home | about | documents | news | publications | FOIA | research | internships | search | donate | mailing list

The CIA's Family Jewels

Agency Violated Charter for 25 Years,
Wiretapped Journalists and Dissidents

Update - Full Report Now Available and Full Text Searchable

CIA Announces Declassification of 1970s "Skeletons" File,
Archive Posts Justice Department Summary from 1975,
With White House Memcons on Damage Control

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 222
Edited by Thomas Blanton

Posted - June 21, 2007
Updated - June 26, 2007, 1 p.m.

For more information contact:
Thomas Blanton - 202/994-7000

Seymour Hersh broke the story of CIA's illegal domestic operations with a front page story in the New York Times on December 22, 1974.

In the news

"Files on Illegal Spying Show C.I.A. Skeletons From Cold War"
By Mark Mazzetti and Tim Weiner
New York Times
June 27, 2007

"CIA Releases Files on Past Misdeeds"
By Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus"
Washington Post
June 27, 2007

"CIA discloses past abuses"
By Richard Willing
USA Today
June 27, 2007

"CIA Releases 700 Pages of 'Family Jewels'"
All Things Considered (National Public Radio)
June 26, 2007

"CIA to Air Decades of Its Dirty Laundry"
By Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus
Washington Post
June 22, 2007

"CIA Kidnapping, Wiretapping of '60s, '70s Revealed"
Morning Edition (National Public Radio)
June 22, 2007

"C.I.A. to Release Documents on Decades-Old Misdeeds"
By Scott Shane
New York Times
June 22, 2007

Chronology of the CIA's record on declassification

CIA Proposed Rule on FOIA Fees Would Burden Requesters and the Agency
February 7, 2007

CIA Had Single Officer in Hungary 1956
October 31, 2006

CIA Claims the Right to Decide What is News
June 14, 2006

Secret Understanding Between National Archives and CIA Exposes Framework for Surreptitious Reclassification Program
April 19, 2006

CIA Wins 2006 "Rosemary Award" for Worst Freedom of Information Performance by a Federal Agency
March 13, 2006

Declassification in Reverse
February 21, 2006

PDB News - The President's Daily Brief
January 27, 2006

Judge Refuses In Camera Review of CIA Estimate on Iraq
October 21, 2005

Public Interest in Hidden CIA Operational Records Is High
January 21, 2005

Professor Sues CIA for President's Daily Briefs
December 23, 2004

Archive Calls on CIA and Congress to Address Loophole Shielding CIA Records From the Freedom of Information Act
October 15, 2004

CIA Whites Out Controversial Estimate on Iraq Weapons
July 9, 2004

Dubious Secrets
May 21, 2003

The Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup
November 29, 2000

Lawsuit calls CIA secrecy claims "facially incredible"
August 2, 2000

Archive Sues CIA
May 13, 1999

CIA's Broken Promises on Declassification

What Others Say about CIA's Promises

"C.I.A., Breaking Promises, Puts Off Release of Cold War Files"
By Tim Weiner
New York Times (Select)
July 15, 1998

Update - June 26, 2007, 1 p.m. - The full "family jewels" report, released today by the Central Intelligence Agency and detailing 25 years of Agency misdeeds, is now available on the Archive's Web site. The 702-page collection was delivered by CIA officers to the Archive at approximately 11:30 this morning -- 15 years after the Archive filed a Freedom of Information request for the documents.

The report is available for download in its entirety and is also split into five smaller files for easier download.


