excerpts from the book

The American Police State

The Government Against the People

by David Wise

Random House, 1976, hardcover


Washington DC columnist Joseph Kraft in his testimony to the United States Senate in 1974, about the secret wiretapping of him by the Nixon Administration

To this day Io not understand why I was made the subject of the wiretapping, the bugging, or the surveillance, or whether the purpose was really to entrap me or perhaps someone inside the government who might be speaking to me. I am only sure that a monster has been allowed to grow up, and unless it is subject to regular control by impartial persons I think all of us will be the victims.

Washington DC columnist Joseph Kraft in an interview - about the secret wiretapping of private citizens by the Nixon Administration, 1974

We came a hell of a lot closer to a police state than I thought possible.

President Richard M. Nixon, April 16, 1971

You talk about police state. Let me tell you what happens when you go to what is really a police state. You can't talk in your bedroom. You can't talk in your sitting room. You don't talk on the telephone. You don't talk in the bathroom. As a matter of fact... you can't even talk in front of a shrub.

The New York Times had published a page-one story by William Beecher, the newspaper's Pentagon correspondent, disclosing that American B-52 aircraft had recently bombed North Vietnamese base camps in Cambodia for the first time.

The story caused surprisingly little reaction in the country, but inside the White House it struck like a thunderbolt. For the bombing of Cambodia was a dark secret, highly classified, and known only to a handful of government officials.

The deliberate deception of the American people [about the secret bombing of Cambodia in 1969] extended as well to the rest of the American government; the Air Force used a system of false bookkeeping to conceal the Cambodian raids. In 1973 General Creighton W. Abrams, the top U.S. commander in Vietnam, told a Senate hearing that at his headquarters in Vietnam there was "a whole special furnace" to burn records of the Cambodia bombing targets. "We burned probably twelve hours a day," Abrams said. He also testified that the reporting system for the bombing raids "had become too complicated. I could not keep these things in my mind, so I had to have specialists. .

On April 30, 1970, Nixon launched his Cambodia gamble, sending thousands of U.S. troops across the border into the "Fishhook." The invasion triggered massive campus demonstrations across America, and led to the tragedy at Kent State, where four students were shot and killed by national guardsmen. Within the White House, several of the younger members of Kissinger's staff were sick at heart over what the President had informed the nation, with characteristic duplicity, was "not an invasion of Cambodia."

The reaction, within and without the White House, touched off the last paroxysm of wiretapping - as though the Nixon men thought that by splicing into enough telephone wires and ringing the White House with enough buses, to act as barriers against antiwar demonstrators, they could somehow insulate themselves against the rising tide of public anger.

It was to be last of the seventeen wiretaps. On February 10, 197 , Hoover abruptly sent a handwritten note to Clyde Tolson and a memo listing the nine taps then in place.* "Inquire of Col. Haig," Hoover wrote, "if any may be taken off." Hoover had finally had enough. Haig, who was still Kissinger's deputy, quickly got the message; he agreed, and the same day all the taps were removed.

The reason for the sudden end became clear two years later, when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigated the fitness of Henry Kissinger to serve as Secretary of State. The committee delicately appointed a subcommittee of two senators to review the FBI report on the wiretapping; the subcommittee, consisting of John Sparkman of Alabama and Clifford P. Case of New Jersey, inquired of William Ruckelshaus, the acting head of the FBI, how it came to pass that the taps were all dismantled on February 10, 1971. The report of the two senators explained: "Mr. Ruckelshaus stated that this date was significant only because it had been the practice of Mr. Hoover to discontinue wiretaps just prior to his Congressional appearances so that he could report minimum taps in effect if he were questioned.

[The Nixon Administration wiretapping of private citizens] was over in February 1971, but in a sense it had just begun, because the ugly secret of the wiretapping was there, just below the surface, like a dark and dangerous reef that might be exposed at any moment by the receding tide. The President knew it, Kissinger knew it, Haig knew it, and J. Edgar Hoover knew it. So did several others in the White House and the FBI... In time, the seventeen wiretaps were incorporated into the impeachment articles that forced Nixon from the White House.

... And it was all so futile; the seventeen wiretaps were so unnecessary, so ultimately worthless. But their political cost was enormous. In February 1973, the Watergate cover-up was in full swing.

How to keep wiretaps hidden was the subject of a considerable portion of the President's conversation on the morning of February 28 with his counsel, John Dean. Nixon was clearly frightened that the secret of the wiretapping was about to surface. At the same time he was rueful, not over what had been done, but that it had been of so little value.

