The 1960s and COINTELPRO:
In Defense of Paranoia
by Daniel Brandt
From NameBase NewsLine, No. 10, July-September
It was just six months ago that Bill Clinton began casting
about for an enemy to rally Americans behind his dim leadership.
Ronald had his Evil Empire and George his Adolf Saddam, but poor
Bill has yet to find a hook on world events. Either Clinton becomes
presidential within the next year, or his second term is sunk.
The fishing in post-Cold War waters has not been good; six
months ago it seemed that only international terrorists and narcotics
smugglers might be netted from the 1990s political stew. And the
drug issue is sometimes inconvenient: Mexico, soiling her new
suit of Spun-in-USA hype, now looks like a basket case, or even
like a Cali shark in NAFTA-pinup clothing. Organized crime gets
messy too, as it can involve powerful people with banking connections,
who might backfire at politicians on occasion. That leaves only
international terrorism, the sole example of which in the U.S.
in recent memory -- if one ignores the CIA ties of the perpetrators
-- is the World Trade Center bombing.
The fishing is lousy, but fish he must. Clinton's string-pullers
are not happy. With 52 percent of Americans believing that "the
federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses
a threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens,"
Clinton needs a threat that's too big for mere state and local
governments. Out trots Warren Christopher on January 20, 1995,
to unveil a broad plan for expanded wiretapping, denial of visas,
working with other governments on money laundering and seizing
assets, and expanding the use of current laws prohibiting fund-
raising for terrorist organizations. "International terrorists,
criminals and drug traffickers pose direct threats to our people
and to our nation's interests," Christopher explained to
anyone who hadn't heard it before.
The bombing in Oklahoma City happened three months later.
It was accompanied by 100 times more footage about dead children
than the same media mustered for Waco two years earlier -- or
for that matter, bombed children in Vietnam during the 1960s.
They deftly dropped the word "international" from all
references to "terrorism," and "anti-terrorism"
moved to the fast track. The president's popularity went up as
Bill and Hillary staged a session with some children in front
of the cameras, promising the toddlers that they'd do their best
against the bad guys. They didn't take questions. A few days later
Clinton sent a $1.5 billion anti-terrorism bill to Congress. Here
we go again, for those old enough to remember the sixties.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Southern Poverty Law
Center (SPLC) had bigger fish to fry. Even though the connection
between the bombing and militia groups was more imaginary than
real, the copy-starved media grabbed whatever crumbs they were
offered by these two axe-grinding groups. The militias hit the
front pages everywhere. On June 7, with the support of the ADL,
the Senate passed a sweeping $2 billion anti-terrorism measure
by a vote of 91-to-8. It took a pair of gloves at the O.J. trial
to slap our media back to their usual fare. And by then the House
was already reporting a similar bill out of committee.
Clinton's rush to capitalize on an isolated incident seems
misguided to the American Civil Liberties Union. Unlike the ADL,
with their agenda of short-term gain against their perceived enemies,
the ACLU believes that reasonable people should defer to the long-range
interests of democracy as expressed in the Bill of Rights. But
Clinton is neither a power-grabber nor a libertarian; he's a gofer.
His handlers are dismayed over what they see as the failure of
the New World Order in Bosnia. These globalists want an end to
nationalism when it doesn't serve their interests. Bosnia is one
example, and the isolationism of the populists and patriots in
America is another.
The masters of the global plantation need serfs who are willing
to donate their first-born to assorted foreign military adventures.
Otherwise, nationalism -- which is often a response to oppression,
both perceived and real -- cannot be suppressed. And that means
markets cannot be exploited. Since the war in Vietnam, all is
not well back at the Republic. Real folks are watching real earnings
decline, at the same time that Wall Street gushes over the corporate
downsizing that has stock prices soaring. "Losing your job
is good for us," they're basically saying.
Even militia members now salute the anti-war protesters of
the sixties, and regret that they weren't listening at the time.
