Sunday, December 16, 2007


The following is an excellent article in regard to how the FBI used its illegal COINTELPRO tactics to neutralize a civil rights activist by the name of Mario Savio. The only aspect of this article that I completely disagree with is that it insinuates that FBI is more respectful of the US Constitution in the present day. This is simply not true.

The FBI is now using the Patriot Act to commit the most outrageous crimes against the people of this country and the Bill Of Rights ever documented. And those whom the FBI has targeted for COINTELPRO operations are being demonized and dehumanized, as this agency finds any means necessary to discredit our accounts of a rogue criminal organization which will lie to the public, fabricate evidence against targeted individuals, and use psychological warfare and satellite based weaponry to torture and murder those whom it cannot legally arrest.

The FBI is no more about protecting freedom than Hitler's Gestapo was. And its agents will wage their own personal vendettas against those whom they target, under the color law, using such oppressive and Draconion tactics in which to drive those being targeted to suicide.

If the persons being targeted cannot be driven to suicide or the commission of crimes in which they can be incarcerated, the FBI will work to covertly murder these people. This has been the FBI's history for nearly a Century. And in the new millenium, this prime example of fascism is more dangerous than ever. Americans should call for the abolition of the FBI, since this agency has never done anything but violate the US Constitution and American freedoms.

Mario Savio, the FBI and COINTELPRO

By Seth Rosenfeld
First published by the San Francisco Chronicle, Sun, Oct 10, 2004

Editors' Note: On the 40th anniversary of the "Free Speech Movement" to resist the stifling of political expression on college campuses, this article reminds us of some dangers growing again today. Today's parallel threats to freedom include "watch lists" like those now being expanded with bi-partisan support and the granting of power to law enforcement agencies to investigate citizens without concrete evidence of criminal activity (as the so-called "PATRIOT Act" legalized. An expanded version of this article was published in the Chronicle's Sunday magazine.

The FBI trailed Mario Savio for more than a decade after he led the 1964 Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley, and bureau officials plotted to "neutralize" him politically -- even though there was no evidence he broke any federal law, according to FBI records obtained by The Chronicle.

J. Edgar Hoover's FBI targeted Savio because he was the nation's first prominent student leader of the '60s, and top FBI officials feared protests would spread from Berkeley to other schools, the records show.

The bureau used tactics against Savio that Congress in 1976 found were improper -- including some similar to investigative methods that agents may now use against suspected terrorists under the Patriot Act and under loosened FBI guidelines, experts said.

According to hundreds of pages of FBI files -- and, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, as reported in today's Chronicle Magazine -- the bureau:

-- Collected, without court order, personal information about Savio from schools, telephone companies, utility firms and banks and compiled information about his marriage and divorce.

-- Monitored his day-to-day activities by using informants planted in political groups, covertly contacting his neighbors, landlords and employers, and having agents pose as professors, journalists and activists to interview him and his wife.

-- Obtained his tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service in violation of federal rules, mischaracterized him as a threat to the president and arranged for the CIA and foreign intelligence agencies to investigate him when he and his family traveled in Europe.

-- Put him on an unauthorized list of people to be detained without judicial warrant in event of a national emergency, and designated him as a "Key Activist" whose political activities should be "disrupted" and "neutralized" under the bureau's extralegal counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO.

The bureau took these actions against Savio even after San Francisco FBI agents repeatedly told bureau headquarters that he was not connected with, or influenced by, any subversive political group or foreign power.

A 1968 memo from the San Francisco FBI office said Savio was one of several Bay Area activists who were "independent free thinkers and do not appear to be answerable to any one person or any group or organization."

LaRae Quy, an FBI spokeswoman in San Francisco, declined to comment on Savio's case but said the FBI now operates with a greater concern for First Amendment activities and more oversight from the U.S. Department of Justice, Congress and the press.

Savio died at 53 of a heart attack in 1996 at his home in Sebastopol.

Lynne Hollander, a former Free Speech Movement activist and Savio's widow, said the FBI made the mistake of believing he threatened national security because he protested government policy.

"That's outrageous. These are all constitutionally protected activities, and the FBI had no business spending time and money taking note of them," said Hollander, a retired librarian who lives in Sonoma County.

Suzanne Goldberg, a Free Speech Movement leader who was married to Savio in the '60s and was also under surveillance, called the FBI's activities disturbing. "The whole thing is an invasion of privacy," said Goldberg, now a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C.

Savio was a brilliant, 21-year-old philosophy student who had helped register black voters in Mississippi the previous summer when he joined in protesting UC Berkeley's enforcement of a ban against political activity on campus in the fall of 1964.

Students from across the political spectrum formed the Free Speech Movement and used nonviolent civil disobedience such as pickets and sit-ins.

Savio quickly emerged as the movement's most eloquent spokesman and attracted international media attention, urging students to "put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels" to stop the university "machine." In response, students occupied the campus' Sproul Hall on Dec. 2, 1964, in an overnight sit-in that led to almost 800 arrests, the largest mass arrest of students in U.S. history.

Hoover soon ordered agents to focus on the student leader, and though Savio became less active politically in the following years as he dealt with sometimes overwhelming depression, the FBI continued to gather information on him into 1975, three years after Hoover's death.

The records obtained by The Chronicle provide the most complete account to date of the FBI's activities concerning Savio. The bureau targeted him during the Cold War, when Hoover was deeply concerned about growing dissent at UC, the nation's largest public university and operator of top-secret federal nuclear laboratories. As The Chronicle previously disclosed, Hoover was secretly campaigning at the same time to oust UC President Clark Kerr -- whom the movement saw as its enemy -- because bureau officials blamed him for not cracking down on student protesters.

David Sobel, general counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington, D.C., group that has challenged some of the government's efforts to expand the collection of personal information, said many of the tactics used against Savio -- such as putting his name on "watch lists" and collecting personal financial data and school records -- are "ancestors" of current surveillance systems. He said Savio's case was a "cautionary tale" about how the combination of power and secrecy can lead to intelligence abuses.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who was involved in the Free Speech Movement as a UC Berkeley political science student, called the FBI's treatment of Savio "outrageous."

Lockyer said the excesses of the Hoover era have been "reined in, in very substantial and significant ways, and the J. Edgar Hoover culture has been replaced by a significantly more law-abiding ... environment."

But he said it is necessary to be sensitive to constitutional rights in the war on terrorism and that U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's call to expand the Patriot Act "raises very serious questions about federal authority being used to step on people's personal liberties."

"The idea that the FBI would continue its surveillance of Mario Savio years after the FSM and put him on watch lists is absurd," said Lockyer, who, as the top state law enforcement official, heads California's anti-terrorism effort.

Savio was no threat to national security, he said. "He was somebody who believed deeply in the Bill of Rights and believed the university and the state were stepping on our civil liberties. And he was right."

© 2004 San Francisco Chronicle
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