does not show up in the [results]. The critics I polled like rock and roll, and all of the records they selected collectively (a few did name specific jazz records) fall unequivocally into the pop category.”

Pazz & Jop No. 3 arrived in a rush — barely eleven months later and, important for the Mysterious Case of the Missing Edition Number, the only Pazz & Jop Poll to appear in the same year it was surveying. It came out in the December 29, 1975, Voice, and the headline proclaimed, “1975 Pazz & Jop Poll: It’s been a Soft Year for Hard Rock.”

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That gives us two polls in the year 1975; the poll covering the music of 1976 (No. 4) wouldn’t appear until the January 31, 1977, issue. This is where that “what month/inclusive years” math gets confusing. And mid-Seventies rock and roll, in all its manifestations, was inextricably linked with mind-altering drugs, so who knows — maybe some files got misfiled, or something.

Come January 23, 1978, we’re into poll No. 5 and Christgau is reflecting once more on the wild ’n’ wooly aspects of the survey’s name and the futility of its logistics: “A fellow member of the rock criticism establishment tells me that the poll which inspires my annual wrap-up might have a real shot at exposure in the newsweeklies — a chance to get some AM airplay and go pop — if it wasn’t saddled with such a ridiculous name. And I respond that the name is supposed to be ridiculous. Not that it’s actually meaningless, of course, but why go into that? I like the term Pazz & Jop because it once set [editor] Clay Felker to concocting alternate back-cover flags and is regarded by my current boss as virtually unpronounceable. It sounds dumb, and it gives me an out. Is this the most comprehensive year-end poll of rock critics conducted anywhere? You bet. Is it official? Of course not. How could it be?”

And how appropriate that those ironic disrupters of the pop scene, the Sex Pistols, topped a poll that by definition could never be official.

It was the next year that gave ambiguity free rein: “Triumph of the New Wave: Results of the Fifth (or Sixth) Annual Pazz and Jop Critics’ Poll” was the headline on page one, above a picture of Elvis Costello’s nostrils. And, with harsh serendipity, bedlam on a much larger scale was foreshadowed by a headline lower on the page: “Donald Trump Cuts the Cards.”

“The New Elvis” topped the sixth P&J Poll (and, yes, the higher number was correct), but the Voice’s Wayne Barrett was doing his own digging into some decidedly shady numbers, and giving New Yorkers a warning the rest of the world would wake up to four decades too late: “At center stage is Donald Trump, the young man who managed the land deals, profiting by his relationship with a mayor and a governor. He has left a trail of tradeoffs behind him that is — in a city where political brokers learn to cover their tracks — exceptionally clear.”

Back then, in the hinterlands of Baltimore, I didn’t know from The Donald — but I was picking up the Voice at a well-stocked newsstand near the Maryland Institute College of Art. And I knew right away that Christgau was onto something with this ongoing extravaganza that took the pulse of an art form that touches us all so deeply — those heavy beats and soaring melodies that grab you by the viscera that first time they come blaring through the car radio or wafting through an open window. I still remember being on the lighted dance floor in Baltimore’s Club Roxy and being thunderstruck by “Rapper’s Delight.” As Christgau pointed out in later essays, too many P&J critics were late to realize how powerful new-kid-on-the-block hip-hop was — and would continue to be. The Sugarhill Gang’s masterpiece was the last single to make the cut in the 1979 poll, which appeared in the January 28, 1980, issue. (It should be noted that Bangs put his criticism where his art was. Check out the double asterisks below, warning readers that Bangs voted for his own single — yes, that’s the esteemed critic moonlighting as fervent vocalist — and that enough of his journalistic colleagues concurred to boost “Let It Blurt” into a six-way tie with, among others, some disco divas with serious pipes. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is….)

In 1984 I was an art school graduate and truck loader for UPS. One day, cruising into downtown Baltimore with a low sun in my rearview mirror, “Born in the U.S.A.” burst out of the 100-watt speakers connected to the Bose radio–cassette deck I’d recently installed in my 1965 Buick Special (thereby doubling its Blue Book value in one stroke). Presumably the 136 critics (out of 240) who put the Boss’s album over the top in the poll published in the February 19, 1985, issue of the Voice were hip that the title anthem’s upbeat melody was undercut by downbeat lyrics, even though Ronald Reagan happily name-checked the song on the campaign trail in 1984, much to Springsteen’s chagrin.

