View Full Version : article on MH Chaos draft that will be submitted to Truthout in a week or so.. any thoughts...

Kara Dellacioppa
01-17-2015, 12:25 AM
Memories of Fire: Remembering the Watts Rebellion, Operation Chaos and the National Security Fetish by. Kara Dellacioppa

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Image of the Watts Rebellion, 1965

¿quién dijo que todo está perdido?,yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón.
tanta sangre que se llevó el río, yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón.
“Who is to say all is lost? I come to offer you my heart”
So much blood that the river has taken, I come to offer you my heart
~Mercedes Sosa, “Yo Vengo ofrecer mi corazón..

Fifty years ago, during the hot, dry days of early August, the city of Los Angeles erupted in flames in what was to become known as the Watts Rebellion of 1965. 2015 also marks 40 years since the revelations of the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations of US intelligence’s covert activity against American dissidents throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. In commemorating both legendary events, I’d like to reflect on their inter-relationship in order to see what can be learn about the relationship between growth of the National Security State and the vilification of American dissent.

The campus where I teach, California State University Dominguez Hills is a product of 1965 LA uprising. As our campus was slated to be a “Harvard of the West” and located in the nearby wealthy community of Palos Verdes. One of the outcomes of the rebellion was the decision to relocate Dominguez Hills to serve the black community of South Central Los Angeles, Compton, and surrounding areas. This was one of the state’s modest concessions along with the passing of the Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1966, an acknowledgement of the historical deprivation and oppression suffered by the Black community. By the end of 1965, the McCone Commission released a report that concluded that the social conditions of the Black community (unemployment, discrimination in housing etc) are what led to the social explosion in Watts. But there was another set of extremely important yet largely unacknowledged consequences to the Watts rebellion. The Watts uprisings and those that followed in numerous American cities were a key factor in the development of covert counter-intelligence/counterinsurgency programs launched against American dissent by the US government. In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee and the Rockefeller Commission, revealed the existence of these programs, though barely scratching the surface of the illegal activities of the FBI, CIA, NSA, Army Intelligence committed against the American people. Exposures of behavior modification/mind control programs, assassinations attempts of foreign leaders and domestic political leaders, unethical human experimentation, and far reaching domestic surveillance/disruption programs such as the FBI’s COINTELPRO and Operation Chaos caused outrage among the American public.
The Watts Rebellion terrified the National Security Establishment. The Los Angeles Police Department was wholly unprepared to deal with such a wide scale social irruption. Something had to be done. The moment the ink was dry on the McCone and Kerner Commission reports and as the last embers flickered into ash in Los Angeles, the National Security state swung into action. The Church committee report states that President Johnson’s assistant referred the effect of the Watts uprising as “shattering.” Suddenly, the focus shifted from the social roots of the rebellion discussed in the McCone report to a “lack of coordinated intelligence” among US intelligence agencies, claiming a dire need to “predict” and “prevent” future unrest in the Black community. Also critical was the uncovering of communist/and or foreign influence in Black and student militancy which was increasing across the nation.
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The Venerable Senator Frank Church

The Watts rebellion was a turning point in the civil rights movement as increasing numbers of Black activists began to position their fight for human rights alongside the global anti-colonial struggle. The Black Panther Party emerged in Oakland in 1966 and was the movement that most clearly articulated the anti-colonial orientation of the Black freedom struggle. This dovetailed on the rapid escalation of the Vietnam war and the equally rapid rise of opposition to that war. Since taking over Vietnam from the French in 1954, the US government was facing an implacable and elusive enemy. Unable to fathom the true roots of the Vietnamese resistance to US occupation, the US military developed several different counter-insurgency campaigns. As these campaigns failed to quell the growing civil resistance, Washington war makers understood that without defeating the political and civil resistance to the South Vietnamese government and the US military, the war would never be won. In order to accomplish this, the political infrastructure of the Viet Cong (VCI) needed to be dismantled. With this goal in mind, in 1967, previous counter-insurgency campaigns directed by various branches of the US military, the CIA, and US AID were woven into one overarching counter-insurgency project, a CIA directed and coordinated “Phoenix program.” (Valentine 2000). The Phoenix program drew together - the Province Interrogation Centers (PIC), Intelligence Operations and Coordination Centers (IOCCs), the Census Grievance program, the Provincial Reconnaissance Units, among others in order to control the political environment of the Vietnamese people. Also key to Phoenix was the use of personnel from almost every branch of the military and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) among other supposedly more "diplomatic" agencies. The multiple strategies of Phoenix pacification included: collecting intelligence gathered in statistical form, creating blacklists, conducting targeted assassinations, using selected terror against Vietnamese civilians, indefinite detention of VCI suspects, the use of torture, and the promotion of criminality and corruption. The widespread use of informants, blacklists, selective terror and black propaganda defined the Phoenix program while mirrorring itself in its twister sister, Operation Chaos.
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Original Six Original six Black Panthers (November, 1966) Top left to right: Elbert "Big Man" Howard; Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherman Forte, Bobby Seale (Chairman). Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer).
Operation Chaos or MH Chaos was developed in 1967, under CIA director Richard Helms and his Deputy Director of Plans, Richard Ober. One motivating factor for the development of Chaos was the revelations of CIA funding and control of the National Student Association that appeared in Ramparts magazine in 1967 and a 1966 Ramparts story about how the CIA used the University of Michigan as a cover to train Vietnamese police. Stanley K. Sheinbaum who had unwittingly worked for the CIA as a University of Michigan professor co-authored the article with Robert Scheer. This sent the CIA on the warpath against Ramparts. Leaks were becoming a huge problem and the way Chaos was organized was meant to prevent any future leaks about CIA operations. The other purpose of Chaos was to coordinate counter-intelligence and covert action projects of the FBI, IRS, all branches of the Armed Forces, and major metropolitan police departments’ intelligence units into one clearing house for data on the political activity of Americans. The need to develop a Phoenix grew out of the failure of the previous counter-insurgency programs to “neutralize” political opposition to the South Vietnamese government. Just as the Phoenix program was deemed necessarily because of the failure to “neutralize” civilian support for the Viet Cong, CHAOS grew out of the failure of COINTELPRO and the CIA’s other domestic programs run out of the CIA Office of Security, Project Merrimac and Resistance, to accomplish the same goal within the United States. Merrimac and Resistance had infiltrated groups such as: Women Strike for Peace (WSP), Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) among others ostensibly to prevent attacks on CIA personnel or installations. COINTELPRO was launched by J Edgar Hoover in 1956 primarily against the Communist Party USA (CP-USA) and then in 1961 another campaign was launched against the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). In 1967, COINTELPRO launched a campaign against the Black Panther Party. It is estimated that one out of every five or six CP USA members was an FBI informant and one out of even ten members of the SWP were informants.
Richard Helms preciously guarded the secret existence of CHAOS through the compartmentalization of the program, deliberately keeping the Chaos program hidden from other departments of the CIA and through a special communications system that by passed normal CIA communication channels (Valentine 2001). Chaos also contained a computerized index of American dissidents called Hydra located in a sound-proof basement in Langley VA. By the end of the Chaos program in 1974, the lists of names in the database reached 300,000. In 1967, under President Johnson, the Interdivisional Information Unit (IDIU) was created in the Justice Department by Ramsey Clark to coordinate COINTELPRO and Chaos operations. As Doug Valentine points out, the fact that the IDIU was managed by senior White House staff reflects its concern with “politics” rather than “internal security.” Under President Nixon, demands on the Chaos program intensified through a secret White House plan called the Huston Plan and then the highly secretive “Intelligence Evaluation Committee.”(IEC).
Either Richard Ober or Richard Helms sat on virtual every white house committee formed to deal with dissent and social conflict in the US including the National Commission the Causes and Prevention of Violence and the Law Enforcement Assistance Organization (LEAA) which through block grants provided training for local police in the art of riot control, counter-insurgency and funding for criminology research on the social aspects of crime. The LEAA also included funding behavior modification research and programs in Veteran Hospitals and prisons.
The targets of the Chaos program were similar to Merrimac and Resistance (Women Strike for Peace(WSP) , The Black Panther Party (BPP), Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee(SNCC), Students for Democratic Society (SDS), and, Army deserters and importantly, the underground anti-war press.
The official rationale for the Chaos program was to detect “foreign influence’ on the American peace, student, and black liberation movements. Defenders of Chaos claim that the program was to find out if foreign agents were controlling American dissidents (Rafalko 2011). Defenders claim that Chaos agents were gathering intelligence on Americans only inadvertently and minimally and that any intelligence gathered was only incidental (though admittedly this intelligence was always passed to the FBI). One key part of the program was a project one including 40 agents recruited and sheep dipped into Black power and peace groups to be deployed abroad and be used as “dangles” to flip agents of foreign governments overseas. Helms states that 40 agents were recruited, passed intelligence to FBI. The Rockefeller Commission report agreed with the CIA’s that this aspect of CHAOs was a “legitimate counter intelligence function” because of its focus on the foreign aspect. However, as will be discussed later, declassified Chaos documents from a lawsuit filed by Women Strike for Peace against Richard Helms in 1976 revealed that the Rockefeller Commission and Church Committee were reports were misleading in that they gave the impression that almost all of the resources of Chaos were devoted to the antiwar movement. The findings of the Helms lawsuit “Halkin v. Helms, 1976” reveal that nearly half of the Chaos program was devoted to “Black Militants” in general and the Black Panther Party in particular (CNNS C-34, Box 6).
Angus Mackenzie’s posthumously published account of the Chaos program and its legacy definitively demonstrates the “domestic” nature of MH Chaos. One agent infiltrated himself in the the 1971 May Day mobilization Committee. According to Angus Mackenzie, author of “Secrets”, that CIA operative was Sal Ferrera. This agent also insinuated himself into the antiwar underground publications such as the “Quicksilver Times.” As with the CIA’s consternation with Ramparts, the CIA’s concern with disrupting the underground anti-war press in general had to do with controlling access to information and leaks, not foreign influence. Ferrera’s case shows that MH Chaos was not an objective intelligence gathering operation intending to prove foreign control of domestic dissent but to control the information about their operations. It was a campaign of active disruption and neutralization that took many forms. As Mackenzie states,
The importance of Ferrera’s excellent intelligence work cannot be overestimated. It was espionage with a political bent, and it was relayed directly from the CIA. By this point in his administration Richard Nixon was extremely defensive about protests. With Ferrera’s reports, local police and federal officials would be able to find a means of containment (1997:38).
Ferrera was also put on assignment to befriend Philip Agee, a CIA whistleblower living in Paris and writing the most explosive book that had been written about the CIA to date that included a list of CIA operatives in South America. After befriending Agee, Ferrera switched Agee’s typewriter with one with a bug. Agee managed to publish his 1975 book “Inside the Company” without deletions and with a lists of scores of organizations that were controlled by the CIA.
What was the true objective of Operation Chaos and what does that objective tell us about the nature of National Security States’ relationship with the American people?
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Senator Gary Hart, one of the most aggressive investigators of the Church Committee, lamented that there was little interest in the committee in investigating the whole range of abuses that were committed against the American people by the intelligence community. He also states that the vast majority of the 600 page report compiled from CIA Director William Colby’s testimony, the infamous, “Family Jewels” never made it into the final Church Committee report and never saw the light of day (Pease 2005). https://consortiumnews.com/2005/112205a.html

