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When the CIA blew off Pacifica radio (August, 1988)

The Central Intelligence Agency has digitally released 930,000 documents previously available only at the National Archives in Maryland. Of course I went straight to the search engine and started rummaging around for community radio stuff. So far, the CIA’s Pacifica radio files aren’t especially earth shattering, but there are some cute items, like this one:

Internal memo to William Webster

The above boils down to the internal handling of a request for then CIA chief William Webster to face off with famous ex-CIA agent and whistleblower Philip Agee, author of the 1975 book Inside the Company. Webster was a former federal judge, hence the “judge” salutation. The request came from the studios of Pacifica station WBAI-FM in New York City.

Apparently Judge Webster’s public relations flak considered this opportunity “inappropriate,” so the CIA sent out a little white lie in response:

William Webster response

Yes, that Judge Webster is a busy beaver, so sorry but we just won’t be able to chat with Philip, like, ever.

You’ve got to give the station credit for trying. Presumably the WBAI show went on with its other scheduled guests: Agee, filmmaker Emile de Antonio, and writer Bill Schaap. The title of the program was “The CIA and Covert Action.”

More nuggets will be posted here as I find them. Here’s ‘BAI’s original letter to the CIA.

WBAI to CIA


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