Intelligence Agencies and Internal Security Under Reagan – with Margaret Ratner – PDF

20090622-themanwhosoldtheworld1981 Intelligence Agencies and Internal Security Under Reagan Michael Ratner & Margaret Ratner

A. The Carter Years As A Clue To The Future.

During the last year of the Carter administration, Congress, the CIA, the FBI, and conservative “think tanks” had begun serious efforts to “upgrade” or “unleash” the intelligence agencies. These efforts came in some measure out of the weakened international position of the U. S. and the necessary responsive propaganda that upgraded intelligence activities, particularly more covert operations, could prevent such future losses as had already occurred in Grenade, Iran, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan.

Moreover, as economic conditions deteriorated domestically, those in power probably saw a potential need for a greater internal security apparatus as a social and propagandist control to deal with rising disaffection. Whatever the reasons behind such an increased in­terest in intelligence agencies, last year provides a clue to what can be expected in the immediate future.

Last year saw the introduction, serious consideration, and in some cases passage of the following legislation:

(1) The Names of Agents Bill or Intelligence Identities’ Protection Act of 1980. This Act would have criminally punished any U. S. citizen or resident who identified any CIA agent or certain FBI agents, even if the identity was learned entirely from public sources. The Act was approved by the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in both Houses, but never reached a floor vote. Had it passed, almost any serious exposure of or debate about CIA activities would have been chilled. The Act has already been reintroduced in the new Congress. Casey at his confirmation hearing as new CIA director stressed his interest in having the Act passed, and the need for such a law was promi­nently mentioned in the Heritage Report.

(2) The Attempted Repeal of Hughes-Ryan. The Hughes-Ryan Act, which required the President to notify eight Congressional committees about planned covert activities of the CIA, etc., was amended so that only the two Intelligence Committees of Congress are required to be notified by the Chief Executive. However, past experience with the Act has demonstrated that even this reduced notification requirement will not be followed.

For example, during hearings concerning the repeal, former CIA director Turner testified that Congress had not been informed about certain covert activities. The new law is flexible enough in its lang­uage to assure that non-notification will continue. Barry Goldwater, the new head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said as much.

(3) Attempted Repeal of the Clark Amendment. A serious ef­fort was made to repeal the Clark Amendment in the last Congress. The Amendment requires the President to inform Congress about any covert or overt military operations in Angola. The repeal effort failed, but, again, it can be expected to be renewed in the present session.

(4) The Proposed National Intelligence Act. In early 1980, the Foreign Intelligence Charter or National Intelligence Act was intro­duced in Congress. It was the product of three years of negotiations among the Senate Intelligence Committee, the intelligence agencies, and the White House. The proposed Charter would have governed the CIA, NSA, foreign intelligence, and counterintelligence units of the FBI and other government intelligence units. It had nothing to do with “reform” of intelligence agencies and proposed an unrestricted CIA.

In it,people who are not U. S. citizens or residents are given no protection. Instead, broad authority, which licensed “special activities” or “covert actions,” in the nature of those undertaken by the CIA against Allende and in the Bay of Pigs invasion, was proposed.

In order to undertake such covert actions, the intelligence agency need only show that they be in support of so-called important national security interests and consistent with the aims, values and policies of the U. S. The agency would also be required to meet other meaningless requirements: that overt alternatives would not achieve the objective; and that the benefits, whatever they might be, would out­weigh the detriments.

The proposed Charter also dealt extensively with what could be carried out against U. S. citizens and residents. Almost no protec­tions were offered. For example, it authorized counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations against Americans in the U. S. and abroad, that is, witch hunts or investigations without suspicion of any crimes. It proposed to authorize COINTELPRO techniques against any American suspected of engaging in “clandestine” activities. Despite the freewheeling the Charter allowed, the right attacked it as too re­strictive; conservatives complained about the requirement within the Charter which required warrants to search the homes of Americans living in the U. S. and abroad. This complaint was recently echoed in the Heritage Report.

The proposed Charter never reached the floor for a vote, although Congressional hearings were held. As it looks now, the CIA Charter will not be brought back to Congress. Rather, any additional freeing of the CIA will likely be made by executive orders. In this way, Congressional debates and/or controversies will be avoided.

(5) Repeal of FOIA. Numerous efforts were made in 1980 to exempt the CIA, FBI, and NSA from the Freedom of Information Act. These efforts failed, but there is strong support in the new Congress for such exemption, and additional legislation to restrict or limit access to files in the possession of intelligence agencies is likely.

(6) The Proposed FBI Charter. A major effort was made by progressive forces to defeat the proposed FBI Charter. The Charter did not pass, but its defeat may have been due as much to the effort of con­servatives who felt it was too restrictive as those of the left who were shocked by the activities it legitimized. The Charter would have legal­ized COINTELPRO, the commission of crimes by informants, and the surveil­lance of groups involved only in First Amendment protected activities.

