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The recent actions of the NSA, which I discuss below, are best understood when one considers the agency's historical obsession with secrecy. Unlike the CIA, which was formed openly through Congress with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947, the NSA was created in total secrecy by a 7-page Presidential memorandum signed by Harry Truman in 1952 and which even today is still top secret. For much of its first decade the existence and very name of the agency were considered classified information and known to only a few senior officials. A spy scandal in 1958 finally brought the agency's existence to light but its true functions were hidden under a bland cover story.
Shortly after the NSA became publicly known, agency officials succeeded in slipping through Congress an extraordinary provision which permits the agency to nearly deny its own existence-and today makes it virtually immune from the Freedom of Information Act. This little known subsection of an obscure NSA employment authorization bill, Public Law 86-36 section 6(a), provides: "Nothing in this Act or any other law shall be construed to require the disclosure of the organization or any function of the National Security Agency, or any information with respect to the activities thereof, or of the names, titles, salaries, or number of the persons employed by such agency."
Thus, under Public Law 86-36 the NSA may not only withhold classified information from the public, but even unclassified information if it so much as mentions the agency. This law has long been the envy of other U.S. intelligence agencies.
In the mid-1960s the NSA's obsession elevated to paranoia when officials discovered that David Kahn, an author, was about to include a chapter on the agency in his forthcoming book, The Codebreakers. According to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:
The Director suggested planting disparaging review of the author's work in the press, and such a review was actually drafted. Also discussed were: purchasing the copyright of the writing; hiring the author into the Government so that certain criminal statutes would apply if the work were published; undertaking clandestine service applications against the author, which apparently meant anything from physical surveillance to surreptitious entry; and more explicit consideration of conducting a surreptitious entry at the home of the author.
Although none of these measures were ever carried out, Kahn's name was placed on the NSA watch list thereby subjecting much of his communications to the agency's eavesdropping techniques. Also, the director of NSA secretly persuaded Macmillan, Kahn's publisher, to turn the manuscript over to the agency for review without the knowledge of the author.
The next serious attempt by an author to write about the agency was my book, The Puzzle Palace. In 1979 I entered into a contract with Houghton Mifflin to produce a well researched, heavily documented book on the history and activities of the NSA. Because of the lack of published sources on the subject, I was forced to depend primarily on Freedom of Information Act requests, publicly available records and documents, and interviews with current and former NSA officials. In all of these areas I proved considerably more successful than NSA would have liked. As a result, the Agency began a policy of classifying and reclassifying documents after I had already had access to them.
The first instance took place in late August 1980. Over the summer I had spent a number of days at the Naval Historical Center going over annual reports from various naval stations associated with the NSA. These reports were never classified. The usual procedure was to paperclip the items I was interested in having copied and they would later be mailed to my home. On August 29, 1980, however, the NSA discovered my research at the historical center and demanded that the center send to NSA the most recent materials I had requested. The NSA then stamped portions of the documents secret and returned the deleted versions to me. Nevertheless, I had taken notes from the now classified portions of the documents and therefore was able to include this information in my book.
The next instance of reclassification was considerably more serious. In September 1978, as I was exploring the possibility of writing a book on the NSA, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Justice Department in an attempt to obtain information on a little known, highly secret criminal investigation into the NSA's domestic eavesdropping operations. At the Justice Department the request went to Robert L. Keuch, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division. He determined that two documents, a task force report on the investigation and the prosecutive summary, came under the purview of my request.
Because of the classification of the documents, Top Secret Umbra, Keuch created his own task force to review similar materials already in the public domain and to base the declassification decision on that survey. He also decided not to submit the
documents to NSA or the CIA because the agencies were the principal subje the investigation and he felt that allowing them to review the reports would su the criminal justice system.
After 10 months, on July 5, 1979, Keuch released the requested documents t with some portions deleted.
Several months later the NSA became aware of Keuch's actions and requ that the Justice Department send it copies of the same documents. After a re NSA Director Bobby R. Inman wrote to Attorney General Benjamin Civilett forming him that the documents contained still-top-secret information and that should never have been released without first being sent to the NSA. Civiletti lieving that the documents had been properly declassified or else realizing that executive order on classification forbade reclassifying documents released under Freedom of Information Act, ignored Inman's protest.
Two years later, however, there was a new administration and a new attorn general and Inman's successor at NSA, Lieutenant General Lincoln D. Faurer, c cided to try again. In a letter to Attorney General William French Smith, Faur requested another copy of the two Justice Department documents. Copies were ser to both the NSA and the CIA and, as a result, the two agencies decided that po tions on the documents should once again be stamped Top Secret. The fact that th 250 pages of documents had been in my possession for 2 years and, by then, were cited extensively in my manuscript, seemed to make little difference.
