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ISR Issue 49, SeptemberOctober 2006
Spies, lies and war
The lessons of COINTELPRO
By SHERRY WOLF
SURVEILLANCE AND infiltration are weapons in the arsenal of the state machinery-from dictatorships like Egypt to Western democracies like the United States. How else could minority elites hope to monitor and stifle dissent among their exploited and oppressed majorities? Especially in times of war, when the façade of diplomacy is lifted and the true brutality of states is unleashed, a premium is placed on silencing or crushing any domestic discord that threatens national unity. War abroad, to put it bluntly, is always accompanied by intensified repression at home.
This is the context of the political bombshell dropped by the New York Times on December 16, 2005, when it exposed the Bush administration's wiretapping and spying on thousands of citizens and non-citizens through the National Security Agency (NSA). The corporate media focuses on the narrow debate inside the Beltway over whether or not the administration should be getting easily obtained warrants before intruding on the privacy of citizens and others. But part of the real scandal lies in the fact that the supposed opposition party, the Democrats, are in full agreement with the state's monitoring of e-mails, phone calls, and meetings. As Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) put it, “We all support surveillance.”1 As with the war on Iraq, the debate is over form, not content.
The American state has never hesitated to break its own laws-or make up new ones-in order to spy on and intimidate those who dare to disagree with its policies. Nor has it hesitated to use the tactics of scapegoating and fearmongering to further these aims. The post 9-11 hysteria against Arabs and Muslims, the heated passage of the Patriot Act, the surveillance, roundup, interrogation, detention, and deportation of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, is just the latest round. The tactic in each case is to target one part of the population, whip up hatred and hysteria, and use the new political climate to justify using similar measures against an ever-wider list of organizations and classes of people.
The Espionage Act of 1917, and an amendment, the Sedition Act of 1918 made it a crime to “willfully utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States,” punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to twenty years in prison. During the Palmer Raids in the aftermath of the First World War, the Bureau of Investigation-forerunner of the FBI-rounded up 6,000 radicals and exiled 1,000 foreign-born socialists and anarchists, using these acts as justification. During the McCarthyite witch-hunts of the 1940s and 1950s, a coalition of government bureaucrats, employers, and right-wing activists hounded and fired thousands of communists, leftists, trade unionists, and civil rights activists. These legal suspensions of democratic rights, often initiated by Democrats and almost always supported on both sides of the aisle, were promoted in the name of defending national security. Each time these activities expanded the scope of state repression. Radical historian Noam Chomsky describes how following the Second World War, Senate liberals including Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.) and Estes Kefauver (D-Tenn.) proposed “the ultimate weapon of repression: concentration camps to intern potential troublemakers on the occasion of some loosely defined future 'Internal Security Emergency.'”2 Not much has changed since then. Don Goldwater, son of the late senator Barry Goldwater and GOP candidate for governor in Arizona, recently called for the creation of forced labor camps for undocumented immigrants.3 The so-called liberal media, such as the New York Times, which sat on the NSA story for a year at the request of the Bush administration, applauded the expulsion of a socialist assemblyman following the Palmer Raids. In the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Washington Post editorialized against “hairsplitting over infringement of liberty.”4
A new generation of antiwar and social justice activists needs to learn the lessons of the last wave of state repression, spying, and infiltration. There is far too much ground to cover on this broad issue than can be done justice in the scope of a single article, therefore I've chosen to focus on a few highlights [lowlights?] of the government's intervention in the Black liberation and socialist movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
What was COINTELPRO?
In 1971, activists broke into FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania, and discovered files that proved what many had suspected for years-the government was involved in widespread domestic surveillance, infiltration, and violence against radical organizations and individuals. The Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), mounted by the FBI to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and otherwise neutralize” the civil rights, Black liberation, Puerto Rican independence, Native-American, antiwar, socialist, and New Left movements of the 1960s and 1970s, is one of the most notorious of the U.S. government's domestic anti-radical programs. Most of what has been learned about government activities against radicals was accessed through hundreds of thousands of pages of previously secret documents released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)-though most information remains largely censored and blacked out.
COINTELPRO was the brainchild of J. Edgar Hoover, the founder and director of the FBI from 1924 until his death in 1972. Shaped by the anticommunist hysteria in the aftermath of the successful Russian Revolution of 1917, Hoover took part in the Palmer Raids against radicals and spent the rest of his life in the service of espionage and undermining suspected “subversives” of every sort. Contemporary histories tend to focus on Hoover's maniacal egotism and closeted homosexuality to explain his lifelong fixation on repressing minorities who fought discrimination and reds who challenged the status quo. But Hoover's agenda was embraced by every president he served, including Democrats Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson.
