CIA Has History Of Spying On American Citizens: Operation CHAOS

Kyle Schepperley
President Richard Nixon and President Lyndon JohnsonWNYC

From 1967 to 1974, the CIA was responsible for a domestic spying project known as Operation CHAOS. The project was meant to target American civilians who were thought to be susceptible to foreign influence when it came to topics such as race, anti-war, and other protests.

Operation CHAOS was created under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was later expanded by President Richard Nixon. It was in 1967 that President Johnson requested that the CIA begin an investigation into the civil unrest that was happening within the country. The overall goal of Operation CHAOS was to acquire proof of foreign influence in American dissident movements.

CIA agents would collect the names of American citizens and organizations that they believed were connected to anti-war movements and other dissident organizations, and then put them on a list. That list was turned into a computerized index of more than 300,000 names. Of those 300,000 names, 7,200 of them had “201” files attached to them. “201” files contain information such as your place of birth, who their family members are, and what organizations you are affiliated with.

According to an article by History Channel, in 1969, the CIA reported to the White House that there was “very little evidence of communist funding and training of such movements and no evidence of communist direction or control.” It was concluded in over a half dozen reports that there was no significant role being played by foreign elements in the various different protest movements that were happening within the country.

Project CHAOS is considered to be the largest domestic spying campaign ever completed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Despite the CIA being in direct violation of their 1947 statutory charter that prohibits the CIA from spying on its own American citizens, they went on ahead and did so anyways. So if you were involved in the peace movement in the late 1960’s or early 70’s, their could be a file within the offices of the Central Intelligence Agency with your name on it.

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