Cointelpro: The Danger We Face
"COINTELPRO" was the FBI's secret program to undermine the popular upsurge which swept the country during the 1960s. Though the name stands for "Counterintelligence Program," the targets were not enemy spies. The FBI set out to eliminate radical political opposition inside the US. When traditional modes of repression (exposure, blatant harassment, and prosecution for political crimes) failed to counter the growing insurgency, and even helped to fuel it, the Bureau took the law into its own hands and secretly used fraud and force to sabotage constitutionally-protected political activity. Its methods ranged far beyond surveillance, and amounted to a domestic version of the covert action for which the CIA has become infamous throughout the world.
This pamphlet's historical analysis is based on confidential internal documents prepared by the FBI and police during the 60s. It also draws on the post-60s confessions of disaffected government agents, and on the testimony of pubic officialsbefore Congress and the courts. Though the information from these sources is incomplete, and much of what was done remains secret, we now know enough to draw useful lessons for future organizing.
The suggestions included in the pamphlet are based on the author's 20 years experience as an activist and lawyer, and on talks with long-time organizers in a broad range of movements. They are meant to provide starting points for discussion, so we can get ready before the pressure intensifies.Most are a matter of common sense once the methodology of covert action is understood. Please take these is-sues seriously. Discuss the recommendations with other activists. Adapt them to the conditions you face. Point out problems and suggest other approaches.
It is important that we begin now to protect our movements and ourselves.
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