tv William Colby Church Committee Hearing CSPAN May 30, 2016 1:00pm-1:59pm EDT
he examines the cartels and the smuggling of humans and narcotics. on thursday our focus will be trade. lynn brazoski, trade reporter with the san antonio express will discuss the flow of trade across the loor raid doe bored jefrmt henry quear will talk about low trade affects the country. bob cash, state director for the texas fair trade commission and nafta critic looks at how trade took jobs and how it hurts mexicans as well. make sure to watch beginning live at 7:00 p.m. eastern wednesday and thursday june 1st and 2nd from loredo, texas. join the discussion. welcome to real america on cspan 3's real american history tv. 30 years ago in the wake of
watergate the united states senate created a special committee. they had a long official title. the senate select committee to sfud di- governmental operations with respect to intelligence activities and took on the nickname of the chairman, frank church and it was known as the church committee. the committee met for 16 months, reviewed 10,000 documents, called 800 witnesses before the committee and the staff. the legacy includes it creation of the senate select intelligence committee providing ongoing oversight of the intelligence agencies and the creation of the foreign intelligence surveillance act of 1978 which we know as fisa. they were held in the historic senate caucus room scene of the hearings two years earlier. we go to meet kate scott, who explains how and why the church committee came about and sets
the stage for september 16, 1975 hearing with cia director, william colby. >> the church committee was created in january of 1975 by the senate. in response to a series of revelations and allegations about domestic intelligence abuses in the united states, and the senate created this committee by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, a vote of 82-4, to establish a committee that would examine just this specific issue of intelligence abuses and maybe how they were violating constitutional protections. the church committee, to understand the context of the church committee, you have to go back to 1970. that was really the first big revelation of domestic intelligence. a whistle blower, a former army counter intelligence captain, provided details in 1970 in a published account, published by
the washington monthly of a nationwide army domestic intelligence program, members of congress didn't know anything about it. it had been secret running for about a decade. the whole purpose was to monitor political decent to the united states. those who voiced opposition to the u.s. domestic and foreign policies. so, senator sam irvin of north carolina chaired a committee to look into those allegations in 1971. then two years after that, sam irvin, again, chaired another committee, the senate watergate committee for allegations of impropriety during the 1972 presidential campaign. over the course of that investigation, there were new allegations made about the political uses of the fbi and cia during that campaign.
then, finally, in december of 1974, pulitzer prize winner journalist had the front page in "the new york times" alleging that the cia had developed a domestic surveillance program, which would have been in complete violation of its charter. it was to have no domestic intelligence applications. and, that allegation came about a month after the midterm elections in 1974, when a large group of so-called watergate babies were elected to congress and they, many of them, had run on a campaign pledge to clean up the executive branch and come into congress to provide better oversight over the executive branch. something like the abuses revealed in watergate couldn't happen again.
so you have a large class of watergate babies coming in saying you need to change the way the government is operating. then you have another revelation, a third one to say there are intelligence abuses out there and congress doesn't seem to know much about them. so, in january of 1975, with the swearing in of these, shortly after the swearing in of the new class, the senate agrees to create this new, special committee. senator frank church is the chairman, that's why it's the church committee. he was, at that time, an 18 year member. he served on the committee 18 years. he was a senate veteran. he had been a prominent outspoken critic of the vietnam war. he was deeply involved in issues related to u.s., the use of intelligence abroad. he was, himself, a former intelligence officer during world war ii. he served as an intelligence officer.
he has respect for the intelligence gathering, he was skeptical about the applications, particularly domestic applications. the vice chair was john tower of texas. he was a fiery member of the republican party. he was a ten year member of the armed services committee, knew a lot about u.s. intelligence operations and was a little bit skeptical, a little concerned about how the senate could investigate these sensitive national security issues without revealing national security secrets. so, he later boasted that he was put on the committee to make sure that this didn't become a media extravagant, didn't become a sensational event, and in some ways to protect the intelligence agencies. that's really the origins of the church committee.
