FBI COINTELPRO: The U.S. Government's War Against Dissent
COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was the official name of the programmatic project conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under state-sponsored terrorist J. Edgar Hoover. It's stated aim was the spying on, infiltrating, discrediting, disrupting and destruction of domestic organizations and individuals it considered "subversive". According to the FBI, "intensified attention under this program should be afforded to the activities of such groups as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Revolutionary Action Movement, the Deacons for Defense and Justice, Congress of Racial Equality, and the Nation of Islam."
On March 8, 1971, a group of anonymous activists broke into the small, two-man office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Media, Pa., and stole more than 1,000 FBI documents that revealed years of systematic wiretapping, infiltration and media manipulation designed to suppress dissent. The Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, as the group called itself, forced its way in at night with a crowbar while much of the country was watching the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight. When agents arrived for work the next morning, they found the file cabinets virtually emptied.
Within a few weeks, the documents began to show up -- mailed anonymously in manila envelopes with no return address -- in the newsrooms of major American newspapers.
COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological warfare, planting false reports in the media, smearing through forged letters, harassment, wrongful imprisonment, extralegal violence and assassination. Covert operations under COINTELPRO took place between 1956 and 1971, however the U.S. Government has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception and continues to this day.