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Sat Jul 29 23:52:41 1995

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Datum : Mo 08.05.95, 23:52 (erhalten: 10.05.95)


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The FBI's Secret War On Political Freedom


As President Bill Clinton presses for broader powers for

the FBI, working people will find it worthwhile to examine

the real history of this secret police outfit. Below are

excerpts from Cointelpro: The FBI's Secret War on Political

Freedom, a book that documents one of the most notorious

programs of FBI spying and harassment. Much of the material

for the book was pryed out of the government as a result of a

successful suit filed by the Socialist Workers Party against

the FBI and other spy agencies that had engaged in decades of

illegal disruption activities against the party. The excerpts

are reprinted with the permission of Pathfinder. Subheads are

provided by the Militant.


From the evidence now available, it appears that the first

FBI disruption program (apart from the Communist Party) was

launched in August 1960 against groups advocating

independence for Puerto Rico. In October 1961, the "SWP

Disruption Program" was put into operation against the

Socialist Workers Party. The grounds offered, in a secret FBI

memorandum, were the following: the party had been "openly

espousing its line on a local and national basis through

running candidates for public office and strongly directing

and/or supporting such causes as Castro's Cuba and

integration problems-in the South."

The SWP Disruption Program, put into operation during the

Kennedy administration, reveals very clearly the FBI's

understanding of its function: to block legal political

activity that departs from orthodoxy, to disrupt opposition

to state policy, to undermine the civil rights movement.


The Cointelpro plot to disrupt socialist election

campaigns was concocted not because of any illegal activities

by the SWP, but because, as J. Edgar Hoover said, socialist

candidates were "openly" talking to people about their

ideas.One Cointelpro operation that has come to light through

the socialists' suit concerns the 1966 campaign of Judy White

for governor of New York. This was during the period when the

antiwar movement was beginning to have a major impact on the

thinking of the American people. White was a leader of the

antiwar movement. A broad layer of opponents of the

war - including many radicals who were not particularly close

to the SWP-had endorsed White as the only antiwar candidate

in the race.

Campaign supporters worked hard to get the signatures

necessary to obtain ballot status, which brought significant

amount of attention from the media.

The FBI looked for a way to sabotage this campaign. They

noticed that according to New York law, White was formally

not old enough to hold the office of governor. The FBI tried

to get this fact reported in the media in an attempt to

discredit the campaign.

According to the documents, the FBI decided to rely on the

Daily News to do the job for them, but the New York City CBS

television affiliate did it instead.As the documents show the state legislature soon passed a

law altering the election code to require that a candidate be

old enough to assume an office in order to run for it.

FBI murder of Fred Hampton

Perhaps the most shocking story concerns the assassination

of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by Chicago police directed by

the state's attorney's office in December 1969, in a predawn

raid on a Chicago apartment. Hampton, one of the most

promising leaders of the Black Panther party-particularly

dangerous because of his opposition to violent acts or

rhetoric and his success in community organizing-was killed

in bed, perhaps drugged. Depositions in a civil suit in

Chicago reveal that the chief of Panther security and

Hampton's personal bodyguard, William O'Neal, was an FBI

infiltrator. O'Neal gave his FBI "contacting agent," Roy

Mitchell, a detailed floor plan of the apartment, which

Mitchell turned over to the state's attorney's office shortly

before the attack, along with "information" - of dubious

veracity - that there were two illegal shotguns in the

apartment. For his services, O'Neal was paid over $10,000

from January 1969 through July 1970, according to Mitchell's

affidavit.O'Neal, incidentally, continued to report to Mitchell

after the raid. He was taking part in meetings with the

Hampton family and discussions between lawyers and clients,

one of many such examples of violation of the lawyer-client


The Starsky Case

Prominent in the ranks of teachers victimized by the FBI

is Morris Starsky. In 1970 the FBI encouraged Starsky's

dismissal from his job as a professor of philosophy at

Arizona State University. The Phoenix office of the FBI sent

an anonymous letter slandering him to a faculty committee

reviewing his teaching contract.

In a memo dated May 31, 1968, the Phoenix FBI noted that

local targets for Cointelpro were "pretty obvious.- It is

apparent that New Left organizations and activities in the

Phoenix metropolitan area have received their inspiration and

leadership almost exclusively from the members of the faculty

in the Department of Philosophy at Arizona State University

(ASU), chiefly Assistant Professor MORRIS J. STARSKY."

