WASHINGTON — SECRETARY of State-designate Warren Christopher told Congress in 1977 that as President Johnson's deputy attorney general he never knew the military was spying on civilians or he would have "firmly opposed" it. But his personal files indicate Mr. Christopher had been informed of the Army activities in 1968.
The files, reviewed by the Associated Press at the Lyndon Johnson presidential archives in Austin, Texas, show that Mr. Christopher received Army intelligence reports on Vietnam War protesters and civil rights activists such as followers of Martin Luther King Jr.
One memo from a Justice Department aide directly advised Christopher that Army "operatives" were the "main source of intelligence" in Washington, D.C. In confirmation hearings during the Carter administration, Christopher said he was not aware that the Army had been spying on civilians.
His 1977 remarks came before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the same panel that beginning tomorrow will consider President-elect Clinton's nomination of Christopher to be secretary of state. A senior aide to the panel said Sunday the panel had been unaware of the documents but would look into the matter.
The military's civilian surveillance activities were exposed and stopped in 1970 after files on thousands of civilians had been compiled. A congressional committee chaired by Sen. Sam Ervin (D) of North Carolina later criticized the activities as unconstitutional.
The national-security spokesman for the Clinton transition team said Sunday that Christopher would not comment. But the spokesman said the documents "do not alter Mr. Christopher's recollection."