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The FBI bears down
On a Saturday night last October, Donald Sellar, the lone Washington correspondent for Canada's biggest newspaper chain, Southam Inc., received an unusual phone call from one of his sources in the intelligence community. The source warned Sellar that a story he had written the previous day concerning negotiations between the United States and Canada for an agreement to test the cruise missile in Canada was causing quite a stir in Washington and that a hunt was on for his sources. The caller said that the story was already being circulated in defense and intelligence circles, and he quoted enough from the piece to convince Sellar that he had seen the actual article. What troubled Sellar was that the story had not been published yet and would not appear in any Canadian paper for another thirty-six hours.
Like many foreign correspondents, Sellar transmits his stories to his home bureau over International telephone lines. He soon learned these could be monitored by the National Security Agency, and the next week he Wrote a story about how the NSA was apparently intercepting Southam copy. In the months that followed, Sellar continued to report on the secret cruise-missile testing negotiations a story he had broken in March 1982, which had spurred vigorous antinuclear protests in Canada and had confronted the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau with political problems.
But for more than a year, Sellar had no hint that his stories were causing any more unxiety in the Reagan administration than those of countless other Washington reporters who routinely deal in brown envelopes. Then, last June 8, he received a "very businesslike" call from FBI agent Douglas Gregory. "He said he was working on an intelligence investigation, and he wanted to talk to me," says Sellar, a native of Alberta who started his reporting career at the Calgary Herald before moving to Southam's Ottawa bureau in the early '70s. Agent Gregory refused to disclose the purpose of the interview, saying it would become "immediately obvious to me when we had our meeting." Sellar recalls. Gregory suggested that Sellar come to the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House, add
ing, "You do have a White House pass." Sellar inferred that his coveted White House credentials might be jeopardized if he refused to cooperate. He decided to comply with the request and suggested that the agents come to his office. They refused, asking instead that Sellar come to the FBI's Washington field office. A half-hour later, Sellar recalls, he was escorted into an interview room by Gregory and a second FBI agent. After a few minutes of small talk, Sellar says, the interview went as follows: Gregory pulled out the cover sheet of a classified document, titled "Air Force 2000. concerning long-term military strategic planning. Asked if he had seen the document, Sellar replied that he had written a story about it. The agents asked if his source was a U.S. government employee. and Sellar said no. They asked who had given Sellar the document, and he refused to tell them. The agents then asked if Sellar had written anything about the cruise missile. Sellar laughed, knowing that the agents must have been well aware of his stories. The agents pressed him further on the cruise stories and then abruptly changed the subject, asking about any contacts he might have had with "a Soviet." Yes, Sellar responded: a few weeks earlier, he and two other Canadian journalists had lunched with Izvestia's Washington bureau chief. The interview then
In the weeks after the interview, the Justice Department confirmed that Attorney General William French Smith had personally approved the FBI's decision to question Sellar, and other sources revealed that the investigation was aimed not just at locating Sellar's sources but also at Sellar. Nearly all previous leak investigations have focused exclusively on leakers rather than the reporters who disclosed the information. But in this case the Justice Department was considering seeking an indictment of Sellar himself under a statute dealing with theft of government property. Both the FBI and the Justice Department have repeatedly refused to comment publicly on the investigation. Although an indictment of Sellar is now regarded as highly unlikely - because of Canadian government protests and the
Columbia Journalism Revier
amount of press attention the story has received on both sides of the border - the investigation continues. Why did the U.S. government single out Sellar? One theory is that the Canadian government triggered the entire episode by suggesting that it might break off the missile-testing negotiations if the Washington leaks to Sellar were not plugged. In fact, according to a Defense Department document obtained late last June by Cox Newspapers, the U.S, State Department had asked Defense to look into the leaking of certain "classified/sensitive diplomatic information," and the resulting investigation began almost immediately after Sellar's first disclosure in March 1982.
