Twentieth Century COINTELPRO revisited

(c) 2014 Brenda Grantland
Truth and Justice Blog, 1/7/2014

I was already planning a blog about COINTELPRO in the near future when astounding news broke today:  The activists who broke into an FBI Office in Media, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1971 and stole the COINTELPRO papers publicly revealed their identities today!

In case you weren’t around in the early 1970s, COINTELPRO (short for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a secret program of government surveillance, infiltration and sabotage against political activists, officially begun in 1956 and designed by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.  Hoover used FBI resources to spy on, infiltrate, undermine and disrupt advocacy groups he considered subversives and those critical of his regime.  Targets included activists who opposed the War in Vietnam, or who supported the Civil Rights movement, the Indian Rights Movement, and a myriad of other peaceful associations advocating societal or legislative change – activities protected by the First Amendment.

Among many other targets of COINTELPRO in the 1960s-1970s were: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Senator Frank Church, Senator Howard Baker, the American Indian Movement, the Black Panthers, anti-Vietnam war groups including the Students for Democratic Society and Weathermen, among many others.

As stated by Wikipedia “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 their leaders.”  Many of their tactics allegedly included libelous, tortious and even criminal activities against the targets.


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Is the NSA monitoring your cellphone, email, data you stored “in the cloud” and your banking records without a warrant?

(c) 2013 Brenda Grantland
Truth and Justice Blog, 12/12/2013


If you are a person whose lifestyle, ethnicity, politics or past history gives a government agency a reason to suspect or dislike you, the NSA or other law enforcement agencies may already be snooping into your data stored online — without a warrant.

All an agent needs is an administrative subpoena, issued by a law enforcement agency. For most types of data it doesn’t require a search warrant.  Unlike a warrant — which requires a judge to review a written affidavit containing sworn allegations and determine whether it establishes probable cause to believe a crime has been committed — an administrative subpoena is done entirely in-house by the investigating agency. No judge is involved.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 allows law enforcement to obtain the following by subpoena, no warrant required:
• email which has been on the company’s server for 180 days (if less than 180 days, a warrant is required)
• a list of the phone numbers you have dialed, or who have dialed you
• data stored “in the cloud” may also be obtained by subpoena under the same rationale as email, according to the Krebs’ on Security blog: “Help Bring Privacy Laws Into 21st Century.”


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