Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A 1989 Article Regarding The FBI's Attack On African Americans During The 1960's Civil Right's Movement -- The FBI Is Even Worse Today

With popular movies like "Mississippi Burning" misrepresenting the FBI as a defender of civil rights, the following article shows the Bureau for the Nazi ideology that it has always represented -- and the abject threat that it was to the African American people during the 1960's civil rights movement.

The FBI has always been nothing more than a secret police force -- an Americanized version of Hitler's Gestapo -- perhaps even worse, given its covert control over state and local police organizations. In the United States the FBI/CIA/NSA and now Homeland Security represent the most powerful and corrupt secret police force in human history. And it is just our luck that as Americans, they exist here within the United States.


New York Times
Published: July 9, 1989
LEAD: ''RACIAL MATTERS'' The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972. By Kenneth O'Reilly. 456 pp. New York: The Free Press. $24.95.

''RACIAL MATTERS'' The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972. By Kenneth O'Reilly. 456 pp. New York: The Free Press. $24.95.

One of the sad truths surrounding the civil rights movement is the growing realization that the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have been as great an enemy to the struggle for black freedom as the Southern segregationists who openly challenged it in the streets.

At the time, the civil rights activist Fanny Lou Hamer said of the Federal agents sent to investigate her beating in a Mississippi jail: ''I just don't trust 'em.'' And a growing body of evidence demonstrates there was good reason not to. For as Kenneth O'Reilly notes, when the F.B.I. showed up in the trouble spots of the South, most often it was not to protect those struggling for black freedom but to spy on them, even to harass them and, at times, to sow dissent and incite violence.

In '' 'Racial Matters,' '' Mr. O'Reilly traces the long, tortured relationship between the F.B.I. and black America, from the bureau's covert surveillance during World War I to the dismantling of its controversial intelligence apparatus in 1972. During that time, the bureau amassed dossiers bulging with rumor and allegations, all kept under the heading of ''Racial Matters.''

It is from these recently declassified files that Mr. O'Reilly, the author of ''Hoover and the Un-Americans,'' draws much of his material. Using F.B.I. files, transcripts of wiretapped and bugged conversations, confidential office memorandums and interviews with former F.B.I. executives and field agents (among others), he presents a remarkable look at the inner workings of the bureau and the often flawed, petty, irrational thinking behind its relentless drive to destroy the civil rights movement and its most visible leader, Martin Luther King Jr. From the beginning, J. Edgar Hoover used the argument of states' rights to justify his refusal to protect civil rights activists, while spying on many of them under the pretense of weeding out Communists and other subversives. As the movement grew, he turned to more drastic measures, broadening covert surveillance and ordering counterintelligence programs designed to disrupt the movement. In short, he engaged in the kinds of activities that we, as a nation, have long condemned in less democratic societies.

Mr. O'Reilly shows us a less heroic F.B.I. than the one glorified on television and in scores of books and articles surreptitiously authorized and edited by agency officials. For example, he portrays an F.B.I. that failed to take measures to prevent the bloody assault on Freedom Riders at a Birmingham, Ala., bus station in 1961 even though the bureau knew in advance of the promise of the city's police commissioner, Eugene (Bull) Connor, to keep his men away long enough for the Ku Klux Klan to act; an F.B.I. that planted false rumors that members of the civil rights vanguard were Government informers; an F.B.I. that shared movement strategies with groups like the Klan and the National States' Rights Party; an F.B.I. that fed internal rivalries between the movement's various factions, sometimes provoking conflict and violence that might have been avoided.

Many of the F.B.I. files the author gained access to bore scribbled evidence of what Mr. O'Reilly calls the director's ''primitive'' racism. To Hoover, King was a ''burr head,'' ''a 'tom cat' with obsessive degenerate sexual urges.''

Ever since the full extent of the F.B.I.'s program to destroy the movement began trickling out of its Washington headquarters, many observers have pointed to Hoover as the sole cause of the bureau's actions, and certainly he was the motivator and guiding force, fully deserving much of the blame. But as Mr. O'Reilly, like others before him, makes clear, Hoover did not act alone. The men around him shared his preference for segregation. While there were exceptions, most F.B.I. agents willingly - sometimes enthusiastically - carried out Hoover's directives, seldom questioning their wisdom or morality. And they succeeded, Mr. O'Reilly argues, only because ''responsible government officials allowed them, and encouraged them, to do so.''

In the wake of many Americans' growing distrust of Government engendered by Watergate and abuses by various official agencies, including the F.B.I. (a 1971 break-in by an anti-Vietnam War group at the bureau's Media, Pa., field office turned up embarrassing information about the bureau's surveillance activities), the Government put reforms into place to limit the power and autonomy of the F.B.I. and its director and to safeguard against the agency ever again becoming a threat to those it is charged to protect.

But the bureau's critics have wondered if even such measures have been enough. In a pioneering work on the F.B.I.'s investigation of King, ''The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.,'' David J. Garrow argues that they have not. He writes of the need to increase public knowledge of the bureau's internal operations and to explore fully the reasons for its past abuses. With '' 'Racial Matters,' '' Kenneth O'Reilly has made a significant contribution to that end.
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