The Family Jewels is the informal name used to refer to a set of reports that detail activities conducted by the United StatesCentral Intelligence Agency. Considered illegal or inappropriate, these actions were conducted over the span of decades, from the 1950s to the mid-1970s.William Colby, who was the CIA director in the mid-1970s and helped in the compilation of the reports, dubbed them the "skeletons" in the CIA's closet. Most of the documents were publicly released on June 25, 2007, after more than three decades of secrecy. The non-governmental National Security Archive had filed a FOIA request fifteen years earlier.
Partly sanitized page from the "Family Jewels" files
The reports that constitute the CIA's "Family Jewels" were commissioned in 1973 by then CIA directorJames R. Schlesinger, in response to press accounts of CIA involvement in the Watergate scandal—in particular, support to the burglars, E. Howard Hunt and James McCord, both CIA veterans. On May 7, 1973, Schlesinger signed a directive commanding senior officers to compile a report of current or past CIA actions that may have fallen outside the agency's charter. The resulting report, which was in the form of a 693-page loose-leaf book of memos, was passed on to William Colby when he succeeded Schlesinger as Director of Central Intelligence in late 1973.
The Central Intelligence Agency, directly violating its charter, conducted a massive, illegal domestic intelligence operation during the Nixon Administration against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States according to well-placed Government sources.
Additional details of the contents trickled out over the years, but requests by journalists and historians for access to the documents under the Freedom of Information Act were long denied. Finally, in June 2007, CIA Director Michael Hayden announced that the documents would be released to the public at an announcement made to the annual meeting of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. A six-page summary of the reports was made available at the National Security Archive (based at George Washington University), with the following introduction:
The complete set of documents, with some redactions (including a number of pages in their entirety), was released on the CIA website on June 25, 2007.
The reports describe numerous activities conducted by the CIA during the 1950s to 1970s that violated its charter. According to a briefing provided by CIA Director William Colby to the Justice Department on December 31, 1974, these included 18 issues which were of legal concern:
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