On an episode of PBS Now from 2004, COINTELPRO was described as a secret FBI program designed to monitor and “neutralize” domestic groups deemed by the FBI to be a danger to national security. Such groups included anti-war groups and civil rights groups and individuals like Martin Luther King, Jr. and even Eleanor Roosevelt. J. Edgar Hoover was head of the FBI at that time.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1956, Hoover was becoming increasingly frustrated by Supreme Court decisions that limited the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute Communists. At this time he formalized a covert “dirty tricks” program under the name COINTELPRO. This program remained in place until it was revealed to the public in 1971, and was the cause of some of the harshest criticism of Hoover and the FBI. COINTELPRO was first used to disrupt the Communist Party, and later such organizations such as the Black Panther Party, Martin Luther King Jr.’s SCLC, the Ku Klux Klan and others. Its methods included infiltration, burglaries, illegal wiretaps, planting forged documents and spreading false rumors about key members of target organizations. Some authors have charged that COINTELPRO methods also included inciting violence and arranging murders.

In 1975, the activities of COINTELPRO were investigated by the Senate Church Committee and declared illegal and contrary to the Constitution.

Hoover amassed significant power by collecting files containing large amounts of compromising and potentially embarrassing information on many powerful people, especially politicians. According to Laurence Silberman, appointed deputy Attorney General in early 1974, Director Clarence M. Kelley thought such files either did not exist or had been destroyed. After The Washington Post broke a story in January 1975, Kelley searched and found them in his outer office. The House Judiciary Committee then demanded that Silberman testify about them. An extensive investigation of Hoover’s files by David Garrow showed that Hoover and next-in-command William Sullivan, as well as the FBI itself as an agency, was responsible.

So, given the secret (illegal) domestic surveillance programs that have been put in place and expanded upon since 9/11, is this happening once again? Is that what is preventing the members of Congress from taking the steps necessary to stop this rogue president from breaking our laws and dismantling our rights and our Constitution? Has the administration and the NSA been collecting information and creating secret files on members of Congress in order to exert power over them and keep them in line? Could this be some of those TOP SECRET spying activities that we DON’T yet know about and are not allowed to ask about? It would explain a lot.

It would certainly explain Congress’s lack of conviction or action to stop this president. I can think of no other explanation. Congress took an oath to protect and defend this Constitution. They stood in front of cameras and PROMISED the American people they would do whatever it took to get to the bottom of this illegal domestic surveillance stuff, hold this administration accountable, put a stop to this illegal war, and bring our troops home. They said they would fight to restore Habeus Corpus. Instead of fulfilling their duties, they have rolled over and played dead, allowing this president to run rampant all over our laws and protections.

I have never believed this president had any interest in protecting Americans. He has demonstrated that repeatedly by not following the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, by his response (or better yet, lack of response) to Katrina, and by doing nothing to secure our borders. He is only interested in protecting himself, his crony-friends, his fellow corporate associates and banking buddies, and big oil. Using intelligence gathering to protect himself makes perfect sense. The best way to do that is to have something on those who would oppose him and keep them muzzled and on a leash.

Democrats in Congress made a lot of promises to the American people in November of 2006. Since the victories of that election, all their promises have fallen flat. They have not followed through with anything. In fact the opposite has occurred. They are now moving in a backward motion with the passage of the “Protect America Act of 2007” just before going on the August break, with not enforcing any of the disregarded subpoenas having to do with the domestic surveillance and the missing emails, and now with the Senate planning on giving into the demands from the White House and Telecommunications Companies:

via: Jonathan Turley (legal scholar and Law Professor [Constitutional] at George Washington University Law School in DC)

The Senate appears ready to again yield to the President on the surveillance bill after democrats promised voters to fight on such issues. The Senate bill is reportedly even more generous for the White House than the House version, including an immunity provision. It also includes a retroactive immunity for telecommunications utilities that participated in the unlawful warrantless program ordered by the president. It is only the latest disconnect between democratic leaders and the voters. Democrats are simply claiming insufficient votes, but refuse to filibuster the bill or taken other actions to defend civil liberties. Lobbyists for the telecommunications industry have been working Senators on the need to give the corporations immunity from lawsuits from citizens who were harmed by the program.

