thumbnail of Secret Intelligence; No. 104; The enterprise
Hide -
<v Narrator 1>Secret Intelligence is made possible by public television stations and the Corporation <v Narrator 1>for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding has been provided by United Airlines, <v Narrator 1>rededicated to giving you the service you deserve. <v Bill Kurtis>[marching band playing] January 20th, 1981. <v Bill Kurtis>On this day, Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter as president of the United <v Bill Kurtis>States. <v Ronald Reagan>I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will <v Ronald Reagan>to the best- <v Bill Kurtis>[Reagan still speaking] Carter had come to office determined to curb the excesses of the <v Bill Kurtis>CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. <v Bill Kurtis>[applause] Reagan believed the result had crippled America's espionage capabilities. <v Bill Kurtis>Yet both of their intelligence policies failed them. <v Bill Kurtis>[wind blowing] Iran would play the pivotal role in those failures. <v Bill Kurtis>Carter's attempts to rescue American diplomatic hostages ended in tragedy in the Iranian
<v Bill Kurtis>desert and doomed his hopes of reelection. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] The rescue attempt also led to the formation of a highly secret Pentagon <v Bill Kurtis>anti-terrorist unit: The Special Operations Division. <v Bill Kurtis>As we shall see from this unit sprang the idea of The Enterprise, <v Bill Kurtis>an unaccountable group of secret warriors created by the Reagan White House <v Bill Kurtis>to conduct covert operations first in Central America and then <v Bill Kurtis>throughout the world. <v Man 1>Existing off the shelf, self-sustaining standalone <v Man 1>entity that could perform certain activities on behalf of the United <v Man 1>States. <v Bill Kurtis>From the zealous men who ran the secret enterprise would come the controversial affair <v Bill Kurtis>now known as Iran-Contra, a government crisis not only of men, <v Bill Kurtis>but of the Constitution itself. <v Bill Kurtis>In this, the final hour of our series, we'll see the disturbing consequences
<v Bill Kurtis>of what happens when the pendulum of U.S. <v Bill Kurtis>espionage swings from one extreme to another. <v Bill Kurtis>America's new president, himself a former CIA director, will have to determine <v Bill Kurtis>just what role America's secret world of intelligence will play in pursuing <v Bill Kurtis>his policies. What he decides may very well determine the outcome <v Bill Kurtis>of his presidency. [music plays] <v Bill Kurtis>[shouting] [crashing] In January 1979, after months of rioting, the shah of <v Bill Kurtis>Iran was overthrown.
<v Bill Kurtis>Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in the name of Islam. <v Bill Kurtis>The United States was vilified as the Great Satan. <v Bill Kurtis>Soon after, the U.S. embassy was seized. <v Gary Sick>There were open lines to Tehran and we had these disembodied <v Gary Sick>voices from the other side of the world coming through to us describing a <v Gary Sick>really terrible situation. There were uh militants beating on the <v Gary Sick>door outside there uh, the wall that they had uh they <v Gary Sick>had withdrawn to. <v Gary Sick>Uh there was uh things were getting very hot. <v Gary Sick>They were burning uh paper inside trying to destroy classified documents. <v Gary Sick>And what they couldn't tell and one never can tell, I'd been in a vault like that once,
<v Gary Sick>um uh was whether the heat was coming from inside or <v Gary Sick>whether, in fact, the embassy was on fire. So they didn't know at all what their status <v Gary Sick>was. And they were fighting. <v Gary Sick>Uh I mean, they were they feared for their lives and they had good reason to fear for <v Gary Sick>their lives. <v Bill Kurtis>[shouting] As Iranian militants stormed the embassy, American hostages were taken. <v Bill Kurtis>They would be held captive 444 agonizing days. <v Bill Kurtis>These events took the United States and its intelligence agencies by surprise. <v Bill Kurtis>Only six months earlier, the CIA had reported to Carter that Iran <v Bill Kurtis>is not in a revolutionary or even prerevolutionary situation. <v Jimmy Carter>Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, <v Jimmy Carter>is an island of stability <v Jimmy Carter>in one of the more troubled areas of the world. <v Gary Sick>The Iranian revolution was a major intelligence
<v Gary Sick>failure on the part of the United States. <v Gary Sick>The knowledge that there was trouble in Iran was uh universal. <v Gary Sick>Uh nobody had any doubt that uh the Shah was in trouble, that his regime was <v Gary Sick>facing a challenge. Uh there were, after all, riots in the street every 40 <v Gary Sick>days [honking] that the ?inaudible? overlooked. The question was not whether there is <v Gary Sick>trouble in Iran. The question and making policy was <v Gary Sick>how far is it going to go? What is the outcome of this going to be? <v Gary Sick>And so it involved a determination about whether the Shah could realistically <v Gary Sick>expect to survive that challenge or whether he was going to go under. <v Gary Sick>And that was where the failure came in, was in estimating what the effects of this were, <v Gary Sick>how deep it went and what it was likely to do as far as policy was concerned. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] [chanting] Iran was America's worst intelligence failure since Pearl <v Bill Kurtis>Harbor. But how had this breakdown of analysis happened? <v Bill Kurtis>Blind support of the Shah was one reason. <v Bill Kurtis>The intelligence policies of Carter was another.
<v Bill Kurtis>He won the presidency as an outsider, a leader untarnished by Vietnam, <v Bill Kurtis>Watergate and the excesses of the CIA. <v Bill Kurtis>At CIA headquarters, he announced his intention to reform <v Bill Kurtis>the agency. <v Jimmy Carter>I'll do all I can working with past directors who are here <v Jimmy Carter>and the secretary of defense who is here, the attorney general who is here, <v Jimmy Carter>and other leaders who are here to let the American people have an accurate assessment- <v Jimmy Carter>and the deepest possible commitment. <v Jimmy Carter>But every action of the intelligence community now and <v Jimmy Carter>in the future will be legal and proper. <v Bill Kurtis>Carter was determined to minimize secret actions by secret agents <v Bill Kurtis>to replace humans wherever possible with spy machines. <v Bill Kurtis>There were many to choose from. <v Bill Kurtis>New and dazzling ones, like the KH 11 satellite and ?ol'? <v Bill Kurtis>reliables. Among them, the high flying U2 and the world's
<v Bill Kurtis>fastest airplane, the SR 71. <v Bill Kurtis>The eagerness to exploit this technology was shared by Carter's CIA director, <v Bill Kurtis>Admiral Stansfield Turner. <v Stansfield Turner>It was clear to people in American intelligence that the technical systems <v Stansfield Turner>for collecting data had overwhelmed the old spy systems. <v Stansfield Turner>That meant that all of us running intelligence turned in different <v Stansfield Turner>directions, and this had happened long before my time, but we were just beginning to <v Stansfield Turner>really appreciate that the revolution had happened when I got there. <v Stansfield Turner>We turned in different directions when we had a problem, when we had a crisis. <v Stansfield Turner>Our instinct was to go for one of these technical systems and say, I want <v Stansfield Turner>some information right now about what's happening. <v Bill Kurtis>But many CIA officers resented Turner and his emphasis on machines and resigned. <v Bill Kurtis>Robert Simmons was one of them [Simmons speaking].
