Anyone who requests CIA’s files on MHCHAOS, Project MERRIMAC or Project RESISTANCE will get a letter like the one below back from the Agency incorrectly summarizing the file.
“The focus was not domestic dissence per se and domestic activities were essentially limited to establishing credentials…” is not even misleading – it’s flat out wrong. A review of the files shows that the Agency closely monitored domestic dissident groups and infiltrated them.
CIA saw “unlimited operational possibilities” in infiltrating women’s rights groups and peace groups. pic.twitter.com/5Ro2J8fqMk
— Michael Best (@NatSecGeek) July 19, 2016
Some of the activities they were monitoring included a group of pacifist women planning to meet with their Congressmen. It’s hard to see how this helped further develop the credentials for overseas assets and intelligence collectors (because it didn’t).
CIA worried women might try to meet with their Congressmen pic.twitter.com/TDxsXWKNtA
— Michael Best (@NatSecGeek) July 19, 2016
The full documents show that the Agency not only monitored some of these groups for penetration and used them to develop connections with and monitor dissident groups overseas, they actively monitored all U.S. protests – especially those involving student groups. The justification? Student demonstrations were moving “from protest to resistance.”
In addition to monitoring and infiltrating these groups, the Agency began an intensive research program that would include a database of protests and protesters, with focuses and indices for:
- Individual schools
- Individual organizations
- Individual “personalities” (people)
- Chronologies of protests
- The cause of a protest
- Psychological aspects
This information was compiled from open sources, FBI reports, the Agency’s own security files on various youth groups and their “cumulative file on Vietnam protests” as well as information from military files. Some of the specific groups targeted included:
- Women Strike for Peace
- Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
- Congress for Racial Equality
- Students for a Democratic Society
- United Black Front
- Washington Ethical Society
- National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam
- Black Muslims
- Quaker Action Committee
- American Friends Service Committee (Quaker)
- United States Committee to Aid the National Liberation Front of Vietnam
- Lawyers Committee on American Policy Toward Vietnam
To monitor these groups, the Agency developed what it called “a reserve cadre of trained agent personnel, including construction workers, cab drivers, janitors, etc., both male and female, who can be activated in short notice. Many of the groups monitored were pacifist groups, which seemed to contradict one of the Agency’s justifications for monitoring these groups under Project MERRIMAC – that they could pose a potential threat to Agency installations and physical assets. One of the groups monitored did actually have a plan that could be said to have threatened a CIA installation inside the Pentagon – the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam went beyond planning and attempted to levitate the Pentagon.
The group, as described by Time magazine, believed that “by chanting ancient Aramaic exorcism rites while standing in a circle around the building, they could get it to rise into the air, turn orange and vibrate until all evil emissions had fled. The war would end forthwith.”
The actual text used seems to have been written by the Fugs. Despite the absurdity of trying to levitate the Pentagon, the government actually consented and gave Abbie Hoffman a permit to levitate the Pentagon 10 feet off of the ground. When they approached the Pentagon, however, there was a wall of soldiers and federal marshals blocking the way, helicopters circling overhead, and over 5,000 Army troops hiding inside the Pentagon and in nearby buildings, armed with rifles and bayonets. According to the U.S. Marshals, when the protesters, “armed with limp flowers and sturdy convictions,” tried to push past the human barricade, “the troops inside the Pentagon rushed outside as the violence escalated. A full-scale riot erupted.” Some of the troops were from the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, which had been used a few months earlier at the 1967 Detroit Riot.
As the Marshals began to arrest the protesters, “many of the demonstrators simply collapsed, forcing the Deputies to drag them to the waiting prison vans where other Deputies pushed and shoved the recalcitrant demonstrators aboard… Physically exhausted, they responded to the rioters with increasingly rough treatment.” The Marshal service considers it a victory for civil rights and civilian control, as they performed the arrests instead of the military, which used tear gas and rifles to escalate the protest into a riot, then gained control of the situation while the small number of civilian personnel performed the actual arrests.
Meanwhile, CIA monitored the situation and compiled more information about everyone involved and everyone arrested. Despite knowing about the protest well in advance, penetrating the groups planning it and granting permits for the protest and the attempted levitation, neither the Agency nor the government did anything to prevent or de-escalate the situation. Rather than use the database of information about the personalities, psychologies and plans of those attending the protest to have personnel on hand to deal with and defuse any escalating situations, the government responding by pouring out of buildings armed with rifles while helicopters circled overhead.
The Agency officially continued monitoring protests and dissidents in the United States for years after, including monitoring Malcolm X as part of its monitoring the Poor Peoples Campaign. That’s been discontinued, however – now it’s CIA supported and funded technology used by domestic law enforcement.
You can read the documents and instructions for the incantation below.