Keeping Track of All the Redactions

I was watching R.E.D. this weekend last weekend with my folks, and we saw in the special features that there was some clips about recently unclassified documents from the C.I.A. including a large piece on something referred to as the “Family Jewels.” It peaked my interest and I discovered it was a 30 plus year report released as part of the Freedom of Information Act in 2007. I found this editorial piece from New York Times writer Amy Zegart just after the publishing. I believe Jenny Holzer has incoporated this into her art. See a Watergate connection?

Keeping Track of All the Redactions


There appears to be an entire category of activities still classified — the whole section from pages 8 to 10 is redacted. Given all the illegal activities actually listed in this document, the hidden sections are all the more disturbing.

This document lays out C.I.A. involvement in a range of surveillance activities, from monitoring journalists to breaking into the apartments of defectors. In this case, two entire sections — points “E” and “G”– are redacted. Notably, point “G” comes immediately after discussion of surveillance of dissident groups.

According to a May 15, 1973 memo, the C.I.A. tested some unspecified equipment in four Miami hotels just before the 1972 Republican national convention. The location, timing, and security assigned to the field test all got my attention. At least one of the hotels was a block from the convention hall. Security arrangements appear to have been tight; one of the people involved was reluctant to call another over an open telephone line. Arrangements were run by a security officer. And, according to the document, one person in the operation was in “daily contact” with the Miami police department as part of his “official liaison duties.” The memo contends that the activity was “completely innocent” but “subject to miscontrual.” But if this is true, why blacken out key details about the nature of the equipment, its purpose, and the peculiar timing and location of the field test?

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