To that description of himself, Starsky adds that he

helped organize the first antiwar teach-in at ASU; he led a

campus free-speech fight; he helped lead a successful

campaign to win campus recognition for SDS; he participated

in campus activities to support striking Tucson sanitation

workers and a union organizing drive by Chicano laundry

workers; he served as a presidential elector for the

Socialist Workers party in 1968; he helped to reestablish the

ASU chapter of the American Federation of Teachers; and he

was the faculty adviser of the Young Socialist Alliance and

the Student Mobilization Committee.

All that provoked quite a furor among right-wing state

legislators and university regents. The Faculty Committee on

Academic Freedom and Tenure (whose members received the FBI's

slanderous letters) held a hundred hours of public hearings

on whether Starsky was entitled to teach at ASU. Three

thousand students and over 250 professors signed petitions

supporting Starsky's right to academic freedom.

The committee's members were not duped by the FBI's

anonymous slanders, although they expressed surprise five

years later when they learned that "A Concerned Alumnus" was

really J. Edgar Hoover. The committee voted unanimously

against dismissing Starsky. But the regents refused to renew

his contract and he lost his job in June 1970. Starsky says

that "it's sort of like being found innocent and executed

anyway." Since ASU he has lost two teaching jobs in

California for political reasons.

Targeting a Black candidate

"A review is being conducted of Clifton DeBerry's file to

determine if there is anything derogatory in his background

which might cause embarrassment to the SWP if publicly


Those words appear in a secret FBI memorandum dated

October 17, 1963. Of the nearly 1,000 pages of Cointelpro

files released in response to the SWP suit, more concern

Clifton DeBerry than any other single individual. In 1964

DeBerry became the first Black person ever to run for

president of the United States, when he was nominated by the

SWP.In the early 1960s a Black nationalist mood was becoming

visible in the ghettos of the North, and no one better

articulated this new consciousness than Malcolm X.

"We began to make contact with Malcolm when he was still

the main spokesman for the Nation of Islam," DeBerry said.

"In late 1963 I went on a speaking tour. Malcolm was touring

at the same time, and I would go to see him whenever I


It was during a tour stop in Chicago that the FBI arranged

to have DeBerry arrested in order to create a scandal they

hoped to use to discredit him. Just as DeBerry was about to

address a socialist meeting, the Chicago police stormed into

the building, hauled him to the station, and booked him on

charges of nonsupport of his ex-wife.The FBI followed up this arrest by devoting enormous

attention to trying to get the news media to report both this

incident and DeBerry's earlier arrests for "labor trouble.-"

`Send troops to South not Vietnam'

"We of the Socialist Workers party say get all the U.S.

troops, planes, and warships out of Vietnam-North and South,"

DeBerry demanded. "If as Johnson claims their purpose is to

`protect democracy,' then send them to Mississippi and let

them do some protecting of Black Americans there."

While the FBI was secretly plotting against the Black

presidential candidate, he was publicly blasting the FBI.

After the disappearance of three civil rights workers slain

by racists in Mississippi, DeBerry exposed the bureau's


Local cops, who were involved in the murders, had held the

three in jail before they were killed. "While the three

kidnapped youths were in jail in Philadelphia, Mississippi,

their co-workers became fearful for their safety, and

telephoned the FBI in Jackson. The FBI agent-refused to help

and told the rights fighters that he wouldn't have any more

dealings with them," DeBerry said.

During this period DeBerry's relationship with Malcolm

continued to develop. "After his break with the Nation of

Islam, I used to meet with him almost every Saturday when he

was in the country. We would have discussions about

politics-often comparing notes and checking up on what each

other had been hearing about the developing nationalist

response among Blacks," DeBerry recalled.

At the suggestion of Malcolm and his collaborator, James

Shabazz, DeBerry spoke at a couple of classes at the Muslim

Mosque, Inc., which Malcolm headed.

"We were again touring at the same time, and our paths

would often crisscross. Whenever I could I would attend his

speeches. While he was too busy to make it to mine, he would

send someone over," DeBerry remembered. "We had that kind of


A few months later Malcolm would be assassinated. The

FBI's role in that event is a story that is yet to be told.

To get an introductory 12-week subscription to the Militant in the

U.S., send $10 US to: The Militant, 410 West Street, New York, NY 10014.

For subscription rates to other countries, send e-mail to or write to the above address.


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