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The Church Committee not only excluded much of William Colby’s testimony from the final record but other critical testimony as well. Darthard Perry, aka Ed Riggs codename “Othello” FBI and LAPD (Criminal Conspiracy Section, CCS) informant, provocateur and whistleblower testified before the Church Committee on his activities that helped to destroy the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party (alongside other provocateurs Louis Tackwood, Ron Karenga, and Melvin Cotton Smith). However, he refused to testify a second time stating that the hearings were a cover up and sham and his testimony would be excluded from the final record (Noble 1980).
Perry racked up quite the resume while working for the FBI and the CCS of the LAPD. He first helped organize a raid on the BPP headquarters in LA leading to the arrests of 24 BPP members in December 1969. In a sworn statement found in the Halkin documents, Perry admits to conducting the following operations on behalf of the FBI from 1968 through 1975: he worked with FBI agents Brenden Cleary and Will Heaton and a Lt Castretes of the Criminal Conspiracy section of the LAPD. Perry states that Castretes was the LAPD-CIA liaison. The goal Perry states was to “eliminate” the leadership of the BPP. This plan included assassinations of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. In a 1977 Mother Jones magazine interview, Perry states that he was coerced into being an informant for FBI because they threatened him with prison (Rappaport 1977: 20). Perry formerly worked in Army intelligence. After decimating the LA BPP, he went on to infiltrate the Watts Writers Workshop destroying that organization, creating financial problems for the organization and eventually burning it to the ground. After this, he infiltrated the Los Angeles Community Freedom School where entrapped one their leaders on false id charges when attempting to purchase a weapon. He also stole BPP comics gave them to FBI so that they could put inflammatory "off the pigs" message and then print thousands of them. He infiltrated the Los Angeles Pacifica Station KPFK leading to an FBI raid of the station. After destroying the Watts Writers Workshop, he began to feel remorse and tried to escape the informant life and came clean to Harry Dolan and Donald Freed, and has been on the lam since 1977. At that time, FBI had 1,500 informants nation-wide (Rappaport 1977: 60).
In 1974-5, he met with Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt in prison posing as a NBC newsman from the Watts Writers Workshop. Perry passed messages between two Black Liberation Army (BLA) members and Pratt and eventually to make a plan to break Pratt out of prison with the help of the BLA and then follow Pratt into the Black revolutionary underground. Why were these documents in with the Halkin lawsuit documents? What was the CIA’s role in these types of operations? Had the two BLA members taken the bait (they wisely did not), Pratt could have led the CIA to the global Black liberation underground to make contact with agents abroad. Wouldn’t that be within the scope of the officially sanctioned objectives of the Chaos program outlined in the Rockefeller report?
One of the best documentaries on COINTELPRO was produced by veteran Black journalist Gil Noble in 1980 entitled “How the FBI Sabotaged Black America.’ Included is an extensive interview with Darthard Perry. Young people interested in any kind of activism today need to be aware of the methods of infiltration, disruption and neutralization. Along with Louis Tackwood’s explosive revelations in his book the Glasshouse Tapes (1973), Perry’s revelations exposed the depth of the profiling and study of the target.
Excerpts of transcript of “The FBI’s Sabotage of Black America”
On Cultural and Psychological Profiling used in Operations
Perry: See you can take their culture and use it against them..
Noble: How? How extensive is the collection on our culture the FBI? Would you rate as large as the library in Harlem?
Perry: I would rate it better.. because they go into details that we would probably overlook… Will Heaton (FBI agent) used to meet me in different places. There was bar in Los Angeles were people into black cultural things met. Will Heaton used to meet me there and he would go into long, tiring conversations with some very articulate brothers about culture.. African culture and Afro-american culture…
On the FBI burning down the Watts Writers Workshop
Noble: What cultural groups did you infiltrate?
Perry: .. the Watts Writers Workshop, one of the oldest established writer workshops in Los Angeles
Noble: That place was burned down..
Perry: Yeah, the Bureau had it burned down.
Noble: How do you know that?
Perry: I know because I participated.. I did the arson..
Noble: Why did they want it burned down?
Perry: Well funding had been cut to the workshop and at the time there was a possibility of a grant coming through and if there was no theater there would be no grant.
Noble: How did you do it?
Perry: Uhh, two cans of kerosene… a purex bottle… gasoline and a flare
Noble: Why didn’t you use more sophisticated stuff?
Perry: Oh no, no, no, no no, you are never overly sophisticated, its too obvious… this way you can make it look like maybe somebody in the neighborhood did it because they got kicked out of the theater
On Perry’s experience with the Church Committee Investigations
Noble: You’ve been called to testify in Washington
Perry: Yes in the Senate, I did testify and I want to say right now that the Committee is full of smack. They got loads and loads of information and didn’t even use it. They didn’t release it. I had tapes I offered to them in evidence and they said they couldn’t use them because I got them illegally.
Noble: What would you say about the composition of the committee that questioned you?
Perry: I can say that that was for the birds too because the same people that I was talking about were the same people on the panel.
Noble: What do you mean?
Perry: When I came into the interviewed by the so called Church committee, representatives of the FBI were also in the room.
Noble: Members of the FBI were members of the Church Committee panel?
Perry: Yes they were on the panel asking questions just like the other members of the Church committee. This is another thing I find fault with. This is another reason that I am not going to Washington DC… I am not going again for the simple reason that when I went up there I went up there with the idea that there were agencies investigating the Federal Bureau of Investigation not the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigating the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The fact that the Watts Writers was targeted and destroyed reveals what exactly the FBI finds a threat, Black cultural and political autonomy. This points back to the Church Committee report where the FBI testified that while they found no direct control of American dissent by foreign powers, the ideological links that led to the spread of “dangerous ideas” (US Senate 99) became the reason to target groups like the Watts Writers Workshop. http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/pdfs94th/94755_II.pdf
James Jarrett CIA/LAPD provocateur
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James Jarrett with his LAPD buddies Photo by Gilbert Weingourt
The July 10, 1970 issue of the LA Free Press ran an expose entitled “CIA in the LAPD?” The first line read, “A CIA Penetration agent?” The story is that James Jarrett approached Donald Freed, author and playwright and founding member of “Friends of the Panthers” about joining his group. Jarrett had formerly served in Vietnam in the Phoenix Program and openly discussed atrocities he committed there. Before learning of his role as LAPD-CIA provocateur, Jarrett was regarded as someone who was mentally unstable but at the same time offered to help out with many tasks of the group. This is very similar to the case of Darthard Perry who offered to do things like rebuild the stage of the Watts Writers Theater.
Freed did not want Jarrett rejected from the group because he regarded Jarrett as a victim of the CIA-military war machine. Jarrett helped out the group by making himself useful and providing self-defense classes for members of the group. Then after a member of the Friends of Panthers was raped, Jarrett promised to get the women of the group mace. On Oct 2, 1969, Jarrett instead delivered a box of explosives that he had stolen from a nearby naval arsenal and delivered those explosives to Freed’s home at 4:15 pm and at 4:30pm, LAPD detectives burst into the home of Donald and Barbara Freed and the home of Shirley Sutherland, guns drawn pointing at the Freeds and Sutherland and her children. Freed said of Jarrett, “I almost could say that the LAPD probably wasn't aware that Jarrett was a CIA man," Freed, commented to the Free Press, "Maybe that's being naive. Jarret has been a 'hit' man—the leader of political assassination teams—in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. He had worked for the CIA in Latin America. He had come to the LA police to help train the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) squad, which was responsible for the raid on the Black Panther Party headquarters last December." The Freed’s were charged and facing a 10 year sentence.
Freed attorney’s investigator had been previously employed with the LAPD. While awaiting trial, it came to light that their attorney’s investigators assistant Sam Bluth, previously fired from the LAPD, provided information about the Freed’s defense strategy and taped conversations about Jarrett between the Freeds and their investigator. Bluth later broke into their home to retrieve more information. In January of the following year, the Freeds sued the city of Los Angeles for one million dollars for among other things, invasion of privacy, theft of property, and abridgement of the Freeds’ civil and constitutional rights.
What government program was Jay Region Jarrett working for? The LEAA?, MH/Chaos?
The Halkin Lawsuit.
I found sworn statements of Perrys’ in a series of documents located at the National Security Archive that were released from a Lawsuit against Richard Helms by Adele Halkin, Women Strike for Peace activist on behalf of numerous individuals and organizations who were targeted by Chaos. The Lawsuit took place in 1976 and the documents were released in 1979. About 500 pages included Situation Reports on Women Strike for Peace demonstrating that the CIA had infiltrated WSP as far back as January 1962 (WSP was founded in July of 1961). WSP was an incredibly important peace organization that have been overlooked by historians of the 60s. WSP certainly weren’t overlooked by the CIA though. WSP has been largely written out of history of the 1960s. There is one book about them written by a former WSP member and academic Amy Swerdlow entitled “Women’s Strike for Peace: Traditional Motherhood and Radical Politics in the 1960s.” (1993).
WSP was a loosely knit non-hierarchical groups of women across the country. At the apex of the Cold War, WSP brought over 50,000 women in 60 different cities to march against nuclear weapons. Founding members included Bella Azbug and Dagmar Wilson. WSP challenged the entire rationale of the cold war apparatus meeting with mothers and women in the Soviet Union and Vietnam. They were central to the fall of the House of Un-American Activities (HUAC), the president’s signing of a limited test ban treaty in 1963 and were among the first to voice opposition to the Vietnam War. They also created a space for the emergence of SDS to become the radical force it did and to a certain extent mid-wived the emergence of new left politics more generally.
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When motherhood is organized in a political way, it can move mountains and bring down dictatorships as in the case of the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina. This fact was surely not lost on the CIA. WSP couldn’t be smeared with communism like the CP or SWP or the student movement. They were mostly middle aged mothers. The image of motherhood taps into primal fears and wonders of life itself. Motherhood is universal and transcends nations. I’m sure the CIA was worried that Americans might start relating to the message of WSP on a more broad-based way thereby undermining their cold war scam. I mean after all, everyone has a mother.
Aside from the Halkin documents, there are 2,600 pages of declassified files on www.theblackvault.com (http://www.theblackvault.com) of Chaos, Merrimac, and Resistance files. I had to share this one because it made me laugh. Due to the difference in font and the fact that most of the Chaos docs tend to be more illegible than the Merrimac docs, I believe this is a Chaos Situation Report. Chaos began in August of 1967 and this Situation report was from September 1967. The CIA would have already been on top of WSP since they had already been infiltrating them since 1962.
Telephonically received from .(Blacked out).. on 22 September 1967.
. . - .
“Telephonically Received:
visited 2111 Florida Avenue, "Friends meeting house" on
21 September. 1967
... The purpose of the meeting was a critique of the demonstration
held at the White House on 20 September 1967. The jist of the critique was
that there was confusion and lack of instruction which culminated in the .
infraction of the police. Also they felt 'that the police were baffled and will
not do anything to them. They are debating using cabs..en masse and go .
-I•.to_ the White House and get out ~t 'A woman around 20 years
of age, last name"'f:J~~ • ..A Women came to the registration desk and said she
was on the mailing list but.. did not want to pay the registration fee but wanted
·all literature she could get. · After she left, (blacked out) said, "I bet she
is from the CIA because we know we are being infiltrated by the CIA and we
are glad because CIA is afraid of WSP!”
I read this cable and thought to myself, “Yeah, they were afraid of you. “
This series of documents included in the Halkin collection reveal Chaos being more concerned with domestic dissent than had been previously disclosed in the Church and Rockefeller reports. One document refers to the need for “joint operations” between the CIA-FBI for “mutual benefit.” As is pointed out in a memo summarizing this material to Mort Halperin, Director of the ACLU, this isn’t just a case of one agency helping out another but focusing on the same task and same target (CNSS C-34 Box 7). Also in line with the research of Angus Mackenzie that demonstrates that Chaos was a program of disruption and not just intelligence gathering focused on “foreign influence.”

As stated earlier, the Halkin documents point out that Chaos had been focused more on the “Black Militants” than previously understood by official government reports. Many members of the Black liberation movement conducted FOIA requests to understand the totality of US intelligence’s role in the destruction of their movements. In Huey Newton’s dissertation, he quotes an affidavit from a lawsuit filed against the CIA by the BBP in 1976. (1980:61)
One longtime CIA operative with direct knowledge of the spying said,
however, that there was an additional goal in the case of the Black
Panthers living abroad: to "neutralize" them; "to try and get them in
trouble with local authorities wherever they could.151
Newton also found that before the Rockefeller Commission hearings began the CIA had destroyed between 150 and 200 files kept by the CIA on Black Militants. The BBP lawsuit produced very few pages of BPP files as the CIA claimed it refused to release them on the grounds of “National Security.”

