The Return of COINTELPRO?

Picture: denis ponté

Tom McNamara, writing at Counterpunch:

“Democracies die behind closed doors” – Judge Damon J. Keith

For 15 years (1956-1971) the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ran a broad and highly coordinated domestic intelligence / counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgrams). What was originally deemed as a justifiable effort to protect the US during the Cold War from Soviet and Communist threats and infiltration, soon devolved into a program for suppressing domestic dissent and spying on American citizens. Approximately 20,000 people were investigated by the FBI based only on their political views and beliefs. Most were never suspected of having committed any crime.

The reasoning behind the program, as detailed in a 1976 Senate report, was that the FBI had “the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order.” The fact that the “perceived threats” were usually American citizens engaging in constitutionally protected behaviour was apparently overlooked. The stated goal of COINTELPRO was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” any individual or group deemed to be subversive or a threat to the established power structure.

The FBI’s techniques were often extreme, with the agency being complicit in the murder and assassination of political dissidents, or having people sent away to prison for life. Some of the more “moderate” actions that were used were blackmail, spreading false rumors, intimidation and harassment. It has been argued that the US is unique in that it is the only Western industrialized democracy to have engaged in such a wide spread and well organized domestic surveillance program. It finally came to an end in 1971 when it was threatened with public exposure.

Or did it?

In a stunning revelation from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), it appears that COINTELPRO is alive and well. Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, PCJF was able to obtain documents showing how the FBI was treating the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, from its inception, as a potential criminal and domestic terrorist threat. This despite the FBI’s own acknowledgement that the OWS organizers themselves planned on engaging in peaceful and popular protest and did not “condone the use of violence.”

The documents, while heavily redacted, give a clear picture of how the FBI was using its offices and agents across the country as early as August 2011 to engage in a massive surveillance scheme against OWS. This was almost a month before any actual protests took place or encampments were set up (the most famous being the one in New York City’s Zuccotti Park).

The FBI’s documents show a government agency at its most paranoid. It considered all planned protests, and the individuals involved, as potential threats. Most disturbing of all, there is talk (p. 61) of the government being ready to “engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas, if deemed necessary” and perhaps needing to formulate a plan “to kill the leadership [of the protest groups] via suppressed sniper rifles.”

Furthermore, the documents reveal a close and intricate partnership between the federal government on one side and banks and private businesses on the other.

On August 19, 2011, the FBI met with representatives of the New York Stock Exchange in order to discuss OWS protests that wouldn’t happen for another four weeks. In September of that year, even before OWS got into full swing, the FBI was notifying local businesses that they might be affected by protests. It is not clear if, while on Wall Street, the FBI investigated the criminal and irresponsible behavior engaged in by some of the largest banks on the planet, behavior which led directly to the financial crisis of 2008.

We are also introduced to a creature named the “Domestic Security Alliance Council” which, according to the federal government, is “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector.” A DSAC report tells us that any information shared between US intelligence agencies and their corporate partners should not be released to “the media, the general public or other personnel.”

In a curious coincidence, nine days after the PCJF’s embarrassing release of FBI documents, the New York Post ran a story about how a 27 year old woman and her “Harvard grad and Occupy Wall Street” boyfriend, Aaron Greene, were arrested by officers from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) after an alleged cache of weapons and bomb making explosives were found in their Greenwich Village apartment.

Read more here.

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  • Anarchy Pony

    Fascism, it’s what’s for dinner.

  • BuzzCoastin

    is this supposed to be a revelation
    or just a restatement of the facts for the already informed?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-M-Anderson/1289313527 George M. Anderson

    Remember kids: The answer to the statement “It can’t happen here” is “The Hell it can’t!”

  • geminihigh

    What more proof do people need to get through their heads that America isn’t a free country and hasn’t been for a really fuckin’ long time?

  • Metanaut

    in Seattle at an OWS march down by Pike Place market, i and a couple people looked up at one of the tallest buildings and saw a guy dressed in dark cloths on the roof with a long rifle, he pulled back one someone started to point him out. I’m sure he was there to snipe any people that were deemed to be “trouble”, if the march turned violent.

  • Hunt_Tony

    COINTELPRO is being used by people in drug court to pull more people into probation and the court system. Mayors of cities all over the country cover up drug charges by places people in drug court. In order to manipulate statistics and prove on paper that their city isn’t drug infested. Police officers and law enforcement provide alternate ways of punishing people involved in drugs like spreading rumors so that nobody wants to hire them. In addition, once someone has a drug charge on their record, police and law enforcement will follow a person where ever they go and COINTELPRO them in whatever city they are in. White people are targeted in majority black neighborhoods and the police don’t care because it creates more business for law enforcement. Black security officers in majority black neighborhoods target white people using the COINTELPRO statements given to them by neighborhood thugs.

  • Billie

    Has the FBIs illegal COINTELPRO ever ended? No – it hasn’t. It was never discontinued and no one was prosecuted. Those targeted by this illegal program were psychologically tortured, blacklisted, had their lives destroyed and some – assassinated.

    The FBI and others, still continue to target, harass, intimidate, surveille, and “torture” its innocent, lawful victims – even today. Only now, it’s under the guise of “fighting terrorism” – feed the beast. Search “Fight Gang Stalking”.