<v Robert Simmons>I think that when uh the Carter administration came into power, <v Robert Simmons>they had a deep distrust of the intelligence community, in particular, uh a distrust <v Robert Simmons>of the clandestine service. They weren't comfortable with dealing with people who <v Robert Simmons>led secret lives, but human source collection, talking to somebody <v Robert Simmons>in a foreign country, debriefing a defector, uh talking <v Robert Simmons>to prisoners of war. These are vital elements uh of the whole intelligence <v Robert Simmons>picture. And I felt that the Carter administration in particular <v Robert Simmons>uh and Admiral Turner were focusing much more on the <v Robert Simmons>technical aspects of intelligence collection and <v Robert Simmons>much less on human source collection. <v Robert Simmons>And so I quit in disgust. <v Robert Simmons>Uh I was frustrated by the situation that I was faced with, and I think many of my <v Robert Simmons>colleagues were frustrated as well. <v Bill Kurtis>Those worries about overreliance on technology were shared by Carter's national security <v Bill Kurtis>adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
<v Zbigniew Brzezinski>The American intelligence is about the best in the world <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>when it comes to the scientific technical dimensions of intelligence. <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>But it's certainly not up to par when it comes to <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>making sound political judgments, when <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>it comes to cultivating and nourishing <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>important political relationships that yield intelligence. <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>What are you gonna do uh- <v Bill Kurtis>[Brzezinski inaudibly speaking] Turner quickly learned the limitations of technology when <v Bill Kurtis>he was unable to produce information requested by the president. <v Stansfield Turner>Well, there was a small war and a remote con- <v Stansfield Turner>pair of remote countries and the president, I think more as an experiment <v Stansfield Turner>than anything because he was new and I was new and he'd like to see some pictures <v Stansfield Turner>of what was going on. And I told the satellite people, quick, get us some pictures for <v Stansfield Turner>the president. I was embarrassed day after day, week after week when we did
<v Stansfield Turner>not have any. [speaking] It turned out that the instructions to the <v Stansfield Turner>satellite people uh were misinterpreted. <v Stansfield Turner>I was uh several weeks before I finally got some pictures for the president. <v Stansfield Turner>Very embarrassing, but it was typical of the problem we had. <v Stansfield Turner>We were just really coming into this whole new age and learning to <v Stansfield Turner>give the right instructions, learning to use these devices to best advantage. <v Bill Kurtis>But pictures even when in hand cannot ?divine? <v Bill Kurtis>thoughts and intentions. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] This, the United States would learn, in Iran. <v Bill Kurtis>a place teeming with U.S. listening devices for eavesdropping on the nearby Soviet <v Bill Kurtis>Union. But a country where the CIA had virtually no human assets, <v Bill Kurtis>no one who was probing inside the minds of the Iranian people. <v Man 2>[singing in Arabic]
<v Bill Kurtis>The shah ?reigned? because of U.S. supports. <v Bill Kurtis>But behind the pageantry, laid political repression, even torture carried out <v Bill Kurtis>by Iran's CIA trained secret police SAVAK. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] This fact, U.S. presidents from Eisenhower to Carter, overlooked. <v Bill Kurtis>Yet despite America's unwavering support, Iran's ruler was deeply suspicious <v Bill Kurtis>of the nation that had brought him to power. <v Gary Sick>In 1953, the United States had conspired to put the Shah back on the throne <v Gary Sick>uh when he was under uh challenge in what has been referred to <v Gary Sick>as a [people shouting] countercoup, a covert action. <v Gary Sick>That stuck, of course, in the Shah's mind and he was constantly aware after that <v Gary Sick>and feared that the United States could do the reverse, that if we disagreed with him, we <v Gary Sick>could uh take him off the throne as well. <v Gary Sick>And so he wanted to do as much as possible to keep us out <v Gary Sick>of his domestic activities.
<v Gary Sick>And I think he succeeded uh very well in getting us out of those activities. <v Gary Sick>We quit looking uh at the opposition uh in Iran and <v Gary Sick>in effect, ended up being very badly prepared for what came along. <v Bill Kurtis>The White House was badly prepared in another way. <v Bill Kurtis>With few political resources inside Iran, there were even fewer options <v Bill Kurtis>for rescuing the American hostages. <v Bill Kurtis>Carter, who had come to office wary of covert operations, found himself <v Bill Kurtis>turning more and more to America's secret warriors for solutions. <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>We spend a great deal of time agonizing over what kind of a charter <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>ought to be promulgated under which the intelligence activities would be conducted. <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>I think subsequently, but not too long thereafter, the president started <v Zbigniew Brzezinski>approving quite a few covert activities. <v Bill Kurtis>[airplane whirring] In desperation, Carter approved a military mission to free the <v Bill Kurtis>American hostages. U.S.
<v Bill Kurtis>helicopters loaded with Delta ?commandos? <v Bill Kurtis>flew through the night of April 24th, 1980, to a rendezvous spot <v Bill Kurtis>codenamed Desert One. <v Bill Kurtis>There, they met disaster. <v Jimmy Carter>Late yesterday, I canceled a carefully planned operation <v Jimmy Carter>which was underway in Iran to position our rescue team <v Jimmy Carter>for a later withdrawal of American hostages. <v Jimmy Carter>As our team was withdrawing after my order to do so, two <v Jimmy Carter>of our American aircraft collided on the ground following <v Jimmy Carter>a refueling operation in a remote desert location in Iran. <v Jimmy Carter>[music plays] To my deep regret, 8 of the crewmen of the two aircrafts <v Jimmy Carter>which collided, were killed.
