|Black Watch page 3|
Congressional Black Caucus's Fifth-Column War on America
|"[America is] not quite a
democracy. And one of the things that makes it not quite a democracy is
the existence of outfits like the FBI and the CIA." That’s what seven
members of our nation’s Congressional Black Caucus reported to the World
Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa – as they cavorted
with the likes of Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat – just ten days before
the September 11 attack.
This information was brought to light of day by Paul Wolf with contributions from Robert Boyle, Bob Brown, Tom Burghardt, Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, Kathleen Cleaver, Bruce Ellison, Cynthia McKinney, Nkechi Taifa, Laura Whitehorn, Nicholas Wilson, and Howard Zinn. Strange, most of these name are Left wingers.
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COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story
Table of Contents
Overview Victimization COINTELPRO Techniques Murder and Assassination Agents Provocateurs
The Ku Klux Klan The Secret Army Organization Snitch Jacketing The Subversion of the Press Political Prisoners
Leonard Peltier Mumia Abu Jamal Geronimo ji Jaga Pratt Dhoruba Bin Wahad Marshall Eddie Conway
Justice Hangs in the Balance
Appendix: The Legacy of COINTELPRO CISPES The Judi Bari Bombing Bibliography
We're here to talk about the FBI and U.S. democracy because here we have this peculiar situation that we live in a democratic country - everybody knows that, everybody says it, it's repeated, it's dinned into our ears a thousand times, you grow up, you pledge allegiance, you salute the flag, you hail democracy, you look at the totalitarian states, you read the history of tyrannies, and here is the beacon light of democracy. And, of course, there's some truth to that. There are things you can do in the United States that you can't do many other places without being put in jail.
But the United States is a very complex system. It's very hard to describe because, yes, there are elements of democracy; there are things that you're grateful for, that you're not in front of the death squads in El Salvador. On the other hand, it's not quite a democracy. And one of the things that makes it not quite a democracy is the existence of outfits like the FBI and the CIA. Democracy is based on openness, and the existence of a secret policy, secret lists of dissident citizens, violates the spirit of democracy.
Despite its carefully contrived image as the nation's premier crime fighting agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has always functioned primarily as America's political police. This role includes not only the collection of intelligence on the activities of political dissidents and groups, but often times, counterintelligence operations to thwart those activities. The techniques employed are easily recognized by anyone familiar with military psychological operations. The FBI, through the use of the criminal justice system, the postal system, the telephone system and the Internal Revenue Service, enjoys an operational capability surpassing even that of the CIA, which conducts covert actions in foreign countries without having access to those institutions.
Although covert operations have been employed throughout FBI history, the formal COunter INTELligence PROgrams (COINTELPRO's) of the period 1956-1971 were the first to be both broadly targeted and centrally directed. According to FBI researcher Brian Glick, "FBI headquarters set policy, assessed progress, charted new directions, demanded increased production, and carefully monitored and controlled day-to-day operations. This arrangement required that national COINTELPRO supervisors and local FBI field offices communicate back and forth, at great length, concerning every operation. They did so quite freely, with little fear of public exposure. This generated a prolific trail of bureaucratic paper. The moment that paper trail began to surface, the FBI discontinued all of its formal domestic counterintelligence programs. It did not, however, cease its covert political activity against U.S. dissidents. Of roughly 20,000 people investigated by the FBI solely on the basis of their political views between 1956-1971, about 10 to 15% were the targets of active counterintelligence measures. Taking counterintelligence in its broadest sense, to include spreading false information, it's estimated that about two-thirds were COINTELPRO targets. Most targets were never suspected of committing any crime. The nineteen sixties were a period of social change and unrest. Color television brought home images of jungle combat in Vietnam and protesters and priests burning draft cards and American flags. In the spring and summer months of 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968, massive black rebellions swept across almost every major US city in the Northeast, Midwest and California. Presidents Johnson and Nixon, and many others feared violent revolution and denounced the protesters.
President Kennedy had felt the opposite: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. The counterculture of the sixties, and the FBI's reaction to it, were in many ways a product of the 1950s, the so-called "Age of McCarthyism." John Edgar Hoover, longtime Director of the FBI, was a prominent spokesman of the anti-communist paranoia of the era: The forces which are most anxious to weaken our internal security are not always easy to identify. Communists have been trained in deceit and secretly work toward the day when they hope to replace our American way of life with a Communist dictatorship.
