|Black Watch page 4|
-- Continued from
|However, the NOl factionalism at issue didn't just happen. It had been
developed by deliberate Bureau actions, through infiltration and the
"sparking of acrimonious debates within the organization,"
rumor-mongering, and other tactics designed to foster internal disputes.
11 The Chicago Special Agent in Charge, Marlin Johnson, who also oversaw
the assassinations of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, makes it quite
obvious that he views the murder of Malcolm X as something of a model
for "successful" counterintelligence operations.
"Over the years considerable thought has been given, and action taken with Bureau approval, relating to methods through which the NOI could be discredited in the eyes of the general black populace or through which factionalism among the leadership could be created. Serious consideration has also been given towards developing ways and means of changing NOI philosophy to one whereby the members could be developed into useful citizens and the organization developed into one emphasizing religion - the brotherhood of mankind - and self improvement. Factional disputes have been developed - most notable being Malcolm X Little." 12
In an internal FBI monograph dated September 1963 found that, given the scope of support it had attracted over the preceding five years, civil rights agitation represented a clear threat to "the established order" of the U.S., and that Martin Luther "King is growing in stature daily as the leader among leaders of the Negro movement ... so goes Martin Luther King, and also so goes the Negro movement in the United States." This accorded well with COINTELPRO specialist William C. Sullivan's view, committed to writing shortly after King's landmark "I Have a Dream" speech during the massive civil rights demonstration in Washington, D.C., on August 28 of the same year:
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.
The stated objective of the SCLC, and the nature of its practical activities, was to organize for the securing of black voting rights across the rural South, with an eye toward the ultimate dismantlement of at least the most blatant aspects of the southern U.S. system of segregation. Even this seemingly innocuous agenda was, however, seen as a threat by the FBI. In mid-September of 1957, FBI supervisor J.G. Kelly forwarded a newspaper clipping describing the formation of the SCLC to the Bureau's Atlanta field office - that city being the location of SCLC headquarters - informing local agents, for reasons which were never specified, the civil rights group was "a likely target for communist infiltration," and that "in view of the stated purpose of the organization you should remain alert for public source information concerning it in connection with the racial situation." 13
The Atlanta field office "looked into" the matter and ultimately opened a COMINFIL (communist-inflitrated group) investigation of the SCLC, apparently based on the fact that a single SWP member, Lonnie Cross, had offered his services as a clerk in the organization's main office. 14 By the end of the first year of FBI scrutiny, in September of 1958, a personal file had been opened on King himself, ostensibly because he had been approached on the steps of a Harlem church in which he'd delivered a guest sermon by black CP member Benjamin J. Davis. 15 By October 1960, as the SCLC call for desegregation and black voting rights in the south gained increasing attention and support across the nation, the Bureau began actively infiltrating organizational meetings and conferences. 16
By July of 1961, FBI intelligence on the group was detailed enough to recount that, while an undergraduate at Atlanta's Morehouse College in 1948, King had been affiliated with the Progressive Party, and that executive director Wyatt Tee Walker had once subscribed to a CP newspaper, The Worker. 17
Actual counterintelligence operations against King and the SCLC seem to have begun with a January 8, 1962 letter from Hoover to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, contending that the civil rights leader enjoyed a "close relationship" with Stanley D. Levison, "a member of the Communist Party, USA," and that Isadore Wofsy, "a high ranking communist leader," had written a speech for King. 18
On the night of March 15-16,1962, FBI agents secretly broke into Levison's New York office and planted a bug; a wiretap of his office phone followed on March 20. 19 Among the other things picked up by the surveillance was information that Jack ODell, who also had an alleged "record of ties to the Communist party," had been recommended by both King and Levison to serve as an assistant to Wyatt Tee Walker. 20 Although none of these supposed communist affiliations were ever substantiated, it was on this basis that SCLC was targeted within the Bureau's ongoing COINTELPRO-CP,USA, beginning with the planting of five disinformational "news stories" concerning the organization's "communist connections" on October 24, 1962. 21 By this point, Martin Luther King's name had been placed in Section A of the FBI Reserve Index, one step below those individuals registered in the Security Index and scheduled to be rounded up and "preventively detained" in the event of a declared national emergency; Attorney General Kennedy had also authorized round-the-clock surveillance of all SCLC offices, as well as King's home. 22 Hence, by November 8,1963, comprehensive telephone taps had been installed at all organizational offices, and King's residence. 23
By 1964, King was not only firmly established as a preeminent civil rights leader, but was beginning to show signs of pursuing a more fundamental structural agenda of social change. Meanwhile, the Bureau continued its efforts to discredit King, maintaining a drumbeat of mass media-distributed propaganda concerning his supposed "communist influences" and sexual proclivities, as well as triggering a spate of harassment by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 24 When it was announced on October 14 of that year that King would receive a Nobel Peace Prize as a reward for his work in behalf of the rights of American blacks, the Bureau - exhibiting a certain sense of desperation - dramatically escalated its efforts to neutralize him.
