COINTELPRO-National Security Vs. Civil Liberty

Essay by LAXBP16College, UndergraduateA+, September 2005

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"The only conceivable purpose of the continuation of the COINTELPRO techniques is harassment and disruption of political activity"-The New York Times

The counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) was established in 1956. The program founded by head of F.B.I J. Edgar Hoover originally had a sound purpose, one that was both reasonable and logical. The program was founded during a time when tensions with the Soviets were getting very heated. The program was established to counter some of the measures that the Soviets had already taken against the United States such as the sabotage and infiltration of American agencies. COINTELPRO allowed the United States to do the same to the Soviet's agencies, to find out secret information about the Soviets by using these same tactics. However along the way something went drastically wrong. The COINTELPRO program was no longer being used to infiltrate the Soviet Union it was being used to infiltrate and destroy certain groups and individuals on America's own soil.

COINTELPRO targeted selective radical groups. Theses groups were viewed as powerful enough to make changes happen. These groups were by viewed by the F.B.I as threats to national security. Some of the groups attacked were socialist groups, a prominent one being the Socialist Worker Party (SWP). Also targeted were several African American groups fighting for equal civil rights. The Black Panther Party and group's lead by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. were among those targeted. Also targeted were anti-war groups protesting the Vietnam War, such as hippies and the Students for a Democratic society.(SDS)

If you asked Americans what they though of the Watergate burglary and of Nixon's involvement the most like response you would get is that Nixon's actions were deplorable and he deserved what he got. However if you ask Americans what they thought of the F.B.I...