"Look at that McNamara coming forward now with his brand-new
book, telling us that the patriot movement of thirty years ago
was absolutely right, and that the war was a lying, fraudulent,
disgusting thing," says Bob Fletcher, a spokesman for the
Militia of Montana.
The establishment response to populists and patriots is two-fold.
On the one hand, they demonize the movement as neo-fascist, racist,
and anti-Semitic. This is the line of ADL and SPLC, whose spokesmen
grossly exaggerate the connections between today's patriots, and
an earlier generation of white survivalists. In this view, ADL
and SPLC are anti- racist and liberal, while the patriots are
nothing more than extreme-right hate groups posing as populists.
This analysis is definitely declining. ADL's police-state methods,
and SPLC's questionable fund-raising practices, have both taken
their toll. But the primary reason for the decline is that the
left vs. right scenario held dear by ADL and SPLC has lost its
power to explain what's happening in America.
Plan B becomes important once it's apparent that the old paradigm
can't do the job. This new interpretation is best articulated
in an article by Michael Kelly in the June 19, 1995 issue of The
New Yorker, titled "The Road to Paranoia." Kelly describes
"views that have long been shared by both the far right and
the far left, and that in recent years have come together, in
a weird meeting of the minds, to become one, and to permeate the
mainstream of American politics and popular culture. You could
call it fusion paranoia."
Kelly uses psychologism to avoid examining the evidence. Recent
events in American history, from the October Surprise to Iran-contra
to Mena, Arkansas, are all examples of "conspiracist appeal."
They should be appreciated not for what they might tell us about
American society and politics, but only for what they tell us
about those who find them compelling. Kelly is doing nothing new
here. In 1969, a conservative scholar by the name of Lewis S.
Feuer produced a fat book titled "The Conflict of Generations,"
which explained the student movement in terms of an Oedipal impulse
that student activists have toward their fathers. No messy Vietnam
war, with forced conscription and napalmed babies, had much of
anything to do with it. Similarly, Kelly and The New Yorker are
spared the trouble of dealing with the issues that have awakened
so many in America's heartland. Freud is out of favor by now,
but the ridicule of paranoia works just as well.
The term "fusion paranoia" could only have been
coined by someone who did not experience the surveillance and
repression of the 1960s. At the time, anti-war activists didn't
realize the extent to which the authorities were destroying their
movement from within by using agents provocateurs and informants,
and from the outside by using trumped-up charges, anonymous denunciations
and snitch jackets, and stories planted in the media. Almost thirty
years later, the deja vu is getting stronger with each new headline.
It wasn't until the decade following the sixties that the
bulk of the documentation surfaced. Mostly this was the result
of a Freedom of Information Act that was given new teeth in December,
1974, over President Ford's veto. The Church Committee in the
Senate, and the Pike Committee in the House, were looking into
CIA misdeeds. J. Edgar Hoover came to a timely end in 1972, allowing
congressional and Government Accounting Office investigators to
put at least one foot into the FBI's cabinets. And our national
media, in the wake of Watergate, were in a rare mood to report
what the files showed.
The revelations were almost more than the system could bear.
President Reagan's Executive Order 12356, issued in 1982, slowed
down the declassification process. In 1986 a revision of the Freedom
of Information Act gave agencies the authority to refuse to confirm
or deny that certain records existed at all. The effect of these
changes, along with the decline in investigative journalism and
the rise of infotainment, meant that the window of opportunity
for the public's right to know was slammed shut.
In 1978, for example, with a few intimations that the University
of Southern California had something to hide (former CIA director
John McCone was a trustee), I successfully urged the campus library
to file a request for the CIA's files on USC. Almost three years
later the library received 50 documents, portions of which were
blacked out, and were denied another 34 documents. All search
fees were waived in the public interest, and the library made
the files available for photocopying.
