Reading List on Intelligence Agencies & Political Repression

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation & COINTELPRO

Other Aspects of Political Repression

Repression in the United States

The Federal Bureau of Investigation & COINTELPRO

  • War at Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It. Brian Glick, 1989, South End Press. Must reading for all serious political activists. Provides a comprehensive and common sense approach for those who must engage in political activity while facing governmental and right-wing attacks. Includes a cogent analysis of the relationship between U.S. political economy and domestic covert action. In some bookstores or order it by calling 1-800-533-8478.
  • Break-Ins, Death Threats and the FBI: The Covert War Against the Central America Movement. Ross Gelbspan, 1991, South End Press. Gelbspan, a veteran Boston Globe reporter became intrigued in the mid-1980's by a pattern of robberies reported by persons and groups opposing Reagan administration policies in Central America. Hundreds of offices, homes, and cars were broken into, files were ransacked or stolen, but valuable equipment was left untouched. Several years, hundreds of interviews and many thousands of pages of FBI files later, Gelbspan concludes the perpetrators of the robberies will probably remain a mystery, but reveals the FBI repeatedly lied to Congress about the extent and purpose of its investigations into the same network of Central America activists victimized by the robberies. Gelbspan documents how the FBI forged back-channel ties to far-right anti-communist groups in the U.S. and a shadowy network of government agencies and death squads in El Salvador. In some bookstores or order it by calling 1-800-533-8478.
  • Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall, 1988, South End Press. A chilling account of the murderous tactics used against non-white political activists. 500 pages and an extensive index and footnotes. In some bookstores or order it by calling 1-800-533-8478.
  • COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States. Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall, 1989, South End Press. Actual FBI documents and commentary make a strong case for convincing skeptics. Replaces the Counter-intelligence book previously issued by the NLG. In some bookstores or order it by calling 1-800-533-8478.
  • The FBI v. The First Amendment. Richard Criley, 1990, First Amendment Foundation. The story of how the FBI attempted to "neutralize" the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation (NCARL) which was founded in 1960 as the National Committee to Abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC/HCUA). NCARL, 1313 West 8th Street, Suite 313, Los Angeles, CA 90017. 213-484-6661.
  • The Liberals and J. Edgar Hoover. William W. Keller, 1989, Princeton University Press. How liberal congresspersons squirm and look away when they are supposed to oversee agencies of police power and thus allow their more reactionary colleagues to craft agencies such as the FBI into tools of repression.
  • COINTELPRO: The FBI's Secret War on Political Freedom. Nelson Blackstock, 1976, Vintage Books. The FBI's campaign to infiltrate and disrupt the Socialist Workers Party; good overview of the other Bureau investigations of additional left organizations.
  • The Age of Surveillance: The Aims & Methods of America's Political Intelligence System. Frank Donner, 1980, Alfred Knopf. The classic tome documenting surveillance and harassment in the United States from World War I to 1980.
  • Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Political Repression in Urban America. Frank Donner, 1991, University of California. The new companion volume to Age of Surveillance. Here Donner provides a wealth of entertaining yet appalling anecdotes demonstrating how local police intelligence units-often dubbed Red Squads-subverted the Constitution while justifying their actions as preserving democracy in the fight against subversion. Because they believed the country was on the brink of ruin due to internal subversion organized by communist agents, local Red Squads not only conducted surveillance and built dossiers on a wide range of activists, but also worked with far-right vigilante groups to carry out break-ins and assaults, sometimes with an assist from the FBI.
  • The FBI and Martin Luther King Jr. David J. Garrow, 1981, Norton. Documents the extensive investigation undertaken by the Bureau to find ways to discredit and disrupt his quest for freedom.
  • The File. Penn Kimball, 1985, Avon. How an innocent man became the subject of an FBI investigation.
  • Hoover and the Un-Americans: The FBI, HUAC, and the Red Menace. Kenneth O'Reilly, 1983, Temple University Press. Documents the role of the FBI in engineering the rise of McCarthyism.
  • "Racial Matters:" The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972. Kenneth O'Reilly, 1988, Free Press. How the FBI attacked the civil rights movement while posing as its defender against violent attacks. Useful to expose the film Mississippi Burning as a dangerous lie.
  • The Killing of Karen Silkwood. Richard Rashke, 1981, Houghton Mifflin. The FBI's role in the life, and investigation after the death of the Oklahoma atomic worker.
  • Beyond the Hiss Case: The FBI, Congress and the Cold War. Athan Theoharis, 1982, Temple University Press.
  • FBI. Sanford Unger, 1976, Little Brown and Co. An in-depth study, with background on many officials; glossary of acronyms for COINTELPRO investigations.
  • In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Peter Matthiessen, 1983, Viking Press. The story of how the FBI targeted the American Indian Movement. Now available after lengthy litigation
  • Voices from Wounded Knee. Told by the participants and residents of Wounded Knee. 1976, Akwesasne Notes (a Native American newspaper published from the Mohawk Nation, Rooseveltown, New York 13683). An account of the occupation at Wounded Knee, with some details on FBI presence on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Other Aspects of Political Repression