>> could you tell us a little bit about some of the other members? were these well known people at the time? >> yeah, they were. some of them were, some of them weren't. the two senate leaders, mike mansfield of montana was the majority leader. and pennsylvania it was minority leader. they wanted to create a committee comprised of members with a good deal of experience with issues like frank church and john tower. they also wanted to acknowledge that the watergate babies were particularly interested in approaching some of these topics in new ways. so, they tried to balance the committee, the membership on the committee with older members like frank church. >> howard goldwater, with newer members, richard sweitkert of pennsylvania was a new member.
gary hart of colorado was newly elected. they had an interest in these issues and very much wanted to look into them. they were also new members of congress. it was a recognition that maybe we needed a fresh approach to the challenging issues the country was confronted with. >> we are going to see the testimony of cia director william colby from september 16, 1975. at that time, was it unusual for the cia director to testify in a public hearing? >> it was. it was unusual in part because for decades the house and senate had provided oversight of the intelligence community, but primarily they had ton that in closed executive hearings. that was for a number of reasons. the primary reason was they believed they didn't want to provide opportunities in a public hearing where information that was classified might be revealed and therefore undermine the security of intelligence methods or practices.
but, there was increasingly a sense that the people who were supposed to provide oversight in congress of these intelligence community in particular the cia, had not been doing it rigorously or effectively. that, in the senate, for example, there were two subcommittees, two senate subcommittees tasked with oversight of the cia. one was within the appropriations committee and the other was the armed services committee. the armed services subcommittee was chaired by john stenis. he was a conservative democrat from mississippi who very much supported the national intelligence community and did not think that congress had a responsibility to look too closely at how it operated. he famously said, if you are
going to have a national intelligence community, you have to close your eyes and take what's coming. you have to take what's coming. another senator expressed it another way. we don't know what's going on at the cia and we don't want to know. that had, for since the early years of the cold war, that was the prevailing sentiment among members of congress. because of the global threat of communism, the united states needed to develop these capabilities within the national intelligence community that could -- and the methods of that intelligence collection shouldn't be second guessed. so, for decades, particularly in the senate, the oversight that had been provided had been done in closed, executive sessions. the transcripts hadn't been made public or disseminated among members of the senate. a few numbers of the senate were
increasingly unsettled by the lack of oversight, and one of them was mike mansfield, the majority leader. he was actually the first senator to propose a permanent cia intelligence oversight in the senate in the 1950s. he continued every congress to resubmit his proposal to establish this permanent cia intelligence oversight committee. while he gained, at some point 20 co-sponsors to get this committee created, he was never able to get what he wanted until the intelligence scandal, domestic intelligence allegations in late 1974. he was actually the one who drafted the resolution that created the church committee in 1975. it was unusual for william colby to be there in open session for the reasons i just explained. william colby himself is an interesting character.
it's interesting that he is the one that was called to testify in a public session. william colby had spent the majority of his professional career in the cia. he actually had worked during world war ii for the office of strategic services. the o.s.s., the cia's precursor. he had gone into private law practice, then in 1949, two years after the cia was established, he joined. he worked abroad in europe. he had been deeply involved in cia operations, cold war related cia operations for 30 years before he came back to washington and was nominated by president richard nixon and, approved, importantly, by the senate and confirmed by the senate to serve as the new cia director in 1973. so, he comes to this position as director while the cia is in a bit of turmoil. there have -- the former
director, james sles sing -- schlessinger, had ordered a report, an internal report to be produced and asked cia officers to come forward and report on programs they believe the agency had been involved in, which may have been constitutionally questionable, which may have been, perhaps if not illegal, at least unethical, immoral, improper. and this report, this internal report became known as the cia's family jewel. the family jewels. at the start of the church committee investigation, they did a lot -- the staff did a lot of work behind the scenes. they had to investigate the agencies and the intelligence community more broadly, in some ways for the first time. they didn't know where to start. well, luckily, fortunately for them, william colby provided them with a copy of this internal report, the family jewels. it provided them, basically,
with a road map. they could begin to map out what the cia had been doing and begin to look deeply into some of these cases of improper behavior. william colby, of course, was firmly committed to the cia and its intelligence operations. he was concerned about the activity that the agency had been involved in. he was concerned about political pressure coming from the white house during the watergate era. he wanted to ensure the strength of the cia moving forward. so, while he faced a goods deal of criticism both from within the cia and from outside the cia, even from former intelligence officers for cooperating with the church committee investigation, he thought that it was the best way to strengthen the agency moving forward. i would characterize his
cooperation as limited. he wanted to cooperate with them in the sense he provided them with some materials they needed. he also created a liaison operation within the cia itself to manage the relationship with the church committee. so, the church committee, the staff of the church committee would make requests for documents that were necessary to build their story and the cia would push back. we are not sure we have that material. why do you need that material? always asking follow up questions. by doing so, further delaying the church committee's ability to dig into these stories and get the big picture. so, he did receive a lot of criticism. he received a lot of criticism for working with the committee, but he did manage to restrict that cooperation in some important ways. as you speak with the staff, the
