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Document Creation Date: 
June 22, 2015
Document Release Date: 
January 7, 2009
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Publication Date: 
January 21, 1975
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APPROVED FOR RELEASED DATE: 05-Nov-2008 21 January 1975 SUBJECT: Mail Intercept Program 1. A program of intercepting mail between the United States and the Soviet Union (HTLINGUAL) was conducted in New York during the period 1952-1973. (b) (1) (b) (2) (b) (3) (b) (6) 3. New York Mail Intercept Program (HTLINGUAL): The HTLINGUAL effort in New York was the only continuously operating mail intercept unit. The project was initiated in 1952 by a request from the Chief of Operations Staff, ADSO (predecessor to Office, DDP), to the Office of Security to provide leads to SR Division on contacts between individuals and organizations in the USSR and USA, to spot individuals in the USSR who were disaffected and of potential help to the U.S., to acquire sources for names to be used as addressors of mail to the USSR, to spot individuals in the U.S. who were sympathetic to Soviet interests, and finally for possible positive intelli- gence take from letters opened on a selective basis. The Chief Postal Inspector in Washington approved the project in November 1952 before it was activated in New York City. Postmaster General Summerfield was briefed generally on the program by Mr. Helms in 1954, as was Postmaster General Edward Day in 1961. The program including the fact for the first time that we were conducting clandestine openings of the mail, was later briefed to then Attorney General Mitchell and Postmaster General Blount in June 1971. The FBI was informed of the HTLINGUAL operation in 1958, several years after its inception. The FBI had contacted U.S. Postal authorities in 1958 The Postal authorities informed CIA of the CIA in turn then alerting the FBI to the existence of our HTLINGUAL operation. The HTLINGUAL project was suspended by DCI Schlesinger in February 1973 who expressed his agreement with the desirability that the project be passed to the FBI and his lack of conviction that the product to CIA was worth the risk of our involvement. Background: The HTLINGUAL project was initiated in 1952 as described above but was turned over to the CI Staff in 1955 and was managed by the latter unit until its suspension in 1973. a. Following are the statistics on the number of letters opened with contents photographed and the number of reports which were disseminated to interested customers based on this HTLINGUAL information: Year 1-953- 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 Letters Opened and Interiors Photographed ?Dissemination FBI SR Others Year 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 -3-- Letters Opened and Interiors Photographed TOTAL Dissemination FBI ?SR Others b. As indicated above, the FBI received a grand total of reports from HTLINGUAL information over the years an ex r sed an interest in continuing to receive such reports from this project. c. The HTLINGUAL machine record indicates over names of persons involved in U.S.-USSR contact were acquired under the project during the years and have been used for name traces and other counterintelligence purposes. NOTE: The Office paid for two or three years" and "payments of per mont to a U.S. Post Office employee who worked closely with CIA personnel for fifteen years or more at the HTLINGUAL mail intercept site in New York City. There is no indication that U.S. Post Office officials are aware of our payments to their employee. At the beginning of his assignment to the mail intercept program the employee was told by his U.S. Post Office supervisor that our CIA personnel with whom he would be working were from "Washington," the implication being that they were from the Post Office Department. 