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60


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 60, November 30, 1999
Post-Turkey Stress Disorder

Cointelpro

by Michael W. Gallagher
mwglaw@pond.com

Special to TLE

           For those of you who may have missed this item in the news, the United States Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have announced a major restructuring of the F.B.I. In A November 11, 1999 copyrighted article, the Washington Post reported that, as a part of that restructuring, the F.B.I. would concentrate more on preventative investigations. Along with establishing a new "Counterrerrorism" division, they will also attempt to "better coordinate" information within the F.B.I. With such bon mots as the claim that, had they done this previously, they might have prevented the Murrah Building bombing, they are preparing to turn the F.B.I., to the business of "preventative" counter-terrorism. The only problems with this are:

           1. How do you "predict" or "prevent" such criminal activity;

           2. If predicting or preventing terrorism means you must target terrorist organizations for investigation, how do you define a "terrorist organization";

           3. Who gets to the do the defining; and

           4. How do you conduct the investigation?

           The "who" is easy Gruppenfuhrer Janet Reno, cosigner on the Waco debacle, is the "who", along with her deputies, successors, etc. In other words, the person who has previously announced that anyone who belongs to a non-mainstream religious group, distrusts the federal government, and believes in the right to bear arms, is a potential target for visitation by an FBI SWAT team, gets to decide who may be a potential terrorist. Just to add insult to injury, she also gets to decide what is a "non-mainstream" religious group.
           Having already defined the "who", please note that you now know some of their potential targets, i.e., law-abiding individuals who believe in the second amendment, and distrust government. Since the other criterion is so flexible and vague as to be chimeral, anyone -- Christian, Jew, Moslem, or atheist -- is potentially subject to investigation if the Feebies want to investigate you. (Further, if this very open criteria is grounds for the F.B.I to come knocking on your door now , I can only guess at what will be grounds next week.) Potentially, anyone who disagrees with the administration in power, and organizes with others who also disagree, could potentially be subject to being classified as a "potential terrorist", and subject to the F.B.I.'s tender ministrations.
           The "how" is the most contentious part. Police organizations are supposedly bound to obey such niceties as the Bill of Rights, and to only proceed where a crime has actually been committed. They are not supposed to sponsor crime, so as to induce people to violate the law (a process known as "entrapment"), and they are not supposed to go on "fishing expeditions" against people they do not like, simply to see if they might turn up some activity they can prosecute ("harassment"). However, the F.B.I. does not seem to have a problem with ignoring the second part of this, (or even the first part, if you remember Abscam), and going after people, just to see what they can "shake out of a tree".
           So, for the FBI, this traditionally consists of picking your targets, (see above), and then putting them under a microscope. A reading of public documents is the first part so someone who writes articles, or letters to the editor, etc., is potentially subject to review. Then come the more invasive parts of the persecution, er, I mean, investigation. Target organizations may find a slight increase in their membership. (Writer Jimmy Breslin, in his novel, The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight, joked that during the 1950s so many FBI agents attended Communist Party meetings that local communist headquarters got the nickname, "the squad room"). Perhaps more to the point, during the 1960s and 1970s, is was not unusual to find FBI "informants" and undercover agents in the Weathermen or other organizations. Wiretaps and other invasions of privacy come next maybe with a warrant from an obliging judge, or maybe someone "forgets" that little nicety, and just installs a bug. Flashy arrests inevitably follow, with a trial which may be in front of a Judge who understands the constitution, or may be shopped to one who would have been more comfortable living in Nazi Germany or the old Soviet Union. Even if no arrests or trials ensue, other means might be open to the Feds. Think Waco. Or, think Daniel Ellsberg and Jean Seeberg.
           Why do I predict this, you ask? Quite simply, because this is not the first time the F.B.I. has gotten into the business of "preventative" law enforcement, against so-called "terrorist" elements. The last time, it was called "Cointelpro".
           For those of you who do not remember that name, or who were born in a later age, here is a little history lesson. "Cointelpro" was a covert program run by the FBI during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. It was allegedly "made necessary" due to the rise of "radical" groups like the Weathermen and the Black Panthers. In the course of their labors, the F.B.I. investigated such "dangerous radicals" as Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King, Senator Eugene McCarthy, and the late actress Jean Seeburg. In point of fact, Cointelpro was dedicated to investigating, damaging, discrediting, and destroying anyone who had the nerve to disagree with the powers that be primarily Richard Nixon and that other bastion of tolerance and freedom, J. Edgar Hoover. For example, there is documentation, released by the F.B.I. itself years later under Freedom of Information Act suits, showing that the F.B.I. planted defamatory allegations against Seeburg with members of the press friendly to the F.B.I., to discredit her, because of her support of the Black Panthers. Some attribute her suicide to this. In other words, Cointelpro was a part of the program of deliberate violations of civil rights and fundamental liberties by the United States government, led by the Justice Department, of people who disagreed with it. Does this sound familiar?
           While it is true that, after Watergate, there were attempts to stop the F.B.I. from engaging in such activities, I have seen no evidence that they were any too successful. Moreover, during the Reagan and Bush administrations, with their alleged intolerance of private crime, (as opposed to governmental crime, which they seem to have reveled in), the F.B.I. and Justice Department were given a green light to stomp all over constitutional rights of some people, in the name of a more orderly society. And, as we all know, the current administration has never seen a constitutional right they wouldn't stamp out, in order to buy support (and votes) from some block or other.
           Now, given the above, can anyone reasonably believe that the F.B.I., with a five-decade long tradition of secret and questionable investigations, of political "hit" work and "black bag" jobs, can be trusted with this new assignment, and the power it includes? If you can, let me know how then I might not be so scared as I am now.
           However, there is one place where the Feebies are vulnerable in their funding. If you believe that a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty, if you do not believe that a (potential) temporary emergency is sufficient reason to throw out the first, second, fifth and fourteenth amendments to the constitution, and if you believe that a government should be limited in the powers it has over a populace call your congressperson and senator IMMEDIATELY. Write to them (by letter most of them haven't figured out how to "point and click" enough to read their e-mail yet). Even better send a telegram. Tell them to vote against larger appropriations for the FBI for their new program. Tell them the FBI must be limited in what it can do the American people. Do it often. The rights you save may be your own.


I'll Be Your Server Today; May I Invert Your Order?

"There are powerful and profound national interests at stake. My simple request is to look to a wider interest because we serve ourselves when we serve others." -- WTO Director-General Michael Moore
---
Source: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/DailyNews/wtopreview991128.html


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