CIA's "Family Jewels" - full report (24 MB)

CIA's "Family Jewels" - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Top Ten Most Interesting "Family Jewels"
Released by the CIA to the National Security Archive, June 26, 2007

1) Journalist surveillance - operation CELOTEX I-II (pp. 26-30)

2) Covert mail opening, codenamed SRPOINTER / HTLINGUAL at JFK airport (pp. 28, 644-45)

3) Watergate burglar and former CIA operative E. Howard Hunt requests a lock picker (p. 107)

4) CIA Science and Technology Directorate Chief Carl Duckett "thinks the Director would be ill-advised to say he is acquainted with this program" (Sidney Gottlieb's drug experiments) (p. 213)

5) MHCHAOS documents (investigating foreign support for domestic U.S. dissent) reflecting Agency employee resentment against participation (p. 326)

6) Plan to poison Congo leader Patrice Lumumba (p. 464)

7) Report of detention of Soviet defector Yuriy Nosenko (p. 522)

8) Document describing John Lennon funding anti-war activists (p. 552)

9) MHCHAOS documents (investigating foreign support for domestic U.S. dissent) (pp. 591-93)

10) CIA counter-intelligence official James J. Angleton and issue of training foreign police in bomb-making, sabotage, etc. (pp. 599-603)

Plus a bonus "Jewel":
Warrantless wiretapping by CIA's Division D (pp. 533-539)

Today's release also includes a substantially-excised version of a memo first released 30 years ago in 1977 with fewer excisions (see comparison below).

Update - June 26, 2007, 11:00 a.m. - The Central Intelligence Agency has promised to deliver the long-secret "family jewels" report to the Archive within the hour. The complete report, as released by CIA, will be posted here as soon as we can scan it.

In the meantime, the Archive has posted the original memorandum, signed by then-CIA director James R. Schlesinger, ordering the "family jewels" study and calling on CIA employees to report to him any activities "which might be construed to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency."

Washington D.C., June 21, 2007 - The Central Intelligence Agency violated its charter for 25 years until revelations of illegal wiretapping, domestic surveillance, assassination plots, and human experimentation led to official investigations and reforms in the 1970s, according to declassified documents posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden announced today that the Agency is declassifying the full 693-page file amassed on CIA's illegal activities by order of then-CIA director James Schlesinger in 1973--the so-called "family jewels." Only a few dozen heavily-censored pages of this file have previously been declassified, although multiple Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed over the years for the documents. Gen. Hayden called the file "a glimpse of a very different time and a very different Agency." The papers are scheduled for public release on Monday, June 25.

"This is the first voluntary CIA declassification of controversial material since George Tenet in 1998 reneged on the 1990s promises of greater openness at the Agency," commented Thomas Blanton, the Archive's director.

Hayden also announced the declassification of some 11,000 pages of the so-called CAESAR, POLO and ESAU papers--hard-target analyses of Soviet and Chinese leadership internal politics and Sino-Soviet relations from 1953-1973, a collection of intelligence on Warsaw Pact military programs, and hundreds of pages on the A-12 spy plane.

The National Security Archive separately obtained (and posted today) a six-page summary of the illegal CIA activities, prepared by Justice Department lawyers after a CIA briefing in December 1974, and the memorandum of conversation when the CIA first briefed President Gerald Ford on the scandal on January 3, 1975.

Then-CIA director Schlesinger commissioned the "family jewels" compilation with a May 9, 1973 directive after finding out that Watergate burglars E. Howard Hunt and James McCord (both veteran CIA officers) had cooperation from the Agency as they carried out "dirty tricks" for President Nixon. The Schlesinger directive, drafted by deputy director for operations William Colby, commanded senior CIA officials to report immediately on any current or past Agency matters that might fall outside CIA authority. By the end of May, Colby had been named to succeed Schlesinger as DCI, and his loose-leaf notebook of memos totaled 693 pages [see John Prados, Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby (Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 259-260.]

Seymour Hersh broke the story of CIA's illegal domestic operations with a front page story in the New York Times on December 22, 1974 ("Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U.S. Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years"), writing that "a check of the CIA's domestic files ordered last year… produced evidence of dozens of other illegal activities… beginning in the nineteen fifties, including break-ins, wiretapping, and the surreptitious inspection of mail."

