[For those who refuse to do their homework on the despicable legacy of COINTELPRO in America, Carolyn Baker has done it for you in this report. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the harassment of Mike Ruppert and FTW over the years – including but not limited to the recent burglary of our offices – were all textbook COINTELPRO operations.
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has introduced legislation calling for an investigation into current COINTELPRO activities being carried out by the U.S. Government. May God bless and protect Cynthia McKinney and all the important work that she continues to do. However, I am positive her legislation will be shot down in short order, especially considering the fact that she recently “lost” her Congressional seat under extremely suspicious circumstances involving Diebold electronic voting machines.
Nevertheless, it will be extremely noteworthy for the historical record to see Congress prevent a much-needed investigation at the same moment it gives the executive branch the right to lock up anyone who opposes the President indefinitely and torture them. The American Republic is long dead, and fascism is no longer creeping in this country – it is solidified and documented as the law of the land. – MK]
THE WAR ON YOU:
U.S. GOVERNMENT TARGETING OF AMERCIAN DISSIDENTS - Part I
By Carolyn Baker, Ph.D.
© Copyright 2006, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. This story may NOT be posted on any Internet web site without express written permission. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. May be circulated, distributed or transmitted for non-profit purposes only.
October 3rd 2006, 2:47PM [PST] - In the wake of National Security Agency’s (NSA) admissions that the Bush administration has been wiretapping phone conversations of American citizens and last week’s Congressional approval of the torturing and disappearing of enemies of the state, I have watched progressives, wide-eyed with amazement (in spite of the earlier passage and renewal of the USA Patriot Act), inundate the internet with proclamations that the United States has “now” become a fascist state. When I wrote, “Hello, You Are Now Living In A Fascist Empire” in 2004 and “Why I Will Not Vote In 2004”, my inbox was deluged with diatribes by progressives against my “extremism” and the ease with which I was “giving up hope” on America. When Mike Ruppert wrote two of his most brilliant and astute articles ever, “The ‘F’ Word,” and what became Chapter 23 of CROSSING THE RUBICON, “Eating The Chosen People,” FTW was chastised for being paranoid and pre-supposing that the American republic had already collapsed. Only a few years later, we now hear the same progressive voices drawing the same conclusions that we drew immediately after 9/11. Most continue to maintain some modicum of faith in the disgracefully corrupt election process in the U.S., and few will confront the irrefutable legal and military evidence which confirms that the U.S. government orchestrated the September 11 attacks. But FTW readers and others with an incisive map and a working knowledge of American history were not aghast when the U.S. Congress ruled that torture and disappearance are perfectly congruent (I say this with tongue in cheek) with the principles elucidated in the United States Constitution. Those individuals understand that targeting American citizens who hold dissident views is almost as old as our nation itself and certainly as American as apple pie.
A LONG HISTORY OF TARGETING AMERICAN DISSIDENTS
In 1798, only 11 years after the U.S. Constitution was signed by its Framers, when tensions between the U.S. and Great Britain were accelerating in a lead-up to the War of 1812, the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed by Congress in the John Adams administration. At that time Irishmen and Frenchmen in America were seen as potentially dangerous revolutionaries because of the recent French Revolution and the Irish rebellions. Thomas Jefferson, a lifelong rival but also a friend of John Adams, vehemently opposed the acts as tyrannical, which indeed they were. In fact, one cannot read them without wondering if one is reading Congressional legislation in 1798 or in 2006:
- The Naturalization Act, which extended the residency period from 5 to 14 years for those aliens seeking citizenship; this law was aimed at Irish and French immigrants who were often active in American politics.
- The Alien Act, which allowed the expulsion of aliens deemed dangerous during peacetime
- The Alien Enemies Act, which allowed the expulsion or imprisonment of aliens deemed dangerous during wartime. This was never enforced, but it did prompt numerous Frenchmen to return home.
- The Sedition Act, which provided for fines or imprisonment for individuals who criticized the government, Congress, or president in speech or print.1
Historian, Howard Zinn, notes that even though the legislation “seemed to directly violate the First Amendment, …it was enforced. Ten Americans were put in prison for utterances against the government, and every member of the Supreme Court in 1798-1800, sitting as an appellate judge, held it constitutional.”2
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus when after the outbreak of the war, Lincoln claimed emergency powers and authorized the military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone suspected of aiding the South. Chief Justice Roger Taney in Ex Parte Merryman was outraged and wrote a lengthy opinion to the contrary. The debate has engaged constitutional scholars ever since.