former staff, you will recognize, they will speak about the frustration they experienced trying to get information from the cia. >> now, from september 16th, 1975, here is paul duke of pbs introducing a 40-minute portion of the cia hearing. william colby will be testifying first. after that, we'll get thoughts from you. >> thanks. >> seemed unimpressed, perhaps because they already knew too much. each senator arriving with a orange notebook with material about the cia, all marked top secret. after five months of closed door investigation, talking in private with intelligence agents and officials, most of the senators now agree with chairman frank church, that the cia has, indeed, been a rogue elephant, out of control. the testimony of colby didn't stop the suspicions. the press was back in great
numbers today. but not the public. there were, in fact, no long lines and the seats reserved for the audience were, at times, only two-thirds filled. someone said, after what has happened in this country, during the past two years, there are no more future shocks. but, whether there are shocks or not, today's open hearing did focus major attention on the way the cia has gone about its business in the united states. >> subject concerning the cia's involvement in warfare materials with the laboratory. cia's retention of an amount of shellfish toxin and the cia's use of various chemicals and drugs. the relationship between the cia as an activity requiring further investigation surfaced in late
april this year. it resulted in information presented by a cia officer, not directly associated with the project. all past activities, which might now be considered questionable, be brought to the attention of agency management. information provided by him and two other officers aware of the project indicated the project involved development of warfare agents, some lethal and associated delivery suitable for use. a search was made for other records made available on the project. this produced information about the basic agreement between the army and the cia relating to the project and limited records covering activity from the beginning in 1952 to the termination in 1970. in the course of the investigation, cia laboratory storage facilities were searched d 11 grams, less than a half
ounce of shellfish toxin were discovered in a little used vaulted storeroom. a major requirement of the agency was to find a replacement for the cyanide pill issued to agents in hazardous situations in world war ii. this was the basis on which they discovered the shellfish toxin. the only application of this toxin was in the flight over the ussr in may, 1960 where they carried the device, concealed in a silver dollar. in the powers case, the drill were filled with shellfish toxin. he obviously did not use it and was not instructed to do so. it was offered to him to provide an option. that flight is the only time we are aware it was provided for operational use though the pill was made available for earlier
flights. the primary agency interest was in the development of devices to be used for standard devices. various dissemination devices designed to release when suited for agents for clandestine use. available records do not indicate items were developed specifically for the cia as work on similar devices was done for similar devices was also done for the army. at the time the toxin was found, the officer responsible for the project in 1970 stated he had no recollection as to how it got there. the 30th of june, a retired officer provided the leak. this man had been the gs-15 branch chief in 1970 stated the toxin had been moved and stored in the laboratory. this was done on the basis of a decision after conversations with the responsible project officer.
he further stated he made this decision based on the fact that the cost and difficulty of isolating the shellfish toxin were so great, it made no sense to destroy it, particularly when there would be no source of the toxin. they believe this explanation is correct but still does not recall the act of receiving the material. both of these middle grade officers agree that no one, including their immediate superior, was told of the retention of the shellfish toxin. >> if that amount of shellfish toxin were administered orally, which is one of the least efficient ways for administering it, in terms of lethality. that was sufficient to kill at least 14,000 people. if it were administered with the
sophisticated equipment that was found in the laboratory, that quantity would be sufficient to kill a great many more. estimates vary upwards into the hundreds of thousands. now, my first question is, why did the agency prepare a shellfish toxin for which there is no practical anecdote, which attacks the nervous system and brings on death very quickly? why did the agency prepare toxins of this character in quantities sufficient to kill many thousands of people?
what was the need for that in the first place, long before the presidential order came down to destroy this material? >> i think the first part of the answer to that question, mr. chairman, is the fact that the pill that was developed during world war ii, does take some time to work and is particularly agonizing to the subject who uses it. the sum of the people who would be natural requesters of such a capability for their own protection and the protection of their fellow agents really would not want to face that kind of fate. but, if they could be given an instantaneous one, they would accept that. that was the thought process behind developing the capability. now, i cannot explain why that quantity was developed, except this was a collaboration that we were engaged in with the united states army and we did develop
this particular weapon, you might say, as a possible use. when cia retained the amount it did, it obviously did it improperly. >> this quantity and the various devices for administering the toxins that were found in the laboratory certainly make it clear that purely defensive uses were not what the agency had, was limited to. there were offensive issues. you mentioned suicide. i don't think that is done with a dart, particularly a gun that
can place the dart in a human target in such a way he doesn't know he's been hit. >> there's no question about it, it was also for offensive reasons. no question about it. >> have you brought with you some of those devices which would have enabled the cia to use this poison for killing people? >> we have indeed.
