United States ‘security’ spying on Ferguson demonstrators


This video from the USA says about itself:

Ferguson Activists Ashley Yates & Tory Russell: The System Wasn’t Made To Protect Us

15 October 2014

Ferguson activists Ashley Yates of Millennial Activists United and Tory Russell of Hands Up United stop by GlobalGrind to discuss how the youth are leading the movement to end police violence and how politicians working with a broken system that doesn’t value black lives aren’t the ones effecting change.

By Jason Leopold in the USA:

The DHS Planned to ‘Plug’ Federal Officers Into the Ferguson Protests, Documents Show

July 21, 2015 | 9:15 pm

As the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri considered whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson over the shooting death last August of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was working on a plan to “plug” federal officers into protests to “perform surveillance” and “collect intelligence in the crowd.”

The disclosure is contained in more than 700 pages of documents VICE News obtained from DHS in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and comes just a couple of weeks before the one-year anniversary of Brown’s death, which helped spark national debate about the targeting of African Americans by police.

It’s unclear, however, whether DHS executed the plan. Some information in the documents was withheld on grounds that it would reveal law enforcement techniques, procedures, and trade secrets, or potentially endanger the life of an individual, DHS said.

Kade Crockford, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union‘s Technology for Liberty project, told VICE News that sending officers into protests “to spy on dissidents is both relatively routine and extremely problematic.”

“The First Amendment protects our right to criticize the government and agitate for social and political change, and this kind of law enforcement activity directly threatens that right,” she said. “DHS’s choice to spend taxpayer dollars spying on today’s black civil rights activists shows that federal law enforcement continues to view black people’s demands for basic rights and equality as somehow threatening.

“Congress or inspectors general of the FBI and DHS should investigate how federal law enforcement agencies have been spending precious government resources keeping track of activists. The results of such investigations should be made public so we have a more complete picture of how and where the Feds are dedicating funds and staff to monitoring black dissidents in the wake of Ferguson.”

Protesters raised concerns at the time on social media about the presence of DHS vehicles at the protests. It is not uncommon for DHS and other federal law enforcement agencies to keep tabs on protests, particularly in cities where federal buildings and parks are located (St. Louis has both). But it has become increasingly clear over the years, internal government documents show, that federal law enforcement also views such high-profile protests as a possible breeding ground for domestic terrorist activity and a good source of intelligence.

The deployment of DHS officers to Ferguson and St. Louis was a reunion of sorts. “Looks like we are working together again,” one officer remarked to another in an email. “Long time since [Hurricane] Katrina. LOL.”

The cache of documents, although heavily redacted, reveal that DHS had stocked up on batons and shields due to concerns that protests could quickly turn violent in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision. Officers who were being deployed to Missouri were required to go through new “training” to learn how to handle themselves if riots broke out. The documents also reveal that DHS suspected that its operational plans for confronting the protests would attract negative attention from the public and the media.

The fears of riots were so heightened that DHS officials barred officers from scheduling vacation and taking time off in order to make certain personnel could be present and on call in Ferguson.

In an attempt to thwart the release of information, an employee with DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate distributed an email on November 11, 2014 reminding personnel to mark all electronic communications “for official use only” because of “recent events and FOIA requests.” (Though “for official use only” is not an official security classification, government agencies use it as a protective marking to exempt documents from public disclosure.) DHS personnel were also instructed to be mindful of their own social media posts about the protests and Brown’s death, as they could be a “hindrance or burden if the wrong thing is said/typed.”

The emails also reveal that in anticipation of a grand jury decision, the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Security Division made a decision to deploy dozens of “FBI police officers” to St. Louis to “enhance the protection of the FBI St. Louis Field Office.”

FBI police officers are different than FBI agents. The police officers are uniformed members of the bureau who are tasked with protecting FBI facilities; they have limited law enforcement powers.

“The deployed FBI police will only be responsible for the protection of their facility,” said a November 6, 2014 email whose sender’s name was redacted. But DHS also provided the FBI with a “short-term (30-day) Delegation of Law Enforcement Authority to provide the deployed FBI Police Officers with legal authority should they become involved in a law enforcement action.”

The documents reveal that DHS received “intelligence” — largely based on a Fox News report — and subsequently investigated claims that Muslims had “co-opted” the protests in Ferguson.

