Tonight on The Terrordome: COINTELPRO's War Against Afrikamerica

On March 4, 1968, the head of the US-based Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover, sent a communiqué to the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge at Albany. The communiqué was entitled “COUNTERINTELLIGENCE PROGRAM, BLACK NATIONALIST~HATE GROUPS.” It read in part:

“For maximum effectiveness of the Counterintelligence Program, and to prevent wasted effort, long-range goals are being set.

“1. Prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups. In unity there is strength; a truism that is no less valid for all its triteness. An effective coalition of black nationalist groups might be the first step toward a real ‘Mau Mau’ in America, the beginning of a true black revolution.

“2. Prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. DELETED NAME might have been such a ‘messiah;’ he is the martyr of the movement today. DELETED NAME, DELETED NAME, and DELETED NAME all aspired to this position. DELETED NAME is less of a threat because of his age. DELETED NAME could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed ‘obedience’ to ‘white, liberal doctrines’ (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. DELETED NAME has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.”

In the above passage, the original text is in the typewriter font COURIER. I’ll read the second part of the text again, but with names which precisely fit the deleted spaces.

“Prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a ‘messiah;’ he is the martyr of the movement today. Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammed all aspire to this position. Elijah Muhammed is less of a threat because of his age. King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed ‘obedience’ to ‘white, liberal doctrines’ (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. Carmichael has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.”

Within four months of this communiqué, the FBI dispatched a memorandum which called for Stokely Carmichael to be framed--or in Bureau parlance, “badjacketted,” as a CIA informant. Shortly after that, Carmichael, who had been named honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party, would be purged from the organisation. One month after the first communiqué was sent, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in circumstances bearing numerous hallmarks of a US intelligence operation.

COINTELPRO, the FBI’s so-called Counter Intelligence Programme, was actually a programme of disinformation, disruption, infiltration, intimidation, and occasionally outright murder, directed against radical and even moderate dissident groups of American citizens. Even the existence of the programme was secret, and would remain so until a break-in at an FBI office brought the name and illegal activities of the programme to light. While COINTELPRO was officially discontinued in the 1970s, its functions and means have passed into the hands of other US agencies, including now into those of the Department of Homeland Security.

Tonight on THE TERRORDOME, we’ll hear excerpts from a documentary by Dennis Mueller and Deb Ellis on the FBI COINTELPRO assault on civil rights, human rights, and human life. Along the way you’ll hear the voices of many key figures in the African-American liberation struggle of the 1960s and 70s, including Kwame Toure (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael), Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton (the chair of the BPP of Chicago), Eldridge Cleaver (the national Minister of Information of the BPP), his wife and high ranking party official Kathleen Cleaver, Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office (Chicago), and Congressman Reverend Adam Clayton Powell. The film is called Cointelpro - The FBI's War on Black America.

To purchase the film, click here.

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