In 1866 in Ex-Parte Milligan, Lambden P. Milligan was sentenced to death by a military commission in Indiana during the Civil War for engaging in acts of disloyalty. Milligan sought release through habeas corpus from a federal court. In the final opinion, Justice Davis, speaking for the Court, held that trials of civilians by presidentially-created military commissions are unconstitutional. Martial law cannot exist where the civil courts are operating. One passage from the decision is particularly poignant and extremely relevant in a post-9/11 world:
The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine involving more pernicious consequences was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false, for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it which are necessary to preserve its existence, as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority.3
During the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America, as labor unions organized and gathered power, as socialism grew in popularity among working and other oppressed peoples, industries owned by Rockefeller, Morgan, Harriman, Carnegie, and others, began hiring their own police forces and goon squads to infiltrate labor unions and spy on the political and personal activities of union organizers for the purpose of bringing arrests and convictions and eliminating all socialist activity in the nation. The most notorious example was the Homestead Strike of 1892, when Pinkerton agents killed several people while enforcing the strikebreaking measures of Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie.
Before and during World War I the United States government became extremely suspicious of pacifists such as Scott Nearing and Jane Addams who opposed the war on moral grounds and who spoke out stridently against imperialism. In 1908 Theodore Roosevelt was frequently borrowing from his Secret Service and using a few agents for special investigations into corruption in various locations throughout the country. In 1918 during the Wilson administration, however, these agents began conducting “slacker raids” on the homes of men opposed to World War I and who refused to serve in the U.S. military.
The end of World War I and the year 1919 saw the beginning of an era known as the Red Scare in which the United States government became hysterically xenophobic regarding pro-socialist foreigners living in the country. Attorney General, Mitchell Palmer, hired a young investigator, J. Edgar Hoover to lead a witchunt against radicalism in America, and Hoover came up with over 450,000 names of suspected radicals and wrote the first government study of communism called “The Report On Radicalism.” Radicals and labor leaders had been striking, marching, and writing vociferously against government and corporate oppression, and in some cases, detonating bombs.
On November 7, 1919, the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, over 10,000 suspected communists and anarchists were arrested. Palmer and Hoover found no evidence of a proposed revolution, but a large number of these suspects were held without trial for a long time. The vast majority were eventually released, but Emma Goldman and 247 other people, were deported to Russia
On January 2, 1920, another 6,000 were arrested nationwide and held without trial. These raids took place in several cities and became known as the Palmer Raids.
A. Mitchell Palmer and John Edgar Hoover found no evidence of a proposed revolution, but large numbers of these suspects, many of them members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), continued to be held without trial. When Palmer announced that the communist revolution was likely to take place on May 1st, mass panic took place. In New York, five elected Socialists were expelled from the legislature.
An excellent book detailing the Red Scare is William Preston, Jr.’s Aliens And Dissenters: Federal Suppression Of Radicals, 1903-1933
Much more familiar in the minds of most contemporary Americans is the McCarthy Era of the post-World War II 1950s. Rather than the use of raids or goon squads, the FBI and other federal agents utilized blacklisting and paid informants to intimidate and criminalize innocent professionals in government, educational institutions, and the entertainment industry. While most traditional historians teach that the McCarthy Era ended in the mid-fifties, one need only listen to a George W. Bush or Dick Cheney rant on terrorism to hear echoes of the exact ideology of the deranged Senator from Wisconsin. All that is required is to replace the word “communist” with the word “terrorist.”
