Regional & Nationals News

NEW NATIONAL COALITION SUPPORTS OPENING COINTELPRO FILES

Originally published in the Winter 2022 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 67, printed February 3. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Winter 2022 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

A newly formed coalition of more than 30 activists and advocacy groups is promoting a federal bill that would force the FBI to allow full disclosure of COINTELPRO, the FBI’s program that targeted civil rights, antiwar and leftist organizations with the aim of disrupting their activities, no matter how legal and Constitutionally protected they might be.

The bill, titled the HR COINTELPRO Full Disclosure Act, was introduced in Congress last May by Rep. Bobby Rush, Democrat from Illinois, to, according to the coalition, “require disclosure of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program which targeted organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Imam Jamil Al- Amin aka H. Rap Brown, Elijah Muhammad, Max Stanford, Malcolm X, Abbey Hoffman.”

Rep. Rush was a co-founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, a leading target of the FBI program.

As of December 31, the bill had 24 co-sponsors.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, COINTELPRO, short for Counterintelligence Program, was “conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 1956 to 1971 to discredit and neutralize organizations considered subversive to U.S. political stability. It was covert and often used extralegal means to criminalize various forms of political struggle and derail several social movements, such as those for civil rights and Puerto Rican independence.”

In 1975, the program was investigated by the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, known as the “Church Committee” for its chairman, Sen. Frank Church of Idaho. However, millions of pages of documents remain unreleased, and many released documents are heavily censored.

For now, the coalition is concentrating on encouraging more members of Congress to sign onto the bill. Later, delegations will meet with representatives.

As of Feb. 1, coalition members included former political prisoner and Black Panther Dhoruba bin Wahad; Black Workers For Justice; Black Panther Party Alumni; Imam Jamil Action Network; Jericho Movement; Muslims for Social Justice; National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression; and Phil Wilayto, Editor, The Virginia Defender.

For more information: Hena Zuberi or Ruqayya Ali at ruqayya@justiceforall.org or Bilal Sunni-Ali or Shafeah M’Balia at 883- 999-IJAN.

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