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The CIA's Campaign Against the Radical New Left and the Black Panthers
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612510453
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 20th Century
  • Number of Pages: 336
  • Subject: Intelligence
  • Date Available: October 2011
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Full Description:

Operation MH/CHAOS was the code name for a secret domestic spying program conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency in the late 1960s and early 1970s, after being charged with unmasking possible foreign influences on the student antiwar movement. CIA counterinsurgency officer Frank Rafalko was a member of the CHAOS special operations group. His inside account of the controversial operation provides information never before brought to light. In the book, Rafalko tells how by 1969 the group included sixty officers and their informants who reported on the activities of U.S. citizens abroad and infiltrated foreign antiwar groups that might have ties to U.S. groups. Eventually, he says, the program was expanded to include domestic leftists or counter-cultural groups with no discernible connection to the antiwar movement, including women's liberation groups, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Panther Party. The group disbanded following the Watergate scandal that involved two former CIA officers.

MH/CHAOS was exposed by the New York Times in 1974 and further details were revealed during Congressional hearings that prompted the government to launch investigations into CIA surveillance activities within the United States. Rafalko refutes the charges made by the Times and takes issue with the government findings. He makes the case that their activities were justified and that the CIA was the logical agency to collect information. The author argues his point by providing details secretly collected by his group against the New Left and black extremists. The book describes how MH/CHAOS began, how it was staffed, and how it was transformed into an anti-terrorist unit before it ceased operation. The first book to reveal such details, it also calls attention to the consequences suffered by the American counterintelligence community because of the government investigations.

Frank J. Rafalko, a recognized counterintelligence expert, served as a CIA officer for thirty-two years. His assignments included adviser and acting chief to the National Reconnaissance Office's counterintelligence unit, chief of the National Counterintelligence Center's Counterintelligence Community Training Branch and adviser to the State Department's Overseas Security Policy Board. He lives in North Carolina.

Praise for MH/CHAOS

“Given Rafalko‘s service to both counterintelligence and counterintelligence history, his book and its arguments, though limited, are well worth considering in a serious manner. Where he succeeds, we are warned; where he fails, we are given the opportunity to consider some of the structural difficulties in the practice of counterintelligence in a democratic, liberties-oriented domestic environment. Agree or disagree with his arguments, Rafalko‘s book is a useful attempt to deal with important concerns. “

International Journal of Intelligence Ethics, Summer 2012

“One of the most important and absorbing intelligence books of the year. Rafalko dismantles the argument that the CIA must maintain an interest in happenings that only occur in faraway lands. There is often a ‘corridor’ or channel where intelligence inevitably falls —and this must be gathered, shared, and disseminated by domestic and overseas services alike. A five star offering.”

Eye Spy (British publication)

“[Rafalko] writes with the insight of a counterintelligence expert. [The book] will perhaps stand as the ultimate objective study of a program that proved highly controversial.”

The Washington Times, December 9, 2011

“The definitive account of the CIA’s controversial MH/CHAOS operation has long been missing from the intelligence literature. Only a real counterintelligence pro like Frank Rafalko could fill that gap, and he has admirably and expertly done so. Frank gets it right. Readers who thought they had the full story from the media and the Church Commission will have to look again.”

—JAMES M. OLSON, former chief of CIA Counterintelligence and author of Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying

“The author lays out a compelling and fact–based readable narrative of the assessments of the individuals in the CIA tasked to respond to growing domestic and international terrorist threats to U.S. national security during the highly emotional and turbulent period in American political and cultural history of the 1960s and 1970s. Social change is rampant in all aspects of American life during this period, when numerous U.S. cities were engulfed in riots and terrorism attacks. Frank Rafalko tells the uncomfortable truth of this period of American history. It is a story that has never been told with as much clarity from someone on the ‘inside’ that knows firsthand the dynamic events of the period, and readers will gain a new and profound respect for the CIA and FBI personnel who fight every day to keep the U.S. free and safe.”

—DAVID G. MAJOR, retired FBI supervisory special agent, owner and founder of the CI Centre and Spypedia

“Frank Rafalko, beginning in the mid-1990s, became the de facto historian of American counterintelligence by producing a four-volume history for the National Counterintelligence Center. He has followed this up with the present volume, which will be wildly controversial but which is, in my judgment, the definitive history of MH/CHAOS. Whether Rafalko is correct in his judgments is frankly immaterial. What is indisputable is that Rafalko’s history of his unit is the best we are ever likely to see.”

—LOUIS R. SADLER, Professor Emeritus, New Mexico State University, and co-author of The Archaeologist Was a Spy: Sylvanus Morley and the Office of Naval Intelligence and the prize-winning Secret War in El Paso and The Texas Rangers and the Mexican Revolution

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