In 1956 a special program was designed by the FBI—the Counter Intelligence Program or COINTELPRO, which lasted “officially”, until 1971. In the words of Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, authors of THE COINTELPRO PAPERS, “it involved a unique experiment. Though covert operations have been employed throughout FBI history, the COINTELPRO’s were the first to be both broadly targeted and centrally directed.” [Churchill and Vander Wall’s book is strongly recommended and contains a treasure-trove of copies of original FBI documents.] While overall operations were centrally directed from Washington, day-to-day operations involved local field offices and required a great deal of communication back and forth from Washington to those offices. COINTELPRO generated an enormous paper trail which was largely kept hidden until the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) brought the paper trail to light, at which time, the FBI discontinued all of its formal domestic counter-intelligence programs, but did not cease its covert activities against U.S. dissidents. In fact, when J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972, the FBI “re-packaged” itself as a “new FBI”, but its COINTELPRO operations continued covertly. In the mid-1970s, the Church Committee, named after its founding Chair, Idaho Senator Frank Church, released volumes of documentation of FBI and CIA abuses. Church and his successor were driven from office, and then-National Security Advisor to Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, was instrumental in blocking the flow of information from the Church Committee to the public.4
Although the original objective of COINTELPRO in 1956 was to “increase factionalism, cause disruption and win defections” inside the Communist Party, USA, it soon expanded to include disruption of the Socialist Workers Party, the Ku Klux Klan, African American nationalist groups, the Black Panther Party (BPP), the New Left, and the American Indian Movement (AIM). While many arrests of members of these groups were made over the decades, it is important to understand that even in cases where crimes had actually been committed, and those cases are few, the FBI policy of neutralizing these groups was in place prior to the arrests. For example, in 1919, J. Edgar Hoover wrote a letter proposing a strategy to neutralize African American nationalist leader, Marcus Garvey. In the proposal, Hoover recommends that the federal government invest vast legal resources to contrive a case against Garvey in order to make him appear guilty of a crime. As Churchill and Vander Hall note, “The key to understanding what really happened in the Garvey case lies squarely in appreciation of the fact that the decision to bring about his elimination had been made at the highest level of the Bureau long before any hint of criminal conduct could be attached to him.”5
On August 25, 1967, J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, wrote a top-priority memo to all field offices clearly defining the purpose of COINTELPRO:
The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder…No opportunity should be missed to exploit through counterintelligence techniques the organizational and personal conflicts of the leadership of the groups and where possible an effort should be made to capitalize upon existing conflicts between competing black nationalist organizations.6
Included in “black nationalist hate-type organizations” were the National Association For the Advancement Of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) under the direction of Martin Luther King, Jr. Increasingly, attention was focused on King of whom Charles Brennan, FBI counter-intelligence specialist, stated: “We must mark [King] now, if we have not before, as the most dangerous Negro in the future of this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security…it may be unrealistic to limit [our actions against King] to legalistic proofs that would stand up in court or before Congressional Committees.”7
As we know Martin Luther King was assassinated in April, 1968 with very few answers regarding his murder and multitudinous questions left behind. The best analysis of King’s murder, in my opinion, is William Pepper’s Orders To Kill and his later analysis, An Act Of State. The racist J. Edgar Hoover, whose own closeted, bizarre sexuality leaves many unanswered questions about his prurient curiosities regarding King’s personal life, ordered surveillance of King’s social activities and friendships, whispering incessantly of King’s purported infidelity to his wife. In a 1968 memo to field offices, Hoover details the strategy for neutralizing black liberation activists. Among them: “Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability by discrediting them to three separate segments of the community. The goal of discrediting black nationalists must be handled tactically in three ways. You must discredit these groups and individuals to, first, the responsible Negro community. Second, they must be discredited to the white community, both the responsible community and to ‘liberals’ who have vestiges of sympathy for militant black nationalists simply because they are Negroes. Third, these groups must be discredited in the eyes of Negro radicals, the followers of the movement….”
Before King’s death the Black Panther Party was organizing in major cities across America, and in late 1967 the Panthers initiated a free breakfast program for black children and offered free health care to many ghetto residents. By mid-1968 these measures had been augmented by a community education project and an anti-heroin campaign. The party was offering a viable strategy to improve the overall spiritual and material well being of ghetto life. Black community perceptions of the BPP were extremely positive and vastly different from the perceptions of the white police establishment.
