from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
October 6, 2000
NEW DOCUMENTATION ON 1960s COVERT ACTION IN THAILAND
- NEW DOCUMENTATION ON 1960s COVERT ACTION IN THAILAND
- NEW RELEASE OF U.S. SIGNALS INTELLIGENCE DIRECTIVE
- NEEDLING THE NEW YORK TIMES
The clandestine role of the U.S. Government in supporting the Thai Government’s election campaign in 1969 is acknowledged and documented for the first time in the new State Department volume “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, volume XXVII: Mainland Southeast Asia; Regional Affairs."
Characteristically, the Central Intelligence Agency opposed release of the documentation because U.S. intervention in the Thai electoral process was not among the handful of officially acknowledged U.S. covert actions.
But after the matter was appealed to a so-called High-Level Panel, consisting of representatives of the National Security Council, Department of State, and CIA, it was agreed that the covert aid to Thailand could be acknowledged and partially documented, clearing the way for publication of the new Foreign Relations volume.
[From a policy point of view, this underscores the importance and the utility of removing declassification decisions from the sole authority of the originating agency, especially when that agency is the CIA.]
Although some documents were withheld in full, and others were painstakingly redacted, “The Office of the [State Department] Historian is confident... that the documentation presented here provides an accurate account of U.S. policy toward Southeast Asia during the 1964-1968 period."
The full text of the new Foreign Relations volume, published September 21, is available here:
By way of context, the Foreign Relations editors have provided a helpful introductory note on “U.S. Covert Actions and Counter-Insurgency Programs" here:
A newly declassified version of U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18, dated 27 July 1993, has been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive. The Directive "prescribes policies and procedures and assigns responsibilities to ensure that the missions and functions of the United States SIGINT System (USSS) are conducted in a manner that safeguards the constitutional rights of U.S. persons." See:
The New York Times should probably feel flattered that so many people were outraged or disappointed by its early coverage of the Wen Ho Lee case. The latest to weigh in is cartoonist Tom Tomorrow in Salon Magazine:
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