1967 August 25

J. Edgar Hoover Authorizes COINTELPRO Action Against Black Panther Party

 

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on this day authorized a COINTELPRO operation against the Black Panther Party, directing FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect [and] discredit” the militant African-American group.

COINTELPRO (COunterINtelligence PROgram) was a secret FBI program directed first against the Communist Party but later extended to other groups. The program engaged in illegal actions such as wiretapping, burglaries, theft of documents, and forging documents to discredit the targeted groups. COINTELPRO was not a rogue FBI operation, having been authorized on March 8, 1956, at a meeting of the National Security Council — with neither President Dwight Eisenhower nor Attorney General Herbert Brownell objecting to the planned illegal actions.

The COINTELRO program was first exposed as a result of a burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, on March 8, 1971, by a group of political activists who stole about 1,000 FBI documents. They then released them to the media (see the book, below). One document contained a cryptic reference to COINTELPRO, and that provided the lead for subsequent investigations.

The full scope of the program was not revealed until the investigations of the Senate Church Committee, which began on January 27, 1975. The Church Committee reports document the fact that presidents approved or were knowledgeable about many FBI abuses.

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

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

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