SAN FRANCISCO — The FBI, working covertly with the CIA and then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, spent years unlawfully trying to quash the voices and careers of students and faculty deemed subversive at the University of California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
For years, the FBI denied engaging in such activities at the university. But a 17-year legal challenge by a Chronicle reporter under the Freedom of Information Act forced the FBI to release more than 200,000 pages of confidential records covering the 1940s to the 1970s, the newspaper reported.
Those documents describe the sweeping nature of the FBI's activities and show they ranged far beyond the campus and into state politics as the agency plotted to end the career of UC President Clark Kerr while aiding Reagan's political career.
Only after federal judges repeatedly ruled that the FBI had drifted unlawfully from intelligence gathering into politics--and the case was about to be heard by the Supreme Court--did the FBI settle, removing much of the blacked-out material in the files.
In its unsuccessful battle to keep them secret, the agency said its actions had been proper--that it had merely tried to protect civil order and national security during a time when the nation feared communism and waged war in Vietnam.
"Things are done a lot differently today," FBI spokesman Bill Carter told the Chronicle. "The files speak for themselves."