Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Profile

My name is James M. (Mike) Mastrovito and I retired in 2004 after a career of some fifty years in law enforcement and intelligence, as an employee of the FBI, the Secret Service and as an independent contractor with the CIA. I have created this site to address reports appearing on the internet in which I am mentioned. I will make comments and corrections to these reports as I believe are needed. These reports pertain to NSA watchlists, the "CIA" Crowley files, the JFK Assassination and the Watergate affair.

I will make no additional comments regarding any of these subjects. I do not intend to join the long list of those who have shamelessly profited from books, articles and media appearances as a result of the information that they were privy to during their government careers.

NSA watchlists

The Select Committee to Study Government Operations with respect to Intelligence Activities issued their final report on April 23, 1976, and the report can be found on the internet. Among the alleged abuses the committee investigated was how the National Security Agency surveillance affected Americans. Part II of this report deals with NSA's monitoring of international communications. Section B., item 3., of Part II reports on the increasing security and concealment of programs involving American citizens. Paragraph one, containing footnotes 42 and 43 reads as follow:


The watchlist was always a highly sensitive, compartmented operation (42). The secrecy was not due to the nature of the communications intercepted (most were personal and innocuous), but to the fact that American citizens were involved. NSA requested that some of the agencies receiving watchlist product either destroy the material or return it within two weeks (43). This procedure was not followed with even the most sensitive of NSA's legitimate foreign product.


I am quoted in footnote 43, along with two DEA officials. I take issue with the last line of the above paragraph. I had stated to the committee that the Secret Service Intelligence Division did not, at that time, meet the security regulations for the storage of NSA material. Therefore, our policy, following NSA's instructions, was not to store any NSA material, either legitimate foreign product or watchlist material and all NSA material was destroyed after reading. I also told the committee that all watchlist material came to me in double sealed envelopes by messenger, with the order on the outside of the envelope that it was to be opened only by me. All material was opened by me, and was immediately destroyed after reading. Nothing was stored. There was no need to store any reports as they were of little intelligence value.

The last line of the above noted paragraph insinuates that security procedures were not followed. But since footnote 43 pertains to information given by me and the DEA officials, I assume that it was the DEA that was not following the correct procedures. The last line of the paragraph does not clarify this, and infers that both DEA and the Secret Service were at fault. Neither the Secret Service nor I were in violation of NSA security procedures.

The above noted paragraph is poorly written, such as one finds in many Senate committee reports. The staff members who conduct the interviews and write the reports have their own agendas for the final staff reports (usually political). In this case, the final report does not accurately reflect my interview.

The Crowley Files

There are several entries on the internet regarding the so called Crowley files of "2619 CIA sources" Apparently, Crowley, a high CIA official, had given files and notes to a journalist prior to his death. I do not know if any of these files were classified, and if so, what investigation, if any, the CIA made of their theft.

Among the files and notes was an unclassified, but restricted to members only, roster of the members of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO). This roster provided the names and home addresses of the members. I am a lifelong member of this organization and I was listed in the roster, with my address at that time in Albuquerque, NM.

I had joined AFIO when I retired from the US Secret Service in 1979. Subsequently, I worked for many years as an independent contractor for the CIA. In July, 2002, I was working in Athens, Greece, in true name and under slim diplomatic cover, when a copy of this roster was found on a bench near the residence of the US Embassy Defense Attache (DATT). It appeared that the DATT may have been under surveillance and that a surveillant had left his observation post in a hurry and had forgotten to take his papers. No further investigation was made of this incident, and I never felt that I had been under surveillance, but it would have been quite easy for the holders of this roster to connect my name with the embassy - no thanks to the persons who publicized this roster for their own ridiculous reasons.

