The secret CIA and State Department documents printed here have come a long way. They were discovered by the Iranian students who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979. Some were complete, others which had gone through a shredding machine were painstakingly pieced together.

These documents, made available to CounterSpy by journalists Randy Goodman, Terri Taylor and William Worthy, are only a fraction of a 13 volume paperback set (complete with commentary) readily available for sale in Iran. The three journalists picked up a set at an airport on their way to Shiraz. In late November 1981 they had completed their assignment for CBS and flew home. The FBI and Customs officials seized their luggage and confiscated the documents — with the active assistance of Lufthansa (West German) Airlines.

But a second set of the books — sent by another route — was overlooked by customs and reached the U.S. intact. (Some of the volumes were supplied to the Washington Post which analyzed them in a series running from January 31 to February 6, 1982.)

The 13 volumes of documents are a goldmine. They expose covert CIA operations in Iran (an attempt to recurit former Prime Minister Bani Sadr, for example), reveal the CIA’s use of corporate covers, and detail former Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan’s attempts to establish ties with U.S. intelligence.

The documents supplied to CounterSpy deal with the triangle of U.S.-Israeli-Iranian relations. A careful reading of the documents illustrates that the Washington Post‘s analysis was narrowly focussed on the “U.S. angle.” Other disclosures were simply glossed over — systematic Israeli suppression of domestic dissent, for example, or Mossad (Israel’s CIA) and Israeli military intelligence support for repressive regimes in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and even Mossad’s “psycholgical warfare projects.”

The main document reprinted here is an in-depth CIA analysis of Israeli intelligence, written in March 1979 and classified secret. Other documents [not included in this online version] are cables between the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, most of them discussing U.S.-Israeli-Iranian relations (documenting the close collaboration between Mossad and the Shah’s intelligence agency SAVAK).