- In Internal Memos, CIA Inspector General Portrayed the Media as Agency’s “Principal Villains”
by Emma Best, https://www.muckrock.com/
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the power of the media to publish in this country is nearly absolute.”
A series of 1984 memos from the CIA Inspector General’s (IG) office reveals some alarming views on the press and how to deal with them. Among other things, the memo shows that 33 years before the Agency declared WikiLeaks a hostile non-state intelligence service, they were viewing the general press in the same terms.
Several weeks prior, CIA Director Casey had asked the IG to weigh in on officer Eloise Page’s paper on unauthorized disclosure. The IG passed the task onto someone on his staff, who produced a four page SECRET memo for IG James Taylor, who passed it onto Director Casey. The IG specifically endorsed the proposal for a program where the Agency would intervene with journalism schools, which is discussed further below.
The SECRET memo began by endorsing the proposals that Page had laid out in her paper. Specifically praised among her proposed initiative was new legislation, a special FBI unit, and a special prosecutor. While it was obviously hoped that this would help enforce the law, the member of the IG staff also hoped that they would create a chilling effect. The sole criticism for Page’s paper was that it lacked a strategy for dealing with the media, who were the “principal villains” in all of this.