Hip-Hop Fridays: COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story Part 3
Justice Hangs in the Balance
Although COINTELPRO was first exposed during the Watergate period, and incomparably more serious than anything charged against Nixon, it was virtually ignored by the national press and journals of opinion. A review of these programs demonstrates the relative insignificance of the charges raised against Nixon and his associates, specifically, the charges presented in the Congressional Articles of Impeachment. 124
In the early 1970s, there occurred a seemingly endless series of revelations about governmental transgressions. A "credibility gap" was engendered by the federal executive branch having been caught lying too many times, too red-handedly and over too many years in its efforts to dupe the public into supporting the U.S. war in Southeast Asia. This had reached epic proportions when Daniel Ellsberg leaked the "Pentagon Papers," a highly secret government documentary history of official duplicity by which America had become embroiled in Indochina, and caused particularly sensitive excerpts to be published in the New York Times. 125
Then on March 8, 1971, a group calling itself the Citizen's Commission to Investigate the FBI, broke into an FBI office in a small town called Media, Pennsylvania. They subjected the FBI to what the FBI has been habitually subjecting political dissidents to throughout the course of its history. That is, in Bureau parlance, a black bag job. The information they obtained was widely distributed through left and peace movement channels, and summarized the following week in the Washington Post. 126
An analysis of the documents in this FBI office revealed that 1 percent were devoted to organized crime, mostly gambling; 30 percent were "manuals, routine forms, and similar procedural matter"; 40 percent were devoted to political surveillance and the like, including two cases involving right-wing groups, ten concerning immigrants, and over 200 on left or liberal groups. Another 14 percent of the documents concerned draft resistance and "leaving the military without government permission." The remainder - only 15% - concerned bank robberies, murder, rape, and interstate theft. 127
"Among the 34 cases [of infiltration] for which some information is available, 11 involved white campus groups, 11, predominantly white peace groups and/or economic groups; 10, black and Chicano groups; and two right-wing groups." Furthermore, "in two-thirds of the 34 cases considered here, the specious activists appear to have gone beyond passive information gathering to active provocation." 128
One year later, the political scandal known as Watergate began to unravel, when five men were arrested for breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate apartment and office complex in Washington, D.C. It was soon discovered that one of the men was employed by the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP or CREEP) and that the break-in had been planned by two others with close ties to the White House.
In this peculiar and potentially volatile set of circumstances, a government-wide effort was undertaken to convince the public that its institutions were fundamentally sound, albeit in need of fine-tuning and a bit of housecleaning. It was immediately announced that U.S. ground forces would be withdrawn from Vietnam as rapidly as possible. Televised congressional hearings were staged to "get to the bottom of Watergate," a spectacle which soon led to the resignations of a number of Nixon officials, the brief imprisonment of a few of them, and the eventual resignation of the president himself.
The ousting of Richard Nixon for his misdeeds on August 9, 1974 was described in the nation's press as "a stunning vindication of our constitutional system." 129 Yet the Watergate affair -- allegedly the media's finest hour -- merely demonstrated their continued subservience to power and official ideology. Until the dust had settled over Watergate, there was virtually no mention of the government programs of violence and disruption or comment concerning them, and even after the Watergate affair was successfully concluded, there has been only occasional discussion.
Beginning in 1974, the Senate held hearings to investigate COINTELPRO and other intelligence agency abuses. No other congressional investigation into these types of matters has been so extensive, either before or since.
The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, commonly known as the Church committee, after Chairman Frank Church, produced a extensive series of reports entitled, "Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans," encompassing not only COINTELPRO, but also a wide variety of other subjects, including electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, domestic CIA mail opening programs, the misuse of the IRS, the assassination of President Kennedy, covert actions abroad, assassination plots involving foreign leaders, and various topics related to military intelligence.
The Church committee found that COINTELPRO, presumably set up to protect national security and prevent violence, actually engaged in other actions "which had no conceivable rational relationship to either national security or violent activity. The unexpressed major premise of much of COINTELPRO is that the Bureau has a role in maintaining the existing social order, and that its efforts should be aimed toward combating those who threaten that order."
This meant that the Bureau would take actions against individuals and organizations simply because they were critical of government policy. The Church committee report gives examples of such actions, violations of the right of free speech and association, where the FBI targeted people because they opposed U.S. foreign policy, or criticized the Chicago police actions at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The documents assembled by the Church committee "compel the conclusion that Federal law enforcement officers looked upon themselves as guardians of the status quo" and cite the surveillance and harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of this.
With regard to COINTELPRO, the Church committee's report was based, it says, on a staff study of more than 20,000 pages of Bureau documents, and included depositions of many of the Bureau agents involved in the programs. The FBI eventually acknowledged having conducted 2,218 separate COINTELPRO actions from mid-1956 through mid-1974. These, the bureau conceded, were undertaken in conjunction with other significant illegalities: 2,305 warrantless telephone taps, 697 buggings, and the opening of 57,846 pieces of mail. 130 This itemization, although an indicator of the magnitude and extent of FBI criminality, was far from complete. The counterintelligence campaign against the Puerto Rican independence movement was not mentioned at all, while whole categories of operational techniques - assassinations, for example, and obtaining false convictions against key activists - were not divulged with respect to the rest. There is solid evidence that other sorts of illegality were downplayed as well.
The FBI's quid pro quo for cooperating in this charade seems to have been that none of its agents would actually see the inside of a prison as a result of the "excesses" thereby revealed. 131 The result was that "The Justice Department has decided not to prosecute anyone in connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 15-year campaign to disrupt the activities of suspected subversive organizations." 132
J. Stanley Pottinger, head of the Civil Rights Division, reported to the attorney general that he had found "no basis for criminal charges against any particular individuals involving particular incidents." The director of the FBI also made clear that he saw nothing particularly serious in the revelations of the Church and Pike Committees. There is as yet no public record or evidence of any systematic investigation of these practices. The press paid little heed to the record that was being exposed during the Watergate period and even since has generally ignored the more serious cases and failed to present anything remotely resembling an accurate picture of the full record and what it implies.
The object of all this muscle-flexing was, of course, to create a perception that congress had finally gotten tough, placing itself in a position to administer appropriate oversight of the FBI. It followed that citizens had no further reason to worry over what the Bureau was doing at that very moment, or what it might do in the future.
In 1975 the Senate Select Committee concluded that in order to complete its (re)building of the required public impression, it might be necessary to risk going beyond exploration of the Bureau's past counterintelligence practices and explore ongoing (i.e.: ostensibly post-COINTELPRO) FBI conduct vis a vis political activists.
Specifically at issue in this connection was what was even then being done to the American Indian Movement, and hearings were scheduled to begin in July. But this is where the Bureau, which had been reluctantly going along up to that point, drew the line. The hearings never happened. Instead, they were "indefinitely postponed" in late June of 1975, at the direct request of the FBI. 133
The Church committee cites the testimony of FBI director Clarence M. Kelley as indication that even after the official end of COINTELPRO, "faced with sufficient threat, covert disruption is justified." 134
The Legacy of COINTELPRO
The repression of dissident groups can be traced far back into US history, at least to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, by which "the Federalists sought to suppress political opposition and to stamp out lingering sympathy for the principles of the French Revolution," or to the judicial murder of four anarchists for "having advocated doctrines" which allegedly lay behind the explosion of a bomb in Chicago's Haymarket Square after a striker had been killed by police in May 1886. 135 The Pinkerton Detective Agency, a private investigating agency of the ninteenth century, made extensive use of informants, strike-breakers and provocateurs.
During the first World War, when the long-time, powerful head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover led the Bureau of Investigation, there was a "mass deprivation of rights incident to the deserter and selective service violator raids in New York and New Jersey in 1918..." 136 What happened is that 35 Bureau Agents assisted by police and military personnel and a "citizens auxiliary" of the Bureau, "rounded up some 50,000 men without warrants of sufficient probable cause for arrest."
In 1920 the Bureau, along with Immigration Bureau agents, carried on the "Palmer Raids" (authorized by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer), which, in 33 cities rounded up 10,000 persons. The Church Committee report 137 talks of "the abuses of due process of law incident to the raids," quoting a scholarly study 138 that these raids involved "indiscriminate arrests of the innocent with the guilty, unlawful seizures by federal detectives..." and other violations of constitutional rights.
The Church Committee cites a report of distinguished legal scholars 139 made after the Palmer Raids, and says the scholars "found federal agents guilty of using third-degree tortures, making illegal searches and arrests, using agents provocateurs...."
Attorney General Palmer justified his actions "to clean up the country almost unaided by any virile legislation" on grounds of the failure of Congress "to stamp out these seditious societies in their open defiance of law by various forms of propaganda":
Upon these two basic certainties, first that the "Reds" were criminal aliens, and secondly that the American Government must prevent crime, it was decided that there could be no nice distinctions drawn between the theoretical ideals of the radicals and their actual violations of our national laws. Palmer's "information showed that communism in this country was an organization of thousands of aliens, who were direct allies of Trotzky." Thus "the Government is now sweeping the nation clean of such alien filth," with the overwhelming support of the press, until they perceived that their own interests were threatened. 140
Elsewhere he described the prisoners as follows:
Out of the sly and crafty eyes of many of them leap cupidity, cruelty, insanity, and crime; from their lopsided faces, sloping brows, and misshapen features may be recognized the unmistakable criminal type.
