Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sensitive Activities

8 May 1973


1. FBIS has been engaged in no activities related to the Ellsberg and Watergate cases.

2. FBIS operations occasionally extend to the domestic arena. From time to time, FBIS linguists are made available to DDO or Office of Communications components for special operations (usually abroad) involving close-support SIGINT work or translation of audio take. On one occasion recently DDO, on behalf of the FBI, requested the services of several FBIS linguists skilled in Arabic to work directly for the FBI on a short-term project here in Washington. The arrangements were made by Mr. Oberg of the DDO CI Staff. He said the project was very highly classified and that FBIS participation was approved by Mr. Colby and the Director. FBIS participation was approved by the Director of FBIS after a check with the ADDI. Other examples of sensitive linguistic support work are help in the handling and resettlement of defectors, the recent assignment of an employee to the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to transcribe recordings in a rare Chinese dialect, and the detailing of another Chinese linguist on two occasions to assist in the U.S. military training of Chinese Nationalist cadets.

3. Within its responsibility for monitoring press agency transmissions for intelligence information, FBIS publishes and distributes some material which falls in a "gray" area of copyright protection, libel, and privacy of international communications. Press services controlled by national governments and transmitted by radioteletype without specific addresses, e.g., the Soviet TASS Service and the PRC's NCNA, are monitored by FBIS and the material is disseminated without restriction. The legality of this has been affirmed by decisions of the Office of General Counsel.

4. The routine FBIS monitoring of foreign radio broadcasts often involves statements or speeches made by U.S. citizens using those radio facilities. Examples are statements made or allegedly made by American POWs in Hanoi, by Jane Fonda in Hanoi and by Ramsey Clark in Vietnam. At the request of FBI and the Department of Justice, and with the approval of the CIA Office of General Counsel, we have on occasion submitted transcripts of such broadcasts to the Department of Justice as part of that Department's consideration of a possible trial. In such cases, we have been required to submit names of FBIS monitors involved, presumably because of the possibility they might be required as witnesses. (In one case in 1971, an FBIS staff employee was directed to appear as an expert witness in the court-martial of a Marine enlisted man charged with aiding the enemy in a broadcast from Hanoi.) FBIS views all this with misgivings. Monitoring of such broadcasts is incidental and we rue attribution of their news to FBIS, and we should not be considered policemen maintaining surveillance of traveling Americans.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service

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