“Have you seen this line of reporting before?” a Federal Protective Service employee wrote in a November 18, 2014 email. “Do you think Ferguson is becoming attractive to [redacted, though likely a reference to a terrorist group]? Any insight would be appreciated.”

The Fox News report focused on how the Council of American and Islamic Relations (CAIR) was trying to raise awareness about the 2009 shooting death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, an imam at a Detroit mosque. The right-wing think tank Center for Security Policy alleged in a report, which Fox News cited, that Muslim groups like CAIR had “ulterior motives” for joining in the protests.

The documents do not reveal how DHS followed up on the claim.

The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request: here.

USA: Members of the National Bar Association called on black lawyers to advocate for victims and protesters of police brutality by representing them in civil cases and pushing for reforms of the criminal justice system: here.

FBI false evidence in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

The FBI vs. Martin Luther King: Inside J. Edgar Hoover‘s “Suicide Letter” to Civil Rights Leader

18 November 2014

It was 50 years ago today that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover made headlines by calling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the “most notorious liar in the country.” Hoover made the comment in front of a group of female journalists ahead of King’s trip to Oslo where he received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest recipient of the prize.

While Hoover was trying to publicly discredit King, the agency also sent King an anonymous letter threatening to expose the civil rights leader’s extramarital affairs. The unsigned, typed letter was written in the voice of a disillusioned civil rights activist, but it is believed to have been written by one of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan.

The letter concluded by saying, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.” The existence of the so-called “suicide letter” has been known for years, but only last week did the public see the unredacted version. We speak to Yale University professor Beverly Gage, who uncovered the unredacted letter.

By Kate Randall in the USA:

US admits FBI falsified evidence to obtain convictions

20 April 2015

The US Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that over a more than two-decade period before 2000, nearly every FBI examiner gave flawed forensic hair testimony in almost all trials of criminal defendants reviewed so far, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The cases examined include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death, 14 of whom have been either executed or died in prison. The scandal raises the very real probability that innocent people have been sent to their deaths, and that many more wrongfully convicted are languishing on death rows across the US due to FBI analysts’ fraudulent testimony.

Testimony involving pattern-based forensic techniques—such as hair, bite-mark, and tire track comparisons—has contributed to wrongful convictions in more than a quarter of the 329 defendants’ cases that have been exonerated in the US since 1989. In their pursuit of convictions prosecutors across the country have often relied on FBI analysts’ overstated testimony on hair samples, incorrectly citing them as definitive proof of a defendant’s guilt.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project are assisting the government in the nation’s largest post-conviction review of the FBI’s questioned forensic evidence. The groups determined that 26 of 28 examiners in the elite FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far.

The nation’s courts have allowed the bogus testimony, masquerading as definitive scientific evidence of defendants’ guilt, to railroad innocent people and consign them to decades in prison, life in prison, or death row and the execution chamber.

Federal authorities launched an investigation in 2012 after a Post examination found that flawed forensic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people nationwide since at least the 1970s. Defendants in these cases were typically charged with murder, rape and other violent crimes.

The scandal involves about 2,500 cases in which FBI examiners gave testimony involving hair matches. Hair examination is a pattern-based forensic technique. It involves subjective examination of characteristics such as color, thickness and length and compares them to a known source.

There is no accepted scientific research on how often hair from different people may appear the same, and any hair “matches” must be confirmed by DNA analysis. However, the Post ’s 2012 review found that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of matches of hair found at crime scenes to the hair samples of defendants. The FBI gave flawed forensic testimony in 257 of the 268 trials examined so far.

In 2002, a decade before the Post review, the FBI reported that its own DNA testing revealed that examiners reported false hair matches more than 11 percent of the time.

In Washington, DC, the only jurisdiction where defenders and prosecutors have carried out an investigation into all convictions based on FBI hair testimony, five of seven defendants whose trials included flawed hair evidence have been exonerated since 2009 based on either DNA testing or court appeals. All of them served 20 to 30 years in prison for rape or murder.

In an interview with the Post, University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett said the results of the DC investigation reveal a “mass disaster” inside the criminal justice system. “The tools don’t exist to handle systematic errors in our criminal justice system,” he said.