5. Overall Evaluation of Project HTLINGUAL: a. It is useful to keep in mind that at the origin of this project in 1952, CIA lacked general background infor- mation useful to mount positive intelligence collection operations against the Soviet Union as well as for counter- intelligence purposes. It was on this basis and within this framework that the project was originated and appeared to acquire significantly useful information over the years that followed. It should also be kept in mind that the project was essentially a CI Staff operational tool and was not designed to produce clearly measurable disseminable intelligence or information in -4- support of specific operational undertakings. Nonetheless, the project was useful from a purely technical point of view when used to ex,mine incoming mail from the USSR to determine the following: b. In late 1952 the Soviet agent as recruited in Vienna. The biggest operational problem we raced after his recruitment was determining how to communicate clandestinely with him once he had returned to the Soviet Union. c. The HTLINGUAL interce t material was used to acquire operational information on all of whic was use u in supporting an' 4 ocumen ing coT- to be given to agents being sent to the Soviet Union under the REDSOX or REDSKIN operational -5- programs. The HTLINGUAL material was also screened intensively for leads to ?ossible legal travelers who might be approached under the program and might also be useful as communi- cation li agents inside the Soviet Union. Our overall assessment of these efforts, however, is that the project was not very useful for these purposes. d. There were literally hundreds of what appeared to be useful operational leads or background information passed by the project over the years to the line divisions of the DDO although the great majority of these proved to be of only marginal value. (See Attachment "Nature and Utilization of HTLINGUAL Material") SR Division at one point, however, did find the HTLINGUAL information of some use for targeting pur- poses. One SE officer recalls mail from who would have been of target interest to us. In ?TtT?, the mail from the USSR to the United States provided leads for SE Division and other DDO area divisions regarding travel plans of target individuals in advance of our receiving this information from other sources and also identified some of their contacts in the United States who could then be targeted by us as access agents to these Soviet and other foreign target visitors. e. The HTLINGUAL intercept information proved most useful to the in monitoring contacts of United States citizens, including some U.S. military and government officials, who were in touch with Soviets and who had not reported these contacts to their own parent organizations. There were many other instances of very significant internal security information acquired from the HTLINGUAL project which was passed to the for their action. (Some random examples are attiftel to this memorandum.) It is significant to note that the contributed broadly over the years to the project's Watch List of individuals or categories of individuals whose mail would be of interest to them, and has stated that the HTLINGUAL reports have been "of assistance and continue to be of assistance to us". (As an example of requests to be placed on the HTLINGUAL Watch List, see Attachment, memorandumfrom f. A recent check with our SE Division Reports Staff -6- indicates there were no positive intelligence disseminations deriving from HTLINGUAL information over the life of the project. 6. Conclusion: Although project HTLINGUAL was quite useful in assisting OTS p o nt lchnical problems and other technical problems to be encountered by our 7nAr_l_f agents operating abroad, and also p ' ed specific internal security counterintelligence to the on a continuing basis, the overall evaluation of the project is that it was of marginal value to our positive intelligence operational pro- grams directed against the Soviet Union and was useful basically as a CI Staff operational tool which had only occasional and limited specific operational utility to the line divisions of the Directorate of Operations. Attachments: 1. "Random Examples of Production" of assistance to the 2. Memorandum from Director, OTS to ADDSU on Technical Value of Mail Intercepts in the United States 3. Memorandum from 4. "Nature and Utilization of HTLINGUAL Material" RANDOM EXAMPLES OF PRODUCTION 1., 2. ANTI-IMPERIALIST .DELEGATION In , Lne mail of eleven laajor WS. TaalCa). This de Pgatioq leaders wno were in was intercepted. was enroute to guests of the This correspondence revealed (a) that the leaders were get- ting ideological stimulus in and activist-revolutionary support in guerilla training in , and. (h) the whereabouts, unknown to. concerned U.S. agencies, of such leftists as: (c) the anti-U.S, manifesto of the group, contained in the:ir jointly signed letter; (d) warning about plans to take over after The letter set forth justification for "events that will unft in in the coming months. U This provided insight in planning even though the intentions never alized: (e) .establishment of the International Section