The Family Jewels is the informal name used to refer to a set of reports that detail activities
conducted by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Considered
illegal or inappropriate, these actions were conducted over the span of
decades, from the 1950s to the mid-1970s.
William Colby, who was the CIA director in the mid-1970s and helped
in the compilation of the reports, dubbed them the "skeletons" in the
CIA's closet. Most of the documents were publicly released on June 25,
2007, after more than three decades of secrecy. The non-governmental
National Security Archive had filed a FOIA request fifteen years
The reports that constitute the CIA's "Family Jewels" were
commissioned in 1973 by then CIA director James R. Schlesinger, in
response to press accounts of CIA involvement in the Watergate scandal —
in particular, support to the burglars, E. Howard Hunt and James
McCord, both CIA veterans. On May 9, 1973, Schlesinger signed a
directive commanding senior officers to compile a report of current or
past CIA actions that may have fallen outside the agency's charter. The
resulting report, which was in the form of a 693-page loose-leaf book of
memos, was passed on to William Colby when he succeeded Schlesinger as
Director of Central Intelligence in late 1973.
Leaks and official release
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed some of the
contents of the "Family Jewels" in a front-page New York Times article
in December 1974, in which he reported that:
The Central Intelligence Agency, directly violating its charter,
conducted a massive, illegal domestic intelligence operation during the
Nixon Administration against the antiwar movement and other dissident
groups in the United States according to well-placed Government sources.
Additional details of the contents trickled out over the years, but
requests by journalists and historians for access to the documents under
the Freedom of Information Act were long denied. Finally, in June 2007,
CIA Director Michael Hayden announced that the documents would be
released to the public. A six-page summary of the reports was made
available at the National Security Archive (based at George Washington University), with the following introduction:
The Central Intelligence Agency violated its charter for 25 years
until revelations of illegal wiretapping, domestic surveillance,
assassination plots, and human experimentation led to official
investigations and reforms in the 1970s.
The complete set of documents, with some redactions (including a
number of pages in their entirety), was released on the CIA website on
June 25, 2007.
The reports describe numerous activities conducted by the CIA during
the 1950s to 1970s that violated its charter. According to a briefing
provided by CIA Director William Colby to the Justice Department on
December 31, 1974, these included 18 issues which were of legal concern:
1. Confinement of a Russian defector, Yuri Ivanovich Nosenko, that "might be regarded as a violation of the kidnapping laws."
2. Wiretapping of two syndicated columnists, Robert Allen and Paul
Scott, approved by US Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Secretary of
Defense Robert McNamara (see also Project Mockingbird)
3. Physical surveillance of investigative journalist and muckraker
Jack Anderson and his associates, including Les Whitten of the
Washington Post and future Fox News Channel anchor and managing editor
Brit Hume. Jack Anderson had written two articles on CIA-backed
assassination attempts on Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
4. Physical surveillance of then-Washington Post reporter Michael
Getler, who later was an ombudsman for the Washington Post and PBS.
5. Break-in at the home of a former CIA employee.
6. Break-in at the office of a former defector.
7. Warrantless entry into the apartment of a former CIA employee.
8. Opening of mail to and from the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1973
(including letters associated with actress Jane Fonda) (project
SRPOINTER/HTLINGUAL at JFK airport)
9. Opening of mail to and from the People's Republic of China from
1969 to 1972 (project SRPOINTER/HTLINGUAL at JFK airport - see also
Project SHAMROCK by the NSA)
10. Funding of behavior modification
research on unwitting U.S. citizens, including unscientific,
non-consensual human experiments. (see also Project MKULTRA
concerning LSD experiments)
11. Assassination plots against Cuban President Fidel Castro
(authorized by Robert Kennedy); Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba;
President Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic; and René Schneider,
Commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army. All of these plots were said to
be unsuccessful ones.
12. Surveillance of dissident groups between 1967 and 1971 (see Project RESISTANCE, Project MERRIMAC and Operation CHAOS)
13. Surveillance of a particular Latin American female, and of U.S. citizens in Detroit.
14. Surveillance of former CIA officer and Agency critic, Victor
Marchetti, author of the book, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence,
published in 1974.
15. Amassing of files on 9,900-plus Americans related to the antiwar
movement (see Project RESISTANCE, Project MERRIMAC and Operation CHAOS).
16. Polygraph experiments with the sheriff of San Mateo County, California.
17. Fake CIA identification documents that might violate state laws.
18. Testing of electronic equipment on U.S. telephone circuits.
(From wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Visit The CIA's Family Jewels NSA Website
The CIA's Family Jewels
Agency Violated Charter for 25 Years, Wiretapped Journalists and Dissidents
CIA Announces Declassification of 1970s "Skeletons" File, Archive
Posts Justice Department Summary from 1975, With White House Memcons on
The full "family jewels" report, released today by the Central
Intelligence Agency and detailing 25 years of Agency misdeeds, is now
available on the Archive's Web site. The 702-page collection
was delivered by CIA officers to the Archive at approximately 11:30
this morning -- 15 years after the Archive filed a Freedom of
Information request for the documents.
Download The CIA's Family Jewels: Agency Violated Charter for 25 Years
PDF format, 24.2MB, 703Pages.
Washington D.C., June 21, 2007 - The Central Intelligence Agency
violated its charter for 25 years until revelations of illegal
wiretapping, domestic surveillance, assassination plots, and human
experimentation led to official investigations and reforms in the 1970s,
according to declassified documents posted today on the Web by the
National Security Archive at George Washington University.
CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden announced today that the Agency is
declassifying the full 693-page file amassed on CIA's illegal activities
by order of then-CIA director James Schlesinger in 1973--the so-called
"family jewels." Only a few dozen heavily-censored pages of this file
have previously been declassified, although multiple Freedom of
Information Act requests have been filed over the years for the
documents. Gen. Hayden called the file "a glimpse of a very different
time and a very different Agency." The papers are scheduled for public
release on Monday, June 25.
"This is the first voluntary CIA declassification of controversial
material since George Tenet in 1998 reneged on the 1990s promises of
greater openness at the Agency," commented Thomas Blanton, the Archive's
Hayden also announced the declassification of some
11,000 pages of
the so-called CAESAR, POLO and ESAU papers--hard-target analyses of
Soviet and Chinese leadership internal politics and Sino-Soviet
relations from 1953-1973, a collection of intelligence on Warsaw Pact
military programs, and hundreds of pages on the A-12 spy plane.
The National Security Archive separately obtained (and posted today) a six-page summary of the illegal CIA activities,
prepared by Justice Department lawyers after a CIA briefing in December
1974, and the memorandum of conversation when the CIA first briefed
President Gerald Ford on the scandal on January 3, 1975.