Two days after announcement of the impending award, COINTELPRO specialist William Sullivan caused a composite audio tape to be produced, supposedly consisting of "highlights" taken from the taps of King's phones and bugs placed in his various hotel rooms over the preceding two years.
The result, prepared by FBI audio technician John Matter, purported to demonstrate the civil rights leader had engaged in a series of "orgiastic" trysts with prostitutes and, thus, "the depths of his sexual perversion and depravity." The finished tape was packaged, along with an accompanying anonymous letter (prepared by Bureau Internal Security Supervisor Seymore F. Phillips on Sullivan's instruction), informing King that the audio material would be released to the media unless he committed suicide prior to bestowal of the Nobel Prize.
King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all of us Negroes. White people in this country have enough frauds of their own but I am sure that they don't have one at this time that is any where near your equal. You are no clergyman and you know it. I repeat you are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that. ...
King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significant. You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation. [sic]. 25
Sullivan then instructed veteran COINTELPRO operative Lish Whitson to fly to Miami with the package; once there, Whitson was instructed to address the parcel and mail it to the intended victim. 26 When King failed to comply with Sullivan's anonymous directive that he kill himself, FBI Associate Director Cartha D. "Deke" DeLoach attempted to follow through with the threat to make the contents of the doctored tape public: The Bureau Crime Records Division, headed by DeLoach, initiated a major campaign to let newsmen know just what the Bureau [claimed to have] on King. DeLoach personally offered a copy of the King surveillance transcript to Newsweek Washington bureau chief Benjamin Bradlee. Bradlee refused it, and mentioned the approach to a Newsday colleague, Jay Iselin. 27
Bradlee's disclosure of what the FBI was up to served to curtail the effectiveness of DeLoach's operation, and Bureau propagandists consequently found relatively few takers on this particular story. More, in the face of a planned investigation of electronic surveillance by government agencies announced by Democratic Missouri Senator Edward V. Long, J. Edgar Hoover was forced to order the rapid dismantling of the electronic surveillance coverage of both King and the SCLC, drying up much of the source material upon which Sullivan and his COINTELPRO specialists depended for "authenticity."
Still, the Bureau's counterintelligence operations against King continued apace, right up to the moment of the target's death by sniper fire on a Memphis hotel balcony on April 4, 1968. 28 By 1969, "[FBI] efforts to 'expose' Martin Luther King, Jr., had not slackened even though King had been dead for a year." 29
Those seeking independence for Puerto Rico were similarly attacked. The Bureau considered independentista leader Juan Mari Bras' near-fatal heart attack during April of 1964 to have been brought on, at least in part, by an anonymous counterintelligence letter:
[deleted] stated that MARI BRAS' heart attack on April 21, 1964, was obviously brought on by strain and overwork and opinioned that the anonymous letter certainly did nothing to ease his tensions for he felt the effects of the letter deeply. The source pointed out that with MARI BRAS' illness and effects of the letter on the MPIPR leaders, that the organization's activities had come to a near halt.
