Blacks more willing to make privacy concessions
George Curry | 6/23/2013, 6:18 p.m.
“A congressional committee, chaired by Sen. Frank Church, issued a report that concluded, ‘Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that … the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas protect the national security and deter violence.’”
The goal of COINTELPRO was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect or otherwise neutralize” organizations that the FBI deemed “subversive.” The FBI harassed King until his final days.
Under the leadership of Hoover and with the approval of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the FBI wiretapped King’s home and office telephones, decided not to tell King of credible threats on his life, taped what the FBI claimed were illicit sexual activities, and mailed them to King’s wife.
And perhaps in its most disgusting move, as David Garrow recounts in Bearing the Cross, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning book about King and the Civil Rights Movement, the FBI tried to get the civil rights leader to commit suicide.
An anonymous letter and copy of taped sex recordings were mailed to King at his SCLC office in Atlanta. The letter said, “There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
If anyone has reason to distrust the federal government’s monitoring of its citizens, it’s African Americans. Yet, we continue to hope against hope, placing our trust in people and institutions that have sought to destroy us.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach..