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December 22, 2016
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May 18, 2012
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September 22, 1986
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Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/05/18 :CIA-RDP91-00587R00010007000j i MT' JIHI NEWSWEEK 22 September 1986 Reporters andfhe CIA They keep in touch-but at arm's length ~ t>Ittl~ ~~ w ~M ~ K~'= JOH\ PHILflI' ~: Philbv xactly what are the relations between American reporters and the CIA? Al- though U.S. officials confirm that Nicholas Daniloff had no intelligence ties whatsoever, his ordeal has churned up that sensitive question-and the answer isn't always simple. Clearly, there is no compar- ingthe KGB's systematic use of journalists as full-time spies and the CIA's occasional, informal cultivation of newsmen. Moscow is also the place where reporters are least likely to knowingly contact CIA agents, precisely because of the danger of getting framed. Elsewhere, however, U.S. corre- spondents have traded tips with intelli- gencesources. While those exchanges have become more guarded since the anti-CIA backlash of the 1970s, America's "spooks" and "hacks" still find ways to keep in touch while staying at arm's length. By the KGB's standards, the CIA's courtship of journalists has never been very ardent. Stanislav Levchenko, a for- mer KGB officer who defected to the West in 1979, estimates that at least half of Soviet reporters are paid intel- ligence agents. Philip Knight- ley, aBritish writer who has done extensive research on the KGB-particularly on its noto- rious "turning" of British offi- cial Kim Philby-says all Sovi- et newsmen are required to pass on information. Often, the size and perks of the Soviet press corps are clues to their real function. In Beirut in the late 1960s the Tass bureau rarely produced articles and its correspondents almost nev- er attended briefings or cov- ered breaking news. But the bureau had six staffers (com- pared with three for United Press Internationale and the Tars bureau chief drove a new Citroen DS 21. 'SrinlNtle -NttMetAl1': Whi le it has never engaged in that kind of exploitation, until a decade ago the CIA did cut deals with reporters. And at the time, both parties were quite recep- tive to those arrangements. David Atlee Phillips, a former CI agent w o worked under journalistic cover in Chile, says he knows of only a? few other reporters who actually joined the agency. "In 98 per- cent of the cases," he says, "it was a symbiotic relationship." Occasionally older reporters, some of whom had served in World War II or Korea, passed on tips out of a sense of patriotic duty. Columnist Joseph Alsop once captured that senti- ment, saying he had helped the CIA from time to time and was "proud to have done it."Other reporters simply regarded intel- ligence agents as more informed and reli- able than other U.S. officials. Just before the fall of Saigon, for instance, U.S. Em- bassy officers were telling newsmen that the North Vietnamese had no chance of taking the city-while the spies were ad- vising them to pack their bags and evacu- ate their families. For its part, the agency once found jour- nalists useful for a variety of purposes. It asked some to carry out "drops," just like case officers. Mostly it traded for informa- tion and access--sometimes with cash sometimes with other information. As for mer CIA Director William Colby puts it "W hat we used them for was to get to place and people others couldn't get access to, without using the CIA Bag." The only thing the agency didn't ask its journalistic con- tacts to dowas report disinformation. "The rule we had," says Colby, "was that you didn't say anything about what they should write to their home editors." The rules began to change, h~STAT in the mid-1970x. Ex-CIA agent Phinp ngee published a book naming scores of intelli- gence officers under embassy cover. Sud- denly spies around the world stopped re- turning reporters' phone calls. Congress also began to pressure the CIA to clean up its abuses. In 1976 the Senate intelligence committee released a report disclosing that the agency had covert relations with about 50 iournalists or employees of U.S. publica- tions. Itdidn't name names. The New York Times subsequently published a story iden- tifyingseveral reporters and the organiza- tions they worked for. 'Uh st ~' eisp~tlMe Later that year George Bush, then head of the CIA, issued a regulation barring any direct ties between the agency and American news organiza- tions. When Adm. Stansfield Turner re- placed Bush in 1977, he distributed a one? page memo restating that position and adding one caveat empowering the director to make exceptions in what he considered "life or death" situations. Today, Langley officials refuse to discuss the ties-with-jour- nalists issue. But privately sources confirm CIA Director William Casey STAT~f firmed the Turner orders. Since the crackdown both U.S. spies and journalists have become more cautious about their dealings. Newswesx's Jerusa- lem bureau chief Milan J. Kubic reports that when he first arrived in Israel, he called the CIA station chief in Tel Aviv, whose name he had gotten from another journalist. The officer nervously denied any agency connection and hung up. Israeli intelligence sources also insist that for the last 10 years they haven't discovered any links between U.S. correspondents in Israel and the CIA. When London bureau chief Tony Clifton visits Washington, some CIA sources he knows from the Third World refuse. to see him. If they hadn't already, many reporters have also adopted Clifton's rule for dealing with CIA officers: STAT,T Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/05/18 :CIA-RDP91-005878000100070001-5 Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/05/18 :CIA-RDP91-005878000100070001-5 tell them only what you were already plan- ning to print. American correspondents in Moscow have become particularly circumspect. As recently as five years .ago a group of re- porters in the Soviet capital regularly played touch football against U.S. Embas- sy staffers, a game both sides jokingly referred to as "spiers vs. liars." Because of the risk of getting branded as CIA agents, the joke is now wearing thin. The journal- ists assume-as do their counterparts the world over-that some embassy officials are CIA officers and that some of their discussions with the embassy will be re- ported to Langley. But most correspond- ents avoid trying to figure out who the intelligence agents are. The embassy en- courages this see-no-evil relationship, re- fusing to say anything about espionage cases. At a briefing last week in Moscow, an official even declined to talk about the CIA rule against ties with reporters. "We just don't comment on intelligence mat- ters," the official said. Br/IM ofHws: Because the Soviets are perfectly capable of planting evidence to make Americans look like spies, Moscow correspondents are also on constant alert against setups. They assume that their of- fices, homes and cars are bugged. They carefully screen unfamiliar Soviets who ask for meetings to complain about lost apartments, denied visas or relatives sent to the gulag. Since Daniloff's arrest, Mos- cow reporters have become even more vigi- lant.Some are agreeing to meet fewer Sovi- et strangers. Others see them only in their offices. Even with longtime acquaintances they are on guard. As Anna Christenson of UPI puts it, the Daniloff affair "adds a horrible edge of suspicion to a meeting. You're always thinking, 'Maybe the KGB got to them'." To avoid more Daniloff cases, some U.S. reporters want Washington to press Moscow for stronger guarantees of press freedom. One possibility would be a strengthening of the 1975 Helsinki ac- cords,which assure reporters of the right to travel between East and West and to work freely. "I can see the necessity," says The Washington Post's Gary Lee, "of the Sovi- etsand the Americans having very specific rules on how to work [as a correspondent]." But Moscow reporters are'also determined not to let Daniloff's framing intimidate them. As one of them puts it, "If we did that, we would all be writing about the 'Red October Potato Farm' and its new harvest- er."American correspondents aren't about to start reporting disinformation instead of news-and that is what will always set them apart from the journalistic apparat- chiks of the KGB. MARK WHITAKER lrtlh RICH ARD SAN D2A ~n WashlR~fnn. STEVEN STRASSERIrI.NOSCO1l'. Tnvv CLIFT01 i~~Lnndonand MILAN J. KcRic to Jerusalem Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/05/18 :CIA-RDP91-005878000100070001-5