>> don't point it at me. i wonder -- does this -- does this pistol fire the dart? >> yes, it does, mr. chairman. the round thing at the top is obviously the sight. the rest of it is practically a normal .45, although it is special. however, it works with electricity. there is a battery in the handle and it fires a small dart. >> when it fires, it fires silently? >> almost silently, yes. very little -- >> what range does it have? 100 meters, i believe. about 100 yards, 100 meters. >> about 100 meters range in. >> right. >> the dart, itself, when it strikes the target, does the target know it has been hit and is about to die? >> that depends, mr. chairman on the particular dart used. there are different kind that is were used in various weapon systems and a special one was developed, which, potentially, would be able to enter the
target without perception. >> without perception. >> right. >> did you find such darts in the library -- in the laboratory? >> we did. we did. >> isn't it true, too, that the effort not only involved designing a gun that could strike a human target without knowledge of the person who had been struck, but also the toxin itself would not appear in the autopsy? or the dart? >> yes. there was no way of perceiving the target was hit. >> as a murder instrument, that is about as sufficient as you
can get, isn't it? >> it is a weapon, a very serious weapon. >> this record seems to disclose an additional concession, namely the lack of accountability so that we not only have a secret agency, but we have an agency which there is some question as to its accountability to the authority of the president or the authority of the national security council. the record seems to disclose that there is no presidential or security council order in the first place, directing the cia to establish this program at all. secondly, there appears to be no report by the cia to higher authority of the existence of these toxins or biological weapons. thirdly, there seems to be no evidence that those in charge of the cia inquired of subordinates as to the existence of toxins or biological weapons or that
following the presidential order decreeing destruction of such toxins, any formal order within the cia to require their destruction. moreover, the record seems to support the notion that it was only by chance that the leadership of the cia became aware some years later of even the existence of these lethal toxins, which were in violation of a direct presidential order. in short, the record is a mess. we may never know just exactly what happened. >> no one has interviewed why he destroyed the material, the records? >> no, we have not interviewed him. >> you know what material or documents he destroyed? >> we are unsure of the total. we do not have inventory. >> you think they might have said who formalized that?
>> in this case, i doubt it would have very much. this case from the evidence we have at hand -- >> does it say anything, have any reason to think it might say how, if at all, this material was used in an aggressive way against someone to kill someone? >> there may well be some of that. >> when was the documentation destroyed? >> in 1973. >> it didn't happen to be destroyed at the same time the tapes -- >> 1972. 1972. >> when in 1972? >> in november, i believe. >> november of '72. any idea what volume of records were destroyed? >> i do not. >> who authorized the destruction? >> there was a memorandum of agreement between the director and mr. gottleib at that time.