<v Bill Kurtis>The wreckage in the Iranian desert became a symbol of Carter's inability to <v Bill Kurtis>respond to world events. <v Bill Kurtis>It was also a humiliation for the Pentagon special forces, which resolved <v Bill Kurtis>never to be caught in such a failure again. <v Bill Kurtis>The new American president agreed. <v Bill Kurtis>Ronald Reagan promised a new era, a time when America would reassert <v Bill Kurtis>its world leadership and aggressively fight terrorism and communism. <v Bill Kurtis>[applause] <v Man 3>If you place, your left hand on the Bible and raise your right hand. <v Bill Kurtis>[inaudible speaking] It was a position that came naturally to this veteran of the Cold <v Bill Kurtis>War. During the Red Scare, Reagan was president of the Screen <v Bill Kurtis>Actors Guild in Hollywood. <v Ronald Reagan>?inaudible? small ?inaudible? <v Ronald Reagan>has been referred to, has been discussed as more or less following the tactics that we <v Ronald Reagan>uh associate with the Communist Party. <v Bill Kurtis>Motivated by his concern that communists were infiltrating
<v Bill Kurtis>the movie industry, Reagan became a secret informant for the FBI. <v Bill Kurtis>His code name was T10. <v Bill Kurtis>[inaudible speaking] He also solicited contributions for crusade for freedom, the Radio <v Bill Kurtis>Free Europe and Asia campaign, actually backed by the CIA. <v Ronald Reagan>The spread of communism in the Far East, the Crusade for Freedom is your chance and mine <v Ronald Reagan>to fight communism. <v Ronald Reagan>Joined now by sending your contributions to General Clay, Crusade for Freedom, <v Ronald Reagan>Empire State Building, New York City. Or join in your local community. <v Bill Kurtis>[marching band playing] In 1981, the presidency of the United States provided Reagan with <v Bill Kurtis>a powerful platform for his fervent anti-communism. <v Bill Kurtis>Those activist views were shared by his campaign manager, William Casey, who <v Bill Kurtis>Reagan appointed CIA director with cabinet rank. <v Bill Kurtis>Never before had a president and his CIA director enjoyed such a close <v Bill Kurtis>personal relationship.
<v William Casey>Two things are important. It's important that the president have confidence in the the <v William Casey>intelligence. <v William Casey>And uh it's important that he can they can talk to each other when they need <v William Casey>to. It's uh important that the intelligence, you <v William Casey>know ?inaudible? the president's interest <v William Casey>in the evaluations and uh see that he gets the information <v William Casey>he needs and that he has it properly presented. <v Bob Woodward>Casey wanted to be the secretary of state and uh he was not <v Bob Woodward>gonna get that because he couldn't speak that well, because he was not the kind <v Bob Woodward>of uh articulate spokesman that Ronald and Nancy Reagan thought Alexander <v Bob Woodward>Haig would be. So Casey had to get something, uh <v Bob Woodward>CIA was ideal. <v Bob Woodward>He was the intellectual godfather, if you will, of the idea <v Bob Woodward>of we are not gonna get pushed around in this world <v Bob Woodward>anymore. We're going to get the upper hand. <v Bob Woodward>And he set a tone of there are no limits.
<v Bill Kurtis>Casey had learned the trade craft of intelligence in World War Two. <v Bill Kurtis>As a young O.S.S. officer fighting against Nazi Germany, he brought that same <v Bill Kurtis>sense of mission to the CIA, often willing to rush in where others <v Bill Kurtis>feared to go. <v Tom Polgar>I became a little bit disenchanted because it seemed to me that Casey was living in the <v Tom Polgar>past and that he was trying to <v Tom Polgar>recreate the atmosphere and the <v Tom Polgar>operational tactics which O.S.S. <v Tom Polgar>had been using against the Germans in 1944 and 1945. <v Tom Polgar>And I felt simply that the times were different. <v Tom Polgar>The conditions were different. The requirements were different. <v Tom Polgar>And it didn't seem to me that Casey was facing up to the requirements <v Tom Polgar>of the 80s. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] Just days after his swearing in, Casey authorized money and arms to battle <v Bill Kurtis>Libya's Muammar Gaddafi in Chad.
<v Bill Kurtis>That was followed by clandestine support of anti-communist guerillas in Cambodia. <v Bill Kurtis>In Soviet occupied Afghanistan, he increased CIA support for the Mujahideen. <v Bill Kurtis>He also supported the funding of a new spy satellite system that would be able to see <v Bill Kurtis>through clouds and in the dark. <v Bill Kurtis>But Casey's main agenda was dominated by the growing communist movement in Central <v Bill Kurtis>America and terrorist attacks in the Middle East. <v William Casey>We have to show strength and be prepared to act with strength when <v William Casey>it's necessary. <v William Casey>When ?inaudible? when your your reputation and your uh <v William Casey>?actual? security ?required? ?it? protect it is required to protect your citizens <v William Casey>as is perhaps ?inaudible? <v William Casey>against the terrorist threat today. <v Bill Kurtis>Threats would become a nightmare for Casey when Islamic terrorists struck in Lebanon. <v Bill Kurtis>[explosion] This is a picture of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut [music plays] taken
<v Bill Kurtis>at the moment of explosion. <v Bill Kurtis>The truck bomb attack in the fall of 1983 killed 241 <v Bill Kurtis>Marines. <v Bill Kurtis>Not so many Americans had died since the Vietnam War. <v Bill Kurtis>But the carnage, it turns out, could have been avoided. <v Bill Kurtis>Months before, a U.S. military intelligence team was sent into Beirut to <v Bill Kurtis>assess Marine security measures. <v Bill Kurtis>The team found serious flaws. <v Bill Kurtis>Marine sentries without bullets in their rifles, barriers removed for the convenience <v Bill Kurtis>of supply trucks. Far worse, in an investigation launched after the event, <v Bill Kurtis>the team learned that intelligence existed to indicate an impending attack, <v Bill Kurtis>but nothing was done. <v Bill Kurtis>Now retired Lieutenant Colonel William Cowan was a member of that team.
