ondale recounts FBI-CIA investigation

Liz Bogut

A 1975 Senate investigation into abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies left one former politician appalled and distrustful of a system corrupted by lawlessness.
In a speech at Cowles Auditorium on Tuesday, former U.S. Vice President and Minnesota Sen. Walter Mondale spoke about his work on an investigation that led to reforms for U.S. intelligence agencies.
The investigation was launched after the New York Times, Washington Post and CBS News alleged the FBI had kept files on the personal lives of congressmen and used wiretaps in attempts to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s.
Mondale, who served under President Carter, headed the domestic task force of the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. During the 16-month investigation, the committee made startling discoveries.
The investigations marked the first time the FBI and the CIA were subjected to investigation.
“We had an enormous responsibility,” Mondale said. The 11-member investigation team brought to light an appalling pattern of lawlessness within the government agencies, he said.
According to the reports, more than 10,000 Americans had unknowingly been wiretapped and had their homes broken into. Mondale said the FBI was waging a secret war against Martin Luther King Jr. — they had paid informants and wiretaps to destroy his career and marriage. The committee compiled 396 pages of domestic violations, 13 volumes of abuse and 96 recommendations for reforms for the intelligence agencies.
“The FBI kept files on 1 million Americans without a single conviction,” Mondale said. “The post office illegally opened mail and the Internal Revenue Services gave the FBI tax returns of groups and individuals.”
In addition, the FBI kept names of people to be incarcerated in the case of a national crisis, Mondale said. At the time, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had gained too much power.
No one dared to challenge him, Mondale said. “In his later years, Hoover was a twisted man. Hoover hounded Martin Luther King Jr. for years.”
As a result of the investigation, reforms were put in place for U.S. intelligence agencies. The term for director of the FBI was limited to 10 years and special courts were ordered to observe wire taps.
“Almost every CIA and FBI director since then has said that oversight helps,” Mondale said. He concluded his lecture by stressing the importance of relying on faith over fear.
“Have faith in the basic loyalty of human people and do everything here at home to protect the law,” Mondale said.