- Hardcover: 260 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; First Printing edition (September 16, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520200209
- ISBN-13: 978-0520200203
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,034,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Secrets: The CIA's War at Home Hardcover – September 16, 1997
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From Library Journal
This book tells three stories: the federal intelligence agencies' undercover and perhaps illegal war with the press organs of left-wing domestic political organizations, the author's efforts to track down and publish information on these programs, and the government's efforts to enforce and increase its secrecy restrictions. It is an expansion of Mackenzie's earlier Sabotaging the Dissident Press (Ctr. for Investigative Reporting, 1983), which makes the title somewhat misleading because other agencies are also involved. There is much recounting of how the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), at which Mackenzie became an expert, can be used to access information. The book ends with a list of political organizations and a sketch of the FBI's responses to their FOIA requests for information regarding FBI files on them. This story of government paranoia and heavy-handedness is at once interesting and worrisome. It complements James K. Davis's Spying on America (LJ 5/15/92) and covers some of the same ground as Athan G. Theoharis's Spying on Americans (LJ 2/1/79). The author, who died of brain cancer in 1994, taught journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. For all libraries. (Notes, index, bibliography, and illustrations not seen.)?Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A muckraking adventure in the violation of First Amendment rights. Although it probably won't come as a surprise to most readers that the federal government is capable of spying on its citizens, Mackenzie professes a certain bewilderment at the lengths to which the CIA went to suppress dissent in the days of Vietnam. The veteran left-wing journalist, who died of brain cancer in 1994, began his career as the publisher of an antiwar rag called the People's Dreadnaught; harassed by campus police, he was forced to suspend publication, although he later won $2,500 in a lawsuit against Beloit College over the matter. At a national level, he writes, similar suppression was the order of the day. Although the CIA is constrained by law from conducting investigations ``inside the continental limits of the United States and its possessions,'' in fact, Mackenzie charges, it concocted an elaborate counterintelligence program against various home-grown protest groups in the 1960s and early '70s, reasoning that it was taking antiterrorist measures and thus living up to the spirit, if not the letter, of its charter. Among the targets, Mackenzie writes, was Ramparts, a venerable leftist magazine that managed to earn the wrath of the Feds by reporting on that very internal spying. Other targets were the libertarian guru Karl Hess, renegade CIA whistleblowers Victor Marchetti and Philip Agee, and a host of lesser-known dissidents. The CIA emerges as the heavy, naturally, but the real villains in Mackenzie's account are various policymakers from the Johnson administration to the present. ``Incrementally over the years they expanded a policy of censorship to the point that today it pervades every agency and every department of the federal government,'' he writes. And, he continues, that change was so gradual that few guardians of the First Amendment noticed. Mackenzie is occasionally over the top, sometimes glib. But his charges ring true, and civil-liberties advocates will find much of interest in his pages. (11 b&w illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Top customer reviews
The book documents how the CIA infiltrated various student organizations and how it manipulated the government to restrict the freedom of its employees and of most government agencies to speak out about wrong-doing in the government.
American intelligence organizations frequently spied on and subverted their own people to prevent political opposition to the Vietnam War, to conceal illegal activities such as the Iran/Contra scandal, or simply to hide corruption and bureaucratic waste from the legislative branch of government and the American people. In one appalling example, a government appointed efficiency expert was not allowed to report wasteful Pentagon expenditures to his supervisors in congress because this information was considered classified. American intelligence agencies in fact retain the power to determine that any information is classified and they can use this mandate to fire or prosecute employees even for reporting trivial facts to the public such as the contents of a White House menu. Sadly enough America's intelligence agencies could not have made such a drastic legal and illegal assault on the First Amendment without the cooperation of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the media, and the legislative branch of government, all of whom were either duped or cowed into acquiescence.
The most frightening part of this book is its revelation that when American intelligence agencies ran out of excuses to justify their anti-First Amendment activities they raised the specter of terrorism. One can only imagine the further corruption, illegal activity, and constitutional abuses that American intelligence agencies will perpetuation against their own people now that terrorism is a legitimate threat. If history repeats it self, then these abuses will stem from the need to conceal corruption and criminal activity but will have little to do with combating terrorism.
From the State Department's web site:
The Council itself included the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and other members (such as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency), who met at the White House to discuss both long-term problems and more immediate national security crises. A small NSC staff was hired to coordinate foreign policy materials from other agencies for the President. Beginning in 1953 the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs directed this staff. Each President has accorded the NSC with different degrees of importance and has given the NSC staff varying levels of autonomy and influence over other agencies such as the Departments of State and Defense.
MacKenzie outlines how the language of the National Security act was used by powerful people in the CIA during the Vietnam war protest to censor, harass, imprison, and illegally gather intimate information on many American citizens. An excerpt from the Code itself:
SEC. 103. (50 U.S.C. 403-3]
"The Director shall prescribe appropriate security requirements for personnel appointed from the private sector as a condition of service on the Council, or as contractors of the Council or employees of such contractors, to ensure the protection of intelligence sources and methods while avoiding, wherever possible, unduly intrusive requirements which the Director considers to be unnecessary for this purpose. . .
(c) HEAD OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY. - In the Director's capacity as head of the intelligence community, the Director shall -
protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure;
In another related book describing the CIA's control of the U. S. media The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X the reader can learn how the CIA cultivates steady relations with major figures in the written and video media to ensure that the American body politic remains comatose about the burning issues of the day. The facts in this book again show how media figures, are controlled, influenced and otherwise directed by CIA sources that often wine and dine the reporters they want to sway into their camp.