<v William Cowan>The intelligence was there to indicate that a bombing was imminent. <v William Cowan>The U.S. Army Special Forces Group had a mobile training team working directly with <v William Cowan>the Lebanese in East Beirut. <v William Cowan>Uh they had been warned four or five days before the bombing by their Lebanese contacts <v William Cowan>that a bomb had been moved into the city in preparation for a bombing on the Marine <v William Cowan>compound. There's no question in my mind that there was intelligence <v William Cowan>there to support the Marines being ready. <v William Cowan>There's also no question that that word never got to the commander of the marine forces. <v William Cowan>We suffered [music plays] those casualties because intelligence system did not work <v William Cowan>in Beirut. <v Bob Woodward>The bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut was one <v Bob Woodward>of those seminal events uh for Casey, for <v Bob Woodward>the Reagan administration. <v Bob Woodward>Not only was it a an intelligence and military problem and <v Bob Woodward>a diplomatic problem, it was a political problem for Casey because
<v Bob Woodward>he had said we're going to turn the intelligence agencies around. <v Bob Woodward>We are not gonna let anyone be tougher than we are. <v Bob Woodward>And in September 1984, there was a second bombing of the <v Bob Woodward>uh embassy annex in Beirut. Now, that is right before the 84 election. <v Bob Woodward>Uh Casey went bananas. <v Bill Kurtis>So did the Pentagon. After the attack on its U.S. <v Bill Kurtis>Marine barracks, the Pentagon sent its intelligence team back into war torn Beirut. <v Bill Kurtis>Their mission? Develop a plan for U.S. <v Bill Kurtis>retaliation. They ?roamed? <v Bill Kurtis>throughout this dangerous city, gathering intelligence. <v Bill Kurtis>The recommendations were first submitted to the CIA station chief, William <v Bill Kurtis>Buckley. <v William Cowan>He briefed Bill Buckley, the chief of station in Beirut, who was later kidnaped, uh <v William Cowan>brutally tortured and ultimately died. <v William Cowan>We briefed our recommendations to him. <v William Cowan>He was ecstatic, uh he was uh I think Bill was pleased, <v William Cowan>as he told us uh, thank God somebody's finally looking at this thing and thinking about
<v William Cowan>what we can do first. We went back to European Command, briefed the <v William Cowan>recommendations there, very favorable reply. <v William Cowan>Response, excuse me. And then we came back to the Pentagon. <v William Cowan>And as with our previous report, we submitted a report and put it into the <v William Cowan>bureaucracy. And it died. <v Bill Kurtis>[helicopter whirring] Just what type of retaliation Cowan's report recommended is <v Bill Kurtis>classified, but his personal feelings echo back to solutions rejected <v Bill Kurtis>in the past. <v William Cowan>We have a policy in this country of not assassinating people. <v William Cowan>Uh somewhere along the line though, that policy maybe needs to be reviewed, <v William Cowan>not on a blanket basis, certainly for sheer political reasons we wouldn't <v William Cowan>want to do it. But when it comes time to speaking to the deaths of Americans <v William Cowan>who we know are directly attributable to a small number of people, I don't think <v William Cowan>there are too many members of Congress who are gonna yell loud and long about
<v William Cowan>the fact that we might selectively want to pay back some <v William Cowan>people who have a deep hatred for the United States who would kill any one of us sitting <v William Cowan>here if they had the opportunity. And I'm not sure I can justify, nor should we justify <v William Cowan>why we can't uh why we can't take some kind of action against those kinds of people <v William Cowan>on a selective basis [chanting]. <v Bill Kurtis>But who would decide on a <v Bill Kurtis>selective basis and in secret who should live and who should die? <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] Such troubling questions led to a 1977 presidential <v Bill Kurtis>order banning foreign political assassinations. <v Bill Kurtis>The Soviet Union has no such restriction. <v Bill Kurtis>The KGB's reaction to terrorism in the Middle East has been swift and ruthless, <v Bill Kurtis>as in the 1984 case of 4 Soviet diplomats taken hostage in Beirut <v Bill Kurtis>by the Islamic radical group Hezbollah. <v Bob Woodward>The Soviets decided to speak the language of the radical Hezbollah
<v Bob Woodward>uh in Beirut. Uh they took a relative of one of the Hezbollah leaders, <v Bob Woodward>uh cut off his testicles, put the testicles in his mouth, shot him, <v Bob Woodward>uh sent him back. <v Bob Woodward>Very shortly after that, uh the Soviet diplomats <v Bob Woodward>were released. The significance of this was that Casey <v Bob Woodward>uh realized that the Soviets could be tough, <v Bob Woodward>could deal on exactly the same terms uh that Hezbollah <v Bob Woodward>dealt and they were victorious. <v Bob Woodward>So Casey decided in 1985 when we could not <v Bob Woodward>uh stop the car bombings uh of our embassy facilities <v Bob Woodward>and other facilities in Beirut, Casey decided to speak the language of <v Bob Woodward>Hezbollah and got the Saudi intelligence service to try to assassinate Sheikh <v Bob Woodward>Fadlallah, the leader of Hezbollah, and sent a car bomb <v Bob Woodward>uh to the apartment complex where he lived, hoping to kill him, killed
<v Bob Woodward>instead 80 innocent people. <v Bob Woodward>Uh that was a pretty big shock to Casey. <v Bob Woodward>Uh he did not have the CIA institutionally involved in this. <v Bob Woodward>He did it. He did a deal with the Saudi ambassador here and then the Saudis <v Bob Woodward>funded the operation. <v Bill Kurtis>The CIA adamantly denies any involvement in the 1985 <v Bill Kurtis>bombing of Hezbollah headquarters. <v Bill Kurtis>The repetition of this false allegation the CIA wrote to us perpetuates <v Bill Kurtis>the lie and further endangers American lives at terrorist hands <v Bill Kurtis>overseas. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] Besides the bombings in Beirut, there were other setbacks for Casey in <v Bill Kurtis>1985, known as the Year of the Spy. <v Bill Kurtis>Not since the Red Scare of the 50s had so many spies inside America been uncovered. <v Bill Kurtis>This CIA officer, Larry Chin, spied for the Chinese.
<v Bill Kurtis>The National Security Agency's Ronald Pelton sold highly <v Bill Kurtis>sensitive eavesdropping information to the Soviets. <v Bill Kurtis>The Walker family spy ring sold naval secrets to the KGB for years. <v Bill Kurtis>Edward Lee Howard, a former CIA officer, escaped to Moscow even <v Bill Kurtis>while under FBI surveillance. <v Bill Kurtis>Richard Miller, a counterintelligence specialist for the FBI, was not <v Bill Kurtis>so lucky. Hidden cameras and microphones helped lead to his arrest. <v Bill Kurtis>[inaudible reporting] Since the days of J. Edgar Hoover, technology has played a major <v Bill Kurtis>role in the FBI's counterintelligence activities. <v Bill Kurtis>But high tech spying has gone way beyond wiretaps. <v Bill Kurtis>Today, virtually no conversation is safe from eavesdropping. <v Bill Kurtis>Anyone who's ever seen a TV detective show knows did check the lamps for bugs.
<v Bill Kurtis>But listening devices have become far more sophisticated than this. <v Bill Kurtis>On the other side of this wall, a small bug is listening to everything I say <v Bill Kurtis>without penetrating the wall. <v Bill Kurtis>[inaudible echoing] It's a compact microphone that turns this room into a recording <v Bill Kurtis>studio. But even if you find all the listening devices in this room <v Bill Kurtis>or next door, you may not be safe. <v Bill Kurtis>For several hundred feet away in a motel room, someone is still listening using <v Bill Kurtis>a beam of light, a laser. <v Bill Kurtis>They have turned this window into a giant microphone and they can hear everything <v Bill Kurtis>that is said in this room [fuzzy sounds] [echoing]. [muffled] Using devices like this, spies and counter intelligence agents are able to eavesdrop almost at will. [music plays] <v Bill Kurtis>Distance <v Bill Kurtis>and darkness are no longer obstacles to these tools of surveillance. <v Bill Kurtis>Here, an infrared telescope sees in the night, <v Bill Kurtis>but high technology combined with aggressive FBI agents, pose a danger.
