1964 July 30

FBI Adds KKK to Notorious COINTELPRO Operation


COINTELPRO was a secret FBI operation that included illegal actions, such as burglaries and the theft of documents, wiretapping, the forgery of documents, and other efforts to disrupt political targets. Its principal target was the Communist Party, along with some other left-wing groups. Under pressure from President Lyndon Johnson to act on civil rights (mainly because of the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi on June 21, 1964), the FBI on this day extended its COINTELPRO program to the Ku Klux. On May 9, 1968, the FBI added “New Left” (meaning mainly anti-Vietnam War and black militant groups) to COINTELPRO’s targets.

Existence of the COINTELPRO program was first discovered when political activists burglarized the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, on March 8, 1971, and stole and released documents to the news media (see the book, below). Only one document among those stolen contained the word COINTELPRO, but the first news stories based on the documents, in March 1971, spurred further inquiries, and the nature of the program was later revealed.

The COINTELPRO was first exposed by the Senate Church Committee investigations that began on January 27, 1975. The full story was not known until the publication of Betty Medsger’s outstanding book, The Burglary, was published in 2014.

Read: Betty Medsger, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI (2014)

Read the Senate Church Committee Report on COINTELPRO (pp. 79–184): http://aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports_vol6.htm

Learn more about the Klan today: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/ku-klux-klan

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