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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-17-08 09:59 AM
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135. COINTELPRO
The acronym for Counter-Intelligence Program. COINTELPRO was the FBI's secret domestic spying program aimed primarily at social activist groups, esp. civil rights and black power groups during the 1960's. The FBI set out to eliminate "radical" political opposition inside the US. When traditional modes of repression (exposure, blatant harassment, and prosecution for political crimes) failed to counter the growing insurgency, and even helped to fuel it, the Bureau took the law into its own hands and secretly used fraud and force to sabotage constitutionally-protected political activity. Its methods ranged far beyond surveillance, and amounted to a domestic version of the covert action for which the CIA has become infamous throughout the world.

Records show that the FBI disclosed six official counterintelligence programs:

Communist Party-USA (1956-71); "Groups Seeking Independence for Puerto Rico" (1960-71); Socialist Workers Party (1961-71); "White Hate Groups" (1964-71); "Black Nationalist Hate Groups" (1967-71); and "New Left" (1968- 71).

The latter operations hit anti-war, student, and feminist groups. The "Black Nationalist" caption actually encompassed Martin Luther King and most of the civil rights and Black Power movements. The "white hate" program functioned mainly as a cover for covert aid to the KKK and similar right-wing vigilantes, who were given funds and information, so long as they confined their attacks to COINTELPRO targets. FBI documents also reveal covert action against Native American, Chicano, Phillipine, Arab-American, and other activists, apparently without formal Counterintelligence programs.


COINTELPRO in Action

The FBI secretly instructed its field offices to propose schemes to "misdirect, discredit, disrupt and otherwise neutralize "specific individuals and groups. Close coordination with local police and prosecutors was encouraged. Final authority rested with top FBI officials in Washington, who demanded assurance that "there is no possibility of embarrassment to the Bureau." More than 2000 individual actions were officially approved. The documents reveal four main types of methods used to attack groups. They were: Infiltration; Deception; Harassment via the Legal System; and Intimidation and violence.

Once the group in question has been infiltrated, the Deception phase began. The group's integrity, communications, and events would be sabotged. This could take the form of bogus publications, forged correspondence, anonymous letters and telephone calls, false rumors and newsstories, misinformation, including sending false meeting cancellations, bogus lodging information in order to strand out-of-town conference attendees, and similar forms of deceit.

If the Deception phase did not sufficiently weaken or destroy a group, the Legal Harassment phase began. Events of the Harassment phase included:

Conspicuous surveillance: The FBI and police blatantly watch activists' homes, follow their cars, tap phones, open mail and attend political events. The object is not to collect information (which is done surreptitiously), but to harass and intimidate.

Attempted interviews: Agents have extracted damaging information from activists who don't know they have a legal right to refuse to talk, or who think they can outsmart the FBI. COINTELPRO directives recommend attempts at interviews throughout political movements to "enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles" and "get the point across that there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox."

Grand juries: Unlike the FBI, the Grand Jury has legal power to make you answer its questions. Those who refuse, and are required to accept immunity from use of their testimony against them, can be jailed for contempt of court. (Such "use immunity" enables prosecutors to get around the constitutional protection against self incrimination.)

The FBI and the US Dept. of Justice have manipulated this process to turn the grand jury into an instrument of political repression. Frustrated by jurors' consistent refusal to convict activists of overtly political crimes, they convened over 100 grand juries between l970 and 1973 and subpoenaed more than 1000 activists from the Black, Puerto Rican, student, women's and anti-war movements. Supposed pursuit of fugitives and "terrorists" was the usual pretext. Many targets were so terrified that they dropped out of political activity. Others were jailed without any criminal charge or trial, in what amounts to a U.S. version of the political internment procedures employed in South Africa and Northern Ireland.

False arrest and prosecution: COINTELPRO directives cite the Philadelphia FBI's success in having local militants "arrested on every possible charge until they could no longer make bail" and "spent most of the summer in jail." Though the bulk of the activists arrested in this manner were eventually released, some were convicted of serious charges on the basis of perjured testimony by FBI agents, or by co-workers who the Bureau had threatened or bribed.

The object was not only to remove experienced organizers from their communities and to divert scarce resources into legal defense, but even more to discredit entire movements by portraying their leaders as vicious criminals. Two victims of such frame ups, Native American activist Leonard Peltier and 1960s' Black Panther official Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, have finally gained court hearings on new trial motions.

Others currently struggling to re-open COINTELPRO convictions include Richard Marshall of the American Indian Movement and jailed Black Panthers Herman Bell, Anthony Bottom, Albert Washington (the "NY3"), and Richard "Dhoruba" Moore.

Next, the Intimidation phase began. The events of the Intimidation phase, which often involved violence, included:

Intimidation: One COINTELPRO communiqu urged that "The Negro youths and moderates must be made to understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teaching, they will be dead revolutionaries."

Others reported use of threats (anonymous and overt) to terrorize activists, driving some to abandon promising projects and others to leave the country. During raids on movement offices, the FBI and police routinely roughed up activists and threatened further violence. In August, 1970, they forced the entire staff of the Black Panther office in Philadelphia to march through the streets naked.

