excerpted from the book
The Lawless State
The crimes of the U.S. Inteligence Agencies
by Morton Halperin, Jerry Berman, Robert Borosage,
Penguin Books, 1976
In July 1969, the Department of Defense opened a new war room
in the basement of the Pentagon. Staffed by some 180 people and
packed with all the latest equipment -data processing machines,
closed circuit television, teletype networks, elaborate situation
maps-the new operation was a marvel of military technology. The
most striking aspect, however, was not the imposing technology,
but the purposes that were being served. This was not a regular
command center but a very special operation-a "domestic war
room," the headquarters of the Directorate for Civil Disturbance
Planning and Operations. It was the coordinating center for the
Pentagon's domestic war operations.
The office, now known as the Division of Military Services,
played a central role in the military's widespread intelligence
operations against the American people, a sweeping campaign of
civilian surveillance which ultimately affected more than 100,000
citizens. In the fall of 1968, there were more Army Counter-lntelligence
Analysis Branch personnel assigned to monitor domestic citizen
protests than were assigned to any other counter-intelligence
operation in the world, including Southeast Asia and the Vietnam
War.' In the later part of the 1960s and early 1970s, 1,500 army
plainclothes intelligence agents with the services of more than
350 separate offices and record centers watched and infiltrated
thousands of legitimate civilian political organizations. Data
banks with as many as 100,000 entries each were maintained at
intelligence headquarters at Fort Holabird, Maryland, and at Fourth
Army headquarters at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
As with the FBI and other intelligence agencies, citizens
and organizations singled out by military surveillance were those
who exercised their right to speak out: the oppressed minorities,
advocates of reform, and those on the political "left."
The growth of the army intelligence bureaucracy paralleled the
growth of dissident protest movements through the 1960s. Military
intelligence undercover agents focused on the civil rights movement
of the early 1960s, and then moved to the New Left anti-Vietnam
War coalitions of later years. No political gathering, no matter
how small, was considered insignificant. No distinction was made
between groups preaching violent action and those advocating peaceful
dissent. Even the most established and nonviolent groups such
as the NAACP and the American Friends Service Committee became
targets of military surveillance.
With the exception of the FBI, the military intelligence services
collected more information on American politics in the sixties
than any other federal agency. The army conducted a full-scale
Pentagon operation within the United States, and the figures and
attitudes reflect this approach. Where a civilian agency might
have opened a hundred files, the military created a thousand;
the army established CONUS and CONARC intelligence commands, and
then reorganized and reinitiated them as USAINTC, the Directorate
of Civil Disturbance Planning, and the Division of Military Support.
They ran operations with such code names as GARDEN PLOT, ROSE
BUSH, PUNCH BLOCK, STEEP HILL, LANTERN SPIKE, QUIET TOWN, GRAM
METRIC, and CABLE SPLICER; and they developed intelligence "compendiums,"
a "mug book," daily, weekly and monthly intelligence
summaries, special reports, "city packets," contingency
and alternative contingency plans, computerized filing systems,
and crossover index files to information. All were based on agent
spot reports, radio intercepts, incident and personality files,
newspaper clippings and data from numerous civilian sources. Each
level of the military hierarchy tried to placate its superiors
by collecting as much or more information than the task required,
whether it was of any importance or not. The attitude pervading
these army operations was best stated by Robert E. Jordan III,
general counsel to the army: "the people on the other side
were essentially the enemy. The army conducted a de facto war
against all citizen protest, legitimate and illegitimate, violent
and peaceful, white and black.
THE 1960s INTELLIGENCE CAMPAIGN
With the rise of citizen protest and the involvement of federal
troops to control demonstrations during the 1960s- especially
in the area of civil rights-the scope and focus of the military's
domestic intelligence operations expanded greatly. Often justified
as necessary to enforce federal desegregation laws, these intelligence
activities were in fact directed primarily against one side of
the conflict: the black-civil rights protesters whom the military
had ostensibly been called in to protect. Neither white segregationists
nor local law enforcement plans or tactics interested the , military
as much as did black civil rights groups and their leaders.
By the late 1960s, the direct political nature of military intelligence
operations was quite explicit. A telling indication of this was
the February 1968 annex to the army's Civil Disturbance Plan,
where "dissident elements" and "subversives"
were clearly identified as primary targets of surveillance. The
activities of the peace movement were judged "detrimental"
to the United States, and American antiwar activists were viewed
as possible conspirators manipulated by foreign agents. This search
for foreign influence within the antiwar and civil rights movements
was equally evident in an October 1967 request to the National
Security Agency by General William Yarborough seeking "Indications
that foreign governments or organizations acting as agents of
foreign governments are controlling or attempting to control or
influence the activities of U.S. 'peace' groups and 'Black power'
organizations. Yarborough also requested available information
on identities of United States individuals and organizations in
contact with foreign agents, and advice given by agents of foreign
governments to groups and foreign agencies seeking to control
or influence United States organizations. Yarborough and the army
were certain that dissent could not occur without foreign orchestration.