>> the director at that time was? >> mr. helms. >> he is here in this room. i take it we will have the opportunity to hear from him. >> he will be our witness at tomorrow morning's hearing. i believe he is the lead-off witness. >> i won't prolong my opportunity to examine the witness much longer, mr. chairman. i understand we are going to operate under the ten-minute rule. may i ask this question in general, mr. colby. you have heard of the doctrine of plausible deniability? >> yes, i have rejected it now, senator. i say we cannot defend on that anymore. >> the question i was going to put to you, is that a phrase of art in the intelligence community? does it have a separate acceptance that you understand? >> it was a rational used. if the united states could deny something and not be clearly demonstrated as having said something falsely, then the united states could do so. >> in the case of assassinations
and the case of any other domestic surveillance, the case of formulation of poisons, under that previous rationale, would the doctrine of plausible deniability led the agency to destroy records, conceal evidence or compartmentalize, that a committee would be unable to establish what happened? >> i think the plausible denial concept was used in international diplomatic relationships. >> are you saying it would not have applied to the formulation of toxic materials in. >> i would say it had nothing to do with it but the plausible denial is so our nation could deny something and not be tagged. >> mr. colby, can you be absolutely sure that there aren't other vaults containing poison in this town or country or in our possession in some part of the world? >> i can't be absolutely sure,
senator, no. we are conducting such investigations. we have issued such orders as possible. i cannot be absolutely sure that some officer somewhere does not sequester something. >> could you, as concisely as possible, state for the committee your practice? >> the compartment practice is the application of the need to know principle. if an employee in the intelligence business needs to know something in order to do his job, then he has a right to the information. if he does not need to know that particular information, he does not have a right to the information. if the information is one which is required for large numbers of employees, then large numbers of employees will be allowed to know it. if the particular activity is a very sensitive matter and only a few employees need to know it, then it will be known to only a
few employees. we make a particular effort to keep the identities of our sources and some of our more complicated technical systems restricted sharply in the -- to the people who need to work on them and many of the rest of the people in the agency know nothing about them. >> that need to know principal apply in cases of sensitivity? >> certainly not. it does not, with one exception. i do not believe i need to know the name of the agent in a foreign country who is serving us at the risk of his life. i know he is there. i know what kind of person he is. i do not need no know his actual name. i have kept that out of my knowledge because i travel and i don't want to know that kind of a thing. that's the only area that i would apply to. i am responsible for everything that happens in the agency. i need to know everything that happens in the agency.
>> we have spoken rather extensively here about apparent lack of clear lines of control and the authority running downward and the lines of responsibility and accountability. to the best of your knowledge, has there been any pervasive, noncompliance in the matter of orders from the president or orders from the dci on the part of subordinates? in other words, has this reached a greater proportion than might have been revealed here, as a result of our discovery of a very, i think, significant instance of insubordination. if, indeed, it has been pervasive, is there a need for much tighter controls at the
top? >> senator, i believe that we are really -- we have in cia a very tight discipline. i'm not saying it is total, obviously. it did not work in this case. i think, with the people scattered around the world doing very sensitive work, highly compartmented work, there's a high sense of discipline in the organization and high sense of compliance to the regulations and the rules and the directives of the organization. i think that the leadership of the organization has always felt very much subject to direct presidential control and responsive to it. >> so, you would say, actually, this incident is an exception to the rule, ordinarily discipline has been good that the control has worked and the accountability has worked in the way it should according to the administration? >> in the business in which we
are in, the intelligence and covert operations, i think there have been very few cases in which the agency has or its employees have done something they should not have. in many cases we now question, we find that those activities were approved by the appropriate authorities at that time. the sense of discipline within the organization seemed to be quite tight. >> senator goldwater. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i happen to have one question, mr. colby, but i have a short statement i would like to make to you. criticism and analysis are important ingredients in making our democracy work. however, we are approaching the point where both are being abused to the point of self-destruction. i submit we must get out of the doubt and pessimism we have sunk. we must not let the quarrels of
the past interfere with building of the future. criticism swept over the intelligence community of our country mistaken or unwarranted. the damage is severe. if continued, survival is uncertain. before this committee cia on active duty and retired, all have been impressive because of the dedication and lailty. nothing we have heard detracts from the reputation of the cia as a highly dedicated organization. the men and women of the cia are doing a great job under very trying conditions. i say to them, as our nation gets back on course, i believe there will be change for the better and ask you to hold on until that happens. you are never more needed by this country than right now and as one american, i am proud of you. to those young people who may be looking for careers and have a desire for public service, no better way to serve your nation than as an intelligence officer.