Why was it so important to downplay the CIA’s role in disrupting and neutralizing the Black Panther Party? The late Political Science professor Philip Melanson asks the same question in his book about the Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination. He asks why the investigations of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. never went beyond the FBI. Melanson had released several hundred pages of CIA documents on King which contrast the widely held view that CIA’s interest in King was merely cursory and routine. One 1967 that was released stated that King (along with was becoming a problem and a “threat” to CIA operations abroad its “image of the United States.” ) (128-129). Was the CIA daft and just did not know that the BPP saw itself as a part of a larger anti-colonial struggle? Did it not know that indigenous chapters of the BPP started to pop up in several different countries including a chapter in India called the “Dalit Panthers?” Did it not see that the BPP inspired many other groups in the United States to autonomously organize around the needs of their communities? I doubt it. The “image” of the United States and its relationship with the rest of world has been paramount to maintaining its hegemonic position after it displaced the British Empire at the turn of the 20th century. In the post-civil war era, the struggle for Black freedom has always been an “image” problem for the United State long before the CIA ever existed. After all, negative images of American racism can and have gotten in the way of “exporting our democracy” all over the world. As Huey Newton states in the final pages of his dissertation, the real reason for the CIA holding the vast majority of documents on the BPP in the name of “National Security” was that for the CIA to admit how it targeted the BPP would be to admit that it is at war with Black America.
On the one hand, the image of the CIA’s interest in the Black liberation movement must seem “cursory and routine.” On the other hand, the historical image of the BPP must be downgraded to the status of a quasi-political gang in order to justify their lack of interest and to continue a war of disinformation against the Black liberation movement. The focus of the CHAOS program on the BPP is much larger than previously understood. With dozens of political assassinations committed against the BPP, 100s of false imprisonments, 1000s of false arrests, harassment and massive surveillance, families torn apart, lives destroyed, what happened to the Black Panther Party was nothing short of a ‘dirty war.’
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Marshall Eddie Conway, founding member of the Baltimore BPP release from prison in April 2014 after 44 years after being falsely convicted of killing a Baltimore Police Office in 1970 (with his lawyers Robert Boyle and Phil Dantes).
Speaking of a dirty war in the CNSS docs, I also found a CHAOS memo entitled “American Indian Movement” (AIM) which said there several members of AIM that were in the “Extremist Photograph Album,” even though the FBI had not “leveled any requirements yet.” AIM was another movement like that Panthers that clearly positioned themselves as a part of a larger anti-colonial movement[i] (https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/#_edn1) Again, wouldn’t that be within the CIA charter? There were a couple of memos as well referring to “low-level” members of SDS being recruiting and trained in the Chaos program to be deployed overseas and that these agents were ultimately not that successful because they were not high profile members of the New Left (CNSS C-34 Box 7).
America’s Image, the CIA and the Cultural Cold War
Since the founding of the CIA in 1947, maintaining a positive image of America to the rest of the world has been central to its global hegemonic position. The CIA has accomplished this in a variety of ways including launching a massive propaganda campaign in Western Europe in the post-World War 2 era through funding arts and culture activities organized by the “Congress of Cultural Freedom” (CCF) in order to create a “non-communist” left that could woo away Western European intellectuals from their romance with Soviet communism. Through secret pass through foundations, the CIA funded journals, art exhibits, and organized conferences. CIA- related foundations funded music and art movements such as “abstract expressionism” in order to 1. Counter the influence of socialist realism in the arts and literature and 2. To position the United States as a beacon of cultural enlightenment in the world (Stonor Saunders 2000). I bring up Stonor Saunders landmark book “The Cultural Cold War” because the it supports the claims of Huey Newton and Philip Melanson that the CIA is in the business of generating images and illusions into order to maintain America’s ability to ‘export democracy” abroad and manage dissent at home. This central strategy of the CIA is to engage in “psychological warfare,” a mutated translation of the term Weltanschauugskrieg, or a literal translation of “world-view warfare” a theory of social control developed in Nazi Germany and turned into a science of social engineering by Wild Bill O’Donovan of the Office of Strategic Services (later to be formed as the CIA) (Simpson 1994). Later on, world-view warfare or psychological warfare was turned in “applied science” by the CIA and the larger National Security Establishment.
Referring back to the beginning of this essay, recall one of the main motivating factors for the creation of MH Chaos was the 1967 Rampart revelations that the CIA was funding and controlling the leadership of the National Student Association (NSA). The student association funding was also part of the CIA’s “secret war” against the Soviet Union. In a review of a soon to be released book on the subject, Tom Hayden, founding members of SDS writes, both a heartfelt and revelatory review of this book while providing reflections of how he interfaced unknowingly with agents of the CIA penetration agents during his student-activism phase (Hayden 2014). He recalls spending a summer in Berkeley meeting Donald Hoffman of the NSA who had invited Hayden to the following NSA conference. Hayden recalled the student editor of the Michigan Daily that preceded him was also working for the CIA. This editor recruited students to send to Europe. Hayden tells of being invited to the Helinski youth festival as part of an American and anti-communist delegation who were sent to provide a positive image of American democracy while refusing any possible co-existence between communism and capitalism. The whole efforts of the cultural cold war described above were designed to defeat “neutralism” which was regarded a politically dangerous by the CIA created cold war liberal left. The NSA delegation’s task was to categorically parrot the Congress of Cultural Freedom’s anti-neutralist line. Hayden goes on to talk about Gloria Steinem’s role in that very conference and in fact she is the one that originally interviewed Hayden as a potential festival participant. This was in 1962. By 1969, Steinem has become America’s best known spokesperson for the American Feminist movement. During her participation in the 1959 Vienna Youth Festival, Hayden tells of Steinem “disrupting the festival through dirty tricks” and Steinem did the same in another youth festival in in Helinski in 1962.
Hayden tells of having tried to enter some of these CIA front groups “unwittingly” and talks about how the CIA recruited him to write a pamphlet on the student civil rights movement in Mississippi in 1961 for global distribution. He applied for an International Student Research Seminar in Philadelphia for which he was rejected. He later found it out it was a major recruiting ground for CIA agents. Hayden states that he later organized a “campaign against the secret elite” at the NSA. A split occurred in the organization leading Hayden to work full time for SDS.
According to a few memos I saw in the Halkin Collection, SDS was also a recruiting ground for MH Chaos. The CIA, you just can’t get away from them, can you?
Hayden points out that the story of the NSA’s relationship with the CIA is so timely today as movements can be “steered” in certain directions.
The important takeaway from this section, I hope, is that infiltration by the CIA is very sophisticated and manipulative. Gloria Steinem went on to become a major spokesperson for the feminist movement. Off and on during her career she has been at times forthcoming and at other times secretive about her relationship with the CIA.
In the world of “world-view” warfare, any idea can be a weapon. The concepts of human rights and feminism can turn into responsibility to protect and humanitarian intervention which they did in the 1990s and in the post 911 period, as good old fashion anti-imperialism fell by the wayside.

A New Church Committee?
The recent disclosures of massive spying by the National Security Agency had led some national security commentators to call for the formation of a “new Church committee.” Aside from the extreme limitations of the original Church committee process discussed in this essay, the current political environment seems to be even a less favorable climate for getting to the facts about what really happened. At least some members of Congress had the chutzpah to take on the National Security Establishment. I mean can anyone imagine for a minute that anyone in today’s Congress would introduce a “Boland” amendment (limiting the CIA’s funding of terrorist groups)? Or placing ANY limitations on US intelligence agencies at all? Call me cynical, but I can’t. I mean where in today’s Congress are the Gary Harts? the Bella Azbugs? The Leo Ryans?
In 1976, George H.W. Bush was called to testify before the House Subcommittee on Government Operations and Individuals Rights. Congresswoman Bella Abzug, founding member of WSP, had served on that committee and had recently received part of her Chaos 201 (sensitive files) from the CIA (other notables who had 201 files included: Congressman Ron Dellums, Senator Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King). Bella Abzug had the privilege of questioning George Bush on behalf of the committee about the CIA’s “solution” which was to destroy all files on Americans they had created. How I imagine Bush HATED having to answer to ‘Battling Bella’! That woman was nothing short of fierce. Abzug begins her line of questions of Bush:
The subcommittee today begins with the consideration of an extremely timely and important subject- the rights of individuals who were subject to surveillance and harassment by programs such as the FBI’s COINTELPRO and the CIA’s CHAOS… Another subject is the impending resumption by the intelligence agencies’ destruction of documents. We are frankly concerned that before Congress can act the agencies must depose of the evidence of past wrongdoing (Mackenzie 68-69).

Abzug demanded that individuals should have the right to see the information collected on them. Bush apparently blustered at the potential for exposing the secrets of the CIA to the light of day. Bush remarked (I imagine with clenched teeth and a scowl), “CHAOS was a proper foreign intelligence activity… but there may have been some improper accumulation of domestic material.” Bush’s solution again was to destroy all the documents.
Abzug replied, “In light of the enormous harm done to individuals and the admitted evasion of both criminal law and the Constitution in the maintenance of these files.. we must notify these individuals and make amends!’ Eventually, he CIA agreed to allow individuals to file FOIA requests but the CIA, as in the case with requests from the BPP, fought releasing the documents for individual requests every step of the way (71).

In the post Church committee period, according Mackenzie, the CIA went to work on legislation to criminalize government employees from leaking information to the press. Mackenzie laments the fact that Mort Halperin, director of the ACLU, did not mobilize the 250,000 ACLU membership against this legislation. After the election of Reagan, the passage of National Security Decision Directive 84 made it mandatory for government employees to sign non-disclosure agreements who have access to “classifiable information” which eventually comes to mean that ANYTHING could POTENTIALLY classifiable, even retroactively, alongside a CIA publications review board, a “prepublication censorship body” (71) designed to prevent current or former CIA personnel from disclosing embarrassing or illegal activity of the CIA.
Mackenzie surmises that the passage of the secrecy laws emboldened the CIA, the Pentagon and the National Security Council and made them cocky enough to pull off “Iran-Contra.” Arms for Hostages, Selling crack in South Central Los Angeles. One dirty war serves another. Wait a minute! We are now right back where we started!
From Managing Dissent to Manufacturing “Terror”
In 1973, Richard Helms turned the CI/Special Operations Group codename MH Chaos into “International Terrorism Group (ITG), to give it a more legitimate spin. Legitimate dissent turns into terror. The 1996 anti-terrorism was built upon by the 2002 Homeland Security Act paving the way for the FUSION centers, little chaos centers in every state gathering massive amounts of data on Americans and originally modeled after the IOCC centers that served the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam. The manipulation of language, government propaganda black grey and white (along with economic austerity) have brow beaten the American people into regarding many forms of dissent as terror. COINTELPRO and CHAOS never ended although officially disbanded in 1974. The FBI has expanded its use of informants in “counter terror” efforts including the 1993 WTC bombing. From the height of the 60s rebellion to today, the number of FBI informants has increased from 1,500 to some 15,000! (Aaronson, 2013). Imagine that! Imagine the damage done by Darthard Perry and that’s just one guy! The fact that history has been so distorted by the media, the government and academia and the fact that we were never allowed to know the truth is what led us to where we are today.
Provocateurs like Perry are not a thing of those “crazy” times of the 60s. They are with us today. A 2011 documentary “Better this World” tells the story of longtime FBI provocateur and sociopath, Brandon Darby. His story came to light as he testified against two young men from Midland Texas, David Mackay and Bradley Crowder, lifelong friends who travelled to protest the Republican National Convention in 2008. Darby befriended them and convinced them to get supplies to make 8 homemade bombs. Darby used psychological tactics to entrap them. Both Crowder and Mackay did time. (Crowder and Mackay are both out of prison now). Both of the trials led to the disclosure of Darby’s FBI status which also revealed his previous work against long time anarchist and political prisoner advocate Scott Crow. Darby had befriended Scott Crow through a friend of his sometime around 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit. Darby and Crow travel armed to rescue Robert King Wilkerson a former Black Panther. Some people seriously mistrusted Darby. However:
But that changed after Hurricane Katrina, when he learned that Robert King Wilkerson, one of the Angola Three—former Black Panthers who endured decades of solitary confinement at Louisiana's Angola Prison—was trapped in New Orleans. Darby and Crow drove 10 hours from Austin towing a jon boat. When they couldn't get it into the city, Darby somehow harangued some Coast Guard personnel into rescuing Wilkerson. The story became part of the foundation myth for an in-your-face New Orleans relief organization called the Common Ground Collective.
It would eventually grow into a national group with a million-dollar budget. But at first Common Ground was just a bunch of pissed-off anarchists working out of the house of Malik Rahim, another former Panther. Rahim asked Darby to set up an outpost in the devastated Ninth Ward, where not even the Red Cross was allowed at first. Darby brought in a group of volunteers who fed people and cleared debris from houses while being harassed by police, right along with the locals who had refused to evacuate.
Darby went on to use every FBI tactic in the book to help destroy Common Ground after he became its leader.
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Photo of David Mackay and Bradley Crowder, the Austin Two

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Scott Crow and Brandon Darby 2007 Photo: Bestofneworleans.com