And so it goes. P&J got bigger every year, the various Voice publishers realizing they could wrap a lot of record-store, indie-label, and concert ads around the essays and ballots assaying the previous year in pop music. The first Pazz & Jop I worked on was in 1988, when Prince ruled the airwaves and the poll. I was a painter and the greenhorn in the production department, and hadn’t yet started writing for the paper. But I cut my teeth on those late-Eighties P&J supplements, which ran up to 28 pages’ worth of extravagantly long essays, ballot lists, critics’ comments, photos, and graphics interwoven with a cornucopia of ads covering all musical tastes, desires, and dreams.

In those heady years, even some of music’s megastars worried about just what, exactly, the Voice critics thought of them. When U2 won the Grammy for Album of the Year for The Joshua Tree, in 1988, Bono, in a wide-ranging acceptance speech, noted, “We set out to make music, soul music. That’s what U2 wanted to make. It was soul music. It’s not about being black or white, or the instruments you play, or whether you use a drum machine or not. It’s a decision to reveal or conceal. And, without it, people like Prince would be nothing more than a brilliant song-and-dance man. That he is, but he’s much more than that. People like Bruce Springsteen would be nothing more than a, he would be nothing more than a great storyteller. But he’s much more than that. Without it, U2 would probably be getting better reviews in the Village Voice, but…um…that, that’s a joke. Sometimes they don’t understand.”

But all things come to an end.

Except sometimes, they don’t.

Sometime before the February 13, 2007, P&J (covering the music of 2006), some editor in the Voice’s new corporate hierarchy had decreed that this number madness (sophistry?) must stop! Surely not coincidently, Christgau had been let go by the new owners, and although his essay contribution, which had appeared 33 times previously, was no longer wanted, he gamely turned in a ballot. And with that, the 34th Pazz & Jop Critics’ Poll had at least gotten its number right.

Yet here we are, with this 45th or 46th (we’re not telling) Pazz & Jop Poll, and Bob Christgau is all over it. And, to gussie up a cliché, to understand the present (and, we hope, the future), one should be cognizant of the past. Which brings us back to the late, and greatly lamented among his colleagues and fans, Lester Bangs.

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Bangs was always a rollicking, cantankerous, exuberant presence in the poll, and so, amid a miasma of melancholy, we thumbed through the green-bound volumes of the Voice archives in search of his last P&J contribution. There it was, in the January 27, 1982, Voice. When that issue hit the streets Bangs was still alive and kicking out the jams, and no one had an inkling that he would be dead three months later from an accidental overdose of various medications. In the 1981 ballot section, Christgau let Bangs have his head — two columns’ worth:

Because of the realities of the situation and a simple respect for music itself I am compelled to state in response to your poll that 1981 was in my view such a dismal year that I cannot in good conscience vote for more than two or three albums, much less 10. As you know, I always vote in these things strictly on the basis of how much I actually listen to the record, as opposed to how “significant” it might be. What I did this year was what almost everybody else, certainly including critics, did: listened to old music, when I listened at all. Because almost all current music is worthless. Very simply, it has no soul. It is fraudulent, and so are the mechanisms which perpetuate the lie that anybody else finds it vital enough to do more than consume and file or “collect” (be the first on your block).

Bangs goes on, with an earnestness that was one of his hallmarks: “Music is the only thing in the world I really care about — but I simply cannot pretend to find anything compelling in the choice between pap and mud.”

Lester’s last ballot. Almost.

