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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

 
QOTD: J. Edgar Hoover

by digby

1931:
"While it may not be illegal . . . [wiretapping] is unethical and it is not permitted under the regulations by the Attorney General...Any employee engaged in wire tapping will be dismissed from the service of the bureau.”
Fast forward:
Hoping to prove the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was under the influence of Communists, the FBI kept the civil rights leader under constant surveillance.

The agency's hidden tape recorders turned up almost nothing about communism.

But they did reveal embarrassing details about King's sex life -- details the FBI was able to use against him.

The almost fanatical zeal with which the FBI pursued King is disclosed in tens of thousands of FBI memos from the 1960s.

The FBI paper trail spells out in detail the government agency's concerted efforts to derail King's efforts on behalf of the civil rights movement.

The FBI's interest in King intensified after the March on Washington in August 1963, when King delivered his "I have a dream speech," which many historians consider the most important speech of the 20th century. After the speech, an FBI memo called King the "most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country."

The bureau convened a meeting of department heads to "explore how best to carry on our investigation [of King] to produce the desired results without embarrassment to the Bureau," which included "a complete analysis of the avenues of approach aimed at neutralizing King as an effective Negro leader."

The FBI began secretly tracking King's flights and watching his associates. In July 1963, a month before the March on Washington, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover filed a request with Attorney General Robert Kennedy to tap King's and his associates' phones and to bug their homes and offices.

In September, Kennedy consented to the technical surveillance. Kennedy gave the FBI permission to break into King's office and home to install the bugs, as long as agents recognized the "delicacy of this particular matter" and didn't get caught installing them. Kennedy added a proviso -- he wanted to be personally informed of any pertinent information.

While King did have associates who had been members of the Communist Party, by all accounts they severed those ties when they started working in the civil rights movement. What's more, the FBI bugs never picked up evidence that King himself was a Communist, or was interested in toeing the party line.

But the long list of bugs in his hotel rooms picked up just enough about King's love life.
It the long, existential fight against terrorism er .... communism, rules had to be broken. Surely we can all understand that.

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