CIA Documents: Student Dissenters Under Scope

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The Central Intelligence Agency's release on Tuesday of more than 700 documents detailing some of its most closely guarded secrets was a reminder of some of the agency's most notorious excesses -- including political assassinations and eavesdropping on American journalists. But the document dump also shed a bit more light on the CIA's early interest in student dissenters, in the United States and elsewhere.

The fact that the agency tracked student dissent was previously detailed in prominent reports on the CIA's activities published in the 1970s -- including those assembled by a commission created by President Gerald R. Ford and headed by Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller, and by a U.S. Senate committee led by Sen. Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho.

The CIA's monitoring of students' activities against the Vietnam War was coordinated by a group within the agency labeled Operation CHAOS, which was given the task of tracking foreign influence in American antiwar movements, including student-led groups.

From CHAOS's creation, in 1967, to its termination, in 1974, it compiled more than 10,000 files, including more than 7,000 on American citizens. The CIA group also received intelligence on antiwar movements from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and from CIA agents who were planted in domestic antiwar movements for training purposes before taking on CIA assignments abroad.

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