But no one should construe such sentiments as giving up. That Bangs wouldn’t do, and he does go on to list a few picks from that benighted year of 1981, including Richard Hell and the Voidoids. And that reminded us of a 1978 interview Bangs did with Hell, in which interviewer emphatically disagreed with subject:

Just for the record, I would like it known by anybody who cares that I don’t think life is a perpetual dive. And even though it’s genuinely frightening, I don’t think Richard Hell’s fascination with death is anything else but stupid. I suspect almost every day that I’m living for nothing, I get depressed and I feel self-destructive and a lot of the time I don’t like myself. What’s more, the proximity of other humans often fills me with overwhelming anxiety, but I also feel that this precarious sentience is all we’ve got and, simplistic as it may seem, it’s a person’s duty to the potentials of his own soul to make the best of it. We’re all stuck on this often miserable earth where life is essentially tragic, but there are glints of beauty and bedrock joy that come shining through from time to precious time to remind anybody who cares to see that there is something higher and larger than ourselves. And I am not talking about your putrefying gods, I am talking about a sense of wonder about life itself and the feeling that there is some redemptive factor you must at least search for until you drop dead of natural causes. And all the Richard Hells are chickenshits who trash the precious gift too blithely, and they deserve to be given no credence, but shocked awake in some violent manner.

Bangs, it should be noted, signed his piece, which had appeared in Gig magazine, in homage to Hell: “Your fan, Lester.”

And in that final ballot, with a poignant bit of fatal prescience, he tossed this off: “Just to save time, here’s NEXT YEAR’S TOP 10,” and listed ten parody albums, one of which was Richard Hell Sings the R. Dean Taylor Songbook.

Then he died. And in the 1982 poll, published in the February 22, 1983, Voice, Christgau ran, with no comment, Bangs’s “next year’s” ballot.

The End

Bangs was nothing if not a fan. Like he said, “Music is the only thing in the world I really care about.”

While we don’t all feel that way all the time, it’s a pretty safe bet that there has been a moment (or more than one) in all of our lives when that perfect song wonderfully sums up our existence — right here, right now!

Perhaps Bangs’s curse was that he wanted to feel that “bedrock joy” of music all the time.

That kind of passion, as Christgau understood from the jump, was what Pazz & Jop is still all about.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES From The Archives show-old-images Uncategorized

Jonas Mekas: Crack the Establishment!

Some people tell us: stay away from the Establishment; the Establishment will swallow you; you’ll become the new Establishment.

But I reason this way: There is a great beauty in Brakhage, in Warhol, in Ginsberg, in Robert Kelly, in Peter Orlovsky, in Marie Menken, in La Monte Young. If one truly cared for man, one would truly wish and work toward bringing everybody in touch with the beauty of these artists and their work. Not to make everybody alike: but to make everybody beautiful, to do away with some of the vulgarity and boredom of the Establishment. You can’t be in the same room with the sounds and images and words of these artists and remain as you were before, the same, obstinate and cramped.

That’s why I am for planting La Monte Young and Brakhage and Robert Kelly in the very middle of the Establishment.

Two months ago I met Allen Ginsberg in the street. “I am going to Harvard” he said. “There is only one thing to know,” I said: “You are going to the Establishment.” “I will give them something to think about,” said Allen.

Never the Same

So Allen Ginsberg went to Harvard and sat there, naked, with Peter Orlovsky, also naked, and talked with the students and the Establishment, and the Establishment started to crack, and Harvard will never be the same.

I am for the Establishment of man’s spirit: man’s spirit is always in avant garde. That’s the true meaning of avant garde.

Do we want our movies to be screened everywhere? Yes, yes, yes! We want our little movies to be screened everywhere — in Radio City, on 42nd Street, and in private homes, in Pittsburgh, and in the Bronx, and in the court rooms, right under the sign where it says IN GOD WE TRUST; 8mm movies, 16mm movies, CinemaScope movies, and 3-D MOVIES, Ken Jacobs movies, Andy Warhol movies, Linda Talbot’s movies, Naomi Levine movies, Kuchar movies. We’ll surround the earth with film flowers — that’s what our movies will do. Marie Menken movies, Kenneth Anger movies, Robert Breer movies: they will melt your hearts. You won’t be critics any more, you won’t be judges of morals and behavior: you’ll be watchers and lovers. That’s what we want. We are working toward the Establishment of love and this flickering beauty that is the screen. No, we are not angry at Shana Alexander and Life magazine: we can see through their games and their dreams. We want to surround the Shana Alexanders with more and more of our little movies and our big movies until their minds will crack up (in a very beautiful way) and they won’t bother about the censors and the protection of morals, and they will stand there, all naked, on the Time-Life Building sowing flower petals into Sixth Avenue, with their boobs in the wind.

