The Surveillance/Torture State
Posted 28 January 2017 - 03:07 PM
I am against torture ,it starts with enemies of a country then become a law enforcement tool.
I already live as if I am under surveillance.
Posted 28 January 2017 - 03:23 PM
The National Security Act of 1947 represented a major reorganization of America’s military establishment, unifying the Army, Navy and a newly created Air Force under a new agency, the Department of Defense. A National Security Council would serve in the White House as advisers to the president and a Central Intelligence Agency constituted our first peacetime intelligence gathering body.
The Act was given its great impetus by the perceived threat of Soviet communism. Not since the Red Scare period immediately following World War I had Americans been so unnerved by the thought of a communist conspiracy infiltrating and undermining American democracy. The Soviet Union was in an aggressive, expansive mode promoting communist insurgencies in the Third World; in China, Mao and his followers were on the verge of toppling Chiang Kai-shek’s corrupt but western-friendly regime. One may argue that there was legitimate cause for concern about these developments and a need to counter Soviet aggression. But rather than facing this challenge with a levelheaded wariness, the American populace succumbed to full-blown paranoia — an anxiety more akin to political hysteria than a reasoned response to a national threat.
Harvard historian Murray Levin argued that this mood of fear and near-panic that possessed the popular imagination throughout the early Cold War years was not so much a spontaneous reaction as the result of an orchestrated campaign on the part of the power elite. In Levin’s words, "The proponent of political hysteria must maintain high levels of anxiety and justify extreme means to eliminate the threat. The threat, therefore, must be portrayed as enormously powerful and totally evil. This apocalyptic version of the conspiratorial theory of history is a functional necessity."
The purpose of all the fear mongering was to justify the expansion and reach of the National Security apparatus. While the hysteria lessened in intensity over the years, anti-Communist rhetoric remained a persuasive theme for Republican politicians, in particular. And the National Security State thrived, through administrations Republican and Democrat. Ronald Reagan was still talking about eight-foot-tall Russians and the imminent threat to our way of life, justifying ever-greater sums for a bloated Defense Department, while the Soviet Union fell into decay and collapsed of its own dead weight. By 1989 the great existential threat to America had passed. The western democracies had first defeated fascism, and had now vanquished the communist threat. It seemed the country was about to be released from more than half a century of underlying dread, of fear of internal subversion and nuclear annihilation.
But this lessening of tension did not last long, if we ever experienced it at all. With the attacks of 9/11 and George’s Bush’s declaration of a War on Terror, Americans were again beset by fear and paranoia and confronted with a new epochal war with no end in sight. The National Security apparatus that seemed to have lost much of its purpose with the fall of the Soviet Union got a new lease on life. If Americans were scared by the events of 9/11, it suited the Bush Administration to maximize that fear. As Levin put it, “The hysteria....escalates because it is necessary to continuously frighten the American people. Their support is based in large part on anxiety—anticipation of future conspiratorial danger."
The surveillance state has expanded massively over the last decade, its capacity for monitoring and storing information made vastly more invasive and powerful by new technology. Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, an author and guest on Bill Moyers and Company, points out the irony of this latest assault on our privacy and our rights. “The surveillance state,” he told Moyers, “doesn’t really do much in terms of giving us lots of security. But what it does do, is it destroys the notion of privacy... The way things are supposed to work is we’re supposed to know everything that the government does with rare exception, that’s why it’s called the public sector. And they’re supposed to know almost nothing about us... This has been completely reversed, so that we know almost nothing about what the government does. It operates behind this impenetrable wall of secrecy, while they know everything about what we’re doing, with whom we’re speaking and communicating, what we’re reading.”
In the government’s desire to maintain secrecy, the Obama administration has invoked the Espionage Act of 1917 to silence whistleblowers and prevent leaks to the press. Five people were prosecuted in 2010, all for leaks to the press, and more recently cablegate whistleblower Private Bradley Manning. The Espionage Act of 1917, based on the Defense Secrets Act of 1911 — which was in turn based on the British Official Secrets Act — prohibited any interference with military operations or recruitment and, in a particularly vague provision, any perceived support of America’s enemies during wartime. The Espionage Act has been amended repeatedly and challenged in the courts but, with the open-ended War on Terror, remains a useful tool to silence dissent.
As ominous as these developments are, the techniques for keeping tabs on American citizens and suppressing dissent have a long and unsavory history that predates the National Security Act of 1947 by some fifty years. The actions of the administration of Woodrow Wilson in 1917 represent the most obvious and egregious antecedent. In order to stir up support for a very unpopular war, Wilson created the Creel Commission of Public Information, a propaganda machine that turned indifferent Americans into anti-German zealots practically overnight. The Creel Commission’s legal counterpart, the Espionage Act — and the even more draconian Sedition Act — granted the government sweeping powers to suppress and prosecute anyone voicing even the smallest criticism of the war effort. The Justice Department sponsored the American Protective League; by June 1917, units in 600 American towns and cities counted nearly 100,000 members.
