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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): CIA Covert Operations II: The Year of Intelligence, 1975

About this Collection

The first full year of the Gerald R. Ford administration is known as "The Year of Intelligence," denoting a season of inquiry into America's spy agencies set off by a wave of media revelations of official abuses and wrongdoing that predate the current era of media and congressional investigations by decades. Within the Central Intelligence Agency the director himself had felt it necessary for his own information to order the compilation of a document (now notorious as "The Family Jewels") that detailed many of the abuses. How explosive these were stood revealed when publication of similar information in the New York Times in late 1974 triggered a firestorm of public outrage. This led to successive investigations of the intelligence agencies by a blue-ribbon presidential panel (the Rockefeller Commission), a special committee of the United States Senate (Church Committee) and a select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives (Pike Committee). Each of these bodies in its way would serve as a model for similar investigative processes in subsequent years.

The "Year of Intelligence" set, the second in the Archive's series on the CIA, documents these investigations richly. Step by step the set shows how the agency under Director William E. Colby reported on the revelations, how President Ford's White House staff-led by Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney-created and managed a strategy to limit and restrain the investigations, how the Rockefeller Commission and congressional committee members pursued their inquiries, and many of the secrets they uncovered. Topics include every aspect of intelligence work, among them covert operations, assassinations, spying on political dissenters, intrusive NSA eavesdropping, as well as such standard subjects as the organization and functions of U.S. intelligence, crisis response, intelligence analysis, and other types of agency activity. The documents show in explicit detail how the Ford White House managed this political crisis and ultimately responded with a reorganization of U.S. intelligence and an executive order specifying agency roles and missions for the first time.

Both the substance of the revelations and the policy, political and legal questions they raised almost four decades ago make the uniquely wide-ranging "Year of Intelligence" collection indispensable for students of the U.S. intelligence community, national security affairs, presidential decision-making in foreign policy, and the role of Congress and the media in government oversight.