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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES From The Archives NYC ARCHIVES show-old-images

When Jonas Mekas Went to Jail

In the March 12, 1964, edition of the Village Voice, contributor Stephanie Gervis Harrington reported that Jonas Mekas demanded to be arrested. The cops obliged.

The New American Cinema has run afoul of the old American determination to keep our culture clean. The first casualties were Village Voice film critic and new wave movie-maker Jonas Mekas and three associates, who spent a night in jail last week on a charge of showing an obscene film. The film, “Flaming Creatures,” made by Jack Smith, is one of the better-known productions of America’s new film avant garde.

“Flaming Creatures” was described by Leslie Trumbull of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, which distributes it, as a “fantastic lampoon of commercialized sex and sexual mores.” Accepted as an entry in the recent festival of experimental films at Knokke Le-Zoute, Belgium, but banned from public showing by the Belgian Ministry of Justice, “Flaming Creatures” was given a special “film maudit” (or “damned film”) award by the festival’s selection jury.…

And according to Dr. Joseph Kaster, an instructor in myth and ritual, Greek mythology, Egyptology, and witchcraft, magic, and sorcery at the New School for Social Research, “Flaming Creatures” is an “excellent” film. Dr. Kaster told The Voice that he found the film “full of symbolic motifs” and would like to show it to his myth and ritual class. There is nudity in it, he noted, but “it is there for a point, not for its own sake.” The film, he said, is “not in the lease objectionable.”

The District Attorney’s office, however, did not see it that way. Without making themselves known, plainclothesmen watched “Flaming Creatures” when it opened last Monday night at the Bowery Theatre, 4 St. Mark’s Place. Presumably they did find the film objectionable — or those parts of it that included shots of male sex organs and female breasts — because the next night the film and four of those involved in its showing were seized by the police. Mekas, a founder and guiding light of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, was not at the theatre at the time, but when he was notified of what was happening, he rushed down and demanded that he be arrested too. The police obliged.…

They were arraigned shortly before noon the following day on a charge of showing an “indecent, lewd, and obscene” film and released without bail on the recognizance of their lawyer. Trial was set for March 16. In the meantime, the regular Tuesday and Wednesday night showings of New American Cinema films at the New Bowery are continuing. And last Saturday Mekas ran continuous half-hour showings of the Jean Genet film “Un Chant d’Amour,” a homosexual love story set in a prison, at the Writers’ Stage Theatre, 83 East 4th Street. The police did not interrupt the showing, although Mekas reports that they were in view outside the theatre.

In that same issue, Mekas foreshadows his fate in his regular column:

“Hollywood has created an image in the minds of the people that cinema is only entertainment and business. What we are saying is that cinema is also art. And the meanings and values of art are not decided in courts or prisons.”

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Beaten or Stoned? Was 1968 the Beginning of the End of the Sixties?

Late in the summer of 1968, Pope Paul VI came out forcefully against the birth-control pill, putting a moral crimp in the decade’s libido. London, however, was still swinging strong, and the Beatles decided — perhaps as Communist lark rather than Christian tithing — that it was truly better to give than to receive. In the August 8, 1968, issue of the Village Voice, part-time theater critic Charles Marowitz reported that the world’s most popular rock group was shuttering its Apple store (named for its record label) and giving away all of the shop’s existing stock. One mother walked in with her two children “just to windowshop and walked out with new dresses, summer suits, and other assorted goodies.” As she left, the mom said, “Give Ringo a big kiss for me.” The Voice correspondent noted, though, that not everyone was happy. “In the past few days, I have heard the Beatles maligned more viciously than they ever were at the height of their controversial pop success. For they have been guilty, in certain people’s eyes, of the worst sin imaginable — not weaning the young on drugs or spreading Buddhist cultishness, but subverting the principles of commerce…. The Beatles have repudiated the premise on which all business is firmly established: i.e., that you can’t get something for nothing.”

