Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The FBI's Mass Media Program Historically--Part 3

(The following article first appeared in the April 14, 1993 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly, Downtown. See below for Parts 1 and 2 of article).

As part of the FBI’s 1960s mass media program in Puerto Rico, its agents also “systematically planted articles and editorials (often containing malicious gossip concerning independentista leaders’ alleged sexual and financial affairs) in `friendly’ newspapers, and dispensed `private’ warnings to the owners of island radio stations that their FCC licenses might be revoked if pro-independence material were aired,” according to The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents From The FBI’s Secret War Against Domestic Dissent by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall. Among the `friendly’ newspapers utilized as tools by the FBI in Puerto Rico were El Mundo, the San Juan Star and the El Imparcial, according to an unpublished 1979 study by Carmen Gautier, Maria Teresa Blanco and Maria del Pilar Arguella, titled “Persecution of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Their Leaders by the Counterintelligence Program [COINTELPRO] of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], 1960-1971.” Among the Puerto Rican radio stations whose owners were “talked to” by FBI agents in order to influence their programming, according to the same study, were WLEO in Ponce, WKFE in Yauco and WJRS in San German, and “a one-hour daily time-block allotted to `Radio Bandera,’” was cancelled as a result.

The FBI also used its mass media connections to distribute hostile propaganda about the U.S. Baby-Boom Generation’s New Left during the 1960s and to promote destructive factionalism within white and African-American New Left activist circles. In the words of a May 29, 1968 memo from the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office to FBI Director Hoover, regarding “Disruption of the New Left:”

“As noted in referenced Bureau letters, we must seize upon every opportunity to capitalize upon organizational and personal conflicts of the New Left leaders. The creation of factionalism is a potent weapon which must not be overlooked…Cooperative news media representatives have been used in the past. Reliability and discreetness have been proven. Recommendations for specific action will include necessary assurances that the Bureau’s interest will be protected.”

The COINTELPRO Papers book also observed that of the FBI’s 290 separate COINTELPRO actions that targeted New Left activists between 1968 and 1971, “some 40 percent were designed to keep targeted activists from speaking, teaching, writing or publishing.” (end of part 3)

(Downtown 4/14/93)

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