Gary Hart

Gary Hart

Gary Hart (Hartpence) was born in Ottawa, Kansas, on 28th November, 1936. He graduated from Nazarene College (1958), Yale Divinity School (1961) before attending Yale University Law School.

Hart worked as an attorney for the United States Department of Justice from 1964 to 1965. He then became special assistant to the solicitor of the Department of the Interior (1965-1967). Hart then established his own law practice in Denver, Colorado.

A member of the Democratic Party he managed the campaign of George McGovern to become the party's presidential candidate in 1972. Hart also took charge of McGovern campaign to defeat Richard Nixon. Hart's strategy was disrupted by Nixon's Operation Sandwedge and Operation Gemstone. Hart was unable to convince the American public that the White House was involved in the Watergate break-in and McGovern only carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Hart was elected to the Senate in 1972. In 1975, Frank Church became the chairman of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. Members of this committee included Hart (Colorado), Walter Mondale (Minnesota), Richard Schweiker (Pennsylvania), Philip Hart (Michigan), Howard Baker (Tennessee) and Barry Goldwater (Arizona). This committee investigated alleged abuses of power by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Intelligence.

The committee looked at the case of Fred Hampton and discovered that William O'Neal, Hampton's bodyguard, was a FBI agent-provocateur who, days before the raid, had delivered an apartment floor-plan to the Bureau with an "X" marking Hampton's bed. Ballistic evidence showed that most bullets during the raid were aimed at Hampton's bedroom.

Church's committee also discovered that the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation had sent anonymous letters attacking the political beliefs of targets in order to induce their employers to fire them. Similar letters were sent to spouses in an effort to destroy marriages. The committee also documented criminal break-ins, the theft of membership lists and misinformation campaigns aimed at provoking violent attacks against targeted individuals.

One of those people targeted was Martin Luther King. The FBI mailed King a tape recording made from microphones hidden in hotel rooms. The tape was accompanied by a note suggesting that the recording would be released to the public unless King committed suicide.

In September, 1975, a sub-committee made up of Hart and Richard Schweiker was asked to review the performance of the intelligence agencies in the original John F. Kennedy assassination investigation. Hart and Schweiker became very concerned about what they found. On 1st May, 1976, Hart said: "I don't think you can see the things I have seen and sit on it."

When the Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations was published in 1976, Hart joined Walter Mondale and Philip Hart to publish an appendix to the report. The three men pointed out that "important portions of the Report had been excised or security grounds". However, they believed that the CIA had "used the classification stamp not for security, but to censor material that would be embarrassing, inconvenient, or likely to provoke an adverse public reaction to CIA activities."

The appendix went on to say: "Some of the so-called security objections of the CIA were so outlandish they were dismissed out of hand. The CIA wanted to delete reference to the Bay of Pigs as a paramilitary operation, they wanted to eliminate any reference to CIA activities in Laos, and they wanted the Committee to excise testimony given in public before the television cameras. But on other more complex issues, the Committee's necessary and proper concern for caution enabled the CIA to use the clearance process to alter the Report to the point where some of its most important implications are either lost, or obscured in vague language."

Hart called for a new Senate Committee to look into the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He said it was necessary to take a closer look at Lee Harvey Oswald and his relationship with the FBI and the CIA. In an interview he gave to the Denver Post Hart said the questions that needed answering included: "Who Oswald really was - who did he know? What affiliation did he have in the Cuban network? Was his public identification with the left-wing a cover for a connection with the anti-Castro right-wing?"

In the interview Hart went on to state that he believed Oswald was probably operating as a double-agent. He thought this was one of the reasons why the FBI and CIA had made "a conscious decision to withhold evidence from the Warren Commission."

In the summer of 1983 Hart announced his candidacy for the 1984 presidential election. Hart won several primaries, including those in New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and California, but was eventually lost the nomination to Walter Mondale, who in turn, was defeated by Ronald Reagan.

In 1985 Hart and William S. Cohen, another member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, published the novel Double Man. According to Bob Woodward: "This is an expertly crafted thriller that is full of many uncomfortable plausibilities. Though clearly labeled fiction, it dances knowledgeably with many old and new ghosts, including the CIA, the KGB, the Kennedy assassination, terrorism, and a range of state secrets. The Double Man has to be taken, minimally, as a grim warning about the intelligence services in our own country and elsewhere."

