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Before Wikileaks, There Was Ellen Ray

Karen Ranucci & Michael Ratner Jun 16, 2015

Ellen Ray of New York City died on June 11 from complications of cancer. Born in Grand Island, Nebraska, in 1939, she was a documentary filmmaker and journalist. Her films include Standup Grenada, which documented Maurice Bishop’s first anniversary as Prime Minister and the U.S. government’s efforts to destabilize his government. Ellen also worked for the legal defense of anti-Vietnam War soldiers based in Okinawa. And she was co-publisher of the magazine Covert Action Information Bulletin, which exposed CIA covert actions to destabilize democracies and subvert revolution around the globe. Aiming to put a stop to agents’ undemocratic and counterrevolutionary work, the magazine publicly named hundreds of CIA agents. This was the impetus for the U.S. government to make the “outing” of covert agents illegal under the Intelligence Identities Protection act.

Ellen Ray was the President of Sheridan Square Press, publisher of On the Trail of the Assassins. This memoir by former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison exposed the conspiracy behind the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. The book later became the basis of Oliver Stone's Academy Award-winning film, JFK.

Together with her husband of 44 years, New York attorney William Schaap, Ellen published Lies Of Our Times, a magazine that detailed the inaccuracies of articles published by the New York Times and other mainstream press. William Schaap and Ellen Ray worked closely with former CIA operative Phil Agee, publishing his revealing book, Dirty Work, which detailed CIA covert operations worldwide. With Michael Ratner, Ellen co-authored Guantánamo: What the World Should Know, the first book to expose torture in the Guantánamo prison.

Long before the advent of the personal computer, Ellen’s work was a precursor to Wikileaks’ revelations, decades later, about government spying. Dedicating her life to opposing U.S. government surveillance, violence and counterrevolution, Ellen was a dogged journalist who never tired of exposing government.

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