The Creel Committee urged all Americans “to report the man who cries for peace, or belittles our efforts to win the war.” The ears of the American Protective League were everywhere—in schools, churches, at the workplace, in public meetings and private clubs, on the street. “It is the duty of every good citizen to communicate to proper authorities any evidence of sedition that come to notice.” An enthusiastic public did its part, reporting three million people, even children, for comments or activities deemed disloyal. 300,000 young men were classed as draft evaders, 175,000 of them “arrested and disciplined, often by jail sentence, invariably by a whipped-up scorn that could ruin business careers and family lives.” In 1918, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer wrote, “...never in its history has the country been so thoroughly policed.”
This was strong stuff but, in fact, the origins of the modern surveillance state can be traced back even further. In a provocative essay, “Policing America’s Empire: The United States, The Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State” (Madison, U. of Wisconsin Press, 2009), historian Alfred W. McCoy makes the case that the methods of the American national security state were conceived as a response to an all but forgotten war in the Philippines. In 1898, with the American victory over Spain in the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States for $20 million. The Filipinos were determined to gain their independence and war broke out in Manila on Feb. 4, 1899. Brave as the Filipinos were, they were no match for America’s new machine guns, long-range artillery and very aggressive young men with repeating rifles. Only after 9 months and many costly defeats did the Filipino leadership convert to guerrilla tactics. The guerrilla phase of the war was far more damaging to the Americans and created alarm both in Washington and among the military leadership in the islands.
In order to prevail, the Americans resorted to increasingly harsh tactics, the concentration of civilians into camps where they died by the thousands of disease and malnutrition, the slaughter of livestock, destruction of crops, burning of villages, and summary execution marked by an untold number of atrocities. Military historians consider these operations masterpieces of counterinsurgency warfare; others liken them to the criminal bludgeoning of a weaker people into submission. In July 1902, President Roosevelt announced the war ended. The dates 1899 to 1902 are invariably attached to any history of the conflict, but serious historians of the subject know that the date Roosevelt appended was an arbitrary one, one created for home consumption. Two competing narratives, a rosy one for public consumption, the real one for the administration’s private information, continued for years. The cheerful reports arrived regularly in Washington while the Filipinos kept fighting and resisting. A British woman living in the islands, Mrs. Campbell Dauncey, wrote in 1905: “The Americans give out... that the Philippine Islands are completely pacified, and that the Filipinos love Americans and their rule. This ... is complete and utter humbug, for the country is honeycombed with insurrections and plots; the fighting has never ceased, and the natives loathe the Americans and their theories.“
This was the first time America had ever fought a war to suppress another peoples’ aspirations for independence. The problem they faced was not just winning the war militarily but in persuading the people they had defeated to accept American colonial rule. The period from the supposed end of hostilities in 1902 until the end of the decade marked a third phase of the war. The young officers who served in the Philippines represent the shift from the old frontier army of the Nineteenth Century to a modern Twentieth Century military. These men developed the techniques employed to gain full control over the Filipinos and in doing so they far outdid their colonial predecessors in developing police surveillance tactics. In the words of Alfred W. McCoy: “Despite certain strengths, none of these could match the synthesis of legal repression, incessant patrolling, and suffocating surveillance found in the colonial Philippines.”
The army created five integrated security agencies, a centralized telephone network, fingerprinting, photographic identification, and an index of police files of 200,000 alphabetized file cards with the means to collect, retrieve and analyze a vast amount of intelligence. They employed spies in ceaseless surveillance and used their powers to censor public discourse, infiltrate civil society, penetrate households, and monitor private mail. They applied military intelligence and data management to problems of political espionage and developed covert techniques of surveillance and penetration in a decade-long effort to coerce the Filipinos into submission. McCoy sums up their achievement:
"In the first decade of civil rule the colonial government covered the archipelago with a coercive apparatus that was invisible in its covert penetrations, omnivorous in its appetite for information, and enveloping in its omniscience. Regular regiments stood ready near the capital to quell any disturbance, constabulary companies crisscrossed remote hinterlands, and municipal police guarded town plazas and city streets. Armed resistance was met with mass slaughter as artillery and repeating rifles covered the ground with corpses. Nationalist agitation was contained through a suffocating surveillance, labor agitation was crushed by arbitrary arrests and agent provocateur operations. Within a decade this total information regime had pacified the Philippines."
He concludes: “The sum of this colonial experience thus played a seminal role in building Washington’s domestic counterintelligence apparatus and, more broadly, its earliest covert capacity.”
The Filipinos had the misfortune of taking on a modern western power with no guidebooks or models to aid them in their struggle. Not only were they savagely reduced to submission but were then subjected to a decade of indoctrination, the first victims of the incipient American surveillance state. Now, a century later, Americans are the subjects of their own creation in its ever more sophisticated manifestations. The trend does not bode well for those who value their privacy and their independence.
