Denials Aside, the CIA Spied on Noam Chomsky

FOIA request reveals secret memo on the MIT professor

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 13, 2013 2:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – The CIA would never keep a file on political dissident Noam Chomsky—right? For years, the agency denied keeping a Chomsky file, but a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI has punctured a hole in that story, Foreign Policy reports. Turns out that a CIA memo to the FBI on June 8, 1970, highlights Chomsky's opposition to the Vietnam War, and requests information on an upcoming trip by activists to North Vietnam that has the "ENDORSEMENT OF NOAM CHOMSKY."

That means the CIA once had a Chomsky file, says one expert, but has likely destroyed it since. Whether the CIA obtained appropriate approval from the national Archives to destroy the file is unknown. So what's Chomsky's take on all this? "Some day it will be realized that systems of power typically try to extend their power in any way they can think of," he says. "What was frightening in the '60s into early '70s was not so much spying as the domestic terror operations, COINTELPRO. And also the lack of interest when they were exposed."

Noam Chompsky, US linguist and  political critic, gestures during a talk at the press club in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, July 26, 2013.
Noam Chompsky, US linguist and political critic, gestures during a talk at the press club in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, July 26, 2013.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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