Those exonerated since 2009 in DC include:

* Donald Eugene Gates was incarcerated for 28 years for the rape and murder of a Georgetown University student. He was ordered released in December 2009 by a DC Superior Court Judge after DNA evidence revealed that another man committed the crime. The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of an FBI analyst, who falsely linked two hairs from an African-American mail to Gates.

* Kirk L. Odom was wrongfully imprisoned for more than 22 years for a 1981 rape and murder. He completed his prison term in 2003, but it was not until July 2012 that DNA evidence exonerated him of the crimes. A DC Superior Court order freed him from remaining on parole until 2047 and registering as a sex offender.

* Santae A. Tribble was convicted in the 1978 killing of a DC taxi driver. An FBI examiner testifying at Tribble’s trial said he had microscopically matched the defendant’s hair to one found in a stocking near the crime scene. In 2012, DNA tests on the same hair excluded him as the perpetrator, clearing the way for his exoneration.

Federal authorities are offering new DNA testing in those cases where FBI analysts gave flawed forensic testimony. However, in some 700 of the 2,500 cases identified by the FBI for review, police or prosecutors have not responded to requests for trial transcripts or other information. Biological evidence is also not always available, having been lost or destroyed in the years since trial.

Although defense attorneys argue that scientifically invalid testimony should be considered a violation of due process, only the states of California and Texas specifically allow appeals when experts recant their testimony or scientific advances undermine forensic evidence given at trial.

In a statement responding to the new scandal’s eruption, the FBI and Justice Department vowed that they are “committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance” and that are “also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science.”

The scandal over fraudulent testimony, however, only reveals the corrupt and anti-democratic character of the US prison system as a whole. The United States locks behind bars a greater proportion of its population than any other country, topped off by the barbaric death penalty that is supported by the entire political establishment.

Thirty years in jail for a single hair: the FBI’s ‘mass disaster’ of false conviction. A ‘dirty bomb’ of pseudo-science wrapped up nearly 268 cases – perhaps hundreds more. Now begins the ‘herculean effort to right the wrongs’: here.

Missouri man executed after faulty hair testimony was convicted in St. Louis County: here.

African American writers spied upon by FBI for decades


This video from the USa says about itself:

This is a poetry reading of Claude McKay‘s poems “If We Must Die” and “The White House.”

Reading done by spoken word artist Cynthia Nicole Giles.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

FBI monitored and critiqued African American writers for decades

A new book reveals the extent to which J Edgar Hoover’s bureau kept files on well-known black writers between 1919 and 1972

Newly declassified documents from the FBI reveal how the US federal agency under J Edgar Hoover monitored the activities of dozens of prominent African American writers for decades, devoting thousands of pages to detailing their activities and critiquing their work.

Academic William Maxwell first stumbled upon the extent of the surveillance when he submitted a freedom of information request for the FBI file of Claude McKay. The Jamaican-born writer was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, author of the sonnet If We Must Die, supposedly recited by Winston Churchill, and Maxwell was preparing an edition of his complete poems. When the file came through from the FBI, it stretched to 193 pages and, said Maxwell, revealed “that the bureau had closely read and aggressively chased McKay” – describing him as a “notorious negro revolutionary” – “all across the Atlantic world, and into Moscow”.

Maxwell, associate professor of English and African American studies at Washington University in St Louis, decided to investigate further, knowing that other scholars had already found files on well-known black writers such as Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. He made 106 freedom of information requests about what he describes as “noteworthy Afro-modernists” to the FBI; 51 of those writers had files, ranging from three to 1,884 pages each.

“I suspected there would be more than a few,” said Maxwell. “I knew Hoover was especially impressed and worried by the busy crossroads of black protest, leftwing politics, and literary potential. But I was surprised to learn that the FBI had read, monitored, and ‘filed’ nearly half of the nationally prominent African American authors working from 1919 (Hoover’s first year at the Bureau, and the first year of the Harlem Renaissance) to 1972 (the year of Hoover’s death and the peak of the nationalist Black Arts movement). In this, I realised, the FBI had outdone most every other major institution of US literary study, only fitfully concerned with black writing.”

Maxwell’s book about his discovery, FB Eyes: How J Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, is out on 18 February from Princeton University Press. It argues that the FBI’s attention was fuelled by Hoover’s “personal fascination with black culture”, that “the FBI is perhaps the most dedicated and influential forgotten critic of African American literature”, and that “African American literature is characterised by a deep awareness of FBI ghostreading”.