It is clear from the above that our anonymous letter has seriously disrupted the MPIPR ranks and created a climate of distrust and dissension from which it will take them some time to recover. This particular technique has been outstandingly successful and we shall be on the lookout to further exploit the achievements in this field. The Bureau will be promptly advised of other positive results of this program that may come to our attention. 30
The pattern remained evident more than a decade later when, after reviewing portions of the 75 volumes of documents the FBI had compiled on him, Mari Bras testified before the United Nations Commission on Decolonization:
[The documents] reflect the general activity of the FBI toward the movement. But some of the memos are dated 1976 and 1977; long after COINTELPRO was [supposedly] ended as an FBI activity ... At one point, there is a detailed description of the death of my son, in 1976, at the hands of a gun-toting assassin. The bottom of the memo is fully deleted, leaving one to wonder who the assassin was. The main point, however, is that the memo is almost joyful about the impact his death will have upon me in my Gubernatorial campaign, as head of our party, in 1976. 31
When Mari Bras suffered from an attack of severe depression the same year, the San Juan Special Agent in Charge noted in a memo to FBI headquarters that, "It would hardly be idle boasting to say that some of the Bureau's activities have provoked the situation of Mari Bras." Given the context established by the Bureau's own statements vis a vis Mari Bras, it also seems quite likely that one of the means by which the FBI continued to "exploit its achievements" in "provoking the situation" of the independentista leader was to arrange for the firebombing of his home in 1978.
Lethal COINTELPRO operations against the independentistas continued well into the 1980s. As Alfredo Lopez recounted in 1988:
[O]ver the past fifteen years, 170 attacks - beatings, shootings, and bombings of independence organizations and activists - have been documented ... there have been countless attacks and beatings of people at rallies and pickets, to say nothing of independentistas walking the streets. The 1975 bombing of a rally at Mayaguez that killed two restaurant workers was more dramatic, but like the other 170 attacks remains unsolved. Although many right-wing organizations claimed credit for these attacks, not one person has been arrested or brought to trial. 32
A clear instance of direct FBI involvement in anti-independentista violence is the "Cerro Maravilla Episode" of July 25,1978. On that date, two young activists, Arnaldo Dario Rosado and Carlos Soto Arrivi, accompanied a provocateur named Alejandro Gonzalez Malave, were lured into a trap and shot to death by police near the mountain village. Official reports claimed the pair had been on the way to blow up a television tower near Cerro Maravilla, and had fired first when officers attempted to arrest them. A taxi driver who was also on the scene, however, adamantly insisted that this was untrue, that neither independentista had offered resistance when captured, and that the police themselves had fired two volleys of shots in order to make it sound from a distance as if they'd been fired upon. "It was a planned murder," the witness said, "and it was carried out like that." What had actually happened became even more obvious when a police officer named Julio Cesar Andrades came forward and asserted that the assassination had been planned "from on high" and in collaboration with the Bureau. This led to confirmation of Gonzalez Molave's role as an infiltrator reporting to both the local police and the FBI, a situation which prompted him to admit "having planned and urged the bombing" in order to set the two young victim up for execution. In the end, it was shown that:
Dario and Soto [had] surrendered. Police forced the men to their knees, handcuffed their arms behind their backs, and as the two independentistas pleaded for justice, the police tortured and murdered them. 33
None of the police and other officials involved were ever convicted of the murders and crimes directly involved in this affair. However, despite several years of systematic coverup by the FBI and U.S. Justice Department, working in direct collaboration with the guilty officers, ten of the latter were finally convicted on multiple counts of perjury and sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 30 years apiece. Having evaded legal responsibility for his actions altogether, provocateur Gonzalez Molave was shot to death in front of his home on April 29,1986, by "party or parties unknown." This was followed, on February 28,1987, by the government's payment of $575,000 settlements to both victims' families, a total of $1,150,000 in acknowledgment of the official misconduct attending their deaths and the subsequent investigation(s).