They utilize cleverly camouflaged movements, such as peace groups and civil rights groups to achieve their sinister purposes. While they as individuals are difficult to identify, the Communist party line is clear. Its first concern is the advancement of Soviet Russia and the godless Communist cause. It is important to learn to know the enemies of the American way of life. Throughout the 1960s, Hoover consistently applied this theory to a wide variety of groups, on occasion reprimanding agents unable to find "obvious" communist connections in civil rights and anti-war groups. During the entire COINTELPRO period, no links to Soviet Russia were uncovered in any of the social movements disrupted by the FBI. The commitment of the FBI to undermine and destroy popular movements departing from political orthodoxy has been extensive, and apparently proportional to the strength and promise of such movements, as one would expect in the case of the secret police organization of any state, though it is doubtful that there is anything comparable to this record among the Western industrial democracies. In retrospect, the COINTEPRO's of the 1960s were thoroughly successful in achieving their stated goals, "to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the enemies of the State Victimization. The most serious of the FBI disruption programs were those directed against "Black Nationalists."
Agents were instructed to undertake actions to discredit these groups both within "the responsible Negro community" and to "Negro radicals, also 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... A March 4th, 1968 memo from J Edgar Hoover to FBI field offices laid out the goals of the COINTELPRO - Black Nationalist Hate Groups program: "to prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups;" "to prevent the rise of a messiah who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement;" "to prevent violence on the part of black nationalist groups;" "to prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability;" and "to prevent the long-range growth of militant black nationalist organizations, especially among youth." Included in the program were a broad spectrum of civil rights and religious groups; targets included Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, and Elijah Muhammad.
A top secret Special Report for President Nixon, dated June 1970 gives some insight into the motivation for the actions undertaken by the government to destroy the Black Panther party. The report describes the party as "the most active and dangerous black extremist group in the United States." Its "hard-core members" were estimated at about 800, but "a recent poll indicates that approximately 25 per cent of the black population has a great respect for the BPP, incuding 43 per cent of blacks under 21 years of age." On the basis of such estimates of the potential of the party, counterintelligence operations were carried out to ensure that it did not succeed in organizing as a substantial social or political force.
Another memorandum explains the motivation for the FBI operations against student protesters: "the movement of rebellious youth known as the 'New Left,' involving and influencing a substantial number of college students, is having a serious impact on contemporary society with a potential for serious domestic strife." The New Left has "revolutionary aims" and an "identification with Marxism-Leninism." It has attempted "to infiltrate and radicalize labor," and after failing "to subvert and control the mass media" has established "a large network of underground publications which serve the dual purpose of an internal communication network and an external propaganda organ." Its leaders have "openly stated their sympathy with the international communist revolutionary movements in South Vietnam and Cuba; and have directed others into activities which support these movements."
The effectiveness of the state disruption programs is not easy to evaluate. Black leaders estimate the significance of the programs as substantial. Dr. James Turner of Cornell University, former president of the African Heritage Studies Association, assessed these programs as having "serious long-term consequences for black Americans," in that they "had created in blacks a sense of depression and hopelessness." 6
He states that "the F.B.I. set out to break the momentum developed in black communities in the late fifties and early sixties"; "we needed to put together organizational mechanisms to deliver services," but instead, "our ability to influence things that happen to us internally and externally was killed." He concludes that "the lack of confidence and paranoia stimulated among black people by these actions" is just beginning to fade.
The American Indian Movement, arguably the most hopeful vehicle for indigenous pride and self-determination in the late 20th century, was also destroyed. As AIM leader Dennis Banks has observed:
"The FBI's tactics eventually proved successful in a peculiar sort of way. It's remarkable under the circumstances - and a real testament to the inner strength of the traditional Oglalas - that the feds were never really able to divide them from us, to have the traditionals denouncing us and working against us. But, in the end, the sort of pressure the FBI put on people on the reservation, particularly the old people, it just wore 'em down. A kind of fatigue set in. With the firefight at Oglala, and all the things that happened after that, it was easy to see we weren't going to win by direct confrontation. So the traditionals asked us to disengage, to try and take some of the heaviest pressure off. And, out of respect, we had no choice but to honor those wishes. And that was the end of AIM, at least in the way it had been known up till then. The resistance is still there, of course, and the struggle goes on, but the movement itself kind of disappeared." 7
The same can be said for socialist movements targeted by COINTELPRO. Alone among the parliamentary democracies, the United States has no mass-based socialist party, however mild and reformist, no socialist voice in the media, and virtually no departure from Keynesian economics in American universities and journals. The people of the United States have paid dearly for the enforcement of domestic privilege and the securing of imperial domains. The vast waste of social wealth, miserable urban ghettos, the threat and reality of unemployment, meaningless work in authoritarian institutions, standards of health and social welfare that should be intolerable in a society with such vast productive resources -- all of this must be endured and even welcomed as the "price of freedom" if the existing order is to stand without challenge.