This is another example of "journalists" trying to make a name for themselves by publicizing distorted information, and in the process not realizing the damage they cause. And it is also another example of persons who have worked in the intelligence community being so full of themselves that they must publicize what they believe is their great contributions to saving the world. Crowley did no favors for the CIA, nor the members of AFIO.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The JFK Assassination

On April 1, 1997, I was interviewed telephonically by a representative of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), concerning my years with the U. S Secret Service Intelligence Division, when I was the custodian of the Kennedy Assassination file. The report of this conversation is noted in the ARRB file number MD 261, pages 1892 and 1893 and it is available on the internet. I will make some comments and corrections to this report as it appears that at the time of the interview some of my statements were misconstrued. These comments and corrections are as follows:

Paragraph 2 - In regard to my "culling" of the files, further explanation may be helpful. A CO-2 number was assigned to the assassination as soon as it occurred and until the Warren Commission issued it's final report, all information and material pertaining to the assassination in any way was given this sole number. Thus, much extraneous information, such as tips and "confessions" by mental cases was placed in this file. The "culling", did not destroy all of these reports. Those "culled" were given separate file numbers and many of these cases were eventually destroyed in accordance with the official retention and destruction schedule of the Secret Service. Professor Blakey did request certain files of persons whom had been given the original assassination number, but were subsequently given separate numbers and had been destroyed, and I recall explaining to his staff in detail why these files no longer existed as I had made the decision that they did not belong in the JFK Assassination File.

Paragraph 4 - This paragraph is somewhat of a garble. I tried to explain that threat cases had historically been given file numbers by headquarters rather than the field offices. In the early days of the Secret Service, the CO-2 cases were directed from headquarters and given the Chief's office designation. Later, with the advent of the Protective Research Section, which was renamed the Intelligence Division, the CO-2 numbering system was retained. Cases did not go directly to the Chief's office, nor originate in that office.

Paragraph 5 - In regard to my comment that I had kidded Assistant Director Kelley for never having written a final report in the Assassination case, I note that AD Kelley wrote detailed reports regarding his participation in the interviews with Lee Harvey Oswald. There was no need for him to write a closing report as the FBI took over the investigation. This was a private joke between the two of us, as he, being my boss, was always requesting reports from me.

Paragraph 6 - I have been asked several times about my decision to destroy the piece of the President's brain. I make no apologies for this decision. In view of what is being offered for sale on e-Bay these days, I believe I made the correct one.

Paragraph 7 - In paragraph seven, there is a line which reads "Before November, 1963, the Secret Service had sent its records to the Federal Records Centers and to presidential libraries." I did not make this statement. I told the interviewer that the Secret Service had sent its records only to the Federal Record Center in Alexandria, Va. I further explained that when presidential libraries requested records for their particular administration, the Federal Record Center had sent Secret Service records along with general government records - without the knowledge of the Secret Service.

I would hope that the above comments and corrections are helpful to the ARRB and to others interested in this matter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Watergate

The final report of the Watergate Commission, Vol. 1, was released in 1974. the report runs 761 pages in it's pocketbook edition. The final 29 pages, although not a part of the official report, consist of a Minority Report authored by Senator Howard Baker and his staff relating to alleged CIA involvement in Watergate. On the final page of the Minority Report, and the last page of the entire Watergate Report, is a sole paragraph which reads:

Michael Mastrovito of the Secret Service should be interviewed concerning his Agency communications on June 17, 1972. Agency documents indicate that Mastrovito agreed to downplay McCord's Agency employment; that Mastrovito was being pressured for information by a Democratic state chairman; and that Mastrovito was advised by the CIA that the Agency was concerned with McCord's emotional stability prior to his retirement.

This paragraph has been mentioned in at least two books and has been referenced on the internet, and in the past I received inquiries from investigative reporters. Obviously, the paragraph infers that I and the Secret Service may have had further information relating to Watergate, or worse, may have been involved in it. I was never called to testify and I was not even given the courtesy of a phone call from either Michael Madigan or Howard Liebengood, staff lawyers for Senator Baker who authored this report, to advise me that my name was being included in their final paper.

When the Watergate incident occurred, early in the morning of June 17, 1972, I was in charge of the Protective Intelligence unit of the Secret Service in Miami Beach, Florida in support of the protection of dignitaries for the Democratic National Convention which was held in Miami Beach later that summer. I had been there since late May in liaison with all police agencies, the FBI and the CIA. The CIA chief and I met frequently. This was not a new assignment for me as I had served in the same capacity for the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach in 1968.

