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7. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Central Intelligence Agency Management Committee (Colby) to All Central Intelligence Agency Employees1


  • Agency Involvement in the Watergate Case

1. The leadership of the Agency continues to make a determined effort to investigate all aspects of Agency involvement with the “Watergate” case or any of those persons connected with it. The results of these investigations have been given to the appropriate legislative, executive, and judicial elements of the Government investigating these matters. Each employee has been asked and is directed to report to the Director any knowledge he or she has of the Watergate affair and related matters, any persons connected with it, or any other illegal activity in which they believe the Agency was involved in any way.2

2. In consonance with the foregoing, anyone who has had any connection or contact with individuals on the attached list,3 or anyone in their offices or anyone purporting to act for them or acting pursuant to their authority, should report these contacts fully. Activities of these and other individuals include not only the Watergate affair, but any investigative work on the Pentagon Papers/Ellsberg case4 and any contacts relating to the Executive Branch and White House efforts to locate and stem leaks of classified information to the press starting as early as July 1970.

3. Any work done by anyone in the Agency on any of these subjects, or any knowledge related thereto, should be reported to the IG [Page 10]through the appropriate Deputy Director, or directly and personally to the Director.5

4. It is imperative that every piece of information bearing on these matters be reported immediately for evaluation by the senior management of the Agency. The public interest requires that all information be produced and reported to our oversight committees (on a classified basis if necessary) so that the Agency’s actual role will be clarified with respect to various charges and speculation.

W.E. Colby
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Schlesinger Papers, Box 18, CIA. Administrative; Internal Use Only. Approved by Schlesinger. In his memoirs, Colby recalled that the memorandum was issued after he was informed that Watergate defendant James McCord had sent letters to the CIA containing “veiled allegations that an attempt was being made in the White House to pin the blame for Watergate on the Agency.” According to Colby, the existence of the letters had been revealed to Schlesingerand himself only after the DCI’s May 9 directive ( Document 6) had been issued. (Colby, Honorable Men, p. 339) A timeline of events attached to the memorandum states that Schlesinger was informed of the letters on May 22.
  2. See Document 6.
  3. Not found attached.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 6.
  5. The catalogue of potential violations of the CIA’s legislative charter, compiled by the CIA Inspector General’s office, eventually totaled 693 pages. The catalogue, known within the CIA as the “Family Jewels” and referred to by Colby as “the skeletons in our closet,” included domestic operations against the anti-war movement, a mail intercept program conducted by CIA counterintelligence, experiments involving LSD, surveillance and bugging of U.S. journalists, involvement in the assassination or attempted assassination of foreign leaders, and connections to the Watergate break-in. These activities would remain classified until their existence was exposed in a December 22, 1974, article by New York Times columnist Seymour Hersh (see Document 17). The “Family Jewels” documents were released to the public in June 2007 and are available in the Electronic Reading Room on the CIA website.