Richard Nixon was not the first President to engage in secret wiretapping in the name of national security. The tapping that Nixon did surfaced because of the accident of Watergate and the impeachment inquiry by the House. Examples of wiretapping by other Presidents had been reported in the press prior to the Nixon years and were documented by the Senate intelligence committee headed by Senator Frank Church that began its inquiries early in 1976. Somesuch as the surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations-are outrageous and shocking.

... The misuse of the police power of the state, the danger to free thought and a free press, was not something that disturbed anyone in the government during the period of the Kissinger taps.

Within a year of its creation, the CIA was secretly given presidential authority to conduct covert political operations. This was done despite the lack of any clearly stated, specific basis in the law. Thus, almost from the start, the CIA was in the business not merely of reporting on events but of attempting to manipulate events in favor of the United States.

... Through its secret political operations the CIA became a powerful instrument of the Cold War. For two decades, Americans were warned by their leaders of the perils of a monolithic international Communism. To preserve the Free World, we were told, it was necessary, as Allen Dulles put it, to "fight fire with fire." Not many Americans appeared to realize that the United States, by adopting the methods of totalitarian systems, would change the nature of the very institutions it was attempting to preserve. The implacable external enemy was the justification for the establishment of a vast intelligence apparatus, its size and budget secret by law, its operations subject to none of the usual cheeks and balances that the system required of more plebeian government agencies.

The Domestic Operations Division was created on February 11, 1963, and given responsibility, in the words of the CIA order establishing it, for "clandestine operational activities of the Clandestine Services conducted within the United States against foreign targets."

In fact, the division was only one, although the most secret, of a grid of half a dozen CIA divisions operating domestically inside the United States and controlled from the CIA's $46 million headquarters in Langley, Virginia. CIA Director William E. Colby, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee in January 1975, disclosed that the various domestic CIA units had at least sixty-four offices in American cities. Colby said the Domestic Operations Division recruited foreigners, gathered intelligence inside the United States, and worked from cover offices in eight cities.

Its agents operated clandestinely, just as they would in a foreign country.

That the CIA was conducting domestic operations had been reported for a decade, and was dramatically demonstrated again during Watergate when the Agency lent equipment to Howard Hunt and prepared a personality profile on Daniel Ellsberg. But the fact that the CIA directly spied on American citizens in the United States and the existence of Operation CHAOS, a supersecret unit to carry out that mission, was not known. On December 22, 1974, correspondent Seymour M. Hersh revealed, in the lead story on the front page of the New York Times, that the CIA had conducted "a massive illegal domestic intelligence operation" against political dissidents, compiled files on at least 10,000 American citizens, conducted break-ins, tapped wires, and opened mail.

... For three weeks Hersh was in a lonely and difficult position; he had published spectacular charges against a powerful secret agency and no substantive official comment was forthcoming.

Then, on January 15, Colby went before the Senate Appropriations Committee and confirmed everything - the infiltration of peace groups, the spying on antiwar activists, and the dossiers on 10,000 Americans.

... If Hersh needed any further vindication, it came in June when the Rockefeller Commission issued its 299-page report.

... The Rockefeller report detailed a broad range of CIA abuses and law-breaking, and disclosed in some detail the workings of the Agency's domestic spying program, Operation CHAOS. Operating from a "vaulted basement area" at the CIA under supersecret security, CHAOS had begun in 1967 during the Johnson Administration and lasted seven years, through most of the Nixon Administration, until March 1974.

... Demands that the CIA provide information about the peace movement had first come from Lyndon Johnson, who pressured Helms, then the CIA Director, to find foreign links to domestic dissidents. Helms sent two reports to Johnson, but to the President's disappointment, the CIA discovered little foreign involvement and virtually no foreign money flowing in to support the peace movement. A third study, entitled "Restless Youth," was begun under Johnson and delivered to Henry Kissinger in February 1969, after Nixon's inauguration. The paper concluded that student protest arose from social and political alienation at home and not from some foreign conspiracy.

By the middle of 1969 Operation CHAOS was in full swing, its existence and activities kept secret from much of the rest of the CIA. One of its major programs was called "Project 2." Under it the CIA recruited students, trained them in "New Left" jargon (a process known as "sheepdipping"), and then sent them abroad on espionage missions in the guise of student radicals. CHAOS also recruited agents and used them in similar fashion to penetrate dissident groups at home. In addition, CHAOS collected information from CIA's mailopening operation in New York, from the Agency's overseas stations, and from the offices of the Domestic Collection Division in cities across the United States. Although the CIA claimed that these domestic offices only gathered foreign intelligence, the Rockefeller report disclosed that beginning in 1969, the division fed "purely domestic information" about American citizens to the CHAOS operators. The CIA men in U.S. cities spied on radical students, on the underground press, and on groups supporting draft evaders and military deserters. A tremendous volume of reports flowed into the CIA's vaulted basement. Eventually 300,000 names were indexed on the CIA's computers.