This sounds like the President is backtracking and admitting what they were already doing was illegal, and that he wants immunity now for all the illegality! So, instead of impeaching the president for breaking the law, Congress is instead going to give the president and the corporations a free pass! Insane! It just defies logic! The Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves!

Then, also from Jonathan Turley:

The same week that the democrats have indicated that they will largely cave into the demands over the domestic surveillance program, it now appears that the democratic leadership has decided to pull back efforts to force a troop withdrawal from Iraq. For the full story, click here

What is going on? I honestly don’t understand this. According to RawStory, a poll taken by Zogby in 2006 showed that 72% of American TROOPS in Iraq want us out of Iraq by the end of 2008. June 29, 2007, CBS took a poll that showed that 77% percent of Americans felt the war was going badly. 40% percent felt we should remove all troops, with 26% saying we needed to decrease the troops. There are many more polls that all say the same things. The majority of Americans want this war over and our troops brought home. Period.

Without the support of the American people for this war, how can a Democratic controlled Congress continue to support the president’s wishes/demands and give him everything he asks for? Especially knowing how unhappy the entire country is with this war, with this president and his administration, with the lack of performance of this Congress, with the lack of oversight and accountability, with the lack of commitment to fight to fix things and restore all the damage done to our laws and Constitution, and not holding this president and his administration accountable for all the law-breaking. Instead, it now looks like the president (and Cheney) are being given a green light to expand their (illegal) secret domestic surveillance programs even further, and extend the disastrous Iraq War into Iran.

What is it going to take for this Congress to listen to the American people, to remember what this country was founded on and stands for, and to stand up united and say “ENOUGH!”? What will it take for them to show some conviction and FIGHT for us?

Congress, this is for you. It is called The Constitution of the United States of America.
Try reading it (while it still stands for something..)

5 thoughts on “COINTELPRO again?

  1. Excellent post. During the 60s, there were plenty of rumors about what the FBI and local police were up to, including the use of agents provocateurs against anti-war groups and groups like the Panthers. If they mentioned the rumors at all, the media mocked them as ridiculous. It was only the underground press that gave it any credibility at all — and then all the rumors turned out to be true.

    In some cases, it was clear that people had been targeted for murder-by-cop and simply executed under the guise of a police raid.

  2. I think the whole purpose of wiretapping is not the surveillance of common citizens. They dont mean a thing in the bigger scheme of politics and manteinance of the power. The purpose of wiretapping has to do more with the surveillance of possible political rivals or even friends in order to blackmailing them, force them to support some issues, etc.

    It is in the Politics Playbook, page 1.

  3. What I should have probably added was about Dick Cheney. When he was given the job of finding a running-mate for Bush, he took the leading GOP contenders and had them fill out very sensitive, extensive questionnaires and ran background checks on them. He wanted to know if ANYTHING in their backgrounds could come back to haunt them or make them vulnerable. He made extensive files on them and then chose himself to be the running-mate. He had all the goods on anyone who posed a threat by their stature. In fact, he ended up using the information gleaned on one of the people (according to the book “Vice: The hijacking of the American Presidency”). After getting into the WH he set up his own shadow NSC with his own staff. They had top security clearance and attended all the meetings of the President and his NSC. They had access to all communications in the administration and the NSC, but nobody had access to Cheney’s NSC communications. They intimidated people working in the WH. This, all according to Lou DuBose and Jake Bernstein in their book “Vice”. That whole thing reeked. It seems they were in a perfect position to do surveillance in secret, create secret files and strong arm any opposition in Congress. Seems just like how Cheney (and Bush, though I believe Cheney is the more devious and powerful) operates.

  4. I believe it was willy who posted this Bush comment (apologies if it wasn’t willy), but it bears repeating:

    “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

    If the others present in that room who heard that remark could be made to testify to its accuracy under oath, it would be all the proof any Congress would need to show that Bush has violated his oath “to support and defend the constitution of the United States”. There is absolutely, positively, NO justification for not impeaching, convicting, and removing him from office at once.

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