On July 8, 1981 the Justice Department contacted me and asked for a meeting to discuss the documents. At the meeting Gerald A. Schroeder, a senior attorney with the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, explained that the Carter Administration had released the documents by mistake and asked me to return them. I indicated that I didn't think that that would be possible but that I would be willing to meet with him again to further discuss the issue. That meeting with Schroeder and two NSA officials took place in Boston at the offices of my publisher, Houghton Mifflin Co. This time however, when it appeared I was going to decline to return the documents, Schroeder brought up the possible use of 18 U.S.C. 793, the espionage statute. At that point, on the advice of my attorney, Mark H. Lynch, I left the meeting.
The following month I received a registered letter stating: "You are currently in possession of classified information that requires protection against unauthorized disclosure * *. Under the circumstances, I have no choice but to demand that you return the two documents. Of course, you will have a continuing obligation not to publish or communicate the information."
In response, we simply cited section I-607 of the Executive order on Classification (EO 12065) which stated: "Classification may not be restored to documents already declassified and released to the public" under the Freedom of Information Act.
To overcome this, President Reagan on April 2, 1982, issued a new executive order on secrecy which now gives the President or any agency head the power to reclassify information previously declassified and disclosed if it is determined in writing that (1) the information requires protection in the interest of national security, and (2) the information may reasonably be recovered. When questioned by the press as to the meaning of the term reasonably, the administration refused to rule out the use of surreptitious entry.
Because it would have been ex post facto, the Justice Department did not attempt to enforce the new order against me and the book was published on schedule, without any deletions, in September 1982. That fact, however, did not deter the NSA from their reclassification efforts.
Using the reference notes at the back of my book, the NSA launched what one official termed a systematic effort to track down and, if necessary, remove from public circulation research materials about sensitive matters that were quoted in the book. The chief target was the George C. Marshall Research Library, a private nonprofit library on the campus of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. The materials they were most interested in were the papers of William F. Friedman, one of the founders of American cryptology and considered by many the father of the NSA. He had retired from the NSA in 1955 and, over the years, became greatly alarmed at the NSA's increasing, almost fanatical attitude toward secrecy. "I had a couple of sessions yesterday with the guiding lights at [Fort] Meade," he once wrote to a friend, "and I find the scientific climate so devastating that I am heartsick. The root of the evil is that they have gone overboard on security."
As a result of his dismay over the NSA's attitude toward secrecy, Friedman vowed never to let the NSA get hold of his books and private papers. Thus, Friedman wrote to a long time friend:
xcuments to NSA or the CIA because the agencies were the principal subjects a e investigation and he felt that allowing them to review the reports would subver e criminal justice system.
After 10 months, on July 5, 1979, Keuch released the requested documents to me th some portions deleted.
Several months later the NSA became aware of Keuch's actions and requeste at the Justice Department send it copies of the same documents. After a review SA Director Bobby R. Inman wrote to Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti. ming him that the documents contained still-top-secret information and that they ould never have been released without first being sent to the NSA. Civiletti, be ving that the documents had been properly declassified or else realizing that the ecutive order on classification forbade reclassifying documents released under the edom of Information Act, ignored Inman's protest.
wo years later, however, there was a new administration and a new attorney eral and Inman's successor at NSA, Lieutenant General Lincoln D. Faurer, de ed to try again. In a letter to Attorney General William French Smith, Faure uested another copy of the two Justice Department documents. Copies were sent oth the NSA and the CIA and, as a result, the two agencies decided that por s on the documents should once again be stamped Top Secret. The fact that the pages of documents had been in my possession for 2 years and, by then, were 1 extensively in my manuscript, seemed to make little difference.
July 8, 1981 the Justice Department contacted me and asked for a meeting ta iss the documents. At the meeting Gerald A. Schroeder, a senior attorney with Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, explained that the Carter Administra had released the documents by mistake and asked me to return them. I indicat at I didn't think that that would be possible but that I would be willing to with him again to further discuss the issue. That meeting with Schroeder and NSA officials took place in Boston at the offices of my publisher, Houghton En Co. This time however, when it appeared I was going to decline to return the nents, Schroeder brought up the possible use of 18 U.S.C. 793, the espionage e. At that point, on the advice of my attorney, Mark H. Lynch, I left the meet
following month I received a registered letter stating: "You are currently in sion of classified information that requires protection against unauthorized | * * *. Under the circumstances, I have no choice but to demand that you the two documents. Of course, you will have a continuing obligation publish or communicate the information."
