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Uc cia { June 9 2002 }


Secret FBI files reveal covert activities at UC
Bureau's campus operations involved Reagan, CIA
Seth Rosenfeld, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, June 9, 2002
Under the guise of protecting national security, the FBI conducted
wide-ranging and unlawful intelligence operations concerning the University
of California that at different points involved the head of the CIA and
then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, The Chronicle has learned.

According to thousands of pages of FBI records obtained by The Chronicle
after a 17-year legal fight, the FBI unlawfully schemed with the head of
the CIA to harass students, faculty and members of the Board of Regents,
and mounted a concerted campaign to destroy the career of UC President
Clark Kerr, which included sending the White House derogatory allegations
about him that the bureau knew were false.

The FBI, in contrast, developed a "close and cordial" relationship with
Reagan, who made campus unrest a major issue and vowed to fire Kerr during
his 1966 gubernatorial campaign.

And after he was elected, the FBI failed to report that Reagan falsely
stated on a federal security clearance form that he never had been a member
of any group officially deemed subversive, an omission that could have been
prosecuted as a felony.

The FBI later secretly gave Gov. Reagan's administration information it
could use "against" protesters.

The disclosure of the FBI activities concerning the University of
California during the 1950s and 1960s comes as the bureau has been granted
wider authority and more resources to conduct domestic intelligence
activities, and as President Bush seeks to create a new Department of
Homeland Security.

Experts said the FBI and CIA's past activities involving the University of
California provide a cautionary tale about potential dangers to academic
freedom and civil liberties.

"This . . . raises a topic that we should be concerned about today: the
balance between security and liberty," said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, who
was general counsel to the CIA from 1990 to 1995 and now is dean of the
University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

"We learned some painful lessons," said Rindskopf Parker. "We certainly
don't want to see ourselves rolling back to this time."

Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on
the FBI files obtained by The Chronicle.

The Office of Ronald Reagan referred questions to Edwin Meese III, who was
Gov. Reagan's chief of staff. Meese acknowledged that Reagan had had a
long-standing relationship with the FBI, but said that as far as he knew,
the bureau gave Reagan no special political help.

In the mid-1970s, Congress held hearings that revealed widespread FBI and
CIA surveillance of law-abiding citizens, as well as FBI "Cointelpro"
(counterintelligence operation) programs to "disrupt and neutralize"
organizations and citizens who engaged in legitimate dissent, such as civil
rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The Chronicle obtained thousands of pages of previously undisclosed FBI
records concerning the University of California as a result of three
lawsuits brought under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents
provide the most detailed account to date of the FBI's activities at any
American university during a turbulent, historic period and show that those
covert operations spilled off campus and into state politics.

The FBI maintained in court that its activities regarding UC were proper
and intended to protect civil order and national security. But a series of
federal judges concluded that the FBI engaged in a range of unlawful
activities that included investigating student protesters, interfering with
academic freedom and intruding into internal university affairs.

The FBI's campus files show that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover took a
special interest in UC, which was the nation's largest university, operator
of federal nuclear weapons labs and the scene of some of the nation's first
and largest campus protests over constitutional rights and academic

Looking for dirt on UC

According to the documents, Hoover became outraged over an essay question
on UC's 1959 English aptitude test for high school applicants that asked:
"What are the dangers to a democracy of a national police organization,
like the FBI, which operates secretly and is unresponsive to public

In response, Hoover ordered his aides to launch a covert public relations
campaign to embarrass the university and pressure it to retract what he
called a "viciously misleading" question.

The director also ordered his agents to search bureau files for derogatory
information on UC's 6,000 faculty members and top administrators.

The resulting 60-page report said 72 faculty members, students and
employees were listed in the bureau's "Security Index," a secret nationwide
list of people whom the FBI considered potentially dangerous to national
security who would be detained without warrant during a crisis.

Congress was not told about the FBI detention plan, which failed to meet
statutory requirements that there was "reasonable ground to believe"
prospective detainees would engage in espionage or sabotage, said a 1976
report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations
with Respect to Intelligence Operations.

