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At The New Yorker, Margaret Talbot writes Opened Files:

Last week, Americans got a reminder that it sometimes takes lawbreakers with a conscience to bring to light more profound violations. On March 8, 1971, burglars broke into an F.B.I. field office in Media, Pennsylvania, and stole hundreds of the agency’s files. Nearly forty-three years later, several of them owned up to what they’d done, first in “The Burglary,” a new book by Betty Medsger, a former Washington Post reporter, and then in interviews with the Times. The instigator of the break-in, it turns out, was a Haverford College physics professor named William Davidon, who spoke extensively with Medsger before he died, last November. Among the others who came forward were a married couple, John and Bonnie Raines. In 1971, he was a professor of religion at Temple University, she was a grad student studying child development there, and they were raising three young children. Though the couple seemed unlikely suspects, they were part of the Quaker- and Catholic-influenced peace movement that flourished in and around Philadelphia at the time, and which sustained the activities of the Berrigan brothers, among others. The burglars believed that the antiwar movement was being infiltrated by F.B.I. informants, and that getting hold of agency documents was the only way to prove it—though this was the first and last time they would do anything so extreme in that cause. None of them suspected that J. Edgar Hoover’s dirty-tricks campaign was designed to neutralize almost all forms of political dissent.

Choosing the night of the Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier heavyweight-championship bout for the break-in, the burglars counted on most people being distracted—their TVs turned up loud—including those who lived in the building that housed the F.B.I. office. They got away with suitcases full of files. At a farmhouse where Davidon and his gang of pacifists met to examine their haul, one of the first documents they read instructed agents to “enhance the paranoia” by dogging student and antiwar activists, and to “get the point across there is an F.B.I. agent behind every mailbox.” Other files, which they began releasing to reporters (holding back those which they thought would endanger crime-fighting operations), showed that Hoover’s F.B.I. had a twisted idée fixe about African-Americans; it aimed to put spies in every black student union at every college in the country, “without regard for whether there had been disturbances on such campuses,” and had largely achieved that goal. As Medsger writes, the over-all impression the files gave was that Hoover and many other F.B.I. officials “thought of black Americans as falling into two categories—black people who should be spied on by the F.B.I. and black people who should spy on other black people for the F.B.I.”

But that, as it happened, was not the worst of the revelations. One of the files contained a routing slip with a strange word on it: cointelpro. It took two years and the determination of Carl Stern, an NBC News reporter who filed several Freedom of Information Act requests and a lawsuit against the Justice Department and the F.B.I., for Americans to discover what cointelpro was. Since 1956, Hoover had been running a highly secret program under that name which not only spied on civil-rights leaders, suspected Communists, public critics of the F.B.I., student activists, and many others but also sought to intimidate, smear, and blackmail them, to break up marriages, get people fired, demoralize them. These were the auspices under which the F.B.I. spread a false rumor that the actress Jean Seberg, who had recently given a donation to the Black Panther Party, was pregnant by a Panther leader. (Seberg was pregnant, and, shortly after the story appeared in a gossip column, she miscarried.) It was under COINTELPRO that Hoover waged his assault on Martin Luther King, Jr., wiretapping his hotel rooms and recording his sexual encounters, and, at one point, trying to coerce him to commit suicide. […]

Snowden’s leaking of the N.S.A.’s data-mining has something fundamental in common with the cointelpro story, too. Without that drastic action, we would not have the findings of a Presidential review board composed of legal and intelligence experts, which last month cautioned that the government’s storage of metadata poses a threat to civil liberties, personal privacy, and public trust, and offered President Obama a series of recommendations for fixing the breach, adding that “free nations must protect themselves, and nations that protect themselves must remain free.” Three months before Snowden acted, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, was asked at a congressional hearing whether the N.S.A. collected data on American citizens. He replied that it did not. In retrospect, it’s easy to say that we would have found out about the practice by other, more respectable means. Unfortunately, it doesn’t often work out that way. 

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos one day before this date in 2007The Uniter Divides: Bush plan fractures the DLC:

Well, the reviews are in. Bush's 11% doctrine speech was a bomb IED.

So now, the scramble is on for politicians of all stripes to distance themselves from his idiotic "plan." Of course, that surge was well underway even before the teleprompter was even hooked up, and Democratic presidential candidates were among the first to find their way to the microphones.