operating from affairs and associates of in (f) information 7 TRAVEL TO In the past many dissident new ieLt the Communist world via Moscow wher These letters often provide U.S. ag notice of their presence in Communi constantly reports such travel, whi as: AND activists have gone to e they pause to write lett encies the first and only St countries. The Project ch has included such notabl; '2 1 6. On the Washington, D.C.,.?orwarded a two-page circular letter .to After expressing in strong terms its opposition to theConflict the the oUtlined its campaign for mass tallies on, discussions with government workers, harrassment of traffic to and. tram the etc. This was to be followed on with- strikes, demonstrations, and work stoppages ever where. n its letter the urgently requested support in theform of emonstrations- in foreign capitals an major cities, protest cables addressed to President NIXON, and work stoppages in American factories abroad. This information Mr. Helms provided to Attorney General MITCHELL. 7. asked the Project to watchlist In the mail between L e .S. ?and and requested any an all items from the past. items, going back as far as were retrieved from the ? files ?and passed to the Two mon s later the informed the Project that the items had scored four "hits", the quarry being illegal entrants. The Project continues to furnish the regularly with mail. NOTE: items are correspondence either (a) forwarding inquiries of U.S. ersons about rela- tives lost or (b) reply- ing to inquiries o citizens about relatives who have iisappeared and could be in the U.S. The latter provide the clues which are taken up by the The Project does not see mail originated by the c it is believed to come b of- fIaT pouch for passing to the by the 8. CIA furnished the United States Secret Service and the .tederal Bureau of Investigation information extracted from Project materials. Two letters had been re- ceived which had been authored by a person in believed to be identical with one of the armed suspects by the Secret Service in at hotel at which stayed durin the In writing ta students the writer, 'Tho had recently returned from a tour ot gave vent to his ardent wish for the rise, in the United States, of a seized 1 at 9. made available to the correspondence and Project files contained information exchanged between correspondence correspondence of it was also possible who as a tellow thy the named in 10. concerning items of and in to others in t e in was also avai a. e. to use.Project records to iden-I had referred to but not in in 4 11. Advance notice that a attending come to the 12. ci e for ore of interest to the FBI. tn 13. The Project provided the first positive indication that in the the atter was disappeared from in - 14. The Project has also provided information about the other who fled to the cerning the in who went to and and some-items con- from the in and 15. Correspondence between scientists and academicians and the counterparts as een valuable in providing insight into planning and interests with respect to various such as the Land In particular ?tor example, corresponcteiice to and from ana about when married?With collateral intormation nas Peen use- tul in briefin and guiding ct with in and reported early to collaborate wi interest in 1. f continuing 5 when comes into - eftorts tn them and 2 , 0-14f (Itev. 10-16-70) Federal Bureau of Investigation :March 10 1972 Director - BY CIA COURIER Central Intelligence Agency ? Washington. D. C.. 20505 ATTENTION: Deputy Director for Plans, JAEES ATICLETaY 1 RE: HUUTER PROJECT Dear Site 0 I. For your information. I am enclosing communications which may be- of interest to you. 2. It will be appreciated if you will have the investigation conducted as requested in the enclosed memorandum and furnish the results,. 3. No further investigation is conternpla:ed with regard to this matter [J4. You will be advised of the pertinent developments in connection with this inquiry. 5. Please note change in caption of this case. ED 6. Status of case: ROTH 1 . Excluded rolt automatic downgradin, .and deulassifie:a. :Loa Enc. Reerer:c sr.ade Eunter :3e2ort Attached is a would 1e to rec ni Completed Very truly yours, Edgar How, Director :(C:poi2 tetnouar .doC r -2 c O. eue. _cnyz- e or: f,i'ic we would, .of course, ii;:e 'co rece-tue any ludjt who are there for a short time if they have been .sponsored by subversive organi2at7ons and subversive ? individ,uals or have received special invitations or special treatment froM the Soviets. 6. 