Direct interference: To further disrupt opposition movements, frighten activists, and get people upset with each other, the FBI tampered with organizational mail, so it came late or not at all. It also resorted to bomb threats and similar "dirty tricks".

Burglary: Former operatives have confessed to thousands of "black bag jobs" in which FBI agents broke into movement offices to steal, copy or destroy valuable papers, wreck equipment, or plant drugs.

Vandalism: FBI infiltrators have admitted countless other acts of vandalism, including the fire which destroyed the Watts Writers Workshop's multi-million dollar ghetto cultural center in 1973. Late 60's FBI and police raids laid waste to movement offices across the country, destroying precious printing presses, typewriters, layout equipment, research files, financial records, and mailing lists.

Instigation of violence: The FBI's infiltrators and anonymous notes and phone calls incited violent rivals to attack Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and other targets. Bureau records also reveal maneuvers to get the Mafia to move against such activists as black comedian Dick Gregory.

A COINTELPRO memo reported that "shootings, beatings and a high degree of unrest continue to prevail in the ghetto area of southeast San Diego...it is felt that a substantial amount of the unrest is directly attributable to this program."

Covert aid to right wing vigilantes: In the guise of a COINTELPRO against "white hate groups," the FBI subsidized, armed, directed and protected the Ku Klux Klan and other right wing groups, including a "Secret Army Organization" of California ex-Minutemen who beat up Chicano activists, tore apart the offices of the San Diego Street Journal and the Movement for a Democratic Military, and tried to kill a prominent anti-war organizer. Puerto Rican activists suffered similar terrorist assaults from anti-Castro Cuban groups organized and funded by the CIA.

Defectors from a band of Chicago based vigilantes known as the "Legion of Justice" disclosed that the funds and arms they used to destroy book stores, film studios and other centers of opposition had secretly been supplied by members of the Army's 113th Military Intelligence Group.

Assassination: The FBI and police were implicated directly in murders of Black and Native American leaders. In Chicago, police assassinated Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, using a floor plan supplied by an FBI informer who apparently also had drugged Hampton's food to make him unconscious during the raid.


COINTELPRO Exposed

COINTELPRO was brought to light in 1971 when a "Citizens Committee to Investigate the FBI" removed secret files from an FBI office in Media, PA and released them to the press. Agents began to resign from the Bureau and blow the whistle on covert operations. That same year, publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Pentagon's top-secret history of the Vietnam War, exposed years of systematic official lies about the war.

The public exposure of COINTELPRO and other government abuses resulted in a flurry of apparent reform in the 1970s, but domestic covert action did not end. It has persisted, and seems a permanent feature of our government. Much of today's domestic covert action can also be kept concealed because of government secrecy that has been restored. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a source of major disclosures of COINTELPRO and other such activities, was drastically narrowed in the 1980s through administrative and judicial reinterpretation, as well as legislative amendment. While restoring such secrecy, the Reagan Administration also reinvigorated covert action, embracing its use at home and abroad. They endorsed it, sponsored it, and even legalized it to a great extent.

Much of what was done outside the law under COINTELPRO was later legalized by Executive Order 12333 (12/4/81). There is every reason to believe that even what was not legalized is still going on as well. Lest we forget, Lt. Col. Oliver North funded and orchestrated from the White House basement break-ins and other "dirty tricks" to defeat congressional critics of U.S. policy in Central America and to neutralize grassroots protest. Special Prosecutor Walsh found evidence that North and Richard Secord (architect of the 1960s covert actions in Cambodia) used Iran-Contra funds to harass the Christic Institute, a church-funded public interest group specializing in exposing government misconduct.

North also helped other administration officials at the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) develop contingency plans for suspending the Constitution, establishing martial law, and holding political dissidents in concentration camps in the event of "national opposition against a U.S. military invasion abroad." There were reports of similar activities and preparations in response to the opposition to the Gulf War in 1991. Even today, there is pending litigation against the FBI involving alleged misconduct in connection with the near-fatal bombing of Judi Bari.


The Impact of COINTELPRO

COINTELPRO's impact is difficult to fully assess since we do not know the entire scope of what was done (especially against such pivotal targets as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, SNCC and SDS), and we have no generally accepted analysis of the Sixties. It is clear, however, that:

- COINTELPRO distorted the public's view of radical groups in a way that helped to isolate them and to legitimize open political repression.

- It reinforced and exacerbated the weaknesses of these groups, making it very difficult for the inexperienced activists of the Sixties to learn from their mistakes and build solid, durable organizations.

- Its violent assaults and covert manipulation eventually helped to push some of the most committed and experienced groups to withdraw from grass-roots organizing and to substitute armed actions which isolated them and deprived the movement of much of its leadership.

- COINTELPRO often convinced its victims to blame themselves and each other for the problems it created, leaving a legacy of cynicism and despair that persists today.

- By operating covertly, the FBI and police were able to severely weaken domestic political opposition without shaking the conviction of most US people that they live in a democracy, with free speech and the rule of law.



http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/COINT...
http://www.thetalkingdrum.com/cointelpro.html
http://www.monitor.net/monitor/9905a/jbcointelpro.html
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