If I tried the same thing today, first the library would want
to know why I'm making trouble. Then the CIA would tell the library
to take a hike. If I took the CIA's letter to the campus newspaper
editor, she'd want to know why I think mere citizens should be
privy to the CIA's secrets -- the real story, she'd explain, is
the problem of discrimination against women in the Directorate
One yearns for the good old days, when issues were big, women
didn't want to be imperial spies, and idealism and ethical indignation
were accepted from nonvictims. In 1977 the CIA notified eighty
academic institutions that they had unwittingly been involved
in -- surprise! -- mind-control research. But this and similar
tidbits are consigned to pre-digital oblivion these days. Anything
that isn't available through campus terminals or journalists'
modems is never discussed anymore. That means anything predating
the early 1980s.
"The Women's Liberation Movement may be considered as
subversive to the New Left and revolutionary movements as they
have proven to be a divisive and factionalizing factor.... It
could be well recommended as a counterintelligence movement to
weaken the revolutionary movement." This was from an August,
1969 report by the head of the San Francisco FBI office. Within
several years, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations were pumping
millions into women's studies programs on campus.
At the same time, the FBI's Domestic Intelligence Division
had 62,000 subversives under investigation. Much of this effort
was organized under COINTELPRO, or counterintelligence program.
In 1956 COINTELPRO began against the Communist Party USA, in 1964
"white hate groups" were added, in 1967 "black
nationalist-hate groups," and in 1968 the "New Left."
The existence of COINTELPRO was first revealed when every
document in the Media, Pennsylvania office of the FBI was stolen
by unknown persons on March 8, 1971. Some sixty documents were
then mailed to selected publications, and others were sent directly
to the people and groups named. These documents broke down as
follows: 30 percent were manuals, routine forms, and similar procedural
materials. Of the remainder, 40 percent were political surveillance
and other investigation of political activity (2 were right-wing,
10 concerned immigrants, and over 200 were on left or liberal
groups), 25 percent concerned bank robberies, 20 percent were
murder, rape, and interstate theft, 7 percent were draft resistance,
another 7 percent were military desertion, and 1 percent organized
crime, mostly gambling.
Further evidence concerning COINTELPRO came after reporter
Carl Stern from NBC, noticing a reference in the Media documents,
filed an FOIA request and received additional files more than
two years later. Additionally, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP),
a Trotskyite group that was active in the anti-war movement, filed
a suit in 1973 that was still in discovery three years later.
The documents received by the SWP showed that specially-trained
teams of agents burglarized their offices at least 92 times from
1960-1966, yielding a total of about 10,000 photographs of documents
such as correspondence, records, minutes, letters, and other materials.
The burglaries were still going on as late as 1975.
When Lori Paton, 15, wrote a letter to the Socialist Labor
Party in 1973 and inadvertently addressed it to the SWP, she was
looking for information for a high school project. Our fearless
G-men nabbed this letter through a mail cover and swung into high
gear, opening a "subversive activities" investigation
on her. The FBI checked a credit bureau and the local police for
information on Paton and her parents, and an agent interviewed
her high school principal. "More interviews ... are in order
for plenty of reasons," instructed one memo dated 16 September
1970, "chief of which are it will enhance the paranoia endemic
in these circles and will further serve to get the point across
that there is an FBI Agent behind every mailbox. In addition,
some will be overcome by the overwhelming personalities of the
contacting agent and volunteer to tell all -- perhaps on a continuing
The Black Panther Party wasn't treated so kindly. A 1970 FBI
memo outlined a series of rather nasty steps that should be taken:
Xerox copies of true documents, documents subtly incorporating
false information, and entirely fabricated documents would be
periodically anonymously mailed to the residence of a key
Panther leader.... An attempt would be made to give the Panther
recipient the impression the documents were stolen from
police files by a disgruntled police employee sympathetic to the
Panthers.... Alleged police or FBI documents could be prepared
pinpointing Panthers as police or FBI informants; ... outlining
fictitious plans for police raids or other counteractions; revealing
misuse of Panther funds.... Effective implementation of
this proposal logically could not help but disrupt and confuse
Such FBI tactics created the feud between the Eldridge Cleaver
and Huey Newton factions of the Black Panther Party, according
to a high bureau official. In Los Angeles, the FBI worked with
the police department to support Ron Karenga, the leader of a
black nationalist organization that was feuding with the Panthers.
