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The national security state regards truth as its greatest enemy and cries national security to destroy our freedoms. I fervently hope that something can be done to prevent this from happening Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The complete statement follows:]
PREPARED Statement of Ralph W. MCGEHEE, AUTHOR Of Deadly DecEITS-MY 25
YEARS IN THE CIA
I appreciate the invitation to appear before the subcommittee to discuss my expe rience with the Central Intelligence Agency's prepublication review requirement. The issue is of paramount importance as President Reagan's March, 1983 Executive order places hundreds of thousands of Government employees under identical constraints. Supreme Court decisions and liberal interpretations of the executive order could extend life-long prepublication review constraints over an additional several million government employees and employees of firms doing classified Government work. This is a major threat to our constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and forbodes the approach of 1984 and the national security state.
I am a retired CIA officer who earned numerous awards and medals including the prestigious Career Intelligence Medal. During my last 10 years with the CIA I protested its false information on Vietnam. The deficiencies that created the Vietnam war permeate CIA operations and I felt it imperative to tell this to the American people and wrote a book about my experiences. The book did not attempt to reveal the identities of my associates or other classified information. In an ensuing 2-year battle with CIA censors Mark Lynch an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union provided advice and excellent legal support.
I had opted for early retirement in 1977 and immediately began research for a book. I feared possible CIA retribution if it discovered I was writing an expose and attempted to keep my activities secret from friends and from family members not living at home. My fears were justified as the CIA soon discovered what I was doing and placed me under close, intimidating, multiple types of surveillance. A surveillance that continues to this day.
I was confused about how to proceed. I could not contact a publisher for anything I might tell him might violate prepublication review restrictions. I decided to work alone without benefit of a contract or guidance from an editor. This was a mistake that cost 2 years of misguided effort.
On February 26, 1980 following 3 years of research and writing, I submitted a manuscript to the CIA. A month later the publications Review Board [PRB] notified me that it had identified 397 classified items in the text varying in length from one word to several pages. Over the next weeks I worked with a representative of the PRB to prove that those deleted passages did not contain classified information. I sourced my claims primarily to information appearing in the cleared writings of other agency authors. We agreed on a number of revisions and I rewrote the text accordingly. Dismayed that I had defeated it claims of secrecy the PRB reversed earlier decisions and began classifying information that only a short time before it had judged to be 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, truncated as it was, to shop around to publishers.
The search for a publisher was a long time-consuming effort. Many publishers admitted I had a viable manuscript but all said it needed better focus and rewriting. None but a small ideologically-motivated publisher would risk the time and uncertainty of battling the CIA's review process.
Sheridan Square publications agreed to publish the manuscript only if I would rewrite it as an autobiography. As an aid I prepared a 50-page outline and sent it to the PRB. In the transmitting letter I advised that I only wanted the outline for discussions with an editor following which I would rewrite and resubmit the manuscript. The PRB refused to deal with an outline. (Yet a few weeks later the CIA learned that I was to give a speech to the Association of Asian studies and sent me a registered letter advising that I must submit the speech for review even if only in outline form.) After I had submitted three chapters the PRB demanded that I complete the entire rewrite before it would release any material. I then had to rewrite the remaining text without the opportunity of consulting my editor.
Led by William Casey the CIA in early 1982 decided regardless of the legalities to stop my book. It attempted to do this by reclassifying everything of substance that was in my first chapter. When I pointed out that Executive Order 12065, then in effect, section 1-607 said "classification may not be restored to a document already
declassified and released to the public under this order and prior orders." the PRB responded in essence that that was tough.
The PRB had ruled that I could not discuss my training or the training site at Camp Peary even though such topics had been declassified and well publicized. More oddly the PRB ruled that details of the personality test it gives recruits were classified. Yet a proprietary company had copyrighted and published the test. Also, Jack Anderson's column had carried. in over 1,000 newspapers, those same details that the CIA was claiming were classified.
I appealed those and other decisions to Admiral Inman then the Deputy Director of the CIA. He recognized the total illegality of the Board's decisions and ruled in my favor in every single instance.
The CIA, however, was determined to prevent publication of my expose. It ruled that the entire second chapter was classified. I contacted the Washington Post and the subsequent public exposure forced the CIA to relent. If the story had not run it would have been the end of my book. Embarrassed by the Post's article the PRB assigned a representative again to work with me over the classified items and I again rewrote and resubmitted the manuscript. 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 the certainty that we would repeat that mistake that motivated me to fight the CIA. At various times I felt defeated and ceased my efforts. But ultimately anger and concern drove me on. Others not motivated by such an overwhelming issue will not endure the frustration.
The CIA avers that it does not use prepublication review to conceal violations of law or to prevent embarrassment. For me it did just that and claimed secrecy to conceal its illegal and inefficient operations. The CIA further asserts that it follows the paramount principle of evenhanded and fair treatment for all authors. This is demonstrably not true. It assists the writings of proponents while supressing the works of critics. Since 1977 the CIA has processed more than 62,000 pages of material but maintains no institutional memory of released information. This is not bureaucratic inefficiency, it is the deliberate crippling of its own ability. If the CIA kept records of cleared information it might be forced to use that memory when dealing with critics. This it avoids at all costs.
Magazines have recently requested me to write articles for them. I went about conducting the research and preparing drafts. But upon reflection I worried that if I submitted the articles to the CIA for review it would again classify overt information and I would lose my right to even discuss those issues. I decided not to take the risk and informed the magazines that I could not write the articles for them.
On various other occasions I had wanted to write letters to the editor or op-ed pieces for newspapers. Each time I stopped because I feared the consequences. Due to prepublication review and the inevitable use of that authority by the CIA to suppress criticism, my informed opinion on a range of topics is not available for public debate. Multiplying the constraints on me by the hundreds of thousands or possibly millions of Government employees subject to the new executive order, the result is obvious and calamitous. Informed criticism of the processes of Government will be repressed and those essential contributions to the maintenance of our democratic institutions will be stilled.
