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US Government - COINTELPRO

Author: Edward L Winston
Added: September 17th, 2009

COINTELPRO, short for Counter Intelligence Program, was a series of secret FBI operations between 1956 and 1971[1]. For the most part the program centralized on disrupting movements related to black liberation and black nationalism, as well as communist and socialist organizations, and to a lesser extent white supremacist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan[2].

What I've found most interesting about the counter intelligence program is the fact that it's an actual conspiracy to commit illegal acts by a government agency, yet most conspiracy theorists never talk about it. Instead, they prefer to talk about non-existent programs or change around their actual purpose to be something sinister.

Once while speaking to a conspiracy theorist, I brought up COINTELPRO and he didn't believe me that it was an actual government program, even though you can note its existence on

Actions Committed

COINTELPRO used several methods of action against opposition, I use the Black Panther Party as an example of what happened in many movements, they are as follows:

This goes beyond simply getting involved with organizations and actually disrupting them in order to retard and discredit. One example being that they sent letters and masked their origin, claiming a different source. For example sending a letter, or making a phone call, supposedly from west coast Black Panther Party leadership to east cost leadership making threats, spreading rumors, and so on, and this eventually split up the Black Panther Party[2].
Psychological Warfare
This includes internal and external - internal explained above - methods to further disrupt movements. Examples include creating false media stories, publishing fake pamphlets and leaflets in the name of the group in question - for example the so-called "Black Panther Coloring Book", which talked about killing white people and shooting cops. Created buzz about non-existent meetings, created fake sub-organizations ran by agents in order to disrupt the broader movement further, and harassed parents, landlords, school teachers, and employers in order to make life difficult for members of movements[2].
Legal Harassment
The FBI and local police used the legal system, courts and so forth, in order to discredit leadership of movements and lengthen criminal records. They also fabricated evidence and made false arrests, as well as wrongfully imprisoned many people[2].
The FBI was involved with actions with local police and informants to commit acts of violence from beatings to assassinations, a great example being Fred Hampton[2][3].

Further acts of illegal surveillance, wiretaps, etc, all without a PATRIOT Act mind you - proving if they really want to mess with you, they don't need legislation[2].

I could go on and on, but what else is there to say? The FBI conspired with police and informants to disrupt New Left (and some far-right) movements meanwhile harassing, beating, and in some cases killing those involved.

If you'd like to read more on the subject, be sure to check out these books at your local library or bookstore:

  • Cointelpro: The FBI's Secret War on Political Freedom by Nelson Blackstock (1988)
  • The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States by Ward Churchill (2001)

Some videos:

You can pretty much look anywhere on the Internet and at most bookstores and you can find more information on it, but there is some false information regarding it out there. The program no longer exists, however some say (I'm not one of them) that it is still going on, but there's absolutely no evidence of that. I should note, however, that the FBI has always been involved with infiltration of movements, so just because programs like that exist does not mean they are a part of COINTELPRO.