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"The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or OTHERWISE NEUTRALIZE [emphasis added & also known as assassination] the activities of black nationalist hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen (sic), membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder." – FBI

Photo of Fred Hampton's apartment after the raid

A photograph of Fred Hampton's home after his murder by the FBI.

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Through a secret "Counterintelligence Program" in the 1960s, the FBI set out to eliminate "radical" political opposition inside the US. When traditional modes of repression (exposure, blatant harassment, and prosecution for political crimes) failed to counter the growing insurgency, and even helped to fuel it, the Bureau took the law into its own hands and secretly used fraud and force to sabotage constitutionally-protected political activity.

It was common for the FBI to install wiretaps, use false letters in order to agitate other leaders, infiltrate group meetings and assemblies, and leak information to the press for the purposes of creating opposition among the radical groups.

The FBI was known to enlist spies in their operations, raid groups' headquarters, jail and often kill prominent group leaders. COINTELPRO methods amounted to a domestic version of the covert action for which the CIA has become infamous throughout the world.

The most intense operations were directed against the Black movement, particularly the Black Panther Party. This was fueled by FBI and police racism, the Black community's lack of material resources for fighting back, and the tendency of the media — and whites in general — to ignore or tolerate attacks on Black groups. It also reflected government and corporate fear of the Black movement because of its militance, its broad domestic base and international support, and its historic role in galvanizing the entire 1960s upsurge.

Many other activists who organized against US imperialism abroad or for racial, gender or class justice at home also came under covert attack. The targets included Martin Luther King, David Dellinger, Phillip Berrigan, and other leading pacifists as well as projects directly protected by the Bill of Rights, such as alternative newspapers.

Ultimately, the FBI disclosed six official counterintelligence programs: Communist Party-USA (1956-71); "Groups Seeking Independence for Puerto Rico" (1960-71); Socialist Workers Party (1961-71); "White Hate Groups" (1964-71); "Black Nationalist Hate Groups" (1967-71); and "New Left" anti-war, student, and feminist groups (1968- 71).

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