On December 31, 1974, CIA director Colby and the CIA general counsel John Warner met with the deputy attorney general, Laurence Silberman, and his associate, James Wilderotter, to brief Justice "in connection with the recent New York Times articles" on CIA matters that "presented legal questions." Colby's list included 18 specifics:

1. Confinement of a Russian defector that "might be regarded as a violation of the kidnapping laws."
2. Wiretapping of two syndicated columnists, Robert Allen and Paul Scott.
3. Physical surveillance of muckraker Jack Anderson and his associates, including current Fox News anchor Brit Hume.
4. Physical surveillance of then Washington Post reporter Michael Getler.
5. Break-in at the home of a former CIA employee.
6. Break-in at the office of a former defector.
7. Warrantless entry into the apartment of a former CIA employee.
8. Mail opening from 1953 to 1973 of letters to and from the Soviet Union.
9. Mail opening from 1969 to 1972 of letters to and from China.
10. Behavior modification experiments on "unwitting" U.S. citizens.
11. Assassination plots against Castro, Lumumba, and Trujillo (on the latter, "no active part" but a "faint connection" to the killers).
12. Surveillance of dissident groups between 1967 and 1971.
13. Surveillance of a particular Latin American female and U.S. citizens in Detroit.
14. Surveillance of a CIA critic and former officer, Victor Marchetti.
15. Amassing of files on 9,900-plus Americans related to the antiwar movement.
16. Polygraph experiments with the San Mateo, California, sheriff.
17. Fake CIA identification documents that might violate state laws.
18. Testing of electronic equipment on US telephone circuits.

Read the Documents
Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

Document 1: Summary of the Family Jewels
Memorandum for the File, "CIA Matters," by James A. Wilderotter, Associate Deputy Attorney General, 3 January 1975
Source: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

On New Years' eve, 1974, DCI Colby met with Justice Department officials, including Deputy Attorney General Laurence H. Silberman, to give them a full briefing of the "skeletons."

Document 2: Colby Briefs President Ford on the Family Jewels
Memorandum of Conversation, 3 January 1975
Source: Gerald R. Ford President Library

Ten days after the appearance of Hersh's New York Times story, DCI William Colby tells President Ford how his predecessor James Schlesinger (then serving as Secretary of Defense) ordered CIA staffers to compile the "skeletons" in the Agency's closet, such as surveillance of student radicals, illegal wiretaps, assassination plots, and the three year confinement of a Soviet defector, Yuri Nosenko.

Document 3: Kissinger's Reaction
Memorandum of Conversation between President Ford and Secretary of State/National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, 4 January 1975
Source: Gerald R. Ford President Library

An apoplectic Kissinger argues that the unspilling of CIA secrets is "worse than the days of McCarthyism" when the Wisconsin Senator went after the State Department. Kissinger had met with former DCI Richard Helms who told him that "these stories are just the tip of the iceberg," citing as one example Robert F. Kennedy's role in assassination planning. Ford wondered whether to fire Colby, but Kissinger advised him to wait until after the investigations were complete when he could "put in someone of towering integrity." The "Blue Ribbon" announcement refers to the creation of a commission chaired by then-vice president Nelson A. Rockefeller.

Document 4: Investigations Continue
Memorandum of Conversation between Kissinger, Schlesinger, Colby et al., "Investigations of Allegations of CIA Domestic Activities," 20 February 1975

Source: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

Cabinet and sub-cabinet level officials led by Kissinger discuss ways and means to protect information sought by ongoing Senate (Church Committee) and House (Pike Committee) investigations of intelligence community abuses during the first decades of the Cold War. Worried about the foreign governments that have cooperated with U.S. intelligence agencies, Kissinger wants to "demonstrate to foreign countries that we aren't too dangerous to cooperate with because of leaks."

home | about | documents | news | publications | FOIA | research | internships | search | donate | mailing list

Contents of this Web site Copyright 1995-2007 National Security Archive. All rights reserved.
Terms and conditions for use of materials found on this Web site.