95. Memorandum From the General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency (Lapham) to Director of Central Intelligence Turner1

OGC 79–03970


  • [2 lines not declassified]

1. Action requested. Your signature on the attached memorandum to Dr. Brzezinski (Attachment A)2 apprising him of the [3 lines not declassified]. This memorandum is also intended to acquaint you with these details along with our recent communications with IOB concerning this subject.

2. Background. This matter was first brought to my attention in February of this year via a memorandum from the Inspector General (Attachment B) which sought our opinion concerning whether or not [1½ lines not declassified] contravenes any existing Executive Order strictures and/or Agency regulations (especially those governing relationships between CIA and [less than 1 line not declassified]). The specific details of the activity, as well as our conclusions concerning their legality and propriety, are spelled out at length in this Office’s 3 April 1979 response to the IG (Attachment C). Essentially, the activity in question is a [less than 1 line not declassified] and managed by [less than 1 line not declassified] which distributes ([less than 1 line not declassified] four European locations) published, open-source literature (books, pamphlets, etc.) to individuals in the Soviet Union and several Eastern European countries. The materials disseminated have on occasion included foreign language tracts which have been published overseas with covert Agency support. Much of the annual distribution from [1 line not declassified] is accomplished by approximately [1½ lines not declassified] who initiate contact by writing the office or visiting its premises and asking for certain publications which [less than 1 line not declassified] provides to them at no charge for forwarding to contacts, colleagues, and friends of [less than 1 line not declassified] who reside in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The questions raised by the IG concerning the legality and propriety of the [less than 1 line not declassified] activity were primarily based on the fact that none of these [Page 418] [less than 1 line not declassified] has ever been made officially witting of CIA’s sponsorship of the program, although [less than 1 line not declassified] Staff points out that many of these persons are aware of the program’s previous connection with Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe and thus presumably assume or suspect on their own a continuing U.S. Government and CIA involvement in the operation.

3. It should be emphasized that a Presidential finding of 7 June 19783 formally approved this entire covert action activity based on information provided to the SCC which stated the expressed purpose of the program to be the infiltration of diverse types of literature into the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries in order to generate publicity and otherwise support and encourage the citizens of those countries who favor liberalization and modernization of their countries’ foreign and domestic policies. Nevertheless, in reviewing all of the available background memoranda and supporting documentation that were prepared for senior CIA management and the White House at that time, we have found no indication that the involvement of [less than 1 line not declassified] was ever explicitly spelled out.

4. Supporting data. Our 3 April 1979 response to the IG, after laying out a detailed factual recitation of the particulars of the [less than 1 line not declassified] reached the following basic conclusions:

a) The [2 lines not declassified] does not violate any existing Agency policies or Executive Order strictures since no “operational use” is being made of these individuals.

b) The occasional dissemination of materials covertly published by CIA similarly involves no illegality or impropriety since the materials are in a foreign language, are published overseas, and do not represent an attempt to influence U.S. public opinion.

5. A copy of our memorandum was furnished to the IOB, which had been previously alerted of this matter through an 8 March letter from the Acting IG (Attachment D). In a letter to me dated 13 April 1979 (Attachment E), IOB Counsel Gil Kujovich not only indicated satisfaction with our conclusions but also made note of his and the Board’s approval of the manner in which this matter was raised and reviewed internally by OIG and this Office, stating it to be a “good example of how effective Executive Branch oversight should function.” However, Mr. Kujovich went on to say that the Board believes that the [less than 1 line not declassified] is a factor which “should have been brought to the attention of the SCC, as well as the DCI, at the time [Page 419] that the activity was reviewed.” Thus, he stated that “the Board has determined to defer further action on this matter pending prompt consideration by both the DCI and the SCC.”

6. Accordingly, pursuant to IOB’s wishes, this memorandum and its attachments will serve to apprise you of the ongoing involvement of [less than 1 line not declassified] in the covert action activity [less than 1 line not declassified] (we should note that our 3 April memorandum to the IG had previously suggested that this matter be brought to your attention, particularly in view of your past interest and public statements on the subject of CIA [less than 1 line not declassified]). In addition, we have prepared a proposed memorandum from you to Dr. Brzezinski which similarly traces the facts and circumstances of this entire matter, including our correspondence with IOB. In light of IOB’s apparent acceptance of the conclusions previously reached by this Office, it does not appear legally necessary at this time to initiate any changes in the current modus operandi [less than 1 line not declassified]. Thus, subject to any views to the contrary which you may have on policy grounds, your memorandum to Dr. Brzezinski presents this entire matter for his information only with no recommendation contained therein for any further action on the part of CIA or SCC.

7. Recommendation: Your signature on the attached memorandum to Dr. Brzezinski (Attachment A).

Anthony A. Lapham4
General Counsel
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, President’s Intelligence Oversight Board, Box 2, Meeting 5/16/79. Secret. Sent through the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Frank Carlucci, who did not initial the memorandum. Concurred in by the CIA Inspector General, John Waller, and the Deputy Director for Operations, John McMahon, on May 1.
  2. Attachments A–E were not found attached.
  3. Reference is to the omnibus Presidential finding of June 7, 1978, which is in the National Security Council, Carter Intelligence Files, Presidential Findings/MONs and Background Material.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.