The Sunday Show with Philip Maldari, for February 20, 2011 - 9:00am
About 62 min 41 seconds (1 hour 41 seconds) into (the) The Sunday Show with Philip Maldari, on KPFA; for mp3 audio click here
...Is a “recap” of what the US government did do that was AGAINST our constitutional rights & what we all too often take for granted;... ...freedom, Justice, & Liberty.

the freedom archives

COINTELPRO may not be a well-understood acronym but its meaning and continuing impact are absolutely central to understanding the government’s wars and repression against progressive movements. COINTELPRO represents the state’s strategy to prevent movements and communities from overturning white supremacy and creating racial justice. COINTELPRO is both a formal program of the FBI and a term frequently used to describe a conspiracy among government agencies—local, state, and federal—to destroy movements for self-determination and liberation for Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous struggles, as well as mount an institutionalized attack against allies of these movements and other progressive organizations.

COINTELPRO 101 is an educational film that will open the door to understanding this history. This documentary will introduce viewers new to this history to the basics and direct them to other resources where they can learn more.

The intended audiences are the generations that did not experience the social justice movements of the sixties and seventies.

DVD will be available May 2011

Interviews in the video include:

  • Muhammad Ahmad (Max Stanford)—Founder of Revolutionary Action Movement and professor at Temple University.
  • Bob Boyle—Attorney representing many activists and political prisoners targeted by COINTELPRO.
  • Kathleen Cleaver—former leader of the Black Panther Party, now Professor of Law at Emory and Yale Universities and an expert on COINTELPRO.
  • Ward Churchill—just-removed Professor at the University of Colorado who has written extensively about COINTELPRO.
  • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz—Long-time Native American activist and educator.
  • Priscilla Falcon—Long-time Mexicana activist and professor whose husband was assassinated for his leadership in the Chicano struggle.
  • Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt—former leader of the Black Panther Party who was falsely imprisoned for 27 years in a COINTELPRO case.
  • Jose Lopez—Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago and long-time advocate of Puerto Rican independence.
  • Francisco 'Kiko' Martinez—long-time Chicano/Mexicano activist and attorney.
  • Lucy Rodriguez—Puerto Rican Independentista and former Political Prisoner.
  • Ricardo Romero—long-time Chicano/Mexicano activist and Grand Jury resister
  • Akinyele Umoja—African American History scholar at Georgia State University.
  • Laura Whitehorn—radical activist and former political prisoner who was targeted by the federal government.
A Short History of FBI COINTELPROby Mike Cassidy and Will Miller

Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, Book II
I. Introduction and Summary
II. The Growth of Domestic Intelligence: 1936 to 1976
III. Findings
(A) Violating and Ignoring the Law
(B) Overbreadth of Domestic Intelligence Activity
(C) Excessive Use of Intrusive Techniques
(D) Using Covert Action to Disrupt and Discredit Domestic Groups
(E) Political Abuse of Intelligence Information
(F) Inadequate Controls on Dissemination and Retention
(G) Deficiencies in Control and Accountability
IV. Conclusions and Recommendations

Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports, Book III
COINTELPRO: The FBI's Covert Action Programs Against American Citizens
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Case Study
The FBI's Covert Action Program to Destroy the Black Panther Party
The Use of Informants in FBI Intelligence Investigations
Warrantless FBI Electronic Surveillance
Warrantless Surreptitious Entries: FBI "Black Bag" Break-ins And Microphone Installations
The Development of FBI Domestic Intelligence Investigations
Domestic CIA and FBI Mail Opening
CIA Intelligence Collection About Americans: CHAOS Program And The Office of Security
National Security Agency Surveillance Affecting Americans
Improper Surveillance of Private Citizens By The Military
The Internal Revenue Service: An Intelligence Resource and Collector
National Security, Civil Liberties, And The Collection of Intelligence: A Report On The Huston Plan

* Books II and III of the Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities of the United States Senate, 94th Congress, 2nd Session, 1976

