It is beginning to look as though the storm brewing over the CIA will not serve any constructive purpose, but is more apt to impede its legitimate functions. The crime the CIA is alleged to have committed is the creation and keeping of files on some 10,000 suspected subversives inside the United States. Nobody seems to be concerned about whether they should have been kept under surveillance. The only question is whether the CIA exceeded its jurisdiction in checking up on U.S. citizens.
If it did, then the suspects should have been monitored by the FBI. The core of the controversy should be considered a jurisdictional dispute between two government agencies — not a cause meriting tons of newsprint and a highly-publicized presidential commission.
It is possible that the investigation will show that the CIA would have been derelict in its duty if it had not opened files on the 10,000 suspect B, since at least a portion of them had received training or had participated in demonstrations overseas, including the Black Panthers alleged to have received guerrilla training in Libya, and the Arab students alleged-to have had ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
It is much more important to the preservation of American liberties for the Rockefeller Commission to investigate why the CIA failed to open a file on Peter and Helen Kroger. The Krogers were connected with the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg spying and also the Colonel Rudolf Abel spy ring. After the Rosenbergs were caught, the Krogers fled America and joined the Gordon Lonsdale spy ring in England, where (over a four-year period) they sent the Soviet Union all the secrets of the construction and operation of our Polaris submarine. The Soviet Navy now has more copies of our great Polaris submarine than the American Navy, each carrying 16 nuclear missiles just like ours.
There is a lengthy list of top foreign agents who stole American secrets for the Soviets but apparently were never discovered by the CIA, including the British spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, the Swedish spy Colonel Wennerstrom, and the atom bomb spies Dr. Klaus Fuchs and Dr. Bruno Pontecorvo.
The CIA has a perfect record of always being surprised every time the Soviets make a major move. In 1961 when the Soviets set off their giant series of nuclear weapons tests after two years of protracted preparations, the CIA was caught by surprise. In 1962 Khrushchev shipped 42 offensive nuclear missiles all across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean, and installed them in Cuba. When our U-2 plane discovered them, the CIA was surprised again. In 1968 the Soviets launched an attack on Czechoslovakia involving six months’ preparation and the movement of 650,000 troops in five countries. Again the CIA was taken by surprise.
Unless the Rockefeller Commission investigates the files the CIA did not keep, we can chalk up the whole operation to a publicity plan designed to keep the· new Vice President’s name before the public.