Palmer's declared purpose was "to tear out the radical seeds that have entangled American ideas in their poisonous theories." 141
One early FBI target was Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Under his leadership, UNIA, which to this day remains the largest organization of African Americans ever assembled, devoted itself mainly to the realization of various "bootstrapping" strategies (i.e., undertaking business ventures as a means of attaining its twin goals of black pride and self-sufficiency).
Nonetheless, despite UNIAs explicitly capitalist orientation, or maybe because of it, Hoover launched an inquiry into Garvey's activities in August 1919. When this initial probe revealed no illegalities, Hoover, railing against Garvey's "pro-Negroism," ordered that the investigation be not only continued but intensified. UNIA was quickly infiltrated by operatives recruited specifically for the purpose, and a number of informants developed within it. Still, it was another two years before the General Intelligence Division was able to find a pretext - Garvey's technical violation of the laws governing offerings of corporate stock - upon which to bring charges of "mail fraud." Convicted in July 1923 by an all-white jury, the UNIA leader was first incarcerated in the federal prison at Atlanta, then deported as an undesirable alien in 1927. By then, the organization he'd founded had disintegrated. Hoover, in the interim, had vowed to prevent anyone from ever again assuming the standing of what he called a "Negro Moses."
World War II brought a return of the FBI to counterintelligence operations as President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a series of instructions establishing the basic domestic intelligence structure for the federal government. Roosevelt was advised by Hoover to proceed with the utmost degree of secrecy:
In considering the steps to be taken for the expansion of the present structure of intelligence work, it is believed imperative that it proceed with the utmost degree of secrecy in order to avoid criticism or objections which might be raised to such an expansion by either ill-informed persons or individuals having some ulterior motive ... Consequently, it would seem undesirable to seek any special legislation which would draw attention to the fact that it was proposed to develop a special counterespionage drive of any great magnitude. 142
According to William C. Sullivan, Hoover's assistant for many years:
Such a very great man as Franklin D. Roosevelt saw nothing wrong in asking the FBI to investigate those opposing his lend-lease policy -- a purely political request. He also had us look into the activities of others who opposed our entrance into World War II, just as later Administrations had the FBI look into those opposing the conflict in Vietnam. It was a political request also when he [Roosevelt] instructed us to put a telephone tap, a microphone, and a physical surveillance on an internationally known leader in his Administration. It was done. The results he wanted were secured and given to him. Certain records of this kind ... were not then or later put into the regular FBI filing system. Rather, they were deliberately kept out of it. 143
The passage in 1940 of the Smith Act, made "sedition" a peacetime as well as a wartime offense. The doctrine was laid out clearly by Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson in his opinion upholding of the Smith Act on the grounds "that it was no violation of free speech to convict Communists for conspiring to teach or advocate the forcible overthrow of the government, even if no clear and present danger could be proved." For if the clear and present danger test were applied, Jackson argued, "it means that Communist plotting is protected during its period of incubation; its preliminary stages of organization and preparation are immune from the law, the Government can move only after imminent action is manifest, when it would, of course, be too late." Thus there must be "some legal formula that will secure an existing order against revolutionary radicalism.... There is no constitutional right to `gang up' on the Government." Opposition tendencies, however minuscule, must be nipped in the bud prior to "imminent action."
Hoover claimed that in 1940, "advocates of foreign isms" had succeeded in boring into every phase of American life, masquerading behind front organizations. 144 In 1939, Hoover told the House Appropriations Committee that his General Intelligence Division had compiled extensive indices of individuals, groups, and organizations engaged in subversive activities, in espionage activities, or any activities that are possibly detrimental to the internal security of the United States.. . . Their backgrounds and activities are known to the Bureau. These indexes will be extremely important and valuable in a grave emergency. 145
After World War II, the FBI's attention turned from fascism to communism. This was the beginning of the Cold War. In March of 1946, Hoover informed Attorney General Tom Clark that the FBI had
found it necessary to intensify its investigation of Communist party activities and Soviet espionage cases and it was taking steps to list all members of the Communist party and any others who might be dangerous in the event of a break with the Soviet Union, or other serious crisis involving the United States and the USSR.. . . It might be necessary in a crisis to immediately detain a large number of American citizens. 146
As for the Communist party, "ordinary conspiracy principles" sufficed to charge any individual associated with it "with responsibility for and participation in all that makes up the Party's program" and "even an individual," acting alone and apart from any "conspiracy," "cannot claim that the Constitution protects him in advocating or teaching overthrow of government by force or violence." 147
In 1948, the Mundt-Nixon bill, calling for the registration of the Communist party, was reported out of Nixon's House Committee on Un-American Activities. Senate liberals objected, and after a Truman veto they proposed as a substitute "the ultimate weapon of repression: concentration camps to intern potential troublemakers on the occasion of some loosely defined future 'Internal Security Emergency'," 148 including, as one case, "insurrection within the United States in aid of a foreign enemy." 149
This substitute was advocated by Benton, Douglas, Graham, Kefauver, Kilgore, Lehman, and Humphrey, then a freshman senator. Humphrey later voted against the bill, though he did not retreat from his concentration camp proposal. In fact, he was concerned that the conference committee had brought back "a weaker bill, not a bill to strike stronger blows at the Communist menace, but weaker blows." The problem with the new bill was that those interned in the detention centers would have "the right of habeas corpus so they can be released and go on to do their dirty business." 150
In 1949 the attorney general's list was established, excluding members of "communist front organizations" from federal employment, since their influence on government policies would be such that those policies will either favor the foreign country of their ideological choice or will weaken the United States government domestically or abroad to the ultimate advantage of the ... foreign power. Consequently, [Mr. Hoover] urged that attention be given to the association of government employees with front organizations.
These included not only established fronts but also temporary organizations, spontaneous campaigns, and pressure movements so frequently used by subversive groups. If a disloyal employee was affiliated with such fronts, he could be expected to influence government policy in the direction taken by the group. 151
The first formal COINTELPRO, aimed at the U.S. Communist Party, commenced on August 28, 1956. Although this was the first instance in which the Internal Security Branch was instructed to employ the full range of extralegal techniques developed by the bureau's counterintelligence specialists against a domestic target in a centrally coordinated and programmatic way, the FBI had conducted such operations against the CP and to a lesser extent the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) on an ad hoc basis at least as early as 1941.
Instructively, Hoover began at the same time to include a section on "Negro Organizations" in reports otherwise dedicated to "Communist Organizations" and "Axis Fifth Columnists." In 1954 there was also the Communist Control Act, a statute outlawing the CP and prohibiting its members from holding certain types of employment.
Viewed against this backdrop, it is commonly believed that, however misguided, COINTELPRO-CPUSA was in some ways well intended, undertaken out of a genuine concern that the CP was engaged in spying for the Soviet Union. Declassified FBI documents, however, reveal quite the opposite. While espionage and sabotage "potentials" are mentioned almost as afterthoughts in the predicating memoranda, unabashedly political motives take center stage. The objective of the COINTELPRO was, as Internal Security Branch chief Alan Belmont put it at the time, to block the CP's "penetration of specific channels of American life where public opinion is molded" and to prevent thereby its attaining "influence over the masses."
From the outset, considerable emphasis was placed on intensifying the bureau's long-standing campaign to promote factional disputes within the Party. To this end, the CP was infiltrated more heavily than ever before. It has been estimated that by 1965 approximately one-third of the CP's nominal membership consisted of FBI infiltrators and paid informants, while bona fide activists were systematically snitch jacketed. A formal "Mass Media Program" was also created, "wherein derogatory information on prominent radicals was leaked to the news media."
The programs directed against the Communist party continued through the 1960s, with such interesting innovations as Operation Hoodwink from 1966 through mid-1968, designed to incite organized crime against the Communist party through documents fabricated by the FBI, evidently in the hope that criminal elements would carry on the work of repression and disruption in their own manner. 152
In October 1961, the "SWP Disruption Program" was put into operation against the Socialist Workers Party. The grounds offered, in a secret FBI memorandum, were the following: the party had been "openly espousing its line on a local and national basis through running candidates for public office and strongly directing and/or supporting such causes as Castro's Cuba and integration problems...in the South." The SWP Disruption Program, put into operation during the Kennedy administration, reveals very clearly the FBI's understanding of its function: to block legal political activity that departs from orthodoxy, to disrupt opposition to state policy, to undermine the civil rights movement.
The FBI has continued to violate the constitutional rights of citizens through the 1980's, up to 1990, as revealed by Ross Gelbspan in his book Break-Ins, Death Threats And The FBI. Utilizing thousands of pages of FBI documents secured through the Freedom of Information Act, Gelbspan found that activists who opposed U.S. policy in Central America "experienced nearly 200 incidents of harassment and intimidation, many involving...break-ins and thefts or rifling of files." Gelbspan’s intent was to "add a small document to the depressingly persistent history of the FBI as a national political police force."
