From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Sat Jun 05 2004 - 20:40:08 EDT
remembering Reagan, the governor of California Secret FBI Files Reveal Covert Activities at UC: Bureau's Campus Operations Involved Reagan, CIA 06/17/02 By: Seth Rosenfeld Source: San Francisco Chronicle; June 9, 2002 Under the guise of protecting national security, the FBI conducted wide-ranging and unlawful intelligence operations concerning the University of California that at different points involved the head of the CIA and then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, The Chronicle has learned. According to thousands of pages of FBI records obtained by The Chronicle after a 17-year legal fight, the FBI unlawfully schemed with the head of the CIA to harass students, faculty and members of the Board of Regents, and mounted a concerted campaign to destroy the career of UC President Clark Kerr, which included sending the White House derogatory allegations about him that the bureau knew were false. The FBI, in contrast, developed a "close and cordial" relationship with Reagan, who made campus unrest a major issue and vowed to fire Kerr during his 1966 gubernatorial campaign. And after he was elected, the FBI failed to report that Reagan falsely stated on a federal security clearance form that he never had been a member of any group officially deemed subversive, an omission that could have been prosecuted as a felony. The FBI later secretly gave Gov. Reagan's administration information it could use "against" protesters. The disclosure of the FBI activities concerning the University of California during the 1950s and 1960s comes as the bureau has been granted wider authority and more resources to conduct domestic intelligence activities, and as President Bush seeks to create a new Department of Homeland Security. Experts said the FBI and CIA's past activities involving the University of California provide a cautionary tale about potential dangers to academic freedom and civil liberties. "This . . . raises a topic that we should be concerned about today: the balance between security and liberty," said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, who was general counsel to the CIA from 1990 to 1995 and now is dean of the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. "We learned some painful lessons," said Rindskopf Parker. "We certainly don't want to see ourselves rolling back to this time." Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on the FBI files obtained by The Chronicle. The Office of Ronald Reagan referred questions to Edwin Meese III, who was Gov. Reagan's chief of staff. Meese acknowledged that Reagan had had a long-standing relationship with the FBI, but said that as far as he knew, the bureau gave Reagan no special political help. In the mid-1970s, Congress held hearings that revealed widespread FBI and CIA surveillance of law-abiding citizens, as well as FBI "Cointelpro" (counterintelligence operation) programs to "disrupt and neutralize" organizations and citizens who engaged in legitimate dissent, such as civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The Chronicle obtained thousands of pages of previously undisclosed FBI records concerning the University of California as a result of three lawsuits brought under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents provide the most detailed account to date of the FBI's activities at any American university during a turbulent, historic period and show that those covert operations spilled off campus and into state politics. The FBI maintained in court that its activities regarding UC were proper and intended to protect civil order and national security. But a series of federal judges concluded that the FBI engaged in a range of unlawful activities that included investigating student protesters, interfering with academic freedom and intruding into internal university affairs. The FBI's campus files show that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover took a special interest in UC, which was the nation's largest university, operator of federal nuclear weapons labs and the scene of some of the nation's first and largest campus protests over constitutional rights and academic freedom. Looking for dirt on UC According to the documents, Hoover became outraged over an essay question on UC's 1959 English aptitude test for high school applicants that asked: "What are the dangers to a democracy of a national police organization, like the FBI, which operates secretly and is unresponsive to public criticism?" In response, Hoover ordered his aides to launch a covert public relations campaign to embarrass the university and pressure it to retract what he called a "viciously misleading" question. The director also ordered his agents to search bureau files for derogatory information on UC's 6,000 faculty members and top administrators. The resulting 60-page report said 72 faculty members, students and employees were listed in the bureau's "Security Index," a secret nationwide list of people whom the FBI considered potentially dangerous to national security who would be detained without warrant during a crisis. Congress was not told about the FBI detention plan, which failed to meet statutory requirements that there was "reasonable ground to believe" prospective detainees would engage in espionage or sabotage, said a 1976 report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Operations. The FBI's 1960 report on UC also alleged that faculty members had engaged in misconduct such as "illicit love affairs, homosexuality, sexual perversion, excessive drinking or other instances of conduct reflecting mental instability." The FBI records show that after the Free Speech Movement staged the nation's first large campus sit-ins of the era, CIA Director John McCone met with Hoover at FBI headquarters in January 1965 and planned to leak FBI reports to conservative regent Edwin Pauley, who could then "use his influence to curtail, harass and at times eliminate" liberal faculty members. Regents, Kerr also targets The FBI also gave Pauley reports on the backgrounds of three liberal regents from San Francisco: lawyer William Coblentz, businessman William M. Roth and former Democratic National Committee member Elinor Haas Heller. The FBI campaigned to get Kerr fired from the UC presidency, the bureau's records show, because it disagreed with his policies and handling of the Free Speech Movement protests. When President Lyndon Johnson was considering appointing Kerr to be his Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in December 1964, he asked the FBI to conduct a routine inquiry into Kerr's background. But the bureau sent the White House allegations that Kerr was "pro-communist" - even though the bureau knew the claims were false. Kerr said he was unaware of the FBI's actions against him until contacted by The Chronicle. "Maybe I was too naive, but I never assumed they (the FBI) were taking efforts to get rid of me," Kerr told The Chronicle. "I always looked upon myself as being 100 percent American." Reagan's "subversive" ties The FBI's background report on Kerr contrasts with the bureau's background investigation of Reagan after he was elected governor in 1966 and became a regent ex officio, FBI records show. That process began when Reagan filled out a federal form required to