The FBI, in close collaboration with local police units (sometimes called Red Squads), used a number of techniques in its efforts to disrupt and destroy leftist groups, the most important of which are enumerated here.5
Eavesdropping: This involved not only electronic surveillance, but also putting “tails” on people and breaking into offices and homes, as well as tampering with mail. The FBI's intention was not simply to gather intelligence, but, by making their presence known in various ways, create paranoia among activists.
Bogus mail: FBI agents would fabricate letters, ostensibly written by movement activists, which spread lies and disinformation. The Bureau sent many fake letters to American Indian Movement (AIM) and Black Panther Party (BPP) leaders and activists that were designed to sow confusion and division in the ranks. The Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver wings of the BPP, for example, were split after the FBI sent a number of manufactured letters from disgruntled party members to Cleaver, then in exile in Algeria, criticizing Huey Newton's leadership.
Black propaganda: The distribution of fabricated articles, leaflets, etc., that misrepresented the politics and objectives of an organization or leader, in order to discredit the group or individual and to pit people and organizations against each other.
Disinformation: The FBI often released false or misleading information to the press to discredit groups or individuals and to foster tension.
Harassment arrests: The police or FBI often arrested leaders and activists on trumped up charges in order to tie up activists in legal and court proceedings, drain their financial resources, and heighten their sense of fear and paranoia.
Infiltrators or agent provocateurs: The infiltration of organizations by police agents served two purposes. One was to gather intelligence on the group. Provocateurs were used to try and encourage individuals to engage in illegal activity that could then be attributed to the group as a whole; to disrupt the internal functioning of organizations; and to assist in spreading of disinformation inside and outside the group.
Bad-jacketing: This “refers to the practice of creating suspicion-through the spread of rumors, manufacture of evidence, etc.-that bonafide organizational members, usually in key positions, are FBI/police informers.”6 The technique was used to particularly deadly effect inside the American Indian Movement. Talented AIM activist Anna Mae Aquash, for example, who was murdered on Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in February 1976, was first subject to a successful whispering campaign, initiated against her by FBI informant Doug Durham, who had joined the AIM chapter in Des Moines, Iowa. Durham's role in AIM also seems to have been to encourage AIM members to engage in “rash, inflammatory acts,” according to author Peter Mathiessen.7 Durham, for example, released “several unauthorized memos, disseminated on organizational letterhead, indicating that AIM was preparing to launch a campaign of 'systematic violence.'”8
Fabrication of evidence: FBI agents, police, and prosecutors routinely fabricated evidence in order to obtain convictions in criminal cases against activists. A number of AIM and BPP activists, including BPP leader Geronimo Pratt and AIM leader Leonard Peltier, who has been in prison for three decades for a crime he did not commit, were convicted on such trumped-up evidence.9
Assassinations: There is ample evidence that FBI and related agencies played a direct role in the assassination of a number of key radical leaders.
Who did COINTELPRO target?
While COINTELPRO was initiated against the Communist Party (CP) in 1956, the program expanded to include civil rights groups and the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party (SWP) by the time Kennedy became president in 1961 and his brother, Robert, served as attorney general. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington, months before Kennedy's assassination, won him the FBI designation as “the most dangerous Negro in the future of this Nation.”10 President Johnson, while expanding the war in Vietnam and rhetorically battling the war on poverty at home, used the Black inner-city rebellions of the mid-sixties from Watts to Detroit as a pretext to issue “'standing instructions' that the Bureau should bring the 'instigators' of such 'riots' to heel, by any means at its disposal.”11
Among the many targets of COINTELPRO, the most serious attention was paid to those movements that most threatened state interests. The most violent repression under COINTELPRO was used against the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican independence movement. It was fueled by the state's need to preserve the near total political and economic disenfranchisement of people of color in the face of the first serious threats to the racial status quo since post-Civil War Reconstruction. The need of the American empire to keep Puerto Rico in its colonial orbit, while it was losing the war in Southeast Asia, drove the violent repression there and against Puerto Rican immigrants in the United States.
