THIS IS HOW A PARANOID GOVERNMENT OPERATES.
AT WAR WITH THE CIA—A SMALL TOWN LAWYER’S VENTURE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
I KNOW THIS IS LENGTHY, BUT I FEEL IT IS RELEVANT TO THE PRESENT POLITICAL SITUATION AND MAY HELP MY READERS BETTER UNDERSTAND ME. D.L. BLEWITT, Mar 30, 2016
One of the first cases I had involved two people who moved to Colorado from Chicago. These two defined my practice and my career. I was told that I should never disclose this story and was harassed by various Governmental agencies for many years as a result. My mail was “accidently” delivered to the FBI and other strange events.
However, in making powerful enemies, I made powerful allies, including David Wise, Sally Denton, Sam Hart, Jack Anderson and others. Smith, Ken Cummings, Peter Dale Scott, Fed Gillies, Bryan Abbas, Mike OKeefe, Gary Webb, Sen. Gary Hart.
For years, I felt like a Kafka character. My perception and milieu was that of a small town hayseed, struggling to adjust to living with his social and educational superiors. The question I asked myself for 40 years was, “Why me?” I still don’t know the answer, but discovering some facts and some history has helped. A ran for public office in 1971 and my life hasn’t been normal since then. In order to make some sense of this I am relaying some of my story in serial form. I apologize for both length and lack of clarity, but I am trying. What I have seen from a small town perspective is corruption beyond belief and deliberate blindness and amnesia to the problem and results. I realize now that running for office accusing the CIA of being behind the Viet Nam war and Drug Trafficking may have been a mistake, but I think blindly ignoring this unpleasant reality like most of my colleagues and the citizenry would have been too frustrating for me. I am a nobody. I had no family or history to put me in the position in which I found myself, and I was in denial of the situation for a long time. I had to adapt and develop survival skills, which results in these article. Little did I know that my activities would cause the scuttling of the Huston plan to combine all intelligence agencies into one, cause the FBI and the CIA to go to war with each other, cause a clandestine group dubbed “The Plumbers” to be formed and topple a President of the United States of America.
If I get enough response, to this, I will publish the story. It involves two clients, Professor Thomas Riha and Galya Tannenbaum. Please help in evaluating my situation and tell me if the story is worth telling.
Thanks, Dennis L. Blewitt
BOULDER DAILY CAMERA (COPIED IN ENTIRETY WITHOUT PERMISSION AS FREE AS COMMENTARY)
Thomas Riha’s disappearance has never been solved
Silvia Pettem, for the Camera
Posted: 07/24/2010 AM MDT
Thomas Riha was photographed on his wedding day, in October 1968, five months before he disappeared from Boulder. Camera file photo.
C) n March 15, 1969, University of Colorado associate Russian professor Thomas Riha vanished without a trace. Tied to his disappearance was Galya Tannenbaum, a self-proclaimed confidante, who took her own life, in 1971, by swallowing cyanide pills in the state mental hospital in Pueblo.
Tannenbaum’s death left many unanswered questions, especially as to whether Riha is dead or Alive. To this date, no one knows if he was the victim of a murder, kidnapped as a counter-spy, or if he dropped from sight of his own free will.
Prior to Riha’s disappearance and Tannenbaum’s death, both had left paper trails. According to the Camera, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been compiling reports on Riha for nine years, beginning in 1960.
Riha, a native of Czechoslovakia, was 40 at the time of his disappearance. He had come to the U.S. in 1947, received a master’s degree at the Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, and a doctorate from Harvard Univ.
He also served in an intelligence capacity in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. From 1960 to 1967, he taught at the Univ. of Chicago, then moved to Boulder.
Meanwhile, embezzlement and forgery accusations had followed Tannenbaum around the 20untry as she lived under various names. She spent three years in an Ill. prison and was paroled in 1962. Both Riha and Tannenbaum moved to Colo. in 1967.
[n Boulder, Riha married a young Czechoslovakian woman, and Tannenbaum attended the wedding. She was also at Riha’s home one night when Riha’s wife, smelling like ether, was rescued by neighbors after she screamed from a bedroom window.
