Sunday, July 17, 2011

What's Past is Prologue: the Case of COINTELPRO (Video)

In "Notes on Civil Liberties" this morning, Kevin highlighted the Bill of Rights Defense Committee's (BORDC) campaign, "Shine a Light on the FBI." I thought I'd add a bit to that discussion.

BORDC, along with 40 other organizations, including Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Torture Accountability, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Defending Dissent Foundation and the National Lawyers Guild, among others, wrote a letter [PDF] on July 12 to members of Congress, "request[ing] that you vote against the White House proposal to extend the term of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III. The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation to implement the proposal, but did so without adequate process and without meaningfully addressing any of the numerous outstanding oversight issues and constitutional abuses for which the Bureau continues to evade accountability."

As part of their campaign, BORDC has produced a great short video, "The unPATRIOTic Act & COINTELPRO 2.0," in which a number of former FBI and U.S. military figures, along with human rights activists, explain how the Patriot Act and government surveillance of and attacks on current activists, including Quakers and antiwar groups, are redolent of the FBI's infamous COINTELPRO program of the 1950s-1970s. The video is definitely worth viewing.

On the earlier COINTELPRO program, see this 1976 report by the U.S. Senate's Church committee, or this webpage dedicated to the subject at Political Research Associates, which includes links to many of the released COINTELPRO documents.

Despite the fact the FBI used agents provocateurs, forged documents, and various nefarious activities, including trying to drive Martin Luther King, Jr. to suicide, no U.S. officials were ever prosecuted for these activities.

BORDC reminds us that those interested can sign on to their letter to Congress.

Originally posted at The Dissenter/FDL

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