Wednesday, February 28, 2018

To Kill a MOCKINGBIRD: Recently released records dispel old myths surrounding CIA program targeting journalists

Despite popular perception as a propaganda program, the Agency’s aim was surveillance, not recruitment

A review of a file released to MuckRock on Project MOCKINGBIRD sheds new light on a Central Intelligence Agency program of domestic surveillance that targeted a pair of journalists. In the process, it dispels old myths, highlights and clarifies an error in CIA’s Family Jewels and an omission in the Rockefeller Commission’s Report. The file also reveals that the CIA’s surveillance of the journalists resulted in recording phone conversations with members of Congress - possibly including the Speaker of the House.

According to many and the popular consciousness, Operation MOCKINGBIRD was a propaganda program in which CIA would utilize journalists as assets. While such efforts certainly existed, and some were quite widespread, there is only a single source for the name - Deborah Davis’s book, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and Her Washington Post Empire. It’s unclear from the text who Davis’ source for the name is, though she sources several details of the effort to an unnamed “former CIA analyst who worked with MOCKINGBIRD.”

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