... Within the CIA a number of officials had begun to worry about the legality of CHAOS, so much so that Helms felt it prudent to send a memo to his deputies in 1969 assuring them that the operation was within the law. In 1974, with the agency already in trouble over its Watergate links, Colby ended Operation CHAOS. The Rockefeller Commission expressed concern over the fact that CHAOS had become a "repository for large quantities of information on the domestic activities of American citizens." And it concluded that Operation CHAOS had broken the law.

The Rockefeller report also reviewed the CIA's mail-opening activities, and the physical surveillance, wiretapping, bugging, and break-ins committed by the intelligence agency. "The unauthorized entries into the homes and offices of American citizens were illegal," \ the report said.

Some types of CIA domestic activities were not mentioned in the Rockefeller report. For example, in a number of cases the CIA has approached major New York publishing houses in an effort to suppress or alter books about the Agency.

... The CIA's contacts with the publishing world were not confined to attempts to suppress books. Through the U.S. Information Agency as a "cut-out," the CIA subsidized major publishers to produce books, some of which were then sold in the United States bearing no government imprint to warn the unsuspecting purchaser. In 1967 publisher Frederick A. Praeger conceded he had published "fifteen or sixteen" books for the CIA. By the mid-sixties, more than $1 million had been spent by the government on its "book development" program. The Senate intelligence committee estimated that by 1967, the CIA had produced, sponsored, or subsidized "well over 1,000 books" here and abroad.

... The CIA also planted stories in the foreign press, some of which were played back to American audiences. Colby assured the House intelligence committee that the CIA would never manipulate AP, since it was an American wire service, but felt free to plant stories with Reuters, the British wire service. In addition, the CIA operated two news services of its own in Europe. These "proprietaries," or CIA cover companies, serviced American newspapers; one had more than thirty U.S. subscribers. The Agency's penetration of the news media was, of course, an insidious and very possibly unconstitutional practice, since it ran counter to the First Amendment. It could only increase public distrust of the press and cause American reporters overseas to be suspected as spies. The CIA had polluted the public's major source of information about its government, the foundation upon which democracy rests.

And it was not only the press and publishing world that the CIA infiltrated. As of 1976, the Senate intelligence committee reported, the CIA maintained contact or operational relationships with "many thousands of United States academics at hundreds of U.S. academic institutions." Of these, "several hundred" in more than a hundred institutions actively work for the CIA, often without the knowledge of the college or university administration.

... In addition, the CIA has sometimes used American clergy or missionaries for intelligence purposes. At least twenty-one members of the clergy had secret agreements with the CIA, according to figures the Agency provided to the Senate committee. In February 1976 the CIA said it would no longer have "secret" relationships with the clergy.

Besides infiltrating existing institutions, the CIA operates a complex network of its own business proprietaries. Through Air America, Southern Air Transport, and other airlines, it has been heavily involved in the aviation business over the years. It also runs a secret insurance complex, a security firm in Virginia with three subsidiaries, and a travel service. The private security firm performs commercial investigative work in the Washington area, but of course its clients do t know that they have hired the CIA.

On January 27 [1976] the Senate voted to create the eleven-member Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, and the Senate Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield named Senator Frank Church of Idaho as chairman.

... For all of the Church committee's substantive disclosures, its most important contribution may have been its exposure to the public of the mind of the CIA. In the end, the committee's most valuable service was simply to put officials of the CIA, the FBI, and other intelligence agencies at the witness table and let them talk.

former CIA Director Richard Helms told the Church committee at a closed session on June 13, 1975

Nobody wants to embarrass a President of the United States by discussing the assassination of foreign leaders in his presence. I just think we all had the feeling that we were hired... to keep those things out of the Oval Office.

The Church committee report made it clear that the CIA had, directly or indirectly, been involved in assassination plots, coups, or attempted coups against eight foreign leaders: Premier Fidel Castro of Cuba, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, President Salvador Allende and General René Schneider of Chile, President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, President François Duvalier of Haiti, and President Sukarno of Indonesia.

The Church committee's assassination report was one of the most chilling and important documents ever made public by a committee of Congress. In addition to detailing specific assassination plots, it disclosed that the CIA had developed an "Executive Action" unit capable of carrying out the assassination of foreign officials.