The FBI was particularly concerned, according to one of their memorandums, “to prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups…prevent militant black nationalist groups from gaining respectability... [and] prevent the rise of a black 'messiah' who would unify and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement.”12
Despite the comparatively small size of both the CP and the American SWP by the late 1950s and early 1960s, their members' implantation in industrial workplaces, independent electoral campaigns, desegregation, and antiwar activities, as well as the bureau's fanatical obsession with “communism,” made them targets. New Left activists who were not only hampering the ability of the U.S. to fight in Vietnam, but also challenging ideological assumptions about women's roles, sexuality, and segregation garnered attention and harassment by the state as well. But the most disruptive and violent COINTELPRO operations in the period from the late 1960s into the mid-1970s were directed against the Black and Native American struggles.
It was a general rule throughout the 1960s, that local police departments would devote at least 1 percent of their resources to surveillance and infiltration.13 These local agents, acting in cahoots with the feds, read the left-wing press and became familiar with the fact that organized leftists were involved in liberal and pacifist groups and that individuals were often radicalized by these ideas as well as by their own experiences of struggle.
The modern-day surveillance of Quaker antiwar meetings is reminiscent of FBI monitoring of the civil rights formation led by Martin Luther King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1962, the FBI planted stories in the news media about communist infiltration of the group and King's ties to the CP. There were, in fact, communists and socialists involved in the growing civil rights movement, several of whom collaborated closely with King, and this fact was used as a convenient attempt to discredit all desegregation activities in a society that was heavily propagandized over decades against reds.
When King emerged as the nation's most prominent civil rights leader and the movement butted up against state resistance to reforms of its Jim Crow apartheid policies, his political outlook expanded to embrace more profound structural changes to eliminate poverty. The Bureau sought to find a more suitable and pliant replacement for him. They expended tremendous resources to tarnish King's reputation, and creatively edited hours of wiretaps to produce an audiotape that presented King as a philanderer. When it was announced that King would be awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, the FBI sent him an anonymous letter encouraging him to commit suicide by threatening to release the doctored tape. Most major news media, in this instance, refused to take the bait. 14
COINTELPRO's “Black scare”
While the origins of COINTELPRO lie in the state's “red scare” obsession with curtailing the activities of communists and socialists, the explosion of Black radicalism shook the system to its core and gave rise to a new and violent “Black scare.” One hundred years after the Civil War, the U.S. ruling class still relied heavily on the benefits of a racially divided workforce and rigidly segregated social order-formal in the South, de facto in the North. Any serious challenge to that system would be costly-economically and ideologically.
As left-wing Black historian Manning Marable explains:
It cannot be overemphasized that the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements were fundamentally working class and poor people's movements. From the very beginning, progressive unions were involved in the desegregation campaigns. The United Auto Workers, United Packinghouse Workers, District 65, Local 1199 in New York City, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters all contributed funds to Martin Luther King Jr.'s Montgomery County bus boycott of 1955-56…. SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] understood well the importance of Black working-class support for the Civil Rights Movement and thus recognized the need to develop an employment strategy for Blacks.15
The FBI swung into action to nip this multiracial rebellion in the bud. Almost all of the above-mentioned unions, organizations, and their leaders came under scrutiny by the FBI and local authorities for engaging in constitutionally protected activities. As early as 1960, the FBI began wiretapping SNCC offices and the phones of its leading members. In the early 1960s, SNCC still adhered to its pacifist principles and collaborated with the SCLC and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to fight segregation and register Blacks to vote in the South.
Ghetto rebellions spread across the U.S. in the spring and summer months from 1964-1972. A total of 250 people were killed, 10,000 were seriously wounded, 60,000 were arrested, and billions of dollars were lost to local businesses destroyed by the looting and torching.16 These battles in major Northern and Midwestern cities exposed America's dirty secret that racial injustice was not confined to the former Confederate states. Discrimination in jobs, housing, and education was deeply rooted in Northern urban America as well. The new SNCC president Stokely Carmichael gave voice to the deepening radicalization in Black America in 1966, when he spoke at a Mississippi rally and called for “Black Power.”17
Hoover and Johnson collaborated to try and crush the deepening radicalization. Lists of “vociferous rabble rousers” were compiled of “individuals who have demonstrated a potential for fomenting racial discord.”18 By 1968, 1,678 FBI agents were deployed each month to engage in surveillance, disruption, and other activities against Black radicals alone. The file for Malcolm X contained thousands of pages of his speeches, wiretaps, and recorded activities by the time he was assassinated in Harlem in 1965, in murky circumstances in which FBI memos acknowledge the government's complicity. By fomenting strife between Malcolm and his former comrades in the Nation of Islam, the FBI aimed to achieve the outcome they got.
