Topic: United States/FBI
COINTELPRO (syllabic abbreviation derived from COunter INTELligence PROgram) (1956–1971) was a series of covert and, at times, illegal projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting American political organizations. FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed subversive, including feminist organizations, the Communist Party USA, anti–Vietnam War organizers, activists of the civil rights movement or Black Power movement (e.g. Martin Luther King Jr., the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party), environmentalist and animal rights organizations, the American Indian Movement (AIM), independence movements (such as Puerto Rican independence groups like the Young Lords), and a variety of organizations that were part of the broader New Left. The program also targeted the Ku Klux Klan in 1964.
In another instance in San Diego, the FBI financed, armed, and controlled an extreme right-wing group of former members of the Minutemen anti-communist para-military organization, transforming it into a group called the Secret Army Organization that targeted groups, activists, and leaders involved in the Anti-War Movement, using both intimidation and violent acts.
The FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception; however, covert operations under the official COINTELPRO label took place between 1956 and 1971. COINTELPRO tactics are still used to this day and have been alleged to include discrediting targets through psychological warfare; smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media; harassment; wrongful imprisonment; and illegal violence, including assassination. The FBI's stated motivation was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order".
Beginning in 1969, leaders of the Black Panther Party were targeted by the COINTELPRO and "neutralized" by being assassinated, imprisoned, publicly humiliated or falsely charged with crimes. Some of the Black Panthers affected included Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Zayd Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Marshall Conway. Common tactics used by COINTELPRO were perjury, witness harassment, witness intimidation, and withholding of evidence.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives governing COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the activities of these movements and especially their leaders. Under Hoover, the agent in charge of COINTELPRO was William C. Sullivan. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy personally authorized some of the programs. Although Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of Martin Luther King's phones "on a trial basis, for a month or so", Hoover extended the clearance so his men were "unshackled" to look for evidence in any areas of King's life they deemed worthy.
- "COINTELPRO" | 2013-06-15 | 147 Upvotes 38 Comments
Main Core is the code name of an American governmental database that is believed to have been in existence since the 1980s. It is believed that Main Core is a federal database containing personal and financial data of millions of United States citizens believed to be threats to national security.
- "Main Core – database of US citizens believed to be threats to national security" | 2013-06-14 | 216 Upvotes 134 Comments
A warrant canary is a method by which a communications service provider aims to inform its users that the provider has been served with a government subpoena despite legal prohibitions on revealing the existence of the subpoena. The warrant canary typically informs users that there has not been a court-issued subpoena as of a particular date. If the canary is not updated for the period specified by the host or if the warning is removed, users are to assume that the host has been served with such a subpoena. The intention is to allow the provider to warn users of the existence of a subpoena passively, without technically violating the court order not to do so.
Some subpoenas, such as those covered under 18 U.S.C. §2709(c) of the USA Patriot Act, provide criminal penalties for disclosing the existence of the subpoena to any third party, including the service provider's users.
National Security Letters (NSL) originated in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act and originally targeted those suspected of being agents of a foreign power. Targeting agents of a foreign power was revised in 2001 under the Patriot Act to allow NSLs to target those who may have information deemed relevant to both counterintelligence activities directed against the United States and terrorism. The idea of using negative pronouncements to thwart the nondisclosure requirements of court orders and served secret warrants was first proposed by Steven Schear on the cypherpunks mailing list, mainly to uncover targeted individuals at ISPs. It was also suggested for and used by public libraries in 2002 in response to the USA Patriot Act, which could have forced librarians to disclose the circulation history of library patrons.
- "Warrant Canary" | 2013-06-13 | 289 Upvotes 128 Comments
Theodore John Kaczynski (; born May 22, 1942), also known as the Unabomber (), is an American domestic terrorist, anarchist, and former mathematics professor. He was a mathematics prodigy, but he abandoned his academic career in 1969 to pursue a more primitive lifestyle. Between 1978 and 1995, he killed three people and injured 23 others in an attempt to start a revolution by conducting a nationwide bombing campaign targeting people involved with modern technology.
In 1971, Kaczynski moved to a remote cabin without electricity or running water near Lincoln, Montana, where he lived as a recluse while learning survival skills in an attempt to become self-sufficient. He witnessed the destruction of the wilderness surrounding his cabin and concluded that living in nature was untenable; he began his bombing campaign in 1978. In 1995, he sent a letter to The New York Times and promised to "desist from terrorism" if the Times or The Washington Post published his essay Industrial Society and Its Future, in which he argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom and dignity by modern technologies that require large-scale organization.
