Wednesday, May 9, 2012

FBI spied on Simon Moon's university

I've been reading Gene Healy's book, The Cult of the Presidency. Much of the government abuses he describes in the book are familiar to me, including extensive government spying on dissidents and the rush to get involved in various unnecessary wars. But this paragraph describing the FBI's COINTELPRO (for "Counterintelligence Program"), a 1970s domestic spying operation, surprised me:

The program had begun in 1956 with a focus on the U.S. Communist Party, but soon broadened to include white and black nationalist groups, and eventually ‘‘New Left’’ organizations. The bureau had 
an expansive definition of ‘‘subversive.’’ Among its targets were liberal Antioch College and Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which the FBI termed a Black Nationalist 
‘‘hate group.’’  (Page 107.)

Antioch College is of course the school that is Simon Moon's alma mater in ILLUMINATUS! Robert Anton Wilson lived for awhile in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where Antioch is located. Antioch went through financial hard times and shut down in 2008 but reopened in fall 2011.

Some of the incidents described in Healy's book sound like satire from ILLUMINATUS! Here is the paragraph that follows the one quoted above:

Some of the FBI’s actions during this period had the flavor of high-school pranks, albeit potentially murderous ones. In ‘‘Operation Hoodwink,’’ carried out between the fall of 1966 and the summer of 1968, agents purporting to be Communist Party members sent insulting letters to mob figures Carlo Gambino and Santo Trafficante, among others, hoping to ‘‘provoke a dispute between La Cosa Nostra and the Communist Party, USA.’’ Other schemes were less amusing. On one occasion, FBI agents kidnapped an antiwar activist to intimidate him into silence. On another, agents bugged Martin Luther King’s hotel rooms and sent him a tape containing evidence of his extramarital affairs. With the tape was a letter saying ‘‘King, there is one thing left for you to do. You know what it is’’ —that is, commit 
suicide. King was only the most famous of the FBI targets on whom this sort of gutter tactic was employed.

Healy's description of some of the crazy things the U.S. did (or considered doing) to Cuba also is eye-opening (Page 94):

After the Bay of Pigs debacle, top military officials developed a plan to foment a war with Cuba by blaming Cuba for attacks on Americans that the military itself would stage. On March 13, 1962, 
Army General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented Robert McNamara, President Kennedy’s defense secretary, with a memo detailing ‘‘Operation Northwoods’’: a plan to covertly engineer various ‘‘pretexts which would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba.’’ Those pretexts would include ‘‘a ‘Remember the Maine’ incident’’ —staging the explosion and sinking of a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay. Though no U.S. personnel were to be killed in the incident, phony casualty lists would be supplied, which ‘‘in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.’’ The memo also contemplated faking a Cuban attack on ‘‘a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela ...,’’ 

The book then describes plans to stage a phony Communist Cuban terror campaign in Florida and Washington, D.C. and then explains, "The plan, signed off on by all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was apparently vetoed by Defense Secretary McNamara." 

Rob Pugh had a post about this recently at his excellent blog.

Healy's book is available "for a limited time" as a free ebook download here.

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