sponse, we simply cited section I-607 of the Executive order on Classification 065) which stated: "Classification may not be restored to documents already ified and released to the public" under the Freedom of Information Act. ercome this, President Reagan on April 2, 1982, issued a new executive order ecy which now gives the President or any agency head the power to reclassi mation previously declassified and disclosed if it is determined in writing the information requires protection in the interest of national security, and nformation may reasonably be recovered. When questioned by the press as meaning of the term reasonably, the administration refused to rule out the irreptitious entry.
se it would have been ex post facto, the Justice Department did not attempt e the new order against me and the book was published on schedule, with deletions, in September 1982. That fact, however, did not deter the NSA
ir reclassification efforts.
the reference notes at the back of my book, the NSA launched what one ermed a systematic effort to track down and, if necessary, remove from culation research materials about sensitive matters that were quoted in The chief target was the George C. Marshall Research Library, a private library on the campus of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA terials they were most interested in were the papers of William F. Friedof the founders of American cryptology and considered by many the father A. He had retired from the NSA in 1955 and, over the years, became armed at the NSA's increasing, almost fanatical attitude toward secrecy. ouple of sessions yesterday with the guiding lights at [Fort] Meade," he to a friend, "and I find the scientific climate so devastating that I am The root of the evil is that they have gone overboard on security ult of his dismay over the NSA's attitude toward secrecy, Friedman er to let the NSA get hold of his books and private papers. Thus, Fried
to a long time friend:
Without doubt you will wonder: Why did I choose to bequeath our collecton to the George C. Marshall Foundation? Why not NSA? Or the Library of Congress? Or some other government institution? As to NSA we know that the Collection would not be available to scholars and students there, because no one-but no one-without a high-degree clearance can even enter its portals. The Library of Congress would disperse the items-they don't have the funds to keep collections intact, and duplicates of items on their own shelves would be sold or given away to some other library in exchange for an item the L. of C. might lack. At any rate the Friedman Collection will be kept intack at the Marshall Foundation and available for serious scholars.
Friedman died on November 2, 1969, and within a year or two the entire collection was shipped to the Marshall Library. Prior to the papers being opened to the public, however, the NSA visited the library and went through the collection. They pulled out two categories of papers and ordered that they be kept locked in a vault and never released. The first category consisted of classified documents which the NSA had agreed to hold for Friedman at Fort Meade. The second, however, despite the wishes of the late cryptologist consisted of totally unclassified, private correspondence between Friedman and other private citizens.
Nevertheless, despite the NSA restrictions, the library allowed me to review and make copies of Friedman's unclassified personal correspondence files. These consisted mostly of letters to and from other private citizens about family matters and personal feelings about the NSA. Nothing in the letters, which were dated mostly from 1955 until 1965, could be considered in any way damaging to the national security and I therefore quoted from them extensively in my book.
Seeing my references to the Friedman letters, the NSA in April of this year went back down to the library and again pulled many of Friedman's unclassified letters and papers from the open shelves, stamped them secret, and locked them in the vault. This despite the Reagan administration's own executive order on secrecy which limits classification to material that is owned by, produced by or for, or is under the control of the United States Government.
Thus, although the letters and documents, unclassified for two to three decades, are quoted in more that 150,000 copies of my book, the NSA insists that they remain "secret." "Just because information has been published doesn't mean it should no longer be classified," said NSA Director Faurer.
In the Reagan administration's war on words there is perhaps no issue more frightening than the issue of reclassification. It would be total anarchy for historition would be permitted to recall history by forcing them to return materials reans and scholars, who frequently spend years on their research, if one administraleased by a previous administration. The NSA offers a perfect example of what happens when an agency is allowed to run wild with the classification stamp. It is a
choice of history or hysteria.
About 350 years ago Cardinal de Richelieu declared the principle under which the Reagan Administration currently operates: "Secrecy is the first essential in affairs
of the State."
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Thank you, Mr. Bamford.
I am sorry, I did misrepresent that you once had worked for the National Security Agency. In fact, you had not; is that correct?
Mr. BAMFORD. That is true.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Yes.
Now, Mr. Ralph McGehee, will you proceed, sir?
Mr. McGEHEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate the invitation to appear before the subcommittee to discuss my experiences with the CIA's prepublication review reI am a retired CIA officer who earned numerous awards and medals, including the prestigious Career Intelligence Medal. tion on Vietnam. The deficiencies that created Vietnam permeate During my last 10 years with the CIA, I protested false informa
can people and wrote a book about my experiences. The book did not attempt to reveal the identities of my associates or other classi
I had opted for early retirement in 1977 and immediately b research for a book. I was confused about how to proceed. I cou contact publisher, for anything I might tell him might violate publication review restrictions.