It is of particular relevance to the topic of this hearing to relate some of my experiences as the CIA monitored by activities. I have lived up to all the requirements of the secrecy agreement I signed in 1952. My efforts have met only with CIA suspicion. I have been 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 personnel have walked up my heels in supermarkets, sit in cars near my house and have probably entered my hotel room and removed documents. I have been harassed overseas in Canada. On one occasion a phone monitor interrupted a conversation to protest what was being said. Intimidation is the purpose of all this activity and I am well aware that "Big Brother Is Watching."
From my experiences I conclude that the CIA, reacting as any bureaucracy, uses republication 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. The national security state regards truth as its greatest enemy and cries national security to destroy our freedoms. I fervently hope that something can be done to prevent this from happening. Thank you.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Thank you, Mr. McGehee. Do you attribut what you term harassment and surveillance, to the fact that you are engaged in seeking to publish material concerning the CIA or because of the bitterness you feel about the Vietnam war, you views are at odds with Agency policy?
Mr. McGEHEE. I am sure if I were a proponent of the Agency that I would not be subject to any of this activity. The fact that am a critic I think is the reason they surveil me.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. It would appear from the statement you have filed with us that you have submitted your testimony to the Central Intelligence Agency for prepublication review.
Mr. McGEHEE. That is correct.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. And they cleared it?
Mr. McGEHEE. Yes; they did.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Does that surprise you, considering
Mr. McGEHEE. Oh, no. If this were an article that I was writing, there would have been a great deal of argument back and forth, but since I was submitting this to a congressional committee, I assumed that they would be very lenient and let me say anything that I wanted to say.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. If they had chosen to do otherwise, would you have complied with their request?
Mr. McGEHEE. I always have; yes, sir.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. You always have?
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Mr. Bamford, the essence of your complaint is because of a new policy called reclassification. Is that truly a new policy?
Mr. BAMFORD. Yes; it is. It is new under the Reagan administration. Under the Carter administration, the way the Executive order on secrecy read was that once a document had been declassified it could not be reclassified again. Once the information had been released to the public, you can't recall it.
That policy has been completely reversed under the Reagan administration. So, in other words, if somebody was working on a history of the Johnson administration, somebody in the Reagan administration can go back and say that although you obtained that information under the Johnson administration it is now classified and you cannot use that anymore.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. You have also asserted that there is an attempt to regain material from you which has now been reclassified, is that correct?
Mr. BAMFORD. Yes.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Is that a separate complaint; that is, is it divorced from the other?
Mr. BAMFORD. Well, all these come under the heading of reclassification.
The first attempt was by the Reagan administration to recall 250 pages worth of Justice Department documents that were released to me under the Carter administration. They threatened to use the espionage statute if I didn't give the materials back.
But at the time they made those requests, the Reagan administration was still operating under the old Carter administration Ex
ecutive order, and that was one of the reasons why President Reagan changed the Executive order to the way it stands now.
After my book came out, Reagan administration, actually the NSA [National Security Agency] went down to one of the libraries I used and began pulling off the shelves papers and documents that I had quoted from and stamped those documents secret and ordered that they be locked in a vault.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. As I recall, you litigated this problem; is that correct?
Mr. BAMFORD. No. I had an attorney, Mark Lynch, from the American Civil Liberties Union, but we settled out of court basically on the issue of the original documents, and on the second issue I never litigated because the material was already in my book. So I didn't feel any need to litigate the issue.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. To your knowledge, or in your estimation, are there many other individuals-researchers and writers and others-who are going to have similar difficulty with reclassification, or is this a unique experience?
Mr. BAMFORD. Well, Mr. Chairman, it is fairly unique. There are one or two other instances I have heard of.
One instance was a writer who was working on a book dealing with the U.S. relationship with Israel, and the individual requested some documents from the National Archives, and the documents were sent to him. They were declassified and sent to him.
Later on, the Archives asked to have those documents sent back to the Archives for some review. Once they were sent back, however, they were reclassified in accordance with an order from the Air Force, and there was a lawsuit over that issue, and the Air Force and the Archives more or less retreated and released the documents once again.
I understand there was one other incidence involving some material from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
It is an issue which will probably come up time and time again if the administration is allowed to proceed with these cases without any inquiry or without any objection.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Mr. McGehee, in your case you did litigate your problem with the Agency to the D.C. Court of Appeals in the Federal Circuit?
Mr. McGEHEE. Yes, sir.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. You lost your suit, is that correct?
Mr. McGEHEE. I did sue over deletions that were made in an article that I had written for the Nation magazine, and this has been under litigation for 221⁄2 years, and the U.S. district court of appeals just recently ruled that the Agency was justified in making the deletions.
I don't think all the issues were brought forward, and my lawyer is going to file an appeal for a rehearing.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. So that matter hasn't been finally judicially concluded?
Mr. McGEHEE. It has not been finally; no.
I yield to the gentleman from Ohio.
Mr. DEWINE. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. The gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. We appreciate your appearance, Mr. McGehee and Mr. Bamford, this morning, detailing two experiences with the national security agencies of the Federal Government.
It is helpful to know how policy is changing and what impact it has had on two people in a situation such as this.
I think the matter of reclassification probably has not gotten very much visibility or attention. It is something we ought to look at.
In any event, we are grateful for your appearance, and this concludes the hearing today.
I will announce that, as scheduled, we will be having a hearing tomorrow morning, room 2226 of this building, at 10 a.m., and we will continue our hearings on the subject we initiated today.
Until that time, the committee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:40 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Thursday, November 3, 1983.]