- Sidestreet, Myc and Coopdog like this
Posted 28 January 2017 - 04:21 PM
Sorry in advance for the formatting...
COINTELPRO: "ABHORRENT IN A FREE SOCIETY"
"Many of the techniques used [by the FBI in its COINTELPRO
operations] would be intolerable in a democratic society
even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity,
but COINTELPRO went far beyond that. The unexpressed
major premise of the programs was that a law enforcement
agency has the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat
perceived threats to the existing social and political order."
-Final Report of the Senate Select Committee
on Intelligence Activities
Properly used, the term "counterintelligence" refers to efforts
to combat the "intelligence" or spying activities of foreign powers.
Officially, "the FBI's counterintelligence functions have always
been administratively lodged in its Counterintelligence
Division (CID) and [were] legally restricted to 'hostile foreign
governments, foreign organizations and individuals connected
with them.' " Nonetheless, since first receiving President Truman's
1936 mandate to investigate subversive activities, Hoover
had initiated domestic counterintelligence programs within the
Bureau. Some were officially named "COINTELPROs"
(COunter INTELligence PROgrams) and others were not, but
the term has come to refer to a broad range of FBI programs,
generally illegal, intended to repress political dissent. Although
these programs had almost nothing to do with countering
foreign intelligence, the use of the term illustrates the agency's
proclivity to invoke the fear of external threats to the national
security while quashing domestic movements which were primarily
engaged in lawful-indeed, constitutionally protected activities.
Even if one looks only at FBI actions between 1956 and 1971,
the period of officially acknowledged COINTELPRO operations,
the scope of the operations and their sheer volume is overwhelming.
This section will present a brief summary of how the
program was exposed, the kinds of tactics used and the movements
that were the primary targets, giving a few illustrative examples.
While constituting a particularly intense period of
governmental repression of political dissent, the COINTELPRO
era represents not an aberration but the logical outgrowth of the
previous use of law enforcement agencies to suppress movements
for social change, a process that is still at work in the laws and
policies being enacted in the name of countering terrorism.
A. COINTELPRO Exposed
In 1976, the Senate Select Committee to Study Government
Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (known as the
"Church Committee" because it was chaired by Senator Frank
Church), characterized the FBI's COINTELPRO operations as
"a secret war against those citizens it considers threats to the established
order."' To quote the Committee's Final Report,
"[i]n these programs the Bureau went beyond the collection of
intelligence to secret actions designed to 'disrupt' and 'neutralize'
target groups and individuals. The techniques were adopted
wholesale from wartime counterintelligence, and ranged from
the trivial ... to the degrading ... and the dangerous."'
The Committee noted that from 1956, when the FBI officially labeled
its anti-communist efforts as a "COINTELPRO," to 1971, when
the program was officially terminated, the FBI approved more
than 2000 COINTELPRO actions as part of "a sophisticated vigilante
operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First
Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that
preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation
of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter
Despite a very constricted review which was abruptly terminated
in mid-stream, the Church Committee hearings and its
four-volume Final Report provide more than enough evidence to
show that the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National
Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, Army Intelligence,
and numerous other federal agencies engaged in
thousands of illegal and unconstitutional operations spanning
several decades with the explicit intention of destroying social
and political movements they considered a threat to the status
There is much that we do not know about COINTELPRO and
similar operations. Nonetheless, what we do know is more than
sufficient to cause alarm. The following sections focus on what is
known about FBI COINTELPROs, but it is important to remember
that the Bureau was but one of perhaps dozens of federal
agencies engaging in such practices.
B. The Tactics Employed
The illegal practices employed by the FBI in its COINTELPRO
operations are far too numerous to list specifically, but they
fall into several basic categories: surveillance and infiltration,
dissemination of false information, creation of group conflict,
abuse of the criminal justice system, and collaboration in assaults
1. Surveillance and Infiltration
One category of operations involves the acquisition of information
through illegal means, including mail interception, wiretaps,
bugs, live "tails," break-ins and burglaries, and the use of
informants.140 The FBI has acknowledged that between 1960
and 1974 it illegally utilized over 2300 wiretaps, 697 bugs, and
57,000 mail openings. 41 It is worth noting that this kind of "intelligence
gathering" is the activity most commonly associated
with COINTELPRO-and is also the most hotly debated aspect
of the 2001 Act's expansion of executive power 142-but is, in fact,
the least egregious of the practices i nvolved. Perhaps more sig-
nificant than the resulting violations of privacy is the fact that
these tactics were not utilized simply for the purpose of acquiring
information, but were explicitly intended to induce "paranoia" in
movements for social change. As Hoover stated, he wanted his
targets to believe that there was "'an FBI agent behind every
mailbox."' 143 In other words, the executive branch of the federal
government was engaging in such activities precisely because of
the chilling effect they would have on speech and associational
activities protected by the First Amendment.
