The term applied to a list of highly compromising projects originally drawn up on instructions from Director of Central Intelligence James Schlesinger a few days before he was replaced by William Colby in May 1973 in an effort to identify past abuses of the Central Intelligence Agency’s charter. The final catalog amounted to 693 closely typed pages and was disclosed to the congressional Armed Forces Committee in open session during Colby’s confirmation hearings. Some of the items listed were connected with the recent Watergate scandal, but others were ancient history, dating back to the Office of Security’s decisions to tap the telephone of journalist Jack Anderson to trace his sources, to intercept incoming and outgoing Soviet mail, and to run training courses for certain domestic and foreign police forces. Also mentioned were plots to assassinate Patrice Lumumba, Fidel Castro, and Rafael Trujillo and evidence that Richard Helms may have misled Congress when he had denied any Agency involvement in overthrowing the Chilean government.
The result of Colby’s disclosures was a climate of distrust of the CIA and the introduction of congressional oversight intended to prevent the CIA from acting independently and without the approval of the relevant Senate and House committees.