CIA Delivers LBJ-Ordered Report on U.S. Peace Groups
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on this day delivered a report of its investigation of anti-war activists, “International Connections of U.S. Peace Groups.” President Lyndon Johnson had ordered the investigation, which began on August 15, 1967, even though CIA Director Richard Helms told him that it would be illegal as a violation of the CIA’s charter. Johnson told him to do it anyway. He could not believe that anti-war protesters could question his sincerity about the war (he often said, “We seek no wider war”) or say such terrible things about him (“Hey, hey, LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?”). Consequently, he was convinced that the anti-war movement must be supported by foreign governments. The CIA report found no evidence of foreign support for anti-war protests, however.
Johnson refused to accept the CIA’s conclusion and ordered a new report, which it submitted on December 22, 1967. That report reached the same conclusion. Johnson rejected it and ordered a third report, which the CIA delivered on January 5, 1958. The CIA sent a fourth report, “Restless Youth,” to Johnson on September 4, 1968.
The CIA spying program ordered by President Johnson evolved and expanded into Operation Chaos, which the New York Times exposed in a sensational page one story on December 22, 1974.
The Vietnam War created a number of civil liberties crises. They include (1) the lack of a Congressional Declaration of War as required by the Constitution (June 3, 1970); (2) threats to freedom of the press in the Pentagon Papers case (June 30, 1971); (3) spying on the anti-war movement by the CIA (August 15, 1967); (4) threats to freedom of expression, for example high school student protests (February 24, 1969); censorship of television programs (February 25, 1968); and directly and indirectly some of the events that led to the Watergate Scandal (May 9, 1969; January 27, 1972).
CIA Director Richard Helms describes LBJ’s order: Richard Helms, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency (2003)
Read the Senate Church Committee report on CIA domestic spying (pp. 679–732): http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports_book3.htm