No evidence linking these movements to foreign powers was
found, but this did not prevent army officials from continuing
to amass files on civilian groups. Military officials viewed civil
rights protests and antiwar movements, as programs to overthrow
the government rather than legitimate expressions of popular opposition.
In violation of federal statutes, a representative of army intelligence
sat on the interagency Intelligence Evaluation Committee, and
the army's general counsel served on the Law Enforcement Policy
Committee. The army also created a master plan, known as GARDEN
PLOT, which provided an outline for standardized procedures to
be used for handling civil disturbances by the National Guard,
regular armed forces, and civilian authorities. Based on preparations
for future disturbances, GARDEN PLOT trained troops for possible
deployment, and taught military and civilian leaders how to control
these activities in a "war-room" setting. The DOD's
domestic war room and twenty-four-hour-per-day monitoring of civilian
disturbances were central aspects of GARDEN PLOT.
Military management training was brought to the local level
and involved the FBI and other civilian officials. As far back
as 1962, J. Edgar Hoover gave the army complete access to FBI
files without charges for clerical or computer time, in exchange
for the army's agreement to conduct biannual seminars in the philosophy
and use of riot-control techniques for more than 200 FBI agents
and officials. War games were held to practice coordination. In
the U.S. Sixth Army area-including California, Washington, Oregon,
Nevada, and Arizona-Cable Splicer III, a GARDEN PLOT operation,
simulated demonstrations by radical "leftist" groups
on imaginary campuses and high schools along the Pacific Coast.
The names selected for the mock groups in these war games indicate
the usual targets of military intelligence: "the Scholars
Democratic League, on the campuses; the International Brotherhood
of Labor Reform, among the blue collar workers; and the International
Fraternity of Progress of Non-Caucasian, among the minority groups.
Just twenty-one days after federal troops killed four Kent
State students during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration, 1,700
military, civilian, and corporate officials met to discuss an
after-action report on the war game. Major corporations represented
included the Bank of America, Lockheed, Boeing, Sylvania, Pacific
Gas and Electric, Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Standard Oil
of California, Jet Propulsion Laboratories, SCM, Dictaphone, and
the John Hancock Mutual Life lnsurance Co.
with CIA Operation CHAOS and other illegal secret intelligence
programs, only public exposure and the threat of congressional
action led to the termination of military surveillance activities.
Christopher Pyle, a former army intelligence officer, revealed
the scope of the military's domestic intelligence activities in
the January 1970 issue of the Washington Monthly, charging that
"the Army had assembled the essential apparatus of a police
state." Several earlier evaluations within the army had expressed
"reservations" about the programs or judged them unnecessary
and out of control, but it took the Pyle article and widespread
public pressure to curb the growth of army spying on American
Once the wide scope of military domestic activities became
clear, it was evident that they had violated both specific statues
and the long-standing Anglo-Saxon tradition separating civil law
enforcement and the military. The Posse Comitatus Act, originally
enacted in 1878, makes it illegal for anyone to use "any
part of the Army" to enforce civil laws without a presidential
proclamation, and then only as a "last resort," where
state and local officials are unable to maintain order. Whether
the president and high-level civilian leadership were aware of
the widespread military activity throughout the 1960s remains
unclear. After examining the matter in as much detail as documents
then (and now) available make possible, the Senate Subcommittee
on Constitutional Rights was able to conclude only that "the
highest levels of the Departments of Defense and Justice were
or should have been informed."
... military intelligence operations against-American citizens
did not end with the 1971 revelations. The practices have continued-though
reduced- and the bureaucratic structure remains in place. The
current DOD directive governing "Acquisition of Information
Concerning Persons and Organizations Not Affiliated with the Department
of Defense," issued on December 8, 1975, still contains the
same loopholes as previous directives. For example, with the specific
approval of the secretary of defense, information may be "acquired
which is essential to operational requirements flowing from the
mission . . . to assist civil authorities in dealing with civil
disturbances." As the Senate Judiciary Committee reported
... similar imprecise language in earlier directives was in
large part responsible for the abuses of the past. The threat"
exception is a loophole that has the potential to nullify the
general restrictions embodied in the directive.
In the past, the military has regularly been called in to
control civil disturbances and monitor the political activities
of American citizens. Despite recent disclosures and guidelines,
the potential for rebuilding the domestic war room has been preserved.
The teletypes and data processing machines, silent now, may be
readied to whir into action at the first sign of domestic protest.
Security Agency watch