Kaczynski was the subject of the longest and most expensive investigation in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Before his identity was known, the FBI used the case identifier UNABOM (University and Airline Bomber) to refer to his case, which resulted in the media naming him the "Unabomber." The FBI and Attorney General Janet Reno pushed for the publication of Industrial Society and Its Future, which led to a tip from Kaczynski's brother David, who recognized the writing style.
After his arrest in 1996, Kaczynski tried unsuccessfully to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers because they wanted him to plead insanity in order to avoid the death penalty, whereas he did not believe that he was insane. In 1998, a plea bargain was reached under which he pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
- "Ted Kaczynski" | 2020-06-04 | 24 Upvotes 6 Comments
Fredrick Allen Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was an American activist and revolutionary socialist. He came to prominence in Chicago as chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and deputy chairman of the national BPP. In this capacity, he founded a prominent multicultural political organization, the Rainbow Coalition that initially included the Black Panthers, Young Patriots and the Young Lords, and an alliance among major Chicago street gangs to help them end infighting, and work for social change.
In 1967, Hampton was identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a radical threat. The FBI tried to subvert his activities in Chicago, sowing disinformation among these groups and placing a counterintelligence operative in the local Panthers. In December 1969, Hampton was shot and killed in his bed during a predawn raid at his Chicago apartment by a tactical unit of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; during the raid, another Panther was killed and several seriously wounded. In January 1970, a coroner's jury held an inquest and ruled the deaths of Hampton and Mark Clark to be justifiable homicide.
A civil lawsuit was later filed on behalf of the survivors and the relatives of Hampton and Clark. It was resolved in 1982 by a settlement of $1.85 million; the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the federal government each paid one-third to a group of nine plaintiffs. Given revelations about the illegal COINTELPRO program and documents associated with the killings, scholars now widely consider Hampton's death an assassination under the FBI's initiative.
- "Fred Hampton" | 2020-06-05 | 20 Upvotes 2 Comments
Richard Allensworth Jewell (born Richard White; December 17, 1962 – August 29, 2007) was an American security guard and law enforcement officer who alerted police during the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. For months afterwards he was suspected of planting the bomb, leading to adverse publicity that "came to symbolize the excesses of law enforcement and the news media."
While working as a security guard at the Olympic Park, Jewell discovered a backpack containing three pipe bombs on the park grounds. He alerted law enforcement and helped evacuate the area before the bomb exploded, probably saving many people from injury or death.
Initially hailed by the media as a hero, Jewell was soon considered a suspect by the FBI and local law enforcement based on scientific profiling. Though never charged, he underwent a "trial by media", which took a toll on his personal and professional life. Jewell was cleared as a suspect after 88 days of public scrutiny. Eric Rudolph eventually confessed and pleaded guilty to that bombing and other attacks. The media circus surrounding the investigation, which was leaked to the press, has been widely cited as an example of law enforcement and media excesses.
In recent years, Jewell's heroic legacy has been the subject of popular culture, including the 2019 film Richard Jewell, and the drama anthology series Manhunt.
D. B. Cooper is a media epithet used to refer to an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in United States airspace between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, on the afternoon of November 24, 1971. He extorted $200,000 in ransom (equivalent to $1,278,000 in 2020) and parachuted to an uncertain fate over southwestern Washington. The man purchased his airline ticket using the alias Dan Cooper but, because of a news miscommunication, became known in popular lore as D. B. Cooper.
The FBI maintained an active investigation for 45 years after the hijacking. Despite a case file that grew to over 60 volumes over that period, no definitive conclusions were reached regarding Cooper's true identity or fate. The crime remains the only unsolved air piracy in commercial aviation history.
Numerous theories of widely varying plausibility have been proposed over the years by investigators, reporters, and amateur enthusiasts. $5,880 of the ransom was found along the banks of the Columbia River in 1980, which triggered renewed interest but ultimately only deepened the mystery. The great majority of the ransom remains unrecovered.
The FBI officially suspended active investigation of the case in July 2016, but the agency continues to request that any physical evidence that might emerge related to the parachutes or the ransom money be submitted for analysis.
- "D. B. Cooper" | 2021-11-25 | 18 Upvotes 5 Comments