Michael Withey

On behalf of the Estates of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, a new effort to gain information from the Naval Investigative Service (NIS) was launched this month in the form of a renewed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The request seeks documents from the US Navy which describe how the Navy was able to obtain a Presidential Executive Order allowing it to infiltrate and operate against the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP) in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.

WCCPS-PND-Fresno-X3The KDP was one of the leading anti-Marcos organizations in the US which was lending support to the effort to overthrow the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Under existing law, the military in the US was prohibited from spying on domestic organizations like the KDP unless it obtained the prior written approval of the President of the U.S. in the form of an Executive Order.

domingo-viernes-murderIn the early 1980s the KDP and the Committee for Justice for Domingo and Viernes brought FOIA requests and lawsuits seeing documentation that the Navy had spied on the KDP and the work of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes. Hundreds of pages of documents were obtained but most were heavily redacted. The documents prove that the Director of the NIS at its headquarters in Alexandria Virginia had sent a report to Subic Bay Naval Base which authorized the penetration of the KDP and its supporters at Subic Bay by the recruitment of an informant who was to be “programmed” to re-contact the KDP in Oakland. It was dated in 1976 and stated:

… Katipunan Pg Mga Democratikong Filipin (KDP) is headquartered in Oakland, CA, and is a revolutionary organization seeking to embrace all Philippine activists who are opposed to U.S. Imperialism and committed to the People’s struggle for revolutionary change… Although the KDP has goals involving the political regime of a foreign nation, its membership and structure subject any operational endeavor involving its penetration by the NIS to the guidelines set forth by Executive Order 11905 and the Defense Investigative Review Council (DIRC)

The report, labeled “Top Secret” stated that any counter-intelligence information obtained from these informants regarding the KDP will be provided to the Philippine authorities or the legal attaché, as appropriate. The asset will be operated strictly as a “deep cover” source and his identity protected even at the expense of a particular operational endeavor emanating from his information.”

These documents also indicate that “Continuing coordination has been maintained with FBI San Francisco during the course of this investigation.” They further state: “This investigation was predicated upon the request of the Commanding Officer, Naval Investigative Service Office, San Francisco, CA of 7-20-76.” Statements of two confidential informants who were directed by the NIS to infiltrate and monitor the activities of the KDP and its leadership and membership were included but heavily redacted. In addition, the documents establish that various reports, documents, telexes and files were provided to the “Legat Manila” referring to the Legal Attache of the US embassy in Manila, Republic of the Philippines.

The NIS reports already obtained raise serious questions about the legality of the Navy’s conduct, especially since the information from its informants was sent directly to “Philippine authorities.” Sharing derogatory information on American citizens with any foreign governments, especially right wing dictators like Marcos and General Pinochet in Chile cost the lives of innocent people. See Blog Post US Intelligence Agents Complicit in 1973 murders of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi.

The publication of The Domingo and Viernes Story will provide greater detail into how the NIS operating out of Alameda Naval Air Station not only infiltrated the KDP in Oakland California but sent Marcos military intelligence the false report that Gene Viernes had carried a large sum of money with him to aid the anti-Marcos opposition in the Philippines.
The recent FOIA request seeks any and all documents which were used by the NIS to obtain the Executive Order to infiltrate the KDP from 1976 through the mid-1980s and what was done with the information obtained in its illegal penetration of a domestic organization. Documents provided to the ‘Philippine authorities” and the FBI are specifically requested. The full text of the FOIA request and a similar request made to the FBI can be found at this website under “Resources.”

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