Two Panther activists were killed in a shootout at UCLA in 1969,
for which five Karenga supporters were subsequently indicted,
and three convicted. Louis Tackwood, an LAPD agent-provocateur
who went public in 1971, says that the LAPD gave Karenga money,
guns, narcotics, and encouragement.
In Seattle, FBI agent Louis Harris recruited David Sannes
in 1970, a patriotic veteran who was willing to help them catch
some bombers. Sannes worked with explosives expert Jeffrey Paul
Desmond and FBI agent Bert Carter. Their instructions were to
find people interested in bombing. "For a few of the members
it was a matter of many weeks of persuasion to actually have them
carry through with the bombing projects," said Sannes. When
Carter made it clear that he planned to have one bomber die in
a booby-trapped explosion, Sannes dropped his FBI work and went
public. "My own knowledge is that the FBI along with other
Federal law enforcement agencies has been involved in a campaign
of bombing, arson and terrorism in order to create in the mass
public mind a connection between political dissidence of whatever
stripe and revolutionaries of whatever violent tendencies,"
Sannes reported in an interview on WBAI radio.
The situation in Seattle is merely one of many examples of
the FBI's campaign against the New Left. Two agents, W. Mark Felt
and Edward Miller, admitted to a grand jury that they had authorized
illegal break-ins and burglaries against friends and relatives
of Weather Underground fugitives. A 25-year FBI veteran, M. Wesley
Swearingen, claimed that the FBI routinely lied to Congress about
the number of break-ins and wiretaps: "I myself actually
participated in more than 238 while assigned to the Chicago office,
[which] conducted thousands of bag jobs." Swearingen charged
that agents had lied to a Washington grand jury about the number,
locations, and duration of illegal practices in pursuit of the
Weather Underground. FBI director William Webster disciplined
only six of the 68 agents referred to him by the Justice Department.
Felt and Miller were convicted in 1980, and a few months later
were pardoned by President Reagan. Today the FBI can still use
these same techniques, simply by mislabeling their targets as
foreign agents or terrorists.
In 1971 Congress finally repealed the Internal Security Act
of 1950, which provided for custodial detention of citizens whose
names were on lists of "subversives" maintained by the
FBI. Over the years these lists were expanded from Communist Party
members, to all members of SDS and other "pro-Communist New
Left-type groups," and by 1970 even included members of every
"commune" where individuals reside in one location and
"share income and adhere to the philosophy of a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist
oriented violent revolution." Despite the repeal, the FBI
simply changed the names of the Security Index and Reserve Index
to the "Administrative Index," with the excuse that
they were preparing for possible future legislation. The FBI's
continuation of these lists was authorized by attorney general
The FBI also waged a war against the underground press. As
early as 1968 they assigned three informants to penetrate the
Liberation News Service (LNS), while nine others reported on it
from the outside. These reports were shared with the U.S. Army's
Counterintelligence Branch, the Secret Service, the Internal Revenue
Service, the Navy, the Air Force, and the CIA. The FBI set up
Pacific International News Service in San Francisco and New York
Press Service on the east coast. When NYPS director Louis Salzberg
blew his cover by appearing as a government witness at the Chicago
Seven trial, the FBI's New York office tried to swing this in
their favor by preparing an anonymous letter denouncing LNS as
a government front as well. Other underground newspapers were
handled more gently by the FBI, by getting record companies to
pull ads from their pages.
Other federal agencies were also active in the war against
dissent. In response to pressure from the Nixon White House, in
1969 the Internal Revenue Service began investigating radicals.
Former FBI agent Robert N. Wall blew the whistle on this unit
in 1972. He wrote about his visit to the IRS to investigate a
When I went to the IRS I found it had secretly set
up a special squad of men to investigate the tax records of "known
militants and activists." I was sent to a locked,
sound-proofed room in the basement of the IRS headquarters in
Washington, where I found a file on my subject, among hundreds
of others piled on a long table.
