Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement

By Ross Gelbspan | Go to book overview

7
The "Active Measures" Equation:
Advocacy + Propaganda =
Terrorism

Toward the end of 1981, Flanagan called Varelli and asked him to come to the FBI office on North Lamarr. When Frank arrived, Flanagan was clearly upset. The normally taciturn Flanagan waited for "Franco" to sit down at his desk. Then, with a flourish, he pulled an airtel from under a sheath of papers, flipped it over and thrust it in front of Varelli.

"Do you believe this?" Flanagan asked angrily. "Some asshole in the Justice Department is telling us we have to close the CISPES investigation. Do you believe that?" 1

Varelli read the teletype slowly, word by word. In the teletype, an assistant attorney general had determined that since the FBI had found no evidence that CISPES had violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act—that is, no evidence that it was working directly on behalf of a hostile foreign force—that the FBI must therefore close the investigation and prepare a final memorandum on the probe.

Varelli was devastated. All the FBI's good work, he felt, was going down the tube. Just when they were establishing a surveillance system in a dozen FBI offices, just when Varelli was making real headway in CISPES, getting close to the leaders and gaining their trust, just when the National Guard had come to fully trust its relationship with the FBI, the Justice Department was closing it all down. Did this mean the end of Varelli's FBI career? Did it mean the end of the Bureau's pledge to "squeeze the communists" both in El Salvador and in the United States? He looked at Flanagan in a long moment of silence.

Flanagan looked stonily ahead for a moment and then the small creases of a smile appeared at the comers of his mouth. "Of course, this

-85-

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