Princeton said that while it is well known that Hoover was hostile to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, Maxwell’s forthcoming book is the first exposé of “the extent to which the FBI monitored and influenced African American writing” between 1919 and 1972.

Taking its title from Richard Wright’s 1949 poem The FB Eye Blues, in which the Native Son novelist writes that “every place I look, Lord / I find FB eyes / I’m getting sick and tired of gover’ment spies”, the work also posits that for some authors, suspicion of the surveillance prompted creative replies.

Digital copies of 49 of the FBI files have been made available to the public online. “The collected files of the entire set of authors comprise 13,892 pages, or the rough equivalent of 46 300-page PhD theses,” Maxwell writes in the book. “FBI ghostreaders genuinely rivalled the productivity of their academic counterparts.”

The academic told the Guardian that he believes the FBI monitoring stems from the fact that “from the beginning of his tenure at the FBI … Hoover was exercised by what he saw as an emerging alliance between black literacy and black radicalism”.

“Then there’s the fact that many later African American writers were allied, at one time or another, with socialist and communist politics in the US,” he added, with Wright and WEB Du Bois both becoming Communist Party members, Hughes a “major party sympathiser”, and McKay “toasted by Trotsky and published in Russian as a significant Marxist theorist”.

The files show how the travel arrangements of black writers were closely scrutinised by the FBI, with the passport records of a long list of authors “combed for scraps of criminal behaviour and ‘derogatory information’”, writes Maxwell. Some writers were threatened by “‘stops’, instructions to advise and defer to the Bureau if a suspect tried to pass through a designated point of entry” to the US.

When McKay went to the Soviet Union, a “stop notice” instructed that the poet should be held for “appropriate attention” if he attempted to re-enter the US. In Baltimore, writes Maxwell, FBI agents “paraded their seriousness in a bulletin sent straight to Hoover, boasting of a clued-in ‘Local Police Department’ on the ‘lookout’ for one ‘Claude McKay (colored)’ (23 Mar. 1923)”.

They also reveal how, with the help of informers, the agency reviewed works such as Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man before publication.

“What did the FBI learn from these dossiers? Several things,” said Maxwell. “Where African American writers were travelling, especially during their expatriate adventures in Europe, Africa, and Latin America. What they were publishing, even while it was still in press.” In the 1950s, he said, the FBI aspired to “a foreknowledge of American publishing so deep that literary threats to the FBI’s reputation could be seen before their public appearance”.

The bureau also considered “whether certain African Americans should be allowed government jobs and White House visits, in the cases of the most fortunate”, and “what the leading minds of black America were thinking, and would be thinking”.

But, he added, “the files also show that some FBI spy-critics couldn’t help from learning that they liked reading the stuff, for simple aesthetic reasons”.

‘Thousands of German nazis recruited as United States spies’


This 2012 History Channel video from the USA is called CIA and the nazis, documentary.

From the New York Times in the USA:

In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis

By ERIC LICHTBLAU

OCT. 26, 2014

WASHINGTON — In the decades after World War II, the C.I.A. and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show.

At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich.

The agency hired one former SS officer as a spy in the 1950s, for instance, even after concluding he was probably guilty of “minor war crimes.”

And in 1994, a lawyer with the C.I.A. pressured prosecutors to drop an investigation into an ex-spy outside Boston implicated in the Nazis’ massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania, according to a government official.

Evidence of the government’s links to Nazi spies began emerging publicly in the 1970s. But thousands of records from declassified files, Freedom of Information Act requests and other sources, together with interviews with scores of current and former government officials, show that the government’s recruitment of Nazis ran far deeper than previously known and that officials sought to conceal those ties for at least a half-century after the war.

In 1980, F.B.I. officials refused to tell even the Justice Department’s own Nazi hunters what they knew about 16 suspected Nazis living in the United States.

The bureau balked at a request from prosecutors for internal records on the Nazi suspects, memos show, because the 16 men had all worked as F.B.I. informants, providing leads on Communist “sympathizers.” Five of the men were still active informants.

Refusing to turn over the records, a bureau official in a memo stressed the need for “protecting the confidentiality of such sources of information to the fullest possible extent.”

Some spies for the United States had worked at the highest levels for the Nazis.