The Church committee report disclosed that there were eight CIA plots against Castro, including poison pills, a poison pen, a diving suit contaminated with disease-bearing fungus, and "an exotic seashell, rigged to explode... in an area where Castro commonly went skin diving." In addition, the CIA planned to destroy Castro's bearded image by dusting his shoes with thallium salts so that eventually his beard would fall out.*

According to the report, the main CIA plot began during the Eisenhower Administration in August 1960, when Richard Bissell, the deputy director for plans (later renamed operations), asked Colonel Sheffield Edwards, the CIA director of security, to find someone to murder Castro. Edwards and another CIA official (identified in news accounts as James O'Connell) contacted Robert A. Maheu, a former FBI agent and lieutenant of Howard Hughes, and asked him to recruit John Rosselli, a mobster whose real name was Filippo Saco, for the hit. The CIA offered $150,000 for Castro's assassination.

Rosselli in turn brought in Momo Salvatore (Sam) Giancana, a Chicago gangster, and Santos Trafficante, who had been the top Mafia don in Cuba. The mob's interest in killing Castro was obvious: the Cuban Premier had thrown the syndicate out of the lucrative gambling casinos of Havana. With Castro removed, the syndicate might be able to move back in.

The poison pills, actually six gelatin capsules filled with a liquid botulinum toxin, were prepared by the CIA. The poison had first been tested on monkeys. The monkeys died. Rosselli arranged for the pills to be delivered to Cuba, where the plan was for someone close to Castro to slip the poison into the Cuban leader's drink or food. In two or three days Castro would be dead and an autopsy would reveal no trace of the poison. Rosselli remembered Maheu explaining that the capsules could not be used in "boiling soups," b t would work in water or other liquids. The plan failed, however.

The CIA plot against [Congo President Patrice] Lumumba also read like some fictional invention of Ian Fleming. In 1960 [Richard] Bissell, one of the fathers of the U-2 spy plane and later an architect of the Bay of Pigs invasion, asked the head of CIA's Africa Division, Bronson Tweedy, to explore the feasibility of killing the Congolese leader.

... [Dr. Sidney] Gottlieb, who had a degree in chemistry, reviewed the list of CIA biological materials, which included germs to se diseases ranging from smallpox to sleeping sickness. He selected disease that could be fatal and was indigenous to Africa, bottled the lethal biological material, personally delivered it to the CIA station officer in Leopoldville, "and instructed him to assassinate Patrice Lumumba." Gottlieb explained to the CIA agent that the toxic material should be put on Lumumba's "food or a toothbrush," anything that would "get to his mouth."

The poison was never administered to Lumumba. He was captured by the troops of Joseph Mobutu in December, imprisoned in Katanga province, and killed there on January 17, 1961, three days [fore President Eisenhower left office.

Guns, not poison, were the CIA's weapons of choice against Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo, the brutal dictator of the Dominican Republic. In August of 1960 the United States broke off relations with the Dominican Republic and pulled out most of its diplomatic personnel, leaving Henry Dearborn, a career foreign service officer, as the senior American diplomat and de facto CIA chief of station. Dearborn was in close touch with Dominican dissidents who, he advised Washington, were ready to assassinate Trujillo. The mild-mannered and soft-spoken Dearborn wrote to the State Department that if he were a Dominican, he would favor the destruction of Trujillo "as my Christian duty." He added: "If you recall Dracula, you will remember it was necessary to drive a stake through his heart to prevent a continuation of his crimes."

In March of 1961 Dearborn asked Washington for three pistols; they were sent in the diplomatic pouch and passed to the dissidents, as were three carbines already in the U.S. consulate. After the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in April, Washington tried to apply the brakes to the dissidents plotting against Trujillo. But Dearborn warned the State Department that it was "too late" to stop things now. On May 29 President Kennedy sent Dearborn a cable warning that the United States could not be associated with political assassination. The next day Trujillo's car was ambushed and the dictator was shot to death. Handguns were used; whether these were the same pistols sent to Dearborn and passed to the plotters could not be pinned down by the Church committee.

The committee was very cautious in its conclusions about U.S. responsibility for the deaths of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu. But the report noted that Lucien Conein, the CIA agent working with the generals plotting against Diem, had been assured by General Tran Van Don that the general "would make the plans for the coup available to the Ambassador [Henry Cabot Lodge] four hours before it took place." The coup began on November 1, and Diem and his brother were murdered the next day. General Duong Van (Big) Minh offered to show Conein the bodies, but he declined. He did not want to involve the United States.