That was an early taste of the government's strategy. Despite the fact that the Black Panther Party's Ten-Point Program calling for self-determination, decent housing, and free health care were all legal demands, their insistence on exercising their Second Amendment right to armed self-defense led the FBI to name it “the greatest [single] threat to the internal security of the country.”19 The mass appeal of the BPP-it claimed 5,000 members by 1968 and hundreds of thousands of sympathizers-compelled the FBI to launch a wholesale attack on it to discredit, divide, frame, and murder its leadership. In Los Angeles and San Diego, the FBI sent out anonymous letters to known gang members showing the Panthers belittling or challenging the gangs, which led to the assassination of local BPP leaders by the so-called United Slaves. When BPP Chairman Bobby Seale and Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver organized a merger of the Panthers with SNCC, the FBI used their infiltrators to set up SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael as an FBI snitch. Carmichael was forced to flee the U.S. for Africa and the coalition between these two powerful Black groups was destroyed.
On December 3, 1969, the FBI launched its deadliest assault on the BPP yet. An informant who was Chicago Panther leader Fred Hampton's bodyguard provided officials with a detailed floor plan of his home. Police raided his place and murdered Hampton in his bed, and in the hail of ninety-eight rounds of bullets, Mark Clark of the Peoria Panthers was also killed. Police rounded up and beat Hampton's fiancé, who was eight months' pregnant, along with several others sleeping there, all of whom were charged with “aggressive assault” or “attempted murder” and held on $100,000 bail-though there were no signs of any retaliatory shots fired.20
Police ransacked Panther offices from San Francisco to Indianapolis, destroyed typewriters, stole files, and ruined bulk foods stored for ghetto children's programs. Arrests and frame-ups of dozens of members cost the organization $200,000 in bail money alone. Some remain behind bars to this day, while others have spent decades harassed by law enforcement officials. It's worth noting that despite the charges of violence against the Panthers, years of surveillance and infiltration never turned up hard evidence of criminal activities.21
The FBI's secret war on Trotskyists
Tomes have been written about the government's eavesdropping and infiltration of the American Communist Party. Far less is known of their COINTELPRO operations against the largest anti-Stalinist socialist organization mobilizing in the 1960s, the American Socialist Workers Party. The case of the SWP is of particular importance not only because surveillance and infiltration took place over decades, almost from its founding in 1938, but because they turned the tables on the FBI and put the Bureau on trial-and won.
In 1973, the SWP and its youth group, the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA), filed a lawsuit against the federal government (Socialist Workers Party v. Attorney General) demanding compensation for years of disruption, harassment, and surveillance of the organization. Throughout the course of the discovery, trial, and other proceedings-which took place over thirteen years-detailed information about how and why the government violated the rights of lawful individuals exercising their free speech and right to organize unfolded. In a historic rebuke to the federal government's trampling on constitutionally protected dissent, Judge Griesa awarded the SWP $264,000 in damages in 1986.
COINTELPRO operations began against the SWP in 1961, when court records show they had around 600 members-10 percent were FBI informants who were paid in excess of $1.6 million over the years for their efforts.22 Infiltration began in response to the SWP's electoral campaigns and desegregation activities-perfectly legal undertakings. Over the years, member informants supplied the government with membership lists, financial records, budgets, minutes of meetings, mailing lists, and correspondence. From 1961-1976, fifty-five informants held offices or committee positions and fifty-one served on executive committees of the party.23
The FBI played an active role in attempting to discredit SWP candidates for public office. When John Franklin ran for Manhattan borough president in 1961, and when Clifton DeBerry ran for president in 1964, the two Black candidates were smeared in the press when FBI operatives sent out anonymous letters detailing minor legal transgressions from their pasts. To create friction between Black and white members, the FBI would pen nasty anonymous letters containing slurs like this one supposedly written by white members to their Black vice presidential candidate in 1968: You and the “rest of your fellow party monkeys hook up with the [Black] Panthers where you'd feel at home.”24
Disruption operations were often designed to split alliances between the SWP and its antiwar and racial justice allies in movements. During a campaign to defend framed Blacks in North Carolina, the FBI sent coalition leaders phony information claiming that the SWP was stealing funds collected for the defense campaign. When it was apparent that Malcolm X and the SWP were collaborating, the FBI spread ultra-left, anti-religious diatribes supposedly originating from the SWP among Malcolm's mostly Muslim followers.