Several months after Riha’s disappearance, Tannenbaum was arrested by Boulder police for forging a check.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge MATSCH, U. S. District Court, Colorado
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Thomas Riha has been a missing person since an abrupt departure from his Boulder, Colorado, residence and teaching position at the University of Colorado in March, 1969. None of his family, friends or colleagues has had any information from him since that time. “The mysterious disappearance of Professor Riha has been the subject of news media activity and considerable speculation has been generated about the possibility that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were involved. An initial impetus for such conjecture may have come from a conversation between officials of the Denver FBI and CIA offices which resulted in a statement that Professor Riha was safe and that he had departed voluntarily because of a personal problem.
The manner in which this matter was handled between the Denver offices of the FBI and CIA resulted in a complete termination of any communication between those two agencies at the national level.
The Select Committee on Intelligence Activities of the United States Senate heard testimony from a former CIA official and a former FBI official in November, 1975. The staff of that committee prepared a written report about the Riha matter in February, 1976. That report referred to inquiries made of the CIA, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. United States Senator Gary Hart (Colorado) then released the following public statement about the Riha case:
Thomas Riha, is, most probably, living somewhere today in Eastern Europe, possibly in Czechoslovakia. He was sighted there in 1973. Why he left the United States remains unclear: personal reasons were probably the basis for his decision to leave.
Thomas Riha was never employed, nor in contact with, the CIA, the FBI or military intelligence. At one time the CIA had a general counterintelligence interest in Riha, but this interest was never pursued. There is no indication of any kind that the CIA, the FBI or military was involved in Riha’s disappearance.
The breaking off of formal FBI-CIA relations in 1970 resulted not from a dispute over Riha himself but from the bureaucratic handling of the Riha case by local FBI and CIA officials in Denver.
Proceedings had been commenced in 1970 in the Probate Court in and for the City and County of
Denver, Colorado, to recover and preserve the assets of Riha’s estate and Zdenek Cerveny was appointed conservator of the absentee estate. Colorado law provides a presumption of death after a continuous, unexplained absence of seven years. Because of the Select Committee Staff report and the statement of Senator Hart, Mr. Cerveny caused a letter request to be made of the CIA on February 17, 1976, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking for any information concerning the disappearance or whereabouts of Riha and all agency documents on the subject. That request was an act undertaken in the performance of Mr. Cerveny legal duty to make diligent inquiry as a requirement for application of the presumption of death. The CIA responded to the request by releasing copies of two memoranda. Memorandum 7-74, dated January 31, 1974, was provided, with deletions based on claims of exemptions under (b)(l), (b)(2), (b)(3) and (b)(6) of the FOIA. The second document was a copy of Memorandum 21-74, dated March 13, 1974, with deletions based upon the same four exemptions.
Mr. Cerveny then filed his complaint in this court on July 12, 1976 to require further disclosure. Jurisdiction has been invoked properly under 5 U. S.C. 552(a)(4)(B). After the complaint was filed, the CIA Information Review Committee affirmed the claims of exemption.
At a pre-trial conference held on September 22, 1976, it became apparent that the plaintiffs primary interest was to learn the identity of a person who reportedly had seen Professor Riha in Czechoslovakia in late 1973. That sighting was the subject of the two released memoranda. Counsel for the respondent agreed to request the CIA to submit affidavits in support of the claimed exemptions, following the procedure suggested in Vaughn v. Rosen, 157 U.S. App. D.C. 340, 484 F.2d 820 (1973).
On November 8, 1976, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, accompanied by four affidavits of CIA officials. They described additional releases of 174 pages of newspaper clippings and 38 documents released with deletions. Seven additional documents, withheld in their entireties, have been characterized as cables, dating from October 20 to November 9, 1971 which were generated as a result of an individual contacting a CIA representative overseas for the purpose of obtaining information for a newspaper story about the Riha disappearance. According to the affidavits, no agency activity was involved. Exemptions of those cables are asserted under (b)(l), (b)(2), (b)(3) and (b)(6) and it has been claimed that there are no reasonably segregable relevant portions of them. Additionally, the defendant disclosed that it had 14 documents which had originated with the FBI and that there had been a response made by the
CIA to a set of interrogatories from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in November, 1975. The affidavits also indicated that the CIA had taken the extraordinary step of requesting permission from its source to release identifying information, which request was denied.
Additionally, it was reported that the personal safety of the original source would be threatened if identification were made.
Additional affidavits were filed in answer to some of the questions raised in the plaintiff’s memorandum brief. A hearing on the motion for summary judgment was held on August 1, 1977.