During that tumultuous decade, the pope wasn’t the only one questioning the mores of the times. In the October 3, 1968, issue, Howard Smith reported in Scenes, his regular Voice column, that the other chart-topping group from across the pond was being vexed by their record label. “The Rolling Stones, the group with the sandpaper personalities, continues to scratch the smooth wherever it is found. Although their new album, ‘Beggar’s [sic] Banquet,’ was completed months ago, it has still not been shipped to the stores. The Stones like the bathroom wall graffiti jacket design. Their record company says it’s in bad taste and won’t release it. Not even the $1 million advance sale has been enough to bridge this obscenity gap. Also turned down was Mick Jagger’s suggestion that the album be sold in plain paper bags labeled ‘unsuitable for children.’ ” (This almost two decades before Tipper Gore headed the Parents Music Resource Center’s crusade to label recordings for adult content in a manner similar to that used for motion pictures. Jagger, who had attended the London School of Economics before the Stones rocket took off, was cannily aware that the forbidden always makes for a good sales pitch.)

Next came a turn on the censor’s wheel for one of the Beatles, even as the bad-boy Stones were blinking in the face of their record company’s skittishness. The November 7, 1968, Voice offered readers full-frontal nudity from the cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s album Two Virgins; the record company objected to the nudity, but had even more problems with the only thing Lennon wore — an odd pendant. In a deep caption, Smith spelled out what it was all about. Sort of. “Hereby hangs a very interesting tale of commercial censorship. The music (which is electronic) from John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s film ‘Two Virgins’ was supposed to come out as a soundtrack album. But the Beatles’ British and American record companies balked because of the jacket photo, in which Lennon has a very unusual pendant hung around his neck. He refused to explain its meaning, saying: ‘If I give in on this and tell them, the next thing they’ll be telling me what kind of glasses to wear.’” Smith further reported that comedian Bill Cosby — of all people — came to the rescue, directing his record company, Tetragrammaton, to help with distribution, witchy jewelry be damned. “Meanwhile,” Smith concluded, “the handwriting on the bathroom wall has been erased by Decca Records: the Rolling Stones gave in, in this Year of the Great Album Cover Dispute.” (The Lennon tale hung around into the 1990s, when Noel Gallagher, of Oasis, obtained the bauble for brother Liam. “I bought him a few presents in the 90s. I bought him a thing from an auction which was an Indian necklace thing that John Lennon wore when he went to see the Maharishi. It’s worth a fortune — it was round the man’s neck when he wrote ‘Sexy Sadie’ — so I sent it to [Liam] for Christmas and next time I saw him he had it on. He took it out the frame and the label saying ‘worn by John Lennon.’ I said, ‘What are you doing? It’s fuckin’ memorabilia!’ and he said, ‘John Lennon wore it, I’m wearing it.’ He’s probably flushed it down the toilet by now. I don’t know, haven’t seen it since.”)

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Serendipitously — or perhaps not so much — in that same column Smith covered a Free Store on East 10th Street, which was having a much harder time with the locals on an even more expansive concept of giving than the Beatles did with their one-shot extravaganza: “The climax came one night last week when a group of cars and bikes reportedly pulled up and the store’s windows were shattered by shotgun butts.” Apparently, freedom, as the posthumously released Janis Joplin hit “Me and Bobby McGee” puts it, is indeed “just another word for having nothing left to lose.”

Stones guitarist Keith Richard once said, “Funny year, ’68, it’s got a hole in it somewhere.” In fact, two of the biggest albums of that (or any) year were released on ominous dates. First came The Beatles (more commonly known as the “White Album”), which hit the streets on November 22 — the five-year anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That was followed by the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet, on December 6, a date that would soon have its own run-in with history. In the December 12 issue of the Village Voice, music critic Carman Moore approached the White Album from clashing perspectives in the Riffs column —“I’ve never met a Beatle: they may be assholes, counter-revolutionaries, and purple meanies. But they’re always something more: the most complete music-making organization in the pop world and song writers whose corporate name is not out of place with those of the great classicalists. I don’t know whether the original idea of doing virtually every popular music style since the ’20s and putting those 30 cuts into a plain, white cover is actually pompous, larcenous, or what. I only know that they invade those fields and end up cutting the heavies in all but two or three of them (even Tiny Tim). The key to this mastery — the easy way to say it — is that while others break their necks inventing styles, the Beatles invent songs. Another way — also easy — is that they are obviously still respectful and excellent listeners to anybody else’s thing, that something makes them keep improving, and that music is their natural religion and they would yell their voices into hamburger, put their deepest secrets on a PA system, or strip stitchless if music is involved (A pretty girl is like a melody).”