In 1980, Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Ut.), a close advisor of Reagan’s, introduced yet another FBI Charter that would license activities far more violative of civil liberties than those included in the Carter administra­tion proposal. During that Congress we could laugh at Laxalt. Now, how­ever, Laxalt is in the driver’s seat. He, for example, named the Energy Secretary. He has been meeting over the last few months with the FBI regarding introduction of a third version of a Charter in 1981. This Charter will track the Laxalt version rather than the one proposed by Carter supporters.

The above analysis of 1980 shows some activities anticipated in the new Congress. Repressive measures which were not taken seriously in 1980 should and must be fought today.

B. The Heritage Report: Blueprint For The 80s

A less sketchy and more frightening blueprint of the future emerges from the Heritage Foundation Report. A 97-page section of this report details significant changes to strengthen and give more “bite” to intelligence agencies and internal security in general. Although Reaganites say that it only projects “options” on intelligence, it sets forth a concrete plan for putting into motion a domestic and worldwide system of spying and covert action.

Those who say to wait, not to act, lest our action produce the evil, are wrong. We should not sit back because the Heritage Report is not an anomaly; to the contrary, it bears a striking resemblance to a policy paper issued in 1979 by the Republican National Committee. That policy paper was drawn up under the direction of Richard Allen, Reagan’s senior foreign policy affairs advisor and the new advisor for National Security Affairs. Additionally, there are many links between Reagan people and those intimately involved with the Heritage Foundation. The former president of Heritage, still a board member, Frank Shakespeare, head of USIA under Nixon, was a member of Reagan’s “kitchen cabinet” as intelligence advisor. Frank J. Feulner, president of Heritage, was for­merly administrative assistant to Representative Phil Crane and directed operations for the House Republican Study Committee. Casey, the new director of the CIA, was apparently associated with the Foreign Policy Assessment Group, a committee which helped in drafting the Heritage Re­port. Casey states that the U. S. should be much more aggressive on intelligence matters. In 1976, he was a member of the Murphy Commission which found that any prohibitions limiting covert action would put the country and its allies “at a dangerous disadvantage in many parts of the world.” In a recent Nation article it was noted that the Heritage Report was drafted by conservative Congressional aides and an advisor to Reagan’s transition team. Obviously, the report did not emerge from thin air and was designed to provide a guide for the Reagan administration.

A key position of the Heritage Report is that the intelligence agencies have placed far too much reliance upon technical means of sur­veillance and intelligence gathering and have failed to use traditional means of espionage involving human spies. The report downgrades technical means such as photography and communications intelligence and says that such technical means should only be a supplement to the use of human covert agents.

This analysis is based upon the view that covert action, coun­terintelligence, and the clandestine collection of information are the critical functions of intelligence agencies. To carry out these functions, covert agents and spies are necessary. Only such agents can provide the basis for destabilization and paramilitary operations. The report is unabashed in stating that this type of activity should occur. It complains that there is no present encouragement to carry out such actions and that the CIA has been severely hampered in such activities. The report rec­ommends a larger network of clandestine agents and the drawing up of “hypothetical” covert action plans for the advancement of U. S. interests.

Drastic changes are also recommended in the CIA and FBI’s counterintelligence functions. Heritage claims that counterintelligence has disintegrated and that one of the reasons for the lapse has been that no U. S. citizen can be investigated without probable cause. The report recommends a major increase in personnel for counterintelligence, revoca­tion of the FBI guidelines, repeal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveil­lance Act, and revocation of Executive Order 12036 governing the CIA. Heritage wants no restrictions on investigative activity in the counter­intelligence field. Burglaries for intelligence purposes should occur but, says Heritage, courts of law may continue to prohibit the use of such ill-gotten information.

Heritage recommends that the clandestine collection of in­telligence be “rebuilt.” It supports the use of “hard” or illegal tech­niques to collect information. This, of course, includes burglaries, wiretapping, etc. Such clandestine collection means more agents acting as spies.

Heritage is quite critical of the present CIA’s ability to carry out the functions of covert action, counterintelligence and clan­destine collection. It believes the CIA is too involved in passive techniques of intelligence collection and, for this reason, recommends a new and separate agency whose sole function is the clandestine ser­vices, with a clear mandate for covert actions. This agency would hire hundreds of new covert agents and recruit agents throughout. the. world. Of course, a strict law to protect the names of these agents would be necessary.

C. Internal Security

One of the reasons that Heritage proposed the recreation of Congressional counter-subversive committees discussed below is to pro­vide a propaganda agency to gain public support for the repressive mea­sures it suggests.

On December 5, 1980, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced the formation of a Subcommittee on Terrorism and Internal Security. The Committee is to be chaired by Jeremiah Denton (D-Ala.), a former POW and retired admiral, whose Senate campaign was supported by the Moral Major­ity. He is the man who, while imprisoned by the Vietnamese, blinked the word “torture” in Morse Code with his eyelids before national TV cameras. Senators East and Hatch have also been named to the subcommittee. The final formation of the subcommittee, as well as the possibility of sub­poena power, is still subject to the Senate Rules Committee.