At that hearing, the court noted that since this suit had begun a new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency had been selected, personally, by a new President who had directed a new policy of openness in that agency. Accordingly, the court suggested that the Director take the extraordinary action of making a personal review of the CIA material relevant to this case.
Phat suggestion was accepted and by a letter to the court, dated October 8, 1977, Admiral
Stansfield Turner reported the result of his personal inquiry into the matter as the Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency. After his assertion that the disclosure of the intelligence source
reporting the hearsay information on the sighting of Professor Riha would be contrary to his statutory responsibility to protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure, he Director wrote concerning the sighting memoranda:
Additional affidavits were filed in answer to some of the questions raised in the plaintiff’s memorandum brief. A hearing on the motion for summary judgment was held on August 1, 1977. At that hearing, the court noted that since this suit had begun a new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency had been selected, personally, by a new President who had directed a new policy of openness in that agency. Accordingly, the court suggested that the Director take the extraordinary action of making a personal review of the CIA material relevant to this case.
That suggestion was accepted and by a letter to the court, dated October 8, 1977, Admiral Stansfield Turner reported the result of his personal inquiry into the matter as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. After his assertion that the disclosure of the intelligence source reporting the hearsay information on the sighting of Professor Riha would be contrary to his; statutory responsibility to protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure, he Director wrote concerning the sighting memoranda:
The actual identity or reliability of the original source of the information is not known to this Agency, nor does the Agency have sufficient information upon which to base an informed judgment as to the accuracy of the information provided by that individual. As I have indicated, the information contained in Documents Nos. 1 and 2 is third-hand information and the Agency has made no attempt to verify the information.
Admiral Turner also wrote that he had reviewed the seven documents which had been withheld n their entireties and that he agreed with the characterization of the information contained herein as having no probative value with respect to the Riha disappearance or whereabouts.
At a hearing on December 16, 1977, the plaintiff renewed his request for an in camera inspection the CIA documents and files. Particular concern was expressed about the adequacy of the
search for relevant documents in the CIA files. In justification of that concern, plaintiff’s counsel reported that Mr. Cerveny had recently received an unsolicited communication concerning information within the files of the United States Army Intelligence Agency, an organization within the Department of Defense. A copy of the Army document had been in the CIA files, which had not been disclosed in the affidavits filed in support of the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. That failure was explained satisfactorily by counsel for the defendant at the hearing.
Given the volume and complexity of the records kept by the CIA, there can be no absolute
certainty that everything touching and concerning any specific subject has been located. The
CIA does not require an absolute guarantee of an exhaustive exhumation of records. The duty is to make a good faith effort to conduct a search using methods which can reasonably be expected to produce the information requested. From the affidavits submitted, it is apparent that the officials of the CIA have performed that duty in this case.
5 U.S.C. 2552(b)(1) exempts from disclosure all matters that are in fact properly classified under criteria established by an executive order in the interest of national defense or foreign policy. While the 1974 amendments to the FOIA expressly authorized an in camera inspection of documents claimed to be exempt under (b)(l), the legislative history reflects the expectation that the courts “will accord substantial weight to an agency’s affidavit concerning the details of the classified status of the disputed record.” Conf. Rep. No. 93-1200, 93rd Cong. 2d Sess., reprinted in 1974 U.S. Code Cong. & Administrative. News 6285, 6290. It has been recognized in other cases involving the CIA that the courts have little competence in evaluating intelligence information because of a lack of cognitive context. The role of the court was articulated in Weissman v. Central Intelligence Agency, 184 U.S. App. D.C 117, 565 F.2d 692, (1977) in these words:
If exemption is claimed on the basis of national security the District Court must, of course, be satisfied that proper procedures have been followed, and that by its sufficient description the contested document logically falls into the category of the exemption indicated. In deciding whether to conduct an in camera inspection it need not go further to test the expertise of the agency, or to question its veracity when nothing appears to raise the issue of good faith. (565 F.2d at 697 Revised)
5 U.S.C. 2552(b)(3) excludes application of the Act to matters which are specifically exempted from disclosure by another statute without discretion or with definite criteria for withholding or references to particular types of matters to be withheld. The Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, establishing the CIA, holds the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency responsible “for protecting intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure,” 50 U.S.C. 403(d)(3), and specifically exempts the agency from “the provisions of any other law which require the publication or disclosure of the organization, functions, names, official titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed by the Agency. ” 50 U.S.C. 403g. These statutory provisions have been held to be within the scope of the (b)(3) exclusion in the FOIA. Weissman, supra; Phillippi v. Central Intelligence Agency, 178 U.S. App. D.C. 243, 546 F.2d 1009 (1976); Baker v. Central Intelligence Agency, 425 F. Supp. 633 (D.D.C. 1977); Bennett v. United States Department of Defense, 419 F. Supp. 663 (S.D.N.Y. 1976); Richardson v. Spahr, 416 F. Supp. 752 (W.D. Pa.), affd., 547 F.2d 1163 (3rd Cir. 1976).
Here, Admiral Turner has explicitly informed this court that disclosure of that which has been deleted and withheld would constitute a violation of this specific statutory duty. There is no reason to question the expertise or the good faith of Admiral Turner. Some deletions have been made on the basis of the exemption for internal personnel rules and practices under 5 U.S.C. 2552(b)(2). More specifically, these are markings and reference numbers which were placed on the documents for internal purposes. While the applicability of is questionable under Air Force v. Rose, 425 U.S. 352, 48 L. Ed. 2d 1 1, 96 S. Ct. 1592 (1976), the plaintiff has taken the position that he is concerned with such markings only if they would assist in the location of other relevant documents or information. There is no reason to question the response in the supplemental affidavits that the deletions would not provide such assistance.
- Some information, including the names of individuals, has been withheld upon the conclusion that there would be an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, exempted by 5 U.S.C.2552(b)(6). The affidavits and the Director’s letter advised that what has been withheld includes unsubstantiated information which is derogatory and which concerns persons not connected with the Riha matter. Additionally, it is realistic to recognize that the mere mention of the names of individuals as being the subjects of CIA files could be damaging to their reputations.
The application of the privacy exemption requires a balancing of the interests of the public in obtaining disclosure and the preservation of the integrity of an individual’s reputation and right to privacy. Campbell v. United States Civil Service Commission, 539 F.2d 58 (10th Cir. 1976). The particularized need of Mr. Cerveny for information relevant to his duty of inquiry is not a factor in the balance. The plaintiff here is no different from any other person seeking public disclosure of the information. A moment’s reflection upon recent political history and the excesses of the internal security investigations in the 1950’s should be sufficient to signal caution in dealing with unverified derogatory material within the files of an intelligence gathering agency of government. Indiscriminate public disclosure of such material in response to a citizen’s FOIA request would be as much an abuse of agency authority as an intentional release designed to damage persons. The impact on the individual is the same. The deletions here are appropriate applications of the privacy exemption.
The developments in this FOIA case are sufficiently unusual to be characterized as unique. The classified information within the CIA files relevant to the Riha inquiry has been reviewed by a committee of the United States Senate. Because that committee has continued to keep the information classified, it is a fair inference that the Senators and staff share the concern for the national security and national defense interests reflected in the classification. Additionally, the subject material has been reviewed by a person who holds the highest authority and responsibility for foreign intelligence matters within the executive branch, with the exception of the President himself. I am satisfied with the sufficiency of the responses made in the course of this proceeding and the plaintiff is entitled to nothing more.
A claim for an award of attorney’s fees has been made. 5 U.S.C. 2552(a)(4)(E) authorizes the assessment of reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs in any case in which the complainant has substantially prevailed. Other considerations used in determining an award of attorney’s fees are whether the litigation has resulted in a substantial contribution to the public interest; the commercial benefit to the complainant and the nature of his interests in the records sought; and whether the United States had a “reasonable basis in law” for withholding the records. See Campbell, supra, at 62; Cuneo v. Rumsfeld, 180 U.S. App. D.C. 184, 553 F.2d 1360 (1977); Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council, Inc. v. Usery, 546 F.2d 509 (2d Cir. 1976); Conf. Rep. No. 93-1200, 93rd Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1974 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 6285, 6288.
In this case the parties have not yet been given an opportunity to be heard on the issue of attorney’s fees and, accordingly, the entry of judgment will be deferred pending a hearing on attorney’s fees.
Upon the foregoing, it is
ORDERED that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment is granted, and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that entry of judgment upon this order is deferred pending hearing on attorney’s fees.