Moore, an African American, wrote for the paper about such gospel singers as James Cleveland and Shirley Caesar, and found that in “Sexy Sadie,” Lennon sang “excellently with a black-style r&b ballad vibrato thrown in.” Moore also praises “Revolution 9” as “a not-badly-formed avant-garde outing.”

In that same Riffs column, rock critic Robert Somma sought language equal to the massive themes found on the Stones finally released Beggars Banquet (in a simple white cover with elegant script). “If rock has a royalty, then the Stones are king; if a hierarchy, they’re the Pope; if an occupation, then they’re the boss. ‘Beggar’s [sic] Banquet’ asks you to sup first with the devil, and then with the rest of the damned, a cast of characters, strangely not unlike you and me.” Somma goes on to list some of the players:

For Lucifer:
“I was there when Jesus Christ
had his moment of doubt and pain
made damn sure that Pilate
washed his hands and sealed his fate.”

For the rejected lover:
“Your heart is like a diamond
you throw your pearls at swine
and as I watch you leavin
you pack my peace of mind”

For the gangster:
“Yes he really looks quite religious
he’s been an outlaw all his life”

For the well-known common man:
“Raise your glass to the
hardworking people
let’s drink to the uncounted heads.”

It’s more than passing odd that during such a flamboyant, hopeful, violent, brilliant, mad travail of a decade, these two seminal albums arrived under similarly spare cover, the Beatles’ as bleached as bones, the Stones’ a prim invitation to the apocalypse.

But then things got weirder.

Far, far away from any London recording studios, a rancid guru named Charles Manson was in California — that ragged edge of a continent where dreamers, madmen, tricksters, and geniuses pile up on themselves with nowhere else to go — busily convincing his flock that he was in psychic communication with the Beatles. Such songs from the White Album as “Blackbird,” “Piggies,” “Revolution 1” (and “9”), “Sexy Sadie,” and, especially, “Helter Skelter,” were, Manson informed the faithful, direct confirmation that his visions of a world cleansed of pigs and killjoys was nigh. A career criminal, Manson was prepping his followers for murder and mayhem, and the Beatles were providing the soundtrack.

Or not. Revisionist historians argue that prosecutors’ claims of Manson planning the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends to launch a violent race war, which would leave him and his followers as rulers of the planet, are as ridiculous as they sound. Instead, these scholars of Manson’s mind blame the Tate-LaBianca bloodbaths on drug deals gone very bad, crimes which were in turn covered up by the authorities to spare the reputations of Hollywood’s decadent, wealthy, and socially powerful elite. Whatever the motive, Manson was undoubtedly a world-class con man, one who once pontificated to a courtroom audience, “I have killed no one and I have ordered no one to be killed. I may have implied on several different occasions to several different people that I may have been Jesus Christ, but I haven’t decided yet what I am or who I am.” Such musings were much too heavy for Lennon and McCartney’s preternaturally catchy pop melodies to shoulder.

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And besides, the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” was more legitimately drenched in blood than anything the Beatles ever put on vinyl. While the band was recording the song, in early June 1968, Jagger sang the lyric, “I shouted out, ‘Who killed Kennedy?’/When after all, it was you and me,” in reference to the JFK murder. But the world would come to know the lines that made the final version: “I shouted out, ‘Who killed the Kennedys?’/When, after all, it was you and me.” The lyric change was only made public thanks to Jean-Luc Godard’s film One Plus One (later retitled Sympathy for the Devil) — which featured the band revising and recording the song in a London studio. Even then, only close viewers noticed, as the musicians did numerous takes, that the lyric was changed from singular to plural after Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down by an assassin on June 5, in Los Angeles.

Additionally, “Sympathy” received undo credit, a year to the day after the album’s release, for putting the final nail in the Sixties’ coffin, when eighteen-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by Hells Angels as the Stones were performing the song at their calamitous Altamont concert, on December 6, 1969.