General René Schneider, the commander in chief of the Chilean army, was shot and killed during a kidnap attempt on October 22, 1970. President Nixon had ordered that Salvador Allende be blocked from taking office as President of Chile, and Schneider was a definite obstacle; he believed strongly in his country's constitution, which provided for free elections. Early on the morning of October 22 the CIA provided machine guns and ammunition to a group of Chilean military officers. The CIA knew the arms were to be used by the officers in an attempt to kidnap Schneider. The CIA also authorized a payment of $50,000 to the military plotters. But, the Senate report said, as it turned out, Schneider was killed by a different group of conspirators. The murder failed to stop Allende from taking office. But the CIA continued to work against Allende, and he died in a military coup three years later.

Congress, in passing the National Security Act of 1947, establishing the CIA, did not authorize covert political operations. Indeed, CIA's general counsel, Lawrence Houston, wrote a memo that year stating "we do not believe that there was any thought in the minds of Congress that the CIA under the act would take positive action for subversion and sabotage." Truman's order was based on the clause in the 1947 act which said the Agency shall perform such "other functions and duties" as the NSC might from time to time direct.

The "other functions" loophole became the eye of the needle through which, over the years, CIA covert operations were threaded around the globe. The CIA helped to overthrow the government of Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954; it secretly trained Tibetans in Colorado in the late fifties to infiltrate their homeland and fight the Chinese Communists. It supported the rebels fighting Sukarno in 1958. It invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. It operated a 30,000 man army in Laos in the sixties. It poured millions of dollars into Italy and other Western European countries to support moderate political parties. And it encouraged the military coups in Vietnam and Chile in which the leaders of those countries were killed.

The American public was assured that these activities were tightly controlled by the President through the Forty Committee and its predecessors. But the Church committee was unable to pin down clear authority for any of the CIA's murder plots.

The Forty Committee was mere window dressing, a mechanism designed to give the appearance of presidential control over covert operations without the reality. It was equally clear that the well-bred old boys of the CIA, the adenoidal gentlemen at the top, with their reversible names and consciences to match, did not stop at murder.

Living in their own clandestine world, safe in the dark, weird cocoon of Langley, accountable only to themselves, they had been schooled at St. Grottlesex but learned their political morality from Eichmann. In their ignorance of the very system of government they professed to serve, they confused their arrogance with patriotism.

CIA Director Richard Helms before the Church committee in an executive session - 1975

I believe it was the policy at the time to get rid of [Cuban President Fidel] Castro, and if killing him was one of the things that was to be done in this connection, that was within what was expected.

[J. Edgar] Hoover's power rested on the information he had squirreled away in his secret files. Put simply, the famous Director of the FBI, the cereal-boxtop, G-man hero of generations of American youth, was a blackmailer. Hoover collected and filed away facts, tidbits, gossip, scandal, and dark secrets that gave him leverage over members of Congress, the Cabinet, even Presidents. He knew it and they knew it. He counted his secrets the way old men count their gold. If information was power, Hoover was J. P. Morgan; to vulnerable political leaders, the midget of their fear sat permanently upon his knee. At any moment it might become a giant, destroying their reputations, their careers, their families. The night with the hooker in Baltimore, the financial indiscretion, the motel dalliance, the long-forgotten arrest record, these were the coin of Hoover's political riches.

Richard Nixon to John Dean

He [J. Edgar Hoover] has a file on everybody.

William Sullivan, number-three in the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover told Jack Nelson of the Los Angeles Times, 1973

That fellow [FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover] was a master blackmailer. The moment he would get something on a senator he'd send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that we're in the course of an investigation and by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter. But we wanted you to know this-we realize you'd want to know it. But don't have any concern, no one will ever learn about it. Well, Jesus, what does that tell the senator? From that time on, the senator's right in his pocket.

It was not until 1971, when FBI files were stolen from a Bureau office in Media, Pennsylvania, and later released to the press, that the full scope of the FBI's secret-police activities began to emerge. As the documents made clear, the FBI was snooping on college campuses, gathering intelligence in black neighborhoods, and harassing the New Left and other dissident groups through its COINTELPRO operations. Watergate and the Church committee investigations completed the process of de-mythification of the FBI. The mask had finally been pulled off Hoover and Bureau. And it all came tumbling out almost too fast to absorb-the bugs, the bag jobs, the wiretaps, the harassment of citizens and groups, Hoover's outrageous attempt to destroy Martin Luther King, Jr., the greatest civil rights leader in America's history. Suddenly the FBI was revealed as potentially more dangerous than its adversaries. It had become a lawless political police, led by an aging, tyrannical Director who was feared even by the Presidents he supposedly served.

