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FBI letter that suggested 'neutralizing' actor Jean Seberg for her financial support of the Black Panther Party
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The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder.
J. Edgar Hoover[1]

COINTELPRO (an acronym of COunter INTELligence PROgram) were a series of covert and often times illegal activities conducted by the FBI with the intention of surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting New Left political organizations and their leaders protecting America and its people from evil commies and Negroes. Although pretty much every major group with leftist un-American notions had a file, they had a raging hard-on for hindering communist groups as well as black civil rights (e.g. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Black Panther Party, Malcolm X, and The Nation of Islam). It was the closest that the U.S. ever came to having an actual secret police force, and it was fueled by a bunch of old racist, fear-mongering white guys suffering from serious paranoia.[citation NOT needed]


It was originally started on the heels of McCarthyism to infiltrate and create a schism in the Communist Party of the United States of America. But as the liberal ideology became more and more popular with the youth throughout the sixties, COINTELPRO shifted it's targets to anti-war doves, feminists, and Puerto Rican nationalist groups. They also infiltrated far-right white nationalist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Exposing COINTELPRO[edit]

On March 8, 1971, The Citizens' Committee to Investigate the FBI (in a black bag operation) broke into a small FBI office building in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere, stole a whole bunch of dossiers revealing COINTELPRO's dirty deeds, and then gave them to some journalists at The Washington Post who published them.[2] Unfortunately, like most government documents, the dossiers and other information relating to them have been either partially or entirely generously highlighted with a black marker.

Church Committee[edit]

As with any legally questionable activities committed by federal organizations, there was a hearing by a U.S. Senate Committee before being completely ignored. In 1975, partially in response to Watergate, The United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, or The Church Committee for the sake of brevity, was responsible for looking into the FBI, CIA, and NSA's use of illegal surveillance in their operations. Their final report criticized the programs and led to the formation of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[3]

Thank god for the Church Committee's investigation! I don't know what kind of crazy 1984-esque policies would be in place now if it weren't for them!

Notable sketchiness[edit]

Propaganda posters[edit]

The COINTELPRO program created propaganda posters during the 1960s-1970s designed to smear the Black Panther Party, claiming that they were police informants, they were not who they claimed to be, or stereotyping them as lusting for white women.

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]


  1. page 3
  2. Betty Medsger, Remembering an earlier time when a theft unmasked government surveillance. The Washington Post, 10 January 2014.
  3. Barak, G. (Ed.). (2015). The Routledge international handbook of the crimes of the powerful. Routledge. p.520.