many skills are required to keep the cia useful and productive organization continuity is vital to america. now, mr. colby -- >> senator goldwater, if i may on behalf of our employees, thank you for that statement. they are under a lot of pressure and they will appreciate that. >> the question i have to ask you, have other countries developed bacterial warfare ability? >> certainly, senator. that is one aspect of bacterological warfare that the president's directive in 1969 and '70 tells cia to continue. that is to follow the activities of other nations. we will see the capabilities and activities of other nations in this field. we have officers who do follow this, these activities abroad and they are quite general. there are some very, very dubious areas where we are not sure of what the actual capabilities are in some
respects. we do follow it, indeed. there is extensive effort done by other nations in this line. >> you are now prevented from -- >> no, we can follow the foreign ones, no problem. >> can you do anything to offset them? >> well, i think the defensive against those things is a matter for the department of defense. >> you feel you are safe in that field? >> i think collaboration with the department of defense and advising the department of defense of foreign developments in this area, we are giving them the basis of developing defensive efforts as we need. >> thank you. that's all i had. >> thank you, senator. senator morton? >> chairman and mr. colby. since this is the first public hearing of this committee, i think we shall note that we feel, and i certainly feel, the
role played by the central intelligence agency is a very vital one and a very important one. i think the fact that you quoted from president kennedy, who said that quite often our failures are trumpeted and our successes go unheard, it is appropriate here. this committee has been told by witnesses that had the central intelligence agency existed prior to world war ii, pearl harbor might never had happened or if it had happened, the loss of deaths might have been much less. so, i want you to know that we do recognize the role of the central intelligence agency. we recognize the fact that we, in this country, must be able to know in advance what our potential adversaries and
potential enemies may be planning so we can cope with them. so, i do think that it is important. i believe, mr. colby, most of the questions have been asked, except that the reference was made to the presidential order. we alluded to what was, i think, the press release concerning the presidential order. as i read the presidential order, i find that -- this paper, the united states bacteroilogical and biological programs will be confined to research and development for defensive purposes, immunization, safety measures, et cetera. this does not proclude research
of bacterialogical biological agents necessary to determine what defensive measures are required. earlier, you stated you thought it might have been the mentality of those who made the decision to keep these toxins, they might be needed in order to develop defensively. do you think, if that was their thinking, that it would be in keeping with the presidential order as i read it to you? >> we looked at that. i think you might be able to make a case for that, senator, if you were actively involved and had responsibilities for the defensive measures. as the chairman pointed out, the quantities maintained by cia are difficult to defend under that directive. >> what was your position with the cia at that time, mr. colby? >> in 1970, i was on service. i was assigned to the department of state in vietnam. >> you had nothing to do with retaining these toxins? >> no, i had nothing. >> you knew nothing about them until you made the -- >> until we discovered it in may. >> i would commend you, mr.
colby, for taking the steps to determine what has happened. i think most men in the cia, as well as those in the internal revenue service and the federal bureau of investigation are dedicated public officials and want to do what is right. i think your method of asking for any known violations has been helpful to this committee. i would commend it, mr. chairman, to the internal revenue service that they might ask their feelings of a known violations in this area and commend also to the director of the federal bureau of investigation. i believe a presidential order directed the cia to continue to maintain surveillance of the bacterialogical and biological warfares of other states. you say you have done that?
>> we do so, yes. >> are you in a position to tell the committee whether or not other states and potential adversaries have stockpiles of such toxins? >> i don't think i can say much about stockpiles, but there are installations that appear to be picks perfect iment -- experimental stations of some sort. >> thank you, there colby. >> in the chemical field, there are. we are aware of that, also. >> i have no further questions. >> thank you, senator. senator methias? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. colby, some of america's greatest victories and some of america's greatest defeats represented failures of intelligence. trenton, pearl harbor, i think
all illustrate the vital necessity of intelligence. a year ago, almost exactly a year ago, when senator mansfield and i introduced legislation that resulted in this investigation, we had that very much in mind. we wanted to be sure that we had the best intelligence system which was available. i think we also had in mind john adams warning, that a frequent recurrence to the principles of the constitution is absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty and to maintain a free government. i think the discovery of this
toxin raises some interesting questions which are within the purview of this investigation and which i think have to be answered before this committee completes its work and makes its recommendations to the congress. for example, i accept your statement that this toxin was never used. except in one instance, which you described. but, i then have to ask you this, if you had used the toxin, what provision of the constitution would have afforded authority to do so? >> well, i think cia's operations are certainly overseas operations. they fall under the national security act of 1947 and they fall consequently under the provisions of the constitution
that call for the national defense and foreign relations of the united states. >> the use of a toxin of this sort is of course a use of force, wouldn't you agree. >> it's a weapon. >> yes, it's a use of force. and, normally, if a force is to be employed against another nation, congressional approval is required, isn't that true? >> well, i think we are now in the midst of the war powers act, senator. this activity, of course, preceded that. >> yes, it did precede it. but, what occurs to me is we have an illustration, the use of force and the relation to the united states with other powers in the world, or at least the
potential use of force. as you say, it's never been used in this instance. which differs only a degree from covert operations in louse or other examples we could think of. so, it seems to me that the discovery of this toxin raised very fundamental questions about the relationship of covert activities be it the cia, fbi or others. with the constitutional process by which this government is conducted. i would think, mr. chairman, that there is no responsibility greater upon us than to define that relationship as accurately as possible before the close of these hearings. thank you.