[The FBI was] capable of abusing the power entrusted to it by the people and the law. Perhaps the most shocking example of FBI abuse of power was its campaign of unrelenting surveillance and harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hoover set out to destroy King by using the full powers of the FBI against him. There have been various theories offered for Hoover's motive, and there may have been a combination of factors involved. Hoover was enraged when King criticized the FBI. The FBI's stated rationale for bugging and tapping King was to uncover ostensible "Communist" influence on the civil rights leader. Nor was Hoover pleased with King's growing success in the use of nonviolent confrontation. The police dogs of Birmingham snarling and ripping at black men and women in the summer of 1963 made for a bad image for law enforcement generally. The strains of "We Shall Overcome" fell harshly on Hoover's ears.

William Sullivan said that Hoover's view of blacks was the root cause of the campaign against King. "The real reason was that Hoover disliked blacks," Sullivan said in an interview. "He disliked Negroes. All you have to do is see how many he hired before Bobby came in. None. He told me himself he would never have one so long as he was FBI Director.* He disliked the civil rights movement. You had a black of national prominence heading the movement. He gave Hoover a peg by criticizing the FBI. And King upset Hoover's nice cozy relationship with Southern sheriffs and police. They helped us on bank robberies and such and they kept the black man in his place. Hoover didn't want anything to upset that relationship with law-enforcement authorities in the South."

In the end, one is forced to the conclusion that the FBI sought to discredit King because J. Edgar Hoover was a racist. Ultimately, Hoover battled King because King was black, and powerful, and his power was growing. He had the gift of poetry in his speech, he could mesmerize a nation with the lyricism of his dream. Who could foretell what might happen if the black people of America mobilized behind such a leader? To Hoover, Martin Luther King was uppity and biggity and he had to be stopped.

... By the fall of 1964 the FBI's campaign against King had become full-scale war.

... On November 18 [1964] Hoover met with a group of women reporters in Washington and pronounced King "the most notorious liar in the country."* Specifically, Hoover criticized King for telling his followers not to bother to report acts of violence to the FBI office in Albany, Georgia, because the agents were Southerners who would take no action on civil rights violations. Hoover claimed that "70 per cent" of agents assigned to the South were born in the North.

Hoover's astonishing attack on King received extensive coverage in the news media. In contrast, the prurient stories that the FBI had whispered to the press about King's sex life were not achieving their purpose, for nobody would print them. Hoover apparently decided to take a more direct approach. On November 21, three days after Hoover's remarks to the women journalists, the FBI mailed an anonymous letter and a tape of the King hotel-room bugs to King and his wife, Coretta.

"King, there is only one thing left for you to do," the letter said. "You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do it. This exact number has been selected for a specific reason. It has definite
political significance. You are done."

For more than forty years, the FBI has engaged in the collection of domestic intelligence about individual Americans and groups. Most I citizens, Congress, and the press assumed that somehow, somewhere, there existed a law that gave the FBI the right to do so. Not until the seventies, when the Bureau came under serious scrutiny for the first time, was it realized that the FBI had no clear legal authority to gather intelligence at home; the entire FBI effort against "subversives" and "extremists" was legally a house of cards.

The FBI, by infiltrating and spying on selected groups in American society, arrogated to itself the role of a thought police. It decided which groups were legitimate, and which were a danger-by FBI standards-to the Republic. It took sides in the social and political conflicts of the fifties and sixties, deciding, for example, that those who opposed the war in Vietnam, or whose skin was black, should be targets of FBI attention. Since the FBI acted secretly, it distorted the normal political process by covertly acting against certain groups and individuals. In short, the FBI filled the classic role of a secret political police.

Yale law professor Thomas Emerson said at a 1971 conference on the FBI

The FBI jeopardizes the whole system of freedom of expression which is the cornerstone of an open society... At worst it raises the specter of a police state. . in essence the FBI conceives of itself as an instrument to prevent radical social change in America... throughout most of its history the FBI has taken on the task not only of investigating specific violations of federal laws, but gathering general intelligence in the national security field... the Bureau's view of its function leads it beyond data collection and into political warfare.

The FBI did not confine itself to spying on domestic groups and individuals whom it considered to be suspect, but engaged in active disruption of such groups through COINTELPRO. A secret and powerful government hand moved behind the scenes to harass and destroy organizations and individuals, in some cases to break up marriages, to cause people to be fired from their jobs, and even to foment violence.

a message from FBI headquarters to field offices on January 30,1967

Each office must remain constantly alert to the existence of organizations which have aims and objectives coinciding with those of the Communist Party and are likely to be susceptible to communist influence. This necessarily includes antiwar and pacifist groups, civil rights groups, and other radical groups which advocate civil disobedience and oppose the exercise of authority by duly constituted Government officials.