COINTELPRO Techniques top
From its inception, the FBI has operated on the doctrine that the "preliminary stages of organization and preparation" must be frustrated, well before there is any clear and present danger of "revolutionary radicalism." At its most extreme dimension, political dissidents have been eliminated outright or sent to prison for the rest of their lives. There are quite a number of individuals who have been handled in that fashion. Many more, however, were "neutralized" by intimidation, harassment, discrediting, snitch jacketing, a whole assortment of authoritarian and illegal tactics.
Neutralization, as explained on record by the FBI, doesn't necessarily pertain to the apprehension of parties in the commission of a crime, the preparation of evidence against them, and securing of a judicial conviction, but rather to simply making them incapable of engaging in political activity by whatever means.
For those not assessed as being in themselves, necessarily a security risk, but engaged in what the Bureau views to be politically objectionable activity, those techniques might consist of disseminating derogatory information to the target's family, friends and associates, visiting and questioning them, basically, making it clear that the FBI are paying attention to them, to try to intimidate them.
If the subject continues their activities, and particularly if they respond by escalating them, the FBI will escalate its tactics as well. Maybe they'll be arrested and prosecuted for spurious reasons. Maybe there will be more vicious rumors circulated about them. False information may be planted in the press. The targets' efforts to speak in public are frustrated, employers may be contacted to try to get them fired. Anonymous letters have been sent by the FBI to targets' spouses, accusing them of infidelity. Others have contained death threats.
And if the subject persists then there will be a further escalation.
According to FBI memoranda of the 1960s, "Key black activists" were repeatedly arrested "on any excuse" until "they could no longer make bail." The FBI made use of informants, often quite violent and emotionally disturbed individuals, to present false testimony to the courts, to frame COINTELPRO targets for crimes they knew they did not commit. In some cases the charges were quite serious, including murder.
Another option is "snitch jacketing" - making the target look like a police informant or a CIA agent. This serves the dual purposes of isolating and alienating important leaders, and increasing the general level of fear and factionalism in the group.
"Black bag jobs" are burglaries performed in order to obtain the written materials, mailing lists, position papers, and internal documents of an organization or an individual. At least 10,000 American homes have been subjected to illegal breaking and entering by the FBI, without judicial warrants.
Group membership lists are used to expand the operation. Anonymous mailings of newspaper and magazine articles may be mailed to group members and supporters to convince them of the error of their ways. Anonymous or spurious letters and cartoons are sent to promote factionalism and widen rifts in or between organizations.
According to the FBI's own records, agents have been directed to use "established local news media contacts" and other "sources available to the Seat of Government" to "disrupt or neutralize" organizations and to "ridicule and discredit" them.
Many counterintelligence techniques involve the use of paid informants. Informants become agents provocateurs by raising controversial issues at meetings to take advantage of ideological divisions, by promoting emnity with other groups, or by inciting the group to violent acts, even to the point of providing them with weapons.
Over the years, FBI provocateurs have repeatedly urged and initiated violent acts, including forceful disruptions of meetings and demonstrations, attacks on police, bombings, and so on, following an old strategy of Tsarist police director TC Zubatov: "We shall provoke you to acts of terror and then crush you."
A concise description of political warfare is given in a passage from a CIA paper entitled "Nerve War Against Individuals," referring to the overthrowing of the government of Guatemala in 1954: The strength of an enemy consists largely of the individuals who occupy key positions in the enemy organization, as leaders, speakers, writers, organizers, cabinet members, senior government officials, army commanders and staff officers, and so forth. Any effort to defeat the enemy must therefore concentrate to a great extent upon these key enemy individuals.