Hart left the Senate in 1987 in order to concentrate on becoming president in 1988. He soon emerged as the Democratic Party front-runner. However, on 3rd May, 1987, the Miami Herald published a story that suggested that Hart was having a sexual relationship with Donna Rice. Hart's wife supported him claiming that his relationship with Rice was non-sexual. Two days later the Miami Herald obtained a photograph of Hart with Rice aboard the "Monkey Business". This photograph was subsequently published in The National Enquirer.

A Gallup Poll found that 64% of those surveyed thought the media treatment of Hart was "unfair" whereas 53% believed that marital infidelity had little to do with a president's ability to govern. Despite these views the stories about Rice had badly damaged his campaign. In the New Hampshire primary Hart won only 4% of the votes and soon after announced that he was withdrawing from the race.

Hart left national politics and became a lawyer in Denver. In 1998 he served on the Hart-Rudman Commission to study U.S. homeland security.

Books by Gary Hart include The Good Fight (1995), The Patriot: An Exhortation to Liberate America from the Barbarians (1996), America: Still Unprepared, Still in Danger (2003), The Fourth Power: A Grand Strategy for the United States in the Twenty-First Century (2004).

In a speech he made in Washington on 22nd November, 2005, Hart explained that in 1975, CIA director William Colby presented members of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities with details of the 600-page Inspector General report on Agency abuses. Hart added that only a few items from that report have ever been made public.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Gary Hart, The Denver Post (2nd May, 1976)

Who Oswald really was - who did he know? What affiliation did he have in the Cuban network? Was his public identification with the left-wing a cover for a connection with the anti-Castro right-wing?"

(2) Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and Philip Hart, Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations (1976)

We fully support the analysis, findings, and recommendations of this Report. If implemented, the recommendations will go far toward providing our nation with an intelligence community that is more effective in protecting this country, more accountable to the American public, and more responsive to our Constitution and our laws. The key to effective implementation of these recommendations is a new intelligence oversight committee with legislative authority.

Committees of Congress have only two sources of power: control over the purse and public disclosure. The Select Committee had no authority of any kind over the purse strings of the intelligence community, only the power of disclosure. The preparation of this volume of the Final Report was a case study in the shortcomings of disclosure as the sole instrument of oversight. Our experience as a Committee graphically demonstrates why legislative authority-in particular the power to authorize appropriations-is essential if a new oversight committee is to handle classified intelligence matters securely and effectively.

In preparing the Report, the Select Committee bent over backwards to ensure that there were no intelligence sources, methods, or other classified material in the text. As a result, important portions of the Report have been excised or significantly abridged. In some cases the changes were clearly justified on security grounds. But in other cases, the CIA, in our view, used the classification stamp not for security, but to censor material that would be embarrassing, inconvenient, or likely to provoke an adverse public reaction to CIA activities.

Some of the so-called security objections of the CIA were so outlandish they were dismissed out of hand. The CIA wanted to delete reference to the Bay of Pigs as a paramilitary operation, they wanted to eliminate any reference to CIA activities in Laos, and they wanted the Committee to excise testimony given in public before the television cameras. But on other more complex issues, the Committee's necessary and proper concern for caution enabled the CIA to use the clearance process to alter the Report to the point where some of its most important implications are either lost, or obscured in vague language. We shall abide by the Committee's agreement on the facts which are to remain classified. We did what we had to do under the circumstances and the full texts are available to the Senate in classified form. Within those limits, however, we believe it is important to point out those areas in the Final Report which no longer fully reflect the work of the Committee.

For example:

(1) Because of editing for classification reasons, the italicized passages in the Findings and Recommendations obscure the JVO significant policy issues involved. The discussion of the role of U.S. academics in the CIA's clandestine activities has been so diluted that its scope and impact on the American academic institutions is no longer clear. The description of the CIA's clandestine activities within the United States, as well as the extent to which CIA uses its ostensibly overt Domestic Contact Division for such activities, has been modified to the point where the Committee's concern about the CIA's blurring of the line between overt and covert, foreign and domestic activities, has been lost.

(2) Important sections which deal with the problems of "cover" were eliminated. They made clear that for many years the CIA has known and been concerned about its poor cover abroad, and that the Agency's cover problems are not the result of recent congressional investigations of intelligence activities. The deletion of one important passage makes it impossible to explain why unwitting Senate collaboration may be necessary to make effective certain aspects of clandestine activities.

(3) The CIA insisted upon eliminating the actual name of the Vietnamese institute mentioned on page 454, thereby suppressing the extent to which the CIA was able to use that organization to manipulate public and congressional opinion in the United States to support the Viet Nam War.