Communist Party, USA - Smith Act prosecutions, Security Index, "disillusioned comrades," development of anonymous mailing technique, use of Socialist Workers Party against, use of La Cosa Nostra against, IRS investigations of members, Teamsters, Howard Fast, William Z. Foster.
Socialist Workers Party creating disputes with Communist Party, followers of Malcolm X, anonymous letters to newspaper editors, NAACP, UAW-CIO, peace groups, employers, open letter to Trotskyites, Armageddon News, Notes from the Sand Castle, Fly United, CAMD, YSA, Morris Starsky, campaigns to discredit political candidates: John Clarence Franklin, Sam Jordan, Clifton DeBerry, George Weissman, Berta Green, Barbara Taplin, Howard Wallace, Fred Halstead, Ralph Levitt, Paul Boutelle, Nelson Rockefeller's anti- Judy White bill.
New Left Students for a Democratic Society, MOBE, NMC, LNS, REP, National Lawyers Guild, Columbia University, Princeton University, anonymous letters to students' parents, university officials, members of state legislatures, press, use of drug charges against, BPP informants create rift, split with YSA and SWP, FBI use of astrology and mysticism, Kaleidoscope, Key Activists, Tom Hayden, David Dellinger, Jane Fonda, John Lennon, Jean Seberg, David Herreshoff, David Simpson.
COMINFIL -- SCLC blackmailing Martin Luther King with tape.
Black Nationalist Hate Groups "prevent the rise of a black messiah," use of Jewish Defense League against, use of La Cosa Nostra against, cartoons, "Blackboard", Rabbi Kahane, William O'Neal, and numerous victims including: Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Revolutionary Action Movement, the Deacons for Defense and Justice, Congress of Racial Equality, SNCC, Nation of Islam, Poor People's Campaign, Republic of New Africa, US organization, Black Liberators, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, H. "Rap" Brown, Elijah Muhammad, Maxwell Stanford, Dick Gregory, Huey Newton, David Hilliard, Ron Karenga, Charles Koen, Sylvester Bell, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Geronimo Pratt, John William Washington, Richard Henry, Muhammed Kenyatta, Jeff Fort.
White Hate Groups Ku Klux Klan, National States Rights Party, National Committee for Domestic Tranquility (cover org), "The Black Klan," anonymous postcards to Klansmen.
Groups Seeking Independence for Puerto Rico Juan Mari Bras, MPIPR, FUPI, FEPI, APU, mass media program, anonymous mailings of cartoons.
Border Coverage Program Communist Party of Mexico (PCM)

Cuban Matters (none)

Violence-Prone Yugoslav Emigres(none)

Counterintelligence and Special Operations establishment of local intelligence cover organizations, falsification of photos and documents, CIA Chaos program, Revolutionary Union.


CACTUS cryptonym, use of Vietnamese informant, use of COINTELPRO caption discontinued, COINTELPRO Composite.

From John Adams' Alien and Sedition Acts to the Cold War and Joseph McCarthy, civil liberties and national security have had a delicate and troubled relationship in American history. Notorious among these is the case of the domestic surveillance program run by the FBI between 1956 and 1971 (after the censure of Joseph McCarthy by the Senate) under the name COINTELPRO (counterintelligence program). COINTELPRO was 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.
Some fear that something like COINTELPRO may again be at hand. There are undercover agents infiltrating peaceful protests in America. Pretending to be political activists, local law enforcement officials are monitoring the activities of advocacy and protest groups based on what one judge calls those organizations’ "political philosophies and conduct protected under the First Amendment." The tactic has come about as a result of the relaxation of guidelines first put into place after the COINTELPRO scandal investigation. Learn more about the history and the new guidelines below.

J. Edgar Hoover and Dissent:
FBI director Hoover had long placed the domestic battle against Communism in the forefront of the FBI's concerns. How he defined the threat illustrates the philosophy behind the COINTELPRO and previous surveillance programs. Below is an excerpt of Hoover's 1958 publication MASTERS OF DECEIT: THE STORY OF COMMUNISM IN AMERICA AND HOW TO FIGHT IT:
Thus the Party, through its specialized and immediate demands, is able to gain entree into various groups and create favorable working conditions for future revolutionary action. Very quickly, for example:

  • a veterans' meeting endorses "peace."
  • a nationality festival passes a resolution for "peace."
  • a youth affair favors "peace."
  • a neighborhood group comes out for "peace."
  • a women's rally fights for "peace."
Whatever its composition, the group, once under communist control, is switched to the Party line. The feigned interest in legitimate demands is merely a trap.
Even holidays are used to enhance the Party's aims. For example, the Daily Worker once headlined a story "Mothers' Day to Be Marked by Peace Tables..." Postcards should be distributed on Mother's Day, the story continued, "declaring the deepest need of all American mothers to be a ban on A and H-bombs..."

