Welcome to ERI
The Education and Research Institute (ERI) is a tax-exempt, educational organization devoted to advancing greater awareness and understanding of America's traditional values. Founded in 1974, ERI has been researching and publishing studies on public policy issues for more than 30 years.
The range of studies undertaken by ERI researchers has been broad—from tax and budget matters, to health care topics, to foreign policy and defense-related issues. Also included in the mix have been in-depth studies of the role of religion in the American political system. A further emphasis throughout has been the historical question of internal security in America's long-running struggle with the Soviet Union. To aid in these studies ERI in 1988 founded its Center for Security Research as a collection point for Cold War historical data.
ERI Board Members
About this Website
ERI WEB REQUESTS
Education and Research
June 2011 marked the fourth anniversary of ERI’s security Web site, and capped a recent period of substantial growth in site utilization by researchers.
As regular visitors know, the ERI site is an exclusive source of data from the long secret security archives of the FBI, revealing the countless backstage battles that occurred in America’s domestic Cold War with Soviet agents and members of the Communist party. These records indicate that pro-Communist infiltration of the U.S. government was extensive, and that the FBI from the early 1940s was engaged in a non-stop effort to overcome this challenge.
All told, formerly confidential FBI files pertaining to such matters run to many hundreds of thousands of pages, now available in many cases under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). ERI has in recent years obtained over 100,000 pages of these records, and has been in the process of requesting and receiving others to summarize, index and post as funds permit.
As ERI is currently the only site where comprehensive information on these FBI activities is available, journalists and scholars have come to us in increasing numbers as knowledge of the site has spread.
From a standing start in 2007, requests for data from the site have numbered more than 200,000, and by current estimates should top a quarter of a million by year-end 2011.The trend has been conspicuously upward in the past six months, dating to December 2010, as follows:
As this table indicates, activity at the site was brisk in December 2010 and since then has maintained a steady pace of 7,000-8,000 or more requests per month, in February alone exceeding 9,000.This compares to a rate of about 5,000 monthly at peak utilization in 2009.
Foremost among the FBI files posted to the site is the so-called “Silvermaster” file, named for the top suspect in a super-secret investigation that began in November 1945.This file covers scores of security suspects monitored by the FBI, including such well-known figures as Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White and Lauchlin Currie, high- ranking US officials subject to intense investigation. Also posted to the site are related files concerning other conspicuous targets of Bureau investigation, such as famed nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer.
The recent surge in traffic has come primarily from Google, the leading search engine, a tool people use to search for information online. The second biggest source of traffic is Wikipedia, an online “encyclopedia,” and the resource most often used by students to learn about a topic. Our number three referrer is Conservapedia, a moderate conservative alternative to Wikipedia.
ERI researchers have edited articles on both Wikipedia and Conservapedia to include information about the formerly classified FBI records available on our Web site and “hyperlinked” to those documents.“Clicking through” such a link brings the reader directly to the primary source document on our Web site.
Why they are coming to us
ERI’s Web site is a unique resource providing public access to these FBI files. Even the FBI’s own Web site offers only a few of these records, and of the files found there, only a fraction is made available. For example, the FBI’s electronic FOIA reading room provided only ten percent of the Silvermaster file, and even this is no longer available. Even when such files are available, they are without summaries and often without indices, so that researchers must comb through massive files to find specific information they are after.
Our site is thus the only one that offers the FBI Silvermaster file and related reports from the Bureau archives, containing thousands of pages and tens of thousands of data items about such as Hiss, White, Oppenheimer, and scores of other Bureau suspects. It’s also the only site that will offer the complete FBI files on numerous other related cases when we can get these summarized and posted.
Among the topics covered in these files are such significant matters as the Institute of Public Relations investigation, the Amerasia case, the legal struggle between the Soviet agent Hiss and ex-Communist witness Whittaker Chambers, related data on Soviet infiltration of the State Department, Treasury Department, White House staff and other agencies of the U.S. government in the 1940s. In case after case, the records show, detailed reports about the suspects were filed with ranking federal officials at the time, but often with little result in terms of action.
What we need to do next
We need to post more files online. We have now finished posting the Institute of Pacific Relations file online, and will post summaries of the file volumes when this project is completed. We then need to proceed with scanning and posting online the files on Amerasia, Hiss-Chambers, Owen Lattimore, Maclean-Burgess, William Remington, Edward Condon, Haakon Chevalier, etc. (all now in our possession), and writing and posting summaries of same.
While the site will cover all aspects of our activities, including publications, seminars, and key personnel, the main feature will be the work of ERI’s Center for Security Research, which over the past two decades has assembled large quantities of materials on Cold War and contemporary security issues, including the current war on terror.
The most voluminous aspect of the site is ERI’s archive of formerly secret data compiled by the FBI on scores of important security cases while the Cold War was in progress. The Center for Security Research has well over 100,000 pages of such material in its possession, and is constantly adding to the total.