So I decided to work alone without benefit of a contract or g ance from an editor. This was a mistake that cost me 2 year misguided effort.
In February 1980, following 3 years of research and writing submitted a manuscript to the CIA. A month later the Agenc Publications Review Board notified that it had identified 397 clas fied items. These ranged in length from one word to several page Over the next weeks I worked with a representative of the PR to prove that those deleted passages did not contain classified info mation. I sourced my claims primarily to information appearing i the cleared writings of other Agency authors, such as Colby an Cline and Dulles.
We agreed on a number of revisions, and I rewrote the text ac cordingly. Dismayed that I had defeated its claims of secrecy, the PRB reversed earlier decisions and began classifying information that only a short time before it said was not classified. This forced me to again prove many of those claims false and to rewrite the text.
Finally, I overcame all objections, and for the first time I had a manuscript to shop around to publishers. Sheridan Square Publications agreed to publish the manuscript only if I would rewrite it as an autobiography, and to do this I prepared an outline as an aid. In the transmitting letter I said I wanted the outline for discussions with an editor, following which I would rewrite and resubmit the manuscript to the CIA.
The PRB refused to deal with the manuscript, yet a little while later they found out that I was going to speak before an academic association, and they requested my speech, even if it was only in outline form-serving a double standard there.
After I had submitted three chapters of the rewrite, the PRB demanded that I complete the entire book before it would release any of the material. I then had to go about rewriting the text without the opportunity of consulting with an editor.
Led by William Casey, the CIA in early 1982 decided, regardless of the legalities, to stop my book. It was not going to let me publish the book.
It attempted to do this by reclassifying everything of substance that was in my first chapter. When I pointed out that this violated the Executive order then in existence, the PRB responded, "That is too bad, we are doing it anyhow."
The CIA was determined to prevent publication of my exposé. It ruled that the entire second chapter was classified, and the second chapter dealt primarily with my personal life, my family life.
I contacted the Washington Post and the subsequent public exposure forced the CIA to relent. If the Post had decided not to run the story, my book would have died there.
Embarrassed by the Post article, the PRB assigned a representative to work with me. Finally, in mid-1982, after more than 5 years of struggle, I had a cleared manuscript.
It was only intense anger and bitterness over Vietnam and a certainty that we would repeat that mistake that motivated me to fight the CIA. At various times I felt defeated and just stopped all my efforts.
But ultimately, anger and concern drove me on. Others who don't have this same overwhelming issue certainly will not endure the frustration.
The CIA claims that it does not use prepublication review to conceal violations of law or to prevent embarrassment. For me it did just that.
The CIA further asserts that it follows the paramount principle of evenhanded and fair treatment for all authors. This is demonstrably not true, and I know of authors it has assisted in writing their books.
Since 1977, the CIA has processed more than 62,000 pages of material, but it does not maintain an institutional memory of released information. This is a deliberate attempt to keep its capability low so it will not have to use that capability when dealing with critics. Magazines have requested me to write articles very recently. One time I wrote an article, and set up a schedule to deliver it to the legal counsel of the CIA. On reflection I thought if I turn this in then the Agency is going to classify this information, and I will lose my right to even discuss it. At that point it was a nebulous issue whether it was classified or not. I assumed it wasn't, but if they ruled it classified, then I couldn't even discuss it.
Other occasions, I have wanted to write Op-ed pieces and letters to the editors, but I have always stopped because I fear now if I go back to the PRB they are going to classify overt information and stop me from even discussing these issues.
I think it is particularly relevant to relate some of the things that happened to me as I tried to live up to all the strictures of the secrecy agreement that I had signed in 1952. My efforts met only with CIA suspicion. I was placed under surveillance. My phone is tapped, and my mail has probably been opened.
Blatant surveillance is conducted not to determine my actions, but to frighten me into silence. Agency security people have walked my heels in supermarkets, sit in cars near my house, and probably entered my hotel room and removed documents. I have been harassed overseas.
On one occasion a phone monitor was getting a little bit upset at what was being said, and he broke in and started interjecting his objections.
Intimidation is the purpose of all this activity, and I am well aware that Big Brother is watching.
From my experience, I conclude that the CIA, reacting as any bureaucracy, uses prepublication review and spurious claims of national security to prevent the American people from learning of its illegal and embarrassing operations. It attempts to deny to the American people information essential to the good of the Nation and to our democratic processes.
The CIA's efforts demonstrate what we can expect from other agencies, given the same authority under President Reagan's Executive order.