<v Bill Kurtis>The potential for abuse. <v James Geer>That's always an area you have to be sensitive to and a balance <v James Geer>you have to strike. An- and our focus is ?on the? <v James Geer>intelligence officer. And I mentioned in general terms the numbers by saying <v James Geer>that a good one third of the Soviet Soviet bloc representatives are gonna be <v James Geer>intelligence officers. That's where our focus is. <v James Geer>We attempt to create a net in which <v James Geer>they have to operate. <v James Geer>That makes it extremely difficult. <v James Geer>We can't we don't have the resources or the inclination <v James Geer>to try to focus on Americans. <v James Geer>We can't be out surveilling uh American citizens or members <v James Geer>of the public. <v James Geer>Uh our focus is on the intelligence officer and that's where it's going to stay. <v Bill Kurtis>But even as the head of the FBI's counterintelligence division was making this statement, <v Bill Kurtis>the bureau was surveilling American citizens.
<v Bill Kurtis>The focus of the investigation, which began in 1983, was ?CISPES?. <v Bill Kurtis>Committee and solidarity with the people of El Salvador, an activist peace <v Bill Kurtis>and human rights group, which the FBI suspected of being controlled <v Bill Kurtis>by communist foreign agents and of planning terrorist acts in the United States. <v Bill Kurtis>This FBI investigation echoed back to abuses of the past when groups opposed <v Bill Kurtis>to another war, Vietnam, were targeted by the bureau. <v Bill Kurtis>[chanting] The protests against the war in Central America have been fewer in number than <v Bill Kurtis>during Vietnam, but the FBI's response was the same. <v Bill Kurtis>Open dissent with White House policy brought secret FBI investigations. <v Hugh Byrne>In this investigation they ca- they used a variety of of <v Hugh Byrne>means to um infiltrate the organization, put informers <v Hugh Byrne>and agents into CISPES. <v Hugh Byrne>They surveilled meetings.
<v Hugh Byrne>They photographed demonstrators, um took license plate numbers, <v Hugh Byrne>made inquiries of banks and other institutions to find out about people, <v Hugh Byrne>had um FBI agents attempt to interview members of the organization. <v Hugh Byrne>And then this al- this investigation expanded to include about 200 <v Hugh Byrne>organizations, ranging from the ?Mary Nole? <v Hugh Byrne>sisters to the United Auto Workers, which it became an investigation <v Hugh Byrne>almost of any- anybody or any organization that was opposed to <v Hugh Byrne>the Reagan administration policy in Central America. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] In the end, the FBI investigation produced 17 volumes of reports, <v Bill Kurtis>but not a single indictment. <v Bill Kurtis>This kind of FBI surveillance of Americans exercising their freedom of dissent <v Bill Kurtis>is disturbing to Congressman Don Edwards, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil and <v Bill Kurtis>Constitutional Rights and a former FBI agent.
<v Don Edwards>I think that the CISPES uh experience, <v Don Edwards>which is very unfortunate and hurt the FBI and also hurt a lot of innocent people <v Don Edwards>remember, a lot of names got bandied around and CISPES got hurt, damaged <v Don Edwards>severely by things that the FBI did and said and published. <v Don Edwards>Uh I think it was an aberration. And I and I hope it is. <v Don Edwards>We usually find out uh when they go too <v Don Edwards>far. And CISPES is an example of the FBI <v Don Edwards>um not examining what it's doing on a day <v Don Edwards>to day basis and perhaps uh Congress ourselves not <v Don Edwards>uh maintaining a close enough oversight scrutiny on what they're doing on a day to day <v Don Edwards>basis. <v Bill Kurtis>In addition to shedding light on questionable FBI activities, the CISPES investigation <v Bill Kurtis>has added to the ongoing national debate over U.S. <v Bill Kurtis>policies in Central America.
<v Bill Kurtis>[gun shots] [shouting] America's secret war against communist Nicaragua began early in <v Bill Kurtis>the Reagan administration when CIA Director Casey proposed the recruitment <v Bill Kurtis>of 500 exiles to carry out guerrilla operations. <v Bill Kurtis>The ?contras? <v Bill Kurtis>quickly expanded to number in the thousands. <v Bill Kurtis>[shouting] <v Tom Polgar>[people inaudibly speaking] People just couldn't take seriously this sort of threat that <v Tom Polgar>the Nicaraguan ?inaudible? <v Tom Polgar>are someday going to be banging up against the <v Tom Polgar>borders of Texas. <v Tom Polgar>But this was just the point of which we uh didn't agree. <v Tom Polgar>In fact, that one time Casey offered me the position of being chief of Central <v Tom Polgar>American operations. <v Bill Kurtis>And what did you say? <v Tom Polgar>I told him, thank you very much, I have had my Vietnam. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] Casey pushed ahead with his secret war, even though Congress had passed <v Bill Kurtis>legislation, known as the Boland amendments, prohibiting CIA activities <v Bill Kurtis>aimed at overthrowing the Nicaraguan government.
<v Bill Kurtis>In 1984, CIA teams mined Nicaragua harbors and attacked <v Bill Kurtis>fuel facilities. <v Bill Kurtis>[burning] This covert action deeply eroded trust between Casey and Capitol Hill, as <v Bill Kurtis>witnessed by former CIA officer Robert Simmons, then a member of the Senate intelligence <v Bill Kurtis>staff. <v Robert Simmons>I think people felt uh that they <v Robert Simmons>uh had been uh <v Robert Simmons>screwed by the administration. <v Robert Simmons>In 1984, the uh committees had not <v Robert Simmons>been notified properly uh with regard to the mining of Nicaraguan <v Robert Simmons>harbors uh and as a res- as a consequence of that uh director <v Robert Simmons>Casey apologized to the committees. <v Robert Simmons>It would seem to me that that uh director Casey and his staff <v Robert Simmons>and people at the White House would have learned from that experience [inaudible <v Robert Simmons>speaking]. <v Bob Woodward>What Casey saw is that Congress provides the money.
<v Bob Woodward>Uh all of these people who were unsophisticated neanderthals about intelligence <v Bob Woodward>and in in this need to spy and uh the <v Bob Woodward>need to conduct operations. <v Bob Woodward>He looked at them and he said uh, they're not in my league. <v Bob Woodward>And so he minimized disclosure, minimized contact. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] While Congress struggled to control Casey's CIA, another secret group <v Bill Kurtis>operating out of the basement of the Pentagon escaped congressional scrutiny. <v Bill Kurtis>Known as the Special Operations Division, or SOD, it was created <v Bill Kurtis>as an anti-terrorist unit following the failed rescue mission in Iran. <v Bill Kurtis>Much of what is known about SOD is because of the investigative work of this journalist, <v Bill Kurtis>Steven Emerson, who obtained thousands of pages of SOD secret documents <v Bill Kurtis>through the Freedom of Information Act. <v Steven Emerson>The Special Operations Division became the new center for intelligence
<v Steven Emerson>and counterterrorist activities in the Pentagon. <v Steven Emerson>In effect, it became a mini CIA for the Pentagon, <v Steven Emerson>established in the basement, controlling half a dozen new counterterrorism units. <v Steven Emerson>Names such as Seaspray, Quick Reaction Team, Yellow <v Steven Emerson>Fruit, Intelligence Support Activity. <v Steven Emerson>Heavily classified, to this day the army does not acknowledge their existence, but <v Steven Emerson>all extremely capable, very aggressive in th- in <v Steven Emerson>accomplishing their mission. The mission of fighting terrorism and guerrilla subversion <v Steven Emerson>around the world. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] These units were ready to go anywhere and do anything. <v Bill Kurtis>The bugging of Noriega in Panama, KGB cars in West Germany, the <v Bill Kurtis>tracking down of a kidnapped U.S. general held by the Red Brigade in Italy. <v Steven Emerson>They were all over the world and uh they felt they had a mandate to be all over the <v Steven Emerson>world. After all, the CIA was was a shadow of what it used to be. <v Steven Emerson>And the special operations division was literally stepping into a void.