COINTELPRO and The Church Commission:
The domestic surveillance programs of COINTELPRO were only brought to light in early 1970s after a Senate Committee was created to investigate the FBI and the involvement of other intelligence agencies in political repression. The Committee was named for its Chairman, Idaho Senator Frank Church. It's findings were voluminous and, to many, worrying:
The resolution creating this Committee placed greatest emphasis on whether intelligence activities threaten the "rights of American citizens."
The critical question before the Committee was to determine how the fundamental liberties of the people can be maintained in the course of the Government's effort to protect their security. The delicate balance between these basic goals of our system of government is often difficult to strike, but it can, and must, be achieved. We reject the view that the traditional American principles of justice and fair play have no place in our struggle against the enemies of freedom. Moreover, our investigation has established that the targets of intelligence activity have ranged far beyond persons who could properly be characterized as enemies of freedom and have extended to a wide array of citizens engaging in lawful activity.

Under the aegis of COINTELPRO, the FBI kept files on a great number of Americans and investigated the NAACP for 25 years. The FBI admitted that it had burglarized political groups to gain information on their activities.

The Attorney General's Guidelines
As a result of the Church Commission's findings then Attorney General Edward Levi drew up a series of guidelines to govern domestic investigations. Key among these rules was that investigations could only be brought where "specific and articulable facts" indicated criminal activity. The guidelines also attemped to make sure that the abuses of COINTELPRO were not repeated by requiring that such investigations be reported to the attorney general.
The Revised Guidelines:
Levi's guidelines were modified by several subsequent attorney generals. However, it was not until Attorney General John Ashcroft substantially altered them in the wake of September 11 that civil rights and privacy advocates began a vocal campaign to return to the post-COINTELPRO guidelines. In announcing his revisions, Attorney General Ashcroft cited new terror concerns:
FBI men and women in the field are frustrated because many of our own internal restrictions have hampered our ability to fight terrorism. The current investigative guidelines have contributed to that frustration. In many instances, the guidelines bar FBI field agents from taking the initiative to detect and prevent future terrorist acts unless the FBI learns of possible criminal activity from external sources. -- Attorney General John Ashcroft, May 30, 2002
The revised guidelines reduce the requirements of a clear indication of criminal activity and allow for longer "preliminary" investigations without such proof of criminal intent. And "for the purpose of detecting or preventing terrorist activities, the FBI is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public."

The Ongoing Debate:
Of course the revision of the Attorney General's guidelines is a matter of vigorous debate. Read arguments from both sides below and then speak your mind on our message boards.
The new FBI will be able to investigate Americans who pose a threat to national security -- and that's a good thing. While Muslim terrorists penetrate our borders with surface-to-air missiles and make every air traveler a potential target, and while INS screw-ups show daily that we have no borders and no real ability to keep any of our enemies out, a surreal battle is taking place within the ranks of our hostage population itself. The debate is whether Attorney General John Ashcroft and the FBI should have given agents license to keep an eye on suspected terrorists and their ideological supporters if they have not yet blown up a plane.
--"COINTELPRO's overdue return," David Horowitz,, June 4, 2002

The problem that the Levi guidelines were intended to solve — and that the new guidelines will exacerbate — relates to the purpose for which the public information is gathered and utilized, not so much with the privacy of the information itself... Magnifying the problem is the fact that the intelligence gathering activities may now be directed at political meetings — particularly unpopular political meetings. Imagine FBI agents taking notes on a pastor's sermon, a rabbi's lecture, a priest's homily — and noting the names and license plate numbers of attendees. Your "Greenpeace" bumper sticker, publicly displayed, becomes sufficient cause for the FBI to open a file on you. --Mark D. Rasch, J.D., is a former head of the Justice Department's computer crime unit.

Sources: The Federal Bureau of Investigation; The Attorney General of the United States FOIA Reading Room;