During the 1980's as the FBI waged an "active measures" campaign against the Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), a former FBI informant, Frank Varelli, became disillusioned with the Bureau's attempt to destroy CISPES. Acting on disinformation supplied by the murderous Salvadoran National Guard, false information was forwarded by the FBI to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The National Guard claimed that one FMLN coalition member, the Armed Revolutionary Group (GAR), "were to promote in North America a strong and violent campaign of agitation and propaganda on behalf of FMLN-FDR, having obtained immediate support from different sectors of North American society. Among the groups providing support were labor unions, Gay Power groups, Pro- Abortion groups, groups involved in the women's liberation movement, and organizations that are opposed to the strengthening of the military forces of the US." 153
Although not a shred of evidence existed linking these North American organizations to the GAR, the groups were included in the National Guard communique -- at the direct request of the FBI.
According to Varelli, "Can you imagine if gay rights groups, abortion rights groups, the Equal Rights Amendment groups were known to support a group that had killed more than 20 police and soldiers in a year?" The informant added, "Once the FBI had this data in their files, they could proceed to investigate all these other groups. What is even worse, the FBI knew that this material from the National Guard was strictly disinformation. But they passed the same material along to the Secret Service, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other agencies in the intelligence community without alerting them to the fact that it was completely fabricated." 154
The FBI found it "imperative to formulate some plan of attack against CISPES," not because of its suspected involvement in terrorism or any other criminal activity, but because of its association with "individuals [deleted] who defiantly display their contempt for the U.S. government by making speeches and propagandizing their cause." In plain English, CISPES was politically objectionable to the Bureau - no more, or less - and was therefore deliberately targeted for repression. 155
The investigation was ultimately expanded to include not only CISPES itself, but nearly 2000 organizations and individuals with which CISPES had some sort of interactive relations. This included pastors of local churches who were sympathetic to the Salvadorean peasantry, and Duke University, which provided meeting space.
The Bureau admits it paid Varelli from 1981 to 1984 to infiltrate CISPES. Varelli has testified that the FBI's stated objective was to "break" CISPES.
He recounts a modus operandi straight out of the annals COINTELPRO - from break-ins, bogus publications and disruption of public events to planting guns on CISPES members and seducing CISPES leaders in order to get blackmail photos for the FBI. 156
Alerted by Varelli's disclosures, the Center for Constitutional Rights obtained a small portion of the Bureau's CISPES files and released them to the press. The files show the U.S. government targeting a very broad range of religious, labor and community groups opposed to its Central America policies. They confirm that the FBI's objective was to attack and "neutralize" these groups. 157
Mainstream media coverage of these revelations elicited a flurry of congressional investigations and hearings. Publicly exposed, the FBI tried to scapegoat the whistle blower. Its in-house investigation found Varelli "unreliable" and held that his reports of CISPES terrorism were false. The Bureau denied any violation of the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens or involvement in the hundreds of break-ins reported by Central America activists. A grand total of six agents received "formal censure" and three were suspended for 14 days. FBI Director William Sessions declared the case closed, a mere "aberration" due to "failure in FBI management." 158
The Judi Bari Bombing
There is no better example than the Judi Bari "boom and bust" case to show that the FBI kept on well into the 1990s using covert action tactics against political movements and activists which they perceived as threats to the established order. One can make a case that the FBI is still using such tactics in the Bari case in 2001.
The car bombing of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney on May 24, 1990 made headlines across the nation. At the FBI's instigation, Oakland California police immediately arrested the two nonviolent environmental leaders and told the media that they were terrorists blown up by their own bomb. For the next two months, the FBI and police held a series of press conferences where they dribbled out false evidence of the pair's guilt to feed a drumbeat of sensational media coverage.
But there was clear evidence that Bari was targeted because of her leftist environmental and labor organizing. Someone wanted to stop the two Northern California Earth First! leaders, the organizers of Redwood Summer, the largest ever campaign of nonviolent protests against corporate liquidation logging of the redwoods.
After two months, the Alameda County District Attorney declined to file any charges, citing lack of evidence against the pair. There is evidence, though, from the FBI's own files, that agents falsified evidence, suppressed exonerating evidence, and conspired with Oakland police to frame the two bombing victims. Moreover, the records show that the FBI stubbornly refused to do a genuine investigation of the bombing, and failed to pursue real evidence and leads turned over to them, such as fingerprints or death threats Bari received.
Bari, the mother of two young daughters, was nearly killed when the powerful motion-triggered pipe bomb wrapped with nails for shrapnel effect blew up directly under her driver's seat. The bomb caused horrifying maiming and crippling injuries, leaving her with a paralyzed right foot and unending pain for the rest of her life.
Bari and Cherney were on an organizing tour for their campaign, which at first they called Mississippi Summer in the Redwoods in homage to the civil rights movement that inspired it. The idea was to have mass nonviolent civil disobedience to delay the cutting of redwoods long enough to let voters decide the issue in November 1990, when two statewide timber reform initiatives would be on the ballot. The call went out to college students across America: Come to Northern California and save the redwoods.
In the June 10, 1990 San Francisco Examiner, writer Jane Kay raised the issue of law enforcement interest:
"Environmental activism is the new target of political suspicion and surveillance, and law enforcement agencies are stepping up action against those who demand radical change. Calling them agitators, outsiders, the mafia and extremists, local, state and federal investigators and prosecutors say they suspect them of violent acts -- or the potential for them. They have responded in the last year with arrests, searches, seizures and questioning."
FBI files contained evidence of Bari and Cherney's innocence, but not until three years after the bombing did the FBI begin (grudgingly) to disclose that evidence, and then only under court order and Congressional pressure. A year after the bombing, with no progress in the official investigation, and with the FBI still telling the media that there were no other suspects but Bari and Cherney, the pair filed a federal civil rights suit against the FBI and Oakland Police, charging them with conspiring "to suppress, chill and 'neutralize' their constitutionally protected activities in defense of the environment."
Now Bari and Cherney could investigate the bombing themselves, using civil discovery and subpoena power to compel the FBI and police to turn over files and evidence and to submit to questioning under oath. Ten years later, their charges are supported by over 20,000 pages of evidence, including FBI files and the testimony of over 70 FBI agents and police officers. The evidence of police misconduct is strong enough that the suit has survived repeated motions by the FBI and Oakland to dismiss it.
Bari and Cherney discovered that police crime scene photos clearly showed that the bomb ripped a two foot by four foot hole in the floorboard centered directly under the driver's seat. FBI files revealed that a top explosives expert, agent David R. Williams, inspected the bombed car three weeks after the explosion and showed the local agents that the bomb had been completely hidden under the driver's seat. He told them the bomb was detonated by a motion trigger, and had functioned as designed rather than exploding accidentally.
That put the lie to FBI statements that the bomb was on the back seat floorboard where they would have seen it -- the principal claim used to justify arresting Bari and Cherney for possession and transportation of an explosive device. Knowing full well from their own expert's testimony that Bari and Cherney were innocent victims, the FBI and Oakland police continued to lie to the media for another five weeks, saying they had plenty of evidence they were the bombers.
Bari's last work in her life was to oversee a crucial phase of her lawsuit so that her legal team could take the case to trial on behalf of her children, to clear her name, and to secure the rights of all activists to be free from FBI interference with their constitutional rights. Although she died of cancer on March 2, 1997, the suit is continued by Bari's estate and Cherney.
Bari felt sure as soon as it happened that timber interests were behind the bombing. She told investigating officers in the hospital that she began receiving death threats soon after she had announced plans for Redwood Summer. Police found copies of written threats in her bombed car.
Perhaps the key incident that made her the target of the bomb attack was her demand for government seizure of timber corporation property. Bari appeared in a coalition with Louisiana Pacific workers before an April 3, 1990 meeting of Mendocino County's Board of Supervisors. LP had closed several sawmills as the trees were used up, leaving many of their workers jobless. Bari demanded that the county use eminent domain powers to seize LP corporate timberlands and turn them over to the workers.
Her property seizure demand and her coalition with disgruntled timber workers certainly focused negative timber industry attention on Bari, and probably the FBI's too. A local paper published a large front page photo of Bari from the board meeting. A copy of that photo with the circle and cross hairs of a rifle scope drawn over her face was the most frightening death threat Bari received, she said. The photo was smeared with excrement and stapled to the door of the Mendocino Environmental Center along with a yellow ribbon, the symbol of timber industry support groups opposed to Redwood Summer and Proposition 130, the "Forests Forever" initiative on the November ballot.
If the "Forests Forever" initiative, Prop. 130, had passed in the fall 1990 election, the three big logging corporations of the redwood region -- Georgia Pacific, Louisiana Pacific and Pacific Lumber -- would have lost billions of dollars. It would have put an end to unsustainable liquidation logging and clearcutting, and ended industry control over the board that wrote timber regulations.
With an enormous financial motive to defeat the initiative, the corporations hired the giant public relations firm Hill & Knowlton to manage a PR campaign to turn public opinion against the initiative. An important part of the campaign was to derail Redwood Summer. It was drawing media attention to the overlogging, which would work in favor of Prop.130.