7e have no interest in the hundreds of lecitimate travel who visit the USSR on regular tours or go to see relatives._ r'S knolfm communtsts, iew Lr't actiulsrs .e=tremists and other subversives_;j 7. Co--J'nist ?cry- rnd Xrcnt crn.ani_7rItions (suck as iiericcn iu.ssian institute, ::at:cnal Ccuci ?I J:7erican-Soviet Friendship "u:-ratan cn2 Le?.) ie.ft orcanizctions. ROUP I - Exciude,d -ra a tit cit-r!at-1 c dav,r1.,:.; raj t mry. e clasztf ti 8. Protest and peace organt2r7tions, such as Peoole Coaiiticn for Peace and Justice, Yattonal Peace Action Coizzs.ittee and ' 70men1s Strike for Peace. 9. Communists, Trotskyites and members of other 1.1ar=is.t- Leninist, subversive and extremist !roups, such as the 37CC1r, Panthers, 7hite Panthers, Black IJatonaiist and Liberation os Organiza*tion, 7ecthermenx croups, Venceremos Brigdds, Vencerem -Proaressive Labor 'artu, 7orker's Student _Alliance-, Stu.dents - for a Democratic Society, Resist, Revolutionary Union and ather_:: - ?few Left croups. 11. Traffic to .and from, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Isiands showing anti-U.S. or subversive spathie3. 13. Ss,viet Committee for Cultural Relations with Compatriots- - ?Abroad (contacts uith emigres and emigre organizations - 2 - SFFT _ OTIZENTS ON TEE In comparing the newly received oneSwe? 707 r 771-7'' 4-7: 7 rr'''./-e 14 March 1972 1TPDAT STATEMENT OF R.E.QUIREE,:?ITS Fop,. CIOT. previous rec_u-i2.-ements of October 1962 7.:-.7th uhe following changes: ADDITIONS: Protest and peace organizations, subversive and. extrr.,ist groups, the New Left (many listed) ; Traffic to and from the Virgin Islands showing anti?US or stibveriv sympathies. DELETIONS: None noted. ,m? Cl/Project states with reasonable certainty that its po.,..icy " to dissaaination of its mato-I?la's to the during the period 1962 to. February 1972 has su'ostanti=y 'oeen in accord tale 1972 re.statenent of its re:as...lire-Tents. 0'27= ONLY azET:g n'mpi rv r?0,) -LINA TEZERAMOM FOR THE T.ECORD. .13JECT seature and Utilization of HTLEIGUAL ' Since 1957 the HILIUGUAL project supplied intelligelece data to the a Staff components ? SB Division, other area divisions when appropriate, DO/I0 FI Staff, oRa, OCT, and al Staff. 2. Increased watchelisting and tration on persons of Cl or operatioaal iaterest gradmallymirdmized the amount of materipl of FT, ORR, or CCI interest, while dissemination to al Staff was or- -edered curtailed at the time of the RPARTS and National Student ? . Aseociation disclosures. 3. Present conenmers of HTLINGUL materiel- are given In the following, pages with the types of data desired and regularly sup- plied. 4. Apart from the reporting of cereent these conseeers according to their requirements, an equally - if not more - important marries ?the supply of data from the record,. dating back to 1955, when the consuner requests a name-cbeck? further background, or earlier activities of a given subject. The ETLINGUL machine rec- ord includes names of persons involved in USA-USSR contact. ONLY Th requests and receives information and leads from Pro- ject materi to/from, identifying, or concerning: ? d. US defectors in the USSR, and contacts with US. A. CTUSA meMbers and officials contacting USSR. f. Contacts of radicals and subversives with USSR. g. Contacts with USSR of militant, dissident, and protest groups. N 1. Record material in name checks, supplying further identifi- cation of aubjects, their background and activities. ? .UN L7 SEES ONLY CI STAFF CI Staff components receive pertinent material of interest to operational divisions, as well as the following: SB DIVISION SB Division uses Project material for operational leads,, for augmenting operations, and for CI and operational files. It ex- tracts and supplies information for asic files, 201/3, and imnut, programs of SB interest. S3 has requested and gets materials to/ from or concerning the following types: r17 ONIY A7 DIVISION . Africa Division receives Project material identifyin4 and concern4ng: WH COG Cuba Operations receives Project material which: DO// ? DO/I receives - and gets operational leads from - Project_ materials to/from, identifying, or concerning: TZTD PID/AU, and each division concerned (AP, NEI F7, WH, etc.,) receive extracted material identifying foreign students in the USSR. This ? goes nut under a blind memo not identifying the Project. CA salyp Though there is no current dissemination to CA StaXf, there is a walth of material of Dotential rel aneand usefulness. Y,aterial forn1 mt to GA, included: si-TA,Rert757-77-LY . (,