The Snowden of the '70s

This issue.More than a
decade before Edward Snowden was born, a whistleblower calling
himself Winslow Peck gave the New Left magazine Ramparts
an insider’s
 of the National Security Agency, an institution
that at that time was shrouded in even more secrecy than today.
Peck, whose given name was Perry Fellwock, went on to help launch
Counterspy, a magazine devoted to exposing the activities
of America’s intelligence agencies. And then he left activism
behind. Today he is an antiques dealer on Long Island.

Adrian Chen of Gawker tracked Fellwock down, and after
a rather distrustful start (“I believe that you’re honest, but who
knows about the people in your office? Who knows about your boss,
what kind of deals he’s doing?”) the man once known as Winslow Peck

granted Chen an interview
. Their conversation covers everything
from Fellwock’s disappointment with the way that original
Ramparts article came out to his guilt over the treatment
of a Counterspy colleague who got accused of being a
police plant. Here’s an excerpt from Chen’s story:

Celebrate the bicentennial with CounterSpy!It turns out that constant brooding over
the machinations of the surveillance state is not conducive to a
sound state of mind. Counter-Spy staff worked in a haze of
mistrust. “You’d be sitting with people and you knew that somebody
was wondering about somebody else at that table,” said [magazine
staffer] Harvey Kahn, “were they being controlled by somebody else?
Or unconsciously being manipulated?”

It was not a fantasy: The COINTELPRO papers had revealed security
agencies kept close tabs on radical publications. In the late ’60s,
the CIA dedicated a 12-man team to undermining Ramparts,
according to Angus Mackenzie’s book Secrets: The CIA’s War at

“It was intense,” said Fellwock. “Clearly it really upset the
security agencies, what we were doing. They were all over us. I
just generally accepted that the next person in the next booth
would be some security person following me.”

“It seems like that is still kind of implanted in your thinking,” I

“Yeah, that’s why I got paranoid when you called me, you really
evoked a lot of old memories and feelings that I haven’t had in 30
years.” He sighed. “But if I could live with it back then, I guess
I could live with it now.”

I could pick a few nits with Chen’s account—he
has Counterspy dissolving in 1976, for example,
but it actually continued publishing into the ’80s—but overall it’s
a strong piece. You should
read it

Bonus 1970s anti-intelligence-agency activism links:
It Would Take To Stop the Spying
” and “Agee’s

from Hit & Run

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