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There's Something Happening Here

Cover of There's Something Happening Here

There's Something Happening Here

The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence
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Using over twelve thousand previously classified documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act, David Cunningham uncovers the riveting inside story of the FBI's attempts to neutralize political targets on both the Right and the Left during the 1960s. Examining the FBI's infamous counterintelligence programs (COINTELPROs) against suspected communists, civil rights and black power advocates, Klan adherents, and antiwar activists, he questions whether such actions were aberrations or are evidence of the bureau's ongoing mission to restrict citizens' right to engage in legal forms of political dissent. At a time of heightened concerns about domestic security, with the FBI's license to spy on U.S. citizens expanded to a historic degree, the question becomes an urgent one. This book supplies readers with insights and information vital to a meaningful assessment of the current situation. There's Something Happening Here looks inside the FBI's COINTELPROs against white hate groups and the New Left to explore how agents dealt with the hundreds of individuals and organizations labeled as subversive threats. Rather than reducing these activities to a product of the idiosyncratic concerns of longtime director J. Edgar Hoover, Cunningham focuses on the complex organizational dynamics that generated literally thousands of COINTELPRO actions. His account shows how--and why--the inner workings of the programs led to outcomes that often seemed to lack any overriding logic; it also examines the impact the bureau's massive campaign of repression had on its targets. The lessons of this era have considerable relevance today, and Cunningham extends his analysis to the FBI's often controversial recent actions to map the influence of the COINTELPRO legacy on contemporary debates over national security and civil liberties.
Using over twelve thousand previously classified documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act, David Cunningham uncovers the riveting inside story of the FBI's attempts to neutralize political targets on both the Right and the Left during the 1960s. Examining the FBI's infamous counterintelligence programs (COINTELPROs) against suspected communists, civil rights and black power advocates, Klan adherents, and antiwar activists, he questions whether such actions were aberrations or are evidence of the bureau's ongoing mission to restrict citizens' right to engage in legal forms of political dissent. At a time of heightened concerns about domestic security, with the FBI's license to spy on U.S. citizens expanded to a historic degree, the question becomes an urgent one. This book supplies readers with insights and information vital to a meaningful assessment of the current situation. There's Something Happening Here looks inside the FBI's COINTELPROs against white hate groups and the New Left to explore how agents dealt with the hundreds of individuals and organizations labeled as subversive threats. Rather than reducing these activities to a product of the idiosyncratic concerns of longtime director J. Edgar Hoover, Cunningham focuses on the complex organizational dynamics that generated literally thousands of COINTELPRO actions. His account shows how--and why--the inner workings of the programs led to outcomes that often seemed to lack any overriding logic; it also examines the impact the bureau's massive campaign of repression had on its targets. The lessons of this era have considerable relevance today, and Cunningham extends his analysis to the FBI's often controversial recent actions to map the influence of the COINTELPRO legacy on contemporary debates over national security and civil liberties.
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Synopsis-
  • Using over twelve thousand previously classified documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act, David Cunningham uncovers the riveting inside story of the FBI's attempts to neutralize political targets on both the Right and the Left during the 1960s. Examining the FBI's infamous counterintelligence programs (COINTELPROs) against suspected communists, civil rights and black power advocates, Klan adherents, and antiwar activists, he questions whether such actions were aberrations or are evidence of the bureau's ongoing mission to restrict citizens' right to engage in legal forms of political dissent. At a time of heightened concerns about domestic security, with the FBI's license to spy on U.S. citizens expanded to a historic degree, the question becomes an urgent one. This book supplies readers with insights and information vital to a meaningful assessment of the current situation.
Table of Contents-
  • List of Tables and Figures Preface and Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Counterintelligence Activities and the FBI 2. The Movements 3. The Organization of the FBI: Constructing White Hate and New Leftist Threats 4. Acting against the White Hate and New Left Threats 5. Wing Tips in Their Midst: The Impact of COINTELPRO 6. Beyond COINTELPRO 7. The Future Is Now: Counterintelligence Activities in the Age of Global Terrorism Appendix A. A Typology of COINTELPRO Actions Appendix B. Organizational Processes and COINTELPRO Outcomes Appendix C. COINTELPRO Targets Notes References Index
Reviews-
  • Richard Flacks, author Making History: The American Left and the American Mind "Cunningham's landmark study of the FBI's response to Sixties protest couldn't be more timely. We gain fresh and disturbing insight into the culture and dynamics of the agency at a time when once again it has been empowered to monitor political dissidence. We need this history so as to avoid repeating it."
  • Jack A. Goldstone, Hazel Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University "Cunningham reveals the programs and priorities of the FBI's domestic surveillance in the 1960s with an eye for the telling detail, and with extensive new research. He shows how the extreme bureaucratic centralization of the agency often handicapped, rather than helped, field agents who had creative ideas about how to pursue the FBI's goals. This is the most important book on how the FBI shapes its agenda and its actions, in relation to targeted groups, in some time. At a time when the FBI is being called on to deal with new public threats, we need the insights of this work."
  • Doug McAdam, co-author of Dynamics of Contention "For years political scientists and social movement scholars have theorized and sought, in various ways, to measure 'political repression.' Despite these efforts, the actual social and organizational dynamics that shape repression have largely remained a black box. By fashioning a rich, systematic account of the origins and operation of the FBI's notorious COINTELPRO program, Cunningham has gone a long way toward redressing this problem."
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The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence
David Cunningham
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David Cunningham
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