<v Bill Kurtis>SOD may have been stepping into a void, but it was doing so with enormous <v Bill Kurtis>resources. Tom Golden was in charge of financial control for <v Bill Kurtis>a subunit of SOD called Yellow Fruit. <v Tom Golden>The funding was almost unlimited. <v Tom Golden>Uh I don't know of any time that we were in a position where we needed money. <v Tom Golden>Uh the money was offered and we had to find ways to spend it, basically. <v Bill Kurtis>[helicopter whirring] In the fall of 1983, some units of the SOD participated in the U.S. <v Bill Kurtis>invasion of Grenada. <v Bill Kurtis>By then, the secret team's existence was known to National Security Council staffer <v Bill Kurtis>Oliver North. [music plays] It is believed that North, who worked closely with CIA <v Bill Kurtis>director Casey, quickly recognized how useful this super secret group
<v Bill Kurtis>could be to the CIA in Central America. <v Bill Kurtis>The SOD, located in the basement of the Pentagon, could be used to circumvent <v Bill Kurtis>the legislative requirement that all covert operations be reported to Congress. <v Bill Kurtis>Thus, the SOD could become a convenient vehicle to be used by the agency <v Bill Kurtis>to conduct operations which it couldn't get approved. <v Bill Kurtis>Or in funding operations for which it had no money, like support for the Contras <v Bill Kurtis>in Nicaragua. <v Steven Emerson>One of the most severe and scandalous projects ever embarked upon <v Steven Emerson>the U.S. military was a project called Yellow Fruit. <v Steven Emerson>Was a back door CIA effort to aid the Contras in Central America <v Steven Emerson>and to perform other operations that Congress never would have supported. <v Steven Emerson>And the CIA saw Yellow Fruit and the Special Operations Division as <v Steven Emerson>a magical fountain of support with unlimited money [gun shots], unlimited weapons, <v Steven Emerson>black money, black ?cape? transportation capability, basically another
<v Steven Emerson>CIA without any of the reporting quote problems that had <v Steven Emerson>it triggered the problems of the late 1970s. <v Steven Emerson>Some of the units actually participated in strafing Nicaraguan <v Steven Emerson>targets, bombarding airfields and oilfields in an attempt to <v Steven Emerson>disrupt and possibly dislodge the Sandinista regime. <v Bill Kurtis>But Tom Golden blew the whistle on operation Yellow Fruit. <v Tom Golden>Uh normally in intelligence operations, you advanced a certain amount of money to operate <v Tom Golden>with. Uh once you spend that money, uh then <v Tom Golden>you must submit a voucher to to account for it. <v Tom Golden>What I found was very unusual in this unit is people had been advanced as much <v Tom Golden>as uh hundred and fifty thousand dollars and had never submitted a voucher <v Tom Golden>for accountability. <v Tom Golden>I eventually went to my superiors and reported <v Tom Golden>what I believed to be abuse of funds and uh possibly fraud.
<v Tom Golden>Uh that eventually was uh was surfaced to the leadership of the Army, <v Tom Golden>who ordered a massive investigation into the uh special operations community <v Tom Golden>in general. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] This is Arlington Hall, Virginia, headquarters for U.S. <v Bill Kurtis>Army intelligence. Here, members of the SOD team were court martialed <v Bill Kurtis>in a sound proof room. <v Bill Kurtis>Two SOD members are now serving prison sentences for financial fraud. <v Bill Kurtis>But what was most important about these trials was not the discovery of another case of <v Bill Kurtis>misuse of government funds, but the revelation that the SOD's Yellow <v Bill Kurtis>Fruit served as the blueprint for what William Casey called the <v Bill Kurtis>Enterprise. <v Steven Emerson>The Special Operations Division and Yellow Fruit had a unique <v Steven Emerson>access to equipment, material, offshore bank accounts, <v Steven Emerson>a secret clandestine uh army slash CIA aviation unit, a <v Steven Emerson>clandestine ship overseas to provide transportation, uh access <v Steven Emerson>to material and weapons, all seeds that would later
<v Steven Emerson>basically erupt in the Iran-Contra affair and be known as the enterprise. <v Steven Emerson>And I believe that Yellow Fruit and the Special Operations Division <v Steven Emerson>were both being groomed by the CIA and the National Security Council to <v Steven Emerson>serve as the cornerstone of the enterprise, to perform operations <v Steven Emerson>in Central America and elsewhere that would never be accounted to Congress. <v Bill Kurtis>The Pentagon shut down its enterprise while still in its embryonic form. <v Bill Kurtis>But William Casey and Lt. Col. <v Bill Kurtis>Oliver North set about creating it again. <v Bill Kurtis>Not only were there contras to support in Central America, there were hostages to be <v Bill Kurtis>freed in the Middle East, including one of the CIA's own, kidnapped <v Bill Kurtis>Beirut station chief, William Buckley. <v Bill Kurtis>Casey, determined to get Buckley back, tried a new approach. <v Bill Kurtis>Bribery. <v Bob Woodward>Casey was in a mode at that point uh in the spring of 1985
<v Bob Woodward>when he said bribery stops terrorism. <v Bob Woodward>The car bombings were the number one, r- really the the <v Bob Woodward>primary terrorist problem. <v Bob Woodward>The second one was the hostages. <v Bob Woodward>So they decided let's bribe the hostages back. <v Bob Woodward>Who has influence over the people who hold the hostages array? <v Bob Woodward>And what do they want? Money? No. <v Bob Woodward>Food, medicine, scholarships? <v Bob Woodward>No. Arms? Yes. <v Bob Woodward>Thus, the Iranian arms sales. <v Bill Kurtis>First word of the secret Iran arms sales came from a Lebanese publication in November <v Bill Kurtis>1986. Ronald Reagan, in an address to the nation, denied <v Bill Kurtis>the report. <v Ronald Reagan>The charge has been made that the United States has shipped weapons to Iran as ransom <v Ronald Reagan>payment for the release of American hostages in Lebanon. <v Ronald Reagan>That the United States undercut its allies and secretly violated <v Ronald Reagan>American policy against trafficking with terrorists.