2. Dissemination of False Information
A second level of tactics employed in COINTELPRO operations
encompasses the dissemination of information known to be
false. One version, sometimes called "gray propaganda," was the
systematic release of disinformation (i.e., false and misleading information)
designed to discredit organizations in the eyes of the
public and to foster tensions between groups. The Church
Committee's Final Report notes that the Bureau used "confidential
sources," i.e., unpaid informants and "friendly" media
sources "who could be relied upon not to reveal the Bureau's
interests" to leak derogatory information about individuals and
to publish unfavorable articles and fabricated "documentaries"
about targeted groups. Among such groups were the Nation
of Islam, the Poor People's Campaign, the Institute for Policy
Studies, the Southern Students Organizing Committee, and the
anti-war National Mobilization Committee.
Another form of disinformation, known as "black propaganda,"
involved the fabrication of leaflets and other publications
purporting to come from targeted individuals and
organizations. Thus, for example, the FBI had an infiltrator in
the Sacramento chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP) produce
a coloring book for children which promoted racism and
violence. Although the Panther leadership immediately ordered
it destroyed, the Bureau mailed copies to companies which had
been contributing food to the Panthers' Breakfast for Children
program to get them to withdraw their support. Such
fabrications did much to promote the image of the BPP as violent
"cop-killers," an impression still widely held by the American
In another example, FBI artists, imitating the drawing styles
used by the BPP and a Black cultural nationalist organization
known as the United Slaves (US), created a series of leaflets in
which each organization appeared to be advocating the elimination
of the other's leadership.'49 The FBI's intent can be seen in
this excerpt from a 1969 report on its San Diego operations:
In view of the recent killing of BPP member Sylvester Bell, a
new cartoon is being considered in the hopes that it will assist
in the continuance of the rift between BPP and US. This cartoon,
or series of cartoons, will be similar in nature to those
formerly approved by the Bureau and will be forwarded to the
Bureau for evaluation and approval immediately upon their
3. Creation of Intra- and Inter-Group Conflict
This brings us to the third level of COINTELPRO operations,
the FBI's destruction of targeted organizations both by creating
internal dissension and by setting up groups to attack each other.
As reported by the Church Committee:
"Approximately 28% of the Bureau's COINTELPRO efforts
were designed to weaken groups by setting members against
each other, or to separate groups which might otherwise be
allies, and convert them into mutual enemies. The techniques
used included anonymous mailings (reprints, Bureau-authored
articles and letters) to group members criticizing a leader or
an allied group; using informants to raise controversial issues;
forming a "notional"-a Bureau-run splinter group-to draw
away membership from the target organization; encouraging
hostility up to and including gang warfare, between rival
groups; and the 'snitch jacket.'"
Thanks in part to such efforts, the Bureau managed to escalate
US-BPP tensions to the point that two US members, widely believed
to be informants, shot and killed BPP members Jon Huggins
and Bunchy Carter at a meeting on the campus of the
University of California at Los Angeles in January 1969.152
Fabricated correspondence was also a favored tactic, as illustrated
by Hoover's authorization of an anonymous letter directed
to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.-accompanied by a tape compiled
from bugs of his Washington, D.C. hotel room-suggesting that
he commit suicide to avoid the disgrace of the exposure of alleged
sexual misconduct. 153 Nearly one hundred instances of
fabricated correspondence between BPP leaders Huey Newton
and Eldridge Cleaver were instrumental in creating intra-party
violence and ensuring the 1971 split within the Party.154
Because of its success in actually infiltrating organizations, the
FBI was able to further disrupt their functioning by creating suspicions
about legitimate leaders. In a practice known as "badjacketing"
or "snitch-jacketing," the Bureau spread rumors and
manufactured evidence that key members were informers or
were otherwise undermining the organization by subverting its
activities or stealing its funds. This tactic succeeded not only in
discrediting many activists, but also resulted in the murders of
some who were falsely accused of betraying others within the
4. Abuse of the Criminal Justice System
A fourth level of COINTELPRO operations involved the deliberate
misuse of the criminal justice system. Working with local
police departments, the FBI had activists repeatedly arrested, not
because it anticipated convictions, "but to simply harass, increase
paranoia, tie up activists in a series of pre-arraignment incarcera-
tions and preliminary courtroom procedures, and deplete their
resources through the postings of numerous bail bonds (as well
as the retention of attorneys)."' 56 Using this tactic, the Revolutionary
Action Movement in Philadelphia was effectively destroyed
despite the fact that no criminal convictions were ever
obtained against members of this group. Similarly, the government
made 562 arrests in the wake of the 1973 occupation of
Wounded Knee by members of the American Indian Movement
(AIM). Even though these massive arrests only resulted in a total
of fifteen convictions, they succeeded in depleting AIM's resources
and keeping its leaders tied up in court for years.'