One purpose of the FBI intelligence program was to determine j which of us to lock up in the event of war or a presidentially decreed "emergency." In 1939 the FBI established a Security Index, a list of names of persons "on whom there is information available to indicate that their presence at liberty in this country in time of war or national emergency would be dangerous to the public peace and safety of the United States government." Then, in 1950, Congress passed the Internal Security Act, which provided for the confinement of suspected citizens in detention camps in time of emergency or insurrection. Six camps were actually established but never used. The FBI complained to the Justice Department that the act provided for individual arrest warrants in time of emergency, "a time-consuming procedure compared to the use of one master arrest warrant for all subjects apprehended," as planned under the Security Index. Since the act in other ways set stricter standards for rounding people up, the FBI with the approval of the Attorney General simply ignored the law and continued to keep its own list. But the FBI in 1951 urged that the Justice Department review the names on the Security Index so that, in the words of one memo, "the Bureau would not be open to an allegation of using Police State tactics."

Finally, in 1968, the Justice Department issued revised criteria for listing people on the index; it included any person who, although not a member of a suspect organization, had "revolutionary beliefs," and might, in time of trouble, attempt to interfere with the operations of the government. Even if a person did not meet the specific criteria, he could be listed if the FBI had information that he was a "dangerous individual."

Because of a public outcry over the existence of concentration camps in America, unused or not, the emergency detention provision of the 1950 law was repealed in 1971. At one time, however, the FBI Security Index listed 26,174 Americans who might be locked up in time of war or emergency. Thousands were especially targeted for "priority apprehension." Although Clarence Kelley assured Congress that the Security Index had been discontinued in 1971, it was revealed in 1975 that the FBI still maintained an Administrative Index (ADEX), a list of 1,200 Americans "who would merit close investigative attention" if the balloon went up; moreover, the FBI reportedly never destroyed some 15,000 cards that comprised its Security Index.*

In addition to the various security indices, the FBI maintains intelligence dossiers on hundreds of thousands of American citizens, and the files keep growing. Since 1939 the FBI has compiled more than 500,000 dossiers on Americans.

The most outrageous of the FBI's activities was its COINTELPRO operation, which the Bureau admitted it had conducted for fifteen years, between 1956 and 1971. Under this program, a secret arm of the United States government, using taxpayers' funds, harassed American citizens and disrupted their organizations, using a wide variety of covert techniques. As the House intelligence committee concluded in its own study of COINTELPRO, "Careers were ruined, friendships severed, reputations sullied, businesses bankrupted and, in some cases, lives endangered.

Senator Philip Hart of Michigan testifying before the Church Committee, 1975

Over the years we have been warned about the danger of subversive organizations, organizations that would threaten our liberties, subvert our system, would encourage its members to take further illegal action to advance their views, organizations that would incite and promote violence, putting one American group against another... there is an organization that does fit those descriptions, and it is the organisation, the leadership of which has been most constant in its warning to us to be on guard against such harm. The Bureau [FBI] did all of those things.

Supreme Court justice Robert H. Jackson 'The Supreme Court in the American System of Government' (1955)

I cannot say that our country could have no central police without becoming totalitarian, but I can say with great / conviction that it cannot become totalitarian without a centralized national police ... a national police... will have enough on enough people, even if it does not elect to prosecute them, so that it will find no opposition to its policies.

An American police state has evolved, operating in the shadows side by side with the legitimate system of government. It has emerged in spite of the Bill of Rights and the protections of the law and the Constitution. We have created a uniquely American police state, one that has managed to grow and operate within, or at least alongside, the democratic system... by Nazi or Soviet standards, America is not a police state. But the dictionary definition does not require the extremes of a Gestapo, or a KGB; it defines a police state as "a government that seeks to intimidate and suppress political opposition by means of police, especially a secret national police organization." The FBI and the CIA have done precisely that.

John Ehrlichman, ordered the IRS to audit Larry O'Brien, the chief of the Democratic party

I wanted them to turn up something and send him to jail before the election.

