6. "America's Secret Police Network"

J. Edgar Hoover knew that power lies between the manila covers of a personal dossier, and he used that knowledge to build and maintain his empire for almost half a century.

The FBI, the CIA, and virtually every other agency given the authority to spy to defend us from foreign or domestic enemies, have sooner or later gone off the reservation and used their power to threaten our liberties.

In contrast to the CIA and FBI, the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) is a little known organization; in fact, almost no one has ever heard of it. But its power is considerable and its potential threat to our freedom is enormous.

The LEIU links the intelligence squads of almost every major police force in the United States and Canada. Although its members are sworn police officers who work for state and city governments, it is a private club, not answerable to voters, taxpayers, or elected officials. It cuts across the vertical lines of authority of local government, for its members hold certain allegiances to the LEIU that cannot be countermanded by a mayor, county manager, or even a state governor.

It's not easy to join the LEIU. When applying for membership, a police force must be sponsored by another agency already in the LEIU and must be endorsed by three others. All members are notified of the application, and the LEIU carries out a thorough investigation o£ the applicant agency and the officers who ask for it and will take part in LEIU activities.

Custody of the LEIU's files is the most sacred trust that the organization bestows upon its individual members. The LEIU not only withholds its files from the FBI and other federal authorities but also flatly refuses to show them to anyone who is not an LEIU member.

The LEIU is a private club and therefore not subject to freedom-of-information laws. Thus, the LEIU's files are even more secret than those of the CIA or FBI.

Ex-members of the LEIU admit to illegal wiretapping, breaking and entering, and spying on people to gather information for their files.

The failure of the mass media to publicize this powerful American secret police network qualifies this story for nomination as one of the "best censored" stories of 1978.

SOURCES:

San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 1978, p.2, "Leaks to the Mob: U. S. Police Network's Big Problem."

Penthouse, 1976, p, 77, "America's Secret Police Network," by George O'Toole.