An FBI memorandum in 1966 explained the need to “create disruption within the ranks of the SWP,” and to “hamper the party's…antiwar actions and objectives.”25 When leading members Fred Halstead and Barry Sheppard traveled to visit troops in Vietnam, the FBI planted incendiary reports of their visit in newspapers read by GIs to encourage violence against them by troops. After the explosive protests outside the Democratic Party convention in Chicago in 1968, an anonymous letter was mailed to sixty-eight antiwar and New Left groups attacking the SWP and YSA for their “cowardice” in not fighting the police and warned the socialists to get out of the antiwar movement. The letter did cause a stir inside the party and made some members anxious about their involvement with New Left forces.
By far the most disastrous and successful efforts involved red-baiting. Due to the legacy of McCarthyism, these baits claiming that the SWP was “trying to take over” or had a “secret agenda” played into the predisposition of many activists. As with today's antiwar movement, the issue of whether or not to support Democrats-whose party was the architect of that war-lay at the core of many political disagreements. But the political inexperience of many new activists mixed with the machinations of the FBI to obscure any rational discourse and reduce political disputes to charges against “Trotskyite splitters and wreckers.”26
When the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (SMC) emerged as the major organization against the war in 1968, the FBI intervened with anonymous letters against the “Trots.” A leaflet mailed to activists red-baited the YSA for “committee packing and other high-handed crap so neatly done by the Trotskyists.”27 A debate inside the SMC erupted over whether to press for a negotiated settlement to the war, supported by liberals and the CP who were oriented to the Democrats, or immediate withdrawal, supported by the YSA and other leftists. The FBI exploited the debate to split the group. Tragically, members of the CP who were part of the national SMC leadership played into the hands of the government by submerging the political debate into an organizational question. The antiwar movement, which had previously opposed the exclusion of any member of a revolutionary organization, shifted its stance. The YSA members who were also part of the SMC leadership were purged when “it was decided that no member of any political 'tendency' or group would be allowed on the SMC staff.”28 The movement turned much of its energies toward trying to get a Democratic “peace candidate” elected that year, while the bipartisan war escalated and continued for seven more long years.
As with the struggles against segregation and for civil rights, the antiwar movement was set back by its red-baiting. A generation weaned on anti-red propaganda at times took the bait and allowed charges of socialist “opportunism” to blot out all political judgment. This is a lesson this new generation of activists must study if it is to avoid similar traps.
The government claims that all surveillance and other activities ceased after the exposure of illegal domestic intervention by the FBI in the early 1970s, but this is a lie. Throughout the 1980s, Central America solidarity activists in the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador had their offices broken into and files stolen. In 1990, two environmental activists in Earth First!, Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, were seriously injured when their car exploded from a pipe bomb believed to be planted by the FBI and police. They were awarded a $4.4 million settlement by a federal jury in a civil rights suit.
Since the rise of the global justice movement, and especially after the September 11 attacks, such surveillance has been stepped up in the name of “homeland security.” For example, the Chicago Sun-Times cited a 2002 internal police audit showing that undercover officers infiltrated meetings and rallies of the Chicago Direct Action Network, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Autonomous Zone, Not in Our Name, and Anarchist Black Cross, and recorded the proceedings on video and audiotape. A special report by the Portland Tribune uncovered police records showing that they monitor “groups ranging from the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and Planned Parenthood to the Sierra Club and the United Farm Workers.”29 Across the country, judges have loosened up restrictions on such police undercover spying and infiltration, which is now widespread.
Every capitalist state uses domestic surveillance and repression against those who seek to challenge its policies and power. Even the most democratic governments create legal loopholes that allow them to suspend democratic rights when “national security” is threatened, i.e., when their power and the propertied interests they represent are called into question. As a general rule, mass movements are least susceptible to repression when they are on the rise, gaining strength and numbers, and the ruling powers are on the defensive; they are most susceptible when movements are weaker, more defensive, and less organized. When a movement is rising, governments fear that repression will fuel rather than smash it. The more clandestine forms of police infiltration, while they can play a disrupting role, have never been able to claim sole responsibility for the defeat of any movement or organization.