If such an effort is made by means short of physical violence, we call it "psychological warfare." If it is focussed less upon convincing those individuals by logical reasoning, but primarily upon moving them in the desired direction by means of harassment, by frightening, confusing and misleading them, we speak of a "nerve war". 8
The COINTELPROs clearly met the above definition of "nerve wars," and, in the case of the American Indian Movement in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the FBI conducted a full-fledged counterinsurgency war, complete with death squads, disappearances and assassinations, recalling Guatemala in more recent years.
The full story of COINTELPRO may never be told. The Bureau's files were never seized by Congress or the courts or sent to the National Archives. Some have been destroyed. Many counterintelligence operations were never committed to writing as such, or involve open investigations, and ex-operatives are legally prohibited from talking about them. Most operations remain secret until long after the damage has been done.
Murder and Assassination top
Among the most remarkable of the COINTELPRO revelations are those relating to the FBI's attempts to incite gang warfare and murderous attacks on Black Panther leaders. For example, a COINTELPRO memo from FBI Headquarters mailed November 25, 1968, informs recipient offices that: a serious struggle is taking place between the Black Panther Party (BPP) and the US [United Slaves] organization. The struggle has reached such proportions that it is taking on the aura of gang warfare with attendant threats of murder and reprisals.
In order to fully capitalize upon BPP and US differences as well as to exploit all avenues of creating further dissension in the ranks of the BPP, recipient offices are instructed to submit imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP. 9
According to the national chairman of the US organization, who became a professor at San Diego State, the US and the Panthers had been negotiating to avoid bloodshed: "Then the F.B.I. stepped in and the shooting started."
A series of cartoons were produced in an effort to incite violence between the Black Panther Party and the US; for example, one showing Panther leader David Hilliard hanging dead with a rope around his neck from a tree. The San Diego office reported to the director that: 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 completion.
Under the heading "TANGIBLE RESULTS" the memo continues:
Shootings, beatings, and a high degree of unrest continues to prevail in the ghetto area of southeast San Diego. Although no specific counterintelligence action can be credited with contributing to this over-all situation, it is felt that a substantial amount of the unrest is directly attributable to this program.
Between 1968-1971, FBI-initiated terror and disruption resulted in the murder of Black Panthers Arthur Morris, Bobby Hutton, Steven Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence, Tommy Lewis, Welton Armstead, Frank Diggs, Alprentice Carter, John Huggins, Alex Rackley, John Savage, Sylvester Bell, Larry Roberson, Nathaniel Clark, Walter Touré Pope, Spurgeon Winters, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Sterling Jones, Eugene Anderson, Babatunde X Omarwali, Carl Hampton, Jonathan Jackson, Fred Bennett, Sandra Lane Pratt, Robert Webb, Samuel Napier, Harold Russell, and George Jackson.
One of the more dramatic incidents occurred on the night of December 4, 1969, when Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot to death by Chicago policemen in a predawn raid on their apartment. Hampton, one of the most promising leaders of the Black Panther party, was killed in bed, perhaps drugged. Depositions in a civil suit in Chicago revealed that the chief of Panther security and Hampton's personal bodyguard, William O'Neal, was an FBI infiltrator. O'Neal gave his FBI contacting agent, Roy Mitchell, a detailed floor plan of the apartment, which Mitchell turned over to the state's attorney's office shortly before the attack, along with "information" -- of dubious veracity -- that there were two illegal shotguns in the apartment. For his services, O'Neal was paid over $10,000 from January 1969 through July 1970, according to Mitchell's affidavit.
The availability of the floor plan presumably explains why "all the police gunfire went to the inside corners of the apartment, rather than toward the entrances," and undermines still further the pretense that the barrage was caused by confusion in unfamiliar surroundings that led the police to believe, falsely, that they were being fired upon by the Panthers inside. 10
Agent Mitchell was named by the Chicago Tribune as head of the Chicago COINTELPRO directed against the Black Panthers and other black groups. Whether or not this is true, there is substantial evidence of direct FBI involvement in this Gestapo-style political assassination. O'Neal continued to report to Agent Mitchell after the raid, taking part in meetings with the Hampton family and their discussion with their lawyers.
There has as yet been no systematic investigation of the FBI campaign against the Black Panther Party in Chicago, as part of its nationwide program against the Panthers.
Malcolm X was supposedly murdered by former colleagues in the Nation of Islam (NOI) as a result of the faction-fighting which had led to his splitting away from that movement, and their "natural wrath" at his establishment of a separate mosque, the Muslim Mosque, Inc.
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