<v Ronald Reagan>Those charges are utterly false. <v Bill Kurtis>But less than two weeks later, U.S. <v Bill Kurtis>Attorney General Edwin Meese made a startling announcement. <v Edwin Meese>Certain moneys which were received in the transaction <v Edwin Meese>were uh taken and made available <v Edwin Meese>to the forces in Central America, which are <v Edwin Meese>opposing the Sandinista government there. <v Bill Kurtis>This announcement set off a major congressional investigation. <v Bill Kurtis>What has become known as Iran Contra. <v Man 4>Colonel North. Please rise. [cameras clicking] <v Bill Kurtis>More than any other witness, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North has come <v Bill Kurtis>to represent America's continuing dilemmas between secrecy and democracy. <v Man 4>-But the truth so help you God. <v Oliver North>I do. <v Bill Kurtis>Through the hearings, it became clear that after Congress had shut off support for the
<v Bill Kurtis>Contras, Reagan had turned to his national security staff to find <v Bill Kurtis>other help. <v Bill Kurtis>That request changed the mission of the NSC from an advisory council into <v Bill Kurtis>an operational group. Not unlike a mini CIA. <v Bill Kurtis>It was a gung ho assignment given to a can do Marine. <v Oliver North>This lieutenant colonel is not gonna challenge a decision of the commander in <v Oliver North>chief for whom I still work, and I am proud to work for that commander <v Oliver North>in chief. And if the commander in chief tells this lieutenant colonel to go stand in the <v Oliver North>corner and sit on his head, I will do so. <v Bill Kurtis>North with a collaboration of national security advisers Robert McFarlane and later <v Bill Kurtis>Admiral John Poindexter, first raised funds from other countries and private individuals <v Bill Kurtis>to support the Contras. <v Joseph Cruz>I told him that I was interested in um uh in seeing what I could do and I asked <v Joseph Cruz>him for his recommendation. <v Man 4>And did North uh subsequent to the meeting, provide you the Swiss bank account name
<v Man 4>and number to which your payments should be made? <v Joseph Cruz>Yes, he did. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] With money in hand, this man, retired Air Force General Richard Secord, was <v Bill Kurtis>recruited. <v Bill Kurtis>Together, these three men set about creating Casey's dream of the enterprise. <v Bill Kurtis>A secret organization accountable to no one, capable of carrying out covert <v Bill Kurtis>operations anywhere around the world. <v Oliver North>The director was interested in the ability <v Oliver North>to go to an existing, as he put it, off the shelf, self-sustaining, <v Oliver North>standalone, self-financing entity, independent <v Oliver North>of appropriated moneys and capable of conducting <v Oliver North>uh activities similar to the ones that we had conducted here. <v Oliver North>There were other countries that were suggested that might be the the <v Oliver North>beneficiaries of that kind of support, other activities. <v Man 5>You understood that the CIA is funded by the United States government.
<v Man 5>Correct? <v Oliver North>That is correct. <v Man 5>You understood that the United States government put certain limitations <v Man 5>on what the CIA could do. <v Man 5>Correct? <v Oliver North>That is correct. <v Man 5>And I ask you today to all <v Man 5>you've gone through, are you not shocked that the director <v Man 5>of Central Intelligence is proposing to you the creation <v Man 5>of a organization to do these kinds of things <v Man 5>outside of his own organization? <v Oliver North>Counsel, I can tell you, I am not shocked. <v Oliver North>I don't I don't see that it was necessarily inconsistent with <v Oliver North>the laws, regulations, uh statutes and all that obtain. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] Despite a White House policy of making [explosion] no concessions to <v Bill Kurtis>terrorists, the enterprise sold weapons to Iran in the hopes of <v Bill Kurtis>gaining the release of American hostages.
<v Bill Kurtis>Weapons, which the Iranians would use in their war with Iraq. <v Bill Kurtis>The profits from these sales were diverted to fund the contra war against the Sandinistas <v Bill Kurtis>in Nicaragua [gun shots] [shouting]. <v Oliver North>I saw that idea of using the Ayatollah Khomeini's <v Oliver North>money to support the Nicaraguan freedom fighters <v Oliver North>as a good one. <v Oliver North>I still do. I don't think it was wrong. <v Oliver North>I think it was a neat idea, and I came back and I advocated that <v Oliver North>and we did it. <v Bill Kurtis>There is nothing more to fear for a democracy than the scheme Casey called the
<v Bill Kurtis>Enterprise. It amassed its own airplanes, pilots, airfields, <v Bill Kurtis>Navy, communications network and secret bank accounts. <v Bill Kurtis>It was answerable to no one and known but to a handful of men, men who <v Bill Kurtis>had decided they alone knew what was best for America. <v Bill Kurtis>Self-sustaining, lacking restrictions or accountability. <v Bill Kurtis>The enterprise's very existence was a subversion of the Constitution of the United <v Bill Kurtis>States. <v Man 4>It is an elitist vision of government that trust no one, not the <v Man 4>people, not the Congress and not the Cabinet. <v Man 4>It is a vision of a government operated by persons con- convinced <v Man 4>they have a monopoly on truth. <v Bill Kurtis>But the truth was not what Congress had been told months prior when it had suspected <v Bill Kurtis>inappropriate actions on the part of the NSC. <v Oliver North>I participated in the preparation of documents for the Congress that were
<v Oliver North>erroneous, misleading, evasive and wrong. <v Oliver North>I misled the Congress. <v Oliver North>I miss- <v Man 4>At that meeting. <v Oliver North>At that meeting. <v Man 4>Face to face. <v Oliver North>Face to face. <v Man 4>You made false statements to them about your activities in support of the Contras. <v Oliver North>I did. <v Bill Kurtis>To many observers, though, the congressional oversight committees seemed all too willing <v Bill Kurtis>to allow themselves to be deceived. <v Seymour Hersh>I don't think they really take on the intelligence community in any serious sense. <v Seymour Hersh>Give an example. I did a story in July of 86 for The <v Seymour Hersh>New York Times about the fact that the NSA is was working together with the <v Seymour Hersh>British, its British equivalent, the GCHQ. <v Seymour Hersh>Um and they were together working <v Seymour Hersh>uh to collect information on the African National Congress and its travels outside of <v Seymour Hersh>southern Africa. And we relayed relaying that to the South Africans with whom we have a <v Seymour Hersh>liaison. <v Seymour Hersh>[coughs] So in secret, the committee has a hearing in great secrecy.