Despite tens of thousands of pages of documentary evidence, the idea that the Bureau would utilize private right-wing operatives and terrorists is a chilling, alien concept to most Americans. Nevertheless, the FBI has financed, organized, and supplied arms to right-wing groups that carried out fire-bombings, burglaries, and shootings. 34
This was the case during the FBI's COINTELPRO in South Dakota in the 1970's against the Oglala Sioux Nation and the American Indian Movement. Right-wing vigilantes were used to disrupt the American Indian Movement (AIM) and selectively terrorize and murder the Oglala Sioux people 35, in what could only be described as a counter-insurgency campaign. During the 36 months roughly beginning with the 1973 seige of Wounded Knee and continuing through the first of May 1976, more than sixty AIM members and supporters died violently on or in locations immediately adjacent to the Pine Ridge Reservation. A minimum of 342 others suffered violent physical assaults. As Roberto Maestas and Bruce Johansen have observed:
Using only these documented political deaths, the yearly murder rate on Pine Ridge Reservation between March 1, 1973, and March 1, 1976, was 170 per 100,000. By comparison, Detroit, the reputed "murder capital of the United States," had a rate of 20.2 in 1974. ... The political murder rate at Pine Ridge between March 1, 1973, and March 1, 1976, was almost equivalent to that in Chile during the three years after the military coup supported by the United States deposed and killed President Salvador Allende. 36
To commemorate the 1890 massacre of Wounded Knee, in which 300 Minnecojou Lakota were slaughtered by the U.S. Seventh Cavalry, hundreds of Native Americans from reservations across the West gathered in Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, during the winter of 1972-73. 37
This situation was already tense due to a series of unsolved murders on the reservation, and a struggle between the administration of the Oglala Sioux tribal president, Dick Wilson, and opposition organizations on the reservation, including AIM. Wilson had been bestowed with a $62,000 Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) grant for purposes of establishing a "tribal ranger group" - an entity which designated itself as "Guardians Of the OgIala Nation" (GOONs). Wilson's "goon squads" patrolled the reservation, unleashing a reign of terror against Wilson's enemies. When victims attempted to seek the protection of the BIA police, they quickly discovered that perhaps a third of its roster - including its head, Delmar Eastman (Crow), and his second-in-command, Duane Brewer (OgIala) - were doubling as GOON leaders or members. For their part, BIA officials - who had set the whole thing up - consistently turned aside requests for assistance from the traditionals as being "purely internal tribal matters," beyond the scope of BIA authority.
On Feb 28th, 1973, residents of Wounded Knee, South Dakota found the roads to the hamlet blockaded by GOONs, later reinforced by marshals service Special Operations Group (SOG) teams and FBI personnel. By 10 p.m., Minneapolis SAC Joseph Trimbach had flown in to assume personal command of the GOONs and BIA police, while Wayne Colburn, director of the U.S. Marshals Service, had arrived to assume control over his now reinforced SOG unit. Colonel Volney Warner of the 82nd Airborne Division and 6th Army Colonel Jack Potter - operating directly under General Alexander Haig, military liaison in the Nixon White House - had also been dispatched from the Pentagon as "advisors" coordinating a flow of military personnel, weapons and equipment to those besieging Wounded Knee. As Rex Weyler has noted:
Documents later subpoenaed from the Pentagon revealed that Colonel Potter directed the employment of 17 APCs [armored personnel carriers], 130,000 rounds of M-16 ammunition, 41,000 rounds of M-40 high explosive, as well as helicopters, Phantom jets, and personnel. Military officers, supply sergeants, maintenance technicians, chemical officers, and medical teams remained on duty throughout the 71 day siege, all working in civilian clothes [to conceal their unconstitutional involvement in this "civil disorder"]. 38
On March 5, Dick Wilson - with federal officials present - held a press conference to declare "open season" on AIM members on Pine Ridge, declaring "AIM will die at Wounded Knee." For their part, those inside the hamlet announced their intention to remain where they were until such time as Wilson was removed from office, the GOONs disbanded, and the massive federal presence withdrawn.