BY THE COURT:
Who knew what this case meant? It had far reaching consequences which none of us could have predicted. From my small town perfspective, I was overwhelmed. I still haven’t quite managed to appreciate the gravity of the situation, or the historical significence. I do appreciate, however, how it affected my life and the lives of those around me. In addition to scuttling the Huston plan and scuttling a presidency, it exposed the CIA activities at the University of Colorado, the various agencies there, the conduct of the war, the establishment of the Edmond Teller Center for Science, Technology and Political Thought, and other things kept secret unti then. It was not a matter of privacy or National Security, there was a coverup to hide embarassing facts about our paranoid government from us.
From The U.S. Senate regarding my clients and the impact on Watergate Scandal
APRIL 23 (under authority of the order of April 14), 1976
NATIONAL SECURITY, CIVIL LIBERTIES, AND THE COLLECTION OF INTELLIGENCE: A REPORT ON THE HUSTON PLAN
The Scope of the Investigation
On January 27,1975, the United States Senate, meeting early in the 1st Session of the 94th Congress, established through Senate Resolution 21 a Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence
The “New” Hoover
Counterintelligence specialists throughout the government were dismayed when undercover FBI operations important to them, and carried out for several years, were suddenly suspended by Hoover in the 1960s. 19 The new emphasis in the Kennedy Administration on investigations into organized crime and civil rights had already drained manpower from security and intelligence operations, according to an experienced FBI counterintelligence specialist. 20
Then by the mid-1960s, Hoover began to terminate specific security programs. In July 1966, for example, Hoover wrote on a memorandum that henceforth all FBI break-ins — or “black-bag” jobs — were to be cut off. 21 By its refusal to use rigorously a full array of intelligence collection methods, Huston strongly believed the FBI was failing to do its job. This belief was shared widely among intelligence professionals. Helms, Bennett, and Gayler all expressed this view, as did — privately — key intelligence officers within the FBI itself. 22
Intelligence professionals were dismayed by Hoover’s reluctance now to order what he had allowed before on a regular basis. Some suggested that the wiretap hearings held by Senator Edward V. Long in 1965 had turned public opinion against the use of certain intelligence-gathering techniques, 23 and that the Director was merely reading the writing on the wall. One seasoned CIA intelligence officer recalls:
Mr. Hoover’s real concern was that during the Johnson Administration, where the Congress was delving into matters pertaining to FBI activities, Mr. Hoover looked to the President to give him support in terms of conducting those operations. And when that support was lacking, Mr. Hoover had no recourse but to gradually eliminate activities which were unfavorable to the Bureau and which in turn risked public confidence in the number one law enforcement agency. 24
Others pointed to the increased risks involved in break-ins because of new and sophisticated security precautions taken by various Bureau targets. Hoover, according to this theory, was unwilling to engage in past practices when faced with the new dangers of being caught. 25
The fact that Hoover reached age 70 in 1965 was also significant in the view of still others, since he then came within the law which required mandatory retirement. Henceforth, he served each year in a somewhat vulnerable position, as his Directorship was now reviewed for renewal on an annual basis. So he became, according to an FBI official, “very conscious of the fact that any incident which, within his understanding might prove an embarrassment to the Bureau, could reflect questionably on his leadership of the Bureau.” 26
Several highly-placed observers in the intelligence community also believed the Director was simply growing old and more wary about preserving his established reputation — a wariness nurtured by the protective instincts of his close friend and professional colleague, Clyde Tolson, who held the second highest position in the FBI. Dr. Louis Tordella, the long-time top civilian at NSA, speculated in conversations with William C. Sullivan in 1969 that Tolson probably had told Hoover something to the effect: “If these techniques ever backfire, your image and the reputation of the Bureau will be badly damaged.” 27
Tordella, Sullivan, and others in the intelligence world grew increasingly impatient with the “new” Hoover and with what they considered to be his abstinence on the question of intelligence collection. If they were to expand their collection capabilities, as they and the White House wished, the new restrictions would have to be eased. Yet no one was willing to challenge Hoover’s policy directly.
Tordella and General Marshall Carter, when he was Director of NSA, tried in 1967 and failed. 28 Their 15-minute appointment with Mr. Hoover in the spring of that year stretched into two-and-a-half hours. The communications experts first heard more than they wanted to about John Dillinger, “Ma” Barker, and the “Communist Threat.” Finally, they were able to explain to Hoover their arguments for reinstating certain collection practices valuable to the National Security Agency. Hoover seemed to yield, telling the NSA spokesmen their reasoning was persuasive and he would consider reestablishing the earlier policies.
