The FBI's Forgotten Criminal History
Date Written: 24/10/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21446
The FBI has a long record of both deceit and incompetence. Five years ago, Americans learned that the FBI was teaching its agents that "the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others." This has practically been the Bureau's motif since its creation in 1908.
In January 1920, J. Edgar Hoover - the 25-year-old chief of the bureau's Radical Division - was the point man for the "Palmer Raids." Nearly 10,000 suspected Reds and radicals were seized. The bureau carefully avoided keeping an accurate count of detainees (a similar pattern of negligence occurred with the roundups after the 9/11 attacks). Attorney General Mitchell Palmer sought to use the massive roundups to propel his presidential candidacy. The operation took a drubbing, however, after an insolent judge demanded that the Justice Department provide evidence for why people had been arrested. Federal judge George Anderson complained that the government had created a "spy system" that "destroys trust and confidence and propagates hate. A mob is a mob whether made up of government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals, loafers, and the vicious classes."
From 1956 through 1971, the FBIs COINTELPRO program conducted thousands of covert operations to incite street warfare between violent groups, to get people fired, to portray innocent people as government informants, and to cripple or destroy left-wing, black, communist, white racist, and anti-war organizations. FBI agents also busied themselves forging "poison pen" letters to wreck activists' marriages. The FBI set up a Ghetto Informant Program that continued after COINTELPRO and that had 7,402 informants, including proprietors of candy stores and barbershops, as of September 1972. The informants served as "listening posts" "to identify extremists passing through or locating in the ghetto area, to identify purveyors of extremist literature," and to keep an eye on "Afro-American type bookstores" (including obtaining the names of the bookstores' "clientele").The FBI let no corner of American life escape its vigilance...