One SS officer, Otto von Bolschwing, was a mentor and top aide to Adolf Eichmann, architect of the “Final Solution,” and wrote policy papers on how to terrorize Jews.

Yet after the war, the C.I.A. not only hired him as a spy in Europe, but relocated him and his family to New York City in 1954, records show. The move was seen as a “a reward for his loyal postwar service and in view of the innocuousness of his [Nazi] party activities,” the agency wrote.

His son, Gus von Bolschwing, who learned many years later of his father’s ties to the Nazis, sees the relationship between the spy agency and his father as one of mutual convenience forged by the Cold War.

“They used him, and he used them,” Gus von Bolschwing, now 75, said in an interview. “It shouldn’t have happened. He never should have been admitted to the United States. It wasn’t consistent with our values as a country.”

When Israeli agents captured Eichmann in Argentina in 1960, Otto von Bolschwing went to the C.I.A. for help because he worried they might come after him, memos show.

Agency officials were worried as well that Mr. von Bolschwing might be named as Eichmann’s “collaborator and fellow conspirator and that the resulting publicity may prove embarrassing to the U.S.” a C.I.A. official wrote.

After two agents met with Mr. von Bolschwing in 1961, the agency assured him it would not disclose his ties to Eichmann, records show. He lived freely for another 20 years before prosecutors discovered his wartime role and prosecuted him. He agreed to give up his citizenship in 1981, dying months later.

In all, the American military, the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and other agencies used at least 1,000 ex-Nazis and collaborators as spies and informants after the war, according to Richard Breitman, a Holocaust scholar at American University who was on a government-appointed team that declassified war-crime records.

The full tally of Nazis-turned-spies is probably much higher, said Norman Goda, a University of Florida historian on the declassification team, but many records remain classified even today, making a complete count impossible.

“U.S. agencies directly or indirectly hired numerous ex-Nazi police officials and East European collaborators who were manifestly guilty of war crimes,” he said. “Information was readily available that these were compromised men.”

None of the spies are known to be alive today.

The wide use of Nazi spies grew out of a Cold War mentality shared by two titans of intelligence in the 1950s: Mr. Hoover, the longtime F.B.I. director, and Mr. Dulles, the C.I.A. director.

Mr. Dulles believed “moderate” Nazis might “be useful” to America, records show. Mr. Hoover, for his part, personally approved some ex-Nazis as informants and dismissed accusations of their wartime atrocities as Soviet propaganda.

In 1968, Mr. Hoover authorized the F.B.I. to wiretap a left-wing journalist who wrote critical stories about Nazis in America, internal records show. Mr. Hoover declared the journalist, Charles Allen, a potential threat to national security.

John Fox, the bureau’s chief historian, said: “In hindsight, it is clear that Hoover, and by extension the F.B.I., was shortsighted in dismissing evidence of ties between recent German and East European immigrants and Nazi war crimes. It should be remembered, though, that this was at the peak of Cold War tensions.”

The C.I.A. declined to comment for this article.

The Nazi spies performed a range of tasks for American agencies in the 1950s and 1960s, from the hazardous to the trivial, the documents show.

In Maryland, Army officials trained several Nazi officers in paramilitary warfare for a possible invasion of Russia. In Connecticut, the C.I.A. used an ex-Nazi guard to study Soviet-bloc postage stamps for hidden meanings.

In Virginia, a top adviser to Hitler gave classified briefings on Soviet affairs. And in Germany, SS officers infiltrated Russian-controlled zones, laying surveillance cables and monitoring trains.

But many Nazi spies proved inept or worse, declassified security reviews show. Some were deemed habitual liars, confidence men or embezzlers, and a few even turned out to be Soviet double agents, the records show.

Mr. Breitman said the morality of recruiting ex-Nazis was rarely considered. “This all stemmed from a kind of panic, a fear that the Communists were terribly powerful and we had so few assets,” he said.

Efforts to conceal those ties spanned decades.

When the Justice Department was preparing in 1994 to prosecute a senior Nazi collaborator in Boston named Aleksandras Lileikis, the C.I.A. tried to intervene.

The agency’s own files linked Mr. Lileikis to the machine-gun massacres of 60,000 Jews in Lithuania. He worked “under the control of the Gestapo during the war,” his C.I.A. file noted, and “was possibly connected with the shooting of Jews in Vilna.”

