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COINTELPRO & Clandestine Struggle

Today’s “terrorists” are yesterday’s “communists”; the loss of American Civil Liberties.

by Brandi L. Bates

You will never effectively counter that which you do not fully understand. ~ FBI Training

When you hear the word “terrorist,” what images pop up in your mind? Perhaps some of the same diabolical images that popped into the minds of Americans in the 60s and 70s who heard the word “communist”. The FBI raided eight homes and offices of so-called antiwar activists in Chicago and Minneapolis on September 25, 2010. The FBI’s search warrants indicate agents were looking for connections between local antiwar activists and groups in Colombia and the Middle East. The FBI puts the same “terrorist” label on opponents of US intervention in El Salvador, but refuse to investigate the possibility of a political conspiracy behind nation-wide bombings of abortion clinics. Also, throughout the country, people attempting to see Nicaragua for themselves, find their trips disrupted, their private papers confiscated, and their homes and offices plagued by FBI agents who demand detailed personal and political information.

These kinds of government tactics violate our fundamental constitutional rights. They make it enormously difficult to sustain grass-roots organizing. They create an atmosphere of fear and distrust which undermines any effort to challenge official policy. Similar measures were used in the 1960s as part of a secret FBI program known as “COINTELPRO.” COINTELPRO (counterintelligence program) was later exposed and officially ended. But the evidence shows that it actually persisted and that clandestine operations to discredit and disrupt opposition movements have become an institutional feature of national and local government in the US.

“Watergate was a tea party compared to COINTELPRO.” -Noam Chomsky

COINTELPRO was discovered in March, 1971, when secret files were removed from an FBI office and released to news media. Freedom of Information requests, lawsuits, and former agents’ public confessions deepened the exposure until a major scandal loomed. To control the damage and re-establish government legitimacy in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, Congress and the courts compelled the FBI to reveal part of what it had done and to promise it would not do it again.

According to information released from the Freedom of Information, FBI records show that 85% of COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed “subversive,” including communist and socialist organizations; organizations and individuals associated with the civil rights movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Congress of Racial Equality and other civil rights organizations; black nationalist groups; the American Indian Movement; a broad range of organizations labeled “New Left”, including Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen; almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, as well as individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation; the National Lawyers Guild; organizations and individuals associated with the women’s rights movement; nationalist groups such as those “seeking independence for Puerto Rico;” and additional notable Americans, such as Dr. Albert Einstein. The remaining 15% of COINTELPRO resources were expended to marginalize and subvert “white hate groups,” including the Ku Klux Klan and National States’ Rights Party.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives governing COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of these movements and their leaders. According to attorney Brian Glick in his book War at Home, the FBI used four main methods during COINTELPRO:

1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.

2. Psychological Warfare From the Outside: The FBI and police used a myriad of other “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.

3. Harassment Through the Legal System: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.

4. Extralegal Force and Violence: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break-ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. The object was to frighten, or eliminate, dissidents and disrupt their movements.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, activists planning anti-nuclear civil disobedience learn that their meetings have been infiltrated by the US Navy.
On the heels of a series of FBI raids on anti-war activists, an FBI whistle blower and constitutional rights groups are calling out the agency for overstepping its bounds, fearing that its increased powers could infringe on First Amendment rights and silence dissent.

I would even go as far as saying that the FBI, through the COINTELPRO vehicle was behind the assassinations of MLK and Malcolm X as messages and examples of anyone who gets too much power and prominence in any anti-war, so-called dissident movement against the grain or against the power structure.

Big Brother is alive and busy, day and night. We are surely watching our civil liberties evaporate under the scorching rays of “terrorism.”

This is Ms Bates 2nd piece for the bullet. She is an accomplished author, and columnist for BrooWaha. An amazing writer and social/sensual philosophical Tweeter/Mindpimp, if you want to know more about her check out her website.

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