The news came a few days later that Hoover would allow FBI agents to resume the collection methods desired by NSA. Tordella and Carter were surprised, and gratified. Then three more days passed and the FBI liaison to NSA brought the word that Hoover had changed his mind; his new stringency would be maintained after all. William Sullivan called to tell Tordella that “someone got to the old man. It’s dead.” That someone, Sullivan surmised, was Tolson.
Hoover added a note to his message for Carter and Tordella, indicating that he would assist the National Security Agency in its collection requirements only if so ordered by the President or the Attorney General. Tordella, however, was reluctant to approach either. “I couldn’t go to the chief law enforcement figure in the country and ask him to approve something that was illegal,” he recently explained (despite the fact that he and General Carter had already asked the Director of the FBI to approve an identical policy). As for the President, this was “not a topic with which he should soil his hands.” For the time being, Tordella would let the NSA case rest.
Nor was Richard Helms going to be the man to urge Hoover to relax the newly imposed restrictions. He and Hoover had little patience for one another for several years. Hoover distrusted the “Ivy League” style of CIA personnel in general; according to Sullivan “Ph.D. intelligence” was a term of derision Hoover liked to use against the Agency. 29 Gayler and Bennett, newcomers to the intelligence community, were warned immediately by their assistants not to challenge the Director of the Bureau directly on matters relating to domestic intelligence. 30
It would take the pressure of events, skillful maneuvering by a group of FBI counterintelligence specialists, and Huston’s strategic position on the White House staff to focus the attention of the President on the problem of intelligence collection.
The Pressure of Events
Events encouraged action. Riots and bombings escalated throughout the country in the spring of 1970. In his official statement on the Huston Plan, issued while he was still in the White House, President Nixon recalled that “in March a wave of bombings and explosions struck college campuses and cities. There were 400 bomb threats in one 24-hour period in New York City.” 31 The explosion of a Weatherman “bomb factory” in a Greenwich Village townhouse in March particularly shocked Tom Huston and other White House staffers. 32 The response of the President was to send anti-bombing legislation to the Congress.
Moreover, in the spring of 1970 the FBI severed its formal liaison to the CIA in reaction to a CIA-FBI dispute over confidential sources in Colorado. 33 Though hostility between the two agencies had surfaced before with some frequency over matters such as disagreement regarding the bona fides of communist defectors, this particular dispute was “the one straw that broke the camel’s back.” 34 The incident in Colorado, now known as the Riha Case, involved a CIA officer who received information concerning the disappearance of a foreign national on the faculty of the University of Colorado, a Czechoslovak by the name of Thomas Riha.
The information apparently came from an unnamed FBI officer stationed in Denver. Hoover demanded to know the identity of the FBI agent; but, as a matter of personal integrity, the CIA officer refused to divulge the name of his source. Hoover was furious with Helms for not providing the FBI with this information and, “in a fit of pique,” 35 he broke formal Bureau ties with the Agency. 36 To many observers, including Huston and Sullivan, the severance of these ties contributed to the perceived inability of the Bureau’s intelligence division to perform their task adequately.
In this context, a special meeting was called on April 22, 1970, in Haldeman’s office. In attendance were Haldeman, Krogh, Huston Alexander Butterfield (who had responsibility for White House liaison’ with the Secret Service), and Ehrlichman. The purpose of this gathering was to improve coordination among the White House staff for contact with intelligence agencies in the government and, more importantly, as Huston remembers, to decide “whether — because of the escalating level of the violence — something within the government further needed to be done.” 37
A decision was made. The President would be asked to meet with the directors of the four intelligence agencies to take some action that might curb the growing violence. The intelligence agencies would be asked by the President to write a report on what could be done. The meeting was planned for May. In addition, Tom Huston was given a high staff position in the White House; henceforth, he would have responsibilities for internal security affairs. 38 He was now in a strategic position to help Sullivan reverse existing Bureau policies.
The meeting between President Nixon and the intelligence directors was not held in May, because plans for, and the reaction to, the April 29 invasion of Cambodia in Southeast Asia disrupted the entire White House schedule. In the aftermath of this event, the meeting “became even more important,” recalls Huston. 39 The expansion of the Indochina war into Cambodia and the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State had focused the actions on antiwar movement and civil rights activists.
As soon as the reaction to the Cambodian incursion had stabilized somewhat, the meeting between President Nixon and the intelligence directors was rescheduled for June 5th. It was to start a chain of events that would culminate in the Huston Plan.