Chapter

Introduction

David Cunningham

in There's Something Happening Here

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780520239975
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939240 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520239975.003.0001
Introduction

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This introductory chapter describes the activities conducted by the FBI between 1956 and 1971, under its formally established counterintelligence program—officially termed COINTELPRO—designed solely to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of its targets. In COINTELPRO's first incarnation beginning in 1956, the FBI carried out thousands of actions against hundreds of suspected members of the Communist Party–USA. Over the next fifteen years, the counterintelligence effort expanded to include the Socialist Worker's Party, Puerto Rican nationalists, the Ku Klux Klan, various civil rights and black power organizations, and the New Left. The book aims to trace how the Bureau came to regard these games as essential in spite of its stated mission to “uphold the law through the investigation of violations of federal criminal law; to protect the United States from foreign intelligence and terrorist activities; to provide leadership and law enforcement assistance to federal, state, local, and international agencies; and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Constitution of the United States.” The chapters that follow examine how the FBI handled the hundreds of individuals and groups which it labeled as subversive threats, how its inner workings repressed these targets in a manner that—at first glance—seems to lack any overriding sense of logic, and what effect the Bureau's massive campaign of repression had on its victims.

Keywords: FBI; counterintelligence; COINTELPRO

Chapter.  5453 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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