As the National Security State continues to distort the notion of dissent, knowing the truth of what happened during the COINTELPRO/CHAOS period become increasingly urgent. Over the course of the last year, a new wave of protest has arisen in Ferguson and across America against the hyper militarized, quasi-nazified police and intelligence agencies and their ability to murder with impunity. This new movement has manifested itself in groups like Lost Voices and Black Lives Matter. This nation-wide movement is the first movement in a long time that challenges the police state in a direct and grassroots way, probably the most important one since the BPP was formed in 1966. They rightly understand that the state-sanctioned alternative leaders have led them astray. They have determined to take the center stage of their movement. It is so vital for young activists and the American people more generally to understand what happened in the 60s and 70s. And I don’t mean just reading the reports but understanding the fact that much of what happened was never revealed publicly. I think it’s vital to know to what extent was that assassination was an integral part of both Chaos and Cointelpro. I mean, would it be that surprising? Obama sits in his office every Tuesday now giving orders to kill, orders that include Americans. It’s vital to know the tactics and strategies of infiltration, disruption and neutralization. It’s vital to understand the how white, black, and grey propaganda are employed against movements.
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A new Church Committee? No I don’t think that would solve anything. Instead, I propose that the American people demand a “Peoples’ Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the Activities of Intelligence Agencies of the 1960s and 1970s”. Let’s invite international observers. It can be non-prosecutorial. Immunity from Prosecution for the truth. The remaining Victims and perpetrators are in their twilight years. Our society could gain enormously from the knowledge of what really happened to them. And those who struggle for justice today would be better equipped to face the challenges of what we are up against.
In the 1980s and 1990s, across the world in countries like Guatemala, Argentina, Uruguay, and South Africa, Truth Commissions (both prosecutorial and non-prosecutorial) were essential to the process of re-democratization of their societies. In Brazil and Chile, two former victims of State terror Michele Bachelet of Chile and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil became president of their respective countries. There is a wide-ranging literature about the cultural and political construction of memory and the process of democratization in the Southern Cone countries in the aftermath of the “dirty wars.” The psychic wounds and destroyed lives of our little dirty war in America need to come to light. Not just the COINTELPRO AND CHAOS programs but the major political assassinations as well. Come to think of it, Mexico could use one of those too. (Their dirty war, beginning with October 2, 1968 Tlatleloco Student Massacre and subsequent official dirty war of the early 1970s have never been fully excavated).
As I look at the images of the young BPP members, the faces of Brad Crowder and David Mackay, and the faces of the Lost Voices of Ferguson activists, it just chokes me up, literally. Maybe it’s the mother in me, but they’re just kids! Little Bobby Hutton was murdered at the tender age of 17 after having joined the Party at 16. Young people know instinctively what’s wrong with the world. Not unlike the fires of Watts, a fire in their hearts burns for justice, a justice that the previous generations have failed to deliver. Walter Benjamin in his essay “Theses on the philosophy” takes on the problem of history and memory and its revolutionary and repressive potential in the following words:
To articulate what is past does not mean to recognize “how it really was.” It means to take control of a memory, as it flashes in a moment of danger. For historical materialism it is a question of holding fast to a picture of the past, just as if it had unexpectedly thrust itself, in a moment of danger, on the historical subject. The danger threatens the stock of tradition as much as its recipients. For both it is one and the same: handing itself over as the tool of the ruling classes. In every epoch, the attempt must be made to deliver tradition anew from the conformism which is on the point of overwhelming it. For the Messiah arrives not merely as the Redeemer; he also arrives as the vanquisher of the Anti-Christ. The only writer of history with the gift of setting alight the sparks of hope in the past, is the one who is convinced of this: that not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious (Benjamin 1934).

I close by dedicating this essay to two central heroes of the period, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt and Bella Abzug.
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Rest in Power, Geronimo Ji Jaga
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Rest in Power, Battling Bella

Aaronson, Trevor. 2013. The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism. New York: NY: LG Press.
Benjamin, Walter. 1968. “Theses on the Philosophy of History.” Illuminations: Essays and Reflections Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Pp. 253-264
Center for National Security Studies. C-34 Chaos Merrimac Resistance collection Box 6 and 7
Donner, Frank. 1990. Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activitie, United States Senate, (94th Congress, Second Session, Report No. 94-755) (Government Printing office; April 23, 1976
Harkinson, Josh. 2011. How a Radical Leftist become the FBI’s BFF. Mother Jones September/October
Hayden, Tom. 2014. “The CIA’s Student-Activism Phase.” The Nation. November 26
Mackenzie, Angus. 1997. Secret’s: The CIA’s War at Home. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Marshall, Sue. 1970. “CIA in the LAPD?” LA Free Press. July 10. http://jfk.hood.edu/Collection/White%20%20Files/Security-CIA/CIA%200296.pdf
Melanson, Philip. 1994. The Martin Luther King Assassination: New Revelations of the Conspiracy and Cover-up. S.P.I. Book: New York, New York.
Newton, Huey P. 1980. The War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America. Disseration. UC Santa Cruz, California
Noble, Gil. 1980, The FBI’s Sabotage of Black America. Documentary
Pease, Lisa. 2005. “The Enduring JFK Mystery.” Consortiumnews.com November 22.
Rafalko. Frank. 2011. MH/CHAOS the CIA’s Campaign Against the Radical New Left and the Black Panther Party. Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press.
Rappaport, Roger. 1977. “Meet America’s Meanest Dirty Trickster”. Mother Jones Magazine. 2(3) 19-23, 59-61
Rockefeller Commission. Report to the President by the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, June 1975.
Stonor Saunders, Frances. 2000. The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. London: The New Press.

Kara Dellacioppa
01-17-2015, 12:27 AM
Madga, Peter, Jan, David and Nathaniel Lisa Pease for talking to me about this project.. this is just a starting point and it sucks that my images didnt go through

Peter Lemkin
01-17-2015, 05:53 AM
Great summary piece on Operation CHAOS! It was one nasty operation - as pointed out, above, that never ended...only changed name and form...and is with us still in a more virulent form.

Try putting in the photos again - contact me by PM if you need help. Try moving them to a more standard folder [such as a folder in 'documents' before trying to upload and use the image upload 'button' in middle row in Reply to edit window.

Lauren Johnson
01-17-2015, 05:55 AM
Great summary piece on Operation CHAOS! It was one nasty operation - that never IMO ended...only changed name and form.

Try putting in the photos again - contact me by PM if you need help. Try moving them to a more standard folder [such as a folder in 'documents' before trying to upload and use the image upload 'button' in middle row in Reply to edit window.

Peter, I IM'ed KD about the possibility of saving as a .pdf. That would include the photos and help out with the formatting. Either way.

David Guyatt
01-17-2015, 08:52 AM
There's a small typo on the following, Kara. It's the only one I've found, but be gentle on me - I'm still blinking in the dawn light with my first cup of tea, and dribbling in a semi stupor.

I always used to find when I was actively writing that having someone sub a piece for me was something I instinctively disliked but actually longed for in the end. It's always a very difficult task to do the research, then write the piece and then do your own subbing. Big media journos are really spoiled, right.

Anyway, here we go:

Abzug demanded that individuals should have the right to see the information collected on them. Bush apparently blustered at the potential for exposing the secrets of the CIA to the light of day. Bush remarked (I imagine with clenched teeth and a scowl), “CHAOS was a proper foreign intelligence activity… but there may have been some improper accumulation of domestic material.” Bush’s solution again was to destroy all the documents.
Abzug replied, “In light of the enormous harm done to individuals and the admitted evasion of both criminal law and the Constitution in the maintenance of these files.. we must notify these individuals and make amends!’ Eventually, The CIA agreed to allow individuals to file FOIA requests but the CIA, as in the case with requests from the BPP, fought releasing the documents for individual requests every step of the way (71).

Kara Dellacioppa
01-17-2015, 03:55 PM
Thanks for the tip Lauren, will do! i want the pictures there, its gives deeper feeling to the story...

Great summary piece on Operation CHAOS! It was one nasty operation - that never IMO ended...only changed name and form.

Try putting in the photos again - contact me by PM if you need help. Try moving them to a more standard folder [such as a folder in 'documents' before trying to upload and use the image upload 'button' in middle row in Reply to edit window.

Peter, I IM'ed KD about the possibility of saving as a .pdf. That would include the photos and help out with the formatting. Either way.

Kara Dellacioppa
01-17-2015, 03:56 PM
I knew i had some typos.. I just wanted you guys to look over the ideas.. I have someone helping me with editing... and will send you all the final one as I send it to Truthout.org...

There's a small typo on the following, Kara. It's the only one I've found, but be gentle on me - I'm still blinking in the dawn light with my first cup of tea, and dribbling in a semi stupor.

I always used to find when I was actively writing that having someone sub a piece for me was something I instinctively disliked but actually longed for in the end. It's always a very difficult task to do the research, then write the piece and then do your own subbing. Big media journos are really spoiled, right.

Anyway, here we go:

Abzug demanded that individuals should have the right to see the information collected on them. Bush apparently blustered at the potential for exposing the secrets of the CIA to the light of day. Bush remarked (I imagine with clenched teeth and a scowl), “CHAOS was a proper foreign intelligence activity… but there may have been some improper accumulation of domestic material.” Bush’s solution again was to destroy all the documents.
Abzug replied, “In light of the enormous harm done to individuals and the admitted evasion of both criminal law and the Constitution in the maintenance of these files.. we must notify these individuals and make amends!’ Eventually, The CIA agreed to allow individuals to file FOIA requests but the CIA, as in the case with requests from the BPP, fought releasing the documents for individual requests every step of the way (71).

Kara Dellacioppa
01-17-2015, 03:58 PM
I ll send a pdf when i finalized the paper.. btw Constatine did send me an article about chaos he did that i didnt include in this draft.. will see if i can fit it in..

Great summary piece on Operation CHAOS! It was one nasty operation - as pointed out, above, that never ended...only changed name and form...and is with us still in a more virulent form.

Try putting in the photos again - contact me by PM if you need help. Try moving them to a more standard folder [such as a folder in 'documents' before trying to upload and use the image upload 'button' in middle row in Reply to edit window.

Magda Hassan
01-23-2015, 06:46 AM
Thanks for this Kara. I've been away and haven't had a chance to catch up with this unti now. Good work and very pleased to see Truthout publishing it. More people need to know about this.

Kara Dellacioppa
02-09-2015, 07:29 PM
Truthout had me turn it into three separate essays. Today the first one is out... at least you can see the pictures if you follow the link.. thanks everyone on DPF..


Kara Dellacioppa
02-09-2015, 07:30 PM
Thanks for this Kara. I've been away and haven't had a chance to catch up with this unti now. Good work and very pleased to see Truthout publishing it. More people need to know about this.

here is the link


Peter Lemkin
02-09-2015, 07:37 PM
Great news. Congratulations. ::hooray:: Will read it right now.....

By the way, a very good new film called 'Vanguard of the Revolution' is about the Black Panthers and the CIA/FBI war against them.

"Vanguard of the Revolution": New Film Chronicles Rise of Black Panthers & FBI’s War Against Them

With groups around the country taking on issues of police brutality and accountability, we go back 50 years to another movement confronting the same issues. We spend the hour looking at a new documentary that just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival called "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution." It tells the history of the Black Panther Party through rare archival footage and interviews with party leaders, rank-and-file members, journalists — and even police and FBI informants. We feature extended excerpts from the film and speak with one its subjects, Kathleen Cleaver, who served as communications secretary of the Black Panther Party and is now a law professor at Emory University. We also speak with Stanley Nelson, the film’s award-winning director. The film is set to play in theaters and air on PBS later this year.

Image Credit: theblackpanthers.com

Transcript This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival is wrapping up. With groups around the country taking on issues of police brutality and accountability, we go back 50 years to another movement confronting the same issues. It was the ’60s. As Black History Month is about to begin, we spend the hour with a remarkable new documentary that just premiered here called The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

JAMAL JOSEPH: The thing that led to the Panthers was what we were seeing on television every day: attack dogs, fire hoses, bombings.

H. RAP BROWN: We stand on the eve of a black revolution, brothers.

ELAINE BROWN: I was a cocktail waitress in a white strip club two years before I joined the Black Panther Party. How did that happen? The rage was in the streets. It was everywhere.

ELDRIDGE CLEAVER: I say that Ronald Reagan is a punk, a sissy and a coward, and I challenge him to a duel.

FELIPE LUCIANO: Eldridge had this incredible ability to encapsulate a thought that stabbed right into the heart of the enemy. Now, was he insane? yeah. That boy was crazy!

PAT McKINLEY: They were trying to change government as we know it to terrorist activity.

REPORTER: The State Assembly was in the midst of a heated debate when the young Negroes, armed with loaded rifles, shotguns and pistols, marched into the Capitol.

BEN SILVER: Do you feel the nation is in trouble?

J. EDGAR HOOVER: I think very definitely it is.

BEN SILVER: What is the answer?

J. EDGAR HOOVER: The answer is vigorous law enforcement.

BEN SILVER: How about justice?

J. EDGAR HOOVER: Justice is merely incidental to law and order.

BEVERLY GAGE: The FBI saw the Panthers as a very, very threatening and violent revolutionary movement. They absolutely wanted this organization to be destroyed.

WAYNE PHARR: I felt absolutely free. I was a free Negro. In that little space that I had, I was the king. And that’s what I felt.

WILLIAM CALHOUN: The great strength of the Black Panther Party was its ideals and its youthful vigor and enthusiasm. The great weakness of the party was its ideals and its youthful vigor and its enthusiasm. That sometimes can be very dangerous, especially when you’re up against the United States government.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the trailer for The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. It’s set to play in theaters and air on PBS later this year. But today we bring you the first look at this brand new film. It tells the history of Black Panthers through rare archival footage and interviews with party leaders, rank-and-file members, and even police and FBI informants.
I sat down this week for an extended interview with one of its subjects, Kathleen Cleaver—she served as communications secretary of the Black Panther Party, is now a law professor at Emory University—and with Stanley Nelson, the film’s award-winning director. Nelson has made several films about the civil rights movement, including Freedom Riders and Freedom Summer. I began by asking Stanley Nelson why he’s now drawn to making a film about the Black Panther Party.

STANLEY NELSON: There’s no one reason. I mean, one of the reasons was, is that I was a 15-year-old kid in New York City when the Panthers came into being in 1966, and so I was enamored of the Panthers. You know, I’m 16 in New York. All of a sudden here are these people with leather jackets and berets and sunglasses and looking so cool and talking about revolution. I’m like, "Yeah, that sounds good to me." So I’ve always been fascinated by the Panthers.

