Thursday, January 9, 2014

Long Before Manning And Snowden, COINTELPRO Burglars Now Coming Forward In Public

I never expected to live to see this, but statutes of limitations can be valuable things at times: the burglars who stole the COINTELPRO papers from the FBI in 1971... that's the year I graduated from college (and I'm now officially a senior citizen), the year of America's greatest domestic conflict over Vietnam, the year the NYT also published the Pentagon Papers acquired by Daniel Ellsberg... have come forward with a book about their story. Mark Mazzetti at NYT tells the outline of the story.

The story is accompanied by an NYT Retro Report summary video which is both fascinating and a good introduction if you know nothing about the burglary (and really, who among us knew any of the details). If you are unfamiliar with COINTELPRO, Wikipedia has a decent overview. And I presume if you want the whole story, there's the new book by former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger, who received the stolen documents and reported on them at the time: The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI. I am hoping the local library has a lot of copies.

I hardly need say that history repeats itself, and no, it isn't mumbling, in Snowden's revelation about NSA activities. I wish I understood the mentality, the paranoia, the utter indifference to privacy and fundamental civil liberties, that allows people like Hoover and Gen. Keith Alexander to do literally every damned thing in pursuit of every scrap of information about everyone they don't like, everyone whose politics they disagree with, hell, literally everyone. It never was national security that motivated Hoover, and it cannot possibly be national security motivating Alexander: they were and are nothing better than obsessive peeping Toms, scandals to the cause of freedom.

(H/T Jesselyn Radack at Kos.)

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