The FBI's 1960 report on UC also alleged that faculty members had engaged
in misconduct such as "illicit love affairs, homosexuality, sexual
perversion, excessive drinking or other instances of conduct reflecting
mental instability."

The FBI records show that after the Free Speech Movement staged the
nation's first large campus sit-ins of the era, CIA Director John McCone
met with Hoover at FBI headquarters in January 1965 and planned to leak FBI
reports to conservative regent Edwin Pauley, who could then "use his
influence to curtail, harass and at times eliminate" liberal faculty

Regents, Kerr also targets

The FBI also gave Pauley reports on the backgrounds of three liberal
regents from San Francisco: lawyer William Coblentz, businessman William M.
Roth and former Democratic National Committee member Elinor Haas Heller.

The FBI campaigned to get Kerr fired from the UC presidency, the bureau's
records show, because it disagreed with his policies and handling of the
Free Speech Movement protests.

When President Lyndon Johnson was considering appointing Kerr to be his
Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in December 1964, he asked the
FBI to conduct a routine inquiry into Kerr's background. But the bureau
sent the White House allegations that Kerr was "pro-communist" - even
though the bureau knew the claims were false.

Kerr said he was unaware of the FBI's actions against him until contacted
by The Chronicle.

"Maybe I was too naive, but I never assumed they (the FBI) were taking
efforts to get rid of me," Kerr told The Chronicle. "I always looked upon
myself as being 100 percent American."

Reagan's "subversive" ties

The FBI's background report on Kerr contrasts with the bureau's background
investigation of Reagan after he was elected governor in 1966 and became a
regent ex officio, FBI records show.

That process began when Reagan filled out a federal form required to get a
security clearance, and stated that he never belonged to any group deemed
officially subversive, a copy of the form shows.

According to FBI records, the bureau knew Reagan had been in two such
groups in the 1940s - the Committee for a Democratic Far East Policy and
the American Veterans Committee - but the FBI background report failed to
note that Reagan's denial was untrue. Hundreds of people in the 1940s and
1950s had faced hearings and sometimes dismissals from federal employment
for failing to disclose membership in groups deemed subversive.

Cartha "Deke" DeLoach, Hoover's third-in-command, told The Chronicle that
the FBI gave Reagan no special treatment. But two former FBI agents said it
was routine procedure for the FBI to point out such discrepancies.

A "helpful" relationship

Reagan was also a more active informer in Hollywood than has been
previously reported. Meese told The Chronicle that Reagan felt his
relationship with the FBI was "very helpful."

Following the violent 1969 People's Park protests in Berkeley, Herbert
Ellingwood, Reagan's legal affairs secretary, met with DeLoach to discuss
campus unrest. "Governor Reagan is dedicated to the destruction of
disruptive elements on California campuses," Ellingwood said, according to
the records.

The Reagan administration planned on "hounding" protest groups as much as
possible by "bringing any form of violation available against them." Reagan
officials might bring tax cases against them, Ellingwood added, and would
also mount a "psychological warfare campaign" against protesters.

Ellingwood asked if the FBI would give Reagan more intelligence reports,
and Hoover agreed.

"This has been done in the past," the director noted, "and has worked quite

Meese told The Chronicle, "I have no recollection at all of us planning to
do these things . . . There was never any concentrated strategy to do these

Pitfalls of domestic intelligence

James X. Dempsey, deputy director of the Center for Democracy & Technology
in Washington, D.C., and a former aide to the House Judiciary Subcommittee
on Civil and Constitutional Rights, said The Chronicle's findings about FBI
activities at UC show how the bureau's domestic intelligence operations can
go awry - and that it can take years for the public to find out.

While the FBI was charged with defending the United States against Soviet
intelligence operations during the 1950s and 1960s, he said, the bureau
improperly focused on citizens engaged in lawful dissent.

"I'm afraid that 20 or 30 years from now, somebody will be writing a story
about how the FBI got off track in 2002."

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