And then, you know, as a filmmaker, there’s always more than one reason why you want to make a film. And as a filmmaker, it’s just such a wonderful story. And the people who were part of the story, the majority of them are still alive. They were only 20 years old or so at the time. And the Panthers were this media sensation, so there’s an incredible amount of footage and still pictures, you know, to help construct this film. So, all of those things came together, and I became interested in the Panther story. But I think also I realized, you know, how the whole story reverberates with what’s going on in the country today.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, the issue of police brutality was seminal to the Black Panthers. Can you talk about that?

STANLEY NELSON: Yeah, the Black Panthers were started in Oakland, California, and it was five guys who started and said, you know, "We have to do something about police brutality," which was heightened in Oakland. The Oakland Police Department was notorious. And so, what they did, because there was a law in California that said you could carry a weapon, a loaded weapon, as long as it wasn’t concealed, so they would drive around and follow the police. And when the police jumped out to make a stop, they would jump out behind the police, and with their guns drawn, and stand a little ways back, and with their guns drawn, and make sure that no brutality or violence occurred on the part of the police. And that’s how the Panthers started. And from there, from these five or six guys, the movement just took off.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain who they were, those five or six guys.

STANLEY NELSON: They were college students. You know, this was Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, couple of others. And they were college students, by and large, who just wanted to end the brutality that was in their lives with the police.

AMY GOODMAN: Kathleen Cleaver, how did you become a part of—a leader of the Black Panther Party?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: I met Eldridge Cleaver, who came to a conference that SNCC had organized. He spoke at the conference. And when he went back to California, we were in love, and he wanted me to come and visit him. And I came to visit him in California. I came back to Atlanta in August. And in October, Huey Newton was shot, and he was wounded, and he was facing the gas chamber if convicted of police murder. And Eldridge said, "You’ve got to come out here and help us." So I came back to California, I think it was in November, to work with the Panthers on that case. We got married in December.

AMY GOODMAN: You were born in Texas?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Yes, unfortunately.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you go from where you came from to be a member of the Black Panther Party?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Well, it’s not that complex. My parents were very well educated. They met at the University of Michigan. And my father had been an activist. He had been working on NAACP campaigns in Texas to win the right to vote. My mother had been protesting school segregation in Richmond, Virginia. So, my parents were part of civil rights activism. And the way I was brought up—and I lived in Alabama, where the movement started, and I wanted to be in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee when I was in high school. I wanted to do what those students were doing, protesting segregation in the South. I couldn’t get there. And finally, in New York in 1966, about two weeks after the call for black power, I was able to get into SNCC. And I was thrilled. It was the best thing that ever happened in my life. I could work in the black power movement. I could be in this revolution. That was it. And that was the beginning, and that’s how I ended up in the Panthers, and that’s how I continued.

AMY GOODMAN: And how did the Black Panthers compare to SNCC in terms of their goals, what they were responding to?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: SNCC was on the decline. SNCC was actually collapsing. When I got there, I didn’t know this. But SNCC was an organization that was dependent upon funding from outside. And once it turned into a black power organization, and there were some other issues that happened, the funding dried up. And people—when I came in, you had to basically support yourself. No money. And so, the organization was declining, it was getting smaller.

When I got involved with the Black Panthers, it was a brand new group. And, in fact, there were like five when I got there, because most of them were in Santa Rita prison after the visit to Sacramento. So, it was a new organization. It very, very exciting. And all their principles in the black—it was one of the first organizations based on the concept of black power that had been articulated in Mississippi and by SNCC. And so, I got involved with them. In December, Eldridge and I got married, and I stayed out there and continued to work with the Panthers.

AMY GOODMAN: How did King, Dr. Martin Luther King, fit into this picture?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: In what way? My picture or the country?

AMY GOODMAN: In your picture, and did he inspire you? How did the Black Panthers relate to him?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Oh, everyone was inspired on some level by Martin Luther King. He was a tremendously decent and caring person. He was extremely intelligent, and he inspired a lot of Christians. Now, Eldridge made a comment in one of his speeches in Nashville. He said, "How about integrating some of this bloodshed?" That was one of the issues we had, that it was too much the black people should absorb all the punishment, and we should be forgiving, and we should want to be peaceful in the face of murderous brutality in the middle of the Vietnam War. Well, that wasn’t really a message that a lot of young people cared for. And so, when the Black Panthers came out and started talking about self-defense, droves and droves of young people wanted to do that.

And I thought that was the best—that’s the best—we followed Robert Williams. And he said, if you are confronted by a racist who believes himself superior, then he has—and you’re armed—he has to consider, does he want to risk his superior life to take your inferior life? And if you have a gun, you can put him in that position. And nine times out of 10, he doesn’t, and that’s the end of the violence. So we believed self-defense was a way to put a reduction into violence, and I accept that.

AMY GOODMAN: Stanley Nelson, you’ve done a documentary on the Freedom Riders, on Freedom Summer. So, as you were doing those, the Black Panthers, you’re clearly looking at, people are responding to, as you go further on into the ’60s. How do they compare in their strategy?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Well, I think it’s a different strategy. But I think it was—you know, it was a natural offshoot of some of those movements. So, Freedom Riders leads into Freedom Summer. You know, what happens at the end of Freedom Summer is, at the Democratic National Convention, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party is defeated, you know, in kind of an underhanded way by Lyndon Johnson and his forces. And so many of the people in SNCC at that time felt betrayed. They felt, "We’ve done everything we can do. We’ve done it the right way. We’ve done everything. You’ve said you’re on our side. And then when we get to the moment when we have to share power, you back out." So, the—

AMY GOODMAN: And this was to replace the all-white Mississippi party with the integrated party.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Right, right. And Johnson—you know, it’s too long a story to tell right here, but Lyndon Johnson engineers a kind of underhanded way to defeat them. And at that point, a lot of people left SNCC, and some left the movement altogether. But one of the things that happens at the end of Freedom Summer is there’s a shot of Stokely Carmichael—goes down to Alabama and gets on top of that truck or bus or whatever it is, and starts yelling, "Black power! Black power! Black power!" And that’s one of the first scenes in The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, is Stokely Carmichael up on that vehicle yelling, "Black power! Black power! Black power!" So, the things—one thing really led to the other.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Stanley Nelson, the award-winning director of the new film, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, and Kathleen Cleaver, who served as communications secretary of the Black Panther Party. We’ll continue our conversation in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: "(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People" by the Chi-Lites, a song featured in the documentary we’re looking at today. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we continue to look at a new film that’s premiering here at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, our last day broadcasting here. The film is called The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. I sat down with one of its subjects, Kathleen Cleaver, and former Black Panther communications secretary, now a law professor at Emory University, and the film’s award-winning director, Stanley Nelson. I asked Nelson to describe one of the party’s early landmark events, when co-founder Huey Newton led a march of armed Black Panthers to the California State Capitol in Sacramento to protest the passage of an anti-gun law. The year, 1967.

STANLEY NELSON: So, the Panthers are patrolling the police. They’re following the police around with guns. And a congressman in—I forget exactly his position.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: State legislator.

STANLEY NELSON: State legislator in Oakland says, "OK, we can’t have that." So he introduces a law to ban carrying weapons in the open. So, but the law is still in existence, so the Panthers go to Sacramento, the California State Capitol, and walk into the Legislature with guns drawn. Now, it just so happens that Ronald Reagan, who was the governor then of California, is giving a speech right outside the Legislature. So all the cameras are on Ronald Reagan, when all of a sudden—

AMY GOODMAN: And a group of school kids.

STANLEY NELSON: And a group of school kids. So all these cameras are on Ronald Reagan, when all of a sudden they see all these black men with guns. So they turn from Ronald Reagan and start following these black men with guns into the Legislature. And they actually get on the floor of the Legislature with guns. And that starts the whole scene. Now, this becomes a huge news event, where this little group that was in Oakland, in California, now is on the national news. So, as we document in the film, African Americans all over the country are like, "Whoa! What is that?" As one guy says, "I wanted to be a part of that, whatever that was." So, the Panthers catch on and become this kind of national movement very, very quickly.

MICHAEL McCARTY: When I heard about Sacramento, I was like, "Damn, these brothers are bad! They’re here up in Sacramento in the Capitol? Packing?"

[B]MOHAMMED MUBARAK: The boldness, the courageousness about it, the arrogance of it, that put a whole new face on things. I said, "Man, I want to be a part of this, whatever that is."

TARIKA LEWIS: Yeah, I walked into the office and told them I wanted to join the Black Panther Party. And they kind of laughed. I didn’t know that there were any other women in the party at that time. But then I asked them, "Could I have a gun?"

ERICKA HUGGINS: I was a student at Lincoln University outside Philly when I first heard about the Black Panther Party. I found my friend John Huggins, and I said, "We need to leave this stupid campus. We have work to do." We got in John Huggins’ little hooptie car, we drove across the country from New York, and when we got to the West Coast, we joined the Black Panther Party.

BLACK PANTHER PARTY 10-POINT PROGRAM: What we want, what we believe. Point number one, we want freedom. We want decent housing. We want an education for our people. We want an immediate end to police brutality.

LANDON WILLIAMS: People joined for all kinds of reasons, but the Panthers have a 10-point platform and program that really was sort of like the fundamental sort of organizing tool and orientation tool.

JAMAL JOSEPH: The civil rights movement was basically a Southern movement. So, when you had an organization like the Panthers, who were taking on things like housing and welfare and health, that was stuff that people in the North could relate to and rally behind.

PHYLLIS JACKSON: Our attack was not only against white supremacy, but it was also about capitalism. We actually thought that the way in which capitalism created a working class that was kept absolutely destitute, that was wrong.

ELAINE BROWN: So we took the position that in order for us to be free, that system had to be dismantled. We cannot be free in a system that had oppressed us in the first place. So you have to get rid of that system.

AMY GOODMAN: A clip from The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. And where were you then, Kathleen Cleaver?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: I was in Atlanta, Georgia, and I heard about it. And because I was working directly with Stokely Carmichael, and he had spent a lot of time working in California raising money, I was there. And we were very excited about the Black Panthers and this new energy and new organization. In fact, Stokely said, "This is the first group that’s implemented black power." So it’s one of the earliest black power organizations, is the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the Black Panthers in the film, Jamal Joseph, said the civil rights movement was a Southern movement. The Black Panthers was urban. It was about health. It was about police brutality. It was about housing.

STANLEY NELSON: That’s what the Panthers were. I mean, again, that was one of the reasons why they were so fascinating to me, you know, back in 1966, ’67, ’68, because they were talking about issues that concerned me, you know, in New York.

AMY GOODMAN: You worked on, Kathleen Cleaver, the Huey Newton campaign, right, Free Huey?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: I came in when Huey was sitting in prison, in the Alameda County Jail, facing the gas chamber. And the Panthers, there was five us in a room saying, "We have to do something about Huey."

AMY GOODMAN: So explain what happened. How did he end up in jail?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: There was an incident in October of 1967 when he was confronted by a policeman, an Oakland policeman. I think he said, "Oh, so we got the great Huey Newton." So there was a confrontation of two adolescent types—26-year-old policeman, 26-year-old Black Panther. Huey wasn’t armed, but he ended up taking a policeman’s gun and ended up in a shootout, shooting episode. One policeman was wounded, one was killed. Huey was wounded. He ends up in the hospital, and then he’s arrested and charged with murdering a policeman and facing the gas chamber. So all that happened before I got there. I got there sometime in late November.

And we were talking about how can we free Huey, what do we have to do. It’s five of us, because all the other Panthers have been arrested for going to Sacramento. Eldridge Cleaver was the only person over 17, I think, in the room. Maybe Emory was with us, I’m not sure. I was 22. He was 31. So he was the spokesman, he became the spokesman. And we said—I said, "Well, if you want to do something, why don’t you go and have a demonstration at the courthouse to attract attention to his case, to get people to know about it?" "I don’t want to march, but I’ll march for Huey." And so we got young men and their girlfriends and students to come and have a demonstration when he first went to court. And I said, "We have to notify the press," and I created a press release. And I had to identify who sent it, and I said, "Kathleen Cleaver, communications secretary."

And so, from then on, we continued demonstrating, protesting. That movement, that Free Huey movement, radicalized the community, and all these people wanted to join and be Black Panthers. And that’s when the name "Self-Defense" was dropped. It became the Black Panther Party. And it grew phenomenally all over the country, along with something called the Free Huey movement.

AMY GOODMAN: And ultimately, how did he get out?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: By law. A court of appeals—I think it was Fay Stender, was the attorney who worked on that particular appeal. The case was overturned. The conviction was overturned because there was some dispute about what had been said by one of the witnesses, whether the bus driver who testified had or had not seen his face. It was unclear, and that was a mistake, and therefore he was granted a new trial. But he got out on bail.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about informants, about the FBI. Stanley Nelson, talk about what happened to the Black Panther Party and what J. Edgar Hoover did, in particular.

