Circle 005: Michael Harrington, Early Warning / CIA, June 2, 1975

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As one of the CIA's most caustic critics and the prod behind a congressional probe of its activities, Massachusetts Congressman Michael Harrington was already positioned in the eye of a storm when he addressed the New England Circle on "The CIA, Congress and the Constitution." Several days later the headlines broke: Harrington excluded from the subcommittee slated to question CIA officials and barred by another Congressional committee from access to classified documents. But that evening, he served as an early warning system, alerting Circle guests to the problems that would inevitably swamp any congressional committee that sought to get inside the CIA.

Unimpressed by Senator Frank Church's previous investigation of ITT, Harrington cautioned against placing too much faith in Church's current CIA inquiry. He minimized the role of his own House committee chairman Lucien Nedzi as a serious investigator. And he developed the likelihood that while our attention was focused on the Central Intelligence Agency, assorted other national security agencies were running rampant. Even worse, as Harrington conceded to one questioner, the voters - his own constituents included - are more concerned about economic "survival issues" than illegal covert activities.

However, Harrington was able to suggest a way to ward off "total 1984": a concerted media effort to expose CIA wrongdoing, thus piquing the attention of the public and pushing Congress to meet its responsibilities.

by Sandra Burton (New England Bureau Chief / Time Magazine)


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