Secrets: The CIA's War at Home

Angus MacKenzie, Author, David Weir, Foreword by
Angus MacKenzie, Author, David Weir, Foreword by University of California Press $50 (260p) ISBN 978-0-520-20020-3
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-0-520-21955-7
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Before his death from brain cancer in 1994 at age 43, freelance journalist and UC--Berkeley teacher Mackenzie devoted much of his professional life to exposing mindless government censorship and obstruction. It took his publisher, working with Mackenzie's wife and journalist colleagues, three years to move this, his only book, to publication. The wait turned out to be worthwhile. The collaborative effort yielded a 50-year history of misguided federal government efforts, revolving around the Central Intelligence Agency, to suppress embarrassing information using the frequently phony pretext of alleged national security. Much of the book is based on Mackenzie's personal experiences: he was 19 when he was first picked up for ""selling obscene materials"" in the form of an anti-war newspaper; soon after he began investigating these government activities through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and subsequent lawsuits for access to files. Because Mackenzie's First Amendment battles received so little attention during his lifetime, this account of them is especially valuable. But the book does not stop there. Mackenzie did a masterful job of reporting on the cases of others--journalists, former CIA agents, dissident government officials and other citizens who found their speech and writings suppressed by overzealous bureaucrats who ignored the precepts of a democratic government. Even former CIA directors Stansfield Turner and George Bush were appalled when the secrecy ministry they helped build threatened their own books, but the apparatus continued. Even in 1997, the exposures of courageous, enterprising journalists like Mackenzie are crucial for an open government. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.)
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