Virtually all of the Bureau's surveillance and infiltration revealed
that the targeted groups were engaging in entirely lawful
activity. 159 Rather than turning its focus elsewhere, one of its responses
was to place within groups agents provocateur who advocated
violence or illegal activities which, if carried out, would
then be used as an excuse to crush the organizations. 160 Another
response was to make it appear that the groups were engaging in
illegal conduct by obtaining convictions in questionable cases by
using fabricated evidence or perjured testimony and by explicitly
framing people for crimes they had not committed.
Prominent cases in which the FBI used perjured testimony and
falsified evidence to convict activists include that of New York
Black Panther Dhoruba bin Wahad (Richard Moore), whose
murder conviction was overturned in 1993 after he had spent
twenty years wrongfully incarcerated,'61 and AIM activist Leonard
Peltier, who is still incarcerated after twenty-seven years,
deaths of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation was obtained
with the use of perjured testimony and falsified ballistics
evidence'6 2 and despite worldwide recognition of his status as a
The best known case may be that of Los Angeles BPP leader
Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt), who was the subject of constant surveillance
and numerous failed attempts to convict him of various
crimes. Finally, in 1972, the government succeeded in convicting
him of the 1968 "tennis court" murder of a woman in Santa
Monica on the basis of the perjured testimony of an FBI informant,
and despite the fact that the FBI, thanks to its surveillance,
knew that Pratt had been 350 miles away at a BPP meeting in
Oakland at the time of the murder.'
In these cases, which were by no means aberrational but rather
an explicit part of the government's strategy to eliminate the
leadership of movements it did not sanction, the Department of
Justice-the nation's highest law enforcement agency-was turning
the criminal justice system on its head. It was not enforcing
the law but was deliberately engaging in illegal practices, misusing
criminal laws and the courts to imprison activists, not because
they had engaged in criminal conduct but because of their political
beliefs, actions and associations.
5. Collaboration in Assaults and Assassinations
A fifth level of COINTELPRO operations involves the government's
participation in direct physical assaults and assassina-
tions. This is, of course, the hardest area to document, but as
Churchill and Vander Wall note, while the Bureau has "almost
always used surrogates to perform such functions, [it] can repeatedly
be demonstrated as having provided the basic intelligence,
logistics or other ingredients requisite to 'successful' operations
in this regard.
The most infamous of these is probably the 1969 murder of
Chicago Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. At the
time, twenty-one year old Hampton was widely recognized as
one of the most charismatic leaders emerging in the black community
and, despite his characterization by the government as a
"black nationalist," it was his success in cross-racial coalition
building that the FBI found most threatening.
The prominent role played by FBI informant William O'Neal,
who was by then in charge of security for the Chicago BPP chapter,
and the FBI's collaboration with local police which
culminated in a pre-dawn assault on Hampton's apartment is well
documented.167 Despite evidence that hundreds of shots were
fired into the apartment, killing Hampton and Clark and wounding
several others, including Hampton's pregnant fiancee, with
only one shot fired in response, all government officials were
cleared of criminal charges.' 68 Nearly fifteen years later there
was a civil finding of a government conspiracy to deny the victims'
civil rights and a $1.85 million settlement, 169 but the FBI
had long since accomplished its purpose of destroying the Black
Panther Party in Illinois.
In the meantime, as part of its concerted program to destroy
the American Indian Movement, the FBI provided direct support
to the self-proclaimed "Guardians of the Oglala Nation" or
"GOONS" on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota who
have been implicated in the "unsolved" deaths of at least seventy
individuals associated with AIM between 1972 and 1976.171 Particularly
chilling is the fate of the family of John Trudell, AIM's
last national chairman:
"In February 1979, Trudell led a march in Washington, D.C. to
draw attention to the difficulties the Indians were having. Although
he had received a warning against speaking out, he delivered
an address from the steps of the FBI building on the
subject of the agency's harassment of Indians ... Less than 12
hours later, Trudell's wife, Tina, his three children [ages five,
three and one], and his wife's mother were burned alive in the
family home in Duck Valley, Nevada-the apparent work of
As noted above, what is at stake in allowing the government unrestrained
powers is not merely an abstract notion of First
Amendment freedoms but, in many cases, the very survival of
those who protest.
C. The Groups Targeted
Literally hundreds of organizations, most of them related only
by a desire to effect social or political change through constitutionally
protected means, were the targets of various COINTELPROs.
The Church Committee identified five overarching
categories of targets: the Communist Party USA, the Socialist
Workers Party, "White Hate Groups," "Black Nationalist Hate
Groups," and the "New Left." As the Final Report noted, these
were "labels without meaning"' 73 as the categories included an
extremely wide range of often unrelated organizations. Thus, all
of the predominantly black organizations targeted, including
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference
(SCLC) and numerous Black Student Unions, were "Black
Nationalist Hate Groups," while the Communist Party USA
heading covered the National Committee to Abolish the House
Un-American Activities Committee and numerous civil rights
leaders.' 74 The "New Left," which the Bureau could only define
as "more or less an attitude," encompassed targets from the Students
for a Democratic Society (SDS) to anyone involved in protesting
the war in Vietnam.175 This section provides a few
examples of how these organizations were targeted.