STANLEY NELSON: Well, the Black Panther Party, as it rises and becomes, you know, much more public, there’s much more public attention on it, J. Edgar Hoover now takes notice of the Panthers. J. Edgar Hoover had always had a problem with African Americans and any kind of quest for equality. We did a film almost 15 years ago called Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind. And in 1923, the FBI agent who hounds Marcus Garvey out of the country is J. Edgar Hoover, in 1923. So now we’re, you know, in like 1967, J. Edgar Hoover is still around, and he’s heading the FBI. He pretty much has immunity; he can do whatever he wants. The FBI—I mean, the Panthers come to his attention, and he just goes nuts. And he issues these memos that say, you know, "Do anything you want to destroy the party." And the great thing about it is now those memos are all available, and so we use those memos in the film. It’s not just conjecture. It’s not these rumors about J. Edgar Hoover. It’s his actual words, where he says, "Do whatever you can. Just destroy the party." And that was the directive of the FBI.

You know, COINTELPRO has 290 actions against black nationalist groups, what they call black nationalist groups; 245 of those 290 are against the Black Panthers. So the Black Panthers are riddled with informers, because they have no—they have no security. You know, all you had to do was go down to the office and say, "I want to join the Black Panthers," and it was like, "OK, fine. You can join." So they sent agents. Every single office all across the country is riddled with informers. And the informers are doing things to set the Panthers up. So, you know, we have an FBI agent in the film, a former FBI agent, who talks about the fact that what—

AMY GOODMAN: Wesley Swearingen.

STANLEY NELSON: Yes, Wesley Swearingen, who talks about, what the FBI would do was get one of their informants who was in the Panthers to arrange for the Panthers to get guns. Then they would go to the local police department and say, "Oh, those Panthers have guns. You know, you better raid the office." And so, also the Panthers, one of their directives for Panther members was: Don’t let the police just come and break down your door. They have no right to just come and break down your door and start shooting. And you’re in danger if they do come and break down your door. So, the police would raid the Panthers based on the evidence of the FBI, you know, the evidence that they had guns, that the FBI had bought for them, and then the Panthers would shoot back, and it would become a shootout.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the SWAT team in Los Angeles. Wasn’t this the first SWAT raid?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: This was the creation, in Los Angeles, was the first Special Weapons and Tactics squad ever, was created in the Los Angeles Police Department. And its first action was to take out the Black Panther office.

AMY GOODMAN: When was this?



KATHLEEN CLEAVER: In December. It was—the confrontation was four days after the murder in Chicago of Fred Hampton.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s talk about that first, the murder of Fred Hampton, which you document so well in The Black Panthers, this new documentary. I want to go to a clip, but maybe you can set it up for us, of Fred Hampton, who’s actually espousing racial unity.

STANLEY NELSON: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I mean, one of the most amazing things about Fred Hampton, besides the fact that he was 21 years old when he’s making these speeches and he’s head of the Chicago branch of the Panthers, is one thing that he always talked about was racial unity. And one of the things that scared J. Edgar Hoover about Fred Hampton was he had the real ability to unite people, besides being an incredible speaker, incredibly bright. He had been the leader of the NAACP youth branch in Chicago. So he had those connections. He had connections in church. He had connections all over Chicago. And one of the things that he always said was, you know, "We have to unite, all unite," that there’s these problems that we have in common, and we need to unite on these. So, you know, he was building this coalition in Chicago that really scared J. Edgar Hoover.

AMY GOODMAN: This is a clip from The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. We’re starting with Michael Klonsky. Explain who he was.

STANLEY NELSON: Michael Klonsky was head of Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, which at that point was the largest student organization in the country. I think there were over 100,000 members of SDS on campuses all over the country.

AMY GOODMAN: And it goes from Klonsky to Fred Hampton.

MICHAEL KLONSKY: We used to called the Panther Party the vanguard of the movement, because they were out in the forefront, they were kind of setting the pathway. The things that we would face some repression for, they would face it 10 times as great. They were sacrificing their—oftentimes their lives in the struggle.

FRED HAMPTON: And these people in this class have divided themselves and say, "I’m black, and I hate white people," "I’m white, and I hate black people," "I’m Latin American, and I hate hillbillies," "I’m hillbilly, and I hate Indians." So we’re fighting amongst each other.

MICHAEL KLONSKY: Fred Hampton, here in Chicago, was the main voice for racial unity.

FRED HAMPTON: The Black Panther Party stood up and said that we don’t care what anybody says. We don’t think fighting fire with fire is best; we think you fight fire with water best. We’re going to fight racism not with racism, but we’re going to fight it with solidarity.

MICHAEL McCARTY: We worked with organizations such as the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican street gang that had become political, and the Young Patriots, hillbillies, Appalachian white boys.

UNIDENTIFIED: I want to introduce a man who’s come over tonight from another part of town. He’s fighting for some of the same causes we’re fighting for.

MICHAEL McCARTY: Bob Lee, who was our deputy field marshal, had a meeting with them, and he was explaining why we should work together.

BOB LEE: There’s police brutality up here. There’s rats and roaches. There’s poverty up here, that’s the first thing that we can unite on. That the common thing we have, man.

UNIDENTIFIED: And I want you people to stick together. And I’ll stick with the Black Panthers if they’ll stick with me. And I know they will.

LANDON WILLIAMS: The coalition that Fred was building in Chicago represented the Latinos, the poor whites and poor blacks. But also, because he had been in the NAACP, he had linkages with folks who were in the congregations, or church folks, and with working-class folks. So Fred was building a broad-based coalition in Chicago, and that was the threat.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s a clip from The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. Talk about what happened in December of 1969, Kathleen Cleaver.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Well, Fred Hampton had been spied upon. The floor plan of his apartment had been given to the FBI. And the FBI created a death squad. They had certain individual policemen that they hand-picked to take an action that was to murder Fred Hampton. I mean, they went into his house shooting. They didn’t have—they didn’t knock. They came in at like 3:00 in the morning. Everybody was asleep or half-asleep. They came in shooting.

STANLEY NELSON: Yeah, one of the most amazing things about this shooting—I can’t even say shootout, because the Panthers didn’t fire a shot—is—

AMY GOODMAN: Which, of course, was not what the police said at the time.

STANLEY NELSON: Right, no, the police had their own version. But was that, you know, this is an apartment with plasterboard walls, so the bullets are going through, all the way through the walls, you know, through one room to the other to the other to the other. You know, and there’s a scene in there afterwards where they put sticks in the holes. And there’s hundreds of sticks in the holes. The police just went in there shooting, you know, kicked the door. They actually—another Panther was killed. A kid named Mark Clark was killed. And he’s shot through the door as he goes to answer the door. They kill him by shooting him through the door.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: It’s important to recognize the informant who’s in there—

AMY GOODMAN: William O’Neal.


KATHLEEN CLEAVER: —had drugged Fred Hampton’s orange juice. He didn’t drink alcohol, so he put some drugs in his juice. He drank the juice, and he was drugged. He was falling asleep when they came. In fact, he was groggy. He could not wake up, because he was—

AMY GOODMAN: And he was laying next to his pregnant girlfriend.




STANLEY NELSON: Who actually—she couldn’t wake him up, and she actually lays on top of him, on Fred Hampton, to protect him. You know, he’s—Fred Hampton is shot. She’s wounded. Fred Hampton is wounded. They drag her out of the room, and then they shoot Fred Hampton in the head to kill him.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: I heard a story that Fred Hampton was told, shortly after Martin Luther King’s death, by a policeman: "You’re next." Because by the COINTELPRO standards, they were making certain that no black leader could rise to be a messiah to unify the black masses. So King was their number one target. Well, Martin Luther King was dead by 1968. December 1969, Fred Hampton is assassinated.

STANLEY NELSON: Right. I mean, there actually—we have a couple of black policemen in the film who talk about it. But, actually, they give statements from back then about how horrible this was. I mean, they’re still alive, and they give statements in the film. And one of them told us that he had told Fred Hampton a couple of weeks before that, you know, "You should watch it, because, you know, you’re under fire." And they actually had plans to try to fly Fred Hampton to Canada. They had a plan to do that. But Fred had, you know, like one more thing to do, one more thing to do, one more thing to do—and, of course, never made it out.

AMY GOODMAN: William O’Neal was his bodyguard, the agent, the informant for the FBI.

STANLEY NELSON: Right, he was Fred Hampton’s bodyguard.

AMY GOODMAN: And he never had any suspicion?

STANLEY NELSON: No. People thought that William O Neal was weird, you know, that he was weird. He would come up with these plans to do crazy things. You know, "Let’s get some hand grenades and do this." And they’d be like, "What are you talking about?" And, you know, these crazy things, and they thought he was strange. But nobody thought that he was an FBI informant. I mean, the thing that we have to understand is that at that point the COINTELPRO program was completely secret. Nobody understood that the FBI was doing this crazy stuff. I mean—

AMY GOODMAN: Which stands, of course, for Counterintelligence Program.

STANLEY NELSON: Right. Now, we’re kind of, "OK, we know." But back then, I mean, these are kids. They don’t—nobody’s thinking—I mean, The F.B.I. was a TV show on ABC, you know, with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. That was the FBI. Nobody even suspected that the FBI was doing this kind of crazy thing, much less murder.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Stanley Nelson, director of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, and Kathleen Cleaver, former communications secretary for the Black Panther Party. The film is premiering here at Sundance. We’ll continue with them in a minute.

AMY GOODMAN: "Free Bobby Now" by The Lumpen, a song about jailed Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale. He would go on to run for mayor of Oakland. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We’re broadcasting from Park City, Utah, from the Sundance Film Festival, as we continue to look at the brand new film premiering here called The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, as we continue my conversation with the film’s award-winning director, Stanley Nelson, and Kathleen Cleaver, former Black Panther communications secretary, now a law professor at Emory University.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Kathleen Cleaver, what did you understand at the time? You certainly experienced the power, the surveillance of the FBI, and your husband, Eldridge Cleaver—

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Well, we thought they wanted to kill us, to eliminate us. That was the way that evidence was going, that they would spy on us, that they would follow us, and that they wanted to eliminate our organization. What we didn’t understand was this very insidious type of internal disputes they wanted to provoke, the conflict that they established between Huey Newton, who was in the United States in prison, and Eldridge Cleaver, who was in Algeria in exile, and all kinds of ways to turn people against each other. The assassination of Fred Hampton was a police operation, but the FBI funded it, and the FBI took credit for it. And so, the manner in which the organization was being dismantled was very vicious and very violent, but we were determined to defend ourselves and not to let that happen.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, explain then what happens a few days later in Los Angeles.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Well, in Los Angeles, the Panthers knew that the LAPD was planning to attack their office. They knew this because they had come by a few days before this, and Geronimo Pratt, who was the defense minister, said, "Look, that was a reconnaissance. They’re going to come back." And so they were planning. They had sandbagged the office. They were planning for an assault on the office. They just didn’t know when it would be.

And, in fact, the man who was on guard on top of the roof, named Cotton, Melvin Cotton Smith, was actually a police informant. And the police had told him that we’re going to attack at a certain time. But guess what? They came a few hours early. And so that informant had to shoot at them. And there was several hours of shooting back and forth, back and forth.

What was amazing—and it was considered a victory in the Black Panther Party—no one was killed. And the Panthers themselves said, "We cannot let this go down, after what they did to Fred Hampton." So the spirit of Fred Hampton and the hostility to what had happened, the anger, the fury at what they had done to Fred Hampton, fueled their determination not to let anything happen like that in L.A. And it didn’t.

STANLEY NELSON: I should say, too, that, you know, by this time, a bunch of the Panthers were Vietnam vets, and they had combat experience. So what they did was they put sand in between the walls. So they poured sand in between the walls. They had shooting ports. They had sandbagged up the wall, so there were sandbags there. So when the police attacked, the bullets were not getting through; by and large, they were not getting through. And so it became this five-hour gun battle. And because the battle lasted five hours, the local news could get there. So the local news gets there. We’re talking about 50 years ago. They get close enough to film a lot of it. So this gun battle, as it’s ongoing, is being filmed.

REPORTER: All right, running down the street now, toward the building, to see what’s going on. There are police officers—look like Vietnam combat uniforms, with automatic weapons—holding us back. Shotguns everywhere you can look.

[B]MOHAMMED MUBARAK: I looked at the TV. Channel 5 had it on live. So I’m feeling like I can sneak in the back and join them, some kind of way, as crazy as I’m thinking.

REPORTER: There’s a large group of people right now. They’re putting the pressure on police to allow us to stay, so we can witness this.

ROLAND FREEMAN: When the police was trying to creep up on the side, you could see them, their reflection, through the windows across the street. When they got close enough, they would tell me, "OK, throw it now! Throw it now!" Then they’d throw the damn bomb out the window at the police. We’d blow up, and they run back. We see this little cloud of smoke come, and it just—and that’s the tear gas.

