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Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 18:12:33 -0700
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Reagan, FBI, CIA tried to quash campus unrest
Reagan, FBI, CIA tried to quash campus unrest
USA Today - June 8, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The FBI, working covertly with the CIA and
then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, spent years unlawfully trying to quash the
voices and careers of students and faculty deemed subversive at the
University of California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
For years the FBI denied engaging in such activities at the
university. But a 17-year legal challenge brought by a Chronicle
reporter under the Freedom of Information Act forced the agency to
release more than 200,000 pages of confidential records covering the
1940s to the 1970s, the newspaper reported in a special section for
its Sunday editions.
Those documents describe the sweeping nature of the FBI's activities
and show they ranged far beyond the campus and into state politics as
the agency plotted to end the career of UC President Clark Kerr while
aiding Reagan's political career.
Only after federal judges repeatedly ruled that the FBI had drifted
unlawfully from intelligence gathering into politics _ and the case
was about to be heard by the Supreme Court _ did the FBI settle,
removing much of the blacked-out material in the files.
In its unsuccessful battle to keep them secret, the agency had said
its actions had been proper _ that it had merely tried to protect
civil order and national security during a time when the nation
feared Communism and waged war in Vietnam.
"Things are done a lot differently today," FBI spokesman Bill Carter
told the Chronicle. "The files speak for themselves."
The broad outlines of the illegal FBI campaigns became public in the
1970s as Congress held hearings that showed the FBI and CIA had
disrupted the lives of law-abiding citizens and organizations
engaging in legitimate dissent.
The documents obtained by the Chronicle show just how extensive these
activities were in California, how Kerr and others were targeted, and
how eagerly Reagan worked to quash protests.
Gov. Reagan intended to mount a "psychological warfare campaign"
against subversives, file tax evasion and other charges against them,
and do anything else it could to restore moral order, Herbert
Ellingwood, Reagan's legal affairs secretary, told the FBI in a
request for confidential information about people on campus.
The records show FBI director J. Edgar Hoover agreed to provide such
information from the agency's files.
"This has been done in the past," the director said, "and has worked
The Office of Ronald Reagan referred the Chronicle's questions to
Edwin Meese III, Reagan's chief of staff as governor. Meese said the
FBI, as far as he knew, gave Reagan no special political help, and
that he did not remember planning any activities against
"There was never any concentrated strategy to do these things," he
The documents also show that the FBI tried to protect Reagan from
being implicated for lying about his own past as a member of several
groups officially deemed subversive by altering his security
Reports that Reagan informed on his fellow actors at a time when the
FBI was trying to root out suspected subversives have surfaced
before, but were downplayed. In 1985, when the FBI released some
documents about Reagan, a Reagan spokesman said he had only a "very
minor" involvement with the bureau at a time when he was president of
the Screen Actors Guild.
The records obtained by the Chronicle reveal who it was that Reagan
and his first wife, Jane Wyman, named during a 1947 meeting with FBI
agents: Larry Parks (The Jolson Story), Howard Da Silva (The Lost
Weekend) and Alexander Knox (Wilson). Each was later called before
the House Un-American Activities Committee and blacklisted in
The new documents also show Reagan's contacts with the bureau were
more extensive than he acknowledged or has been reported: Files show
he repeatedly gave the FBI names of people he suspected of being
communist over the years.
Hoover, meanwhile, ordered agents to investigate the 6,000 UC faculty
members and top administrators. The resulting report in 1960 listed
professors' political activities, and said many had engaged in
"illicit love affairs, homosexuality, sexual perversion, excessive
drinking or other instances of conduct reflecting mental
CIA Director John McCone also was involved, meeting with Hoover in
January 1965 after the Free Speech Movement held its first sit-ins.
Records show they decided to leak information to conservative UC
Regent Edwin Pauley, who would "use his influence to curtail, harass
and at times eliminate" liberal faculty members. Pauley had hoped to
The FBI blamed the liberal Kerr for allowing the campus protests to
grow, and Hoover himself wanted a crackdown at Berkeley before
student protests grew nationwide.
When, to Hoover's dismay, President Lyndon Johnson picked Kerr to
become his secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, the FBI
background check included damaging information the agency knew to be
false, and Johnson withdrew the nomination, the documents show.
Reagan was elected California's governor in 1966 after repeatedly
consulting with the FBI while campaigning against "campus malcontents
and filthy speech advocates" at Berkeley. One of his first moves was
to fire Kerr, who never received another White House appointment.
Kerr, whose own FOIA request was denied by the FBI, said he was
unaware of the plots against him. "Maybe I was too naive, but I never
assumed they were taking efforts to get rid of me," he told the
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