The paragraph in question results from a phone conversation I had with the CIA chief held later in the morning of June 17, 1972. I had been advised by my Headquarters in Washington of the general details of the incident and that James McCord was one of those arrested. I knew little of McCord, had never met him, and did not know where he had been working. The chief and I agreed that it was a stupid operation and we discussed McCord's involvement. The chief did not tell me at this time that others arrested also had CIA connections. Following our conversation the chief sent a classified cable to his Headquarters reporting our conversation. I have never seen the cable, thus, I have no knowledge of what other comments he made regarding me. Obviously, the Minority Staff took out of this cable only what they felt was pertinent for their interest and wrote the paragraph about me.

The final section of the Minority Report is entitled, Action Required, and a sub-section is entitled, Miscellaneous. In their haste to conclude their Minority view, the authors threw in my name in this sub-section to juice up their position that further investigation needed to be conducted. Obviously, nobody else agreed with their politically inspired Minority Report, because no further investigation was ever made. To be the only name mentioned four times in one paragraph on the last page of this long report has been quite upsetting for me. If I had been called to testify, under oath or not, I would have responded to the three insinuations in this paragraph as follows:

In response to: "Mastrovito agreed to downplay McCord's Agency employment":

My answer: I made no such agreement. I told the CIA chief that the Secret Service convention advance group would make no comments regarding Watergate from Miami Beach, and that any statements would be made by our Public Affairs office in Washington. I also told the chief that it was well known that McCord had worked for the Agency (indeed, at his arraignment later in the day of June 17, 1972, McCord's previous Agency employment was publicized). There would have been little reason for me to make a futile attempt to downplay McCord's Agency employment. It appears to me that the chief was trying to impress his headquarters that he was attempting to keep the lid on McCord's previous employment.

In response to: "Mastrovito was being pressured for information by a Democratic State Chairman":

My answer: I personally was not pressured by any Democratic official. I told the CIA chief that the Democratic Party was naturally upset that some of the Watergate perpetrators had come from Miami. I told him that Dick Murphy, the Chairman of the Democratic National Convention had been in touch with our Miami Beach office (not me ), and that he wanted assurances that the Secret Service would keep him updated.

In response to: "Mastrovito was advised by the CIA that the Agency was concerned with McCord's emotional stability prior to his retirement":

My answer: The CIA chief did make that comment to me. My reaction was to laugh, knowing that this was his attempt to cover the Agency's backside. I also recall making a flippant comment to him on the order of "McCord must have been nuts to get involved in this mess."

As I stated above, I never saw the cable which the chief sent to his Headquarters following our phone conversation, therefore, I do not know what other comments he made in this message. Obviously, he was under a lot of pressure, thus, his comments regarding our conversation were crafted to his advantage. I do find it shoddy tradecraft that he used my true name in a classified cable.

Senator Baker made the following statement which is printed on the back cover of the pocketbook edition of the Watergate Report:

"We aspire...to write a report that will stand as an important document in the political history of the Nation."

Unfortunately, his Minority Report degrades the overall Report and will confuse historians in the future, plus, of course, give food for thought for the conspiracy theorists. To quote Robert Novak in his column 0f March 27, 1975,"Senator Baker insinuated much, but proved nothing. And by hinting at revelations that he could not produce, Baker seriously damaged his own credibility."

I might not entirely agree with Novak's assessment that Baker damaged his credibility. Senators always seem to have a way of slithering out of problem areas. But if he did not damage his reputation, he sure cast suspicion on mine. I have no other information relating to Watergate. I had none when it occurred, and I have none now. But unfortunately for me, my name will always be associated with this sordid affair due to the Star Chamber mentality of Senator Howard Baker and his staff. Shame on them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

My profile

My name is James M. (Mike) Mastrovito and I retired in 2004 after a career of some fifty years in law enforcement and intelligence, as an employee of the FBI and the Secret Service and as an independent contractor with the CIA. I have created this site to address reports appearing on the internet in which I have been mentioned. I will make comments and corrections to these reports as I believe are needed. These reports pertain to NSA watchlists, the CIA Crowley files, the JFK assassination and the Watergate affair.

I will make no additional comments on any of these subjects. I do not intend to join the long list of those who have profitted from books, articles and media appearances as a result of the information that they were privy to during their government careers.