1966 July 19

FBI Admits (to itself) That “Black Bag” Jobs (Burglaries) Are Illegal


An internal FBI memorandum from William C. Sullivan, head of the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division, admitted that FBI burglaries, which the Bureau called “black bag” jobs were “clearly illegal.” This was an internal memo, however, and the FBI did not admit this publicly for another nine years. FBI Director Clarence Kelly publicly acknowledged its practice of “black bag” jobs before the Senate Church Committee on July 14, 1975. T

he full scope of illegal activities by the FBI was investigated by the Senate Church Committee (established on January 27, 1974) in 1975 and 1976 (see below). Although published 40 years ago, the Church Committee’s reports are still an invaluable source of information about the abuses of the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, and some other federal agencies. They are also invaluable in documenting the role of presidents, both Republican and Democratic, in authorizing many if not most of the abuses.

FBI “black bag” jobs began around 1940-1941. They were authorized by the notorious FBI COINTELPRO program, established on March 8, 1956, and finally exposed as a result of the famous burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by anti-Vietnam War activists on March 8, 1971.

Read Sullivan’s account of his FBI career: William C. Sullivan, The Bureau: My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI (1979)

Read the Church Committee report on FBI “black bag” operations (pp. 353-371): http://aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports_book3.htm

And also read: Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (1991)

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