The Hunt for Red Menace: - 14

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FBI as Thought Police

Attorney Michael Krinsky was not surprised when he learned the FBI had waged a five-year surveillance war against CISPES in a fruitless search for terrorists and subversives. This is precisely the scenario Krinsky and the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee fought in a now-settled lawsuit against the FBI on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. Krinsky charges that FBI "subversion/terrorism" investigations never really are ended, because they can never really succeed in accomplishing the FBI's primary goal-that goal is not investigating criminal activity, but proving the pre-conceived notion that dissent is fueled by treason.

"This is the theory under which the FBI has kept subversion investigations running for 45 years now," said Krinsky:

=== "They believe there is a subversive element out there trying to infiltrate and destroy our government. Infiltration is by definition covert, and therefore, to safeguard our government from this secret plot, the FBI has to know everthing about everybody. The fact that the FBI never finds any evidence of this subversive infiltration merely demonstrates to the FBI how clever the subversives really are.

Even when their Justice Department superiors repeatedly terminate these types of investigations because they result in no evidence of wrongdoing, and only show the non-criminal nature of the targeted group, the true believers simply bide their time and then open another investigation under a different file name.

When FBI agents can't find the non-existant KGB candygram to CISPES, they merely ignore the evidence of no criminal activity and redoubled their efforts to pursue the group. When the current controversy over CISPES blows over, a new excuse will be found to launch another investigation. Attorney Krinsky agrees with author Donner that the term terrorism is merely a device used by the FBI to justify its political mission. Krinsky noted:

=== "The FBI investigated the NLG for over three decades, moving from one pretext to another, without being hindered by the fact that none of their suspicions proved to be based in fact. As soon as one pretext was challenged by a court or the Justice Department administrators, the FBI would abandon that pretext and embark on a supposedly new investigation using a different pretext.

Among the investigative categories used to justify FBI spying on the NLG, Front for the Communist Party, Fomenting Prison Rebellion, Front for the Weather Underground, and Violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

No criminal charges were ever filed against the NLG and each investigation was terminated unsuccessfully when no evidence of criminal activity was found. "So you see the CISPES so-called investigation comes as no surprise to us", said Krinsky who added the revelations vindicate the position that former FBI director William Webster (under whom the CISPES investigation was conducted) never really repudiated the sins of the past. Webster now heads the CIA, he is supposed to clean up the mess left by former CIA director William Casey. Sure. Ann Mari Buitrago, a file specialist from the Fund for Open Information and Accountability, was hired by the Center for Constitutional Rights to read and analyze the FBI files on CISPES. Her conclusions:

=== "The files show a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object-the destruction of the people's right to know and to assemble in order to express opposing views on public policy. === "The FBI is still reaching into the Hoover-era bag of tricks to fight dissent. They are feeding their fantasies that the Red Menace is everywhere. It is an obssesive belief they share with Reagan-and like all fantasies, facts do not put it to sleep.

Buitrago believed the Boos report on CISPES was circulated by the FBI because the agency actually shares the right-wing paranoid vision of the internal subversive conspiracy. But as Buitrago observed, "This is nothing new."

The new round of FBI and private spying represents a new strain of McCarthyism, mutated to avoid public scrutiny. The terms may have changed from red menace, fellow-traveller, and communist propaganda to terrorist threat, unwitting dupe, and Soviet disinformation, but it is McCarthyism nonetheless.

The true-believers in the FBI serve as the covert McCarthyists within that agency, continuing their super-patriotic crusade down through the decades. Those in the Reagan Administration and the FBI who shared the paranoid anti-communist worldview initially could not understand the fuss about the CISPES investigation. When it came to smashing perceived criminal subversives and allies of Soviet "terrorism", the authoritarian nativists assumed they were simply carrying out their mandate-as indeed in a sense they were.

The less zealous anti-communists in the Justice Department are critical of the paranoid true-believers (such as those agents involved with directing FBI informant Varelli to engage in disruption), yet they seek to defend the basic concept of using political surveillance like a fishing expedition to hook the criminals hiding behind the first amendment. Today the FBI serves not only an official police function in the modern political surveillance network, but also a forum for legitimizing attacks on dissenters by criminalizing their views in the eyes of the public. Thus someone who supports the Sandinistas is transformed in the eyes of the public into a potential terrorist by the FBI probe. . .and terrorists are clearly not deserving of Constitutional safeguards protecting free speech.

Few activists think "authorized" burglaries and infiltration by the FBI could account for all the break-ins, assaults, kidnappings and other incidents against progressive activists chronicled by the Movement Support Network. Activists on both sides of the ideological fence speculate that at least some of the break-ins are being conducted by a shadowy strata composed of authoritarian FBI agents, ideological local police, and a loose consortium of right-wingers such as militant anti-communist ideologues, former police and agents from deposed foreign dictatorships, even U.S.-based members of Latin American death squads. Given the historical record, these speculations are hardly outrageous. Ross Gelbspan's book on the CISPES probe documented some of these suspicions.

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