1. Communist and Socialist Organizations
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, COINTELPRO-type operations
were directed almost exclusively at the Socialist Workers
Party (SWP), the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), and groups
believed to be affiliated with them. 76 As previously noted,
groups identified as "communist" have been targeted by the government
since the 1870s, and the FBI, or its predecessors, had
been trying to crush the CPUSA since its emergence in 1919.
The FBI's first formal COINTELPRO, initiated in 1956, was directed
at the CPUSA, a lawfully constituted organization which
had not been shown to have engaged in any criminal activity.
The Bureau specifically instructed agents and infiltrators to generate
"acrimonious debates," "increase factionalism," and generate
"disillusionment and defection."'177 Apparently it was quite
successful. Goldstein says: "Although the precise results of FBI
efforts cannot be determined, between 1957 and 1959, what was
left of the CP was virtually destroyed by factional infighting.' 1' 78
Nonetheless, "[e]ven as the CP collapsed into a tiny sect of a
few thousand members, FBI COINTELPRO activities increased
and expanded"'179 to the point where by the mid-1960s the FBI
was attempting to engineer the assassination of "key communist
leaders" by creating a conflict between the CP and organized
crime.18° The FBI undertook 1,388 separate actions against the
CPUSA between 1956 and 1971.
In 1973, following public disclosure of COINTELPRO, the Socialist
Workers Party and its youth organization, the Young So-
cialist Alliance (YSA), sued the government for illegally
subjecting them to infiltration, disruption, and harassment in violation
of their constitutional rights. After fifteen years of litigation,
the SWP and YSA were awarded $264,000 in damages.' 18 2
The suit documented FBI surveillance that began in 1936 and included
fifty-seven operations conducted by the FBI. These included
poison-pen letters, malicious articles planted in the press,
instances of harassment and victimization, covert attempts to get
SWP members fired from their jobs, and efforts to disrupt collaboration
between the SWP and civil rights and anti-Vietnam war
Judge Griesa's opinion for the Southern District of New York
notes that between 1943 and 1963 the FBI illegally engaged in
20,000 days of wiretaps, 12,000 days of listening "bugs," and 208
burglaries of office and homes, and that between 1960 and 1976 it
employed about 300 member informants (constituting, at any
given time, from two to eleven percent of the membership) and
1000 non-member informants.' 83 Griesa concludes:
Presumably the principal purpose of an FBI informant in a
domestic security investigation would be to gather information
about planned or actual espionage, violence, terrorism or
other illegal activities designed to subvert the governmental
structure of the United States. In the case of the SWP, however,
there is no evidence that any FBI informant ever reported
an instance of planned or actual espionage, violence,
terrorism or efforts to subvert the governmental structure of
the United States. Over the course of approximately 30 years,
there is no indication that any informant ever observed any
violation of federal law or gave information leading to a single
arrest for any federal law violation. What the informant activity
yielded by way of information was thousands of reports recording
peaceful, lawful activity by the SWP and YSA.
2. The Civil Rights Movement
By the early 1960s, J. Edgar Hoover began expanding
COINTELPRO operations to the civil rights movement, adding
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Atlanta field office's pick-up
list of persons who would be interned under the Detention Act in
the event of a national emergency.185 Despite the fact that the
Atlanta office had submitted a thirty-seven-page report confirming
that neither King nor the SCLC were under any kind of communist
influence, Hoover rationalized the operation with the
assertion that King associated with "known Communists."'1 86
Shortly after King's "I Have a Dream" speech, William Sullivan,
who was responsible for COINTELPRO nationally, stated
in an internal FBI memorandum, "We must mark [King] ... as
the most dangerous Negro in the future of this Nation from the
standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.
... "87 Acknowledging the FBI's intent to use illegal methods,
he continued, "it may be unrealistic to limit [our actions against
King] to legalistic proofs that would stand up in court or before
Congressional Committees."188 When the Bureau failed to convince
King to commit suicide, -it stepped up the campaign to discredit
King and the SCLC, an effort that continued even after
King's death.189 Numerous other civil rights organizations such
as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Mississippi Democratic
Freedom Party, and various church and student organizations
were similarly targeted.
3. The Ku Klux Klan and "White Hate" Groups
Prior to the murders of three young northern "freedom riders"
in Mississippi in the summer of 1963, the FBI's investigation of
''racial matters" focused not on the Ku Klux Klan or other white
supremacist organizations, but on subverting civil rights groups
and their relationships with predominantly white "new left" organizations.
The Bureau routinely fed information to police departments
enforcing the apartheid regime in the South, with full
knowledge that the police often transmitted the information directly
to the Klan and related organizations. 191 While the FBI
had informants in the Klan, it did not use the intelligence it gathered
to prevent violence against civil rights workers.
