Vietnam era memo: CIA spying on Americans

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Newly declassified documents show the CIA spied on and monitored the phone calls and movements of journalists and peace activists during the Vietnam War era.

The revelations, while more than 30 years old, carry with them a whiff of the current debate over the wiretapping of U.S. phone lines by the National Security Agency without court permission and the Pentagon's monitoring of anti-war groups.

The 1975 memorandum written by Associate Attorney General James Wilderrotter was obtained by the National Security Archive in Washington and raises the curtain on nearly 700 pages of documents known as the "family jewels," which detail the CIA's legally questionable activities from that era.

The memo details a meeting in which CIA Director William Colby outlined the "skeletons" in the CIA's closets, apparently in response to articles in the New York Times detailing some of those activities.

Among them was the admission that in 1963 the CIA tapped the phones of two columnists, Robert Allen and Paul Scott, in an attempt to learn the identity of one of their sources. He noted that the CIA reports called the wiretap "very productive" in that they heard conversations with 12 senators and six congressmen. The CIA, however, was unable to ascertain the identity of the leaker.

In 1972 the CIA conducted "personal surveillance" on Washington Post columnist Jack Anderson and his staff. They were followed, but their phones were not tapped. From 1971 to 1972 the CIA also followed Washington Post reporter Mike Getler.

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