Huston Plan

The Huston Plan was a 43 page report and outline of proposed security operations put together by White House aide Tom Charles Huston in 1970. It first came to light during the 1973 Watergate hearings headed by Senator Sam Ervin (a Democrat from North Carolina).

The impetus for this report stemmed from President Nixon wanting more coordination of domestic intelligence in the area of gathering information about left-wing radicals and the anti-war movement in general. Huston had been assigned as White House liaison to the Interagency Committee on Intelligence (ICI), a group chaired by J. Edgar Hoover, then FBI Director. Huston worked closely with William C. Sullivan, Hoover's assistant, in drawing up the options listed in what eventually became the document known as the Huston Plan.

Among other things the plan called for domestic burglary, illegal electronic surveillance and opening the mail of domestic "radicals". At one time it also called for the creation of camps in Western states where anti-war protesters would be detained.

In mid-July of 1970 Nixon ratified the proposals and they were submitted as a document to the directors of the FBI, CIA, DIA and the NSA.

Out of these only Hoover objected to the plan, and gained the support of then Attorney General John Mitchell to pressure Nixon to rescind the plan. And despite the ultimate decision by the President to revoke the Huston Plan, several of its provisions were implemented anyway.

After the Huston Plan, the FBI lowered the age of campus informants, thereby expanding surveillance of American college students as sought through the Plan. In 1971, the FBI reinstated its use of mail covers and continued to submit names to the CIA mail program.

As details of the Huston Plan unfolded during the Watergate Hearings, it came to be seen as a part and parcel of what Attorney General Mitchell referred to as, "White House horrors". This would include the Plumbers Unit, the proposed fire-bombing of the Brookings Institute, the 1971 burglary of the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, the creation of a White House enemies list, and the use of the IRS to punish those deemed to be enemies.

The Huston Plan was also investigated by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chaired by Sen. Frank Church in 1976, into activities of the CIA and abuses of domestic intelligence gathering.

Further information about the plan can be found in the book: Spying on Americans:Political Surveillance from Hoover to the Huston Plan, by Athan Theoharis, Temple University Press, 1978.

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Samuel James Ervin Jr. (September 27, 1896 – April 23, 1985) was a Democratic United States Senator from North Carolina from 1954 until 1974. He was a native of Morganton, Burke County, North Carolina.
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