Lessons of the CIA 'Family Jewels'
The CIA says it has left its shady past behind. But has the agency learned from its mistakes—and how much has really changed?
One of the more intriguing items is an internal memo recording how the agency’s "Division D"—its supersecret eavesdropping branch—had begun intercepting telephone calls between suspected Latin American drug traffickers and individuals living in New York in late 1972.
A May 7, 1973, memo, entitled “Potentially Embarrassing Activities Conducted by Division D,” records that officials in the division had questions about “the legality of this activity.”
The reason for the concern: even though the phone calls involved at least one party outside the
United States, the agency was still eavesdropping on the conversations of citizens inside the country without a judicial warrant.
“This is totally relevant to what is going on today,” said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a nonprofit group that filed the original Freedom of Information Act request for the family jewels file 13 years ago.
Fallout From Release of the CIA's 'Family Jewels'
Blanton notes that the legal issues of concern to the Division D eavesdroppers are the same as those involved in the intense, ongoing debate about the legality of President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. The still-classified operation, in which the National Security Agency intercepted phone conversations between suspected foreign terrorists and individuals within the United States without judicial warrants, was first conducted under Hayden's leadership. (Just today, the Senate Judiciary Committee—frustrated by the Bush administration’s refusal to turn over key material about the program — subpoenaed documents about it, setting up a potential court clash.)
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.