Even so, the agency hired him in 1952 as a spy in East Germany — paying him $1,700 a year, plus two cartons of cigarettes a month — and cleared the way for him to immigrate to America four years later, records show.

Mr. Lileikis lived quietly for nearly 40 years, until prosecutors discovered his Nazi past and prepared to seek his deportation in 1994.

When C.I.A. officials learned of the plans, a lawyer there called Eli Rosenbaum at the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit and told him “you can’t file this case,” Mr. Rosenbaum said in an interview. The agency did not want to risk divulging classified records about its ex-spy, he said.

Mr. Rosenbaum said he and the C.I.A. reached an understanding: If the agency was forced to turn over objectionable records, prosecutors would drop the case first. (That did not happen, and Mr. Lileikis was ultimately deported.)

The C.I.A. also hid what it knew of Mr. Lileikis’s past from lawmakers.

In a classified memo to the House Intelligence Committee in 1995, the agency acknowledged using him as a spy but made no mention of the records linking him to mass murders. “There is no evidence,” the C.I.A. wrote, “that this Agency was aware of his wartime activities.”

This article is adapted from “The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men,” by Eric Lichtblau, to be published Tuesday by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

See also here.

A new book published Tuesday, The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men, by New York Times journalist Eric Lichtblau, details the close relations developed by the US government with Nazi war criminals during and after the Second World War: here.

FBI still spied on Mandela after release from prison


This video from South Africa is called Nelson Mandela‘s Life Story.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

FBI monitored Nelson Mandela in 1990s over perceived communist threat

Previously classified documents show federal agents continued to monitor Mandela and ANC even after his release from prison

Ed Pilkington in New York

Thursday 10 July 2014 18.10 BST

The FBI monitored the interactions between Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress and leftwing groups in the US through the 1980s and 1990s as part of its ongoing investigations into what the bureau deemed to be the communist threat to US national security, new documents reveal.

The batch of 36 pages of previously classified documents, extracted from the FBI under freedom of information laws, show that federal agents continued to monitor Mandela’s and the ANC’s connections within the US even after the legendary South African leader was released from prison in February 1990. The bureau monitored meetings between Mandela and other world leaders, tracked the movements of senior ANC officials as they travelled across the US, and kept a close eye on the anti-apartheid activities of the Communist Party USA (CP-USA).

The declassified documents are marked “secret” under recognised codes for domestic and foreign counter-intelligence investigations. They include a record kept by federal agents of a meeting in Namibia just a month after Mandela’s release from jail between him and the then president of Yugoslavia, Janez Drnovsek. The record notes that a transcript of the proceedings was sent in Serbo-Croat to the FBI’s Cleveland office.

Another document records the FBI’s decision in June 1990, four months after Mandela was set free, to send an informant from Philadelphia to New York to snoop on a meeting that the bureau thought was about to take place between Mandela and Puerto Rican independence activists. “Information contained in this communication is extremely singular in nature and must not be disseminated outside the FBI or existing terrorism task forces,” it stated.

The newly declassified records are the second batch relating to FBI monitoring of Mandela to be obtained by Ryan Shapiro, a freedom of information expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the first set of documents, made public in May, it was disclosed that the bureau had used a confidential informant to gain an inside track on Mandela’s first visit to America in June 1990.

The new batch suggests that the FBI continued to see Mandela and the ANC through a paranoid cold war lens even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and after Mandela had emerged as one of the great democratic figureheads. The bureau’s obsession with categorising Mandela as a threat to domestic national security reached such a pitch that even elements within the FBI were driven to question the bureau’s prevailing analysis.

In August 1990, the FBI’s Chicago field office wrote a secret memo that highlighted the historical ignorance of its sister branch in New York which had classed the ANC as a “known Soviet front group”. The memo complained that “our description of the ANC as a Soviet front is an over-simplification which fails to recognize the complex and paradoxical nature of that particular organization (which was, of course, founded before the Russian revolution).”

Despite such enlightened interventions, the FBI carried on investigating links between the ANC and anti-apartheid and anti-racist groups in the US over many years. In 1984, federal agents kept watch over a senior ANC official, Makhenkesi Stofile, as he made a tour of the US meeting anti-apartheid groups. It also kept records of the involvement of Democratic Congress representatives in the Free Nelson Mandela campaign.

