Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
August 23, 2010
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Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
April 17, 1980
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PDF icon CIA-RDP90-00806R000100330010-3.pdf134.48 KB
Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/08/23: CIA-RDP90-00806R000100330010-3 COLUMBIA DAILY SPECTATOR Columbia University (NY) 17 April 1980 By CNRIS WELLISZ j Spectator's ongoing efforts to ob-' tain documents from the CIA about clandestine operations at Colum- bia began in September, 1977, after the agency revealed that th- university had been involved ir: Project MK-ULTRA, a series of top-secret mind control ex- periments conducted in the 1950's and early '60's. That year, the CIA informed Col- umbia that it was one of 80 univer- sities at which "some portion" of the experiments, which included tests of the effects of LSD on unwit- ting subjects, were conducted. To obtain more information about the CIA's secret affiliations with Columbia, Spectator re- quested all documents dealing with the agency's involvement in cam- pus research projects under the . Freedom 'of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA, passed by Con- gress in 1974, requires federal agencies to release non-classified information to those who request it. It soon became clear, however, that the CIA would not immediate- ly respond to the request. During an exchange of correspondence between the CIA and Spectator, the agency acknowledged Spectator's request but said it would be unable to comply within 10 days, as specified by law. On March 3, 1978 the newspaper filed an administrative appeal re- questing a response within 20 days. Although the CIA (lid not formally deny the request, it failed to pro- vide any of the materials asked for. Arguing that the CIA's "lack of a timely response" constituted a denial of the newspaper's requst, Spectator filed a civil complaint in federal court to obtain the materials it had requested. The suit, brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, named the Central Intelligence Agency and its director, Adm. Stansfield Turner, as defendants. L11h pay Lawyers for Spectator said in papers filed with the court that "the plaintiff has exhausted its ad- ministrative remedies under the Freedom of Information Act" and i asked for the release of informa- tion, as originally requested from the CIA, documenting "all past and present contractual relation- ships between the Central In- telligence Agency. . . and Colum- bia University in the City of New York." In particular, Spectator was seeking information about "the CIA's use of university facilities to examine the effect of drugs on human behavior and the CIA's financial support of various research projects conducted bye university professors." In addition, Grossman filed a "Vaughn" motion asking for a "list and index" of all CIA documents relating to its activities on campus. That summer, the CIA filed a motion with the federal district court requesting a stay of all pro- ceedings on the grounds that the agency was responding to the re- quest with "due diligence." The CIA argued that because of the thousands of requests for infor- mation under the Freedom of In- formation Act, which it handled on a "first come, first-serve" basis, it was impossible for the agency to comply with Spectator's request within the 30 days required by FOIA. The law, however, grants variances of the 30-day rule in "ex- ceptional circumstances." Spectator, however, countered the agency's 'claims by arguing that its system of handling claims was arbitrary. The newspaper was not assigned a response sequence number until it filed the ad- ministrative appeal, four months after its original request. Spectator also charged ar- bitrariness by noting that the CIA processed FOIA and Privacy Act requests together, thus delaying the FOIA requests. Lastly, the newspaper contended that the CIA failed to take into account Spec- tator's status as a member of the press. In its original request, Spec- tator asked for the information to help in its research for a series of articles on CIA-Columbia rela- tions. But in March, 1979, William Con- ner, the federal district judge, rul- ed that the CIA would not have to release a list and index of the documents and granted the agen- cy's request for a stay of the pro- ceedings. In his decision, Conner stated that the "method employed by the CIA for processing appeals is orderly" and rejected the claim that the agency had acted ar- bitrarily by not promptly assigning Spectator a response-sequence number. The CIA, Conner determined, could have as much time as it liked to process the request. Between the time the original request was filed and the administrative ap- peal, the CIA had processed 1,700 other FOIA requests, according to papers filed with the court. Two years after Spectator's first letter to the CIA, most of the re- quested documents were finally released on August 29, 1979. The .1,131 released documents consisted in large part of correspondence between the CIA and officers of the university. Fifteen documents were denied to the newspaper. .- But of the documents released, most contained deletions; only 139 were provided in their entirety. The magic-marker deletions were made to conceal the names of various university professors in- j volved in CIA funded research pro-' jects. The names of CIA agents and' .classified information concerning the Agency's relations with Colum- bia were also withheld in part. A list and index was provided. along with the documents themselves. Since the initial release of the documents, Spectator and the CIA have been involved in negotiations for the release of redacted and denied materal. Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/08/23: CIA-RDP90-00806R000100330010-3 Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/08/23: CIA-RDP9O-00806ROO0100330010-3 According to Eric Freedman, at- torney for Spectator, negotiations are "80 per cent complete." Within six weeks, he said, the newspaper will pronounce itself "satisfied or dissatisfied with regard to specific documents," at which point litiga- tion may be concluded. On April 11 of this year, more documents, including cor- respondence between President McGill and Adm. Turner, were released in response to complaints by Spectator of incomplete infor- mation. Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/08/23: CIA-RDP9O-00806ROO0100330010-3