get a security clearance, and stated that he never belonged to any group deemed officially subversive, a copy of the form shows. According to FBI records, the bureau knew Reagan had been in two such groups in the 1940s - the Committee for a Democratic Far East Policy and the American Veterans Committee - but the FBI background report failed to note that Reagan's denial was untrue. Hundreds of people in the 1940s and 1950s had faced hearings and sometimes dismissals from federal employment for failing to disclose membership in groups deemed subversive. Cartha "Deke" DeLoach, Hoover's third-in-command, told The Chronicle that the FBI gave Reagan no special treatment. But two former FBI agents said it was routine procedure for the FBI to point out such discrepancies. A "helpful" relationship Reagan was also a more active informer in Hollywood than has been previously reported. Meese told The Chronicle that Reagan felt his relationship with the FBI was "very helpful." Following the violent 1969 People's Park protests in Berkeley, Herbert Ellingwood, Reagan's legal affairs secretary, met with DeLoach to discuss campus unrest. "Governor Reagan is dedicated to the destruction of disruptive elements on California campuses," Ellingwood said, according to the records. The Reagan administration planned on "hounding" protest groups as much as possible by "bringing any form of violation available against them." Reagan officials might bring tax cases against them, Ellingwood added, and would also mount a "psychological warfare campaign" against protesters. Ellingwood asked if the FBI would give Reagan more intelligence reports, and Hoover agreed. "This has been done in the past," the director noted, "and has worked quite successfully." Meese told The Chronicle, "I have no recollection at all of us planning to do these things . . . There was never any concentrated strategy to do these things." Pitfalls of domestic intelligence James X. Dempsey, deputy director of the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington, D.C., and a former aide to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, said The Chronicle's findings about FBI activities at UC show how the bureau's domestic intelligence operations can go awry - and that it can take years for the public to find out. While the FBI was charged with defending the United States against Soviet intelligence operations during the 1950s and 1960s, he said, the bureau improperly focused on citizens engaged in lawful dissent. "I'm afraid that 20 or 30 years from now, somebody will be writing a story about how the FBI got off track in 2002." --- Reagan, Hoover and the UC Red Scare by Seth Rosenfeld San Francisco Chronicle; June 9, 2002 On the gray Monday morning of Jan. 16, 1967, two senior FBI agents were ushered into the governor's Victorian mansion in Sacramento, then led up to a second-floor suite, where a flu-stricken Ronald Reagan was propped up in a bed piled with working papers. Gov. Reagan had just been elected after campaigning to restore order at UC Berkeley, where "beatniks, radicals and filthy speech advocates" were proof of what he called the "morality and decency gap in Sacramento." Now he was "damned mad" at campus officials, one agent recalled, and he was asking the FBI to tell him "what he was up against." Back in Washington, D.C., FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover saw Reagan's request for confidential information as a chance to finally quell the protests at Berkeley, which were sparking demonstrations at schools across the country. "This presents the bureau with an opportunity to . . . thwart the ever increasing agitation by subversive elements on the campuses," he noted in a memo. Hoover had long been concerned about the University of California, the nation's largest public university and operator of top-secret federal nuclear laboratories. In 1960, he warned Congress of an international communist conspiracy plotting to "control for its own evil purposes the explosive force which youth represents." But as the Cold War waned, the FBI departed from its mission of protecting national security and engaged in sprawling covert intelligence operations that involved thousands of UC students and faculty participating in legitimate debate about public policy. For years the FBI has denied engaging in such activities at the university. But a 17-year legal challenge brought by a Chronicle reporter under the Freedom of Information Act forced the FBI to release more than 200,000 pages of confidential records covering the 1940s to the 1970s. Those documents describe the sweeping nature of the FBI's activities and show they ranged far beyond the campus and into state politics. The FBI records -- in addition to other official papers and scores of interviews with current and former FBI agents and university officials -- reveal that the FBI: * conspired with the head of the CIA and a senior member of the university's Board of Regents to pressure the board to "harass" faculty and students involved in protests, * misled the White House by sending the president information the bureau knew to be false, *and mounted covert public relations efforts to manipulate public opinion about campus events and embarrass university officials. Along the way, the FBI campaigned to destroy the career of UC President Clark Kerr -- even though the bureau's own investigations repeatedly found him to beloyal. At the same time, the FBI forged a close relationship with Reagan -- a more aggressive informer than previously disclosed -- catalyzing his transformation from liberal movie star to the staunch conservative who became one of the 20th century's most powerful figures. The office of Ronald Reagan declined to comment and referred questions to former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III. Meese, who was Gov. Reagan's chief of staff, said Reagan had a "longtime relationship with the bureau" and that the FBI's assistance to the governor in handling campus unrest was "strictly appropriate and lawful." Meese said that, to his knowledge, the FBI did not give political assistance to Reagan. Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on the bureau's campus files. "Things are done a lot differently today," he said, adding, "The files speak for themselves." Cartha "Deke" DeLoach, who was Hoover's third in command, said the FBI gave Reagan no special help and responded properly to domestic unrest that posed a "considerable threat to the country." In court papers, the bureau has maintained that its activities were lawful and intended to protect civil order and national security. But in ordering the release of the FBI's files in 1995, a federal appeals court concluded that some of the bureau's activities extended far beyond its law enforcement mandate and "came to focus on political rather than law enforcement aims." And as U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel earlier ruled, "The records in this case go (to) the very essence of what the government was up to during a turbulent, historic period of time." The FBI's secret history at UC begins at the dawn of the Cold War, when the bureau's intelligence-gathering authority was expanded in response to threats at home and abroad -- and civil liberties collided with concerns about national security.
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