I'd round 'em up for you, but that's not actually what this post is about. This post is about the few "Democrats" who didn't distance themselves. No Democratic presidential candidate was that stupid, of course. And no, I'm not even talking about Lieberman.
I'm talking about the DLC wonks.

In yesterday's LA Times, Will Marshall stunk up the joint on behalf of the DLC, from his perch at the "Progressive Policy Institute," the DLC's "think" tank:

"Conventional wisdom says that presidential candidates who want to be responsible on this are going to hurt themselves with the angry, impassioned activist left," said Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank. "But the activist left is out of sync with the American public. Americans don't want to concede this is a total debacle."

Tweet of the Day:

@stuckinspincycl Seriously, this. Take it up with God if you don't like the mechanics of baby-feeding.

Every Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio."

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Comment Preferences

  •  Now Post: NeoCons & AIPAC lobby for US War on Iran (19+ / 0-)

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 08:35:25 PM PST

  •   I remember meeting Quakers at peace (10+ / 0-)

    rallies in the 80's.  Some of them wereTax Resistors


    Tax resistance is the refusal to pay tax because of opposition to the government that is imposing the tax or to government policy or as opposition to the concept of taxation in itself. Tax resistance is a form of direct action and if in violation of the tax regulations, a form of civil disobedience. Examples of tax resistance campaigns include those advocating home rule, such as the Salt March led by Mohandas Gandhi, and those promoting women's suffrage, such as the Women's Tax Resistance League.[1]

    War tax resistance is the refusal to pay some or all taxes that pay for war and a form of nonviolent resistance.War tax resistance may be practiced by conscientious objectors, pacifists, or those protesting against a particular war. As a percentage of income tax funds military expenditure, war tax resisters may avoid or refuse to pay some or all income tax. For example, war resisters may choose to avoid taxes by living simply below the income tax threshold.[2]

    Tax resisters are distinct from tax protesters who deny that the legal obligation to pay taxes exists or applies. Tax resisters may accept that some law commands them to pay taxes but they still choose to resist taxation.

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 08:43:48 PM PST

  •  I am thankful for the brave souls who (10+ / 0-)

    are really working for the good of the public instead of the good of their pockets. They risk so much and face whirlwinds of trumped up charges and abuse. I want to toss a nod to the NSA whistleblowers that were pounding the drums even before Snowden's recent exposures, too, The VIPS Binney, Drake, Loomis, and Wiebe.  
    Where would we be without those who are so courageous they are not content to hide behind "we were just following orders."?

  •  There are plenty of wackos who think that (7+ / 0-)

    women should nurse their babies in seclusion and shame as god intended. I don't know how to convince them otherwise.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 08:49:13 PM PST

  •  I had a pretty good day with lots of personally (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, JeffW, Jeff Y

    fun stuff going on and even lots of personally good news and then I read tonight that because of that selfish shit Bob Filner, who could have tilted San Diego left for God knows how long, a fucking Repub now has the lead in the polls to win.

    I sorta knew that that city would return to the GOP, but still had some hope left. Nope. Polls say the burg will revert.

    Okay, back to remember that hey, I still overall had a pretty good day, my cursing of Filner notwithstanding.  

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 08:58:34 PM PST

  •  ah, glad you posted this, I am sure (13+ / 0-)

    you listened to this one?
    "It Was Time to Do More Than Protest": Activists Admit to 1971 FBI Burglary That Exposed COINTELPRO

    This is a paragraph from the transcript, which stunned me most in that it parallels what the NSA is doing today and that it is all over again, just much, much more intense and dangerous, imo.

    I was a reporter. And one day this envelope appeared in my mailbox. And it said it was from Liberty Publications—that was the return address—Media, Pennsylvania. That didn’t mean anything to me. But when I opened it, there was a cover letter, said it was from Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI. That was a new organization to me. And there was—the letter explained that a group of eight people had burglarized an FBI office on the night of March 8th, and that enclosed were some of the files that they had removed from the office.

    And some of those files were very shocking. I think the one—and you showed the excerpt from this on the Retro Report—the first shock—and this also resonated very much with the public when it was published and discussed—was the one that instructed agents to enhance the paranoia and then also make people think that there’s an FBI agent behind every mailbox. And that was a pretty stunning statement and said so much. And the burglars were—themselves, were shocked, I understand, when they found that the first—saw that document the first night after the burglary. So that stunned me.

