Nixon Focuses on Domestic Intelligence Gathering

President Nixon meets with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, CIA Director Richard Helms, and the heads of the NSA and DIA to discuss consolidating domestic counter-intelligence, known as Operation CHAOS into a single new domestic intelligence system. His presentation is prepared by young White House aide Tom Charles Huston (derisively called “Secret Agent X-5” behind his back by some White House officials). The plan is based on the assumption that, as Nixon says, “hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans—mostly under 30—are determined to destroy our society.” Nixon complains that the various US intelligence agencies spend as much time battling with one another over turf and influence as they do working to locate threats to national security both inside and outside of the country. The agencies need to prove the assumed connections between the antiwar demonstrators and Communists. The group in Nixon’s office will now be called the “Interagency Committee on Intelligence,” Nixon orders, with Hoover chairing the new ad hoc group, and demands an immediate “threat assessment” about domestic enemies to his administration. Huston will be the White House liaison. Historian Richard Reeves will later write: “The elevation of Huston, a fourth-level White House aide, into the company of Hoover and Helms was a calculated insult. Nixon was convinced that both the FBI and the CIA had failed to find the links he was sure bound domestic troubles and foreign communism. But bringing them to the White House was also part of a larger Nixon plan. He was determined to exert presidential control over the parts of the government he cared most about—the agencies dealing with foreign policy, military matters, intelligence, law, criminal justice, and general order.”
The CIA’s point person in the White House for Operation CHAOS was Richard Ober. Ober served under James Angleton as his chief counter-intelligence deputy. Ober was a senior figure in the special operations branch, that “carried out wiretaps, break-ins, and burglaries as authorized by their superiors”. The liaison between the special operations unit and Richard Helms, director of the CIA, was Ober who was given an office in the White House and worked closely with Nixon, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Nixon was unaware that Ober was placed in the White House to spy on his administration.
In February, 1973, Richard Nixon sacked Richard Helms as director of the CIA. His deputy, Thomas H. Karamessines, resigned in protest. Nixon now appointed James Schlesinger as the new director of the CIA. On 9th May, 1973, James Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees: “I have ordered all senior operating officials of this Agency to report to me immediately on any activities now going on, or might have gone on in the past, which might be considered to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency. I hereby direct every person presently employed by CIA to report to me on any such activities of which he has knowledge. I invite all ex-employees to do the same. Anyone who has such information should call my secretary and say that he wishes to talk to me about “activities outside the CIA’s charter”. Therefore, Ober was transferred to the National Security Council. One source claims that Ober wasn’t fired because, he was “too embarrassing, too hot.” [Reeves, 2001, pp. 229-230]