WAYNE PHARR: Back in those days, everybody smoked all the time. So what we did was we put the cigarette butts in our nose to filter out the fume.

REPORTER: We’re looking right at the Panther headquarters. The devastation is astounding. The whole front of the building’s been shot up, bullet holes all over the place, front doors smashed down, screens ripped out.

ROLAND FREEMAN: A guy got shot here, got shot in the arm. They missed my head here. I got buckshot all in me. They shot that room up. You know, so this arm was dead. So now I’m up there with just one arm, bleeding all down the face and stuff. But I’m alive.

WAYNE PHARR: I felt free. I felt absolutely free. I was a free Negro. You know, I was making my own rules. You couldn’t get in, I couldn’t get out. But in my space, I was the king. In that little space I had, I was the king. And that’s what I felt. You understand? That’s what I felt.

AMY GOODMAN: Kathleen Cleaver, so you mentioned that your husband, Eldridge Cleaver, was in Algeria. Take us back to why he left this country.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. On April 6, 1968, in Oakland, Eldridge Cleaver was leading a group of Black Panthers who wanted to retaliate against this killing of King. And their idea of retaliating was to go and find police and shoot at the police, kill some police, because they had killed King. And there was a crew of maybe seven or eight Panthers. And when they came across the police, when they confronted the car, they all scattered and went in different places.

And Eldridge and Bobby Hutton ended up in a basement of a house. David Hilliard was under a bed. Some other people were in the bushes. And so, the actual long-term shooting back and forth was between two Panthers, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Hutton. And then they—after tear gas canisters are set to—started to burn in the basement, they decided to surrender. And Eldridge told Bobby Hutton, "Take off all your clothes, and then they can’t accuse you of having a weapon." And he only took off his shirt. He walked out with his hands up, and he was shot immediately. He was murdered.

AMY GOODMAN: How old was Bobby Hutton?


STANLEY NELSON: He was the first member to join that group of four or five who formed the party. He was the first member of the party.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: And there was no question he was murdered. There was a policeman who was willing to testify that he was murdered. I have his statement. Nothing was ever done. Eldridge was taken back to San Quentin, and he was a parolee, and so his parole was violated, so it looked like he had four more years independently of his charge. His lawyer, our lawyer, Charles Gerry, represented him in a hearing in Solano County, I believe—I’m not sure where’s Vacaville, Northern California. Anyway, the judge, to everyone’s surprise, because the attorney—the adult authority that was in charge of parole did not present any evidence. All the evidence came from Eldridge and his attorney. And he said, well, from what he’s heard, he should be released, that he was in prison because of his eloquence.

AMY GOODMAN: Because of?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Because of his eloquence in representing the ideals of his organization. He was out on his bail, $50,000 bail, in June of 1968, about two weeks before the murder of—

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Kennedy.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: —Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles. It’s a very intense time. And so, Eldridge was very public about not going back to prison. He said it publicly. He said it in speeches. He says, "I’m not going back." And he was supposed to turn himself in, in November of '68, in a certain date, and he wasn't there. He didn’t turn himself in.

What he actually did, I found out many years later, was he went to Montreal. In Montreal, he got on a boat and went to Havana, disguised as a Cuban soldier. And while he was in Havana, a group of other hijackers and different people there created a little cluster of Black Panthers. That did not exactly sit well with the Cuban authorities. And so, at one point, Eldridge was required to be there—no publicity whatsoever. A news story comes out. I was actually on my way to Algeria to get a plane to go to Cuba to join him. And I’m in France, and the news story says, "Eldridge Cleaver is hiding in Cuba." I said, "OK, front-page story, this is a problem." So, because of the revelation that he was there, and he was only allowed to be there in secret, they said, "OK, we’re going to send you to Algeria to take the heat off of us, and then you can come back with your wife." So he went to Algeria because his hiding was exposed.

AMY GOODMAN: So you did join him in Algeria.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Ultimately, I got a message. I was on my way. Algeria is a stop for the Aeroflot, and that was how you could get to Havana by air. If you were in the United States, you had to go find another flight. And 45 minutes before I got on the plane to go to Algiers to get the Aeroflot, I got a message from a journalist, Lee Lockwood, who had said, "I have a message from your husband. When you get to Algiers, do not try to come to Cuba. Stay in Algeria," that he’s coming there. So I knew this very abruptly.

AMY GOODMAN: So how long did you live there with him?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Four years. We had two children while we were in Algiers. I was pregnant when I got there. So my son was born in July, about five weeks after I got there. And then my daughter was born in Pyongyang the follow year.

AMY GOODMAN: Why Pyongyang?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Well, Eldridge had a—Eldridge and Bob Scheer had—Bob Scheer is an editor at Ramparts. They had created this U.S. People’s Anti-Imperialist—

AMY GOODMAN: He’s now a journalist with Truthdig.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: U.S. Peoples Anti-Imperialist Delegation to visit North Korea, Vietnam and China. And he was taking this delegation, and he told the Koreans, "I can’t leave my wife here all this time," until they said, "Oh, we will organize it." And they invited—the Korean Women’s Union invited me to come to North Korea.

AMY GOODMAN: So, in that period, when he’s in Algeria, the tension between him and Huey Newton, who’s been released, is growing intense.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Eldridge was thrilled with Huey’s release. He wanted him to come to Algeria, wanted him to see the international section of the Black Panther Party. He had a big portrait of Huey. He was just—and this would be the crowning achievement, that you can see our international section. On the other hand, in the United States, Huey was being fed all this information and misinformation about Eldridge, and made to think that Eldridge was trying to undermine him and all these crazy types of things. And so, Huey’s believing that Eldridge wants him to come to Algeria so he can kill him. He did believe this. And so, he doesn’t want to come.

And so, the proceedings of what’s going on in the party and people being—when Geronimo, who had led the amazing defense of the Panthers against the LAPD, Geronimo is expelled and accused of being all sorts of things, that was a huge blow in the party, and a lot of confusion. And then the New York 21, who questioned after they got out—some of them questioned what was being done with the money raised for their bail and legal fees, and questioned Huey Newton publicly in an underground paper statement, they got expelled.

So, to make a long story short, Eldridge and Huey went on a conversation on an AM show, and Eldridge condemned all these activities and said, "You should get rid of David Hilliard. He’s destroying the party." And then the show ended. After that, Huey Newton calls up and expels Eldridge from the party—Eldridge, me and Don Cox, anyone in Algeria. There were three central committee members in Algiers at the time. So he expelled us. And so, that was the very traumatic period for everyone in the party, not just us, but, you know, people who had supported this organization, who revered Geronimo. They didn’t understand. How can you be the ideal revolutionary one year and the next year be a CIA agent and a scumbag?

AMY GOODMAN: Geronimo ji-Jaga Pratt.


AMY GOODMAN: Explain who he was.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: Well, he was the defense minister, deputy defense minister, in Los Angeles. He was also the hero who had made it possible for the defense of the office. And the newspaper just glorified him. He was a great hero, he was this and that. So, a year later, he’s expelled. So you know there’s something wrong, but people didn’t know what. And so it affected the whole organization.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you have any idea about the FBI at the time?

KATHLEEN CLEAVER: We didn’t have the idea that they were constantly, every day, monitoring, pushing information. I’ve read their documents afterwards and saw how they were thrilled. They were so happy that the party was split. They figured they’d accomplished it, it was over, once they expelled Cleaver, because people went underground and then the Panthers began to fight each other. And there was retaliation and killings among Panthers in response to the situation that Huey had created with the expulsion. So, the FBI was very much involved.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much to both of you.


AMY GOODMAN: Kathleen Cleaver, Stanley Nelson. The new documentary that has premiered to great acclaim here is called The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

Magda Hassan
02-10-2015, 01:40 AM
Thanks for this Kara. I've been away and haven't had a chance to catch up with this unti now. Good work and very pleased to see Truthout publishing it. More people need to know about this.
Hi Magda and thanks for your help..

here is the link


You're very welcome Kara and so pleased to see this out there for all.

Great news. Congratulations. ::hooray:: Will read it right now.....

By the way, a very good new film called 'Vanguard of the Revolution' is about the Black Panthers and the CIA/FBI war against them.

"Vanguard of the Revolution": New Film Chronicles Rise of Black Panthers & FBI’s War Against Them


This looks really interesting Peter. Thanks for this link. Wonder when it will find its way here?

David Guyatt
02-10-2015, 09:10 AM
Way to go, Kara! Congrats...

Peter Lemkin
02-10-2015, 10:41 AM
Great news. Congratulations. ::hooray:: Will read it right now.....

By the way, a very good new film called 'Vanguard of the Revolution' is about the Black Panthers and the CIA/FBI war against them.

"Vanguard of the Revolution": New Film Chronicles Rise of Black Panthers & FBI’s War Against Them


This looks really interesting Peter. Thanks for this link. Wonder when it will find its way here?

It was just previewed at the Sundance Film Festival and will be in general and DVD release shortly.






Austin Kelley
02-10-2015, 02:03 PM
Truthout had me turn it into three separate essays. Today the first one is out... at least you can see the pictures if you follow the link.. thanks everyone on DPF..


I see a historical error in the text. The CIA-linked program for training Vietnamese police which was exposed by Ramparts was actually at Michigan State University, based in East Lansing.