The CIA was able to obtain IRS information under the table,
through IRS liaison personnel that handled the taxes for CIA proprietary
companies. When the CIA found out that Ramparts magazine planned
to expose their funding of the National Student Association, Richard
Ober met with top IRS officials Thomas Terry, Leon Green, and
John Barber on February 1, 1967. Ober recommended that Ramparts'
corporate returns be examined, along with the personal returns
of any financial supporters of Ramparts. The CIA also obtained
the personal returns of Ramparts publisher Edward Keating.
The CIA's domestic operations were first exposed by Seymour
Hersh in the New York Times on December 22, 1974. Within two weeks
President Ford created the Rockefeller Commission to look into
the matter, and their report was issued the following June. It
detailed the CIA's mail intercept program for mail to and from
the Soviet Union, described Operation CHAOS (the CIA's domestic
spying program that was headed by Richard Ober), also described
a separate domestic spying program run by the CIA's Office of
Security called Project Resistance, and mentioned an Office of
Security program that gave seminars and training on lock-picking
and surveillance to a number of local police departments.
The Rockefeller report stated that "during six years
[1967-1972], the Operation [CHAOS] compiled some 13,000 different
files, including files on 7,200 American citizens. The documents
in these files and related materials included the names of more
than 300,000 persons and organizations, which were entered into
a computerized index." This compares to the CIA's index of
some 7 million names of all nationalities maintained by the Directorate
of Operations, an estimated 115,000 of which are believed to be
American citizens. But the numbers may be on the low side;
CHAOS was tightly compartmented within the CIA and free from periodic
internal review. For example, later reports of the number of state,
local, and county police departments assisted by the CIA were
put at 44, far more than the handful mentioned in the Rockefeller
The Center for National Security Studies, a late-1970s liberal
watchdog group headed by Morton Halperin, obtained 450 documents
that describe the CIA's Project Resistance. These documents show
that the purpose of this Security Office program was much more
than an effort to protect CIA recruiters on campus by collecting
newspaper clippings, as described in the Rockefeller report. The
Security Office was authorized for the first time to assist the
recruiting division "in any way possible," and restrictions
on contacting the FBI at local levels were dropped. Contacts were
also developed with campus security officials, informants within
the campus community, military intelligence, and state and local
police. Special attention was paid to the underground press.
In 1976 the Church Committee received summaries from the CIA
of the files of 400 American journalists who had being tasked
by the CIA to collect intelligence abroad over the past 25 years.
These included correspondents for the New York Times, CBS News,
Time magazine, and many others. As sensitive as this issue
was, it didn't involve domestic operations (which are a violation
of the CIA's charter), except to the extent that planted stories
would sometimes "blow back" as bona fide news for domestic
One case in particular, however, suggests that the CIA was
busy sabotaging the underground press as well. Sal Ferrera was
recruited by the CIA sometime around 1970. He worked with the
Quicksilver Times in Washington DC, and covered numerous demonstrations
for the College Press Service. (Seed money from the CIA helped
establish CPS in the early 1960s, although most staffers did not
know this.) Ferrera even worked with a debugging outfit in Washington,
checking telephones of movement groups for taps.
When CPS sent Ferrera to Paris to report on the Vietnamese
peace negotiations, he ended up befriending ex-CIA officer Philip
Agee, who was writing his memoirs. Ferrera was exposed as a CIA
agent in 1975 with the publication of Agee's "Inside the
Company: CIA Diary." This bestseller featured the typewriter
Ferrera gave Agee: in the cover photograph, the padding in the
top of the typewriter case is peeled back to reveal a homing transmitter.
That same year, Ferrera returned to the U.S. and legally changed
Not to be outdone, U.S. military intelligence frequently used
media cover to collect information during demonstrations. The
U.S. Army's "Midwest Audiovisual News" scooped up the
only TV interview with Abbie Hoffman during the 1968 Democratic
convention in Chicago. Their Counter- intelligence Analysis Branch
(CIAB) compiled organizational files, personality files, mug books,
and "black lists," resulting in more than 117,000 documents.