Or so the story went. Again, it took a filmed record to set the facts straight. On December 6, 1970, Gimme Shelter, the Maysles brothers’ film of the Stones’ 1969 tour, revealed, for those willing to watch, that Hunter had, in fact, been attacked during the buoyant strains of “Under My Thumb,” not — as had been reported by media outlets around the world — during “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Joan Didion called out this misshapen history in her 1979 collection of essays assaying California’s dystopian paradise, by titling her book The White Album. As she informs us on the opening page, “I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself.” 

Didion had had a decade’s hindsight to arrive at her revelation, so give Voice critic Somma credit for divining the majesty and malignity of the music that defined his moment. He knew there would be much more to come, writing, “Like any work of art one can describe as total, insular, comprehensive, self-explanatory, and multi-layered, the ‘Banquet’ needs more than a few words and will reveal itself, like a shrouded, necessary truth, with the passage of time.”

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John Dean and Michael Cohen: Flippers Then and Now

In the July 5, 1973, issue of the Village Voice, readers got a twofer. First, the paper’s Washington editor, Bob Kuttner, tackled the impending constitutional crisis. “If Congress fails to impeach Nixon — not for his putative ‘knowledge’ of the burglary and the cover-up but for presiding over an administration that willfully tried to undo the liberties of a free people — it will be a sign that Caesarism is tolerated, and the rule of law will continue to erode.” Kuttner’s article also illustrates, for today’s audience, an important difference between the Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal, led by North Carolina Democrat Sam Ervin, and Robert Mueller’s current special counsel probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election: leaks to the press. Mueller’s investigators are notable for being tight-lipped. And as Kuttner wrote, “When the Ervin Committee is not in session, the news leaks reach torrential proportions.”

Like Trump today, President Richard Nixon hated the news media. But Twitter wasn’t available then for assailing the press as the “enemy of the people”—Nixon had his staff secretly draft an “enemies list” consisting of media figures he planned to harass and punish through such tactics as arbitrary audits of their tax returns. Nixon’s first two commissioners of Internal Revenue offered up their resignations rather than take such improper action, and the idea was shelved. Nixon then, without court approval, ordered the F.B.I. to wiretap members of the press and government, searching out “leakers.” Additionally, he suborned perjury to cover up favors to corporate supporters.

When the administration’s Dealing With our Political Enemies document came to light, many reporters who had investigated Nixon’s underhanded dealings were disappointed not to be on it. Kuttner writes, “An awful lot of good people in Washington failed to make Nixon’s laundry list, and some are downright indignant. The Washington Post had only two names on the list, perhaps in a reverse snub. Even [longtime anti-Nixon political cartoonist] Herblock was inexplicably omitted. The Village Voice was cut dead.”

In a second article on that page, freelancer Leonard Orr discussed John Dean’s Senate testimony before the Watergate committee. Dean, the former White House counsel, had been fired by Nixon a couple of months before his appearance. Earlier in his legal career, Dean had been terminated by a law firm for “unethical conduct” — while working to obtain a television broadcast license for a client, Dean had attempted to procure one of the valuable permits for his family. Such blurring of legal and ethical lines would seem to have made him the perfect fit for a boss who had based much of his decades-long political career on bullying, prevaricating, and outright lying.

But as the Watergate scandal engulfed Nixon’s White House, Dean decided — in a calculation perhaps similar to the one Michael Cohen has recently made about his former boss Donald Trump — that he was not going to take the fall for his superiors’ crimes and misdemeanors. In both cases, the former consigliere turned state’s evidence. Until the Watergate hearings brought him into the nation’s living rooms, Dean, who had risen from volunteer lawyer on Nixon’s 1968 campaign to White House counsel two years later, was simply a faceless fixer doing his president’s bidding. Dean even wrote the cover memo for the enemies list, which stated, in part, “This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration. Stated a bit more bluntly — how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.” While not quite the same as Cohen’s testimony that he paid off a porn actress and a Playboy model to keep them quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump, both instances reveal henchmen willing to bend — and break — the law in their bosses’ service.