In a September, 1968 memo to COINTELPRO Director, William Sullivan, the FBI office in Washington ordered that, “…the counter-intelligence program against this organization [Black Panther Party] be accelerated and that each office submit concrete suggestions as to future action to be taken against the BPP.”8 The memo continues:
These suggestions are to create factionalism between not only the national leaders but also local leaders, steps to neutralize all organizational efforts of the BPP as well as create suspicion amongst the leaders as to each others’ spouses and suspicion as to who may be cooperating with law enforcement. In addition, suspicion should be developed as to who may be attempting to gain control of the organization for their own private betterment, as well as suggestions as to the best method of exploiting the foreign visits made by BPP members. We are also soliciting recommendations as to the best method of creating opposition to the BPP on the part of the majority of the residents of the ghetto area.9
The ultimate tactic of “neutralization” was outright assassination. In late 1968, William O’Neal, working with COINTELPRO had infiltrated the BPP and become the bodyguard of a key member of the Chicago Black Panthers, Fred Hampton. O’Neal supplied the Chicago police and the FBI with the floor plan of Hampton’s apartment, and on the evening of December 3, slipped a dose of secobarbital into a glass of Kool-Aid consumed by Hampton who was comatose in his bed when a fourteen-man police team slammed into his home at 4 AM on the morning of December 4. Hampton was shot three times in the chest and twice more in the head at point-blank range. One year later, December 8, 1969 in Los Angeles, the target was Geronimo Pratt who unbeknownst to police decided to sleep on the floor that night rather than in his bed. A barrage of gunfire burst into Pratt’s apartment but missed him entirely. This time, the Panthers decided to defend themselves, and for four hours fought off police refusing to surrender until the press and the public were on the scene. A U.S. Attorney in San Francisco concluded that, “Whatever they are doing, they are out to get the Panthers.”10
In 1971, George Jackson, celebrated prison author and honorary BPP Field Marshall, was assassinated in San Quentin Prison, an event which not only eliminated Jackson but neutralized attorney Angela Davis, head of Jackson’s defense organization and a leading spokesperson for the Panthers.
In Sacramento the FBI used an infiltrator to have the Sacramento chapter of the BPP print a racist and violence-oriented coloring book for children. When it was brought to the attention of Bobby Seale and other Panther members, it was immediately ordered destroyed, but the Bureau mailed copies to companies such as Safeway, Mayfair Markets, and the Jack-In-The-Box Corporation which had been contributing food to the Breakfast for Children Program in order to cause the withdrawal of support for that program.
The FBI has admitted that during the COINTELLPRO era it ran some 295 distinct COINTELPRO operations against individuals and organizations which were broadly or narrowly considered parts of the black liberation movement.11
It is important to understand that during the so-called COINTELPRO era--and as we shall learn in subsequent segments of this series, that era never really ended, one strategy used then and now is that of plausible deniability. That is, in case assassinations or other illegal or disrespectable and unpopular activities committed by high-ranking officials become public, those officials may deny connection to or awareness of those acts or the agents used to carry out such acts. As noted by Mike Ruppert in “By The Light Of A Burning Bridge” FTW over the years has frequently been victimized by attacks that appeared to have the fingerprints of COINTELPRO all over them, down to the use of convicted felons to commit those acts, in which case, the FBI or whatever agency(ies) are involved can plausibly deny connection with such individuals.
Although we hear virtually nothing about COINTELPRO in mainstream media these days, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has introduced legislation to re-open the investigations of the Church Committee into COINTELPRO. As Congresswoman McKinney states: “We still to this day do not know the full scope of the abusive surveillance, targeting, discrediting and disruptive tactics and plans of the past.”
2 Howard Zinn, Peoples’ History Of the United States, p.100.
5 Ward Churchill, Jim Vander Hall, COINTELPRO Papers, p.11.
6 Brian Glick, War At Home: Cover Action Against U.S. Activists And What We Can Do About It, p.77.
7 Memorandum, William C. Sullivan to Alan H. Belmont, August 30, 1963, captioned “Communist Party, USA, Negro Question, IS-C.” Document quoted in full in U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Assassinations, Hearings on the Investigation of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Vol. 6, 95th Congress, 2d Session, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1978, pp. 143-144.
8 FBI Memo: COINTELPRO Papers, p. 124.
10 Quoted in Elliff, John T., Crime, Dissent and the Attorney General, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA, 1971, p. 140.
11 COINTELPRO Papers, p. 164.