The Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) was one of the top ten “censored” stories of 1978; at the time we described it as follows:
“In contrast to the CIA and FBI, the 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 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.
“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.”
Ten years later, we find that the LEIU is alive and well and more powerful than ever. It also is still virtually unknown.
In June, 1988, The Los Angeles Times reported that the LEIU was considering suspension or even termination of the Los Angeles Police Department’s membership because two of its police detectives from an organized crime unit allegedly leaked confidential information from LEIU files.
Richard Bacon, LEIU chairman and head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said “Anytime you have a problem in intelligence, it’s a concern to the rest of our membership.”
A police intelligence supervisor on the East Coast who asked not to be identified added that “We have to assess how deep it goes. … It could have jeopardized entire investigations.”
A variety of police agencies have been barred from the powerful, super-secretive organization in past years for suspected security breaches including the Las Vegas Police Department and the Houston Police Department.
Our earlier story on LEIU pointed out that ex-members of LEIU admitted to illegal wiretapping, breaking and entering, and spying on people to gather information for their files. The recent story reported that wire-tapping was the element which tipped off officials to the alleged leaks by the two LAPD officers.
Knowing that the FBI, CIA, and virtually every other agency with the authority to spy, has “gone off the reservation” at one time or another and used their power to threaten our liberties, it is alarming to know there is a national, private intelligence agency which is not answerable to any public authority. The secretive LEIU, with its membership of 265 state and local police intelligence agencies, deserves, at the very least, the scrutiny of our national press.
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, 6/24/1988, “Intelligence Units Across U.S. Probe Alleged LAPD Leak,” by William K. Knoedelseder Jr., Kim Murphy, and Ronald L. Soble, pp 1, 4, Metro Section.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 11/25/78, “Leaks to the Mob: U.S. Police Network’s Big Problem;” PENTHOUSE, December 1976, “America’s Secret Police Network,” by George O’Toole, pp 77+.