<v Seymour Hersh>They bring in some top people who say, no, there's nothing to it. <v Seymour Hersh>End of the investigation. <v Seymour Hersh>I mean, I wouldn't report a story that way. <v Seymour Hersh>I just went. You know, I mean, if that's how they do it, and that's the only experience I <v Seymour Hersh>have firsthand, I've heard that that's a normal experience. <v Seymour Hersh>You know, that's not that's not the way to run it. If you're supposed to be oversight, <v Seymour Hersh>you're supposed to develop independent contacts, independent and have an independent <v Seymour Hersh>ability to reach in. And they don't. <v Seymour Hersh>They get in trouble. They have to write a letter to momma and say come in and tell me <v Seymour Hersh>what you got, Momma. And that doesn't make sense. <v Arthur Liman>They can't be afraid to learn what's happening. <v Arthur Liman>They cannot be afraid of knowledge. <v Arthur Liman>And some people are afraid of knowledge, because if you have knowledge, then you have to <v Arthur Liman>act. And so uh it's sometimes more comfortable <v Arthur Liman>to not know. And I think there was a degree of that, <v Arthur Liman>in my view during the Iran Contra affair.
<v Arthur Liman>And uh I'm pleased that members of the committee that I represented, <v Arthur Liman>the Senate committee, were prepared to say quite <v Arthur Liman>bluntly and directly that they felt that Congress did not do <v Arthur Liman>as an effective, as effective a job as it should have. <v Arthur Liman>That doesn't excuse the lying, doesn't condone the shredding of documents. <v Arthur Liman>But Congress has to be more energetic. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] There has been much criticism of the Iran Contra hearings themselves for <v Bill Kurtis>being too narrow in focus, too hastily prepared and too quickly <v Bill Kurtis>concluded. What other activities had been undertaken? <v Bill Kurtis>Had drugs been sold to support the Contras? <v Bill Kurtis>What had been the role of Ronald Reagan or his vice president, George Bush? <v Bill Kurtis>The answers to such questions may never be known. <v Bill Kurtis>For much of the evidence of the enterprise was destroyed or shredded. <v Oliver North>Correct. <v Man 6>And you were aware, were you not, sometime during the day on Friday, November <v Man 6>21st that the attorney general's people were gonna come in and look at documents
<v Man 6>over the weekend? <v Oliver North>That is correct. <v Man 6>And you shredded documents before they got there. <v Oliver North>I would prefer to say that I shredded documents that day like I did on all other days, <v Oliver North>but perhaps with increased intensity. <v Oliver North>That is correct. <v Man 6>So that the people you are keeping these documents from, <v Man 6>the ones that you shredded, were representatives of the attorney general of the United <v Man 6>States. <v Oliver North>Well, they worked for him. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] William Casey, the architect of the enterprise, was never to testify. <v Bill Kurtis>He died of a brain tumor in 1987 as the hearings were being held. <v Bob Woodward>If there's a tragic part to Casey and I guess there is, it is <v Bob Woodward>that he ultimately didn't realize what this country is about. <v Bob Woodward>That we are different. That, yes, we will have an intelligence agency. <v Bob Woodward>Yes, we will do things in secret. <v Bob Woodward>But those uh nation defining activities
<v Bob Woodward>like war can't be done in secret. <v Bob Woodward>We can't go out and try to get the Saudi intelligence service to kill <v Bob Woodward>people we don't like, because in America we don't do that in <v Bob Woodward>secret because that tells the world who we are. <v Bob Woodward>It tells us who we are. <v Bill Kurtis>[music plays] With the destruction of evidence by North and Poindexter and the death of <v Bill Kurtis>William Casey, all of the facts of Iran-Contra may never be known. <v Bill Kurtis>But this much is clear. In Iran-Contra, administration officials believing <v Bill Kurtis>they alone knew what was best, conducted secret foreign policy <v Bill Kurtis>in violation of congressional laws. <v Bill Kurtis>But Iran-Contra is only the latest episode in a continuing struggle between American <v Bill Kurtis>democracy and the secret intelligence empire it has created.
<v Bill Kurtis>A disdain for the law, impatience for results, and the conviction <v Bill Kurtis>that it can't be wrong if nobody knows. <v Bill Kurtis>These were the mark of the CIA's disaster at the Bay of Pigs, the FBI's <v Bill Kurtis>a long history of illegal surveillance of American dissidents, and the National Security <v Bill Kurtis>Agency's unauthorized monitoring of private communications. <v Bill Kurtis>Who is there to protect us from America's secret warriors? <v Bill Kurtis>Who will watch the watchers? [music plays]
Secret Intelligence
Episode Number
No. 104
The enterprise
Producing Organization
KCET (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-15-4302w779).
Episode Description
This episode of Secret Intelligence discusses William Casey's enterprise and the Iran-Contra hearings. Real court footage of Oliver North is shown alongside critical interviews by government workers and scholars who discuss the mistakes of Reagan and the SOD.
Series Description
"When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the U.S. Chief of Staff, General Peyton March, discovered that his entire intelligence department consisted of two officers and two clerks. "Seventy years later, the United States has created a vast intelligence empire, both foreign and domestic, supported by billions of dollars and layer upon layer of government. It is a secret empire that serves as America's eyes and ears, its shield, and sometimes its sword. But in its evolution, the U.S. intelligence community now has the potential of threatening the very principles it was created to defend. "SECRET INTELLIGENCE, a four part documentary series, explores the constant tension between secrecy and democracy for the United States. This series, for the first time, provides American television viewers with a detailed and in-depth understanding of the reasons why the United States established the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency. In doing so, viewers chart these agencies' successes as well as their failures, from Pearl Harbor through the Iran-Contra affair. It attempts to tell these stories in a fair and balanced way, as recognized by Newsday: 'The series makes clear the dangers of inadequate as well as overzealous use of intelligence tools.' "This is an epic and global story told in large by actual participants: a woman arrested in the infamous Palmer Raids directed by a young J. Edgar Hoover; an intelligence officer trying desperately to gather electronic signals from the Japanese fleet at Pearl Harbor; a former CIA officer explaining how he orchestrated a coup that brought the Shah of Iran back to power; a Senate investigator providing insight about the Iran-Contra hearings. "SECRET INTELLIGENCE, the Los Angeles Times wrote, 'undoubtedly will shock and perhaps anger lay viewers unaccustomed to encountering such a broad, blunt and expertly presented survey on the uneasy coexistence of secrecy and openness in America.'"--1989 Peabody Awards entry form.
Broadcast Date
Created Date
Asset type
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: KCET (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: cpb-aacip-eb1bacae19a (Filename)
Format: 1 inch videotape
Generation: Master
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-15a3684c687 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Secret Intelligence; No. 104; The enterprise,” 1989, WGBH, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 27, 2022,
MLA: “Secret Intelligence; No. 104; The enterprise.” 1989. WGBH, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 27, 2022. <>.
APA: Secret Intelligence; No. 104; The enterprise. Boston, MA: WGBH, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from