Beginning on March 13, federal forces directed fire from heavy .50 caliber machineguns into the AIM positions. The following month was characterized by alternating periods of negotiation, favored by the army and the marshals - which the FBI and GOONs did their best to subvert - and raging gun battles when the latter held sway. Several defenders were severely wounded in a firefight on March 17, and on March 23 some 20,000 more rounds were fired into Wounded Knee in a 24-hour period.
The FBI's "turf battle" with the "soft" elements of the federal government rapidly came to a head. On April 23, Chief U.S. Marshal Colburn and federal negotiator Kent Frizzell were detained at a GOON roadblock and a gun pointed at Frizzell's head. By his own account, Frizzell was saved only after Colburn leveled a weapon at the GOON and said, "Go ahead and shoot Frizzell, but when you do, you're dead." The pair were then released. Later the same day, a furious Colburn returned with several of his men, disarmed and arrested eleven GOONs, and dismantled the roadblock. However, "that same night... some of Wilson's people put it up again. The FBI, still supporting the vigilantes, had [obtained the release of those arrested and] supplied them with automatic weapons." The GOONs were being armed by the FBI with fully automatic M-16 assault rifles, apparently limitless quantifies of ammunition, and state-of-the-art radio communications gear. When Colburn again attempted to dismantle the roadblock:
FBI [operations consultant] Richard [G.] Held arrived by helicopter to inform the marshals that word had come from a high Washington source to let the roadblock stand ... As a result the marshals were forced to allow several of Wilson's people to be stationed at the roadblock and to participate in ... patrols around the village. 39
On the evening of April 26, the marshals reported that they were taking automatic weapons fire from behind their position, undoubtedly from GOON patrols. The same "party or parties unknown" was also pumping bullets into the AIM/ION positions in front of the marshals, a matter which caused return fire from AIM. The marshals were thus caught in a crossfire. At dawn on the 27th, the marshals, unnerved at being fired on all night from both sides, fired tear gas cannisters from M-79 grenade launchers into the AIM/ION bunkers. They followed up with some 20,000 rounds of small arms ammunition. AIM member Buddy Lamont (Oglala), driven from a bunker by the gas, was hit by automatic weapons fire and bled to death before medics, pinned down by the barrage, could reach him.
When the siege finally ended through a negotiated settlement on May 7, 1973, the AIM casualty count stood at two dead and fourteen seriously wounded. An additional eight-to-twelve individuals had been "disappeared" by the GOONs. They were in all likelihood murdered and - like an untold number of black civil rights workers in the swamps of Mississippi and Louisiana - their bodies secretly buried somewhere in the remote vastness of the reservation.
Of the 60-plus murders occurring in an area in which the FBI held "preeminent jurisdiction," not one was solved by the Bureau. In most instances, no active investigation was ever opened, despite eye-witnesses identifying members of the Wilson GOON squad as killers.
U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Gerald Heaney, after reviewing numerous court transcripts and FBI documents, concluded that the United States Government overreacted at Wounded Knee. Instead of carefully considering the legitimate grievances of Native Americans, the response was essentially a military one.
While Judge Heaney believed that the "Native Americans" had some culpability in the firefight that day, he concluded the United States must share the responsibility. It never has. The FBI has never been held accountable or even publicly investigated for what one Federal petit jury and Judge Heaney concluded was complicity in the creation of a climate of fear and terror on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Other AIM casualties include Richard Oaks, leader of the 1970 occupation of Alcatraz Island by "Indians of All Tribes," who was gunned down in California the following year. Larray Cacuse, a Navajo AIM leader, was shot to death in Arizona in 1972. In 1979, AIM leader John Trudell, preparing to make a speech in Washington, was told by FBI personnel that, if he gave the speech, there would be "consequences." Trudell not only made his speech, calling for the U.S. to get out of North America and detailing the nature of federal repression in Indian country, he burned a U.S. flag as well. That night, his wife, mother-in-law, and three children were "mysteriously" burned to death at their home on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada.
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