Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement

By Ross Gelbspan | Go to book overview

2
An Epidemic Of Terrorism

It is difficult to date with precision the beginning of the extended campaign of official harassment and covert low-grade domestic terrorism that continued to the end of the Reagan Administration and beyond. The reporting of such incidents is not comprehensive. Except for a few veteran activists, most Americans are not comfortable telling others they are the subject of an FBI inquiry. Many mainstream church members and younger activists, as well as refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala, have been intimidated into silence. Other targets of harassment and intimidation, unaware of the systematic nature of such activities and believing their experiences to be isolated events, had no reason to go public with their stories.

But in piecing together scores of confirmed reports of both official harassments and secret, mysterious violations, there emerges the unmistakable picture of a deliberate, coordinated and extended campaign of political rape, in which the homes and workplaces of political activists have been invaded, their belongings stolen or trashed and their sense of security deeply violated.

It may have begun in 1982 when a New York woman returned from Nicaragua to learn that she was the subject of a sudden and inexplicable IRS audit.

Another clue surfaced in November 1983, when agents from the Milwaukee field office of the FBI began questioning members of two local Central America groups about their connections to terrorist organizations. Daisy Cubias, a Milwaukee woman who did volunteer work with the Ecumenical Refugee Council, told a newspaper reporter that FBI agents visited her once at her workplace and twice at her home. "They asked me if I knew that some members of CASC were in the Communist Party. They told me, 'You're going around with a bunch of terrorists and we want to help you keep clean.'"1 Several months later,

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