According to the Senate intelligence committee the CIA, which opened first-class mail for twenty years, screened 2 million letters, photographed the outside of 2.7 million, and opened almost 215,000. For more than two decades, with the collusion of the communications companies, the NSA in Operation Shamrock received copies of literally millions of cables sent from, to, or through the United States. From 1955 to 1975, the FBI investigated 740,000 "subversive" targets. The CIA indexed 300,000 names in its "Hydra" computer during Operation CHAOS and compiled separate files on 7,200 Americans. The Army kept files on some 100,000 Americans, including members of Congress and other civilians. The FBI as late as 1972 had 7,482 "ghetto informants" on its payroll; it still maintains a network of 1,500 "domestic intelligence" informants whom it pays $7.4 million a year. The IRS had more than 465,000 Americans and organizations in its IGRS intelligence files, and another 11,500 in the basement files the Special Service Staff.

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visited Honolulu in 1964, an entire squad of FBI wiretappers and electronic-bugging experts was flown in from San Francisco. Forty reels of tape were obtained from that trip and the bug in Washington's Willard Hotel alone. J. Edgar Hoover personally ordered that a transcript be prepared of the King hotel room bugs. "I think it should be done now while it is fresh in the minds of the specially trained agents," he instructed his subordinates. The transcript came to 321 pages.

James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson in May 1798

Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger real or pretended from abroad.

a 1954 report of the Hoover commission on government reorganization

It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the U.S. is to survive, long-standing American concepts of 'fair play' must be reconsidered.

William Sullivan [number three at the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover] told the Senate Intelligence Committee

Never once did I hear anybody, including myself, raise the question: 'Is this course of action which we have agreed upon lawful, is it legal, is it ethical or moral? ... We never gave any thought to this line of reasoning, because we were just naturally pragmatists. The one thing we were concerned about was this: Will this course of action work, will it get us what we want ...? As far as legality is concerned, morals or ethics, [it] was never raised... I think this suggests really in government that we are amoral. In government-I am not speaking for everybody-the general atmosphere is one of amorality.

The growth of presidential power in the past four decades has been a significant factor in unleashing the intelligence apparatus against the electorate. The increase in the size, budget, and sheer power of the intelligence establishment has paralleled the growth of the executive branch as a whole.

Perhaps the most dramatic example of how the abuses feed our darkest instincts was provided by the actions of the intelligence agencies before and after the assassination of President Kennedy. As the Senate intelligence committee documented, both the CIA and the FBI withheld vital information from the Warren Commission. The CIA, whose Director, Allen Dulles, was a member of the commission, did not disclose that it had plotted to poison Fidel Castro-who might thus have had a motive to retaliate against Kennedy. The CIA did not tell the commission that at the very moment when the President [Kennedy] was shot in Dallas, a CIA case officer in Paris was handing a high Cuban official a ball-point pen, especially equipped with a poison needle, for use against [Fidel] Castro. Nor did the commission know that the Cuban, Rolando Cubela, code-named AMLASH, may have been a double agent, reporting the entire plot back to Castro. Similarly, the FBI did not confide to the Warren Commission that a few weeks before November 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald had visited the FBI office in Dallas and left a note-apparently threatening the FBI-that was destroyed after Kennedy's murder.

The fact that the CIA and the FBI covered up relevant information after the assassination of the President of the United States did not prove that Kennedy's death was the result of a conspiracy. Nor did it necessarily follow that because the CIA tried to kill Castro, the Cuban leader retaliated by having Kennedy assassinated. But if the intelligence agencies could not be trusted in their investigation of the single most traumatic political event of recent years, can they justifiably ever expect the confidence of the people?

The CIA did not confine its tests of LSD to government officials such as Frank Olson, who committed suicide after being drugged. Even after Olson's death, the CIA continued its tests on unwitting subjects. A favorite technique used by the CIA was to pick up people in bars at random, invite them back to a CIA safehouse for a friendly drink, and then drug them while agents in an adjoining room switched on tape recorders and observed their reactions through two-way mirrors. The victims, of course, never knew that their host was the Central Intelligence Agency.



The law says it is illegal to open first-class mail. The CIA and the FBI both opened first class mail. The law says burglary is illegal; the Fourth Amendment says it is also unconstitutional. The FBI and other agencies, including the White House, the CIA, the NSA, and the IRS (through hirelings) nevertheless committed burglaries. The law says murder is illegal; the CIA plotted murders.

Justice Brandeis

Our government is the potent, the omnipresent, teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means-to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal-would bring terrible retribution.

By adopting the methods of the enemy, we change the very nature of the system we are trying to preserve. We lose by winning. For, in time, if we accept the values of the enemy as our own, we will become the enemy.

We cannot uphold the law by breaking it, we cannot defend the Constitution by violating it, and we cannot survive as a democracy by adopting the police-state methods of totalitarianism.

an unidentified United States Army major - in Vietnam during the Tet offensive - about the town of Bentre

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

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