What is this secret file you speak of?

What is this secret file you speak of?

by digby

I'm so glad that that we can now "trust the professionals" because the history of illegal government spying would make less trusting citizens laugh in their faces for even saying it:

For years, the Central Intelligence Agency denied it had a secret file on MIT professor and famed dissident Noam Chomsky. But a new government disclosure obtained by The Cable reveals for the first time that the agency did in fact gather records on the anti-war iconoclast during his heyday in the 1970s.

The disclosure also reveals that Chomsky's entire CIA file was scrubbed from Langley's archives, raising questions as to when the file was destroyed and under what authority.

The breakthrough in the search for Chomsky's CIA file comes in the form of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For years, FOIA requests to the CIA garnered the same denial: "We did not locate any records responsive to your request." The denials were never entirely credible, given Chomsky's brazen anti-war activism in the 60s and 70s -- and the CIA's well-documented track record of domestic espionage in the Vietnam era. But the CIA kept denying, and many took the agency at its word.

Now, a public records request by FOIA attorney Kel McClanahan reveals a memo between the CIA and the FBI that confirms the existence of a CIA file on Chomsky.

Dated June 8, 1970, the memo discusses Chomsky's anti-war activities and asks the FBI for more information about an upcoming trip by anti-war activists to North Vietnam. The memo's author, a CIA official, says the trip has the "ENDORSEMENT OF NOAM CHOMSKY" and requests "ANY INFORMATION" about the people associated with the trip.

After receiving the document, The Cable sent it to Athan Theoharis, a professor emeritus at Marquette University and an expert on FBI-CIA cooperation and information-gathering.

"The June 1970 CIA communication confirms that the CIA created a file on Chomsky," said Theoharis. "That file, at a minimum, contained a copy of their communication to the FBI and the report on Chomsky that the FBI prepared in response to this request."

I've been told this could never happen today. But I've never been told why it couldn't except for the fact that the law precludes it and "the culture" of the spying world doesn't allow it. No word on when human nature was perfected or how we've managed to expunge the concept of rationalization from those who work for government and are convinced they must "protect us" by any means necessary. I'm sure there must be some evidence to that effect but naturally, it's a secret. For our own good, dontcha know.

Seriously, this may have been 40 years ago, but Chomsky's still alive and we have a handy Global War on Terrorâ„¢ being used to justify doing a whole lot of things they used to cite Global Communismâ„¢ on back in the day. I just don't think it's rational to "trust" any government not to abuse unaccountable power. There is just no basis for believing that it won't be abused.