There are other similarities between Dean in 1973 and Cohen today. Trump’s former confidant has recently undergone a transformation, from the man who said, “I’m the guy who protects the president and the family. I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president,” to stating that Trump is no longer his top priority: “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.” Dean was also concerned about his family. Orr’s Voice article touched on a conspiracy theory rising like swamp gas around the Watergate debacle: that the counselor’s pretty wife, Maureen, had once been part of a call-girl ring, and that the whole Watergate scandal was based on Dean’s desire to protect her reputation. The smog of history has never cleared enough to give credence or the lie to this potboiler tale; at this point, the Deans’ marriage has endured for more than 45 years.

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Ultimately, though, these sagas from then and now share the theme of the loyal subordinate wronged. When it appeared that Dean was being groomed to be Nixon’s fall guy, the ambitious young lawyer decided there was no honor among the thieves in the White House. Orr wrote, “Dean appeared to have fortified himself by an almost religious process of purification and renewal,” and added that the counselor “entered the hearing room looking like a young successful funeral director.”

Such firsthand observations from Orr give insight into why Dean has remained on the national stage for more than four decades and is once again on TV, commenting on current Washington scandals. Asked recently about Trump’s attempts to use the Department of Justice to punish his personal enemies, Dean told CNN, “While I heard [Nixon] break the law on some of those [Watergate] tapes, I never heard him do it by turning on his enemies and trying to put them in jail. This is really very, very heavy sledding.” Having had up close and personal experience of a president who challenged the rule of law, Dean was even more blunt in another response: “This is the sort of stuff of a banana republic. This is what an autocrat does.”

Forty-five years ago, Dean’s television testimony riveted America. Today, with our 24-7 mediascape and a president who can’t stop twiddling his Twitter thumbs, the Watergate hearings seem rather quaint. Earlier this summer, Trump excoriated Cohen’s change of heart during a Fox & Friends interview: “This whole thing about flipping — they call it. I know all about flipping. For thirty, forty years I have been watching flippers. Everything is wonderful, and then they get ten years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed.”

Since he partially made his bones as a bullying exec on reality TV, perhaps it’s no wonder that Trump sounds like the captain of a New Jersey crew from The Sopranos. Still, he might do well to remember that it is sometimes the little guys who come out on top. In fact, when Trump thinks of Cohen these days, perhaps he’ll recall a popular TV show that aired from 1964 through 1967, a period when Nixon was rebuilding his career with an eye toward taking one last shot at the presidency after narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, in 1960. The lyrics to the show’s theme song begin, “They call him Flipper — Flipper — faster than light-ning/No one you see — is smarter than he…”

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A Day With(out) Art: Writing Until the Very End

“Day Without Art,” to be held every December 1, was conceived in 1989 to coincide with the World Health Organization’s World AIDS Day. The AIDS crisis had devastated the creative community, and, as the activist organization Visual AIDS recounts on its website, “more than 800 arts organizations, museums, and galleries throughout the U.S. participated by shrouding artworks and replacing them with information about HIV and safer sex, locking their doors or dimming their lights, and producing exhibitions, programs, readings, memorials, rituals, and performances.”

On its 10th anniversary, the observance was changed to “Day With(out) Art,” to emphasize, as Visual AIDS put it, “the ongoing inclusion of art projects focused on the AIDS pandemic, and to encourage programming of artists living with HIV.” 

Robert Massa was a senior editor at the Voice who wrote extensively about AIDS. In the February 22, 1994, issue of the paper he teamed with artist Sue Coe for a poignant — and searing — portfolio, “Scenes From an AIDS Ward.”

AIDS took a fearsome toll, and it hit the Village Voice particularly hard in April 1994, when Massa succumbed to the disease. In a diary he kept of his struggles with his condition, he wrote, “My friend Carol had the presence of mind to ask me a key question right away: What am I doing with my time? My answer has been to do what I’ve always done. But, in fact, preparing to die, perhaps abruptly, while maintaining a positive attitude, whatever that means, is quite time-consuming.” 

An editor’s note at the end of Massa’s personal chronicle informed readers, “Shortly after he wrote these passages, Robert Massa became unable to write or type. By March, he was unable to use his facial muscles to speak. He died on April 9.” Below are those passages, along with memorial tributes from other writers at the paper.