“The documents reveal that, just as it did in the 1950s and 60s with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, the FBI aggressively investigated the US and South African anti-apartheid movements as communist plots imperiling American security,” Shapiro said.

Many of the documents are heavily redacted, and Shapiro said he is now pressing for release of the complete uncensored records. He is also continuing to sue the CIA, National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency for all their paperwork on Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement.

Just 60 years ago, in the summer of 1954, South Africa’s prime minister and architect of apartheid Daniel Francois Malan and his ultra-racist National Party government had a real irritant and they needed to get rid of it. The thorn in their side was Sophiatown, the multiracial cultural suburb of Johannesburg that, more than anywhere else, showed up the barrenness and nonsense of the obscene apartheid system: here.

Seattle Times, Associated Press blast FBI for fake article to snare bomb suspect. The paper expressed anger at the agency, which created a mock article on a fake Web page in an effort to locate and arrest a minor who made threats against a Washington school in 2007. The ploy worked, but the newspaper claims the FBI ‘misappropriated’ the paper’s name and put its reputation ‘at peril’: here.

1971: Johanna Hamilton documentary reveals how citizen burglars broke into FBI office and exposed huge abuse and public surveillance: here.

Ku Klux Klan murder in Mississippi, USA, fifty years ago


This music video from the USA is called 12-string Guitar: Goodman Schwerner And Chaney (Including lyrics and chords). Written by Tom Paxton.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Murder in Mississippi

Saturday 21st June 2014

PETER FROST recounts a triple murder of civil rights activists in the US Deep South 50 years ago today

HALF a century ago this week on the night of June 21 1964 three brave young civil rights’ workers, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner, were shot dead at close range by a police-led lynch mob.

Many of the murderers were members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the little town of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

So who were these murder victims and why did they die?

Chaney was born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1943. At the age of 15, he and other black high-school students started wearing NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) badges. It was a brave act. His segregated school suspended him.

In late 1963, he signed up with the Congress of Racial Equality (Core) in Meridian. He organised voter education classes, introduced Core workers to local church leaders and used his local knowledge and contacts to help visiting Core volunteers.

In 1964 he organised a meeting between Mickey Schwerner, local leader of Core, with leaders of the Mt Nebo Baptist Church. Schwerner talked to the church members and encouraged them to use the church for voter education and registration.

Schwerner was white and Jewish. Born in New York in 1939, he studied sociology at Columbia University where he became involved in the struggle for civil rights.

He joined and later led a Core group on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. With his wife Rita he volunteered to work for National Core in Mississippi.

As soon as they reached Mississippi the Schwerners were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan.

This didn’t stop them establishing a Core community centre in Meridian.

Goodman was also white, Jewish and from New York. He too was born in 1939. His family and community had a long tradition of social justice. After college and a brief career as an actor, he switched to anthropology and his political awareness grew.

In 1964, Goodman volunteered to work on the Core Freedom Summer project to register blacks to vote in Mississippi.

By mid-June, Goodman joined Schwerner and Chaney in Mississippi, but already some unsavoury southern folk had their eye on these three young men.

The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was strongly opposed to integration and civil rights. It paid agents to spy on anyone, especially northerners, suspected of activism.

Records, kept secret until opened by court order in 1998, revealed the state’s deep complicity in the murders of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney.

State investigator AL Hopkins passed on information about the three men, including car registration numbers, on to the local sheriff who was deeply implicated in the murders.

On the morning of June 21, 1964, the three men set out for the little Mississippi town of Philadelphia where they were to investigate the recent burning of a black church helping with voter registration.

By the end of the day the three men would be cut down by a police-led Klan lynch mob.

Their murders sparked national outrage which forced the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), itself racked by racism and close to many of the white supremist organisations in the southern states, to reluctantly start an investigation.

J Edgar Hoover had no sympathy with civil rights groups and activists. President Lyndon Johnson had to use indirect threats of political reprisal to force Hoover to investigate.

It took FBI agents 44 days to find the three bodies in an earthen dam near the murder site.

In the early 1960s, Mississippi along with most of the US south was virtually an apartheid state with total segregation and no rights or democracy for black citizens.