(4) Although the Committee recommends a much higher standard for undertaking covert actions and a tighter control system, we are unable to report the facts from our indepth covert action case studies in depth which paint a picture of the high political costs and generally meager benefits of covert programs. The final cost of these secret operations is the inability of the American people to debate and decide on the future scope of covert action in a fully informed way.

The fact that the Committee cannot present its complete case to the public on these specific policy issues illustrates the dilemma secrecy poses for our democratic system of checks and balances. If the Select Committee, after due consideration, decided to disclose more information on these issues by itself, the ensuing public debate might well focus on that disclosure rather than on the Committee's recommendations. If the Select Committee asked the full Senate to endorse such disclosure, we would be unfairly asking our colleagues to make judgments on matters unfamiliar to them and which are the Committee's responsibility.

In the field of intelligence, secrecy has eroded the system of checks and balances on which our Constitutional government rests. In our view, the only way this system can be restored is by creating a legislative intelligence oversight committee with the power to authorize appropriations. The experience of this Committee has been that such authority is crucial if the new committee is to be able to find out what the intelligence agencies are doing, and to take action to stop things when necessary without public disclosure. It is the only way to protect legitimate intelligence secrets, yet effectively represent the public and the Congress in intelligence decisions affecting America's international reputation and basic values. A legislative oversight committee with the power to authorize appropriations for intelligence is essential if America is to govern its intelligence agencies with the system of checks and balances mandated by the Constitution.

(3) Howard Baker, CBS interview (23rd May, 1976)

I think that Gary Hart and Dick Schweiker did a great job, a monumental undertaking, and I think just as clearly that the new intelligence oversight committee ought to decide how to pursue the matter, it certainly should not be dropped. I:have no information that would indicate that the Warren Commission is wrong, or that Oswald was an agent, or did not act on his own. All I have is a basket of loose ends that Hart and I think they've got to be examined.

(4) Bob Woodward, review of The Double Man (1985)

This is an expertly crafted thriller that is full of many uncomfortable plausibilities. Though clearly labeled fiction, it dances knowledgeably with many old and new ghosts, including the CIA, the KGB, the Kennedy assassination, terrorism, and a range of state secrets. Coming from a Republican and a Democrat who together have many years of experience on the Senate Intelligence Committee, The Double Man has to be taken, minimally, as a grim warning about the intelligence services in our own country and elsewhere.

(5) Publishing blurb for The Double Man (1985)

Gary Hart (Democrat, Colorado) and William S. Cohen (Republican, Maine), regarded as two of the most articulate and imaginative members of the U.S. Senate, take us into the offices, committee rooms, and private meeting places of Congress and on through the underground tunnels of Washington's power grid into a world of espionage and superpower conspiracies.

When the family of the Secretary of State is brutally assassinated, Thomas Chandler, senior senator from Connecticut, is named to head an investigation into terrorism. His search for the truth takes him from Washington to Miami, Moscow, Amsterdam, and Venice, all the way back to that fateful November day in Dallas. His investigative companion is the enigmatic Elaine Dunham.

In this fast-moving thriller, we learn what happens when ideologues turn their country's secret-service operations to their own goals. Both the Director of the CIA and a KGB colonel fear that Tom Chandler is getting too close to the secrets that could destroy them. The Double Man offers nonstop action and intrigue with the bonus of guaranteed authenticity.

(6) David Talbot, The Mother of All Cover-Ups, Salon Magazine (15th September, 2004)

One of the most aggressive investigators on the Church Committee was the young, ambitious Democratic senator from Colorado, Gary Hart, who along with Republican colleague Richard Schweiker, began digging into the swampy murk of southern Florida in the early 1960s. Here was the steamy nursery for plots that drew together CIA saboteurs, Mafia cutthroats, anti-communist Cuban fanatics and the whole array of patriotic zealots who were determined to overthrow the government of Cuba -- the Iraq of its day. "The whole atmosphere at that time was so yeasty," says Hart today. "I don't think anybody, Helms or anybody, had control of the thing. There were people clandestinely meeting people, the Mafia connections, the friendships between the Mafia and CIA agents, and this crazy Cuban exile community. There were more and more layers, and it was honeycombed with bizarre people. I don't think anybody knew everything that was going on. And I think the Kennedys were kind of racing to keep up with it all."

Schweiker's mind was blown by what he and Hart were digging up - there is no other way to describe it. He was a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania and he would be chosen as a vice presidential running mate by Ronald Reagan in 1976 to bolster his challenge against President Jerry Ford. But Schweiker's faith in the American government seemed deeply shaken by his Kennedy probe, which convinced him "the fingerprints of intelligence" were all over Lee Harvey Oswald.

