1971 April 28

FBI Director Hoover Terminates Illegal COINTELPRO Program


FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on this day officially terminated the secret and illegal COINTELPRO program. COINTELPRO had been created on March 8, 1956, and involved illegal actions such as wiretaps, burglaries, forgeries and other measures directed against left-wing political groups.

In two of its notorious actions, Hoover on August 25, 1967 directed the COINTELPRO program to disrupt the Black Panther Party, and on May 9, 1968 to disrupt New Left organizations.

Hoover’s termination of the program was prompted by the burglary of an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, on March 8, 1971, in which an anti-war group, the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, burglarized and stole about 1,000 pages of FBI documents. (Questions continued, however, as to whether Hoover’s official termination of COINTELPRO on this day actually ended the illegal actions in practice.) The stolen documents eventually led to the exposure of the COINTELPRO program. See December 6, 1973, for the first exposure of the program.

Learn more about COINTELPRO and the Media, PA, burglary: Betty Medsger, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI (2014)

Read the Senate Church Committee report on COINTELPRO (pp. 1-77): http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports_book3.htm

Learn more about Hoover: Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (1991)

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