THE unsealing by the C.I.A last week of the documents it called its “family jewels” was an only-in-America moment. A secret intelligence service freely admitted its crimes and blunders. Americans were reminded of a piece of living history: the time in the 1960s and 1970s when presidents turned the spying powers of American intelligence on the United States itself, searching for an enemy within. As the “family jewels” make clear, this web of intrigue began in the Kennedy White House.
Another treasure trove, however, was already in public view — tapes that President John F. Kennedy himself recorded in the Oval Office. Here are edited transcripts — and a link to the tapes themselves — of two August 1962 conversations in which Kennedy took steps to spy on the national security reporter for The New York Times, Hanson Baldwin. The president was furious. He wanted to stop secrets from leaking.