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  • Tuesday, November 22, 2005


    The COINTELPRO Papers, Part the Second

    Reading The COINTELPRO Papers is both enlightening and depressing. In my previous post on the book, I provided a rather spare introduction to the subject. While I've only gotten to Chapter 3, the need to write something about it is upon me.

    The basic thesis is that while the "official" COINTELPRO period covers from about 1955 through the early 1970s, the types of tactics and general view of any dissidents in the USA goes back at least to 1919 and runs to the present day. On page 1, Churchill and Vander Wall state it clearly:
    In Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (South End Press, 1988), We endeavored to prove among other things that the Bureau has since its inception acted not as the country's foremost crime-fighting agency -- an image it has always actively promoted in collaboration with a vast array of "friendly" media representatives and "scholars" -- but as America's political police engaged in all manner of extralegality and illegality as expedients to containing and controlling political diversity within the United States. In essence, we argued that the FBI's raison d'être is and always has been the implementation of what the Bureau formally designated from the mid-1950's through the early '70s as "COINTELPRO" (COunterINTELligence PROgrams) designed to "disrupt and destabilize," "cripple," "destroy" or otherwise "neutralize" dissident individuals and political groupings in the United States, a process denounced by congressional investigators as being "a sophisticated vigilante operation."
    The pages of the book are filled with examples of the extraordinary lengths the FBI went to in this process. It's clear from the documents that the FBI was targeting groups for their political beliefs, not because of criminality or illegality of action.

    Some of the actions might fall under the heading of dirty tricks and disinformation but there are plenty of examples of repression so brutal it boggles my mind that they were performed in the USA. And I don't consider myself naïve in such matters.

    Listing the details here would probably be boring but perhaps I'll include some highlights in a future post.

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