COINTELPRO: The FBI's Domestic War
"Between 1965 and 1975, the FBI opened more than 500,000 intelligence files on more than one million Americans, according to a Congressional report.... Among the Bureau's targets: Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, anti-Vietnam War Groups, and the underground press." - Center for Investigative Reporting1
"Purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt the BPP [Black Panther Party] and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge." - J. Edgar Hoover2
J. Edgar Hoover issued directives for COINTELPRO, a codename for Counter Intelligence Program, in 1956. The original intent was to monitor the Communist Party USA but quickly expanded its scope to infiltrate and marginalize a variety of groups such as the American Indian Movement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Black Panthers, as well as targeting high profile individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
The FBI's stated motivation was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order."3 (Emphasis added). They used harassment, wiretapping, psychological warfare, propaganda, and assassinations among other techniques to achieve their goals.
* * * *
On December 4th, 1969, the Chicago Police Department and FBI raided an apartment housing members of the Black Panther Party. At 4:45 am, the heavily armed police stormed the apartment, killing Panther member Mark Clark immediately, who was serving a security duty. Clark fired his shotgun, the only shot fired by the Panthers that day, while the police and FBI would end up shooting over 98 times.4 Forensics and firearms experts determined that Clark's shot was fired from very near the floor, indicating that Clark had already sustained grave injuries.
"That's Fred Hampton."
"Is he dead?... Bring him out."
"He's barely alive.
"He'll make it.
Two more shots were fired, point blank at Hampton's head.
"He's good and dead now."
|Fred Hampton's Bedroom: The Murder Scene|
Documents released by the Freedom of Information Act include a sketch of Hampton's apartment drawn by an FBI informant, used by police and FBI in the assassination. The informant received $300 from the FBI for providing the information.7
|Floor Plan provided by Informant|
“Brother Jeff: I've spent some time with some Panther friends on the west side lately and I know whats been going on. The brothers that run the Panthers blame you for blocking their thing and there's supposed to be a hit out for you. I'm not a Panther, or a Ranger, just black. From what I see these Panthers are out for themselves, not black people. I think you ought to know what their (sic) up to, I know what I'd do if I was you. You might here from me again. Signed, A Black Brother You Don't Know.”8
The use of bogus letters for sabotage and attempting to provoke violence was widely used by the FBI throughout COINTELPRO.
Why was Fred Hampton targeted? He was a rising leader in the Black Panther Party and was in the process of uniting various gang, including the Puerto Rican 'Young Lords' and the Caucasian 'Young Patriots' into a political coalition. He had the potential to drastically change the political landscape of Chicago by channeling the youth unrest that had previously been directed against other gangs and instead direct it at the political establishment to fight against police corruption and to generate socially constructive energies.
This type of action was directly antagonistic to one of the primary directives of COINTELPRO put forth by J. Edgar Hoover himself, which read:9
“In a period of two years — December, 1967 to December, 1969 — the Black Panther Party has expended in bail-bond premiums alone— just the premiums, that is, money that will never be returned — a sum in excess of $200,000! How many breakfasts or lunches for hungry children, how much medical attention sorely needed in the ghetto communities would that $200,000 have furnished?...In the same two-year period, twenty-eight Panthers were killed.”15
“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 maybe unrealistic to limit [our actions against King] to legalistic proofs that would stand up in court or before Congressional Committees.”17
|Heavily redacted letter sent by the FBI to Martin Luther King, Jr.|
“They [the Indians] are a conquered nation, and when you are conquered, the people you are conquered by dictate your future. This is a basic philosophy of mine. If I'm part of a conquered nation, I've got to yield to authority... [The FBI must function as] a colonial police force.” - Assistant Special Agent in Charge Norman Zigrossi20
“...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"]”26
“Too many people have been spied upon by too many Government agencies and too much information has been collected. The Government has often undertaken the secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts on behalf of a hostile foreign power. The Government, operating primarily through secret informants, but also using other intrusive techniques such as wiretaps, microphone "bugs", surreptitious mail opening, and break-ins, has swept in vast amounts of information about the personal lives, views, and associations of American citizens. Investigations of groups deemed potentially dangerous -- and even of groups suspected of associating with potentially dangerous organizations -- have continued for decades, despite the fact that those groups did not engage in unlawful activity...
The Constitutional system of checks and balances has not adequately controlled intelligence activities. Until recently the Executive branch has neither delineated the scope of permissible activities nor established procedures for supervising intelligence agencies. Congress has failed to exercise sufficient oversight, seldom questioning the use to which its appropriations were being put.”
Simply put, the committee's conclusions are correct but fall short. It is clear that for a period of nearly 3 decades, the FBI waged a literal domestic war on largely peaceful activists who sought to bring about social and political change. During the time of the Vietnam war, MK-ULTRA, the struggles of various civil rights movements, Watergate and other criminal acts in the executive branch, the United States drastically needed effective leaders and organizations to affect change yet the FBI successfully suppressed any serious movements that arose.
Food for thought:
How responsible is COINTELPRO for the fall of the American left in the 1970's?
How likely is it that other high profile assassinations similar to Fred Hampton, such as Martin Luther King Jr., actions undertake by the FBI under COINTELPRO orders?
What movements are currently being subverted by the FBI today?
Did J. Edgar Hoover leave a corrupt infrastructure when he retired in 1972, after 37 years of being the FBI Director?
Note: This information is also a part of my free eBook, 'Lifting the Veil: An Investigative History of the United States Pathocracy'. If you enjoy this post, please download the book by clicking this link.