F.B.I. Reportedly Harassed Radicals After Spy Program Ended

The New York Times
March 23, 1975

By JOHN M. CREWDSON
Special to The New York Times

WASHINGTON, March 22 – The Federal Bureau of Investigation continued disruptive techniques and harassment against domestic political groups after its controversial counterintelligence program was terminated, according to two former senior F.B.I. officials.

The F.B.I., one of the former officials asserted, was carrying out what could properly be described as counterintelligence both before 1956, when the counterintelligence program, or Cointelpro, was initiated, and: after April, 1971, when the program ostensibly was halted by J. Edgar Hoover, then the bureau’s director.

The assertions by the two former officials support the accounts of three F.B.I. informants who have told The New York Times of their use of Cointelpro-style disruptive techniques against a variety of radical political groups since 1971.

They also coincide with allegations by the Socialist Workers party, based on F.B.I. documents the party has received in connection with a lawsuit, that the Government continued its attempts to disrupt the party and harass its members as late as last year.

Both the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have maintained that Mr. Hoover officially ended Cointelpro in a memorandum dated April 28, 1971, which stated that, “effective immediately, all Cointelpros operated by this bureau are discontinued.”

Possible Exceptions Hinted

The memorandum added, however, that the bureau would continue to consider, “on an individual basis,” recommendations from agents and field supervisors for counterintelligence action “in exceptional instances.”

Clarence M. Kelley, who took over as F.B.I. director in mid-1973, has said that no such counterintelligence operations have taken place during his tenure. But he has expressed a desire for legislation that would give the bureau emergency authority to conduct such operations.

Mr. Kelley said in an interview last year that although the matter was under discussion with the Attorney General’s office, the constitutionality of such discretionary authority had proved to be a “very difficult” question that might not lend itself to resolution.

One of the former F.B.I. officials said that Mr. Hoover had authorized the 1971 memorandum ending Cointelpro after confidential documents disclosing some aspects of it were stolen from the bureau’s office in Media, Pa., and subsequently made public.

Mr. Hoover, the source said, had acted because of “concern about his image,” but he added that counterintelligence operations, some bearing Mr. Hoover’s personal approval, were continued in the Bureau’s Domestic Intelligence Division.

Following the theft at Media, Pa., Carl Stern, a reporter for NBC, obtained a court order under the Freedom of Information Act that allowed him to receive copies of some Cointelpro documents.

Other suits compelling similar disclosures have been filed by the Socialist Workers party, a principal Cointelpro target; Muhammad Kenyatta, a black civil rights activist, and others.

Last year, William B. Saxbe, then the Attorney General and now Ambassador to India, ordered the Justice Department to make an internal study of Cointelpro, the results of which he made public in November.

Mr. Saxbe disclosed that between 1956 and 1971, the F.B.I. had implemented Cointelpro efforts aimed at foreign espionage agents, the domestic “New Left,” so-called “white hate groups,” the American Communist party, “black extremists” and the Socialist Workers party. A seventh and most secretive category was called “special operations,” about which no details have been made public.

The Justice Department’s report, written by Henry E. Petersen, then the head of its Criminal Division, termed some of the Cointelpro techniques “troubling” and “egregious.”

: The entire program, the report said, had been implemented by the bureau on Mr. Hoover’s instructions and was almost entirely unknown to any of the five Attorneys General under whom he served between 1956 and 1971.

‘Isolated Excesses’

In making the report public, Mr. Saxbe called some of the incidents “improper,” but characterized them as “isolated excesses” in the bureau’s general program to disrupt, confuse and neutralize the political: groups in question.

There are indications, however, that Mr. Petersen and his investigators may not have seen all the bureau’s Cointelpro documents.

For example, F.B.I. materials; obtained by the Socialist Workers party through its lawsuit and made public this week showed that the bureau attempted to discredit John C. Franklin, who was the party’s candidate for Manhattan Borough President in 1961, by providing details of Mr. Franklin’s criminal record to Charles McHarry, then a columnist for The New York Daily News, who published the information.

The report prepared by Mr. Petersen states that “there were no instances” in the Cointelpro files in which the bureau had disclosed information to “friendly media sources” regarding members of the Socialist Workers party.

In addition, members of the party have submitted more than 50 sworn affidavits that, according to Peter Camejo, its Presidential candidate concerned “Cointelpro-type” incidents since 1971.

Examples of Cointelpro activities disclosed in the Justice Department report included the following:

The sending by the F.B.I. of anonymous or fictitious materials to political groups or their members that were designed to “create dissention and cause disruption.”

The use of informants to disrupt a group’s activities.

Notifying employers, credit bureaus and families of individuals’ “illegal, immoral, radical and Communist party activities in order to adversely affect their credit standing or employment status” or family relations.

Joseph A. Burton, a Tampa, Fla., resident, said in a recent interview that between 1972 and 1974 he worked as a paid. F.B.I. operative assigned to infiltrate and disrupt various radical groups in this country and Canada.

Many of Mr. Burton’s activities as he described them, including the dissemination of bogus F.B.I. documents to revolutionary groups and establishing a “sham” political group, the “Red Star Cadre,” for disruptive purposes, appeared to fall within several of the categories of activities undertaken by the bureau during its Cointelpro years. In particular, he said, his F.B.I. superiors told him in 1974 of the existence of an effort within the bureau to put the Vietnam Veterans Against the War “out of business” in the state of Florida.

Two other former F.B.I. operatives, Harry E. Schafer 3d and his wife, Jill, told of similar disruptive activity they undertook at the bureau’s direction during the same period.

The Schafers, who used a similar bogus New Orleans front group, termed the “Red Collective,” as a base, were interviewed in January in a Southwestern city where they then lived.

They asked at the time that their names be kept confidential for fear of retribution by leftists, but the couple has since been identified by The New Orleans States-Item and other publications.

Mrs. Schafer said that in early 1973, about three years after becoming an F.B.I. informant, she organized a demonstration in front of the F.B.I.’s New Orleans office to raise money for the militant American Indian Movement, whose members then held the South Dakota village of Wounded Knee under siege.

Because of her efforts, she and her husband were invited by militant Indian sympathizers to come to Rapid City, S.D., to aid the cause of the movement.

At Rapid City, the Schafers said, they set up, with the F.B.I.’s permission, an alternative fund-raising operation that diverted money from the American Indian Movement to an unidentified group of Indians, “who were legitimately interested in the welfare of their own people.”

Mr. Schafer, a licensed pilot, said that after the besieged village had been cut off by United States marshals, he accepted a shipment of food and supplies from the Indians and, with the knowledge of his F.B.I. superiors, agreed to fly it from a point in the Middle West and drop it by parachute over Wounded Knee.

But he purposely delayed his arrival, Mr. Schafer said, by reporting “inclement weather,” at stopovers along the way, arriving in South Dakota after the siege had ended and the supplies were no longer needed.

Source

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