According to Kenneth O'Reilly, the FBI had been aware of
plans to attack two buses of freedom riders arriving in Alabama
in the spring of 1961 for weeks, but simply looked on, doing
nothing to intervene, when the first bus was destroyed and riders
on the second were attacked with bats, chains, and lead pipes.1 92
Indeed, the FBI had given the Birmingham police "details regarding
the Freedom Riders' schedule, knowing full well that at
least one law enforcement officer relayed everything to the
An internal report indicates that the Bureau was aware that
during the Freedom Summer of 1963 at least thirty-five SNCC
workers were murdered and about 1000 arrested while engaging
in constitutionally protected activities, primarily a joint SNCCCORE
voter registration drive intended to support the Mississippi
Freedom Democratic Party.194 Moreover, informants had
told the FBI that a Mississippi Klan leader had told his followers,
who included a significant number of law enforcement officers,
to "catch [activists] outside the law, then under Mississippi law
you can kill them.'
Nonetheless, the Bureau did not act on reports that civil rights
activists James Cheney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner-
two of whom the FBI was monitoring as "subversives"-
were missing until the Justice Department came under
intense pressure as a result of widespread publicity about the disappearances.
96 Responding to the public outcry, President Lyndon
Johnson himself began pressuring the Bureau to solve the
case, and the FBI eventually sent 258 agents to Mississippi.197
Even then, they found the bodies only after giving a Klan partici-
pant $30,000 and immunity from prosecution.' 98 Twelve of the
participants in the murders went free and the remaining only
served short sentences for conspiracy to violate civil rights, not
for murder. 199 What is particularly interesting is the FBI's strategy
afterwards. Their "sit by and watch" approach having been
nationally exposed, they seem to have developed a strategy to
control the Klan, but not necessarily to render it ineffective.
4. The "New Left" and the Antiwar Movement
Between 1968 and 1971 "New Left" COINTELPROs targeted
a wide range of primarily white activist organizations, from Students
for a Democratic Society to the Institute for Policy Studies,
the Peace and Freedom Party, and "a broad range of anti-war,
anti-racist, student, GI, veteran, feminist, lesbian, gay, environmental,
Marxist, and anarchist groups, as well as the network of
food co-ops, health clinics, child care centers, schools, bookstores,
newspapers, community centers, street theaters, rock
groups, and communes that formed the infrastructure of the
Given the government's long history of suppressing anti-war
activists, it is not surprising that opponents of the war in Vietnam
were a primary target. A series of COINTELPRO operations
were conducted with the aim of causing splits within antiwar
organizations and among coalitions of such organizations.2 °3
College campuses, and even high schools, were a primary focus
of FBI operations, with informants placed in classrooms and student
organizations.2 °4 Their tactics included false media reports,
fabricated correspondence, the widespread -use of informants and
infiltrators, and "snitch-jacketing." Government agents also actively
subverted the logistics, such as the housing, transportation,
and meeting places of anti-war activities.
5. "Black Nationalist" Organizations and the Black Panther
The FBI has, of course, a long history of suppressing the efforts
of African Americans to obtain racial justice, from its destruction
of Marcus Garvey's UNIA to the undermining of civil
rights groups discussed above.2 °6 Not surprisingly, the most intense
of its official COINTELPRO operations were directed at
"Black Nationalist" groups, a classification which appeared to include
any predominantly African American organization. According
to a 1967 memorandum from J. Edgar Hoover, "The
purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose,
disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities
of black nationalists, hate-type organizations and groupings, their
leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to
counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder. 20 7
One of the program's explicitly stated goals was to "prevent
the rise of a 'messiah"' who could unify the movement for Black
liberation. According to Hoover, "Malcolm X might have been
such a 'messiah;' . . . Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael
and Elijah Muhammed all aspire to this position. ' 208 Another
primary goal was to "[p]revent militant black nationalist groups
and leaders from gaining respectability. ."o Hoover instructed
You must discredit these groups and individuals to, first, the
responsible Negro community. Second, they must be discred-
ited to the white community, both the responsible community
and to "liberals" who have vestiges of sympathy for militant
black nationalist [sic] simply because they are Negroes. Third,
these groups must be discredited in the eyes of Negro radicals,
the followers of the movement.
All predominantly Black activist organizations were targeted,
from King's adamantly nonviolent SCLC to the Nation of Islam.
However, by 1968 the Bureau had decided that the Black Panther
Party (BPP) was most likely to serve as an effective catalyst
for black liberation movements and declared the BPP to be "the
greatest [single] threat to the internal security of the country. 2 1 '
Field offices were instructed to submit proposals for "imaginative
and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling
the BPP. '212 The Bureau has acknowledged conducting 295 official
COINTELPROs against Black activist organizations. Of
these, 233 operations, most of which took place in 1969, directly
targeted the Black Panther Party. a3 However, as Kenneth
O'Reilly says, "It is impossible to say how many COINTELPRO
actions the FBI implemented against the Panthers and other
targets simply by counting the incidents listed in the COINTELPRO-
Black Hate Group file. The Bureau recorded COINTELPRO-
type actions in thousands of other files. '2 14 We do know
"[T]he assault left at least twenty-eight Panthers dead, scores of
others imprisoned after dubious convictions, and hundreds
more suffering permanent physical or psychological damage.