These were computer-indexed under a series of descriptive categories,
which allowed access to a microfilm reel and frame at the push
of a button.
There were other filing systems in other locations, maintained
by other elements of the military intelligence bureaucracy. These
were fed partly by overlapping data, as well as by other collection
systems. The U.S. Intelligence Command (USAINTC), for example,
had a network of 1500 agents stationed in over 300 posts scattered
throughout the country. Some of these posts were stocked with
communications equipment, tape recorders, cameras, lock-picking
kits, lie detectors, and interview rooms with two- way mirrors.
Agents were even given kits to forge identification for cover
purposes. Former army intelligence captain Christopher Pyle blew
the whistle on military surveillance in 1970, in the January and
July issues of Washington Monthly. This led to hearings in 1971
by Senator Sam Ervin's Constitutional Rights Subcommittee, at
which Pyle, CIAB analyst Ralph Stein, and operative Richard Stahl
Some of the military's effort reflected their fondness for
the "operations center" seen in movies, with direct
lines to local police departments, teletype machines to field
intelligence units, situation maps, closed-circuit television,
and secure radio links. One 180-man command center was created
in 1968 after the riots that followed the assassination of Martin
Luther King; by 1969 it was housed in a $2.7 million basement
war room in the Pentagon. Nothing was too insignificant for this
war room's computer: one printout announced an "anti-war
demo" at West Point, where Vassar "girl students will
offer sex to cadets who sign an anti-war petition." Apart
from the coverage of demonstrations and similar events, the primary
target of military intelligence was the nation's university and
The 117-year-old Posse Comitatus Act, which the current anti-
terrorism legislation will amend, sharply curtails the rights
of the military to get involved in domestic law enforcement. Nevertheless,
in the late sixties the military was working closely with local
and state police, as well as National Guard units, to coordinate
scenarios for the implementation of martial law. The Ervin subcommittee
came across a master plan called "Garden Plot," which
was too unspecific to raise Ervin's eyebrows. Several years later
a freelance journalist uncovered documents describing a sub-plan
of Garden Plot. It went by the name of "Cable Splicer,"
and involved California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona, under
the command of the Sixth Army.
Cable Splicer was developed in a series of California meetings
from 1968 to 1972, involving Sixth Army, Pentagon, and National
Guard generals, police chiefs and sheriffs, military intelligence
officers, defense contractors, and executives from the telephone
company and utility companies. One meeting was kicked off by Governor
You know, there are people in the state who, if they
could see this gathering right now and my presence here, would
decide that their worst fears and convictions had been
realized -- I was planning a military takeover.
The participants played war games using scenarios that began
with racial, student, or labor unrest, and ended with the Army
being called in to bail out the National Guard, usually by sweeping
the area to confiscate private weapons and round up likely troublemakers.
These games were conducted in secrecy, with military personnel
dressed in civvies, and using non-military transportation. Although
the documents on Cable Splicer covered only four Western states,
Brig. Gen. J. L. Jelinek, senior Army officer in the Pentagon's
National Guard Bureau, knew of "no state that didn't have
some form of this [civil disturbance control] exercise within
the last year" under different code names.
Games are one thing, while actual offensive operations are
another. The Ervin subcommittee reported that military intelligence
groups conducted offensive operations against anti-war and student
groups, but the Pentagon refused to declassify the relevant records.
Presumably they never reached the intensity of the FBI's COINTELPRO
operations. The situation with respect to police departments
was a different matter. Particularly in Chicago, New York City,
Philadelphia and Los Angeles, as well as in some other cities,
the police "Red Squads" exceeded the zeal of the FBI.