There were many signs of an orchestrated COINTELPRO-like campaign of harassment and intimidation against Bari and other environmentalists in the weeks before the bombing. Someone cooked up counterfeit EF! flyers and press releases calling for violence and sabotage during Redwood Summer, and Pacific Lumber and Louisiana Pacific knowingly distributed the fakes to workers, community members and media in a move calculated to deceive people about EF!'s nonviolent intentions and create an atmosphere of hatred and violence toward environmentalists.
As the FBI and police smeared Bari, Cherney and Earth First! as terrorists after the bombing, the PR company quickly put out propaganda falsely labeling Prop. 130 "the Earth First! initiative," and calling it "too extreme." By some reports, they spent up to $20 million by the time voters defeated the initiative by a narrow margin.
FBI records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that the FBI infiltrated and spied on Earth First! almost from its beginning in 1980, with the earliest known FBI report on it dated 1981. Heavily censored FBI documents obtained through Bari's suit indicate weekly meetings in spring 1990 between an FBI agent and a secret informant in Northern California. Deposition testimony by Oakland Police Department officers and FBI agents states the FBI had an informant on EF! leaders, and the FBI told OPD that Cherney and Bari were already "the subjects of an investigation in the terrorist field" when they were bombed. They could have been under surveillance when the bomb was placed.
Just before the Bari bombing, the FBI was wrapping up "Operation Thermcon" in Arizona, a 3-year covert operation employing over 50 FBI agents designed to entrap and discredit EF! and its co-founder Dave Foreman as explosive-using terrorists. The FBI infiltrated a tiny Arizona EF! group with an undercover agent provocateur, won their trust over a couple of years, and tried to persuade them to use thermite, an explosive incendiary, to take down a power line. The activists refused the FBI infiltrator's offer to provide explosives, and he settled for providing them with a cutting torch instead. The FBI provocateur provided the equipment, trained the activists in its use, chose the target, drove them to the site, and joined an FBI strike team in busting them in the act on May 31, 1989, almost a year to the day before the Bari bombing. Foreman was not directly involved, but was charged with conspiracy for providing $100 to the group. The resulting "Arizona Five" trial ended in plea bargains in August, 1991, with prison sentences for two of the activists, and with probation and fines for the others, including Foreman. Note that the Bari bombing came midway between the arrest and the trial in the Thermcon case.
Thermcon was the FBI's code name meaning "thermite conspiracy," but there was no thermite involved except in the FBI scheme to tie EF! to explosives despite the fact they have never advocated or used explosives in their entire history. The FBI had a public relations goal in Thermcon, to deceive the public into believing EF! were violent extremists so as to neutralize their effectiveness and isolate them from public support. It was a classic COINTELPRO against Earth First!
The true goal of Thermcon was revealed when Michael Fain, the FBI's undercover agent provocateur in the case, accidentally left his body wire running and recorded his conversation with other agents. On the tape, Fain is heard to say, "I don't really look for them to be doing a lot of hurting people. (Foreman) isn't really the guy we need to pop -- I mean in terms of an actual perpetrator. This is the guy we need to pop to send a message. And that's all we're really doing. . . . Uh-oh! We don't need that on tape! Hoo boy!" The FBI's true goal was to "send a message" to the public that Earth First! was a terrorist group.
Bari and Cherney's investigation turned up several connections between the timber industry and the FBI, including a chummy "Dear Bill" letter sent to FBI Director William Sessions by a board member of Maxxam, which owns Pacific Lumber.
Louisiana Pacific had an FBI connection that directly involved bombs. One month before the Bari bombing, the FBI conducted a bomb investigator school in Humboldt County. FBI terrorist squad bomb expert Frank Doyle blew up cars with pipe bombs on a Louisiana Pacific logging site, then his students practiced investigating. Louisiana Pacific was the company whose timberlands Bari asked the government to seize, after which she immediately began receiving death threats.
There is the mystery of another bomb at an LP sawmill in Cloverdale, California, about an hour's drive south of Bari's home. Two weeks after the FBI bomb school (and two weeks before Bari's car exploded), a partly-exploded firebomb was found. That bomb, a pipe bomb next to a can of gasoline, failed to fully explode or to ignite the gasoline. A cardboard sign near the firebomb bore the words, "LP screws millworkers," a message that could be associated with Bari. A cardboard sign next to a firebomb makes no sense, unless it was designed to fail and to leave evidence that could be used to help to frame Bari for the Oakland bomb two weeks later.
The FBI lab found that the Cloverdale and Oakland bombs matched exactly in components and construction method, and were built by the same person(s). This same type of bomb was studied at the FBI bomb school two weeks earlier, according to testimony of an Oakland officer who was there. Investigators found a usable fingerprint on the cardboard sign, but there is no record that the FBI ever tried to match the print to Bari or Cherney, or to anyone else.
Less than an hour after the Oakland explosion, none other than Special Agent Frank Doyle, the bomb school instructor, took charge of the bomb scene investigation. There were at least five of his bomb school students at the scene, and they were overheard on a videotape joking about the scene being the "final exam." Since he was the FBI's terrorist squad bomb expert and their instructor the other FBI and Oakland bomb investigators who were at the scene first deferred to his pronouncements about the evidence.
It was Doyle who overruled the Oakland sergeant who got there first and said the bomb was under the driver's seat and that he could see the pavement under the car through the hole in the seat bottom. It was Doyle who falsely said the bomb was on the floor behind the driver's seat where it would have been easily seen. It was also Doyle who falsely claimed that two bags of nails found in the back of Bari's car matched nails taped to the bomb for shrapnel effect, when in fact they were not even the same type, and were clearly different to the naked eye. (Bari worked as a carpenter, and always had tools and nails in the car.)
Other officers on the scene testified that Doyle argued with them, and quoted him saying, "I've been looking at bomb scenes for 20 years, and I'm looking at this one, and I'm telling you you can rely on it. This bomb was visible to the people who loaded the back seat of this car."
Exactly three weeks later, when Supervisory Special Agent David R. Williams -- the FBI crime laboratory's top explosives expert -- inspected the bombed car, he pointed out to Doyle that impact marks left by the pipe bomb's end caps on the transmission tunnel and driver's door, combined with the location of the hole in the floorboard and the damage to the seat cushion, clearly proved the bomb was under the driver's seat, not in the back where Doyle had said.
Despite this early clear evidence that Bari was the target of attempted murder, the FBI and Oakland PD continued telling the media and the court that Bari and Cherney were their only suspects, and fabricating other stories about nails from the bomb matching nails found in Bari's house. Repetition is a fundamental of the "Big Lie" propaganda technique, maintaining a drumbeat of false information until it is accepted by the media and the public as the truth. There can be no doubt that the FBI was knowingly lying about the evidence.
M. Wesley Swearingen, a retired career FBI agent with first-hand inside knowledge of COINTELPRO wrote in his book "FBI Secrets -- An Agent's Expose:
"(COINTELPRO) is still in operation today, but under a different code name. The operation is no longer placed on paper where it can be discovered through the release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act. … A clear example of the FBI's continued COINTELPRO is in the FBI's alleged involvement in the 1990 bombing of the vehicle occupied by Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney ... which was an effort to neutralize Judi Bari."
There could hardly have been a more ideal location than Oakland for an FBI covert operation against Bari. The media coverage of the Oakland bombing was far more extensive, and was far more easily manipulated by the FBI, than if it had happened in Mendocino or Humboldt Counties where Bari lived and spent nearly all of her time. Oakland was the home of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, which bore the brunt of the most extreme COINTELPRO of all, including multiple assassinations and frame-ups of its leaders. The Oakland Police Department has a long history of cooperating with the Bureau in targeting progressive and radical groups.
In deposition in the Bari case, OPD intelligence division chief Kevin Griswold admitted that his department keeps files on over 300 political groups and individuals in the Bay Area. Griswold said the Oakland Police have spied on EF! since 1984, and had their own informant inside EF! who reported back to Griswold on plans for upcoming demonstrations. This even though EF! is not based in Oakland and was not active there prior to the Bari bombing.
Griswold said he shares information from his spies with the FBI.
Encouraging and tapping into political spying operations run by local police like Oakland's was one of the key ways the FBI got around the Attorney General's guidelines that barred the bureau from purely political spying.
The special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco office at the time of the bombing was Richard W. Held, a 26-year veteran of the FBI's COINTELPRO "dirty tricks" campaigns against the Black Panthers, American Indian Movement and Puerto Rican independence activists.
Under deposition under oath in the Bari case, Held claimed he was unaware of the details of the Bari-Cherney case, and implied that it was not important enough to merit his attention. But files in the San Francisco FBI office contained a memo from Washington ordering his office to provide weekly reports on the Bari case so that headquarters could respond to the "numerous inquiries" they were getting from the media. Held's testimony was also contradicted by FBI agents under his command who said in their depositions that they briefed him daily on the case.