These data are of great significance as they tell the backstage story of what was actually happening in America’s domestic Cold War, a story strikingly different in many ways from accepted versions of the conflict. Most notably, they reveal the extent to which suspected Soviet agents, Communists and fellow travelers penetrated U.S. institutions, and the degree to which the FBI was cognizant of the problem and reported it to top officials. (See chart below.)
Included in these files are tens of thousands of pages of once-secret records on such important cases and Cold War figures as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Alger Hiss, Owen Lattimore, Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Currie, Kim Philby, John Stewart Service and the Amerasia case, the Institute of Pacific Relations, and scores of others.
While these records are revealing and often of sensational nature, their vast extent and cumbersome format make them difficult for researchers to obtain and work with. The object of the ERI/Security Center Website is to ensure that these historical data are accessible to journalists and scholars.
The creation and launching of the site have been made possible by the generous support of the W.H. Bowen Educational Charitable Trust, and by other backers of our program. Supervision and updating of the site are handled by Mark LaRochelle, ERI’s Manager of Information Services.
A Flood of Reports
Among other disclosures in the exhaustive records of the FBI, and held in the archive of the Security Center, are charts and "dissemination summaries," reflecting the vast number of reports the Bureau supplied to top US officials in the period 1945-48 on security suspects holding Federal office. There are two dozen such charts concerning major individual cases, plus a master chart, retained in the personal files of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, showing the distribution of more than 370 security reports to 14 Federal agencies and the White House, mostly in the period 1945-46. This master chart is reproduced below.
State Department Project
Collateral to its FBI researches, ERI has been actively pursuing historical information on security issues relating to the U.S. Department of State.
Of particular interest in this study is the manner in which identified Soviet agents such as Alger Hiss, Mary Jane Keeney, Robert Miller, Maurice Halperin and other lesser-known figures were able to penetrate the department and in some instances stay there for years despite security data provided by the FBI.
Crucial in this respect were events at the close of World War II, when thousands of unscreened staffers from the war-time Office of Strategic Services, Office of War Information, and other temporary units were merged into the State Department. As OSS, OWI and other war-time bureaus were heavily penetrated by Communists and Soviet agents, this merger created countless security problems at State.
Equally important for security and policy battles of the era was the near-simultaneous exit from the department of veteran Under Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew and like-minded officials at odds with so-called progressives of the day, both in and out of government. Grew had frequently crossed swords with the “progressives,” and in the summer of 1945 there were numerous calls demanding his ouster. His departure, together with the influx of new personnel from the war-time bureaus, drastically transformed the nature of the State Department at the threshold of the Cold War. Security and policy issues alike stemmed from these internal changes.
Accordingly, ERI has been gathering archival data on State Department personnel, OSS and OWI, the steps by which the post-war merger was effected, and the circumstances of Grew’s departure. As these data come on line, ERI will publish its research findings, which will also be available on our Website.
ERI vs. ACLU
ERI research and policy concerns also extend beyond historical aspects of the East-West conflict to the contemporary war on terror.
In particular, ERI and its Security Center have delved into the many overlaps between policy stances that produced grave security problems in the Cold War and those that led to the disaster of 9/11. Among these linkages are civil libertarian conceptions arguing that Communist Party membership on the one hand, and terrorist connections on the other, are protected freedoms immune from official monitoring or sanction.
In keeping with our concerns about these matters, ERI has filed an amicus brief in the case of ACLU v. NSA, which involves the power of the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless interception of communications between terrorist elements overseas and their contacts in the United States.
While the brief involves questions of standing by certain plaintiffs and other procedural issues, the substantive core of ERI’s position is that such monitoring is not only constitutional and lawful, but essential to the security of the nation. As indicated by the title of the case, the main legal force arguing to the contrary, as was true in many Cold War disputes, is the American Civil Liberties Union. Arguing the case for ERI is attorney Richard M. Corn of New York.
Seeking More Data
As noted elsewhere, large portions of many FBI records pertaining to the Cold War and the issue of Communist infiltration are heavily “redacted” (blacked out). This practice persists despite an executive order that prima facie seems to forbid it, and the further fact that the records in question are 50 years of age and counting.
Under Executive Order 13292, issued by President George W. Bush, historical records in the possession of Federal agencies were to have been automatically declassified on December 31, 2006, subject to certain provisos. Most relevant to our research concerns, the outer time limit for the release of such data is 25 years from the time of compilation. The main exceptions in the order concern material that might compromise the security interests of the nation.
Self-evidently, the data we seek are well beyond the time limits set forth in this executive order. It’s by the same token hard to imagine any security interest of the present day that could be affected by these records. Yet FBI materials obtained by our researchers since December 31, 2006, relating to events of the 1940s and early ’50s, continue to be heavily redacted. We accordingly are pressing forward with efforts to work with Congress to have these materials made public.
Education and Research Institute
220 2nd Street S.E., Suite 302 Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 546-1710