In Los Angeles from 1977-1981, I worked with a citizens' group
to document the LAPD's intelligence activities, which were still
going strong even then. Our group uncovered at least eight LAPD
agents in local organizations, some of whom had attended our own
meetings. One was even reporting on city council meetings. After
a series of similar revelations, the LAPD intelligence division
was finally dissolved by the police commission in January, 1983.
The final straw for the police commission occurred two months
earlier, when it was discovered that files previously ordered
destroyed had been squirreled away by an intelligence officer,
Jay Paul, with the approval of his superiors. Investigators with
search warrants seized ninety cartons of files from his mobile
home and other locations. Paul was in the process of feeding this
data into the computers of Western Goals, a private organization
headed by Congressman Larry McDonald, and was also involved with
Research West, an operation founded by ex-FBI agents which sold
information to corporations. Typical of the files in these cartons
was a four-decade dossier on a state supreme court judge, compiled
to assess his possible bias against police intelligence practices.
It's the Chicago Police Department that holds the national
record for dirty tricks, however. At times the intelligence unit
swelled to 500, and in 1974, fearing a lawsuit, they destroyed
files on 105,000 individuals and 1,300 organizations. Prominent
citizens and civic groups were targeted as often as black nationalists.
In 1967 a right-winger organized the Legion of Justice, which
claimed five chapters in Chicago, each with forty to sixty members.
These were essentially gangs, and they worked with the Chicago
police to target left-wing groups. Many of their tactics were
illegal, including burglaries to obtain files, bugging, harassment,
and threats. Sometimes police staked out the scene to make sure
the gang members weren't interrupted.
Today officials in Chicago are involved in negotiations to
ease the restrictions on police spying. These restrictions were
imposed by a consent decree in 1982, after more than 60 organizations
and individuals sued the city in 1974. Recently police superintendent
Matt Rodriguez said that the limits on police spying are "keeping
information from us that we should have with respect to potential
criminal activity, potential terrorist activity that we could
probably be investigating a lot more effectively." His position
is supported by Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose father was mayor
in the 1960s and 1970s.
Despite the high incidence of civil unrest between 1963 and
1968, violence claimed no more than 220 lives and the victims
were not the objects of protest but the protesters themselves:
20 civil rights workers and most of the rest ghetto-dwellers.
During this period the civil strife death rate was 1.1 per million
in this country, compared to a European rate of 2.4 per million.
Nevertheless, many federal, state, and local agencies were willing
to violate our civil rights, while others collected surveillance
information with the expectation that it would be useful later,
perhaps under martial law conditions. This suggests that our Constitution
is much more fragile than most people assume.
The sixties were economic boom years, when a college degree,
even in the humanities, seemed to promise a house and garden on
Easy Street. There was a war in Vietnam that we could afford to
lose: despite all the death and destruction, there were no essential
American interests involved. And we had a war on poverty at home
that raised consciousness and expectations, which a wealthy America
could afford to win. But those who were not involved in either
of the above, whether through support or opposition, must have
comprised at least 80 percent of the population. The string-pullers
know that this 80 percent tends to go along, in order to get along.
At the level of manipulation contemplated by the elites, there
is no genuine left vs. right, no Democrat vs. Republican, no "women
and people of color" vs. "angry white males." These
are imposed artificially. In normal times there's a hodgepodge
minority consisting of the elites, the suspicious, the desperate,
the dispossessed, and those who think for themselves. Alongside
this there's a hackneyed majority that continues to pursue their
own narrow interests. Without the time or inclination to seek
out information for themselves, they subsist on what they are
fed by a centralized mass media.
Increasingly, however, these are not normal times. Oklahoma
and the pending anti-terrorism legislation are a test run of sorts,
whether they started out that way or not. As the economy goes
south, and the 80 percent begin to suspect that there's something
they aren't being told, all bets for stability are off. This has
important people worried.
Without the "communists" to kick around anymore,
some of those who once underwrote Wall Street's global interests
by donating their first- born, are now describing themselves as
patriots and populists. Many of them have taken a fresh look at
the international ruling class, and resurrected a long but gnarly
tradition of anti-establishment, isolationist nationalism.
