Under the guise of protecting national security, the FBI conducted
wide-ranging and unlawful intelligence operations concerning the
University of California that at different points involved the head of
the CIA and then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, The Chronicle has learned.
According to thousands of pages of FBI records obtained by The Chronicle
after a 17-year legal fight, the FBI unlawfully schemed with the head of
the CIA to harass students, faculty and members of the Board of Regents,
and mounted a concerted campaign to destroy the career of UC President
Clark Kerr, which included sending the White House derogatory
allegations about him that the bureau knew were false.
The FBI, in contrast, developed a "close and cordial" relationship with
Reagan, who made campus unrest a major issue and vowed to fire Kerr
during his 1966 gubernatorial campaign.....
The Chronicle obtained thousands of pages of previously undisclosed FBI
records concerning the University of California as a result of three
lawsuits brought under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents
provide the most detailed account to date of the FBI's activities at any
American university during a turbulent, historic period and show that
those covert operations spilled off campus and into state politics.
The FBI maintained in court that its activities regarding UC were proper
and intended to protect civil order and national security. But a series
of federal judges concluded that the FBI engaged in a range of unlawful
activities that included investigating student protesters, interfering
with academic freedom and intruding into internal university affairs.
The FBI's campus files show that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover took a
special interest in UC, which was the nation's largest university,
operator of federal nuclear weapons labs and the scene of some of the
nation's first and largest campus protests over constitutional rights
and academic freedom.
Looking for dirt on UC
According to the documents, Hoover became outraged over an essay
question on UC's 1959 English aptitude test for high school applicants
that asked: "What are the dangers to a democracy of a national police
organization, like the FBI, which operates secretly and is unresponsive
to public criticism?"
In response, Hoover ordered his aides to launch a covert public
relations campaign to embarrass the university and pressure it to
retract what he called a "viciously misleading" question.
The director also ordered his agents to search bureau files for
derogatory information on UC's 6,000 faculty members and top
The resulting 60-page report said 72 faculty members, students and
employees were listed in the bureau's "Security Index," a secret
nationwide list of people whom the FBI considered potentially dangerous
to national security who would be detained without warrant during a
Congress was not told about the FBI detention plan, which failed to meet
statutory requirements that there was "reasonable ground to believe"
prospective detainees would engage in espionage or sabotage, said a 1976
report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental
Operations with Respect to Intelligence Operations.
The FBI's 1960 report on UC also alleged that faculty members had
engaged in misconduct such as "illicit love affairs, homosexuality,
sexual perversion, excessive drinking or other instances of conduct
reflecting mental instability."
Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle, 9 June 2002