There's Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence

There's Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence

There's Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence

There's Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence

Synopsis

Using over twelve thousand previously classified documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act, David Cunningham uncovers the riveting inside story of the FBI's attempts to neutralize political targets on both the Right and the Left during the 1960s. Examining the FBI's infamous counterintelligence programs (COINTELPROs) against suspected communists, civil rights and black power advocates, Klan adherents, and antiwar activists, he questions whether such actions were aberrations or are evidence of the bureau's ongoing mission to restrict citizens' right to engage in legal forms of political dissent. At a time of heightened concerns about domestic security, with the FBI's license to spy on U.S. citizens expanded to a historic degree, the question becomes an urgent one. This book supplies readers with insights and information vital to a meaningful assessment of the current situation.

There's Something Happening Here looks inside the FBI's COINTELPROs against white hate groups and the New Left to explore how agents dealt with the hundreds of individuals and organizations labeled as subversive threats. Rather than reducing these activities to a product of the idiosyncratic concerns of longtime director J. Edgar Hoover, Cunningham focuses on the complex organizational dynamics that generated literally thousands of COINTELPRO actions. His account shows how--and why--the inner workings of the programs led to outcomes that often seemed to lack any overriding logic; it also examines the impact the bureau's massive campaign of repression had on its targets. The lessons of this era have considerable relevance today, and Cunningham extends his analysis to the FBI's often controversial recent actions to map the influence of the COINTELPRO legacy on contemporary debates over national security and civil liberties.

Excerpt

On June 11, 1968, the FBI’s Newark field office was developing ideas to promote a negative, and outwardly deviant, image of the nation’s largest New Left student organization, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). the agent in charge of the Newark office submitted a proposal to fbi National Headquarters in Washington, dc, suggesting that the office draw up a leaflet with photographs of “the dirtiest most unkempt sds demonstrators.” the photographs would be obtained from “mug shots” taken at a recent student demonstration by the Princeton University Police Department, and below the photos, a caption would read: “The above Princeton students do not and will never represent the student body.” in Washington, the FBI’s Director was in favor of this proposal and, on June 21, requested that the Newark office submit the leaflet to the Bureau for reproduction. the Newark office did so on July 3 but was not satisfied that the demonstrators’ “dirty” and “unkempt” appearance sufficiently conveyed the Bureau’s intended message. the agent in charge therefore requested that “the aid of the Exhibits Section of the [FBI] Laboratory be solicited to further improve the presentation [of the photographs] by, for example, adding frames or scroll designs around the photos or placing the faces on the shoulders of small sketched apes.” At the same time, the agent requested that 120 of these embellished pamphlets be sent to an “outspoken member of the Conservative Club at Princeton”—described as “pro-American” and “a supporter of the John Birch Society”—in the hope that she would distribute them at the club’s upcoming dinner. These qualifications presumably met the approval of the Director, who approved a modified form of this proposal on July 24, specifying that fifty of the copies be . . .

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