The Party was simultaneously infiltrated at every level by
agents provocateurs, all of them harnessed to the task of disrupting
its internal functioning. Completing the package was a
torrent of disinformation planted in the media to discredit the
Panthers before the public, both personally and organizationally,
thus isolating them from potential support."
Ward Churchill concludes that "[a]lthough an entity bearing its
name remained in Oakland, California, for another decade ...
the Black Panther Party in the sense that it was originally con-
ceived was effectively destroyed by the end of 1971. ''216 Among
the other things destroyed by COINTELPRO were the BPP
newspaper, schools, breakfast for children programs, sickle cell
anemia and other health care programs, and programs for free
clothing, shoes, housing, transportation to prisons and hospitals,
and child care.2 17 This further illustrates that it was not criminal
activity but challenges to the status quo that were perceived as
threats by the government.
"Whose Liberty? Whose Security?The USA PATRIOT Act in the Context of COINTELPRO and the Unlawful Repression of Political Dissent"
Natsu Taylor Saito
81 Or. L. Rev. 1051 2002
There's much more if anyone wants the pdf...it's a great article
Edited by Sidestreet, 28 January 2017 - 04:39 PM.
Posted 28 January 2017 - 04:47 PM
"Whose Liberty? Whose Security?The USA PATRIOT Act in the Context of COINTELPRO and the Unlawful Repression of Political Dissent"
And, lest we forget...or never even knew:
Joe Biden Drafted the Core of the Patriot Act in 1995 … Before the Oklahoma City BombingThe Core of the Patriot Act Was Drafted in 1995 … By Joe Biden
Everyone knows that the Patriot Act was drafted before 9/11. But few know that it was Joe Biden who drafted the core provisions which were included in that bill … in 1995.
CNET reported in 2008:
Months before the Oklahoma City bombing took place, Biden introduced another bill called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. It previewed the 2001 Patriot Act by allowing secret evidence to be used in prosecutions, expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and wiretap laws, creating a new federal crime of “terrorism” that could be invoked based on political beliefs, permitting the U.S. military to be used in civilian law enforcement, and allowing permanent detention of non-U.S. citizens without judicial review.* The Center for National Security Studies said the bill would erode “constitutional and statutory due process protections” and would “authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations."
Biden himself draws parallels between his 1995 bill and its 2001 cousin. “I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill,” he said when the Patriot Act was being debated, according to the New Republic, which described him as “the Democratic Party’s de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism.”
Biden’s proposal probably helped to lay the groundwork for the Bush administration’s Patriot Act.
The Center for National Securities reported in 1995:
On February 10, 1995, a counterterrorism bill drafted by the Clinton
Administration was introduced in the Senate as S. 390 and in the House of
Representatives as H.R. 896.
The Clinton bill is a mixture of: provisions eroding constitutional and
statutory due process protections, selective federalization — on political
grounds — of state crimes (minus state due process rules), discredited
ideas from the Reagan and Bush Administrations, and the extension of some of
the worst elements of crime bills of the recent past.
The legislation would:
1. authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to
investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations;
2. repeal the ancient provision barring the U.S. military from civilian
3. expand a pre-trial detention scheme that puts the burden of proof on
4. loosen the carefully-crafted rules governing federal wiretaps, in
violation of the Fourth Amendment;
5. establish special courts that would use secret evidence to order the
deportation of persons convicted of no crimes, in violation of basic
principles of due process;
6. permit permanent detention by the Attorney General of aliens convicted
of no crimes, with no judicial review;
7. give the President unreviewable power to criminalize fund-raising for
lawful activities associated with unpopular causes;
8. renege on the Administration’s approval in the last Congress of a
provision to insure that the FBI would not investigate based on First
Amendment activities; and
9. resurrect the discredited ideological visa denial provisions of the
McCarran Walter Act to bar foreign speakers.
Maybe that's why Joe received the Presidential Medal of Freedom?
Edited by August West, 28 January 2017 - 04:47 PM.
Posted 28 January 2017 - 07:20 PM
Sidestreet , thanks COINTELPRO needs to be brought in to the light as it was dirty and a cleaning needs to take place.
- Sidestreet likes this
Posted 28 January 2017 - 08:08 PM
Sidestreet , thanks COINTELPRO needs to be brought in to the light as it was dirty and a cleaning needs to take place.
I don't think I copied it above but the article goes on to say that "COINTELPRO" officially ended but the tactics are still used today.
Edited by Sidestreet, 28 January 2017 - 08:19 PM.
- Heirloom likes this