Much of the political thinking among these new patriots is
immature, and is short on both research and scholarship. Even
so, it still describes the world better than what's left of the
Left, with its self-interested insistence on multiculturalism
and political correctness. The conspiracy theories peddled by
patriots make more objective sense today, than the reasons they
were given for our involvement in Vietnam did in the sixties.
That's progress of sorts.
These patriots and populists have shed most of the racism
and anti-Semitism that characterized the earlier survivalists.
Now they're expressing their opinions by fax, radio, and Internet,
they have an ear to the ground, and -- it must be said -- they
spread lots of rumors. But two out of three isn't bad.
The ruling class, to be sure, would prefer that they watch
the O.J. trial.
1. "USA Has New Anti-Terror Plan," Associated Press,
21 January 1995.
2. Michael Kelly, "The Road to Paranoia," The New
Yorker, 19 June 1995, p. 67.
3. Ibid., p. 62.
4. Frank Donner, The Age of Surveillance (New York: Vintage
Books, 1981), p. 151.
5. "The Complete Collection of Political Documents Ripped-off
from the FBI Office in Media PA, March 8, 1971," Win Magazine,
March 1972, pp. 1-82.
6. Donner, p. 131.
7. Aryeh Neier, Dossier: The Secret Files They Keep On You
(New York: Stein and Day, 1975), p. 150.
8. Louis E. Tackwood, The Glass House Tapes (New York: Avon
Books, 1973), pp. 105-7.
9. Ibid., pp. 158-9; Dave Dellinger, "Pre-Watergate Watergate,"
Liberation, November 1973, pp. 26-9.
10. Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential (New York:
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1993), pp. 115-6; Donner, The Age of Surveillance,
11. Donner, The Age of Surveillance, pp. 162-7.
12. Angus Mackenzie, Sabotaging the Dissident Press (San Francisco:
Center for Investigative Reporting, 1983), pp. 6, 9-11.
13. Robert Wall, "Special Agent for the FBI," The
New York Review of Books, 27 January 1972, p. 18.
14. Robert Burnham, A Law Unto Itself (New York: Random House,
1989), pp. 274-5.
15. The Nelson Rockefeller Report to the President by the
Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, June 1975
(New York: Manor Books), 299 pages.
16. Ibid., p. 23, 41, 143.
17. Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1990), p. 87.
18. Mackenzie, pp. 9-10; Daniel Brandt, "The CIA on American
Campuses," Trojan Parallel, February-March 1979, p. 3.
19. Carl Bernstein, "The CIA and the Media," Rolling
Stone, 20 October 1977, pp. 55-67.
20. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary (Harmondsworth,
England: Penguin Books, 1975), pp. 575-6; Mackenzie, pp. 8-9.
21. Blanche Wiesen Cook, "Surveillance and Mind Control."
In Howard Frazier, ed., Uncloaking the CIA (New York: The Free
Press, 1978), p. 178. See also Donner, The Age of Surveillance,
22. Christopher Pyle's two articles, with background, are
reprinted in Charles Peters and Taylor Branch, eds., Blowing the
Whistle: Dissent in the Public Interest (New York: Praeger Publishers,
1972), pp. 43-76.
23. Donner, The Age of Surveillance, pp. 287-320.
24. Ron Ridenhour with Arthur Lubow, "Bringing the War
Home," New Times, 28 November 1975, pp. 18-24.
25. Donner, The Age of Surveillance, p. 308.
26. Donner, Protectors of Privilege, pp. 245-89; Joel Sappell,
"Jay Paul," Los Angeles Times, 30 April 1984, Part II,
pp. 1, 6.
27. Ibid., pp. 90-154; George O'Toole, The Private Sector
(New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), p. 139.
28. "Chicago Tries to Expand Police Spying," Associated
Press. In Washington Times, 14 June 1995, p. A4.
29. Quoted in Donner, The Age of Surveillance, p. 183, from
Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives,
National commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (Government
Printing Office, 1969).