"Dick made a lot of statements inside the committee that were a lot more inflammatory than anything I ever said, in terms of his suspicions about who killed Kennedy," recalls Hart. "He would say, 'This is outrageous, we've got to reopen this.' He was a blowtorch."

Hart too concluded Kennedy was likely killed by a conspiracy, involving some feverish cabal from the swamps of anti-Castro zealotry. And when he ran for president in 1984, Hart says, whenever he was asked about the assassination, "My consistent response was, based on my Church Committee experience, there are sufficient doubts about the case to justify reopening the files of the CIA, particularly in its relationship to the Mafia." This was enough to blow other people's minds, says Hart, including remnants of the Mafia family of Florida godfather Santo Trafficante, who plays a key role in many JFK conspiracy theories. "(Journalist) Sy Hersh told me that he interviewed buddies of Trafficante, including his right-hand man who was still alive when Hersh wrote his book ('The Dark Side of Camelot'). He didn't put this in his book, but when my name came up, the guy laughed, he snorted and said, "We don't think he's any better than the Kennedys." Meaning they were keeping an eye on Hart? "At the very least. This was in the 1980s when I was running for president, saying I would reopen the (Kennedy) investigation. Anybody can draw their own conclusions."

(7) Lisa Pease, The Enduring JFK Mystery (22nd November, 2005)

Forty-two years ago, on Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, Texas. In Bethesda, Maryland, this past weekend, a group of distinguished journalists, historians, scientists and others gathered to discuss and debate the evidence of conspiracy in the JFK case.

While the research community has often slammed the mainstream media for not covering the facts of the case, the blame must go both ways. The conference organizers offered no handouts, no summaries of what is new in the case this year, or any hook upon which a journalist might hang a story.

As one of the reporters said in a panel discussion, this is a story without an ending, and how satisfying is that?

But that is a tragedy, in light of the Downing Street Memo and other evidence that the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq was built on a false platform. The common thread throughout the weekend was that secrecy and democracy cannot safely coexist, that the more we have of the former, the less we have of the latter.

The credentials of the speakers this year was more impressive than in previous conferences. Featured speakers included former presidential candidate Gary Hart, author James Bamford, journalists Jeff Morley and Salon founder David Talbot, and historians David Wrone and John Newman (who was a military intelligence analyst), and the former head of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, G. Robert Blakey.

Former Sen. Hart, a Colorado Democrat, recounted his experiences on the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, more popularly known as the “Church Committee” after its leader, Sen. Frank Church.

Hart began with a disclaimer saying he didn’t read the assassination books, hadn’t reviewed his Church Committee files, and warned that everything he said should be prefaced with, “as I recall.”

According to Hart, there was little interest among Committee members in seriously investigating the intelligence community. There had been little oversight of the CIA since its creation 28 years earlier. Reviewing the CIA’s operations seemed both a gargantuan and ultimately unnecessary task. The Vietnam War was in its last days, and there was the sense that poking around in Agency business might undermine morale.

The Committee members also realized that if there was even one leak, their work would be over. That’s one of the reasons there was so little oversight in the years up to that point. Simply put, the CIA did not trust Congress to keep its secrets. So they implemented strict security.

One day, CIA Director William Colby asked for even more security than ever before. He wanted the room swept for bugs before they began. Colby also insisted only members, not their staff, attended.

At that session, Colby presented Committee members with the 600-page Inspector General report on Agency abuses, a document popularly known as the “family jewels.” Included in that document were tales of drug experiments on both witting and unwitting subjects, the wholesale opening of mail, bugging operations, and plots to overthrow governments including - “with almost demented insistence,” Hart said - the attempts to kill Fidel Castro.

The Committee members were shocked. And significantly, Hart said that only a few items from that report have ever made it to the public, begging the question of what other abuses occurred. How can we measure the success of Congressional oversight if we don’t know if any of those other abuses were successfully handled?

Hart recounted an episode where he had the chance to meet one of the CIA’s top contract assassins, known only as QJ/WIN. After a long series of instructions, Hart arrived at the location, only to find QJ/WIN did not want to talk to him. Hart wrote about that episode in fictional form in the novel Double Man (co-written with William Cohen).

When Hart ran for president, he said he was frequently asked what he would do about the Kennedy assassination. He promised if elected, he would reopen the investigation. But then he was caught with Donna Rice on a boat in Florida. “If you’ve seen the movie ‘Bullworth,’ you know that now we can assassinate people with cameras,” he said.