Local politicians defied and ignored Supreme Court rulings. The white Mississippi establishment used bombings, murders, vandalism and intimidation to discourage local blacks demanding civil rights.

One of the most powerful racist groups was the 10,000-strong White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was determined that blacks should not get votes, equality in education or anything else.

Schwerner and Chaney spoke to the congregation at Mount Zion Methodist church in Longdale, Mississippi. Their speech was about setting up a freedom school and encouraging blacks to register to vote.

The Klan’s angry response was to burn down the church and beat up members of the congregation.

So it was that on that fateful day Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner set off to investigate the destruction of the church. They understood the dangers and warned comrades “if we’re not back by 4pm start looking for us.”

Their decision would prove to be fatal. As they entered the Philadelphia city limits their station wagon had a flat tyre.

Deputy Sheriff Cecil Ray Price called up the highway patrol. When they arrived they promptly arrested the three civil rights campaigners.

It was 10pm before the three were released. As they drove off they realised they were being followed by a sheriff’s vehicle, a highway patrol car and other packed vehicles.

While they were in jail a lynch mob had been assembled and three murders had been planned.

Just two weeks before the murders nearly 300 White Knights gathered near Raleigh, Mississippi, to hear Imperial Wizard Bowers warn Klan members about the “nigger-communist invasion of Mississippi.”

Goodman and Schwerner were shot at point-blank range by Klan member Alton W Roberts. Roberts also shot Chaney in the head after another man James Jordan shot him in the stomach.

After the three men were killed, their bodies were loaded into their station wagon and were driven to an earth dam where Herman Tucker was waiting for the arrival of the lynch mob. He buried the bodies using a bulldozer. It had all been planned earlier in the day.

After the bodies were buried, Sherriff Price told the group: “Well boys, you’ve done a good job. You’ve struck a blow for the white man. Mississippi can be proud of you. You’ve let those agitating outsiders know where this state stands. Go home now and forget it.”

FBI director Hoover initially ordered a small local search but Attorney General Robert Kennedy had other ideas. He sent in 150 federal agents from New Orleans. The FBI eventually offered a $25,000 reward — worth about $190,000 today.

Mississippi officials resented the outside attention and continued the cover-up. County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey told the media: “They’re just hiding and trying to cause a lot of bad publicity for this part of the state.”

The Mississippi governor Paul Johnson threw in a red herring by suggesting that “they could be in Cuba.”

Finally five months later the FBI accused 21 Mississippi men of conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.

Still the Mississippi state officials refused to prosecute the killers for murder. The federal government charged 18 of the accused — not with murder but the much lesser crime of conspiring to deprive the three of their civil rights.

Those found guilty on October 20, 1967 were Cecil Price, Klan Imperial Wizard Samuel Bowers, Alton Wayne Roberts, Jimmy Snowden, Billey Wayne Posey, Horace Barnett and Jimmy Arledge.

Less than harsh sentences ranged from three to 10 years. Exhaustive appeals meant the seven did not go to jail until March 1970. All were out by 1976.

Sheriff Rainey was acquitted. Two of the defendants, EG Barnett, a candidate for sheriff, and Baptist minister Edgar Ray Killen, had been strongly implicated in the murders by witnesses but the jury came to a hung verdict — a lone juror stating she “could never convict a preacher.” The federal prosecutor decided not to retry them.

In 1989, on the 25th anniversary of the murders, the US Congress honoured the three murdered men. Senator Trent Lott and the rest of the Mississippi delegation refused to vote for it.

In 2005, over 40 years after the murder, a Mississippi grand jury finally indicted Killen on three counts of manslaughter, not murder. He was sentenced to three consecutive terms of 20 years.

It was the first and only time the state of Mississippi, rather than the federal authorities, took action against any of the racists involved in the killings.

National outrage over the murders swayed public opinion and this was an important factor in the introduction of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Today in the southern states of the US as well as here in Europe racist ideas are still to be heard. Brave people are still fighting racism in all its forms, and wherever those battles are fought the names of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner live on as an inspiring example to us all.

This Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most heinous crimes carried out during the long struggle to destroy the barriers of Jim Crow segregation in the American South. On the night of June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, participants in the Freedom Summer campaign that aimed to add tens of thousands of disenfranchised African Americans to the voter rolls in the state of Mississippi, were murdered by a gang of Ku Klux Klansmen: here.