1967 to 1968 The Johnson Years and the CIA part five
copyrighted Feb. 1, 2011
The US Army Spying on Americans
The US Army established its own intelligence and security branch on July 1, 1962. Following the Oxford, Mississippi, racial riots of 1963 when the 101st Airborne was deployed, Major General Creighton v. Abrams, the on-scene commander, wrote a highly critical assessment of the state and performance of army intelligence. In part he stated:
"We in the Army should launch a major intelligence project, without delay, to identify personalities, both black and white, and develop analyses of the various civil rights situations in which they become involved."
In 1964 the US Army Security Agency (ASA) headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, became a major command field under the control of the Army Chief of Staff. ASA carried out signals intelligence surveillance using expert wire-tappers, eavesdroppers, and safecrackers.
In 1967 the U S Army Intelligence Command (USAINTC) based at Fort Holabird, Maryland housed the Investigative Records Repository (IRR). The IRR then contained more than seven million brown jacketed dossiers on American citizens and organizations, including subversive files on individuals who -- according to army intelligence -- were "persons considered to constitute a threat to the security and defense of the United States." There were files on the entire King family in the IRR.
At that time USAINTC took over control of seven of the eight existing counterintelligence units, called military intelligence groups in the Continental United States (CONUS) and in West German. By 1967 the military intelligence groups employed total of 1,576 officers and enlisted soldiers, and of these "spies" some 260 were civilians. They were directly involved in domestic intelligence gathering activities.
The eighth military intelligence group, -- the 902nd MIG - was under the command of the Army's Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI) who was Major General William P. Yarborough from December 1966 until July 1968. In addition to Yarborough's control of the 902nd MIG, he supervised the Counterintelligence Analysis Board (CIAB), both of which were based in Falls Church, Virginia. FBI Director Hoover tasked FBI agent Patrick D. Putnam onto Yarborough's staff. Putnam remained as the daily liaison between Hoover and Yarborough until the latter left the office of ACSI in July 1968.
The CIAB analyzed a wide range of military intelligence group produced information and forwarded reports usually directly to the ACSI. The 902nd MIG carried out some of the most sensitive assignments.
The US Strike Command (CINCSTRIKE) was the overall coordinating command (which could call upon all military forces on US soil) for the purpose of responding to urban riots in 1967-1968. At that time it included liaison officers from the CIA, FBI, and other nonmilitary state and federal agencies. It was headquartered at MacDill Air Force base in Tampa, Florida
Alongside this Army structure were the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, the FBI, and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). The NSA monitored and analyzed all targeted international cable, telephone, telex, teletype, and telefax communications as well as, on occasion, specified, sensitive domestic telecommunications traffic.
The CIA, through its clandestine Office of Security and the Domestic Operations Division, carried on extensive domestic operations (codename MH CHAOS) interfacing on domestic activity (as did each of the army operating commands) with the FBI and ONI. These operations were carried out on a project-by-project basis, usually through specially created SOGs (Special Operations Groups). The interagency umbrella or coordinating intelligence body was the United States Intelligence Board (USIB). Represented on the USIB were the CIA Director Richard Helms, the NSA Director, the National Security Adviser to the president, the ACSI, the FBI, the ASA, USAINTC, the DIA and ONI.
As early as 1962 the NSA had systematically begun to include in a "watch list" the names of persons and organizations who were engaged in dissent against America's Vietnam policy. In 1967 this list and its focus increased sharply. On October 20 of that year General Yarborough sent a "TOP SECRET COMINT CHANNELS ONLY" message (meaning the top secret messages that are sent and received via a special telegraph system) to NSA Director Marshal Carter requesting that the NSA provide any available information about possible foreign communications to and influence on individuals associated with civil disturbances in the United States.
The army began to send over page after page of the names of protestors gathered by army intelligence units from all over the country whom they wanted surveilled. The CIA, the Secret Service, the FBI, and the DIA followed suit. The result was that this "watch list" grew enormously. The NSA had a vacuum cleaner approach to intelligence gathering, sucking up all telecommunications of targeted. The use of a targeted person's or organization's name triggered the interception and recording of the conversation which was then subsequently analyzed. Thus, if an organization or a person was targeted, the communications of everyone in contact with them would be subject to this process. Thousands upon thousands of private communications were monitored.