The unraveling of the frame-up of Bari and Cherney may have brought an early end to Held's 25-year FBI career. It is a strong tradition in the FBI not to embarrass the bureau. Held announced his early resignation from the FBI in May of 1993, the day before Bari held a press conference with the newly released Oakland Police crime scene photos exposing the FBI lies about the location of the bomb. Held told reporters he resigned because he expected reassignment to a new post and didn't want to move his family. His father, Richard G. Held, had risen to the high post of Deputy Director of the FBI, and Held's career track was headed for the top as well. He told reporters his mother cried when he told her he was resigning, so clearly Held's FBI career was very important to him and his family, and it seems unlikely he would end it early just to avoid a relocation.
Other cases have come to light where the FBI allegedly used bombs to frame radicals twenty years before the Bari bombing. FBI agent provocateur David Sannes was used to get radicals in Seattle to use bombs so that they could be arrested and discredited. When he learned that the FBI wanted him to set up one bomber to die in a booby-trapped explosion, he refused to go along and went public.
Sannes said in an interview on WBAI radio "My own knowledge is that the FBI along with other Federal law enforcement agencies has been involved in a campaign of bombing, arson and terrorism in order to create in the mass public mind a connection between political dissidence of whatever stripe and revolutionaries of whatever violent tendencies."
Though the Seattle cases happened in the early 1970s, just before the supposed termination of COINTELPRO, the goal of the FBI's Operation Thermcon at the time of the Bari bombing 20 years later was to connect well-known Earth First! leaders with the use of explosives in the public mind, the same FBI strategy Sannes exposed in the Seattle cases.
Until the Bari-Cherney suit finally has its day in court, beginning October 1, 2001, many questions will lie unanswered. But it seems more rational than paranoid to believe there was an FBI and corporate timber connection to the bombing. Both timber and the FBI had ample motives, history, means and opportunity to bomb Bari. There are also FBI connections to both Maxxam/Pacific Lumber and Louisiana Pacific -- even involving bombs, in LP's case.
Big Timber's PR firm may have planned the bombing and arranged the FBI cooperation in the frame-up, but it meshed perfectly with the FBI's own Operation Thermcon to neutralize Earth First! by trying to connect its best known leaders to explosives, first Dave Foreman, then Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney.
Judi Bari was the redwood timber industry's most outspoken, brilliant, and effective opponent. The industry would go to any length to defeat Prop. 130, because billions of dollars were at stake. Framing Judi Bari for a bombing would serve that goal. It would be used to demonize Earth First! as violent extremists. Then voters could be turned against the initiative by falsely linking it with Earth First!.
And that's exactly what they did.
The bombing was expertly planned, including the Cloverdale sawmill bomb which the FBI immediately cited as evidence of Bari's guilt in her own bombing. Both bombs were expertly conceived and built, according to the FBI's top expert, and the one in Bari's car functioned as designed. Because of that, Bari believed the bombing was a professional hit.
The bombing happened in the midst of a sophisticated psychological warfare blitz of disinformation, intimidation and death threats, while Bari was organizing the biggest mass demonstrations against corporate overlogging in history, while she was taking on multi-billion dollar corporations and threatening their bottom line, and while she was building a coalition between timber workers and environmentalists by pointing to the corporations as the problem. She had also led Earth First! in her region to disavow tree-spiking and equipment sabotage, and insisted that a strict non-violence code be adhered to during Redwood Summer. The fact that Bari was an outspoken advocate of nonviolence gave all the more sensational impact to framing her as a terrorist bomber.
In depositions the FBI agents involved in the Bari investigation admitted that they never found any evidence whatsoever that she built the bomb that nearly killed her, or any other bomb, But the FBI has never issued any statement of exoneration or any apology. Not only has the FBI not retracted their false charges, they continue to repeat them. Speaking to students at an October 1999 Humboldt State University recruiting event, FBI agent Candice DeLong told the students: "Judi Bari was a terrorist. They were carrying that bomb." The FBI recently spent $200,000 of the taxpayers' money paying a U. S. Air Force laboratory to do simulation experiments aimed at showing that the bomb could have been in the back seat of Bari's car after all.
Regardless who bombed Bari, it is plainly evident that FBI agents made a determined effort to frame her for it. After years of delay by the FBI, Bari's civil rights suit is set for trial beginning October 1, 2001 in federal court in Oakland.
1 Civil Liberties, no. 273, December 1970; publication of the ACLU.
2 Race, Reform and Rebellion, Marable, pp. 102-3. For more on the Detroit rebellion, see Hersey, John, The Algiers Motel Incident, Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, New York, 1968. Of related interest, see Hayden, Tom, Rebellion in Newark: Official Violence and Ghetto Response, Vintage Books, New York, 1967; and Gilbert, Ben W., et. al., Ten Blocks From the White House: Anatomy of the Washington Riots of 1968, Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, New York, 1968. For an overall appraisal of the motivations underlying the urban rebellions from the perspective of a former CORE field secretary, see Wright, Nathan Jr., Black Power and Urban Unrest: Creative Possibilities, Hawthorn Books, Inc., New York, 1967. In general, see Boesel, David, and Peter H. Rossi (eds.), Cities Under Siege: An Anatomy of the Ghetto Riots, 1964-1968, Basic Books, New York, 1971.
3 Hoover, statement, July 26, 1950 (Harry S. Truman Library, Bontecore Papers), from Ideological Warfare: The FBI's Path Toward Power, Frank M. Sorrentino, Associated Faculty Press, Inc. 1985.
4 See Memorandum from F.J. Baumgardner to W.C. Sullivan, October 1, 1964; Memorandum from Sullivan to A. Belmont, August 30, 1963; J. Edgar Hoover, chairman, Interdepartmental Intelligence Conference Report to McGeorge Bundy, special assistant to the President, July 25, 1961, enclosing IIC, Status of U.S. Internal Security Programs, July 1, 1960, through June 30, 1961. From Ideological Warfare, op. cit.
5 Special Report of Interagency Committee on Intelligence (Ad Hoc), Chairman J. Edgar Hoover, along with the directors of the CIA, DIA, and NSA, prepared for the President, June 25, 1970, marked "Top Secret." A censored version was later released. Quotes are from Book 7, Part 1: Summary of Internal Security Threat.
6 C. Gerald Fraser, "F.B.I. Action in 1961 Called Still Harmful to Hopes of Blacks," New York Times, April 6, 1974. See also Jesse Jackson and Alvin Poussaint. "The Danger Behind FBI Obstruction of Black Movements," Boston Globe, April 2, 1974.
8 Nerve War Against Individuals, forwarded to CIA station in Guatemala City on June 9, 1954 http://www.parascope.com/ds/articles/nervewardoc.htm
10 John Kifner, "F.B.I. Gave Chicago Police Plan of Slain Panther's Apartment," New York Times, May 25, 1974. Although the act of FBI involvement in the Hampton assassination, along with other details of this major state crime, was not widely publicized outside of Chicago, nevertheless there were a few reports, such as this one. There can be no excuse for the general silence on this matter, which alone overshadows the entire Watergate Affair by a substantial margin.
11 On the significance of the threat, both actual and potential, as perceived at high levels of policy planning, see Noam Chomsky's review of some of the evidence contained in the "Pentagon Papers" in _For Reasons of State_, chapter 1. For discussion of the impact on the American expeditionary force, see David Cortright, _Soldiers in Revolt_, Doubleday, 1975).
12 January 22, 1969 memo from SAC, Chicago, to Director Hoover, cited in The COINTELPRO Papers, by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, South End Press.
13 Kelly's memorandum is reproduced in U.S. Department of Justice, Report of the Justice Department Task Force to Review FBI Martin Luther King, Jr., Security and Assassination Investigations, Washington, D.C., January 11, 1977.
14 Cross is mentioned in a memorandum from Atlanta agent Robert A. Murphy to J. Stanley Pottinger, at FBI headquarters, in July 1958. Interestingly, Murphy suggests the "SWP connection" is not a sufficient basis from which to undertake a COMINFIL investigation. Pottinger apparently did not agree; see Pottinger, J. Stanley, "Martin Luther King Report" (to U.S. Attorney General Edward H. Levi), U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., April 9,1976.
15 The King file was opened by the New York rather than Atlanta field office. It should be noted that although the Bureau has always maintained that there was no COMINFIL activity directed at King and the SCLC during the 1950s, the code prefixed to the files on both was "100," indicating they were viewed as "internal security" or "subversive" matters. The numerical file prefix for material accruing from what was considered an investigation of civil rights activities per se would have been "44."
16 See U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, FBI Statutory Charter - Appendix to Hearings Before the Subcommittee an Administrative Practice and Procedure, Part 3, 95th Congress, 2d Session, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1979, pp. 33-73.
17 Concerning King see Lee v. Kelly, Civil Action No. 76-1185, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, "Memorandum Opinion and Order" (by U.S. District Judge John Lewis Smith, Jr.), January 31, 1977. Certain of the information on both King and Walker was attributed by FBI Associate Director Cartha D. DeLoach to NAACP head Roy Wilkens (see report on the SCLC from Atlanta agent Robert R. Nichols to DeLoach, dated July 1961). Wilkens later vehemently denied any such interaction between himself and the Bureau; see Lardner, George Jr., 'Wilkens Denies Any Link to FBI Plot to Discredit King," Washington Post, May 31, 1978.