According to the Washington Post, the new subcommittee “would keep watch over communist activities within the United States and would have added jurisdiction over terrorism.” The Post reported that the new committee would have jurisdiction over mutiny, espionage, counterfeiting, the FBI, and the DEA. A recent Nation article said that Denton had not yet decided whether the subcommittee will hold legislative hearings or will content itself with oversight and legislation affecting the FBI and the DEA. Hatch, however, commented that investigative hearings are anti­cipated.

The shift in right wing focus away from communist propaganda and toward so-called left-terrorist activity demonstrated by the commit­tee’s focus is not new. In their final hours, the Senate Internal Sec­urity Subcommittee and the House Internal Security Committee had followed a similar trend. In the last three years, federal grand juries have subpoenaed political activists under the rubric of investigations into terrorist activities. Moreover, the recreation of an intelligence gathering subcommittee is, in itself, not unexpected. As Frank Donner noted in The Age of Surveillance:

The anticipation that Congress will at some future time resume countersubversive investigations is hardly quixotic. The Con­gressional countersubversive investigation has become an insti­tutionalized weapon in the struggle over the direction of pub­lic policy. Resistance to movements for change recurrently flowered in the form of countersubversive investigations when conservatives dominate the Congress. Just as conventional leg­islative committees tend to ally themselves with the interests they regulate, so the pseudo-legislative mode is allied with clearly defined lobbies and pressure groups — business inter­ests, veterans organizations, fundamentalist churches, anti­communist ideologues, civilian and military foreign policy hawks, defense contractors, and nativist ultras. Indeed, since the pseudo-legislative committees are far removed from the main business of the Congress, they tend to be tied even more closely to the private groups whose values they share and to intelli­gence units engaged in related activities.

The Age of Surveillance at 387

Just prior to the announcement of the new subcommittee, the Heritage Report, which called for the creation of such legislative committee, was issued. The connection between the Heritage Foundation and the new administration has been discussed above, but before getting into the specific recommendations of the Heritage Report, which relate to intelligence committees, a review of other forces supporting the for­mation of these committees is appropriate.

According to Donner, the two twin pillars of the countersubversive establishment are the Church League of America (CLA) and the American Security Council (ASC). Both of these older, right groups are still active lobbyists and archivists with extensive private libraries. The influence of these groups cannot be underestimated. J. William Middendorf, former Secretary of the Navy and head of Reagan’s intelli­gence transition team, is a member of the National Strategy Committee of ASC.

ASC funds the new right Coalition for Peace Through Strength, noted for its pro-military and anti-Salt II positions. The Coalition boasts Reagan as a member and is co-chaired by Dole and Laxalt in the Senate and Ichord and Kemp in the House.

An additional group which was formed more recently calls for the restoration of internal security committees and warns of increas­ing “terrorism, subversion, espionage and enemy-directed misinformation.” It is the National Committee to Restore Internal Security (NCRIS) headed by J. A. Parker, active new right anti-communist and Reagan’s transition person to the EEOC, and Robert Morris, formerly chief counsel to the Senate Internal Security Committee and author of Self-Destruct. NCRIS members include Jay R. Sourwine, former staff counsel to SISS, and Otto F. Otepka, who was temporarily suspended from the State Department for giving secret documents to Congressional internal security committees and then was Nixon’s appointee to the Subversive Activities Control Board. Thus, the recreation of the Congressional committees was not only on the agenda of the Heritage Foundation but also on the agenda of many of the new right groups which lent Reagan their support.

According to Heritage, “the threat to the internal security of the Republic is greater today than at any time since World War II.” Extremists exist who are capable of inflicting considerable damage to innocent persons, institutions, and property (through assassinations, kid­nappings, sabotage), of subverting and destabilizing social and political process and thereby weakening the institutional safe­guards of a free society (through propaganda, disinformation, agitation), and covertly influencing the policies of the United States in ways contrary to the desires and best interests of the nation and beneficial to hostile foreign powers to which internal extremists may be sympathetic or allied (through infil­tration, espionage, and covert action).

The groups specifically named by Heritage in this context are: “the several Communist Parties (the CPUSA, SWP, RCP, CPML, and PLP among others)” as well as a “range of radical and New Left groups, some of whose members and leaders have expressed sympathy for North Vietnam and Cuba and who have had influence on federal policy-making in recent years (the IPS, NACLA, CED, anti-defense and anti-nuclear lobbies and several other groups).” Heritage mentions the KKK and the National Socialist White Peoples Party as part of “a growing and increasingly active right wing and racist formation,” but not in the context of “clandestine terrorist groups,” a term apparently reserved for left wing forces. According to Heritage, the “clandestine terrorist groups” to be watched are: “Iranian and Libyan organizations and networks and their support apparatuses; support groups for foreign terrorist organizations such as the IRA, the PLO, the Sandinistas, and other Latin American, European, African, and Middle Eastern terrorists.”