The Return of COINTELPRO?

FBI_logoWell it certainly seems like it! Former Army Intelligence case officer in Vietnam, Jeff Stein writes for the Washington Post:

There was a time in the 1960s when the FBI’s illegal surveillance of left-wing groups seemed, and maybe even was, sinister if not broadly menacing. Parts of today’s Justice Department report on its more recent activities, however, evoke that old saw about history repeating itself as farce.

The Inspector General’s report covered a number of FBI targets following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: an antiwar rally in Pittsburgh; a Catholic peace magazine; a Quaker activist; and members of the environmental group Greenpeace as well as of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

My favorite story was about the rookie FBI agent who was dispatched to an antiwar rally in Pittsburgh with a camera and told to look for terrorism suspects.

It was “a slow work day,” the IG report said — the Friday after Thanksgiving 2002.

The “possibility that any useful information would result from this make-work assignment was remote,” the report said. The sponsor of the rally was the Thomas Merton Center, named for the Catholic priest who advocated pacifism and interfaith dialogue.

“The agent was unable to identify any terrorism subjects at the event, but he photographed a woman in order to have something to show his supervisor,” the IG report says. “He told us he had spoken to a woman leafletter at the rally who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, and that she was probably the person he photographed.”

The agent’s report, described as “results of investigation of Pittsburgh antiwar activity,” characterized the Merton Center as a “left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacificism [sic],” according to the IG report.

When the FBI activity surfaced in 2006, it caused a hullabaloo, of course. Activists raised the specter of a return to the bad old days, when the FBI was breaking into antiwar offices and fabricating poison-pen letters to create rivalries in the Black Panther Party, among others, in its infamous COINTEL program, which was designed to wreak havoc in left-wing groups.

The rookie agent’s post-Thanksgiving sojourn seemed nothing like that.

And compared with other, far more worrying invasions of civil rights by the government, such as its ongoing monitoring of Americans’ telephone calls and e-mails, it seems merely hapless.

But what came next is not…

[continues in the Washington Post]

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  • Hypnos1

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misdirection_%28magic%29

    The Washington Post is, at this point, little more than a state propaganda rag.

  • Hypnos1

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misdirection_%28magic%29

    The Washington Post is, at this point, little more than a state propaganda rag.

  • Butter Knife

    Return? What makes anyone think they ever STOPPED infiltrating and sabotaging left-wing or semi-anarchist groups? They admit to doing so with right-wing groups, and however we wish to align ourselves or tell us that one is more acceptable than the other, at the end of the day a fringe group trying to abolish some significant portion of the police state government is rather like another to the powers that be. I’d be more concerned if they weren’t trying to worm into PETA/ELF or Code Pink just like they try worming into the KKK and FLDS.

  • Butter Knife

    Return? What makes anyone think they ever STOPPED infiltrating and sabotaging left-wing or semi-anarchist groups? They admit to doing so with right-wing groups, and however we wish to align ourselves or tell us that one is more acceptable than the other, at the end of the day a fringe group trying to abolish some significant portion of the police state government is rather like another to the powers that be. I’d be more concerned if they weren’t trying to worm into PETA/ELF or Code Pink just like they try worming into the KKK and FLDS.

  • Vox Penii

    Cointelpro crossed some legal lines, but remember the context:

    The Communist International was vowing to use force to overthrow all non-Marxist governments, and was actively supporting insurgents worldwide with money, weapons and training.

    Marxist terrorist groups worldwide (Red Brigade, Black Panthers, Bader-Meinhoff, the Weather Underground, the Shining Path, et cetera) were killing police, military and civilians with impunity.

    Considering these facts, I think it’s unfair to cast Cointelpro as the villians — they were defending America from threats foreign and domestic … and sometimes they went too far.

  • Andrew

    careful what you wish for. cuz when the gubmint regulates/bans/infiltrates A, it’s not long before they apply the same rules to B, C, D, E and et cetera.

  • Andrew

    careful what you wish for. cuz when the gubmint regulates/bans/infiltrates A, it’s not long before they apply the same rules to B, C, D, E and et cetera.

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