Everyone here who remembers the sixties, raise your hands. Plenty of hands up. OK. How about the sixties era AND The New Left? A few hands went down. Now add COINTELPRO to the mix. The numbers are a lot smaller.
COINTELPRO ins the acronym for Counter Intelligence Program officially carried out by the FBI and the CIA between 1956 and 1971 against domestic political dissenters . Operation Chaos was a sister program of internal disruption devised to work in conjunction with the domestic spying program. The targets of COINTELPRO investigations included Black activist and civil rights groups, white hate groups, women’s, gay, and student anti-war groups. Groups were infiltrated. Some of the tactics used to disrupt them were:

Using “friendly” media to spread false and misleading stories
Planting spys and informants
Creating “snitch jackets” for leaders which created suspicion against them
Lying to many persons within an organization to create dissension
Planting evidence for false arrests, framing targets, convictions and long sentences
Encouraging the use of drugs and easy sex
Alerting local police to false crime scenes
Lying to spouses about sexual affairs
Police raids and shootouts

The program was officially disbanded in 1971 when the covert investigations were made public. The history of the COINTELPRO is described here:

Some of the techniques used to disrupt organizations engaged in protests and dissent were:
Planting informers within the group, or agents provocateur some of whom became leaders and encouraged violence. Often the followers would be arrested and convicted but the “leaders” went free. Wikipedia has a long list of relevant articles here
Here’s a sample

— President Truman received inside information on a former Roosevelt aide’s efforts to influence his appointments, labor union negotiating plans, and the publishing plans of journalists.

— The Kennedy Administration had the FBI wiretap a Congressional staff member , three executive officials, a lobbyist, and a Washington law firm. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy received the fruits of an FBI “tap” on Martin Luther King, Jr. and a “bug” on a Congressman, both of which yielded information of a political nature.

— President Johnson asked the FBI to conduct “name checks” of his critics and members of the staff of his 1964 opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater. He also requested purely political intelligence on his critics in the Senate, and received extensive intelligence reports on political activity at the 1964 Democratic Convention from FBI electronic surveillance.

The Cointelpro documents disclose numerous cases of the FBI’s intentions to stop the mass protest against the Vietnam War. Many techniques were used to accomplish the assignment. “These included promoting splits among antiwar forces, encouraging red-baiting of socialists, and pushing violent confrontations as an alternative to massive, peaceful demonstrations.” One 1966 Cointelpro operation attempted to redirect the Socialist Workers Party from their pledge of support for the antiwar movement.[12]

The FBI claims that it no longer undertakes COINTELPRO or COINTELPRO-like operations. However, critics claim that agency programs in the spirit of COINTELPRO targeted groups like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador,[13] the American Indian Movement,[14][2] Earth First![15] and the Anti-Globalization Movement.[citation needed]


These programs were highly successful in disrupting cohesion within a dissenting group.
The justification for this governmental conduct was based on a cold war model. The Soviet Union was assumed to be the hidden force behind internal dissent. The programs were narrowed but not terminated.

Much of today’s domestic covert action can also be kept concealed because of government secrecy that has been restored. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a source of major disclosures of COINTELPRO and other such activities, was drastically narrowed in the 1980s through administrative and judicial reinterpretation, as well as legislative amendment. While restoring such secrecy, the Reagan Administration also reinvigorated covert action, embracing its use at home and abroad. They endorsed it, sponsored it, and even legalized it to a great extent.

So here’s my point: The President G.W. Bush administration, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks pushed through another domestic surveillance program, FISA II:

The Act was amended in 2001 by the USA PATRIOT Act, primarily to include terrorism on behalf of groups that are not specifically backed by a foreign government.

An overhaul of the bill, the Protect America Act of 2007 was signed into law on August 5, 2007[2]. It expired on February 17, 2008.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 passed by the United States Congress on July 9, 2008.[3]

Here’s the Wikipedia article:

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“FISA” Pub.L. 95-511, 92 Stat. 1783, enacted October 25, 1978, 50 U.S.C. ch.36) is an Act of Congress which prescribes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers” (which may include American citizens and permanent residents suspected of being engaged in espionage and violating U.S. law on territory under United States control).[1]

The ability to expand FISA ‘s reach to individuals is possible here:

Lone wolf amendment

In 2004, FISA was amended to include a “lone wolf” provision. 50 U.S.C. § 1801(b){1)(C). A “lone wolf” is a non-US person who engages in or prepares for international terrorism. The provision amended the definition of “foreign power” to permit the FISA courts to issue surveillance and physical search orders without having to find a connection between the “lone wolf” and a foreign government or terrorist group.[21]


Candidate Barack Obama assured the Left leaning backers that he would not vote for FISA, which contains retroactive protections for telecommunications companies which have engaged in warrentless spying. He promised that he would “filibuster” the legislation should it come to the Senate floor:


Obama missed the February vote on that FISA bill as he campaigned in the “Potomac Primaries,” but issued a statement that day declaring “I am proud to stand with Senator Dodd, Senator Feingold and a grassroots movement of Americans who are refusing to let President Bush put protections for special interests ahead of our security and our liberty.”

And :

Obama came down on the side of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who argued that a provision in the new law reaffirmed that FISA, and that act’s courts, gives the final say over government spying. President Bush has argued that a war-time chief executive has powers that trump FISA. Really?

“It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance — making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law,” Obama said today.

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the most prominent Republican opponent of the compromise bill, issued a statement today calling that exclusivity provision “meaningless because that specific provision is now in [the] 1978 act.” Specter said Bush just ignored existing law in starting the warrantless surveillance program.

Candidate Barack Obama, constitutional lawyer, also distanced himself from repudiating Bush’s claim of the extension of executive powers by the use of signing statement, which allow a president to ignore a bill that he has previously signed. Signing statements undermine the checks and balances of governmental powers built into the American constitution.

Barack Obama has brought presidential campaigning into the 21st century, gathering tens of millions of email addresses from advocacy organizations like MoveOn.Org, environmental causes, donation lists, personal messages to the site and presidential data bases,etc. More personal data will be collected as part of the new HR1 stimulus plan for electronic updating of medical records. T from he program is called Barak Obama 2.0. The president will collect a huge group of community organizers (probably paid for in the new stimulus bill) that will collect data for the next election cycle.

And Oh My. What will he do with THAT.


3 Responses to COINTELPRO redux?

  1. mkfromla says:

    Yes I remember the 60’s and CoIntelPro.

    Anyone see the film Z?

    Came out about the same time as Catch-22.

    A time of nightmares.

  2. KerryLINY says:

    hmm. nice read. guess i’m a bit young but i’d never heard of that program till now. quite scary. this program if revived in any form whatsoever would virtually be an abuse of the 1st ammendment of the constitution.

  3. […] Barack Obama has brought presidential campaigning into the 21st century, gathering tens of millions of email addresses from advocacy organizations like MoveOn.Org, environmental causes, donation lists, personal messages to the …Continue […]

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