    And I guess the other files—there were many about individuals, and they were all serious, but the—one of the things that I remember most from those files was the truly blanket surveillance of African-American people that was described. It was in Philadelphia, but it also prescribed national programs. And it was quite stunning. First, it described the surveillance. It took place in every place where people would gather—churches, classrooms, stores down the street, just everything. But it also specifically prescribed that every FBI agent was supposed to have an informer, just for the purpose of coming back every two weeks and talking to them about what they had observed aboutblack Americans. And in Washington, D.C., at the time, that was six informers for every FBI agent informing on black Americans. The surveillance was so enormous that it led various people, rather sedate people in editorial offices and in Congress, to compare it to the Stasi, the dreaded secret police of East Germany.

    Can't help thinking that it is very easy these days to "enhance paranoia" considering the technological tools of internet communication available worldwide.


    •  Really fascinating story. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Eric Nelson, divineorder
    •  The Stasi had nothing on the NSA. (6+ / 0-)
      The surveillance was so enormous that it led various people, rather sedate people in editorial offices and in Congress, to compare it to the Stasi, the dreaded secret police of East Germany.
      I recently visited the Stasi's former headquarters in Berlin, as well as one of its former prisons, and despite the vast scope of its surveillance on the East German population, its capabilities didn't approach those of the NSA.

      Looking at the exhibits of Stasi surveillance technology, I was struck by how primitive it seemed, even by the standards of the time.  The Stasi never had the ability to collect the kinds of information the NSA does, so in that sense the comparison is not apt.

      It remains to be seen to what extent the NSA has abused its surveillance powers.  If the FBI's abuses are any guide, I'm rather pessimistic about what we'll find, assuming Congress and the media bother to look.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 10:12:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The FBI infiltrated our group (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder, mimi

      What a waste of money....anti war SDS types that morphed into Yippies after actually meeting the dipshit weathermen. we  read the FBI files on the yippies released in 2011 and learned we had an informer in our group that traveled to a meeting  in Iowa city..1971 or so.....have never followed through to find out which of my friends( one of 15 possibilities) was working for the FBI.....hope he of she is sweating it....

  •  Anyone, and I mean anyone, who defends the (11+ / 0-)

    NSA and who doesn't see the danger in the powers they have acquired, needs to seriously re-examine their history.

    There us no justification for what the FBI did then or for what the NSA is doing now.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 09:11:47 PM PST

  •  Well, now I really feel like Curly Howard... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, divineorder

    ...since the new "Most Shared" list will collapse if you click on the ivon, but it seems to pop back open, and still screws up page loading randomly. I can't be the only person who's dealing with this demented acordion!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 09:30:32 PM PST

  •  Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's appointed (8+ / 0-)

    NSA shill who thinks Snowden should be in jail, when he was asked about the CointelPro document thefts said, first, that the statute of limitations has run out and two, yes, he thinks that they should have been prosecuted just like Edward Snowden should have.  They asked him, but, jeez dude, CointelPro?  Is there anything that the government does that we can leak?  He then said that it would have come out during the Church Committee anyway, so what?

    That's the level of thinking that we are dealing with.  

    •  They say this about Snowden's "trial." (4+ / 0-)

      Many contend that the best way for Snowden to spark a discussion about NSA abuses is to return to the U.S. to face trial.  They seem to have this notion that Snowden would be able to defend himself by claiming to have acted out of patriotic motives and that he would be able to expose the NSA's misdeeds as part of his defense.

      In fact, its extraordinarily unlikely that any such evidence would ever be admitted if Snowden were tried here.  The little case law that exists under the Espionage Act holds that the motives of the leaker are not relevant, and at least one case has specifically rejected the idea that salutary or patriotic motivation would prevent conviction under the law.

      Nor is it likely that the government would permit any evidence of the scope of NSA surveillance to be revealed in court.  To begin with, DOJ would certainly argue that such evidence is not relevant to the issue of whether Snowden disclosed classified information in violation of the statute.  In addition, the government will assuredly claim that disclosure of the NSA's activities would harm national security.

      If Snowden returns to the U.S., he'll almost certainly go to jail.  But if he hadn't done what he did, would we ever have gotten proof of the things he's disclosed?  I very much doubt it.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 10:22:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it's lose-lose for the government (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder, JeffW

        whether he comes back or stays abroad.  They already lost the battle on this.  All his information is in the hands of Poitras and Greenwald and other journalists, and a trial would only make him more of a martyr.  

