One night in 1971, files were stolen from an F.B.I. office near Philadelphia. They proved that the bureau was spying on thousands of Americans. The case was unsolved, until now. (article + video interview) The perfect crime is far easier to pull off when nobody is watching. So on a night nearly 43 years ago, while Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier bludgeoned each other over 15 rounds in a televised title bout viewed by millions around the world, burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside. They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups. The case was unsolved, until now.
Gideon Oliver spoke to me of the devastating effect this kind of surveillance has had on activists. “People fear that detectives are following them around. They panic. It’s a movement-dismantling tactic.” Most Occupy protesters are new to activism and are emotionally unprepared to deal with this kind of intimidation. Nor, so far as I have seen, are they inclined to seek the advice of older activists who were under surveillance in the 1960s and 1970s, before the protections of the original Handschu Decree, which prohibited political spying, were put in place. Those activists nevertheless found ways to continue their political work.From an article on the NYPD's Intel Division. [more inside]
Bill Moyers' scathing 1987 special report on our secret government.(SLYT)(via)(trigger warning: pictures and video of dead bodies) It includes an in-depth look at the Iran-Contra Affair and much, much more. Note: sound cuts out for a couple of minutes during the intro because of copyrighted song. Sound returns around 3:20.
The FBI has a long history of targeting peace and social justice activists. Now activists across the country are sounding the alarm. It's happening again.
December 4th, 2009 marked the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. [more inside]
As radicals of the 60s tried to find their place in the aftermath of Vietnam, former members of the Weather Underground, and former Black Panthers who were still dedicated to militant action were, in part due to COINTELPRO, increasingly marginal. Some joined the Black Liberation Army or other radical cells. In New York, a few activists who had recently spearheaded the use of accupuncture to treat drug addiction set out to fund an independent nation of New Afrika (although the money may have been feeding the leaderships' growing drug addictions). The Brinks truck robbery ended terribly. 3 men were killed. A number of the actors are still in prison (including Tupac's step-father). Some are gone. The child of two of the players was left without his parents to raise him. In retrospect, their tactics were questionable at best. But those who are concerned with making real change in the world can at least try to learn from the past.
Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States ... is based on classified legal opinions...
"The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny." What's the article about? The NSA, and you, if you've ever called internationally or sent email overseas: ...the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, ... (very long, NYT--and the NSA's mission is to spy only on communications abroad)
The CIA's Freedom Fighter's Manual is chock full of helpful hints like how to be lazy and how to screw things up at work! For more government comic hijinks, check out the FBI's Black Panther Coloring Book. Find out more information here via Social Design Notes.
The new COINTELPRO? In an age of massive databases, shared law enforcement intranets, and wire-taps that can collect terabytes of data, privacy may well become an antiquated notion as legislators and law enforcement work to fight the current menace.