secrecy {fragments}

~ musings on secrecy ~

The Ervin Committee

On  April 24, 2009, Democracy Now! interviewed Bethine Church, Sen. Frank Church’s (D-Idaho) widow and Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., who served as chief counsel to the Church Committee (formally known as the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities).

This look back to the Church Committee’s work is an important reminder of  CIA and FBI misdoings of the 1970s;  it is critical this dark history remains alive and accessible. However, the chain of events as mentioned in the interview are more complex than mentioned. The flow of events are roughly:

Christopher Pyle‘s 1970 revelations > Morton Kondrache’s Chicago Sun Times stories > Ervin Committee 1972 investigation of military surveillance of citizens > MIT investigation > Church  Committee various hearings and reports > And a lot more such as the Pike Committee (1976)

On the surface, the Ervin Committee (Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights)  investigation and hearings  might not appear linked to the Church Committee investigations of the intelligence community. But it would be a mistake to think this. One of the key findings of the Ervin Committee was the Army was not only conducting massive surveillance and record keeping on U.S. citizens by way of its large intelligence, computerized infrastructure, but it was also sharing voluminous amounts of information on citizens with  intelligence agencies such as the FBI.

You can read the U.S. Army Surveillance of Civilians: A Documentary Analysis (92d Congress, 2d session) at the Memory Hole.

Update August 21, 2009:
The July 28, 2009 Democracy Now interviewed several activists who learned through a public records requests to the city of Tacoma (I believe) that an “active member of Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance in Washington state was actually an informant for the US military.”

The Pyle and Church Committees are mentioned in the DN report, but not Ervin. Hmmmm.

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Written by S.

May 6, 2009 at 7:47 pm

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  1. […] Students of 60s-70s surveillance history and politics will recognize the Subcommittee as the Ervin Committee, the same congressional body that produced Army Surveillance of Civilians: A Documentary Analysis, […]


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