    •  No. That's the level of thinking we are... (4+ / 0-)

      ...dealing with again.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 02:41:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  J. Edgar Hoover was such a horrid little troll... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Eric Nelson, lotlizard

    ...he even caused pain in death: several of the young military men serving as pallbearers were injured carrying his massive, lead-lined coffin (to preserve his body in case of nuclear war. Yeah, right!).

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 10:18:46 PM PST

  •  Everything is political nowadays, (0+ / 0-)

    even figure skating. :-(

    Not that there wasn't always an undercurrent of politics, but it's now out in the open - and stinking.

    Results of 2014 US Nationals:

    1. Jeremy Abbott
    2. Jason Brown
    3. Max Aaron

    1. Gracie Gold (yes that's her real name)
    2. Polina Edmunds (15 1/2 years old, first Senior year)
    3. Mirai Nagasu (4th at 2010 Olympics)
    4. Ashley Wagner (the favorite going in, heavily promoted)

    1. Castelli/Shnapir
    2. Zhang/Bartholomay
    3. Denney/Coughlin

    1. Davis/White
    2. Chock/Bates
    3. Shibutani/Shibutani

    Team assignments:

    1. Gracie Gold
    2. Polina Edmunds
    3. ASHLEY WAGNER to BOTH Olympics AND Worlds!!!

    Men (only 2 spots):
    1. Jeremy Abbott
    2. (Olympics) Jason Brown
        (Worlds) Max Aaron

    No, Brown is NOT retiring - he's only 19.

    Pairs (only 2 spots):
    1. Castelli/Shnapir
    2. (Olympics) Zhang/Bartholomay
        (Worlds) Denney/Coughlin

    Dance was the only discipline in which there were NO controversies and NO changes from the on-ice results. It is probably not coincidental that Dance is the only discipline in which the US is expected to have a good shot at medaling/winning.

    There might be some argument in favor of the ticket-splitting in Men's (Brown has no quad; Aaron can jump but his spins and connecting moves aren't impressive) and Pairs (both Zhang/Bartholomay and Denney/Coughlin could use more international exposure). But the Ladies decision is overtly, blatantly political for several reasons:

    * Wagner is "connected" to high-level figure skating insiders; Nagasu is not (partly because her coaches are "nobodies" who couldn't travel to Boston with her).

    * Wagner has a prominent sponsorship, with TV ads, from Cover Girl; Nagasu has no such high-level publicity on her side.

    * Both ladies have inconsistent records both nationally and internationally; neither one is particularly well known for performing under pressure.

    * Nagasu has been to the Olympics before (in 2010, when she was 16) and scratched out a 4th place finish (this was labeled a "failure" because she was the first US woman to finish off the podium since 1964); Wagner was left off the same team by one place (she finished 3rd at US Nationals and there were only 2 spots available then). It is not likely that either one will still be skating competitively by 2018.

    * Neither one skated their best at US Nationals. Nagasu managed to hold her flawed freeskate together better - though she was plodding by the end of it.

    * NEVER before has the USFSA so blatantly flown in the face of the on-ice results without the excuse of an injury to one of the top contenders.

    * They didn't even split the ticket, but awarded Wagner everything and left Nagasu with nothing.

    They're really rolling the dice with this. What happens if the pressure gets to Ashley Wagner as much as, or worse than, it did at Nationals? And this political selection has guaranteed that the pressure will be extreme.

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 10:53:45 PM PST

  •  Even the Pope Tweets (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And, accordingly, during the celebration of baptisms today in the Sistine Chapel, Francis I said that the mothers should feel free to feed the babies during the mass!

    ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

    by Arianna Editrix on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 11:46:22 PM PST

  •  TED Talk: Nonverbal communication (0+ / 0-)

    Relative to participation on DKos: when people comment in other people's diaries, pugnacity or insults may be an attempt to extend the "power nonverbals" principle to text-only interaction.

    Does it work, I wonder? Does it lead the greater part of the readership (including lurkers) to subconsciously attribute higher status to borderline bullies? Or does it boomerang and make people who make a habit of such comments look bad?

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

    by lotlizard on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 12:38:07 AM PST

  •  Love the juvie snowy owl (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, JeffW

    and have been looking around here, since there seems to be an irruption into the Northern States. A nice bird to go on the life list.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 03:31:43 AM PST

  •  About that NSA issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    First, there is no way we'd have found out about the NSA spying on people if Snowden didn't reveal it.  And, it is a tragedy that there has been very little or no accountability on it.  

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