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Reply #19: More about the origin of The Pike Committee [View All]

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MinM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-18-08 12:47 PM
Response to Reply #5
19. More about the origin of The Pike Committee
Edited on Tue Mar-18-08 12:52 PM by MinM
Ford made a blunder so egregious it launched four separate investigations of the CIA:
Schlesinger saw right away how huge a problem the whole Watergate episode represented for the Agency. The CIA was forbidden, by its charter, to operate domestically. Spying on Americans was absolutely illegal, and what else were E. Howard Hunt and the Watergate burglars doing but exactly that? Schlesinger knew, from his longtime experience in government, that these activities were likely the tip of the iceberg. So on May 9, 1973 Schlesinger sent a memo to all CIA employees asking that anyone with any knowledge of illegal activities should come forward:

The resulting report prepared from responses came to be known as the family jewels. Colby preferred to call them, more accurately, our skeletons in the closet." And as proof that some secrets can be kept forever, in 2005, former Senator Gary Hart, who had actually seen this report, says most of whats in there has never reached the public..

By December, the family jewels were bubbling just under the surface. Schlesinger had learned of Operation CHAOS Angletons large, domestic, and very illegal domestic spying operation, and told Angleton, this thing is not only breaking the law, but were getting nothing out of it. (See Cold Warrior, by Tom Mangold.) Despite both fearing and respecting Angleton, Schlesinger put an instant end of the program. But when the baton was passed to Colby, the issue didnt end there..

President Ford learned about the CIAs illegal activities while in Vail. He had called Bill Colby at CIA and asked to be briefed immediately. Colby forwarded to Ford, via Kissinger, the family jewels report. When Ford returned to DC on January 3, 1975, he called Colby over to the White House for a private meeting. The next day, he announced he was forming a blue ribbon commission to be headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller that would conduct an inquiry into the CIAs domestic activities. As Daniel Schorr noted in his book Clearing the Air:

The administration seemed anxious to seize the initiative, perhaps to head off a potentially more troublesome congressional investigation -- a standard defensive tactic.

Having served on the Warren Commission, Ford must have known what he was doing would produce more cover-up than revelation. Indeed, when the appointments were made, the press yelled immediately that the fix was in. The other Commission members were John T. Connor, C. Douglas Dillon, Erwin N. Griswold, Lane Kirkland, Lyman L. Lemnitzer, Ronald Reagan, and Edgar F. Shannon, Jr. Fords fellow Warren Commission member David W. Belin was given the role of Executive Director. The formal Commission title was U.S. President's Commission on CIA activities within the United States. Its important to remember, as you read what follows, that the focus of the commission was on CIA activities within the United States.

At a White House luncheon for New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and its editors, Ford made a blunder so egregious it launched four separate investigations of the CIA:

Toward the end of the conversation, the subject of the Rockefeller commission came up. One editor, noting the predominantly conservative and defense-oriented membership of the commission, asked what credibility it would have. President Ford explained that he needed trustworthy citizens who would not stray from the narrow confines of their mission because they might come upon matters that would damage the national interests and blacken the reputation of every President since Truman.

Like what? asked the irrepressible Times managing editor, A. M. Rosenthal.

Like assassinations! President Ford shot back, quickly adding, Thats off the record!

The Times executives went into a huddle in their Washington office and agreed, after a spirited argument, to keep the Presidents confidence.

This secret, however, got out, and word got around that Ford had been concerned about revealing assassinations. Daniel Schorr went to Colby and asked what was meant. Colby said Fords comments referred to foreign assassination plots, and Schorr satisfied himself thats what Ford was referring to.

It bears repeating that the Rockefeller commission was only to look into the CIAs domestic activities. If that were the case, why should Ford worry that an investigation of the CIA domestic activities would reveal information about foreign assassinations? Of course, the unasked question was this: Was there some domestic assassination the CIA have been involved with that Ford knew about? As a member of the Warren Commission, was Ford worried about exposing the CIAs role in the Kennedy assassination? Ive been disappointed, over the years, that most commentators on the commission never point out this other probable explanation for his strange outburst. To me, it seems likely Ford feared the exposure of a domestic assassination conspiracy. I believe strongly that Bill Colby revealed details of foreign assassination attempts in order to draw attention away from the one assassination that should have been on everyones mind after Fords outburst: the assassination of President Kennedy.

In terms of foreign assassination possibilities, Schorrs instincts on this matter are interesting. Hammerskjold? Schorr asked. (See my article Midnight in the Congo for details of Hammerskjolds mysterious plane crash, and the CIA operative who claimed responsibility for it to government officials.) Lumumba? Schorr asked next. (See my same article, as I also talk about a CIA officers published admission that he drove around with Lumumba in the trunk of his car for a few days, wondering what to do with his body.) Schorr appears to have been on the right track, in terms of CIA operations internationally. Naturally, however, Colby refused to confirm or deny any of Schorrs suspicions.

The House and Senate, convinced that the Rockefeller Commission would be little more than a whitewash, convened their own bodies to investigate the CIAs activities. The Houses official body was called the U.S. House Select Committee on Intelligence, and was chaired by Congressman Otis Pike. It was informally called the Pike Committee..

Listen to the narrative to this story here.
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