18 Levison's CP membership was never established although it was demonstrable that he maintained dose relations with party members from roughly 1949 through '54. The speech attributed to Wofsy was actually drafted by Levison and can be found in Proceedings of the Fourth Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO, Vol. 1, American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations, Washington, D.C., 1962, pp. 282-9. Levison also had much to do with the preparation of the manuscript for King's first book Stride Toward Freedom (Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York, 1958); see King, Coretta Scott, My Life With Martin Luther King, Jr., Holt, Rinehart and Winston Publishers, New York, 1969.
19 Such Bureau activities with regard to Levison were nothing new and seem to have stemmed largely from reports coming from "Solo," two brothers - Jack and Morris (Chilofsky) Childs - who served from as early as 1951 as highly placed FBI informants within the CP, USA. It was they who appear to have originally 'linked" Levison to the party even though they could never attest to his actual membership and essentially stopped referring to him by early 1954. J. Edgar Hoover's predictable (and quite unsubstantiated) response was to declare Levison a "secret" CP member; see Garrow, op. cit., pp. 21-77.
20 Memorandum, SAC, New York, to Director, FBI, captioned "Martin Luther Kin& Jr., SM-C," and dated June 21, 1962. Shortly thereafter, the New York field office began to openly affix a COMINFIL caption to correspondence concerning King and the SCLC. The Atlanta field office followed suit on October 23. The designation was officially approved by FBI headquarters supervisor R.J. Rampton in identical letters to the SACs on the latter date.
21 Targeting the SCLC under COINTELPRO-CP, USA was first proposed by the SAC, New York in a memorandum to Hoover dated September 28,1962. The operation was approved by memo in an exchange between Assistant Director William C. Sullivan and one of his aides, Fred J. Baumgardner, on October 8. The initial five newspapers selected for purposes of surfacing the anti-King propaganda were the Long Island Star-Journal, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, Birmingham (AL) News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, and the St. Louis Globe Democrat (where the reporter utilized in spreading the lies was Patrick J. Buchanan, later part of the White House press corps under Presidents Nixon and Reagan, as well as a current host on the Cable News Network Crossfire program).
22 The ELSURS authorization was signed by Kennedy on October 10, 1963 and provided to FBI liaison Courtney A. Evans. The attorney general's main concern, detailed in the minutes of his meeting with Evans, seems to have been not that the bugging and tapping of King and the SCLC for purely political purposes was wrong but that it might be found out. Once Evans convinced him that this was genuinely improbable, "the Attorney General said he felt [the FBI] should go ahead with the technical coverage of King on a trial basis, and to continue if productive results were forthcoming." See Denniston, Lyle, "FBI Says Kennedy OKed King Wiretap," Washington Evening Star, June 18,1969. Also see OLeary, Jeremiah, "King Wiretap Called RFK's Idea," Washington Evening Star, June 19, 1969. Concerning continuation of the taps after the "trial period" had concluded, see Rowan, Carl, "FBI Won't Talk about Additional Wiretappings," Washington Evening Star, June 20,1969.
23 The New York SAC reported in a memorandum to Hoover, dated November 1, 1963, and captioned 'Martin Luther Kin& Jr., SM-C; CIRM (JUNE)," that his agents had tapped all three SCLC office lines in his area of operations, with coverage on two lines beginning October 24. He also recommended installation of a tap on the residence line of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin; the tap was approved and installed in early January 1964. On November 27,1963, the Atlanta SAC informed Hoover by a memo captioned "COMINFIL, RM; Martin Luther Kin& Jr., SM-C (JUNE)," that Atlanta operatives had tapped King's home phone and all four organizational SCLC lines in that city as of November 8.
24 For its disinformation campaign, the Bureau made ample use of "friendly media contacts" such as the nationally syndicated columnist Joseph Alsop, who proved quite willing to smear King in print on the basis of FBI "tips" lacking so much as a shred of supporting evidence. Concerning the IRS, as Garrow (op. cit.) notes at p. 114, 'in mid-March [1964) the Internal Revenue Service reported that despite careful scrutiny it had been unable to discover any violations in either King's or SCLC's tax returns. Director Hoover scrawled 'what a farce' on the margin when the disappointing memo reached his desk."
26 The instructions by Sullivan to Whitson and others are summarized in a memorandum from a member of the Internal Security Section named Jones to FBI Associate Director Cartha D. DeLoach on December 1, 1964, captioned simply 'Martin Luther King, Jr." For further information, see Lardner, George, Jr., "FBI Bugging and Blackmail of King Bared, Washington Post, November 19,1975. Also see Horrock, Nicholas M., "Ex-Officials Say FBI Harassed Dr. King to Stop His Criticism," New York Times (March 9,1978), and Kunstler, William, "Writers of the Purple Page," The Nation (No. 227, December 30, 1978).
27 Garrow, op. cit., p. 127. It appears DeLoach had to content himself with the "contributions" of right-wing hacks like Victor Riesel. However, Bureau efforts to place the "story" in more respectable quarters are known to have included overtures to - at the very least -reporters John Herbers of the New York Times, James McCartney of the Chicago Daily News, David Kraslow of the Los Angeles Times, Eugene Patterson of the Atlanta Constitution, Lou Harris of the Augusta Chronicle, and syndicated columnist Mike Royko. Herbers appears to have passed word of what was happening to civil rights leader James Farmer, who confronted DeLoach with the matter during an appointment on December 2, 1964.
28 There are serious questions concerning the possibility that the FBI might have been involved in the assassination of Martin Luther King. See, for example, Lane, Mark, and Dick Gregory, Code Name "Zorro:" The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Prentice-Hall Publishers, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1977. Also see Lawson, James, "And the Character Assassination That Followed," Civil Liberties Review, No. 5, July-August 1978. Of further interest, see Lewis, David L., King: A Biography, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1979, especially pp. 399-403.
29 Gid Powers, Richard, Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover, The Free Press, New York, 1987, p. 4,58.
30 Churchill, Ward, The COINTELPRO Papers, http://www.derechos.net/paulwolf/cointelpropapers/copap4.htm
34 For a review of some of these actions, see Dave Dellinger, More Power than We Know (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975); Gary T. Marx, "Thoughts on a Neglected Category of Social Movement Participant: The Agent Provocateur and the Informant," American Journal of Sociology, vol. 80, no. 2 (September 1974, pp. 402-42).
35 Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, South End Press, Boston, MA, 1990.
36 Churchill, Ward, The COINTELPRO Papers, http://www.derechos.net/paulwolf/cointelpropapers/copap7a.htm
37 Kunstler, William, My Life as a Radical Lawyer
38 Voices From Wounded Knee, 1973, (Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, D.C., 1974)p. 81. Warner and Potter were specifically ordered to wear civilian clothes, in order to hide the fact of direct military participation at Wounded Knee. They arranged for supply sergeants, maintenance personnel and medical teams to be present on the federal perimeter throughout the 71-day siege, all similarly attired in civilian garb. Further, the colonels placed a special army assault unit to be placed on 24-hour-a-day alert at Ft. Carson, Colorado for the duration of the siege. See The Nation, November 9,1974. Also see University Review, the same month.
39 Churchill, Ward, The COINTELPRO Papers, http://www.derechos.net/paulwolf/cointelpropapers/copap7b.htm
41 Dave Dellinger, More Power than We Know (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975) Many such cases have been exposed throughout the country.
42 For information on these and other FBI actions in Seattle, see Dellinger, op. cit., and Frank J. Donner, "Hoover's Legacy," Nation, June 1, 1974.
43 John M. Crewdson, "Ex-Operative Says He Worked for F.B.I. To Disrupt Political Activities up to '74," New York Times, February 24, 1975.
44 Donner Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1990, p. , P. 207
46 Michael Novick, "BLUE BY DAY, WHITE BY NIGHT: Organized White Supremacist Groups in Law Enforcement Agencies," People Against Racist Terror (PART), PO BOX 1990, Burbank, CA 91507, Revised and Updated, February 1993, p. 4
47 Ken Lawrence, "Vigilante Repression," Covert Action Information Bulletin, Washington, D.C., Number 31, Winter 1989
48 Michael Novick, White Lies, White Power. The Fight Against White Supremacy and Reactionary Violence, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine, 1995, PP. 35-57
49 For an insider's account of FBI racism and misogyny, particularly the Bureau's role in the frame-up of Black Panther Party leader Geronimo ji Jaga [Pratt] see: M. Wesley Swearingen, FBI Secrets: An Agent's Expose, South End Press, Boston, 1995
50 For a discussion of the nature of the FBI's "White Hate Groups" COINTELPRO see: Donner 1980, PP. 204-211
51 Donner Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1990, p. 206
52 Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1990, p. 309
53 National Lawyer's Guild, Counterintelligence: A Documentary Look at America's Political Police, Volume One, Chicago, 1978, p. 7
54 "Documents detail FBI-Klan links in early rights strife," Chicago Tribune, August 2,1978
55 Howell Raines, "Police Given Data on Boast by Rowe, The New York Times, July 14, 1978
56 Churchill and Vander Wall, The COINTELPRO Papers, p. 369
57 Elizabeth Wine, "Blacks Hope for Best as Feds Reopen Bombing Case," Reuters, July 21, 1997
58 The COINTELPRO Papers, p. 170
59 Donner, Protectors of Privilege, p. 214
61 Churchill And Vander Wall, op. cit., p. 182
62 Frank Donner, PROTECTORS OF PRIVILEGE: Red Squads and Police Repression in America, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1990, p. 360
65 Novick, op. cit., p. 4
66Donner, op. cit., p. 361
70 Novick, op. cit., p. 4
71 Ridgeway, op. cit. pp. 76-81
72 Peter Biskind, "The FBI's Secret Soldiers," New Times, Volume 6, Number 1, January 9, 1976, pp. 21-22
73 Everett R. Holles, "A.C.L.U. Says F.B.I. Funded `Army To terrorize Antiwar Protesters'," N.Y. Times, June 27, 1975. Information and quotes are from the 18-page single-space report submitted to the Senate Select Committee on June 27, 1975, unless otherwise indicated. See also Steven V. Roberts, "F.B.I. Informer Is Linked to Right-Wing Violence, N.Y. Times, June 24, 1974.