Wiretapping was carried out by the ASA against Dr. Martin L. King. The tapes and transcripts were reviewed at Fort Meade. For example, a telephone conversation between Dr. King and his, friend New York lawyer Stanley Levison on February 18, 1967 was recorded by the ASA. The FBI, and other intelligence agencies in the loop learned about Dr. King's emerging awareness that many blacks considered the war to be a form of genocide and of his determination to participate in the April 15 antiwar demonstration at the United Nations.
On April 14,Colonel Van Tassell's CIAB staff met with General Yarborough and staff from the DIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Intelligence Unit. The focus of this meeting was to discuss ways and means of infiltrating the antiwar movement for purposes of intelligence gathering and subversion.
On June 6 a meeting General Yarborough formally approved an ambitious plan to plant HUMINTS (informers) inside major, black nationalist groups. Half an hour later he met with his close ally and confidant USAINTC Commander Blakefield.
Detroit exploded in riots on July 23, 1967 and the 82nd Airborne under Lieutenant General John L. Throckmorton was sent in. The 20th Special Forces Groupwas sent there as well. The 113th MIG began to interrogate apprehended rioters, preparing extensive transcripts and reports for transmission to Washington. At midnight on July 23 Yarborough entered the army's Operations Center in the Pentagon and declared that a revolution was underway by blacks. Yarborough insisted that either Havana or Peking would ultimately be found to have been behind an urban conspiracy. That night Yarborough ordered all MIGs to be put on full alert and all potential guerilla targets-armories, power stations, gun shops, radio and television stations, and other vital installations -- to be put under surveillance.
August 15, Helms ordered one of his agents, Thomas Karamessines, to set up a Special Operations Group (SOG) to penetrate the domestic movement. Under its umbrella, among others, came: Operation CHAOS, devoted to mail opening and developing files on US citizens, and Project MERRIMAC, whose goal was to infiltrate and spy on ten major peace and civil rights groups. It appears that at some time between the beginning of the riots in Newark on July 12, and the middle of August the decision was made to establish the domestic SOG. The purpose of this joint effort was to counter what was regarded as revolutionary activity in CONUS. The SOG combined intelligence operations and resources of the CIA, the army and the FBI, as well as those of other agencies which though in the informational loop were on the periphery of actual operations.
On October 19, DEFCON 2 status was declared with respect to the preparations for the demonstration. (DEFCON designations indicate the degree of seriousness attached to a threat to national security. DEFCON 3 orders were given on October 20 and on October 21 and anti-Vietnam war demonstration got under way in Washington DC.
On November 17, Army Special Forces teams were deployed to conduct reconnaissance in cities that it was believed could explode that spring and summer with attacks on targeted key public facilities. They were ordered to make precise maps, take aerial photos, set up communication nets, command points, sniper sites, and formulate operational plans. By early 1968 this information had been compiled on 124 cities throughout the country.
On January 10th, Pres. Johnson ordered Army Chief of Staff Harold Johnson to "use every resource" to diffuse the civil disturbances planned and projected on Washington DC. by Dr. King for the spring.
On Sunday morning, March 31, Dr. King preached at the National Episcopal Cathedral in Washington, D.C, That evening Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection. The Reverends Andrew Young, James Orange, and Jim Bevel flew to Memphis and on arrival were placed under surveillance by the 111th MIG agents who followed and watched them check into the Lorraine Motel. (In anticipation of their arrival, ASA agents, with local Memphis Police Department assistance, had installed hidden microphones in three rooms of the Lorraine Motel, one of which was Room 306, where Dr. King was to be placed upon his arrival on April 3.
On April 3, 1968 Dr. King and his party arrived in Memphis. Under the watchful eye of agents of the 111th MIG, he held a brief press conference and then went to the Lorraine Motel Throughout the day he attended various planning meetings. Those at the Lorraine as well as telephone conversations were recorded and monitored by ASA agents from a vehicle parked in the area.
Around noon, Carthel Weeden, the captain at fire station 2 (which overlooked the Lorraine Motel) showed Reynolds and Norton, the two Psy Ops officers, to the roof on the east side of the station from which vantage point they would begin to conduct visual and photographic surveillance of activity at the Lorraine Motel.