The Defense Department, however, says that the 1982 leak listed in the memo does not involve Sellar. In addition, the Canadian government denies that it requested a formal investigation of the leaks or threatened to walk out of the negotiations, although it admits having expressed displeasure with Sellar's articles. "We were unhappy, and we made that known through the American embassy (in Ottawa]," says Patrick Gossage, Minister/Counsellor for Public Affairs at the
Canadian embassy in Washington. But an American official has a different interpretation of the Canadians' message. "It was put in nice diplomatic language that, given the various leaks, it would be very difficult to continue our negotiations fruitfully if you don't put the leaks to rest," he recalls. Whether or not the Canadian government meant to instigate an investigation of a Canadian foreign correspondent, it has acted swiftly on Sellar's behalf. Embassy officials have requested information about the reporter's treatment from both the State Department and the FBI, and at one point warned that an indictment would have a "deleterious effect" on U.S.-Canada relations. In the meantime, Sellar himself, who was reassigned to Canada at the end of July fol
lowing his four-year tour of duty in Washington, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for his FBI file.
Shortly before he left for home, Sellar was on the phone with Nicholas Hill, general manager of Southam News, who informed him that an influential Southam paper, the Ottawa Citizen, would soon be publishing an editorial objecting to his treatment. That night, Sellar received a call from one of his defense-community sources. The message: U.S. officials already knew that the Citizen would soon be publishing such an editorial.
Cheryl Arvidson, a reporter in the Cox Newspapers Washington bureau, covered the Sellar story for Cox.
THE NEW YORK TIMES, THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 19
Security Agency Bars Access to
Nonsecret Material, Library Records Show
By PHILIP TAUBMAN
Special to The New York Times
WASHINGTON, April 27- The Na. tional Security Agency, the nation's largest and most secretive intelligence organization, has directed a private ll. brary in Virginia to halt public access to personal letters mentioned in a book critical of the agency, according to brary records.
American Civil Liberties Union, said, to some cryptologic work, including ane
Historians and lawyers said they had
ferty, Library officials said the security While they were at the Marshall -
Many of the letters were cited by the Author James Bamford in his book "The Puzzle Palace," a critical report Fabout the agency that was published last year. The National Security Agency is responsible for devising and keeping secure codes used by the United States, breaking encryption sys ems used by foreign governments and monitoring worldwide communica
Mr. Bamford is a Massachusetts
project in 1957 that the agency still con-
In a letter last month to Marshall S.
Carter, a former director of the agency
The letter also said, "It's obvious we
sensitive information, although this is
Officials at the Marshall library,
specia-library's relationship with the Govern
ment. "I've felt that our relationship
writer who has a law degree and
Mr. Bamford said the recent actions
would "have a very chilling effect on
Removal Termed 'Routine Lieut. Gen. Lincoln D. Faurer, director of the agency, defended the removal of the letters from public access, calling it a routine" part of the agency's "reThe letters removed from open 1sponsibility to advise and assist in the protection of N.S.A.-related national se brary shelves were written from 1942 to curity information" contained in H-1969 by William F. Friedman, a pioneer brary collections. in cryptological work in the United States and one of the security agency's top code breakers. They dealt primarily with personal matters, according to library officials.
Scholars and civil liberties lawyers, asked this week about the agency's action, denounced it, in the words of one, as "a new form of censorship." Mark H. Lynch, a lawyer for the
The letters contained brief references
General Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff in World War II and later Secre tary of State and founder of the European postwar recovery plan that bears his name, was a graduate of V.M.I.
Reagan Executive Order
Mr. Hadsel said the foundation's relationship with the Government "is not and should not be an adversarial relationship," and added: "Collections come from different people under different circumstances and different conditions. We are trying, step by step. to move toward an equitable opening of all our collections."
An executive order on national se
Hagelin letters in Mr. Bamford's book. Library officials said other material used by Mr. Bamford was stamped "se
curity information signed by President Reagan last year limited the definition of information subject to designation as secret as material "that is owned by,cret" by the visiting security agency ofproduced by or for, or is under the control of the United States Government."
