Leftist group behind 1971 burglary of FBI office comes forward

FBI field office in Media, PaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
Members of an American leftwing group, who in 1971 burgled a regional branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), stealing documents that revealed illegal government activities, have come forward. The mysterious group, which called itself The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, is credited by historians as having unearthed the initial revelations that eventually led to the exposure of COINTELPRO. The acronym stood for COunter INTELligence PROgram; it incorporated a host of questionable and often illegal activities by the FBI, which were aimed at discrediting domestic political organizations considered ‘radical’ by longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. The program targeted mostly nonviolent antiwar groups and black civil rights organizations and leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was regarded by Hoover as a communist agent. In association with the Watergate scandal, the COINTELPRO revelations led to the creation of the Church and Pike committees in Congress, which radically restructured the oversight of the United States Intelligence Community. The burglary took place on the evening of March 8, 1971, in the town of Media, Pennsylvania. It resulted in the theft of over 1,000 documents, which were then reproduced and mailed anonymously to several national newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Nearly half of the stolen documents concerned surveillance and disruption operations —mainly blackmail, intimidation and sabotage— against liberal groups. They also included a controversial directive by Director Hoover to place “an FBI agent behind every mailbox” in America. A furious Hoover placed as many as 200 agents on the burglary case; but the investigation got nowhere, and the Bureau was forced to close the case in March 1976, having failed to conclusively identify the burglars. But now a new book written by Betty Medsger, who at the time of the burglary was working for The Washington Post, has revealed for the first time the identities of four of the eight-member team that carried out the burglary. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #786

Richard Masato AokiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►US Pentagon wants to share intel with Egypt. The US Department of Defense is offering Egypt a package of classified intelligence-sharing capabilities designed to help it identify military threats along its border with Israel. According to an unnamed senior US official, the Pentagon leadership is concerned about “rising militancy” along the Egyptian-Israeli border. The purported intelligence package includes satellite imagery, data collected through unmanned drones, as well as intercepts of cell phone and other communications among militants suspected of planning attacks. The Egyptian intelligence chief was summarily fired earlier this month, after more than a dozen Egyptian soldiers were killed near Israel’s border when gunmen attacked a post and tried to enter Israel.
►►Researcher disputes Aoki was FBI informant. Last week author Seth Rosenfeld alleged that prominent 1960s Black Panther Party member Richard Masato Aoki, who gave the Black Panthers some of their first firearms and weapons training, was an undercover FBI informer. But the claim, which is detailed in Rosenfeld’s new book, Subversives, is disputed by another researcher, Diane C. Fujino. A professor and chair of Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara, and author of the recently published Samurai Among Panthers, Fujino argues that Rosenfeld has not met the burden of proof on Aoki, and that he “made definitive conclusions based on inconclusive evidence”.
►►Russian intelligence to monitor blogosphere. Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the FSB, says it plans to fund a program that monitors the Internet’s “blogosphere”, with an aim to “shape public views through social networking”. Citing unnamed sources from inside the FSB, Russian newspaper Kommersant said that the project’s research stage will cost around $1 million. The article implies that the online surveillance and opinion-shaping program will target both Russian- and foreign-language online users. This is not the first time that the FSB has displayed interest in online social networking in recent years.

News you may have missed #782 (history edition)

John A. McConeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Did US DCI McCone authorize CIA assassinations? By the CIA’s own admission, we do know the Agency was involved in attempts to kill or overthrow several Third World leaders during the Cold War. But the doctrine of plausible deniability meant there is no paper trail identifying those who ordered such operations. Evidence is reasonably clear that Allen W. Dulles, who served as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) for nearly nine years, sanctioned them. But what about John A. McCone (pictured), whom Kennedy appointed as DCI in 1961? Is it possible that the CIA carried out assassination plots without his approval or even in the face of his disapproval? Newly discovered notes from a cryptic telephone call McCone made to Secretary of State Dean Rusk on August 21, 1962, support the claim that, while McCone opposed any open discussion of assassination proposals, he did not oppose the efforts as a matter of principle.
►►Ronald Reagan was FBI informant (Note: this is not new information, but it helps to refresh one’s memory from time to time). In the early stages of the Cold War, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover feared a ‘Kremlin-controlled conspiracy’ to infiltrate Hollywood and use the world’s largest producer of motion pictures to manipulate public opinion against America. In 1945, Ronald Reagan, then an actor, passed along some political gossip of special interest to Hoover. Eventually, Reagan served as an informer in the Bureau’s investigation of alleged communist infiltration of the radio and television industry. He was listed as “Confidential Informant T-36”. Agents described him as “reliable”.
►►Senior Black Panther member was FBI informant. Prominent 1960s Black Panther Party member Richard Masato Aoki, who gave the Black Panthers some of their first firearms and weapons training, was an undercover FBI informer in California, a former agent and FBI report reveal. Aoki’s role inside the Black Panthers was discovered by Seth Rosenfeld while researching his book Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, which was published today by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Aoki’s life in the Black Panthers was documented in a 2009 film, Aoki and a 2012 biography titled Samurai Among Panthers. Neither mentioned his work with the FBI. Rosenfeld said Aoki had contended in a 2007 interview it wasn’t true he was an informant, but added: “people change. It is complex. Layer upon layer”.

Analysis: Landrieu-Gate is Scary, but it’s No Watergate

Stan Dai

Stan Dai

By J. FITSANAKIS and I. ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The arrests by US Marshals of four self-described conservative activists, who were caught trying to tamper with the telephone lines of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu’ New Orleans office, have caused outcry in liberal and silence in conservative blogs. Most political allies of the four young men have been scrambling to denounce them, and the few who haven’t, have tried to play off the case as an ill-conceived political prank that got out of hand. Considering that America’s political culture still reels from the effects of Watergate (1972-1974), and the far more serious COINTELPRO (1956-1971), it would be criminal neglect on behalf of the FBI to treat the Landrieu incident as a “prank”. At the same time, however, Landrieu-gate is no Watergate. Neither the target nor the operational tactics and institutional affiliations of the four men involved in the case resemble anything remotely akin to either Watergate or COINTELPRO. Keep reading →

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Analysis: Editor cautions against lionizing Deep Throat

Greg Mitchell, the author and editor of Editor & Publisher, has authored a column cautioning against the uncritical lionization of former FBI official W. Mark Felt, who died yesterday at the age of 95. In 2005, Felt voluntarily revealed he was the mysterious whistleblower nicknamed Deep Throat, who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, which lead to the eventual resignation of US President Richard Nixon. Mitchell urges “[j]ournalists and many others lionizing the former FBI official [to] not overlook the fact that Felt was one of the architects of the bureau’s notorious COINTELPRO domestic spying-and-burglary campaign”. Felt was in fact found guilty of authorizing several illegal black bag operations in the state of New Jersey under COINTELPRO, an illegal domestic surveillance and sabotage project directed by the FBI with the participation of the CIA and NSA. Black bag operations refer to covert, surreptitious entries into structures in the course of human intelligence missions. Mitchell correctly points out that “[o]nly a pardon, courtesy of Ronald Reagan, kept him out of jail for a long term”. [JF]