Am 6:01 pm. Dr. King was assassinated.
Between 1967 and 1973, a cumulative total of about 1,200 American names appeared on the civil disturbance watch list. The FBI submitted the largest proportion, approximately 950. The Secret Service's list included about 180 American individuals and groups active in civil rights and antiwar activities. The DIA submitted the names of 20 American citizens who traveled to North Vietnam, and the CIA submitted approximately 30 names of alleged American radicals. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Naval Investigative Service, and the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence all submitted a small number of names to NSA. In addition, NSA contributed about 50-75 names to support the watch list activity.
At its height in early 1973, there were 600 American names and 6,000 foreign names on the watch lists. 40 According to NSA, these lists produced about 2,000 reports that were disseminated to other agencies between 1967 and 1973. NSA estimates 10 percent of these reports were derived from communications between two American citizens.
. Project MINARET: Further Expansion and Increased Secrecy
The civil disturbance watch list program became even more compartmented in July 1969, when NSA issued a charter to establish Project MINARET.
MINARET established more stringent controls over the information collected on American citizens and groups involved in civil disturbances. To enhance security, MINARET effectively classified all of this information as Top Secret, "For Background Use Only," and stipulated that the material was not to be serialized or identified with the National Security Agency. Prior to 1969, only communications between two Americans were classified in this manner; with the adoption of MINARET, communications to, from, or mentioning US citizens were so classified.
The MINARET charter established tighter security procedures for intercepted messages which contained:
a. information on foreign governments, organizations, or individuals who are attempting to influence, coordinate or control U.S. organizations or individuals who may foment civil disturbance or otherwise undermine the national security of the U.S.;
b. information on U.S. organizations or individuals who are engaged in activities which may result in civil disturbances or otherwise subvert the national security of the U.S. An equally important aspect of MINARET will be to restrict the knowledge that such information is being collected and processed by the National Security Agency.
In addition to regulating the distribution and format of watch list product, MINARET also initiated a more formal procedure for submission of names. No longer were names accepted over the telephone or by word of mouth. According to NSA, the watch list "was handled less systematically prior to 1969 ... some watch lists entered NSA during that time via direct channels, including secure telephone." NSA maintains, however, that the regular procedure was for agencies submitting names by secure telephone, or in person to confirm them with written requests.
NSA placed more restrictive security controls on MINARET material than it placed on other highly classified foreign intercepts in order to conceal its involvement in activities which were beyond its regular mission.
Defense Secretaries Melvin Laird and James Schlesinger, as well as Attorneys General John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst, were informed that NSA was monitoring Americans. Former NSA Director, Admiral Noel Gayler sent a Top Secret "Eyes Only" memorandum to Laird and Mitchell on January 26, 1971, which outlined ground rules for "NSA's Contribution to Domestic Intelligence." In this memorandum, Gayler refers to a discussion he had earlier that day with both men on how NSA could assist them with "intelligence bearing on domestic problems."
Gayler became NSA Director in August 1969. He maintains that he first became aware of the watch list activity about the time of the June 1970 Huston plan for domestic surveillance, ten months after his arrival and eleven months after the MINARET Charter was issued.
Gayler was one of the original participants in the Huston plan deliberations and in the Intelligence Evaluation Committee (early 1971). Both of these efforts were designed to use the resources of NSA and other intelligence agencies to gather information on internal security matters. In fact, part of the Huston plan called for the expansion of the watch list activity. Buffham told the Committee that if the plan had been implemented he assumed "other intelligence agencies would then increase the numbers of names on their lists" and NSA would possibly target specific communications channels to obtain the international traffic of American citizens. NSA was particularly concerned that the executive branch directives would have had to be changed to permit such an expansion. The alternatives outlined in the Huston plan included the recommendation that the controling NSCID and the relevant DCID be changed to allow NSA to target international communications links carrying the messages of American citizens.
NSA was already engaged in watch list activity which although it did not involve targeting of specific communications links, did involve targeting Americans by name. The Huston Plan states: "NSA is currently doing so on a restricted basis, and the information it has provided has been most helpful. Much of this information is particularly useful to the White House ...."