Mr. Hadsel said the library removed the Carter papers from open access last year. He declined to say why. Mr. Bamford, who interviewed Mr. Carter while doing research for his book, said the Carter papers were withdrawn at the request of Mr. Carter after publication of "The Puzzle Palace." Mr. Carter could not be reached for comment today.
Records at the Marshall library show that a number of papers from the Friedman collection were withdrawn from public files at the instruction of the se curity agency.
A reporter who asked Monday to see several of the Friedman letters mentioned in Mr. Bamford's book was given the relevant files of correspondence. The specific letters, however, were missing; in their place were notices that the documents had been withdrawn for security reasons. In some cases, entire folders had been withdrawn.
ficials. Library officials said they had no choice but to remove the material from open circulation. "If something is classified, it's classified," one official said. "We have no choice but to remove it."
Other documents removed from the Friedman collection were marked by notices that made no mention of any security agency action. Library officials said these papers were not classified or otherwise officially designated as sensitive by the security agency. "They simply informed us that the papers were sensitive and told us to put them in the vault," a library official said.
Removal Viewed as Pointless Several scholars said that, apart from any questions of censorship, removal of the papers seemed pointless because the material was published in Mr. Bamford's book. In addition, Mr. Bamford said, he kept copies of all the Friedman letters he used and would make them available to anyone who asked to see them.
For example, Mr. Friedman's corre spondence with Boris C. W. Hagelin, a "The removal doesn't make any European manufacturer of cryptologic sense from the standpoint of reason, let equipment, was missing from the col- along scholarship," said Samuel R. lection. In place of the folder was a one- Gammon, executive director of the page notice stating that that the ma-American Historical Association. terial had been removed because it con- General Faurer said publication of tained "security-classified informa- the information did not matter. "Just tion" and had been designated as "For because information has been pubOfficial Use Only" by the security agen-lished doesn't mean it should no longer cy. There are several references to the be classified," he said.
THIS BOOK AND
The secrecy agreement that I signed when I joined the CIA allows the Agency to review prior to publication all writings of present and former employees to ensure that classified information relating to national security is not revealed. This provision seems logical and necessary to protect legitimate secrets. However, my experiences in getting this book approved show that the CIA uses the agreement not so much to protect national security as to prevent revelations and criticisms of Its immoral, illegal, and ineffective operations. To that end, it uses all possible maneuvers, legal and illegal. Had I not been represented by my attorney, Mark Lynch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and had I not developed a massive catalogue of information already cleared by the Agency's publications review board (PRB), this book could not have been published. The review of my manuscript came in two basic stages, first on an initial manuscript that I wrote without editorial assistance, and second on a revised manuscript written following an editor's advice.
On February 26, 1980, I submitted the first version of the manuscript to the Agency for review and on March 21, several days before the mandatory 30-day review period expired, John Peyton, a lawyer of the Agency's general counsel staff who served concurrently as the PRB's legal adviser, called and asked that I come to a meeting on March 26. He moaned audibly when I advised him that Mark Lynch of the ACLU would accompany me to the meeting. At the meeting, held in the general counsel's office on the seventh floor of the Headquarters building in Langley, the government's side was represented by five attorneys three from the general counsel's office and two from the Justice Department. Had I come to the meeting alone, I would have been the lamb ready for slaughter. Because of his participation in other sensitive Agency cases, Lynch had earlier been granted a high-level "Q" clearance, but even so the Agency required him to sign an agreement before he could participate in that meeting. Peyton then explained that the publications review board had made 397 deletions in my manuscript. I was surprised, because I had been extremely careful not to use classified information in the manuscript. Those 397 deletions exceeded even the 339 passages excised from The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, a book by John Marks and Victor Marchetti that deliberately set out to expose Agency secrets. I later learned that the 397 deletions represented only a fraction of those initially demanded by the Agency's Directorate for Operations. When I notified Peyton that I would be represented by the ACLU, the Agency had quickly retracted its more capricious deletions, resulting in the