For while state surveillance and repression are inevitable, they are clearly not insurmountable. FBI harassment, surveillance and disruption of civil rights groups failed to prevent this movement from achieving historic successes in the 1960s, for example. The Vietnam antiwar movement also played an important role, notwithstanding repression directed against it, in forcing the U.S. to pull out of Vietnam. Police repression and surveillance neither destroyed the Bolshevik Party in Russia nor prevented the Russian Revolution from defeating Tsarism or creating a workers' state in October 1917. On the eve of taking power, the Bolshevik Party's leading delegate to the Russian parliament, Malinovsky, was a police operative; the secretary of the main Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda, between 1913 and 1914 was also a police agent. In Moscow alone in 1912, there were fifty-five police agents operating in left-wing organizations-twenty inside the social-democratic organizations. The agent provocateurs were able to do damage, particularly in helping the secret police identify and arrest activists. But in order to maintain their position above suspicion, they were also forced to engage in a great deal of useful work that helped the cause. Moreover, because the revolutionaries organized on the basis of a shared conviction, learned from their mistakes, and continually sought to widen the struggle, they were able to operate more or less effectively even in conditions of extreme illegality that the Russian police state inflicted on them. As Victor Serge, responsible in revolutionary Russia for unearthing and interpreting the millions of detailed files of the defunct secret police, wrote in 1925, “There is no force in the world which can hold back the revolutionary tide when it rises, and that all police forces, however Machiavellian, scientific or criminal, are virtually impotent against it.”30
History proves that the U.S. government's pursuit of radicals was not largely for illegal activities, but because reds have the politics, organization, and discipline to tap into wider discontent and can influence struggles that pose a potential threat to the status quo. Never underestimate the foresight of the American state, especially during times of war.
That said, it is worth reiterating that socialists along with everyone else have the right to organize publicly and oppose the policies and priorities of this state that they disagree with. The added attention paid to the Left today is an acknowledgement by the government that there is growing outrage in this country and there are forces, however small today, that can play an important role in shaping the upheavals to come. As these forces grow and have more influence in struggles, their adversaries will try to discredit, divert, and divide them. This begrudging “respect” from the class enemy is part of being radicals living in a capitalist state.
But as history also reminds us, when the rising tide of struggle does come, the state's manipulations can be exposed, discredited, and overcome. We do have one major advantage over our predecessors-we know what the state has done and can do, and tens of millions of Americans find state surveillance and infiltration of dissident groups to be appalling. This is not a time to hunker down and hide, it is a time to organize openly and confidently, but to keep our wits about us and have a sober recognition of the state's practices.
Sherry Wolf is on the editorial board of the ISR.
1 Quoted in Alan Maass, “Scare of the Union,” Socialist Worker, February 3, 2006.
2 Quoted in Nelson Blackstock, COINTELPRO: The FBI's Secret War on Political Freedom (New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 21.
3 Jennifer Talhelm, “GOP candidate calls for labor camp rebuked,” ABC News, June 23, 2006.
5 This list is distilled from Ward Churchill and Jim Vader Wall, Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret War Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (Boston: South End Press, 2002), 39-62.
6 Ibid., 49.
7 Quoted in ibid., 223.
8 Quoted in ibid., 223.
9 For a brief overview of the Leonard Peltier case, see Joe Allen and Paul D'Amato, “Incident at Oglala 30 Years On,” ISR 44, November-December 2005.
10 Quoted in Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, The COINTELPRO Papers (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2002), 96.
11 Ibid., 106.
12 Quoted in Agents of Repression, 58.
13 Paul Cowan, Nick Egleson, and Nat Hentoff, State Secrets (New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1974), 16.
14 For an account of these undertakings, see Curt Gentry, J Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991), 568-76.
15 Manning Marable, How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1983), 30.
16 Churchill and Vander Wall, 105.
17 Ahmed Shawki, Black Liberation and Socialism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2006), 191.
18 Churchill and Vander Wall, 112.
19 Ibid., 123.
20 Ibid., 140.
21 Ibid., 91-164.
22 Margaret Jayko, ed., FBI on Trial: The Victory in the Socialist Workers Party Suit Against Government Spying (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1988), 51.
23 Ibid., 55.
24 Ibid., 61.
25 Ibid. 63.
26 Blackstock, 122.
27 Ibid., 127.
29 Martha Mendoza, “U.S. Police Surveillance Questioned,” CBS News, April 6, 2003.
30 Victor Serge, What Every Radical Should Know About State Repression: A Guide for Activists (Melbourne, New York: Ocean Press, 2005), 16.