Peter Lemkin
02-15-2015, 03:31 PM
Federal Bureau of Intimidation

by Howard Zinn

I thought it would be good to talk about the FBI because they talk about us. They don't like to be talked about. They don't even like the fact that you're listening to them being talked about. They are very sensitive people. If you look into the history of the FBI and Martin Luther King-which now has become notorious in that totally notorious history of the FBI- the FBI attempted to neutralize, perhaps kill him, perhaps get him to commit suicide, certainly to destroy him as a leader of black people in the United States. And if you follow the progression of that treatment of King, it starts, not even with the Montgomery Bus Boycott; it starts when King begins to criticize the FBI. You see, then suddenly Hoover's ears, all four of them, perk up. And he says, okay, we have to start working on King.
I was interested in this especially because I was reading the Church Committee report. In 1975, the Senate Select Committee investigated the CIA and the FBI and issued voluminous reports and pointed out at what point the FBI became interested in King. In 1961-62 after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, after the sit-ins, after the Freedom Rides of '61, there was an outbreak of mass demonstrations in a very little, very Southern, almost slave town of southern Georgia called Albany. There had been nothing like this in that town. A quiet, apparently passive town, everybody happy, of course. And then suddenly the black people rose up and a good part of the black population of Albany ended up in jail. There were not enough jails for all who demonstrated.
A report was made for the Southern Regional Council of Atlanta on the events in Albany. The report, which was very critical of the FBI, came out in the New York Times. And King was asked what he thought of the role of the FBI. He said he agreed with the report that the FBI was not doing its job, that the FBI was racist, etcetera, etcetera.
At that point, the FBI also inquired who the author of that report was, and asked that an investigation begin on the author. Since I had written it, I was interested in the FBI's interest in the author. In fact, I sent away for whatever information the FBI had on me, through the Freedom of Information Act. I became curious, I guess. I wanted to test myself because if I found that the FBI did not have any dossier on me, it would have been tremendously embarrassing and I wouldn't have been able to face my friends. But, fortunately, there were several hundred pages of absolutely inconsequential material. Very consequential for the FBI, I suppose, but inconsequential for any intelligent person.
I'm talking about the FBI and U.S. democracy because here we have this peculiar situation that we live in a democratic country-everybody knows that, everybody says it, it's repeated, it's dinned into our ears a thousand times, you grow up, you pledge allegiance, you salute the flag, you hail democracy, you look at the totalitarian states, you read the history of tyrannies, and here is the beacon light of democracy. And, of course, there's some truth to that. There are things you can do in the United States that you can't do many other places without being put in jail.
But the United States is a very complex system. It's very hard to describe because, yes, there are elements of democracy; there are things that you're grateful for, that you're not in front of the death squads in El Salvador. On the other hand, it's not quite a democracy. And one of the things that makes it not quite a democracy is the existence of outfits like the FBI and the CIA. Democracy is based on openness, and the existence of a secret policy, secret lists of dissident citizens, violates the spirit of democracy. There are a lot of other things that make the U.S. less than a democracy. For instance, what happens in police stations, and in the encounters between police and citizens on the street. Or what happens in the military, which is a kind of fascist enclave inside this democracy. Or what happens in courtrooms which are supposedly little repositories of democracy, yet the courtroom is presided over by an emperor who decides everything that happens in a courtroom -what evidence is given, what evidence is withheld, what instructions are given to the jury, what sentences are ultimately meted out to the guilty and so on.
So it's a peculiar kind of democracy. Yes, you vote. You have a choice. Clinton, Bush and Perot! It's fantastic. Time and Newsweek. CBS and NBC. It's called a pluralist society. But in so many of the little places of everyday life in which life is lived out, somehow democracy doesn't exist. And one of the creeping hands of totalitarianism running through the democracy is the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
I think it was seeing the film Mississippi Burning that led me to want to talk about the FBI. I had sort of reached a point where I said, "Who wants to hear anymore about the FBI?" But then I saw Mississippi Burning. It relates a very, very important incident in the history of the civil rights movement in the U.S. In the summer of 1964, these three young men in the movement, two white, one black, had traveled to investigate the burning of a church in a place called Philadelphia, Mississippi-city of brotherly love. They were arrested, held in jail, released in the night, followed by cars, stalked, taken off and beaten very, very badly with chains and clubs and shot to death- executed-June 21, 1964. The bodies were found in August. It's a great theme for an important film. Mississippi Burning, I suppose, does something useful in capturing the terror of Mississippi, the violence, the ugliness.
But after it does that, it does something which I think is very harmful: In the apprehension of the murderers, it portrays two FBI operatives and a whole flotilla-if FBI men float-of FBI people as the heroes of this episode. Anybody who knows anything about the history of the civil rights movement, or certainly people who were in the movement at that time in the South, would have to be horrified by that portrayal. I was just one of many people who was involved in the movement. I was teaching in Atlanta, Georgia, in a black college for about seven years from 1956 to 1963, and I became involved in the movement, in Albany, Georgia, and Selma, Alabama, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Greenwood and Greenville and Jackson, Mississippi in the summer of '64. I was involved with SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Anybody who was involved in the Southern movement at that time knew with absolute certainty: The FBI could not be counted on and it was not the friend of the civil rights movement. The FBI stood by with their suits and ties-I'm sorry I'm dressed this way today, but I was just trying to throw them off the track-and took notes while people were being beaten in front of them. This happened again, and again, and again. The Justice Department, to which the FBI is presumably accountable, was called again and again, in times of stress by people of the civil rights movement saying, hey, somebody's in danger here. Somebody's about to be beaten, somebody's about to be arrested, somebody's about to be killed. We need help from the federal government. We do have a Constitution, don't we? We do have rights. We do have the constitutional right to just live, or to walk, or to speak, or to pray, or to demonstrate. We have a Bill of Rights. It's America. It's a democracy. You're the Justice Department, your job is to enforce the Constitution of the United States. That's what you took an oath to do, so where are you? The Justice Department wasn't responding. They wouldn't return phone calls, they wouldn't show up, or when they did show up, they did nothing.
The civil rights movement was very, very clear about the role of the FBI. And it wasn't just the FBI; it goes back to the Justice Department; back to Washington; back to politics; back to Kennedy appointing racist judges in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia to do favors for his Southern Democratic political cronies, only becoming concerned about black people when things appeared on television that embarrassed the administration and the nation before the world.
Only then did things happen. Oh, we'll send troops to Little Rock, we'll send troops to Oxford, Mississippi, and so on. Do something big and dramatic and so on. But in all the days and all the hours in between, before and after, if there's no international attention, forget it. Leave these black folk at the mercy of the law enforcement officers down there. Just as after the Civil War, blacks were left at the mercy of Southern power and Southern plantation owners by Northern politicians who made their deal with the white South in 1877.
If you want to read the hour-by-hour description of this, you could read a wonderful book by Mary King, Freedom Song. She was a SNCC staffperson in the Atlanta office whose job was to get on the phone and call the newspapers, the government, the Justice Department and say: Hey, three young men have not come back from Philadelphia, Mississippi. She called and called and called and it took several days before she got a response. Deaf ears. They were dead. Probably none of those calls would have saved them.
It was too late, but there was something that could have saved them. And it's something I haven't seen reported in the press. If there had been federal agents accompanying the three on their trip, if there had been federal agents in the police station in Philadelphia, Mississippi, that might not have happened. If there had been somebody determined to enforce law, enforce constitutional rights, to protect the rights of people who were just going around, driving, talking, working, then those three murders might have been averted.
In fact, 12 days before the three disappeared, there was a gathering in Washington, D.C., on June 9, 1964. A busload of black Mississippians came all the way up-it was a long bus ride to Washington-to the National Theater.
There was a jury of fairly well known Americans- college presidents, writers, other people-assembled to hear the testimony. The black people's testimony before the press and an audience was recorded and transcribed. They testified that what was going to happen in Mississippi that summer with all these volunteers coming down was very, very dangerous. They testified about their experiences, about their history of being beaten, about the bodies of black people found floating in the rivers of Mississippi and they said, people are going to get killed; we need the protection of the federal government.
Also appearing at this hearing were specialists in constitutional law who made the proper legal points that the federal government had absolute power to protect people going down into Mississippi. Section 333, Title 10 of the U.S. Code (some numbers burn themselves into you because you have to use them again and again) gives the federal government the power to do anything to enforce constitutional rights when local authorities either refused or failed to protect those rights.
So they take all this testimony at the National Theater and put it into a transcript and deliver it to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, hand deliver it to the White House, and ask the federal government to send marshals down to Mississippi. Not an army, a few hundred marshals, that's all. Plainclothes people for protection. This is 1964; by now you've sent 40,000 soldiers to Vietnam, so you can send 200 plainclothes people to Mississippi. No response from the Attorney General, none from the President. Twelve days later those three men disappear.
Well, why didn't they put that in the film? Why didn't anybody say anything about that? So the FBI are the heroes of this film.
Well, that's only part, as you know, of the history of the FBI. Going back, the FBI was formed first as the Bureau of Investigation under Theodore Roosevelt-don't worry, I'm not going to take you year by year through this history. It's a very depressing history.
But, it just interested me. In 1908, under Theodore Roosevelt, his Attorney General, a man named Bonaparte, a grand nephew of Napoleon-set up the Bureau of Investigation which later became the FBI. One of its first acts was to enforce a new federal law- the Mann Act. This law made it illegal to transport women across state lines for immoral purposes. Yes, one of their first acts was to prosecute the black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, because he was living with a white woman and they actually crossed a state line. One of the first heroic acts of the FBI. They go way back. Racism goes way back in the FBI and comes way forward, comes right up to now. By the way-in the film they show a black FBI man. But there was no black person in the FBI in 1964. A chauffeur, maybe. A maid, maybe. No black FBI agents in 1964. But there was this black FBI agent in the film.
Yes, the racism comes right up to yesterday when a black FBI man-in Detroit, I think-is harassed by his fellow white FBI agents who do all sorts of funny things to him to make life miserable for him. You think, where is the solidarity among FBI people? FBI people, black and white together, we shall overcome. Well, apparently the FBI doesn't believe in that.
There's too much to say about the FBI and racism. It's not just J. Edgar Hoover. Everybody says, oh, J. Edgar Hoover, he really hated black people. He hated the civil rights movement, but it's not just him, of course. It's too easy to pin all this on J. Edgar Hoover, to pin it just on the FBI as if they're wildcards. The president says, oh sorry, we didn't know what they were doing. Well, it's just like Oliver North. A wildcard North was doing these crazy things and his defense was absolutely right: I did it for them. He did. He did it for them and now they have turned on him. He doesn't have to worry, they'll take good care of him. They take care of their own.
When people in the CIA and FBI commit crimes, how do they get handled? They don't. They're forgotten about. Do you know how many crimes have been committed by the FBI and the CIA? How many black bag jobs? Breaking and entering? Try breaking and entering. Really. Try breaking and entering in the daytime, or nighttime, and see what happens to you. Different punishments depending on what hour of the day. The FBI broke and entered again and again and again and again, hundreds and hundreds of times.
There were hundreds of FBI men involved in these breaks. Two men were actually prosecuted. This happens every once in a while. When huge public attention finally gets focused, they pick out two from the pack and prosecute them and they find them guilty and they sentence them. To what? To nothing. Fine, $5,000 for one person. That's FBI petty cash. $3,500 for the other. And then they say that justice has been done and the system works.
Remember when Richard Helms of the CIA was found guilty of perjury in 1976? Hiss went to jail for four years for perjury, Helms didn't go to jail for two hours. And Helms's perjury, if you examine it, was far, far more serious than Alger Hiss's, if Hiss was indeed guilty. But if you're CIA, if you're FBI, you get off.
But North is right; he did it for them. He did what they expected him, wanted him, to do. They use this phrase, plausible denial, a very neat device. You have to be able to do things that the President wants you to do but that he can deny he wanted you to do, or deny he ordered you to do if push comes to shove.
It's not just the FBI. It's the government. It's part of the system, not just a few people here and there. The FBI has names of millions of people. The FBI has a security index of tens of thousands of people- they won't tell us the exact numbers. Security index. That's people who in the event of national emergency will be picked up without trial and held. Just like that. The FBI's been preparing for a long time, waiting for an emergency.You get horrified at South Africa, or Israel, or Haiti where they detain people without trial, just pick them up and hold them incommunicado. You never hear from them, don't know where they are. The FBI's been preparing to do this for a long time. Just waiting for an emergency. These are all countries in emergency; South Africa's in an emergency, Chile was in an emergency, all emergencies.
James Madison made the point way back. One of the founding fathers. They were not dumb. They may have been rich and white and reactionary and slave holders but they weren't dumb. Madison said the best way to infringe on liberty is to create an external menace.
What can a citizen do in a situation like this? Well, one thing is simply to expose the FBI. They hate to be exposed, they're a secret outfit. Everything they do is secret. Their threat rests on secrecy. Don't know where they are. Not everybody in a trench coat is an FBI agent. We don't know where they are, who they are, or what they're doing. Are they tapping? Right. And what are you going to do about it?
The one thing you shouldn't think will do anything is to pass a law against the FBI. There are always people who come up with that. That's the biggest laugh in the world. These are people who pay absolutely no attention to the law, again and again. They've violated the law thousands of times. Pass another law; that's funny.
No, the only thing you can do with the FBI is expose them to public understanding-education, ridicule. They deserve it. They have "garbologists" ransacking garbage pails. A lot of interesting stuff in garbage pails. They have to be exposed, brought down from that hallowed point where they once were. And, by the way, they have been brought down. That's one of the comforting things about what has happened in the United States in the last 30 years. The FBI at one point was absolutely untouchable. Everybody had great respect for the FBI. In 1965 when they took a poll of Americans; do you have a strong admiration for the FBI? Eight-five percent of people said, "Yes." When they asked again in '75, 35 percent said, "Yes." That's a big comedown. That's education -education by events, education by exposure. They know they've come down in the public mind and so now they're trying to look kinder and gentler. But they're not likely to merge with the American Civil Liberties Union. They're more likely, whatever their soothing words, to keep doing what they're in the habit of doing, assaulting the rights of citizens.
The most important thing you can do is simply to continue exposing them. Because why does the FBI do all this? To scare the hell out of people. Were they doing this because of a Soviet invasion threat or because they thought the Socialist Workers Party was about to take over the country? Are they going after whoever their current target is because the country is in imminent danger, internal or external? No. They are doing it because they don't like these organizations. They don't like the civil rights organizations, they don't like the women's organizations, they don't like the anti-war organizations, they don't like the Central American organizations. They don't like social movements. They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things. So the best defense against them and resistance against them is simply to keep on fighting back, to keep on exposing them. That's all I have to say.

Kara Dellacioppa
02-15-2015, 03:46 PM
Truthout had me turn it into three separate essays. Today the first one is out... at least you can see the pictures if you follow the link.. thanks everyone on DPF..


I see a historical error in the text. The CIA-linked program for training Vietnamese police which was exposed by Ramparts was actually at Michigan State University, based in East Lansing.

Thanks for the correction Austin!

Kara Dellacioppa
02-15-2015, 03:48 PM
Would love to get this documentary screened at our campus!

Great news. Congratulations. ::hooray:: Will read it right now.....

By the way, a very good new film called 'Vanguard of the Revolution' is about the Black Panthers and the CIA/FBI war against them.

"Vanguard of the Revolution": New Film Chronicles Rise of Black Panthers & FBI’s War Against Them


This looks really interesting Peter. Thanks for this link. Wonder when it will find its way here?

It was just previewed at the Sundance Film Festival and will be in general and DVD release shortly.






Peter Lemkin
02-15-2015, 07:41 PM
Yes, the film looks very good. I was a big supporter of the Black Panthers. JEH was not...nor was the CIA and other intel agencies, powers that be....they were scared ****less by them - citizens taking control and power over their own lives and standing up to the Police and authority...can't have that in a neo-Feudal society! ::knight::

Sadly, with [Reichstag Fire] 9-11, unPatriot Act, Militarization of the police, complete electronic spying on everyone, Heimat Security, purchase of the Judiciary, Legislative and and Executive branches (as well as the media) et al., any such movements now will be infinitely more difficult - just as they are infinitely more needed.

Few know of the lunch programs of the Panthers and other very positive and non-confrontational things they did. They were murdered, set one against the others by infiltrators, and targeted for destruction...as were so many other progressive groups. Now we are left with a neofascist police state hiding behind a fig leaf of former democratic rights and privileges (now all but gone)....with teeny tiny vestiges of freedoms, left due to inertia alone. ::face.palm::

Peter Lemkin
11-07-2016, 07:44 AM