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COINTELPRO 101

March 18, 2011

4strugglemag: COINTELPRO 101 “The film’s brilliance is not simply its nicely-styled aesthetic elements. They are there of course. Strong interviews, rarely seen clips, high quality audio and video production across the board with equally strong narration from Liz Derias. But it is the film’s ability to force new confrontation with the political reality of today, as much as with the past, that truly demonstrates its value. The simple point made by Geronimo Pratt is also its strongest; that COINTELPRO made official the illegality of politics, the “criminalization of positions” represented by its targets. COINTELPRO was the political and legal descendant of its ancestors, slavery and genocide, and is now itself an ancestor to the still-implemented policies of, for instance, the Patriot Act. This central theme of the film is its most important because it forces us to put in context the current and horrific state of peace, freedom and labor movements. “It turned so-called U.S. citizens in the 20th century into insurgent rebels to be dealt with as any foreign army or movement” – Jared Ball, Mar 2011 (Review: COINTELPRO 101).

Noam Chomsky: “We were talking about unions before. Union busting is criminal activity by the government, because they’re saying, “You can go ahead and do it; we’re not going to apply the laws,” effectively. And the COINTELPRO, which you mentioned, is actually the worst systematic and extended violation of basic civil rights by the federal government. It maybe compares with Wilson’s Red Scare. But COINTELPRO went on from the late ’50 right through all of the ’60s; it finally ended, at least theoretically ended, when the courts terminated it in the early ’70s. And it was serious” (Chomsky: Only a Massive Uprising Will Change Our Politics).

COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations. COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological warfare, planting false reports in the media, smearing through forged letters, harassment, wrongful imprisonment, extralegal violence and assassination. Covert operations under COINTELPRO took place between 1956 and 1971, however the FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception. The FBI’s stated motivation at the time was “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, MIT professor of linguistics and political activist Noam Chomsky spoke about the purpose and the targets of COINTELPRO saying, “COINTELPRO was a program of subversion carried out not by a couple of petty crooks but by the national political police, the FBI, under four administrations… by the time it got through, I won’t run through the whole story, it was aimed at the entire new left, at the women’s movement, at the whole black movement, it was extremely broad. Its actions went as far as political assassination” (Wikipedia).

RELATED READING: A video documentary
WIKILEAKS: Corrupted Oracle or Cointelpro Asset of the Establishment?
Goodbye to All That
Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans
Warrantless FBI Electronic Surveillance
A Short History of FBI COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO and the History of Domestic Spying
The Nation: FBI Dirty Tricks
COINTELPRO Undermined Basic American Rights
Radical Scientology’s Cointelpro
Extreme human rights abuses through experimentation presented to Obama
Wikipedia: The Pearcy Massacre Still Never Happened
Ex-FBI agent: ‘Gangstalking’ term self-harm for Gov. no-touch Torture eugenics
Cointelpro 101 (2010)
A History of Repression-Cointelpro 101

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