74 Biskind, op. cit., P. 21
76 CARIC, op. cit., PP. 5-6
77 Biskind, op. cit., P. 23
80 CARIC, op. cit., p. 6
81 Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., p. 182. Also, Godfrey "has testified in a California court that the bureau gave him $10,000 to $20,000 worth of weapons and explosives for use by the [SAO] in addition to his $250-a-month salary as an informant." John M. Crewdson, "Kelley Discounts F.B.I.'s Link to a Terrorist Group," N.Y. Times, January 12, 1976.
82 Biskind, op. cit., P. 25
84 The Bureau was also busy trying to split up the SNCC leadership during this period. In Agents, op. cit., at p. 50, a document is reproduced proposing a bogus letter designed to achieve this effect vis a vis H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael and James Forman.
85 See Newton, Huey P., To Die for the People, Vintage Books, New York, 1972, p. 191.
86 Current Political Prisoners - Victims of COINTELPRO, roundtable dicsussion of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, September 14, 2000 http://www.house.gov/mckinney/news/if_000914_humanrights.htm
87 Churchill, Ward, The COINTELPRO Papers, http://www.derechos.net/paulwolf/cointelpropapers/copap4.htm
93 Churchill, Ward, The COINTELPRO Papers, http://www.derechos.net/paulwolf/cointelpropapers/copap5a.htm
94 Summary, p. 5.
95 The "Key Black Extremist" tag seems to have been adopted for local use by the LA office COINTELPRO group from at least as early as January 20, 1969, based upon internal office memos. A memo from SAC, Los Angeles to the Director, dated 4/21/69 and captioned BLACK PANTHER PARTY-ARRESTS, RESTS, RACIAL MATTERS, recommended placing both Pratt and his second in command, Roger Lee Lewis, in the National Security Index.
96 Durden-Smith, op. cit., pp. 145-46.
97 This is readily borne out in a Bureau document, LA 157-3436 which, in Section V (MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS RELATING TO ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE BPP), describes how Pratt and several other Panthers, in a private residence, had sawn off the barrels of "15 to 20 weapons" (a legal act, so long as resulting barrel length is not less than 18 inches) during January of 1969; for no apparent reason, it stated that "it was believed the weapons were obtained in a burglary." The document then goes on to itemize other legal activities in which Pratt had engaged, such as target practice in the Mojave Desert, travel to and from Kansas City, providing a guided tour of the local BPP office for Angela Davis, etc. This is intermixed with suggestions (no reference to evidence of any sort) that Pratt illegally possessed at least one .45 caliber submachinegun and engaged in other criminal behavior.
98 Memo from SCA, Los Angeles to the Director, FBI, dated 5/6/69 and captioned ELMER PRATT, BR--CONSPIRACY states, "As the Bureau is aware, Los Angeles is investigating one bank robbery committed by persons known to be involved in 'US' [several words deleted] UNSUBS 131; BANK OF AMERICA, NT & SA, Jefferson HUI Branch, 3320 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, California, 1/10/69, BR')." The document then goes on, for no logical reason, to announce that BPP members "have possibly been involved in bank robbery matters in the Los Angeles area," singles Pratt out by name in a heavily deleted passage, and ends with the observation that, "A bank robbery conspiracy case is being opened in the Los Angeles Office on ELMER PRATT ... appropriate investigation to attempt to develop a conspiracy case will be conducted [emphasis added]." In a memo to the Director dated 6/5/69 and captioned "ELMER PRATT, BR--CONSPIRACY," the SAC, Los Angeles, eventually acknowledged that the matter was being dropped because "no information has been developed to indicate that any Black Panther Party (BPP) members have been plotting bank robberies in Los Angeles or elsewhere." The document concludes that the "captioned case is ... subject to being reopened at any time information is received to indicate that Pratt or other members of the BPP are plotting or are responsible for bank robberies."
99 Los Angeles office Field Report, LA 157-3553, dated 5/14/69. The character of the case reported upon is described as, "RM-SMITH ACT OF 1940; SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY AND INSURRECTION."The document was circulated to 8 Bureau offices, the Norton Air Force Base Office of Strategic Intelligence, 115th Military Intelligence Group, and the Secret Service in its initial distribution.
101 Summary at p. 6.
102 See Counterintelligence Report from the SAC, Los Angeles, to Director, FBI, (LA 157-17511), dated 6/3/69 and captioned "COUNTERINTELLIGENCE PROGRAM, BLACK NATIONALIST-HATE GROUPS, RACIAL INTELLIGENCE (BLACK PANTHER PARTY)." As to the younger Held's position in the LA-COINTELPRO operation, see Swearingen deposition, op. cit., p. 1: "1 knew RICHARD WALLACE HELD as head of the COINTELPRO section in Los Angeles [during this period]."
103 Durden-Smith, op. cit., p. 136, quotes Tackwood describing Cotton Smith before the raid, "cutting up this cardboard and making this budding, and he's putting little dolls with names on them, where they were, and associations and such and such." The LA version of the O'Neal floorplan in Chicago was thus apparently in three dimensions.
104 Although not so straightforward as the Chicago memoranda in the aftermath of the HamptonClark assassinations, a memo from SAC, Los Angeles to Director, FBI, dated 12/8/69 and captioned BLACK PANTHER PARTY, ARRESTS-RACIAL MATTERS, indicates the Bureau was directly involved in the LA raid and that the local FBI office sought credit for this "success." Among the BPP members listed in this document as having been arrested on (spurious) attempted murder charges and other offenses as a result of Bureau/police efforts on 12/8 are Robert Bryan, Roland Freeman, Craig Williams, Jackie Johnson, Wayne L. Pharr, Isiah Houston, Elmer Pratt, Sandra Lane Pratt (wife), Willie Stafford, Tommy E. Williams, Renee Moore, Paul Redd, Albert Armor, Melvin Smith and George Young. The situation seems to have sparked substantial interest at the very highest levels of the FBI, as is indicated by a memo on the matter between national COINTELPRO head W.C. Sullivan and his primary operational coordinator, G.C. Moore, dated 12/17/69, in which Moore expresses delight that, "Both Pratts were arrested for their participation in the shooting battle with the Los Angeles Police Department on 12-8-69."
105 Churchill, Ward, The COINTELPRO Papers, http://www.derechos.net/paulwolf/cointelpropapers/copap5a.htm
106 See "63 Verdicts End Panther Trial", Los Angeles Times, December 24, 1971.
107 The Glass House Tapes, op. cit., pp. 104-105.
108 Summary at pp. 1-2.
109 Richardson, Lee, "Ex-FBI Agent Exposes Use of Informants to Destroy the BPP," Freedom Magazine, 18:5, January 1985, P. 31.
110 Summary at P. 3; this was a matter raised in a motion for retrial by Johnnie Cochran, which was denied by trial judge Kathleen Parker.
111 Ibid. at p. 2.
112 Ibid. at pp. 91-93.
113 On prosecution presentation, see ibid. at pp. 2-3; on Newton faction refusal to testify for Pratt, see pp. 94-96.
114 AIRTEL from SAC, Los Angeles, to Acting Director, FBI, dated 7/18/72 (caption deleted), from The COINTELPRO Papers.
115 An "URGENT" Teletype, sent at 1:26 PM, 7-28-72, from the Los Angeles Field Office to the Acting Director, FBI, and reading, "LOS ANGELES SHERIFF'S OFFICE INTELLIGENCE, ADVISED INSTANT DATE ELMER GERARD PRATT FOUND GUILTY FIRST DEGREE MURDER ... DETAILS TO FOLLOW," gives some indication of the ownership and priority the Bureau felt in this case, from The COINTELPRO Papers.
