Transcript of Closed NCLIS Meeting Details FBI's "Library Awareness Program." (National Commission on Libraries and Information Science)

American Libraries, April 1988 | Go to article overview

Transcript of Closed NCLIS Meeting Details FBI's "Library Awareness Program." (National Commission on Libraries and Information Science)


The FBI's controversial "Library Awareness Program is more widespread than previously known, and the FBI claims that librarians have been recruited by foreign agents, according to a recently obtained -transcript of a closed meeting of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science held Jan. 14.

As reported in the March AL (p. 156), the meeting with Thomas E. DuHadway, deputy assistant director of the bureau's intelligence division, was requested by NCLIS to find out more about the program, in which FBI agents asked librarians to report library use by persons "hostile to the U.S."

DuHadway said that the FBI has contacted some 25 libraries in the investigation, and their responses were "very favorable," with the exception of one librarian at Columbia University who refused to cooperate and contacted ALV's Intellectual Freedom Committee. The bureau had previously acknowledged contact ing fewer than 20 libraries.

Kt.. . ["are not trying to make librarians into spies," said DuHadway,"We want them to call something out of the ordinary to our attention." Later in the transcript he explained, "We're not searching for fists of library users...we're looking for the anomaly that takes place in a library that raises the antenna of that professional person who thinks that something is wrong."

DuHadway said that the FBI is concerned with identifying intelligence officers who are using libraries to recruit agents. He cited the case of Gennadi Zakharov, a Soviet national who worked as a scientific officer at the United Nations. In September 1986 Zakharov was arrested after recruiting a Guyanese student at Queens college who subsequently contacted the FBI.

DuHadway said that foreign agents have recruited professional librarians, although he gave no details "We've had Soviets tell us that they think it's better to recruit two librarians in a science and technological library than it would be to recruit three engineers who could put together a system, because those librarians have access to people, places and things that can front for the Soviet that the engineer can't," said DuHadway. "They think it's extremely important to have sources in libraries and to be in libraries so they can asscoiate with students and professors that they get a chance to recruit that their normal job would not give them access to."

DuHadway emphasized that "we are not there because we think they shouldn't have legitimate access to unclassified information. If it's unclassified anybody in this country has access to it. . . .We don't have any problem with that."

According to DuHadway, the FBI has routinely contacted librarians since the early 1970s to alert them to intelligence operations in libraries and ask them to notify the agency if the"see something out of the ordinary" Newman defends program

In opening the meeting, NCLIS Chair Jerald C. Newman said, "I'm supposed to be impartial, but I am inclined on behalf of what the Bureau is doing... .We have the responsibility, as Comimssioners, of being sure there's freedom of access of information, but I think we have another responsibility in upholding the Constitution of the United States. . . which is a higher responsibility, and that includes citizens protecting our democracy and our republic." Newman cared freedom of access "very important," but added that "to protect the freedom of the United States, I think is more important.

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