>> it is, of course, contained within the amendment to the foreign assistant act passed last december that requires any activity of cia other than oth gathering abroad shall be found to have been important and shall be reported to the appropriate committees. that includes at this time. this is a stat story provision that we are in compliance with. >> let me say i agree with you. but let me say this imposes responsibilities that i don't think we always discharged very well. i can recall members of congress who recoiled from responsibility of knowing what was happening. members of congress who said don't tell me. i don't want to know. that is an indictment of
congress labeled against any of the intelligence community. >> i think it rejected the general atmosphere and political atmosphere towards intelligence. we americans are changing that and this act is an example of that change as is this committee. >> i think you are more generous than i am inclined to be. i don't think climate will excuse a dereliction of duty and had their not been that dereliction of duty, perhaps we wouldn't be here today. >> i must say i agree fully that we have been victimized by excessive secrecy not only with respect to the failure of congress in the past exercise and proper surveillance, but also excessive secrecy created this kind of mischief within the
executive branch. we have a case where the very methods of secrecy concealed for five years an act of insubordination within the cia that came to light only by the happen stance of mr. colby, the director asked the agency if they please wouldn't tell him what's been going on that's wrong. they then conducted the investigation and i believe the internal and within the agency itself are a matter that we must look at closely to be sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again. it can be prevented. excessive secrecy may have
victimized this agency as well as the congress. >> the senate hearing we have been watching took place this this room on september 16th, 1975. there was a poison dart gun passed from william colby to the senators. >> there was a bit of criticism that the committee used that weapon, that it was used as a kind of prop and it sensationalized a very serious subject. i always think about congressional hearings as -- they present a challenge for members of congress. members of congress used congressional hearings typically as a way to educate the american public about a particular set of issues that they think are important. sometimes to shape public opinion, sometimes to shape the
opinion of members of congress. typically because they have a recommendation in mind down the road and they want to use that situation with the press involved to let the american public know what's going on. so there was internal debate about the usefulness of that dart gun. internal debate among members of the committee as well as the staff. should senator church wield that weapon in front of the cameras. there were hundreds of photos taken, splashed across the newspapers and played very well on the televised hearings. and i think that ultimately because it was the first public hearing of the church committee and the church committee had been investigating for months, or six months and had been devoted to uncovering these
programs and they were anxious and getting pressure from the media and members of the senate to talk about what they were finding. they put this hearing and wanted to make a splash and get people's attention. you can see from the hearing, the caucus room is filled with press. there photojournalists and tv cameras and members of the press are sitting in the back. you have members of the public here although not as well attended as the watergate hearings were in 1973, but you have an opportunity to shock the nation. this is the kind of stuff that the cia has been involved in. does this enhance national security and is this the program that the intelligence community should be developing and finally, who is overseeing this program. if it was indeed -- if these toxins were meant to be disposed of, why do they still exist? in other words, who is watching the watchers?
that was sort of the question. and so senator church received a good deal of criticism for brandishing that weapon, if you will. people thought it was sensationalizing a serious topic. others said look, we needed to get press attention to the issue and more broadly to take notice of what we were finding. to help us achieve our legislative goals coming down the pike and i'm sure we will talk about those later, but a congressional hearing is a moment that provides opportunity for members to focus national attention and that did just that. focus attention on these types of programs. >> so to wrap up this issue of the colby hearing, the first public hearing, what was the legislative result?
did they get what they wanted? >> it was limited. it was a limited success. from the very early stages of the committee investigation, there were staff who were devoted to developing what we call charter legislation. charter legislation was just an effort to legally define exactly what these agencies should be doing. there was -- the cia operated under a charter and it had violated that charter by developing these domestic surveillance programs and members were focused on how can we revise that charter to make it more effective and prevent it for doing these things in the future. there was a parallel effort to establish a charter for the fbi, the federal bureau of investigation. those were always seen as important legislative goals that could come out of the church
committee investigation. the second thing though is -- and often times this happens with congressional hearings, by shining light on an issue, it often forces the agencies under investigation to perform their own internal review and by doing so, they often will institute their own internal reforms. that's what happened with the fbi. the attorney general came out with a series of attorney general guidelines to guide the fbi and prevent it from engaging in abuses in the future. the cia was engaging this this process before the church committee as the family jewels report suggests. they were reviewing their activity. i think that the cia did not -- the legislative charter for the