Rep. Peter King of New York said recently there will be plenty of dirt revealed on the FBI and CIA after Attorney General Bill Barr concludes his investigation into the efforts to sabotage Donald Trump’s election campaign.
I have news for Mr. King. Both agencies have been involved in nasty business for decades, the difference is most of the nastiness focused on ordinary citizens, including your humble blogger, and not rich crony capitalists like Trump.
In the mid-1970s, the Church Committee revealed all manner of illegal and unethical behavior by both the FBI and the CIA, mostly directed against political opponents of the state.
For the FBI, it was COINTELPRO, while the CIA engaged in a number of operations in America forbidden by its charter. Both presidents Johnson and Nixon worked with the CIA to undermine the antiwar movement. Nixon characterized those opposed to the illegal war in Vietnam as “a wild orgasm of anarchists sweeping across the country like a prairie fire.”
The American Civil Liberties Union described it as follows:
Until the mid-1970’s, both the CIA and the National Security Agency (“NSA”) illegally investigated Americans. Despite the statutory provision in its charter prohibiting the CIA from engaging in law enforcement or internal security functions (50 U.S.C. 403-3(d)(1)), the CIA spied on as many as seven thousand Americans in Operation CHAOS. This operation in the 1960’s and early 1970’s involved spying on people who opposed the war in Vietnam, or who were student activists or were so-called black nationalists. Operation CHAOS involved an extensive program of information sharing from the FBI and other agencies to the CIA. The CIA received all of the FBI’s reports on the American peace movement, which numbered over 1,000/month by June of 1970, according to a Senate report issued by the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect To Intelligence Activities (” Church Committee Report”). The Church Committee Report revealed how simple passive information sharing from other agencies to the CIA became authorized spying and data collection on lawful American political activity protected by the First Amendment.
But the CIA’s role pales in comparison to that of the FBI. The Church Committee found the agency guilty of
- violating and ignoring the law;
- exceeding its powers with regard to domestic intelligence activity;
- using excessively intrusive techniques against United States citizens;
- using covert action to disrupt and discredit domestic groups;
- abusing intelligence information for political purposes; and
- having inadequate controls, as well as no accountability.
In addition, the agency engaged in violence against and assassination of political activists, primarily black nationalists.
According to COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story,
Between 1968-1971, FBI-initiated terror and disruption resulted in the murder of Black Panthers Arthur Morris, Bobby Hutton, Steven Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence, Tommy Lewis, Welton Armstead, Frank Diggs, Alprentice Carter, John Huggins, Alex Rackley, John Savage, Sylvester Bell, Larry Roberson, Nathaniel Clark, Walter TourÈ Pope, Spurgeon Winters, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Sterling Jones, Eugene Anderson, Babatunde X Omarwali, Carl Hampton, Jonathan Jackson, Fred Bennett, Sandra Lane Pratt, Robert Webb, Samuel Napier, Harold Russell, and George Jackson.
Brain Glick describes (War at Home) the tactics used by the FBI:
1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
2. Psychological Warfare From the Outside: The FBI and police used myriad other “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.
3. Harassment through the Legal System The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” inter views, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.
4. Extralegal Force and Violence: The FBI and police threatened, instigated, and themselves conducted break-ins, vandalism, assaults, and beatings. The object was to frighten dissidents and disrupt their movements. In the case of radical Black and Puerto Rican activists (and later Native Americans), these attacks-including political assassinations-were so extensive, vicious, and calculated that they can accurately be termed a form of official “terrorism.”
None of this illegal and unethical behavior is even mentioned in passing when the corporate propaganda media reports on how the FBI and CIA were used to sabotage Trump’s presidential bid. Both these agencies of the state were established primarily to destroy serious political opposition and disfavored governments.
In short, it’s only a problem when the political class is targeted. The untold destruction of careers, reputations, and the lives of political activists and others outside the establishment is of so little importance it barely warrants mention.
In fact, COINTELPRO-like operations targeting political groups and individuals continue to this day and ramped up considerably after 9/11 and the passage of the PATRIOT Act. The most notable takedown was that of the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, the targeting of political outcasts on both the right and left are ongoing.