  • It Did Happen Here: Recollections of Political Repression in America. Bud Schultz and Ruth Schultz, 1989, University of California Press. With their own words, victims of political repression in the U.S. discuss their lives and their battles. A powerful indictment of the myth of equal justice under law in the U.S.
  • Liberty Under Siege: American Politics 1976-1988. Walter Karp, 1988, Henry Holt & Co. Reviewing this book, Bill Moyers quipped it was "like a cold shower on the morning after. Here, finally, is a reveille for reality, a call to stop this long intoxication with illusion and look at what has been happening to our republic."
  • Universities in the Business of Repression: The Academic-Military-Industrial Complex and Central America. Jonathan Feldman, 1989, South End Press. How campus-based research programs are influenced by a militarist mentality. In some bookstores or order it by calling 1-800-533-8478.
  • Under Cover: Police Surveillance in America. Gary T. Marx, 1988, Twentieth Century Fund/University of California Press. The most thoughtful critical analysis of undercover police techniques currently available.
  • The Big Chill: How the Reagan administration, corporate America, and religious conservatives are subverting free speech and the public's right to know. Eve Pell, 1984, Beacon Press. Pell chronicles the above and then worries that the situation keeps getting worse while most Americans seem complacent. "The Bill of Rights was designed to protect dissidents because the colonists knew from direct experience that when the rights of the unpopular are eroded without protest, the rights of the average person will soon be infringed," says Pell who concludes her book with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
  • Murder Under Two Flags:The U.S., Puerto Rico, and the Cerro Maravilla Cover-up. Anne Nelson, 1986, Ticknor & Fields. How Puerto Rican police officials murdered young Independenistas as part of an illegal intelligence operation and then enlisted U.S. government agencies in the cover-up.
  • Domestic Intelligence: Monitoring Dissent in America. Richard E. Morgan, 1980, University of Texas. Considers the tension between privacy and the need for government to protect the community, from the perspective of the government.
  • My Discovery of America. Farley Mowat, 1985, Atlantic Monthly Press. A Canadian naturalist writer details how he was denied entry to the U.S. under the 1950 McCarren-Walters Immigration Act and how the American people came to his support.
  • The Great Fear. David Caute, 1978, Simon and Schuster. Anti-communist purge under Truman and Eisenhower.
  • Political Repression in Modern America, 1870 to Present., 2nd edition. Robert J. Goldstein, 1978, Schenkman Books, Inc. Government, corporate and other pressures brought to bear on political groups through the years.
  • Political Hysteria in America-the Democratic Capacity for Repression. Murray B. Levin, 1971, Basic Books. Underlying forces that create repressive periods such as the Red Scare of the 1920's and the McCarthy era.
  • Spooks: The Haunting of America-the Private Use of Secret Agents. Jim Hougan, 197, William Morrow and Co. How private agents, often former FBI or CIA employees, now provide security services for multinational corporations.
  • The Private Sector: Rent-a-cops, Private Spies and the Police Industrial Complex. George O'Toole, 1978, W.W. Norton. Very hard to find but worth it.

 

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