116 See Amnesty International, Proposal for a commission of inquiry into the effect of domestic in telligence activities on criminal trials in the United States of America, Amnesty International, New York, 1980, p. 29: "[The defense obtained] over 7,000 pages of FBI surveillance records dated after 2 January 1969. Elmer Pratt claimed earlier records would reveal that he was at a meeting in Oakland at the time of the murder on 18 December 1968 but the FBI's initial response to this was that there had been no surveillance before 1969. This was later shown to be untrue."
117 See Elmer G. Pratt v. William Webster, et al., United States Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia (No. 81 1907) for presentation of the case, and Pratt v. Webster; et. al. (508 F. Supp. 751 [19811) for the ruling. The federal "national security" argument may be found in the reply brief (No. 81-1907).
118 For Judge J. Dunn's dissenting remarks, see his minority opinion In Re: Pratt, 112 Cal. App. 3d. 795,-Cal. Rptr. (Crim. No. 3 7534. Second Dist., Div. One. 3 December 1980); hereinafter referred to as "Minority' and "Majority. "
119 Proposal for a commission of inquiry into the effect of domestic in telligence activities on criminal trials in the United States of America, op. cit., pp. 107-110. Informant Reports and related memoranda on file.
120 Summary at p. 15.
121 Proposal for a commission of inquiry into the effect of domestic in telligence activities on criminal trials in the United States of America, op. cit., p. 25.
122 The document also posits "the absolute necessity for intensive investigative efforts in [political] matters."
123 Select Committee, Final Report, Book III, OP. cit., p. 517.
124 See New York Times, August 4, 1974, for documents and commentary.
125 This led directly to one of the three post-1971 "COINTELPRO-type" operations:"The leaking of derogatory information about Daniel Ellsberg's lawyer to Ray McHugh, chief of the Copley News Service." (Spying on Americans, op. cit., p. 151).
126 The break-in at the Media resident agency, which occurred on the night of March 8, 1971, compromised the secrecy of COINTELPRO and thereby set in motion a process of high level "re-evaluation" of the program's viability. This led to an April 28 memorandum from Charles D. Brennan, number two man in the COINTELPRO administrative hierarchy, to his boss, FBI Assistant Director William C. Sullivan. Brennan recommended the acronym be dropped, but that the activities at issue be continued under a new mantle "with tight procedures to insure absolute secrecy." Hoover's famous "COINTELPRO termination" memo of the following day was merely a toned-down paraphrase of the Brennan missive. In another connection, it should be noted that publication of the COINTELPRO documents taken from the Media office was not in itself sufficient to cause the FBI to admit either the long-term existence or the dimension of its domestic counterintelligence activities. Instead, this required a suit brought by NBC correspondent Carl Stern after the reporter had requested that Attorney General Richard Kleindienst provide him with a copy of any Bureau document which "(i) authorized the establishment of Cointelpro - New Left, (ii) terminated such program, and (iii) ordered or authorized any change in the purpose, scope or nature of such program" on March 20,1972. Kleindienst stalled until January 13, 1973 before denying Stern's request. Stern then went to court under provision of the 1966 version of the FOIA, with the Justice Department counter-arguing that the judiciary itself "lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint." Finally, on July 16, 1973 U.S. District Judge Barrington Parker ordered the documents delivered to his chambers for in camera review and, on September 25, ordered their release to Stern.
The Justice Department attempted to appeal this decision on October 20, but abandoned the effort on December 6. On the latter date, Acting Attorney General Robert Bork released the first two documents to Stern, an action followed on March 7,1974 by the release of seven more. By this point, there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, and the Senate Select Committee as well as a number of private attorneys began to force wholesale disclosures of COINTELPRO papers.
127 Examples abound. Early instances come with Jimmy Carter's Executive Order 12036, signed on January 24,1978, which moved important areas of intelligence/counterintelligence activity under the umbrella of "executive restraint" rather than effective oversight, and the electronic surveillance loopholes imbedded in S. 1566, a draft bill allegedly intended to protect citizens' rights from such police invasion of privacy, which passed the senate by a vote of 99-1 on April 20,1978. This was followed on December 4,1981 by Ronald Reagan's Executive Order 12333, expanding the range of activities in which U.S. intelligence agencies might "legally" engage. Then there was the Intelligence Identifies Protection Act of 1982 which made it a "crime" to disclose the identities of FBI informants, infiltrators and provocateurs working inside domestic political organizations. And, in 1983, Reagan followed up with Executive Order 12356, essentially allowing agencies such as the FBI to void the Freedom of Information Act by withholding documents on virtually any grounds they choose. Arguably, things are getting worse, not better.
128 For analysis and texts of the Media documents, see Paul Cowan, Nick Egleson, and Nat Hentoff, State Secrets (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973).
129 Henry Steele Commager, "The Constitution Is Alive and Well," New York Times, August 11, 1974. Commager, who has been forceful in defense of civil liberties and opposition to the Indochina war, states that prior to Nixon, "no President has ever attempted to subvert" the Constitution or "challenged the basic assumptions of our constitutional system itself." But "the system worked" and the challenge was defeated.
131 The classic articulation of how this was rationalized came in the 1974 Justice Department report on COINTELPRO produced by an "investigating committee" headed by Assistant Attorney General Henry Peterson. After reviewing no raw files (innocuously worded FBI "summary reports" were accepted instead), but still having to admit that many aspects of COINTELPRO violated the law, the Peterson committee nonetheless recommended against prosecuting any of the Bureau personnel involved. "Any decision as to whether prosecution should be undertaken must also take into account several other important factors which bear on the events in question. These factors are: first, the historical context in which the programs were conceived and executed by the Bureau in response to public and even Congressional demands for action to neutralize the self-proclaimed revolutionary aims and violence prone activities of extremist groups which posed a threat to the peace and tranquility of our cities in the mid and late sixties; second, the fact that each of the COINTELPRO programs were personally approved and supported by the late Director of the FBI; and third, the fact that the interference with First Amendment rights resulting from individual implemented program actions were insubstantial." The Senate Select Committee and other bodies went rather further in their research and used much harsher language in describing what had happened under COINTELPRO auspices, but the net result in terms of consequences to the Bureau and its personnel were precisely the same: none.
132 "Charges Over F.B.I.'s Tactics on Subversive Suspects Barred," Washington Star-News; New York Times, January 4, 1975.
133 For an in-depth analysis of the disinformation campaign at issue, see Weisman, Joel D., "About that 'Ambush' at Wounded Knee," Columbia Journalism Review, September-October 1975.
135 David Brion Davis, ed., _The Fear of Conspiracy_ (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971). A fifth committed suicide before the sentence of death could be executed. Three others were sentenced to hanging as well, but were not executed. No proof was offered that any of the eight had been involved in the bomb-throwing.
140 See excerpts from Palmer in Davis, _op. cit._ On the role of the press, see Levin, _op. cit._.
141 See excerpt in Davis, op.cit.
144 Proceedings of the Federal-State Conference on Law Enforcement Problems of National Defense, August 5-6, 1940. From Ideological Warfare, op. cit. p. 44.
145 U.S. Congress, House, House Committee on Appropriations, First Deficiency Appropriations Bill, Hearing, February 19, 1941, pp. 188-89. 77th Congress, 1st session. From Ideological Warfare, op. cit. p. 43.
146 Personal and confidential memorandum from Hoover to Attorney General Tom Clark, March 8, 1946. Ibid., p. 44-45.
153 Ross Gelbspan, "Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI: The Covert War Against the Central American Movement," South End Press, Boston, MA, 1991, pp. 71-72
155 For further information on the FBI's anti-CISPES operations, see Buitrago, Ann Mari, Report on CISPES Files Maintained by the FBI and Released under the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, Inc., New York, January 1988.
156 U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, Break-Ins at Sanctuary Churches and Organizations Opposed to Administration Policy in Central America, Serial No. 42, 100th Congress, 1st Session, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1988, Hearing of February 19 20,1987, pp. 432 ff. Also see Harlan, Christi, "The Informant Left Out in the Cold," Dallas Morning News, April 6,1986, Gelbspan, Ross, "Documents show Moon group aided FBI," Boston Globe, April 118,1988; and Ridgeway, James, "Spooking the Left," Village Voice, March 3, 1987. For more on Varelli's role and the FBI's attempt to scapegoat him, see Gelbspan, Ross, "COINTELPRO in the'80s: The 'New' FBI," Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 31 (Winter 1989), pp. 14-16.
157 See, for example, the FBI teletype on p. 18. Also see Buitrago, Report on CISPES Files Maintained by FBI Headquarters and Released Under the Freedom of Information Act, Fund for Open Information and Accountability, Inc., New York, 1988; Groups Included in the CISPES Files Obtained from FBI Headquarters, Center for Constitutional Rights, 1988; Ridgeway, James, "Abroad at Home: The FBI's Dirty War," Village Voice, February 9, 1988.
158 U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, CISPES and FBI Counter-Terrorism Investigations, Serial No. 122, 100th Congress, 2nd Session, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1989, Hearing of September 16,1988, pp. 116-27. The changing public positions taken by Webster and Sessions concerning the FBI's CISPES operations are well traced in Buitrago, Ann Mari, "Sessions' Confessions," Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 31 (Winter 1989), pp. 17-19.
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